After its launch on Thursday and a carnival on Friday, Blantyre Arts Festival (Baf) kicked off its undertakings for the two-day-free-of charge event on Saturday at Njamba Freedom Park.
There was a not-so-huge audience in the early periods but it improved later as people got treated to performances from different acts, with Chileka reggae group Black Missionaries closing the curtain.
Unlike in the festival’s previous outings where people have sampled performances at two to three stages, it was a different story on Saturday as people enjoyed acts from one stage.
There were also other activities earlier on that people experienced on the first day and they included the planting of a tree by Blantyre City Deputy Mayor and this was in line with the festival’s theme of ‘Climate Resilience Through Cultural Preservation’.
The audience was also treated to question and answer sessions in line with the theme of the festival, which saw some walking away with T/shirts.
Veteran musician Ben Mankhamba, who is now Village Head Chingalire, reminded people of his past feats with his performance that saw him dishing out songs such as ‘Mind Your Own Business’, ‘Ndiwopa Kutenga’ and ‘Cassava’.
“I would like to thank Baf for giving me this platform. Apart from performing, I have been able to see faces that I met long time ago,” Mankhamba, who has in the past years benefitted from Baf, travelling to Germany with old-timer Giddes Chalamanda and Agorosso, said.
The musician assembled a band that had among others veteran bassist Felix Jere, lead guitarist Yang Chitika and two members of Jenna Sisters, who are now inactive.
He also brought in two dancers from his Chingalire home, who are part of Chingalire Troupe.
Although sound was not evenly balanced, the audience enjoyed Mankhamba’s act and when he announced that he was doing his last piece, people objected, prompting him to drop two songs.
The Chileka reggae group was next and attracted interest from the audience which had to move closer to the stage upon request from bassist Peter Amidu.
As has been his custom to speak out on different issues, Amidu commended United States of America President Joe Biden for announcing major steps towards decriminalising marijuana possession.
Anthony Mr Cool Makondetsa was the first to hit the stage and, having suffered a broken leg recently which he said was healing, he came on stage with a walking stick.
This turned out to be setback for him as he could not offer his usual dance moves.
He offered a few songs including one of his anthems ‘Mbumba Ya Abraham’ before Blacks, led by Anjiru Fumulani, took over.
“It was the first time to watch Black Missionaries live for me as I cannot make it to some of the places they perform,” Anita Tembo from Zingwangwa said.
The festival, now in its 13th edition, ended on Sunday.