The Malawi National Dance Troupe was established in 1987 with the sole purpose of reviving, promoting and preserving the country’s Malawi’s traditional dances and performing arts to ensure their continuity.
The group is also tasked with promoting general awareness, respect and appreciation of Malawi’s traditional dances and music. It acts as a symbol of national unity by bringing together people from different parts of the country to perform traditional dances from various ethnic groups of Malawi.
Currently, the group has 20 members drawn from all districts. Eight of the members are females. Over the years, the group has represented the country in many different international fora such as Southern Africa Developemnt Community (Sadc) conferences, tourism indabas and African dance festivals, among others.
The crew has been to China, The Netherlands, Taiwan, Algeria, South Africa, India, Zambia, Swaziland, and Mozambique just to name but a few.
This year, Malawi is participating in the 2019 Beijing International Horticulture Expo which started in April and is expected to end in October. Though the expo is focusing on horticulture, the platform is also used by countries to showcase what they have in terms of trade, investment, tourism and culture.
As part of the expo, each country is given a national day to showcase what it has on offer. And Malawi’s national day at the expo was last Wednesday July 3.
As part of its obligations, which is to participate in traditional cultural exchange programmes, competitions and festivals, the troupe was called upon to represent Malawi during the national day in Beijing.
The group brought on show some of the country’s popular traditional dances such beni, chisamba, gulewamkulu, mwinoghe, mganda, tchopa, manganje, among others. Also on display was local food such as thobwa, mfutso, nyemba, bonya, banana fritters, dried fish and local beverages such as Linga wine, Malawi Gin, Premier Brandy and Malawi Vodka.
In an interview with On The Arts manager for the group Leleni Nyasulu, who is also one of the choreographers said their displays at the expo left them encouraged that they have created enough awareness for the country for people to start visiting for business investments and tourism.
“Most people confessed that they now know Malawi in a positive way and we believe this can open numerous business opportunities for the country,” he said.
Apart from performing at the theatre during the official programme on the Malawi Day, the troupe thereafter performed at the luncheon at the Malawian pavilion.
Nyasulu said: “Malawian culture, traditional dances and even the food are among the most adorable in the world.
“The Malawian pavilion attracted people until evening who came to watch the dances and sample Malawian food.”
Malawi’s participation at the expo is being coordinated by Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (Mitc) and its spokesperson Deliby Chimbalu said the performance by the troupe was critical as their role was to showcase local traditional dances.
“People were excited and interested to watch the national dance troupe perform. We can say without doubt that performances by the group have really put Malawi on the map in terms of its culture,” she said.
Chimbalu said according to the response they received, it was evident that the group marketed Malawi’s culture whose benefits may come with trade and investment opportunities.
The troupe has over the years scooped several awards due to its outstanding performances. Among the awards it has won are the Life-time Achiever, Malawi in 2017 and Africa Freedom Dance Festival Award, Zambia in 2008
They have also won the Life time Achiever Award, Malawi in 2008, the Miaoli County Mask Festival, Taiwan in 2004, the Sadc Multidisciplinary Festival, South Africa in 2002 and the Sadc Dance Festival, Zimbabwe in 2001.