With 14 days to go before Malawi goes to the polls, the electioneering fever has swept across all sectors in the country as political parties intensify their bid to woo votes.
The political players are exploiting every possible space and using different strategies to get the numbers on their side with their eyes firmly set on the ultimate prize come May 21.
Artists, too, have come in handy as a tool of bringing life and colour during campaign activities.
It is a common sight to see drama or music performances during political rallies. Some of the country’s popular artists such as Tay Grin, Lucius Banda, Joe Gwaladi, Dan Lu and Skeffa Chimoto have graced different political podiums.
Underlining the power that lies in art during the campaign period, just last week, Mary Chilima, wife to UTM Party torchbearer Saulos Chilima, became a social media sensation because of her adaption of rapper Phyzix song Mutipatsa.
Skeffa Chimoto is one artist who has worked with individuals from across the political divide. Since 2009, he has worked with candidates from parties such as Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and People’s Party (PP).
In an interview yesterday, Chimoto said, as an artist, one of his core duties is to bring people together using his talent and prominence.
He said much as he does not have problems working with any politician, he would never allow them to use him to insult people.
“As an artist, I need people to support my music whether they come from political party A or B. When I get on stage my focus is always entertaining the people present. It is about sharing my music with them and nothing more,” he said.
Theatre players too have also had their stake in the ongoing campaign. The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is currently working with over 70 drama groups across the country through their partnership with the National Theatre Association of Malawi (Ntam).
Ntam president Eric Mabedi, in an interview, said this task comes with a fulfilling feeling.
“When you are using your talent to transmit such crucial messages to the masses, you feel good as an artist. Whenever you are given that task, you need to make sure you are at your best,” he said.
Political and social commentator Martin Chiphwanya said art has proven to be an effective vehicle in mobilising masses to attend political party rallies because of its ability to appeal to people from across the political divide.
“Even when one does not belong to a particular party, sometimes they are forced to attend that party’s political rally because they are interested to watch their favourite artist perform.
“However, the artists must exercise caution as in the long run people may label them particular party colours depending on their conduct,” he said in an interview.