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Keeping artistic flame alive

To some, the annual National Schools Youth Arts Festival (Nasfest) is just another event; a ploy to keep the youth out of their homes.

But to James Kitchen, Light of Youth Creative Organisation Executive Director and Vice- General Secretary of the National Theatre Association of Malawi- Central Region Chapter, the festival serves as a vehicle for advancing the cause of the arts as it plants artistic seeds in the tender hearts of youth.

“Actually, we have managed to unearth talent and nurture it since May 4 2009, when we introduced the festival. No wonder that artists such as Elson Kambalu of Art House Africa have been able to sponsor the festival,” Kitchen said in an interview yesterday.

Kitchen said Nasfest is back this year, and would be held on February 4 at The Kamuzu Institute for Sports in Lilongwe.

However, the renowned actor said this year’s festival would not spill into several days. He said Nasfest would be held in one day from 8: 00am to 5: 30pm.

“We want to see how things pan out and, then, we may think of holding it for three days. That said, we are happy that students from 10 secondary schools and one primary school, Wala from Chiradzulu District, have confirmed their participation in the event. This is encouraging because the youth hold the arts candle and are our only hope moving forward,” Kitchen said.

While Kambalu has been associated with the event, it is a different story this year as The Story Club has bankrolled the event.

But Kitchen was quick to say, although Nasfest might have changed sponsors’ hands, its goal remains unchanged.

“The objective remains to disseminate life-saving information to the youth through the arts. Again, students get the opportunity to network and learn from each other. If we want to inculcate the spirit of togetherness in the youth, we have to start now. Otherwise, it will be too late,” Kitchen said.

Kitchen said Nasfest, which has been a fixed feature on the arts events’ calendar since 2009, sharpens the skills of youth.

In the end, though, it may not just be the spirit of networking that wins. The youth may learn the ropes in terms of how to survive in an environment full of people who fight for white colour jobs.

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