The country’s arts bodies have acknowledged the role that outgoing culture administrator in the Ministry of Information, Tourism and Culture Bernard Kwilimbe has played in the sector.
Kwilimbe retired from his position early this month after being at the centre of promoting the country’s culture for 40 years.
“Kwilimbe was a fighter who understood the pain of artists in the country. The advantage of him being in the department was that he understood things from an expert perspective. He is not just an ordinary person and we still regard him as father whom we can refer to for advice,” said Chimwemwe Mhango, president of the Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM).
Kwilimbe said his life-long wish is to see Malawian artists being treated as workers so that they benefit from their work.
“It is only in Malawi where artists are not fully recognized as workers. But it’s important that they are recognised and treated like workers because arts is a profession,” said Kwilimbe.
On his part, Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) president Sambalikagwa Mvona suggested that Malawi should write a complete biography of Kwilimbe as a cultural activist who has made significant contributions to the country.
“Malawi should have a biography of Bernard Kwilimbe so that people should celebrate his life and work. He is an asset to Malawi,” said Mvona.
Ezius Mkandawire, president for Film Association of Malawi (Fama), described Kwilimbe as someone who has contributed to the growth of arts and culture.
“He was the first person to give Fama insights on how best to go about its operations in the country. So, his services will be greatly missed not only by Fama, but also other arts disciplines and individual artists,” said Mkandawire.
Ethnomusicologist Waliko Makhala once described Kwilimbe as ‘cultural encyclopaedia’ which the country should utilise for the purposes of nurturing the country’s arts and cultural industries.