Mzuzu University Theatre Arts Group (Mutag) has utilised the talents of comedians Chikang’a Sasoka and Ching’aning’ani in an initiative aimed at raising awareness on proper assimilation of ex-convicts into society.
Mutag member Misheck Mzumara, who is also drama lecturer at Mzuzu University, said Sunday that usually ex-convicts are looked upon as criminals even when they have served their sentences.
“It is a situation that needs awareness and we thought we should use art to disseminate the message. Many of the ex-convicts have really reformed and some are doing their own things,” Mzumara said.
He said many ex-convicts are suffering and that they even fail to lead a normal life, let alone finding part time jobs.
“Ex-convicts should be treated as every Malawian and this is why we have come in to use interactive comedy which I have developed,” Mzumara said.
The initiative has seen comedians Chikang’a Sasoka and Ching’aning’ani, real names Mada Kamwendo and Tame Mwawa, holding performances close to prisons.
“We choose to hold these performances close to prisons because those around prison easily recognise ex-convicts. Of course, we have had challenges due to Covid,” he said.
Kamwendo said Sunday they were happy to be using comedy to disseminate important awareness messages.
“We have been engaged in a number of projects of raising awareness on different issues and this one is important as well. We have seen ex-convicts being treated unfairly and, through art, we are trying to tell people that we need to accommodate these people in the society for some have really reformed,” Kamwendo said.
On Thursday, Chikang’a Sasoka and Ching’aning’ani starred at Manje in Blantyre to engage people on the issue.
“We need to talk about these issues in order to bring about change and art is key in all this,” Kamwendo said.
The duo also handed over soap to Chichiri Prison which was distributed to prisoners.
Mzumara said the support in the initiative came from the audience at Mbunga Mwambene’s performance of his play The Whispers in the city of Ulm in Germany where they asked him to choose how to make use of the donation anywhere in the world.
“Mwambene chose to do something in Malawi around the themes of prison. He thought of a partnership between Nanzikambe Arts Women’s Club, Mutag and comedians and so this is part of the whole project,” he said.
For a long time, Mbene headed lots of projects for Nanzikambe Women’s Club and projects in prison.
Ex-convicts from Chichiri Prison in Blantyre have reformed through art which they upgraded through Chichiri Prison Cultural Troupe before continuing with Nkhokwe Arts outside prison.