By Sam Banda Jnr:
Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa District proved its mettle in the speaking of the French language as it shined, producing the winner and runner up, during the grand finale of the 2019 French song competition held at Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) in Blantyre on Saturday.
The triumph of the two students from Dzaleka also marked the dominance in the competition of the Central Region-beating the Southern and Northern regions.
Boaz Chancelien came out top outclassing 11 other finalists during the competition spearheaded by Jacaranda Foundation in partnership with French Embassy in Malawi with Devine Lobilo coming second.
Running under the French banner of Chantons en francais, Chancelien won the hearts of the judges made up of musician Code Sangala, Head of Languages at St Andrews International High School, Claire-Lise, and Shamiso Kwambiri, a banker, who fluently speaks French and is also passionate about music to claim the top spot.
As a winner, Chancelien according to Director of French Studies at JCC and Maison de la France, Poya Chapweteka, walked away with an acoustic guitar, gold medal, trophy, French dictionary and K25,000 cash.
“His performance was extraordinary. He was the fourth contestant to come on stage but a good part of the audience had already declared him the winner. Apart from the voice and stage presence, he was the only one, who used a guitar during his performance and he played it so well,” Chapweteka said.
Chapweteka further said Lobilo, who played a gospel song, received K20,000 cash, a silver medal, trophy and French dictionary.
On third position was Thocco Gama from Jacaranda School for Orphans in Blantyre, who made sure that the Southern Region was not left out of the winners’ plate. She got a bronze medal, trophy, French dictionary and K15,000 cash.
“All the participants got branded T-shirts and bracelets. Congratulations to the winners and, for those who did not do well, there is always next time. All the contestants from the performances showed they had a goal and that is to do well,” Chapweteka said.
He said Chantons en francais is a singing competition targeting forms one to three French learners in secondary schools in the country.
The competition started last year following a request from teachers in secondary schools to introduce the French song contest which started with the regional finals where four contestants in each region were selected.
French Honorary Consul in Malawi, Luc Deschamps, who is also JCC and Maison de la France director, said it was beautiful to see students coming from as far as Karonga, Mzuzu, Dowa, Lilongwe and Zomba participating in the French singing contest national finals.
“Different styles of music were represented; you talk of pop, reggae, rap and traditional music from Africa. We launched this competition last year and it is great to see it growing with a higher level of music and French language. We encourage students across the country to join the competition next year,” Deschamps said.
He outlined the importance of learning the French language, saying, among others, it opens up different worlds for the Malawian youth.
“It was also inspiring to hear our guest of honour, Chigo Grace, sing her song in French and this was a great example to the youth to see adults learn French and use the language to advance their careers at international level and to communicate with people around the world,” Deschamps said.
The French song contest grand finale came barely a week after Jacaranda Foundation hosted the French storytelling competition involving some of the colleges. Jacaranda Foundation also runs the French Schools Drama competition.
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