Renowned story teller and cultural activist Dyson Gonthi has thanked the Chewa Heritage Foundation (Chefo) for giving him an award in recognition of his role in helping preserve culture in the country.
Gonthi, who has also come out to advocate for children to be taught in their mother tongue in schools said the award which he received recently will motivate him to do more.
“I never saw this coming but I am happy that there are organisations out there like Chefo that are noticing what I am doing. Culture is very important because it defines your roots and this is why they say a nation without culture is as good as dead,” said the veteran cultural activist.
He said awards motivate people and that his award came as a surprise.
“I can’t remember when I received an award and so to get one from Chefo has given me more power to do more. There is a lot that needs to be done for us to preserve our culture,” said Gonthi.
Gonthi has also been instrumental starring in radio plays in the popular MBC’s Nzeru Nkupangwa programme which among others teach, educates and entertains.
“I once stopped doing Nzeru Nkupangwa but I am still doing it now. I started doing radio plays in Nzeru Nkupangwa in the 1980s and I never knew people would love my role. Today I meet people and they tell me I have helped change their lives and so this is what makes me happy,” he said.
Gonthi said with technology, the younger generation is copying foreign cultures and that more needs to be done so that “we do not lose this generation.”
“We are not saying technology is bad, technology has to be there and it has helped in shaping a lot of things but technology needs not to kill our culture. We need to preserve it because it defines who we are. In the past years we used to respect traditional leaders and children used to respect their parents but it is a different story nowadays, traditional leaders are not respected and children do not respect their parents,” he said.
The veteran actor, who holds different roles in arts and culture organisations and is also part of the members spearheading the Blantyre Arts Festival(BAF), said although he is growing old, he will continue to spread the message about the importance of culture.
“In the past years as children we used to perform different traditional dances, our parents used to take us home to learn different things but nowadays things have changed. This is why some of our traditional dances are dying,” he said.
Gonthi, who also established Dygo Cultural Troupe with the aim of spreading different messages but also perform different traditional dances, said he wants to move in several places in the country and teach about culture.
“At the moment my work is only concentrated in the urban areas but I want to go in rural areas. The problem I have is that I do not have transport. If organisations can come in and support me then my work will be made easier and we will be able to reach out to more people as regards issues about culture,” he said.
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