By Sam Banda Jnr:
The Tikonzekere Arts Contest, which is aimed at communicating flood vulnerability reduction and good practices through arts, was officially launched during a press briefing at Kwa Haraba Art Gallery and Café in Blantyre on Saturday.
According to the organisers, with the country facing multiple hazards which include floods, heavy storms, drought and dry spells, there was a need to put up other strategies to avoid losses in terms of life and goods.
The organisers further said that, between 1974 and 2019, more than 25 million people have been affected by these hazards, which are becoming more frequent, intense and unpredictable.
“One of the reasons the pattern and nature of the disasters that follow these hazards are becoming more and more destructive is lack of engagement of the affected communities to talk about how they can adapt to climate change,” the contest co-director Dr Bob Alexander, also known as Barefoot Bob in the music circles, said.
He said the contest is a tool created this year that aims at engaging people in the country to discuss problems they face because of these disasters through artistic creations.
The arts disciplines that are being used in the contest include photography, poetry, storytelling, song writing, short video creation and drawing.
“We have different ways of approaching issues to bring about change and art stands out as one of the ways. We want to inspire people with the contest to talk about issues and take action that will help them and their families to have less negative consequences during heavy rains and floods,” Barefoot Bob said.
He said that they wanted to engage art disciplines in the contest but they did not have the capacity and, so, they narrowed it down to a few.
“We normally looked at the people who were readily available to spearhead the arts disciplines. We wanted to have dance and theatre but it didn’t work out. We look forward to another contest where we will be able to engage more artists,” he said.
Barefoot Bob has stitched a theme song titled ‘Tikonzekere’, which he performed during the press briefing.
The song has English and Chichewa versions and talks about preparedness, among other things, and points at some of the good practices that can help people avoid losses.
One of the partners of the contest, Manard Nyirenda, who is also the Executive Director of Sustainable Development Initiative (SDI), said this was a big opportunity to discuss on how to deal with floods risk before floods happen.
“Most of the times, what we see are issues covering relief when floods have struck but we want to do it differently. The competition is there as a vehicle to bring these messages. Art engages people, the way artists craft their messages appeals to people and they entertain them. Arts makes messages simple and interesting and so people should expect a lot in this contest,” Nyirenda said.
He said all people were eligible to participate in the contest even if they were amateurs.
The deadline for receiving submissions is July 19 2019 with the semi-finalists selected in August, with the climax of the contest to be held during the Blantyre Arts Festival (Baf) from October 4 to 6 2019.
The winners in each category are expected to share K300,000 distributed as follows: K150,000 first position, with K100,000 and K50,000 for second and third position, respectively.
Some of the renowned artists spearheading the categories include Ekari Mbvundula (story telling), Waliko Makhala and Code Sangala (song writing), Paul Sezzie (poetry), Elson Kambalu (drawing) and Shemu Joyah (video).
The other partners for the contest include the government through the Department of Disaster Management, United Nations Development Programme, Music Crossroads, Baf, Story Ink Africa, Kwa Haraba, Vilipanganga, SDI, Society of Education Initiative, Malawi Red Cross Society and Rural Livelihood Risk Management Consulting.
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