Culture is an important part of people’s lives. It influences their views, their attitudes and their way of living altogether. One can only appreciate a group’s way of living if they come in proximity with such a grouping and in Malawi the Tumaini Cultural Festival fulfils that space.
Tumaini Cultural Festival is a stepping stone to cultural exploration as it is a platform where different cultural activities converge to give hope to the refugees and also promote oneness, thanks to the organisers.
In addition, the festival presents an exceptional opportunity for refugees to share aspects of their lives with interested visitors across the country and outside Malawi, to exhibit and sell their crafts and to feel the hope of connection to a wider community.
Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development Grace Chiumia spared time out of her busy schedule to have the experience of the festival at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa on Saturday, November 4.
In an interview, the minister said the interaction of different nationalities is a tool to the country’s development and it has unique strengths and perspectives that the larger community can benefit from it.
“It is becoming clear that in order to build communities that are successful at improving conditions and resolving problems, we need to understand and appreciate many cultures, establish relationships with people from cultures than our own, and build strong alliances with different cultural groups,” she said.
Chiumia appealed to the public to stop segregating refugees to achieve the country’s socio-economic development.
“Refugees are people like us and they need support, and for the country to do better, we need people like them to share us their experiences and there are people who are very creative at Dzaleka a thing that Malawians can learn, “she said
As a signatory of 2005 Unesco convention and protocols, Chiumia said Malawi government will ensure that there is peace at Dzaleka Camp.
Organisers of Tumaini Festival have described this year’s festival as a success saying over 7 000 people patronised.
Tumaini Festival director Tresor Nzenga Mpauni widely known as Menes La Plume said he was impressed, saying people came in large numbers to support the initiative which aims at promoting peaceful coexistence between refugees and host communities living around Dzaleka area.
“I am very glad that people have come in large numbers to support this initiative, and honestly I am speechless because people have surprised me,” he said.
Mpauni added that the festival is also aimed at promoting intellectual harmony and boosting the economy of people living at Dzaleka refugees Camp.
In his remarks United Nations Human Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) representative to Malawi Monique Ekoko commended Malawi government for its support towards the festival saying refugees are hopeless people who always need comfort from others.
She also said festivals of such calibre give relief to refugees since they interact with people from different nations to share stories and experiences.
This year’s event was characterised by a variety of performances, including music, poetry, theatre, acrobatics, traditional dances, traditional food and art exhibitions.
Among others, the event brought together artists including Tay Grin, Code Sangala, Annemarie Quinn from UK, Lyco and Kaka Fulaha from Japan, Ernest Ikwanga, Chanco Travelling Theatre, Bucci, find Code, Hazel Mark, Mubanga Band, Waliko Makhala, Agorosso, Malala, Robert Chiwamba, Nyamalikiti Nthiwatiwa, Dj Nathan tunes, Menes la Plume, Amahoro Drummers, Solomonic Peacocks Theatre and many more.
Dzaleka Refugee Camp, which is located 45 kilometres from Lilongwe, is said to have a population of over 20 000 refugees and asylum seekers from mainly DRC, Rwanda and Burundi. n