Musicians who performed at the Likoma Festival during the Easter weekend have asked organisers of the festival to return to the drawing board if it is to come back bigger and better next year.
The artists said this after being frustrated with the poor quality of equipment which affected their performances and failure by organisers to find them proper accommodation.
Musician Mlaka Maliro had to sleep on the beach after failing to secure accommodation at a lodge.
Malonda Nikumbuyo star Chimzy Kelly also failed to find accommodation and had to sleep at an islander’s house.
Apart from that, this year’s event failed to match the bar it raised last year during its maiden appearance.
Several patrons complained of poor services inconsistent with the amount of money they paid.
The three-day event also lost a day due to delays by the MV Ilala to depart for the island. The delay also resulted into frustrations and disappointments as the patrons had to brave the rains in Nkhata Bay at an open veranda in the early hours of Thursday waiting for the ship.
Speaking to The Nation, Mlaka Maliro, who also performed last year, said organisers should have ample time for preparations to avoid a repeat of what happened this year.
“I support the idea of holding the festival here because it exposes the island. Organisers, however, should work on the grey areas experienced this year. They need to have a strong team with an advance party that would look into issues of accommodation, equipment and travel arrangements.
“Patrons should be informed in advance where they will be sleeping. They should not be kept in the dark only to realise that there is no accommodation while they are already on the island.
“For example, when I went to the lodge they booked for me, I found that it was full. So, I decided to sleep at the beach together with my crew,” he said.
Chimzy, real name Zax Chimwendo Banda, questioned the level of seriousness on the part of organisers saying they should have booked for their accommodation in advance.
“Many of the artists had challenges with accommodation such that some of them slept in tents. But I was accommodated at someone’s house. These challenges put into question their level of preparedness.
“Zambian festivals are advertised months before the event and tickets are sold during that time. They are also sponsored by various companies. That’s why maybe they are successful,” he said.
A lawyer, who declined to be named, advised organisers to advertise the event as a package.
“Likoma Festival is unique in that it is the only one which starts with a ship cruise. It also has activities like boat cruises to Mozambique, tourist site visits, traditional and music performances. They need to advertise it as such and the corporate world will be willing to partner with them,” he said.
One of the organisers, Peter Chiwaula, admitted that most of the challenges were a result of finances and lack of adequate time to prepare.
“For the next event, we are planning to start preparations now. We will raise capital among ourselves by organising shows across the country and reinvest the money in other businesses.
“We are also striking a partnership with the Malawi Shipping Company [MSC] who have already reduced a booking fee for the MV Ilala from K2.6 million to K1.5 million. This will help us in addressing challenges encountered this year,” he said.
Likoma Festival first took place last August under the name Likoma Summer Festival. But it rebranded and was shifted to Easter after government harmonised the calendar for festivals to avoid clash of events during summer.