Former Malawi president Bingu wa Mutharika, a Lhomwe, was passionate about his tribe and initiated the formation of Mulhako wa Alhomwe to promote the Lhomwe culture in Malawi.
President Joyce Banda has called on her Yao tribesmen to consider setting up their own heritage grouping as a way of preserving their culture. Ndamo Sya Yao, which was formed some two years ago, has therefore been resuscitated, according to Steven Shabaan, the groupâ€™s executive committee chairperson.
Political analysts have cautioned against using cultural groupings to promote particular tribes.
Executive Director for the Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) Rafiq Hajat said Saturday that while the concept of forming a cultural grouping seems innocent, it could lead to exclusivity of some cultures if not guarded against.
Said Hajat: â€œIt is important to preserve culture and tradition of our multi-ethnic society. However, we must be careful so that the trend does not become corrosive or divisive. The formation of such groupings should not emanate from a Head of State but rather traditional authorities who are custodians of our culture.
â€œOf course, this could be a visceral reaction because Yaos and Lhomwes were marginalised in the past, but we must learn from our past â€.
Chancellor College political science lecturer Blessings Chinsinga said the association between a sitting President and formation of a tribal grouping could cause problems.
â€œMemories are still fresh. The Mulhako wa Alhomwe was exploited as a vehicle of promoting one ethnic group over others. It will depend on how the Ndamo Sya Yao will be organised, so that it is not used to exploit resources of the State,â€ said Chinsinga.
At Hora Mountain in Mzimba during the annual uMthetho Cultural Festival for the Ngoni last month, Banda called on Yaos to consider setting up their own heritage group.