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Inside the files of Mum in 2015

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Musicians Union of Malawi (Mum) has been on their toes in the year 2015 working on different programmes to propel the music industry as well as help build the creative industry as a whole.

With 2015 exiting and 2016 about to enter, Mum President Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango shared some of the positives and the negatives in the year 2015.

Mhango who has just returned from a meeting in Sweden alongside treasurer Young Chilaga said on Wednesday that the union’s national executive had a meeting on Tuesday to look into the year 2015 but also share their experiences.

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The Mum President said they had a fruitful meeting in Sweden organised by the Swedish Music Union which gives funding to Mum for different programmes.

The meeting according to Mhango attracted the presence of members from other countries including Brazil and South Africa.

“As the year 2015 is about to bid farewell, we decided to meet as national executive council. I gave a report about the Sweden trip. What we learnt and some new developments,” said Mhango.

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Among others, the Mum leader said that Geza Polonyi, who was coordinating the country’s programme retired and that two people had taken over his position to continue monitoring the Malawi project.

“Swedish Music Union will continue to support Mum as long as we are transparent and vibrant and continue to be effective,” said Mhango.

He said they made several requests during the meeting including asking for an increase in funding but they were told it that can only be done in 2016.

“Otherwise we learnt about their management organisation, financial management, communication skills and expansion strategies and they were satisfied with our report,” he said.

Mhango also revealed that the team from the Swedish Music Union will be visiting the country in February 2016.

He said the national executive meeting also discussed the issue of the Central region chapter which has been running without a chairperson for months since the suspension of Farai Chazima Soko.

Soko was suspended after some of the members from the chapter wrote a letter to the president saying that she among others she was not attending meetings.

“It was agreed during the meeting that the Central region chapter should conduct fresh elections for the chairperson. If Farai Chazima Soko is still interested, she can seek for fresh mandate through the votes,” said Mhango.

The past two years, Mum has been holding the Music Malawi(Muma) Awards to decorate musicians in the country and just like last year, the awards received heavy criticism.

Mhango said Mum will not be able to hold the awards this year and that the meeting unanimously agreed that there should not be awards.

He said the meeting observed that the previous awards which they held in partnership with Mediacorp and Trocadero Consulting among others made them cough out more in return.

“You might want to know that we haven’t finished paying some artists and others up to now. We have struggled with our partners who left a number of unsorted bills,” he said.

Mhango said the aim of the awards was to encourage and recognise artists as well as wowing them to become members.

“But this was simply not achieved. Many of the members have not been part of the awards and some of them have ended up criticising us so we decided to hold it for now and plan it well in 2016,” he said.

Mhango added:

“We cannot be perfect from the beginning but we can always grow. We feel that we need to go back to our drawing board and start afresh. We will definitely be back with the awards in 2016 after ironing out a number of issues that have been raised right from nomination process and categorisation among others.”

Mhango said the year 2015 has been challenging for Mum and that they were looking for nothing but the best in 2016.

Despite the challenges, the Mum leader said there were some positives citing among others the adoptions of the Cultural Policy by the government.

The Cultural Policy which has not seen the light of the day for years was approved by the cabinet early this year.

While artists have welcomed the approval, some have called felt the policy would also need to go back to Parliament.

But Director of Culture in the Ministry of Sports and Culture Elizabeth Gomani Chindebvu said after the approval that policies do not go to Parliament and that after this process, there now had to start implementation which will among others lead to the formation of the Arts and Heritage Council.

“There is a proposal in the Cultural Policy for the establishment of the Arts and Heritage Council but this now has to come through an Act of Parliament,” said Chindebvu.

She said they are now working on coming up with a bill to establish a council and the ministry said recently that they are making progress and that they have started making consultations.

Mhango said there has been greater unity and love amongst musicians in the year 2015 adding that the passion for them to change things for the better has been clear through social networking where they have created groups.

Mhango said musicians have also been vibrant in terms of performances in the year 2015 and also hailed the nomination of Piksy in this year’s Kora Awards for his song ‘Moto,’ which is in his Mthunzi album.

Piksy who has been nominated in the category of Best Male – Southern Africa stands a chance of winning US$ 50,000 in the Kora Awards whose grand finale will be held in March, 2016 in Namibia.

Mhango also said that Mum was happy with the nomination of the Zomba Prison Project in this year’s Grammy Awards in the World Music category for their album I have No Everything Here.

“We have a long way to go but to get such nominations is something to appreciate and we wish Piksy and Zomba Prison Music Project all the best. There were other artists who were also nominated in other awards,” said Mhango.

He said the industry still lacks support and that there are no serious labels for music and no proper mediums of internal exposures for their music.

Mhango said piracy remains a huge challenge for them and that musicians are failing to make money from their sweat.

“This is a serious issue and it continued to affect musicians in the year 2015 and failure by the government to bring the Copyright Act to Parliament has been one of the most disappointing experiences.

While we appreciate the efforts by the government in certain things, we feel that this is something serious to consider speeding up and we hope they will help us in 2016,” said the Mum leader.

Mhango also said that the year 2015 has brought to light several talented musicians who have shown Malawians that music was taking the right direction.

Some of the musicians he praised for doing well in the year 2015 include Patience Namadingo, who released his album titled Lero, Martsy who soared with his song ‘Mwano and Sangie, who was voted the Best New Artist in this year’s Urban Music Party (UMP).

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