The Blantyre Arts Festival (Baf) is here again! This time around organisers are confident that the annual event will not only entertain people, but strengthen the development of the country’s arts and culture.
Baf starts this morning with a street parade from Blantyre Old Town Hall to Blantyre Civic Centre, where the Mayor of Blantyre, Noel Chalamanda, is expected to make welcome remarks.
From music to dance, poetry to drama, visual arts to photography exhibition, film screening to workshops, the 2015 Baf is set to create room for opportunities for local artists, according to Baf director Thom Chibambo.
“At this year’s Baf, we are looking beyond entertainment as benefits. But a platform where people, including artists, should capitalise to make contacts or strike business deals. The coming of international artists should serve as an opportunity for Malawian counterparts to share notes with them,” said Chibambo.
Networking is one of the important essentials of nurturing a fulfilling career, be it in music, poetry, drama, film or visual arts. However, most artists underlet this factor. This is against the background that some of Malawi’s artists such as Tay Grin has benefited from networking with other artists such as Buffalo Souljah from Zimbabwe.
Chibambo cited headliner, South African gospel diva Rabecca Malope, The Great GrandPost from Germany, Munya from Zimbabwe, EJ Von Lyrik bFake and DJ Fosta from South Africa as some of the prospective artists that could be engaged in a fruitful interaction with Malawian counterparts at Baf.
Sharing of ideas between established and budding artists is also a potential trigger of mutual relationships and business deals among them.
“All what we are saying is that artists should utilise this platform to make contacts, learn from their counterparts and talk business,” said Chibambo.
Indeed, many Malawians, including artists, have wayward notion regarding everything foreign as good. Yet they have not interacted with their foreign counterparts to appreciate their perception on Malawian stuff including arts.
“Baf is not just an ordinary platform but an opportunity to share notes on gospel music and other possible deals. I am looking forward to it,” said local gospel songstress Ethel Kamwendo Banda.
She said Malawi music industry could grow by learning the best practice, not necessarily copying, from other artists such as Malope.
“The question should always be how we can nurture our talents to become artists of international grade and how fellow artists from other countries like South Africa are managing that. This could really help Malawi music industry to grow,” said Kamwendo Banda.
According to Baf’s programme, today will see performances by the Black Missionaries and the Black Syndicate bands from Malawi, The Great Grandpost from Germany and South Africa’s EJ Von Lyrik, DJ Fosta amd bFake. There will also be Khalidwe and Home Grown African bands, Giddes Chalamanda and different performances by students drawn from different schools.
Tomorrow, apart from gospel performances by Malope, Kamwendo Banda, Patience Namadingo and Thocco Katimba, there will be workshops for music, visual arts, theatre and film in class rooms. Children from Jacaranda Orphanage and Amitofo Care Centre will also display different artistic activities such as acrobatics on the Kasungu Crescent main stage.
Dalma Theatre, Film screening, Baba Watoto Acrobatics from Tanzania, Khuzi Lampi (Malawi) and Nonkhululeko Khomalo (South Africa) are also expected to stage their performances tomorrow.
Winding up Baf 2015 on Sunday will be music, poetry and drama performances by Ethnomusicologist Waliko Makhala, Agoloso, Muhanya, Solomonic Peacocks, Kwathu, Chanco, and Munya (Zimbabwe) and University of Zimbabwe.
On the other hand, there will be workshops on poetry, sound engineering and entrepreneurship running in classrooms.n