Promoting local talent

The Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) made a comeback after a year’s break. The festival, which celebrates various forms of art, for the first time only concentrated on local talent. However, the festival was marred by a number of irregularities such as poor stage for the music event to poor patronage. Our Entertainment Editor EDITH GONDWE engaged BAF executive director Thom Chibambo to review the festival.

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Q

: The Blantyre Arts Festival made a comeback this year after a year’s absence. How do you rate the comeback festival?

A

: We rate the comeback festival as a success. It shows that people missed the festival; there were a lot of people who turned up for the festival events. The festival started on a high note with a photo exhibition, VIP preview presented by the federal republic of the Germany Embassy Mr Juergen Borcsh.  The preview was held in the BCC auditorium hall and the turn up to this event was very good, there were more than 100 people who came to witness the launch of the photo exhibition.

The ambassador of Germany appreciated the audience who came during the event and he elaborated more about the relationship between Malawi and Germany in the arts and cultural exchange sector. He also said that the festival like Blantyre Arts Festival activities do strengthen the relationship between the two countries. And people had a chance to see Berlin city in pictures.

On Friday, the festival programme started with various activities which were presented by various youth from different schools including Mountain View School of Deaf who performed  traditional dances, amongst the activities there were also tradition dances by Kwacha National Cultural Troupe from Lilongwe, Chichiri Prison Dancing Troupe, Angoni Tradition Dancers, Salvation Army just to mention a few.

The guest of honour was the mayor of Blantyre City Mr Wild Ndipo. Before the mayor opened the festival speeches were made from the representative of Hannover City which is the twin city of Blantyre Mrs Silvia Hesse and the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany Mr Juergen Borsch who made their promise to support the festival next year and the years to come, HIVOS foundation through Malawi cultural fund is the main sponsor of the festival which was presented at the festival opening by Catherine from Hivos foundation in Zimbabwe. During the opening there were more than 2 thousand audience including student from different schools.

And in the evening we had a fashion show for the first time in the history of Blantyre Arts Festival courtesy of Africa Fashion Exchange and  the auditorium was fully patronised to its capacity whereby other  people had to stand to enjoy the fashion show.

 

Q

: Artists who performed at the Blantyre cultural Centre complained of a poor stage. What’s your story.

A

: We have been using the same stage for the previous festivals and other artists were making comparison to other stages elsewhere and for us the stage was ok.

 

Q

: Some have suggested that for the festival to reach its full potential, there is need to have partners who can be involved in the planning, execution and sourcing of funds for the festival. What’s your take?

A

: It is true that each and every festival needs to have partners and this is what we used to do. At the moment BAF is working hard to have more partners who can make significant improvement of the festival so that it benefits the artist and the people in Malawi as it has been always our priority.

 

Q

: The festival this was 100% local. How did Malawians react to the development bearing in mind that in the past we were used to having foreign artists headlining such festivals?

A

: Malawians liked the idea of 100% local theme because we put our local artists on the map and people enjoyed performances from local artists including Black Missionaries who were our headliners this year. Our theme this year was supported by people from the community who came at the festival to sale their local products at our market zone as well as drinking zone, the visual artists also showcased their artistic work at the festival. Our theme managed to attract more international audience at both venues Jacaranda Cultural Centre and Blantyre Cultural Centre and this is the great impact to us and our country.

 

Q

: Any last words?

A

: We would like to thank our main sponsors Hivos foundation through Cultural Fund for Malawi who have made it possible for BAF 2017 to take place both at Jacaranda Cultural Centre and Blantyre Cultural Centre.

We are also extending our sincerely appreciation to Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Osisa) for their part of their support to the festival, the Federal Republican of the Germany Embassy for their photo exhibition, Jacaranda Cultural Centre for being part of BAF café hosting venue, Malawi Government through department of arts, Blantyre City Council, friends of Malawi from Hannover city, MBC, Entertainers Promotion.  And finally to all the artists who performed and the audience for liking our theme this year.n

 

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