Poet zeros in on ‘Maizegate’
Malawi’s ceiling of fairness has dropped so low that poet Mollen Nazombe can no longer watch as things go wrong. More so when the victim is the ordinary Malawian.
In a typical case of timeliness, Nazombe has composed a poem titled ‘Champweteka N’chimanga’, which zeroes in on Maizegate— the suspicious procurement of maize from Zambia.
Nazombe said in an interview yesterday that the poem is a reflection of what is happening in society.
“The persona in the poem addresses the issue of Maizegate. It is a creative way of looking at the issue. Actually, the poem is part of my next poetry album, ‘Ngati Mumati Ziri Bwino’, which will be released in March this year,” Nazombe said.
Nazombe, who used to host Bwalo, a vernacular poetry programme of Matindi FM, was quick to say that he cannot not continue watching as some people lose the plot in national affairs.
Ngati Mumati Ziri Bwino is a critical piece that zooms in on goings-on in society, letting a persona who feels that things are alright eat his own words as things go haywire in a land where everything was supposed to be in proper frame.
The poet is known for works such as Kalata kwa Aunt, Ng’ombe ya Mkaka, Suja Mmati Ndiyododa – which takes a swipe at People’s Party’s failure in the 2014 presidential elections— among others. The poems are in Ng’ombe ya Mkaka album, which was released in 2015.
However, Nazombe laments that things are not working well for poets, observing, for example, that their works are being freely distributed and the poets are earning nothing out of that.
“People are sending each other poems through WhatsApp and other platforms and, by the time a poet releases an album, the poems are already in circulation. So, we are not benefitting from our sweat and something has to be done about it.
However, poets such as Joseph Madzedze have expressed optimism that the Copyright Act of 2016 may improve the situation and help poets reap where they have sown.
For some time, artists in Malawi wanted the outdated Copyright Act of 1989 amended. The criticism was that the 1989 Act had failed to address some of the challenges in the creative industry.
The new act stipulates, for instance, that a person who infringes any copyright commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine of K5 million and to imprisonment for two years and, in the case of a continuing offence, to a further fine of K25,000 for each day during the course of committing the offence.
In addition, those whose copyrights have been infringed on are entitled to get a maximum of K700, 000 from the fine of K10 million which the perpetrator is obliged to pay.
Culture Minister, Patricia Kaliati, has since warned that perpetrators will face the long arm of the law.
“We are serious about curbing practices such as piracy,” Kaliati said in an interview.
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