John Nthakomwa, chief executive officer (CEO) of Mibawa Entertainment Limited, is one of the rare investors in the country’s entertainment industry. Apart from owning Mibawa studios and band, he has recently opened Mibawa television and a multipurpose hall aimed at developing the country’s entertainment industry.
Mibawa Entertainment Limited has diversified approaches to entertainment, education and information dissemination in the country and beyond the borders by embracing different mediums ranging from audio, visual and interactive approaches to achieve this.
Currently, it boasts of Mibawa television, studio, band, equipment and a multipurpose hall through which they are communing to the public.
Nthakomwa said: “The idea behind our Mibawa studio is to create professional and exclusive content for masses to meet their information and edutainment needs.”
Mibawa Entertainment Limited is behind several popular products such as a TV reality show Grapeview and two local TV soaps Ching’aning’ani and Mwachande.
For example, Grapevine is a trending woman’s talk show which is hosted by four women Diana Nthakomwa, Martha Kotokwa, Anne Khataza Chisala and Agnes Mizere. It tackles different topical issues including sex, gender, lifestyle and HIV. The talk show has been showing on Zambezi channel 160.
Under the Unicef-funded music programme called Action for Adolescents and Youth (A4YA), Mibawa Entertainment Limited has also trained over 40 youthful artists under its “Making of the band” curriculum. The trainees acquired skills in the areas of drum, lead guitar, bass guitar, piano, voice and other musical areas. It has also a multipurpose hall and professional equipment such as music kit and lights that are used for corporate events.
But how did it start?
“Firstly, Mibawa Entertainment Limited is a Malawian brainchild owned by a Malawian who has expertise and drive in packaging and developing the arts and culture in the country. I am driven by passion for music to invest in entertainment,” said Nthakomwa.
He created his first studio around 1998 (J & D Records) while still outside the country (Ivory Coast). The idea was to uplift the country’s entertainment industry because he had always dreamt of coming back home to do this business.
Nthakomwa once promoted musicians and produced albums for musicians such as George Mkandawire and Sally Nyundo. But later, found this venture expensive because, he said, there was no money in music sales. He also ventured into video production.
However, upon his return from Ivory Coast in 2011, he embarked on a fully-fledged entertainment business. He opened Mibawa Café in Blantyre to provide family entertainment.
“It was around the same time when I was developing my own business premises at Midima Round-about (along Blantyre-Thyolo Road). Later, I moved there to open Mibawa Studio, multipurpose hall, executive bar and a service station.
“Our initial idea was to be a television content provider since Malawi is a top consumer of foreign materials such as movies. But this did not work because it turned out to be hard for the country’s television stations to embrace the concept. Instead, we were forced to open our own Mibawa television to accomplish the mission,” he said.
Generally, Nthakomwa has been in entertainment business for the past 15 years, however, he indicated that he has just started reaping the fruits now.
“It is very challenging. I have lost a lot of money that I should say. But for anything good to happen, one has to be focused and this takes patience because it takes a lot of time and resources. We have endured a lot. But now we have seen partners and sponsors such as Unicef coming in to support projects like A4YA,” he said.
Nthakomwa said the major challenge with the country’s entertainment industry remains lack of sound investment, particularly from government, which makes it difficult for a private investor like him to sail smoothly. n