No Northern Region schools at Atem grand finale


The Association of the Teaching of English in Malawi (Atem) has played a bigger role in helping uplift theatre in the country and prides in exposing several actors some of which are making it big in the industry.

Some of the big names that have come through Atem include late theatre maestro Du Chisiza Jr, who went on to form Wakhumbata Ensemble Theatre (Wet) which today is no longer in the picture.

Atem could have been way up to this day but it continues to go down and last Saturday during the grand finale won by Providence Girls Secondary School with their play Innocent Soul, saw Northern region schools failing to show up.


The absence of Northern region schools at the grand finale narrowed down the contest which now only saw six schools from the Southern and Central regions battling it out.

Atem President Fanwell Mapira admitted on Sunday that the grand finale held at Bwaila Secondary School would have been better if they had Northern region schools on board as has always been the case but they had no choice.

“As Atem we are running this project without funding, actually we work as volunteers so this has been the biggest challenge. We would like to thank Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) for the support but they cannot do it alone. We need more support. Many sponsors only come during national finals but this starts in the regions,” said Mapira.


He said that the Northern region schools failed to show up because of funding as they could not raise money for transport to take them to Lilongwe.

“For instance the K300,000 we got from ZBS we used it in paying the judges, security and the hall with the remainder going to the winning schools. Despite the absence of schools in the north, the competition was impressive and we saw very good performances and there was no violence,” said Mapira.

He said as Atem, they have not sat back but they will try their best to engage the corporate world to assist this oldest competition and that they are also looking into strengthening the committees in the schools.

“We will brainstorm and find solutions, look into the committees because some members are not active. We also do meet a challenge of teacher transfers and so some teachers are not willing to work as volunteers as a result some schools which were doing well end up losing out,” said Mapira.

Providence Girls from Mulanje came first in the competition and received K75,000 as winners, Tsabango Secondary School from Lilongwe with their play Wages of Wickedness was second and received K50,000 while Blantyre Baptist Academy with their piece Fate Against Destiny was third and received K45,000.

Lilongwe Girls Secondary School, Likangala and Dedza came fourth, fifth and sixth respectively and pocketed K15,000 each as consolation prizes. Their plays were A Voice from Inside, The Lost Concord and Cultural Conflict respectively.

The judges of the competition were led by former National Theatre Association of Malawi (Ntam) President Ian Chitsekula.

Mapira also said there were also Best Actress and Best Actor awards as well as Best English Speaker, Best Script and Best Costume among others.

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