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Villant, Pamuyu triumph in Misuku Art Challenge

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Firm maker Villant Jana has been silent for sometime but she is still in the game and she underlined her prowess when she came out top in the movie category in the Misuku Art Challenge whose climax was held on Friday at Woodlands in Lilongwe.

Spearheaded by a non-governmental organisation – Sustainable Rural Growth and Development Initiative (SRGDI)—the Misuku Art Challenge is a national competition that brought together 12 artists such as photographers, filmmakers and visual artists.

These artists were selected after a call out for applications was made for them to showcase the beauty and ecological, cultural, aesthetical and economic value of Misuku Hills Forest Reserves situated in Chitipa District in the Northern Region.

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The 12 artists were later sent to Misuku to tell different stories before an exhibition and selection of the winners on Friday.

Jana won the hearts of the judges of Harold Chisale, Mphatso Chidothi and Mphatso Kalemba, outclassing two other film makers Peter Kepkay and Sukez who came second and third, respectively.

She told her story well in the movie, putting ingredients that gave the audience a clear picture of the Misuku Hills.

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As a winner, Jana, who was the only female in the film category but also among the 12 artists who were selected in all categories in the competition, went away with K300,000, with Kepkay and Sukez receiving K125,000 and K75,000, respectively.

“I am excited to have won. Actually the beauty of it all is that I was the only female artist out of the 12 who were selected. Let me also thank the organisers of the Misuku Art Challenge for utilising artists in their project; this is what we want. Artists have the ability to tell different stories using their talents,” she said.

Disability is indeed not inability as Pamuyu Mbale, was victorious in the visual arts category.

Pamuyu received K300,000 with Hamilton Kameza and Gilbert Mpakule pocketing K125,000 and K75,000 for coming out second and third, respectively.

Speaking through his interpreter and brother Hastings Mbale, Pamuyu said he never expected to win.

“I never saw this coming but all in all I thank God for all this. All the other artists were great and we are all winners,” he said.

In the photography category, Timothy Chikupeta came first with Malumbo Simwaka and Nation Publications Limited’s Bobby Kabango on second and third positions, respectively.

Chikupeta received K300,000, Simwaka got K125,000 while Kabango in absentia pocketed K75,000.

“I love photography; this is a great career although it is undermined. I just want to thank the organisers of the Misuku Art Challenge for giving us this platform and I hope they will continue,” Chikupeta said.

There was only one person in the sculptor category—Michael Khumalo—who was rated on his own by the judges.

Despite being alone he failed to grab the top prize and only managed to get second position. He walked home with K125,000.

All the 12 artists received a certificate of attendance.

Director of Forestry, in the Department of Forestry Clement Chilima, who was the guest of honour, hailed SRGDI for creating the Misuku Art Challenge, describing it as an innovative approach in promoting conservation and community engagement in management of forests and other natural resources.

“I would like to thank artists for taking their time and skills to assist government in promoting conservation and tourism. I also would like to say that I have seen great work from films to photographs, paintings and sculptures. I just want to say all the artists are winners,” Chilima said.

SRGDI Executive Director, Maynard Nyirenda, said they were impressed with the work that the artists produced and exhibited adding that this was just the beginning and they would continue with more projects.

“We used artists because we realised the important role that they play in disseminating various information using their talents,” Nyirenda said.

He added:

“Misuku Hills is a very remote area and separated from major towns and cities in the country. It is little known and yet it is very rich on top of being a tourist attraction area.”

He said most Malawians are not aware of unique beauty and ecological, cultural, aesthetical and economic value of Misuku Hills Forest Reserves unique biodiversity.

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