YDC Theatre back with Chilembwe play


Youthful theatre group – YDC holds their first production this year staging a play titled Operational Mandala 1915 at Jacaranda Cultural Centre in Blantyre on January 15.

This is not the first time the Blantyre-based group has performed this play as they have been doing it as part of commemorating one of the country’s heroes – John Chilembwe.

The country commemorates Chilembwe, a Baptist pastor and educator, who trained as a minister in the United States, returning to Nyasaland now Malawi in 1901.


Chilembwe was an early figure in the resistance to colonialism in Malawi, opposing both the treatment of Africans working in agriculture on European-owned plantations and the colonial government’s failure to promote the social and political advancement of Africans.

Chilembwe is celebrated as a hero of independence, and his day is observed annually on January 15.

Written by Fumbani Phiri and directed by Jack Musumba, the play reminds people, including the current generation, about Chilembwe.


A synopsis of the play says during the intervening 100 years since Chilembwe was wounded by rifle shots fired by Private Nasulo and Sergeant Useni and then killed by a shot to the head fired by Garnet Kaduya at or near the Magio stream, Mulanje, on February 3 1915, speculation on the circumstances of his death – indeed whether he died at all or escaped into Portguese East Africa – has been rife and a colourful mythology has emerged as his story has been told, retold and embellished by generations.

“This is a story that is historical and there has been a lot said. The spark that lit was the failed mission to Mandala during the 1915 uprising,” Phiri said.

He maintained that this is the same story but it has been presented differently.

“This year, the focus is musical presentation. We have also fused in traditional elements and poetic devices. We are making final touches to our rehearsals ahead of the performance,” Phiri said.

He said their focus with the production is to remind young people not to forget their history.

“Our future rises from the past and if we are to change or develop our nation, then we need to know our history and look at the mistakes or struggles that happened and the Chilembwe story is one of them,” Phiri said.

He said using art is the best way of telling classic stories and that, through the production, they want to motivate people particularly young people.

“We have planned a number of productions this year but Operation Mandala opens the door and then we will also be touring with Macbeth. We are also planning to do something on World Theatre Day,” Phiri said.

He then called upon theatre lovers to patronise the production.

“We continue to follow Covid measures and we are looking forward to an exciting time on January 15,” Phiri said.

Some of the actors starring in the play include Aisha Juma, George Mpakati, Joseph Mwenelupembe, Ngwenyama Nkhata, Hendrina Sulungwe, Tio Mzoma, Chatonda Mtawali and Wiseman Kadzandira.

The finalists for the male category were Bob Dizzo, who amassed 2510 votes, with Unstoppable collecting 430.

The finalists in the female category were Blantyre-based Menusha, who accumulated 1,210 votes whereas Cutey B got 977 votes.

The winners pocketed K150,000 each.

Makosana’s Chief Executive Officer George Cardin Giant said the battle was all about promoting raw talent.

“We are excited with the way the competition transpired and we are looking forward to doing more. The youth need to be kept busy and at the same time be given a platform to show their talent,” Cardin Giant said.

Makosana is an entertainment outfit that focuses on music by organising competitions through programmes such as Makosana Mic Battle and Makosana Freestyle.

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