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Deadlock on Mam rebirth

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A hot debate ensued on the rebirth of Musicians Association of Malawi (Mam) during a meeting held in Lilongwe on Monday.

The meeting attracted players who are spearheading the rebirth of Mam, led by its chairperson Peter Sambo, officials from Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife led by Principal Secretary George Masina and Musicians Union of Malawi (Mum).

Sambo said, apart from discussions on the rebirth of Mam, they also brainstormed on the future of Arts and Heritage Council and Copyright Fund.

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“What we are saying is that Mum is a trade union for musicians and Mam recognises them fully, but the union is not the mother body of all activities of music. A union fights for the rights of its membership and that is their job description. The association works towards developing the economic empowerment of the average musician; for example, sourcing donors,” Sambo said.

He said following a deadlock on the way forward, they have a final meeting with Mum to clear the air and find a conducive working environment for both organisations since they are pursuing same goals.

“We, as an association, are looking forward to working together with Mum towards developing the music industry, which at the moment is sickly because of the economic impact of Covid situation. Mam is working on finding means and ways of survival for the industry which relies mostly on live music performances,” Sambo said.

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Mam Secretary General Khuza Rampi said in a report of the meeting that they are now recognised as an association by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife but admitted that there is still a lot of work to be done.

“Our friends in Mum are still uncomfortable with our existence, therefore the Principal Secretary in the Ministry George Masina has asked us to have a joint meeting where we are to come up with working conditions among ourselves and report the final say to the Ministry,” Rampi said.

Rampi emphasised that it was better to have one team that will represent musicians when it comes to government involvement.

Former Mum president Bishop Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango, who was present in his capacity as former leader, said they were not against the formation of the association but rather use of Mam.

“This is bringing confusion because Mam is still part of Mum. When we were moving from Mam to Mum, we did not deregister Mam. What happened is that we just wanted growth in terms of having more powers and this is why today we are recognised by the government and other affiliates because we speak with all the powers of a union,” Mhango said.

He said it was not healthy for musicians to be working in isolation and also different camps but rather unite and speak with one voice for the betterment of the creative industry.

“If we are to be taken seriously by the government then we need to speak with one voice. We cannot move forward when you have several separate camps. Again, what we are saying is that Mam is still part of Mum and if the other players want to have another body then they need to use another name,” Mhango said.

He said as someone who played a bigger role in the graduation from Mam to Mum, he wishes the two parties moved together with one common purpose rather than in separation.

“For me I am not interested in any position but I just want these parties to move together if we are to build the arts,” Mhango said.

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