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Giving culture spotlight

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In this modern world, culture continues to be given a cold shoulder in the country, let alone being given the much-needed platform.

But it is all a different story at Mua Mission in Dedza which, among others, houses the Kungoni Arts Centre of Culture and Art, where culture is valued and is always given the platform and prominence.

This is a place which has always been instrumental in the promotion of culture and it is here where you meet artist Claude Boucher Chisale, who founded Kungoni Centre in 1976.

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There is a lot to learn here and Chisale, who speaks Chichewa fluently, having come to Malawi from Canada in 1967, tells it all that this is a cultural hub and is there to help show the beauty of preserving culture.

And so this Saturday, the place will host an open day. The open day is held every year to celebrate culture but this year it is special in that Kungoni is celebrating 40 years of its existence and dedication to culture.

“We always hold open days every year mid August but this year, it is special and so there will be a lot on song on Saturday,” said a member of Friends of Kungoni, Rodney Kanyama on Wednesday.

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He said the open days are also used to promote the gospel through culture as Kungoni is part of Mua Mission.

“So on the days there will be a lot, we will start with holy mass in the morning to be held at the open theatre, actually this will be a traditional Ngoni holy mass and the theme for the event this year is Mercy,” Kanyama said.

He added:

“The questions being raised on the theme, among others, are what is gospel without culture or customs? We are trying to aim at humanity that culture has the human side of life,” he said.

Kanyama said the mass will be followed by traditional dances from the surrounding villages.

“We have the Kungoni Cultural Troupe which will perform but again we also do have groups from the surrounding villages and we have Chewa, Ngoni and Yao groups, which will give us all the traditional dances they perform,” he said.

Kanyama said apart from the traditional dances, there will also be a play.

“We always do have a play with its theme and this year we are focusing on how Malawi has lost its humanity. The play is centring on a Yao folktale titled Kachilambe,” he said.

Kanyama said Kachilambe folktale tells the story of a pumpkin which ate all other pumpkins and remained alone.

“Through this play, we are reflecting on so many ills happening in the country including the killing of people with albinism. We used to have a country full of love among people but with modernisation, all that love is gone and no one cares,” he said.

Kanyamba said the key message this year remains that culture is very important and that it must not be ignored for it determines “who we are.”

“There is a lot that is in culture for instant we need to have respect for each other and respect for the environment. Culture promotes hard work and good governance and so we are failing in a lot of areas because we have ignored culture,” Kanyama said.

With culture also losing its grip due to some of the harmful elements, Kanyama said the country must reflect on the good things of culture.

“People from all places are welcome to the open day. It will be a special day,” he said.

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