Invest in Lilongwe karate kids

Good people, a nation where public accountants draw allowances for 66 days a month has every reason to depress everyone.

Such quirky anecdotes will numb anyone who cares about integrity, transparency and accountability just when thieves in power are wrongfully tolerated, admired and praised instead of being prosecuted.

But all Malawians are rotten.

Some young Malawians in Lilongwe recently gave us a reason to smile when their karate film, Town Monger,  earned the highest number of hits and likes a Malawian motion picture has ever amassed on Facebook.

And they did not bring in cousins of the legendary Jet Li, Boro Yeung, Cynthia Khan and Jack Chan  from Japan to put together the feature which has not only gone viral and earned praise from some film pundits.

The mentions and wows are no mean achievement not because they are  coming from presenters whose tone subtly ponders: What good can come from Malawi which CNN and BBC often maligns as a highly impoverished, corrupt east African country?

Corrupt may be as entrenched as they say, for Cashgate was already panning out ferociously when it was revealed that some politicians, civil servants and their conspirators were defrauding Capital Hill of billions.

But the lovable film from Lilongwe is breakaway from the bad news.

Many Malawians may be poor, but some are not impoverished of creativity.

This is why it was pleasing to watch two TV personalities waxing lyrical of the fast-turning karate moves, a sound track that will not allow any viewer to dose off and the minimal resources that went into it.

Tell my friend, President Peter Mutharika, that Malawi is not dziko la fodya—a country of tobacco.

Of course, some farmers grow the nicotinic leaf that generates the majority of our forex and others smoke it despite known health risks.

But the future of the ailing economy does not hinge on the largest forex earner, but diversifying our income lines and harnessing the potential of underutilised workforces, including artists and innovators.

Arts could be the open sesame in the push for economic recovery and growth as the country grapples to scale fallen president Bingu wa Mutharika’s lofty dream to transform Malawi into a predominantly exporting nation.

Sadly, Malawians are still importing truckloads of goods that can be produced locally.

The imports include films, especially Nollywood offerings which have turned around Nigeria’s economic.

Gone are the days watching Nollywood films was just about appreciating fellow Africans telling their stories often untold or bungled by Hollywood and Hollywood stars.

The West Africans are cashing in on every part of their creative industry and it has created uncountable jobs for writers, dramatists, actors, fashion designers, musicians, beauticians, lighting specialists, engineers, accountants, marketers.

The winners are many as the chain extends from Lagos, the capital of the continent’s most populous nation, to shops of Bwalo La Njovu market in Lilongwe and a video show room at Chitekesa in Phalombe.

Throughout, money is exchanging hands and Nigeria is exporting its culture to the rest of the world.

And Malawians’ penchant for Nigerian wear, music, pidgin, make-up and other things seen in the much-underrated movies is phenomenal.

Regardless of the imperfections and varied ratings, Nigeria is getting richer.

Malawi can turn around its struggling economy by investing in the disused potential of creative minds.

This could be the cocksure way to change the narrative and beckon the news world to tell a different story—a tale of everything good about investing in the arts, not flourishing corruption. n

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