There is just massive talent in the country which has not been given the much needed attention especially in a country where art is not yet given respect.
But despite art or talent not being supported and not being given the attention it deserves let alone not being included in manifestoes by political parties as well as not being considered in the budget, artists continue to push for themselves.
In the year 2020, the country still talks about the absence of the Arts Council which would have been on the ground by now following the approval of the Cultural Policy long time ago.
Artists have been lobbying for the Arts Council for a long time and they continue to talk about it with the hope that one day, light will shine on their faces.
The creative sector continue to talk about the Arts Council with the hope that one day once it comes into effect, they will be able to receive subvention from the government which will in turn trickle to the arts associations to use for different initiatives including capacity building programmes.
Such is the pain that artists have to endure and no wonder, politicians have the guts to use them to help them woo supporters during campaign rallies and then dump them once all is well for them.
Today the country could have been talking about having art schools that are able to train people in different art disciplines such as dance and music. But there are a few including University of Malawi – Chancellor College in Zomba and Music Crossroads Malawi in Lilongwe.
But despite all these challenges which have seen some of the arts associations operating without offices, artists have not given up on their talents. They continue to show the best of their talents in different disciplines and at the same time raise the country’s flag.
One of the talents that is taking shape and centre stage in the country is contortionism. This is an art that sees people bending their bodies as if they do not have bones.
In one of our Weekender editions, we featured a talented young man by the name of Stevie Shando. Shando has been trending on social media with his exploits.
He has been on the move patronising different events and showing the best of his talents.
And just to show how good he was, he recently earned himself a top position in the Online World Yoga Championship organised by World Yoga Federation. He came first in the competition outclassing several other people from other countries.
But while contortionist is male dominated, women have also shown they can excel in the game.
One of the names that have come out to show the better side of women and compete with males in the game of contortionism is 21-year old Felicity Thunyani.
And just like shando, who has surprised many people with his talent especially the way he bends and twists his body, Thunyani has also surprised many with the way she bends and twists her body.
And to her bending and twisting her body is very simple but to many of us, this is a difficult task.
Thunyani started practicing contortions and yoga in 2019 and she was introduced to yoga by a yoga teacher Alice Chipanda in July 2019 to help improve her flexibility.
Currently pursuing a Diploma in Journalism and Media Studies at the Continuing Education Centre at The Polytechnic in Blantyre, Thunyani is the first born in the family of three children.
But how did she start working with Shando?
“I saw her on her sister’s status and then I asked for her number and then we ended up practicing together. We are actually looking for others contortionists as well to form a team which will be representing Malawi at international competitions. There is so much talent in the country but we have not done enough to exploit,” Shando said.
Thunyani, who stays in Manyowe in Blantyre hails from Tandwe Village, Traditional Authority Malengachanzi in Nkhotakota District.
But being a lady, why did she move in with this talent especially taking into consideration that it is dominated by men?
“I took this up because I found out that it gives me peace within my body to be doing something which seems impossible to many people,” Thunyani said.
She said to her she considers it as her hobby and that contortionism benefits her body from physical stress.
“I am still trying out new styles and also learning new techniques but this started way back when I was young and as I grew up I just kept on improving until I met my yoga teacher and now we practice together with Stevie Shando. I know there are women out there, who can do this and probably they have other talents, let them not seat on those talents, it is time to bring them out and shine, “she said.
Just like Shando, who has stunned people with her talent and brought so many questions in the minds of the people, Thunyani, said some people feel what she does is nothing but magic.
“It is not magic, this is a talent which I have improved with time and there is more to offer,” she said.
While Shando goes as far as drinking a two litre bottle of water non-stop, Thunyani is yet to master the other skills but she is quick to say that she will get there.
She tells it all with a little smile that she loves doing this and that she does not regret at all.
Contortionism is quite a heavy word but for those, who used to work with the Student Companion in secondary school then the word contortionist is not at all strange.
According to the meaning in a dictionary, a contortionist is an entertainer who twists and bends their body into strange and unnatural positions.
It further says that a contortionist is an extremely flexible performer who can bend his or her body into interesting and odd positions. The dictionary says that the word contortionist comes from the verb contort, which has a Latin root, contorquere, “to whirl or twist together,” from torquere, “to twist.”
This is what Thunyani can do because her body is flexible and on top of that, she is an entertainer.