Improved audience for Blantyre Arts Festival on last day


The Blantyre Arts Festival (Baf) ended on Sunday with headliners Black Missionaries closing the curtain.

The festival— which was held at Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC) and Jacaranda Cultural Centre (BCC) over the weekend— suffered a setback, in terms of patronage, on the opening and second day, particularly at the main venue, BCC, but there was an improvement on the last day.

By early afternoon, when the created stage at BCC was hosting urban artists who did not play live but used CDs, there were a few people who made it to the venue.


But the audience improved later on, with more people pinching in late— probably because of the presence of headliners, Black Missionaries, and Anthony Makondetsa.

Despite artists complaining on Saturday that the created stage was not friendly to performances, organisers never made any improvements when performances continued on Sunday.

There were no power cuts on Sunday, a marked improvement from the previous day. As such, performances went uninterrupted.


Some performances were razor sharp, with artists showing that they, indeed, rehearsed and planned well for the festival.

But, for some, performances were simply below par. This is because some artists had nothing new to show and, in fact, other acts did not deserve to be at the festival.

Urban artists, mostly comprising the youth, have stood out when it comes to creating songs but many continue to struggle on stage.

Some of the urban acts that performed on Sunday include Blaze, Stitch Fray and Mafo but it was Sir Patricks who stood out.

It was a CD affair for all the album artists except Khuza Rampi, who performed earlier


on with a band, as well as Andrea’s Band.

The other live acts came from German artists Masha and Arne, who did well and even had a collabo with locals of Sillah Bakali and a colleague.

There was also a chance for the audience to sample the performance of the all female group, Krazy Colours, from Lilongwe.

“We are happy to perform at Baf. This is our first time but the response was good. We are making strides. We are now being accepted, as compared to the first days when people thought women could not do it, in terms of playing instruments,” lead guitarist, Cynthia Phiri, said.

The four member band— including Felistas Phiri (lead vocalist), Carol Fatch (backing vocalist), Kester Kunje (drummer) and Christine Msuseni (bassist)— performed at Baf, barely a week after starring at Sound and Light concert in Salima.

Before Blacks took over the stage, Ivory Coast-based female act, Tamanyawaka Chavula, warmed up the stage followed by Makondetsa.

At JCC, there was spoken word poetry.

“For me, I have been to both venues [and, in my view], they were very organised at JCC and the audience was good. At BCC, there were hiccups, one of them being poor time management. They need to improve; otherwise, it is a good festival with a variety of arts,” Ronald Mlangeni said.

Mlangeni also said he was impressed with the creation of a market place where he enjoyed local food on Saturday.

Random interviews with some of the artists described the festival as good but it has room for improvement.

“It’s a good festival but they were very disorganised. The potential is there but they keep on repeating the same mistakes. For instance, the stage at BCC was very poor and not suitable for a festival,” said an artist who did not want to be named.

Baf Executive Director, Thom Chibambo, said, despite the shortfalls, they were happy to make a comeback after a one-year break.

“Coming back was a great thing after a break and we are looking forward to the continuity. We just want to thank all those who supported us,” Chibambo said.

The festival got support from, among others, Hivos through Cultural Fund Malawi oiled by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Japanese Embassy and Germany Embassy.

And, so, this year’s festival, which run under the theme ‘100 Percent Local’, is done and dusted.

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