Chichiri Prison steals show at poetry festival


Chichiri Cultural Dancing Troupe stole the show at a poetry festival at Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC) on Sunday where poets celebrated Malawian heritage.

On a day dubbed ‘the warm heart poetry festival,’ the poets fell short of living up to the theme of their own event and recited poems that fell outside the theme of the event.

From the onset, the public address (PA) system was a let-down as the sound was poor, prompting some people from the audience to shout out to the organisers to just switch it off as it interrupted the smooth flow of the show. It was after 20 minutes that the PA system started working.

Part of the audience at BCC

The budding poets, who dished out their pieces, showed the very same short falls witnessed in vernacular poetry recitals—failing to recite their own poems despite having the script in front, mimicking other poet’s reciting styles, giving the audience prose read in poetic style and failure to bring new compositions to the audience.

However, Chichiri Prison Dancing Troupe gave a spirited performance that set the crowds ablaze with excitement as they swarmed forward close to the stage to take pictures of the boys.

After their set the audience craved for more. And Madalitso Nyambo, the master of ceremonies, asked the audience: “Isn’t that a wonderful performance?”

At this point it was apparent the poetry performance had failed to impress and as compensation the audience turned to the Chichiri boys for entertainment.

They came back and performed vimbuza dance which won the hearts of the audience as some people in the terraces sang along “Amolotoni…”

And just when the patrons thought it was over, the Chichiri boys came with gule wamkulu, a makanja mask which made the audience go wild. In the end some fans took selfies with the perfomers.

While the show was in progress, Babangoni Chisale, one poet, surprised the audience when he said the organisers of the show wanted to give a lifetime achievement award to veteran writer and literary critic Alfred Msadala who is also president of Books Publishers Association of Malawi (Bpam). They gave him a trophy and K100 000 cash for his contributions to Malawian art.

“I am humbled by this honourary recognition. I did not anticipate it when I left home. I just thought I was invited to recite poetry,” said Msadala.


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