By Sam Banda Jnr:
Musician Lazarus Chigwandali was all smiles on Friday following the premiere of his documentary at Orchid Garden in Lilongwe.
The screening of the documentary at home follows the premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in United States of America (USA) last month where Lazarus received an award.
The musician, who was accompanied by his wife at the premiere, was the toast of the moment as people scrambled to take photographs with him.
The documentary was shot by Emmy winner and academy award nominee David Darg from Los Angeles, assisted by filmmaker Clem Kwizombe.
The documentary tells the story of Lazarus, a street-side musician, who was born with albinism and the challenges he encountered to be where he is today.
Lazarus, who had time to perform during the premiere sharing the stage with other acts such as Blasto and Kuyenda Band, said he was happy that the documentary had been screened at home.
“I don’t know what to say but I am happy. This is something I didn’t think would happen in my life. The documentary tells my story, my life where I have come from and where I am today. This documentary also talks about the challenges facing people with albinism in the country,” Lazarus said.
Lazarus said he would love the country to protect people with albinism.
“People with albinism need protection. They also need to be empowered so that they should be doing businesses in their homes and not go far away in search of income because this puts them in danger,” he said.
The musician, who is set to release his album Stomp on the Devil on August 16 2019, said his life had changed since he met the likes of Johan Hugo and Esau Mwamwaya of The Very Best, and others who have assisted him greatly.
“I have developed in my music. I have had a chance to travel outside the country and perform at Times Square in United States of America as well as interacting with well-known players and sharing my story,” he said.
His wife, who went with one of their children to premiere, said life had changed since Lazarus started receiving support.
“Life has changed and I never knew things would turn out like this,” she said revealing that they have three children, two of which are also with albinism.
Activist Boniface Massah, who is also a person with albinism, said the documentary had been premiered at the right time since it was coming after commemorating World Albinism Awareness Day.
“Lazarus used to perform in the street and the documentary gives a picture of the potential of people with albinism. This will also encourage other people with albinism to utilise their talent. It is a good documentary about how his life had changed. He is someone we will utilise to speak about persons living with albinism,” Massah said.
With the theme of the World Albinism Day being ‘Still Standing Strong’, Massah said the documentary gives power to people with albinism “that we still need to stand strong”.
He said the premiere, among others, was also aimed at raising funds which will go towards the building of Lazarus’ house and that he should not go back to the streets but also his organisation wants to look at the health of people with albinism by, among others, distributing caps and sunglasses through their mobile clinics.
with albinism is very important. We want to make sure that people with albinism should not die of skin cancer. In the documentary, Lazarus lost his brother due to skin cancer,” Massah said.
One of the members of the organising team for the premiere, Adam Gaskins, said this Malawi premiere was not for everyone but they were targeting a national premiere.
“We will work with media houses in the country and the goal is to get eyes on this documentary by all people in the country because the story is very powerful,” Adam said.
He further said, because of copyright issues, they are not allowed to take it further for now since the documentary is set to feature on Netflix.
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