The Tonga cultural heritage, Mdawuku wa aTonga (Mwato) has outlined its five-year strategic plan that focuses on conservation and preservation of culture, education among the youth, especially the girl child and unity towards conservation of the environment.
The plan, which was supposed to be launched during the commemoration of this year’s event at Mkondezi in Nkhata Bay on Saturday, will be launched during a similar event next year, but will be effected this year.
Speaking during the event, the heritage’s chairperson Professor John Kalenga-Saka said the plan, which will guide its operations for the next five years, will help the grouping take stock of its existence.
“As a community, we must conserve and preserve our culture towards the individual and socio-economic development of our own community. Secondly, we wish to promote education among the youth focusing on the girl child.
“The third issue is that we foster conservation of our environment. We seem to be suffering depletion of our forests and, therefore, experiencing the effects of climate change and in light of that, it means that in Mwato, we need to work with government through the district office to manage and conserve our environment,” said Kalenga-Saka
He also disclosed that the grouping will be engaging an auditor to look into its resources as one way of fostering transparency and accountability.
Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Mary Navicha said Malawi’s development rests in the promotion of its culture.
She said the country is making strides towards the right direction by preserving cultural values, further calling on heritage associations aimed at reviving, restoring, promoting and preserving our cultural values across the country to enforce their objectives.
During the event, celebrated under the theme ‘Our Unity, Our Strength’, the grouping also honoured 15 outstanding individuals of Tonga origin for their selfless and dedicated service to Malawi and international development.
These included Professor David Rubadiri (author, poet, academic), Elliot Kamwana Chirwa (religious leader, political campaigner), Dr Wellignton Monoah Chirwa (politician, nationalist), Albert Mtalika Banda (politician, diplomat), Lameck Muwamba (trade unionist, politician), Thama Dilon Thomas Banda (politician) and Phatiya Mankhambira (traditional leader).
It also honoured the living Tonga legends such as Park Town Band (artists, musicians), Zabweka Tembo and The School Band (artist, educationist), John Mwantenga Phiri (artist), Vera Chirwa (politician, human rights defender), Janet Jonazi Longwe (politician), Richard Allen Banda, SC (lawyer, politician), Frank Chithira (health personality) and Edward and Steven Nyirenda (youthful engineering innovators).
Last year, the grouping honoured individuals who died on March 3 1959 during the struggle for freedom and independence of the country as well as the late Aleke Kadonaphani Banda for contributing immensely to the struggle for independence and for pioneering local journalism.
Mwato was established in 2017 as Nkhata Bay Tonga Heritage association only to change the name later on.
It was established to promote and preserve Tonga cultural heritage for the socio-economic development of the district and the country in general.