This year ’s Land of Poets Festival flopped big time as it received a miserable audience at Robin’s Park in Blantyre on Monday which was Independence Day but the presence of one of the great poets the country has ever produced Professor David Rubadiri, ignited the event.
Having booked the Robin’s Park Hall in March, the organisers of the festival, Poetry Association of Malawi (Pam) had no idea that this year’s Independence celebrations will be held at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre just a few kilometres from the venue.
They learnt it way late that the celebrations which climaxed with several activities including an international football match between Malawi and Uganda and were presided over by President Peter Mutharika were taking place in the commercial city of Blantyre and hence could not cancel the festival.
So they went ahead with the event on Monday and despite poetry gaining momentum of late attracting huge audiences, it was not to be as a few people who could be counted within a few minutes, attended the festival which was running for the third time.
But the presence of Rubadiri brought smiles on the faces of upcoming poets and he was the centre of attraction on the day as many scrambled to take photographs with him at the end.
Accompanied by his wife, Rubadiri offered a moving speech that encouraged upcoming poets to keep reading and writing and he said he was impressed with the talent on the day.
Veteran poet and writer Benedicto Wokoma atani Malunga famed for the piece ‘Ndizakutengela Kunyanja Ligineti,’ said the festival scored low on attendance compared to the previous festivals attributing it to competition with the independence celebrations.
“But the few people that came are the ones that love and enjoy poetry and the icing on the cake was the presence of David Rubadiri who mingled with everyone and delivered a moving speech,’ said the creator of ‘Siananso Awa.’
Malunga said there is great potential for poetry to grow observing that there were new revelations from the upcoming poets and that the new generation is up to task having shown a lot of interest in their culture.
The festival’s organising chairperson Hoffman Aipira said the festival was a success inspite of the poor audience adding that all the poets they invited were in attendance including Rubadiri.
“The festival has been a success although we received a poor audience.
“We usually hold the festival between 6th and 7th and so we thought this year the celebrations will be held in Lilongwe. So when we learnt it will be here, we had no choice and we could not cancel. But everything went well. We will try to have mini events as we continue with the festival,” said Aipira.
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