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Blantyre Arts Fest returns for free

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Blantyre Arts Festival (Baf) has returned to the stage after a two-year break due to Covid and will this time take place free-of-charge for two days at Njamba Park on October 8 to 9.

The festival’s Executive Director Thom Chibambo, said during a press conference at Amaryllis Hotel in Blantyre on Monday that the free-of-charge event was here to stay as they would want more people to experience the best of arts and culture.

In running a free-of-charge festival, Baf which has in the past years hosted top artists such as Jamaica’s Mutabaruka through Poetry Africa, South Africa’s Rebecca Malope and Mali’s Salif Keita, joins Tumaini Festival which also runs annually free-of-charge at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in November.

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“The festival used to take place at Blantyre Cultural Centre but since it is going through renovations which are taking long, we decided to go to Njamba Freedom Park with the support from our partners Blantyre City Council,” Chibambo said.

He said that they were ready for this year’s festival running under the theme Climate Resilience through Cultural Preservation despite making their announcement late and maintained that their free-of-charge event was here to stay.

“Arts and culture is food for the soul and we need everyone to be part of it and appreciate it in Blantyre. Baf is running the festival with a small budget of K15 million supported by various partners,” Chibambo said.

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He then called on players to partner with them with additional funding for them to have a successful festival.

“Bearing in mind that climate change is affecting the whole world and Malawi has not been left out, artists are mirrors and they are followed by masses hence tying our event to this theme,” Chibambo said.

Chibambo said despite being a free-of-charge festival which will open with a street carnival from Old Town to Njamba Park, they will not compromise in terms of organisation and security and that they will also mount mobile toilets.

“This is an impact based festival hence this global theme towards global challenges and as artists, we want to become part of global challenges,” he said.

Amaryllis Hotel General Manager Ramy Waheed, whose hotel has opened up to the creative world and offered its full support hailed Baf for coming back.

“As a hotel, we love arts and we are ready to work with different players and for that, we are partnering Baf and we will also be hosting its launch on October 6 2022. We will give them all the support,” Waheed said.

Some of the acts set to perform at this year’s festival which will also conduct training workshops in arts management, arts and cultural entrepreneurship, theatre and music production, include Black Missionaries, Ethel Kamwendo Banda, Kasama Arts from Zambia, Temp Trio from Hannover Germany, Agorosso and Skeffa Chimoto.

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