he set up of the 2022 Presidential Zikomo Awards has reignited calls for the formation of an Arts Council for the country’s creatives.
The Malawi Government has called for nominations to award individuals that made an impact to the society for their creativity, innovation, sacrificial and selfless service.
The awards will recognise players in art genres such as contemporary music, folk music, theatre, film making, visual arts, literary works, and poetry as well as fashion industry, according to communication from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife.
However, some artists have received the development lukewarmly, saying government is getting its priorities wrong.
Filmmaker Charles Shemu Joyah described the approach taken by the government as window dressing and that it will not meet the ultimate and immediate needs of the art industry in Malawi.
“Much as it may be a good thing, but that is not what the industry needs at the moment. Why should we have an event which will just honour individuals once a year instead of setting up the Arts Council which we have cried for long,” he wondered.
Joyah said it would have been prudent if government heard the concerns of the industry rather than prioritising things which are not badly needed at the moment. He said the Arts Council is the right establishment to be organising things such as the awards.
Visual artist Madalitso Ziwaoh, however, said the country needs a lot of platforms where creatives can be recognised and honoured for their work.
He said: “Such platforms help in promoting creative works in so doing the capacity to generate income is increased. In the long run that can help lead Malawi to a status of economic independence.”
In a separate interview, Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture spokesperson Simon Mbvundula said the gesture is a move to show that government appreciates the role arts play in the social economy of the country.
“Actually, the President appreciates the fact that artists played a huge role in educating the masses during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
The date for the awards ceremony is yet to be announced.