Despite arts, culture and heritage being the central focus during this year’s Africa Day of Decentralisation and Local Development, it was not given the much needed attention during an event held at Civic Centre in Blantyre on Tuesday.
Deputy Minister of Local Government Halima Daud presided over the event that saw her touring a few stalls including Jacaranda Cultural Centre, which displayed.
To make matters worse, a performance that was to feature poet Luckier Chikopa and musician Agorosso was cancelled at the eleventh hour, underlying the fact that there is still a long way to go for arts to be appreciated in the country.
Even the exhibitions were not enough to show the richness of creativity in Blantyre and the country and, yet, there is more on the ground.
The speeches made on the day that came from Daud and Blantyre City Mayor Wild Ndipo spoke highly of the value of arts to the society and yet there was little for people to see, in terms of arts, except the exhibited materials.
Blantyre City Council acting Chief Executive Officer Alfred Chanza, who was the master of ceremonies, said they would have wanted to have more in terms of arts but, being a national event, they scraped off other activities due to Covid.
“We planned a lot in terms of that but, with Covid, it was not possible. I was actually supposed to give a presentation with a focus on arts, culture and heritage in Blantyre but I did not. Again, this was a national event and, so, all activities were aligned to that,” Chanza said.
According to African Union (AU), the theme for this year was ‘Contribution of Arts, Culture and Heritage to the Sustainable Development of African Cities and Territories’ with the sub-theme being ‘Harnessing Youth Energy To Boost the Contribution of Cultural and Creative Industries in Job Creation and Sustainable Development of African Cities and Territories’.
Youthful artist Reuben Salima, who also does prosthetic make-up, said he was happy to showcase his works.
“We need more of these platforms. There is talent out there and many of us rely on this talent to make a living but we lack support and resources. I am happy that the deputy minister took time out to appreciate all this,” Salima said.
JCC Director Luc Deschamps said they were happy to have taken part in the commemoration that highlighted the cultural ecosystem of Blantyre City.
“Our centre was born from the work we do at Jacaranda School for Orphans by teaching music and other disciplines and, through all these, we contribute to the growth of Blantyre City and its appeal to everyone in Malawi and beyond,” he said.