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Poet Q Malewezi talks arts growth

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Celebrated poet Q Malewezi said Wednesday there is a need for political will that is “serious” about further development of the creative sector which has been neglected for a long time by the country.

His sentiments, through his Facebook page, come as some creatives are lobbying for the passing of the National Arts and Heritage Council (Nahec) Bill which would lead to the establishment of Nahec.

“Full implementation and operation of the Culture Policy, Copyright Act and Communications Act will help create a much more conducive environment,” the renowned poet said.

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He said there was a need for business people to harness the potential of the sector to establish creative enterprises so that “we can expand our ecosystem.”

“Malawi is not short of artistic talents. The gap is the business skills that are needed to take that talent up the value chain,” Q said.

The artist, who last year was appointed board member of Poetry Association of Malawi, also said there was a need to do away with envy.

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“There are many opportunities that come our way but are sat on. We need to get to a place where we want others to succeed. The attitude that we have towards our artists and the arts needs to change. We need to take ourselves as professionals and hopefully we will be treated as such,” Q said.

He said artists do not have homes and that there was a need to have purpose-built infrastructure for the creative and cultural industry and qualified people to run them with the required funding.

“These are our markets to sell our products or services,” Q said.

The poet, who has starred in several festivals in and outside the country and also hosted high-profile events featuring top acts, called on fellow creatives to think more as creators and dig deeper into “who we are so we can create unique art that is authentically us”.

“No-one can beat us at being Malawian. Our stories are worth-telling. We have so much treasure in Malawi in terms of history, heritage and culture.

“I am not saying we should all focus on traditional music or art but we should study it and draw from it. Let us get inspired by who we are, let’s bring all these together and create something we can proudly call our own. Each artist in a way that is unique to their individual. Something that the world can look to say that is Malawian flavour,” he said.

Q, who has also been pushing arts through Kwezao, said that, as a sector, they needed to stop working in a fragmented fashion and should thus organise themselves to push for better policy implementation stressing that the individual efforts “can only take us so far and we can attain individual success but not overall growth.”

He also called on Malawians to support, promote and buy Malawian creative products and services as a matter of principle.

“We may say that the standard is lacking but the only way to improve standards is through investment. National pride is the key here. Every time a song or music video is played on radio or television, it generates money for the rights holders. If more Malawian content is played, more money is being generated for the content creators,” Q said.

The poet’s candid talk on art also comes following sentiments from some quarters about Malawian artists not being at the same level with other African artists.

“Artists can only rise as high as the value chain; so, it is important to understand the ecosystems that artists are in,” Q said.

Several other players commented on the issue.

“Profound and well-articulated. Key insights on here. This needs to reach all stakeholders. We need to act now. To a better arts and entertainment industry,” rapper Phyzix said.

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