Good people, some of us grew up convinced that art is business, not a retirement haven for depleted brains.
This is why it has been depressing for the past months when art associations became refugees in their own backyard.
Remember the rights holders associations which were on the verge of being banished like bastards from Claim Building in Blantyre where gracious Norwegians have been paying nearly all their bills for years.
Recently, the arts bodies have been crying louder than starved, malaria-stricken babies who just need a hand to wipe not tears, but sweat pouring from their feverish famished frames.
This does not speak well of the brains behind the associations which supposedly offer creative minds lessons on how to achieve self-dependence.
It is puzzling why the idle minds disguised as leaders of associations that represent aspirations of musicians, photographers, writers and other arts failed to prepare for life after that last kroner from Norway for it was never here for eternity.
If you wanted the reason most Malawian artists die like paupers, often requiring alms for decent burial, this is it: they are obviously in the wrong hands.
They resemble children whose parents cannot teach them how to live without extending a begging bowl to their neighbours as do those who bother you up every day to “borrow” matchsticks and salt as if the consumables you lend them are returnable anyway.
For months, the artists have been knocking on Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development Patricia Kaliati’s door to ‘borrow’ some space at Blantyre Cultural Centre.
In their prayer—and they really knelt for the good minister as did Greeks before a battalion of gods of everything under the sun—just to let her know that they had no roof beyond this month.
But Kaliati is not only a generous mother of the needy of her Nkando area in Mulanje West Constituency.
Her positive response to the homeless arts groups somewhat makes her look like she giveth with both hands and all her heart, liver and more innards.
Just in case you missed the news, the minister responsible for culture, including that of handouts, has truly granted the destitute associations refuge at BCC.
In their thanks, the artists and their accomplices at Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) want you to believe that getting office space at no penny is a big achievement and the best thing that ever happened to them.
And Cosoma board chairperson Charles Sinetre churned out superlatives when asked about the great things government has done for the down-and-out.
In fact, he called it a first.
But cut the praise and worship.
This is not the last time the sluggish heads at the helm of the creative industry, which is supposed to generate money day and night, are begging for alms.
They have no home, no savings, no cash cow, no strategy and no confidence to face the future better.
In their begging ways, what they are not saying is that government has just tossed them to the graveyard where they belong.
Presently, the former French Cultural Centre is overgrown, with ruined buildings that make it look like no-man’s land: deserted, ownerless and a haven of no-hopers, thieves and vandals.
Just when you expected the artists to be demanding an end to the neglect that has rendered the venue unusable since government took over the centre from France, they are bruising their knees thanking the minister and her wise and dynamic ujeni for giving them a plot in that glorified bush. n