Go you and make guitars


Nine carpenters have been trained in guitar making which was held at HHI Secondary School in Blantyre.

The training spearheaded by Music Development Centre, a non-governmental organisation that is focusing on music education in the country, ended on Saturday having run for two weeks.

Music Development Centre Project Manager Mandinda Zungu said the guitar making project was initiated after she visited a university in Belgium.


“Last year in October I had an opportunity to visit schools, universities and museums of music in Belgium whilst on holiday and so I visited one of the universities where the trainers we have came from. They actually make guitars, violins and other instruments,” she said.

Mandinda said that the two Belgium instrument making graduates Loïc Lemaire and Lennert Van de Velde were interested in visiting Malawi and hold guitar making lessons.

“At first I thought they were just joking but they were serious and we exchanged emails until later and now here they are facilitating the guitar making training,” she said.


Mandida said they run adverts in the newspaper on the training where a small fee was expected to be paid as contribution but she revealed that most people did not respond.

“Being the first time probably people were not interested but we will look at doing more with resources permitting but we are happy as Music Development Centre that now we have carpenters who can make guitars,” she said.

Loïc said that as students they were also still learning but they decided to use the knowledge they have now to impart it to the people of Malawi.

“We would like to thank Music Development Centre for initiating this project. Guitar making requires quality and the team we have worked with has done well being that it was only for two weeks,” he said.

Lennert described Malawi as a beautiful country with friendly people adding that they were happy to impart the skills of guitar lessons to Malawians.

“This is just the beginning but we hope we will have more time to be coming and train more but again the ones we have told will now be able to produce guitars for the creative industry,” he said.

Most of the carpenters, who participated in the guitar making training at HHI came from Phalombe district.

Some of the carpenters said they did not know that they can use simple tools to make guitars.

“I am excited to be among the few people to be trained in guitar making and now it’s for us to go out there and make guitars for the industry. I have been a carpenter for years but I didn’t know how to make a guitar. All I thought was that one needs expensive tools and materials to make a guitar but you can use simple materials,” Zingalume Sumbuleta.

Among those trained were also two women carpenters, who said they were excited to be among the few who can now make guitars.

“As a woman I am happy to be among the few or else the first female carpenters to learn how to make a guitar. This is something special and it will even push us to learn how to play the instrument,” said Edith Mwachande, who came all the way from Phalombe.

Music Development Centre was running the project in collaboration with HHI Secondary School which provided the workshop.

Belgium volunteer Johan Vanhoutte, who is also part of the Music Development Centre, said the success of the project has compelled them to be doing the training twice a year.

He also said that the country needs to introduce guitar lessons in secondary schools and technical colleges.

Blantyre-based Mtengo Guitars which is headed by Ian Thomson is another company that also makes guitars both acoustic and electric.

The company started on a smaller note but has now grown its base exporting guitars outside the country and has been repairing guitars for several musicians.

Thomson used his guitar making skills to train some locals to make guitars before the formation of the company.

Some of the locals are now on their own making guitars while the others are still working with Mtengo Guitars.

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