ARTISTS’ products are a reflection of the society that they live in. Artists enlighten the society that is the reason artists – in which ever genre – are expected to set the agenda when there is a common cause for the society to pursue.
As Malawi’s Independence Day approaches, artists would be engaged in different activities to celebrate Malawi’s independence. Musicians Union of Malawi (Mum) president, Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango, said it is very important for artists to take part in national celebrations.
“Artists are entertainers and Independence Day is about celebrating our independence; as such, there is no proper celebration without entertainment. As I was growing up, I remember that each and every band that was popular at that time was invited to perform at various events to commemorate the day,” Mhango said.
Mhango said that, as a union, they were not happy with the turn of events. “We are a bunch of neglected people because this could have been the time the government and other stakeholders could approach us to perform at various Independence Day events but it is not the case as the government concentrates on traditional dances,” he said.
Mhango said there are effects of excluding artists in national celebrations. “It’s like having relish without spices. In so doing, you miss out on certain ingredients which could have made the relish to smell and taste good. Without music, I don’t think the celebrations can reach their climax,” he said. However, Mhango was quick to point out that, as a union, they have not organised anything to mark the day. “But some individual artists have and we look forward to such shows,” he said.
Kwathu Drama Group actor, Eric Mabedi, said, as a group, they have organised various shows to celebrate the day. The group has three shows between July 2 and 8 in Mwanza, Blantyre and Lilongwe and it will be the best time to launch their new play. Mabedi said, as artists, they realise that no celebration can take place without artists.
“There is no celebration that can take place without involving artists. And this is no ordinary drama show as we have included some extra activities to commemorate the day. There will be acoustic performances and poetry recitals,” Mabedi said.
Lilongwe-based musician, Lulu, said it is significant for artists to take part in national celebrations. “Artists help to keep the celebration lively, otherwise, it can be boring for people to just listen to speeches,” he said. Lulu said he would have loved to have some performances on the day.
“Unfortunately, I will be in Scotland but if things do not go as planned then I will surely hold some few shows,” Lulu said. Time for charity Bossaro Music Group (BMG), which recently announced that it will be actively involved in charity work to improve the lives of people in the society, said the ideal way to celebrate independence is to work together as artists and raise enough money to help the vulnerable groups. BMG member Dalitso Mtambo, well-known as Iceberg or Bossaro Ice, said of course independence is about celebrations but artists can do more for the society.
“As entertainers, we need to entertain the people while at the same time reflecting on what those who lived before us sacrificed for us to enjoy this freedom. What the artists can do is to maintain that freedom. “However, we also realise that this could have been the moment for artists to work together and do some charity work and support community initiatives which will uplift the lives of vulnerable groups,” he said.
Role of entertainment venues Owners of entertainment venues have also come up with some initiatives to celebrate Independence Day.
Fifteen Sports Bar & Lounge, a trendy club in Mandala, Blantyre, will take the lead in celebrating Malawian Heritage on July 6 to offer unrivalled family entertainment. In a statement, co-owner of Fifteen Sports Bar and Lounge, James Makunje Jnr, said the country’s Independence Day is the best opportunity to reflect on where we are coming from and what we collectively want to achieve as Malawians.
“The most important thing is to celebrate our heritage. Once we accept who we are, the next step is to move forward and achieve our dreams. We should surely utilise the independence that we enjoy to make the country’s future bright,” he said.
Makunje said the choice of the theme ‘Proudly Malawi Day’ is befitting considering that families rarely have the opportunity to celebrate together. “Malawi is a communal society which makes it possible to interact and share food and drinks. We know that not everyone would manage to go to their home districts [and] that is the reason we want to create an atmosphere that will give the patrons that feeling of being proudly Malawian,” he said.
Some of the activities on this day include gulewamkulu, beni, clothing stalls, food stalls, cocktails stands and big firework display. “We will have thobwa and other local foods which the patrons would enjoy. We promise huge fun on Independence Day and we believe a lot of people will come and celebrate with us,” he said.
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