- Category: Parliament Track
- Written by Phillip Pemba
Malawi Government is spending K100 million (about $277 777) to complete construction of three structures at Chongoni Rock Site in Dedza where Ngoni, Chewa and Yao communities are expected to exhibit their cultural heritage and gain traditional skills.
The expenditure is on top of another K100 million allocated to the Chongoni Rock Art World Heritage Site Development programme in the 2011/12 National Budget to kickstart works on the site.
Chongoni Rock Art Area lies in the forested granite hills around Dedza with numerous natural shelters housing ancient rock paintings which constitute the densest cluster of rock art found in Central Africa.
The place is among areas which Unesco declared world heritage sites in Malawi as it reflects scarce tradition of farmer rock art and paintings by the Batwa people who inhabited the area from the late Stone Age about 40 000 years ago.
The Chewa agriculturalists, whose ancestors lived there from the early Iron Age about 3 000 years, practised rock painting until the 20th century, according to the ministry’s records.
Ministry of Tourism and Culture public relations officer Chrissy Chiumia on Monday said the K100 million allocated in the current 2012/13 budget is being used for phase I of the programme which she said involves construction of an information centre, office block and workshop as stipulated in the approved budget.
She said the information centre is designed to exhibit several artifacts for communities around Chongoni site while the administration block has eight office rooms and a conference room with capacity to take up to 30 people.
“The workshop will be used by communities around the site to teach one another different skills related to things they produce in their culture to sell to tourists who visit the site. Right now, almost 75 percent of the work on the three buildings is almost complete,” said Chiumia.
She said they expect to complete phase I of the project by the end of the current fiscal year using the allocated K100 million.
“We have not blown the budget because the K100 million is enough to take us to completion of the structures in phase I. What will remain is refurbishment of the buildings,” said Chiumia.
She said government has been involving communities around the site in development of the site so that they develop a sense of ownership of the structures.
Chiumia said the second phase of developing the Chongoni Rock Art World Heritage Site will involve construction of 10 staff houses for workers at the site and a guesthouse to provide accommodation to tourists. Currently, the Dedza Pottery Lodge provides nearby accommodation.