Poetry and music enjoyed the limelight at Amaryllis Hotel in Blantyre on Saturday during the maiden Deft Poetry Festival headed by Deft Media.
There were lots of events in Blantyre on Saturday but Deft Poetry Festival attracted its own audience that enjoyed the day-long event that also pulled poets from primary and secondary schools in the commercial city.
There were also performances from tertiary education students from Catholic University in Chiradzulu District and University of Malawi in Zomba.
Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Michael Usi was supposed to be the guest of honour but did not make it.
Caleb Thole, who has been in the forefront assisting creatives in the country with the recent support being a donation of a car to veteran musician Joseph Nkasa, pledged K2 million to Deft Media for next year’s event.
“Poetry Association of Malawi (Pam) and other associations need to be united and make sure that they push for the best for the creative industry,” Thole said.
He also appealed to companies to embrace arts in the country.
“International artists should not be ahead of us when they come here. In most cases, people cheer for foreign artists and neglect their own. We need to export talent and arts lovers have to change mindset to start paying for art,” Thole said.
One of the organisers, Rodwell Lumbe, who is also a poet, said they worked hard to put together the festival but was quick to bemoan lack of support.
“We were scared when we were starting this concept that it would not be embraced and, in the absence of support, we were even scared that poets would not come forth but we are thankful to all those who have held our hand,” Lumbe said.
He hailed Amaryllis Hotel for opening up to creatives.
“This is the beginning of more things to come; we are here to grow poetry and we are ready for next year,” Lumbe said.
It was a platform that showed that there is massive talent in the country.
There were performances from established poets which included legendary Benedicto Wokoma-atani Malunga, Michael Benjala, Joseph Madzedze, Luckier Chikopa, Q Malewezi, Tawonga Tadja Nkhonjera, Ella Cossam, Sylvester Kalizang’oma, Robert Chiwamba and Raphael Sitima.
Chiwamba, who is Pam President, also took advantage of the platform to call upon poets to join the association and contribute to it.
While some poets showed seriousness in their artistry, others simply gave the audience a raw deal.
On the musical side, there were performances from, among others, Agorosso, Waliko Makhala, Desire Manda, David Kalilani and Keturah.
Organisers, however, ran out of time and some poets who were billed to perform did not.
One of the poets affected was Yona Mlakatuli Gondwe from Mzuzu who indicated that he invested a lot in his set including adding two other artists.
But Lumbe said they had no choice due to inadequate time but to scrap off some acts.
With a budget of K2.8 million, some of the stakeholders that supported the poetry feast included Amaryllis Hotel, Kwa Haraba, Times Group, Miss Culture International, P-Edge and Saf Collections.
Hosted by Yankho Seunda and Mankhangankhunga, the poetry festival honoured some of the fallen poets in its segment and they included activist and poet Rafiq Hajat, Hebert Chimombo, Obrien Nazombe, George Chingeni, Steve Chimombo, J.W Gwengwe and David Rubadiri.