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‘Let’s treasure our culture’

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Priest, artist and anthropologist Claude Boucher Chisale has called on Malawians to treasure “our culture” and preserve it for the future generation.

Boucher Chisale said this on Friday when journalists from different media houses from Blantyre and Lilongwe visited the Kungoni Centre of Culture and Art at Mua Mission in Dedza.

The tour was organised by MultiChoice Malawi ahead of the Africa Day which falls on May 25.

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According to available information, Africa Day is the annual commemoration on May 25, 1963 founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

On this day, leaders of 30 of the 32 independent African states signed a founding charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 1991, the OAU established the African Economic Community, and in 2002 the OAU established its own successor, the African Union.

However, the name and date of Africa Day has been retained as a celebration of African unity.

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Africa Day is observed as a public holiday in six African countries, that includes Ghana and Zambia. However, celebrations are held in other African countries.

“Africa is not a poor country as some quarters have put it. This is a continent which has so much wealth. We have to preserve our culture and be proud of it,” he said.

Boucher Chisale, who came in the country in 1967 from Canada and founded Kungoni Centre in 1976, said many Malawians do not value their culture.

“Let’s not sell our tradition which is our treasure. Our parents left this country for us and so we have to protect it for the younger generation,” said the artist, who speaks Chichewa fluently.

He said he founded Kungoni to celebrate the wealth of Malawi’s cultural and artistic inheritance and hailed MultiChoice for bringing journalists to the place to appreciate what they do.

“Through Kungoni we are trying to give people back their pride and that we have to cherish our culture. We should not forget where we are coming from no matter what. We must reconcile ourselves with our culture and extract something from it and use it for development,” he said.

During the tour journalists had time to visit the museum where they were able to take pictures while in other places they were not allowed to. They also participated in wood carving and drawing spearheaded by artists at Mua.

They also watched traditional dances performed by the Chewa and Ngoni and in between the dances, Boucher Chisale explained why the traditional dances were performed.

Some of the dances performed included Ingoma and Gule Wamkulu.

MultiChoice Malawi Sales and Marketing Manager Chimwemwe Nyirenda said they have been in the forefront celebrating Africa Day to remind Malawians of the beauty of being Africans.

“This year we thought of bringing journalists to Kungoni where they appreciated several things about culture as well as the history of the Chewa, Ngoni and Yao,” said Nyirenda.

He said apart from watching the various traditional dances, journalists also participated in the dances and that this was all about engagement.

“We decided to hold it early because we wanted journalists to appreciate all about culture and then spread the word about Africa Day. Again through DStv and GOtv we have lined up several programmes on different channels as part of celebrating Africa,” said Nyirenda.

Several people in the village also joined journalists to watch some of the traditional dances whose climax was a performance by Lulu.

Lulu performed at Mua for the first time and excited the audience.

Armed with his guitar, Lulu in a one –band set showed his guitar skills as he played the instrument with much ease attracting applause from the audience.

At times he also took time out to ask the audience to sing along as he dished out one song after another and most of the songs people were familiar with.

Apart from offering songs from his previous albums, Lulu also played a song from his fifth album Mwayenera, which he launched recently in Lilongwe.

“It’s been exciting performing here for the first time. We get support mostly from people in the rural areas and I am happy with the support I got. I hope to come back again,” said the singer and guitarist.

Some people said after Lulu’s performance that it was the first time for them to see the artist and that they just listen to his songs on the radio.

“I am going home happy because I have watched Lulu for the first time. I wish I had a smart phone I could have taken a photograph with him,” said a 20-year old young man, who only identified himself as John.

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