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‘Culture not stable’

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Artists in the country have expressed concern with the way culture is tossed around without being given its own ministry.

The artists say that culture is diverse and that by now it could have been given its own ministry as is the case in other countries.

The concern comes barely a day after President Peter Mutharika reshuffled his cabinet in which he has maintained the 20-member cabinet but has seen culture which was in the Ministry of Information and Tourism being moved to Sports Ministry.

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Before the Peter Mutharika administration took over government, culture was under the tourism, wildlife and culture ministry before it was moved to sports.

The artists welcomed the Mutharika administration’s move then when culture was moved to sports headed by Grace Chiumia.

“We welcomed the move and as artists we engaged the minister Grace Chiumia and shared our various challenges but as we were looking forward to improvements, culture was moved to information,” said Musicians Union of Malawi (Mum) President Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango.

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He said they had no problems with the President reshuffling the cabinet but he said they were concerned with the way the culture was being moved.

“The way culture is being tossed around shows that it is not taken seriously. As artists we have had serious meetings with Minister of Sports Grace Obama Chiumia but she could not move on working on our programmes because culture was moved again.

We had a serious meeting with former Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa but now we have been taken back to sports,” said Mhango.

He said the government needs to seriously start thinking about culture and that as the creative industry they are concerned.

“We had made steps on the Cultural Policy and there was progress on the Arts Council. We expect that these plans will still go on otherwise we have been crying for these for all these years,” said the Mum president.

He then welcomed the new minister saying that they have the belief that she will advance their plans.

Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) President Sambalikagwa Mvona said they are not happy as the creative industry saying culture is not stable.

“We are not happy so to say culture needs to be stable. Because we are being moved from one ministry to the other we end up failing to build the foundation. Much as we welcome the new minister culture will not be given that prominence and instead it will be football,” said Mvona.

The writer’s body’s president said culture has been there before in sports but it has not made progress.

“We just needed to have our own ministry because culture is diverse otherwise this is not healthy,” he said.

But ethno-musician Waliko Makhala while accepting that culture is the most confused area and that it is being pushed around, he said culture is complex and that it is not surprising that it is moving in different ministries.

“It’s not surprising that culture is moved around because culture is complex and it is the total way of life. The thing is culture can fit in for instance finance, health and other ministries,” said Makhala.

He said he is happy that culture has once again been moved to sports but called on the sports minister to bring the Presidential Initiative on Culture just as sports has Presidential Initiative on Sports.

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