There was a breath of fresh air at Sunbird Mount Soche last Thursday when beverage brewers Castel Malawi announced a partnership with flagship festival organisers, Impakt Events.
The unveiling of the partnership could not have been more colourful than coming along with the introduction of limited edition of a SandFest-branded Malawi Gin. The joy with which Castel Malawi managing director Herve Milhade made the announcement demonstrated the pride that the company has in the partnership.
On the other hand was Impakt Events director himself Lucius Banda who received the announcement on behalf of the organisation. This was ‘Soldier’s’ first public appearance since last year due to poor health. That tells you how magnificance he attached to the cause.
The Impakt Events team was also represented well by the presence of Ras Ray Harawa, Nkhwachi Mhango, Joe Chingaipe and Laura Sunganani Banda.
Clearly, the moment was one that both parties, especially for Banda and his Impakt Events team, wished could have been happening a little more often. Even as he made his remarks, one could sense the emotions which had gripped him.
For years, organisers of the festival have bemoaned lack of partnerships when executing such undertakings. Minus the countable partnerships that they enter into yearly, the organisation of the annual event has squarely fallen on their shoulders.
But as Banda said on the day, the SandFest is a full package. It doesn’t only offer the music performances, which is the primary attractions for many festival goers.
There are massive litres of alcohol which are consumed during the three days of the festival. There is fuel which is used by people travelling to the event. There is a boom in hospitality services within the hosting district, there is the blossoming of small-scale businesses within the site, among others.
If we consider all these factors, we will see that almost everyone, from different sectors gets a share from the big cake that comes wrapped as SandFest. If every party which has a stake would have come on the table to work on maximising the potential that lies within their line of interest, I am sure the event would have been a full package.
Unfortunately, it has just been made a Lucius Banda or Impakt Events thing and nobody cares about the effect that it has on tourism industry and other sectors of our economy.
Elsewhere, events of such nature have grown so big such that tourists travel across continents just to be part of the events. With our fresh lake, the mountains and rich traditions, it should not be much of a huge task to make such local events big.
The Department of Tourism and players in the hospitality industry, just to name a few, can leverage on the festival by adding it to their marketing content which they share across the region using different platforms.
Do people frown upon it because it is a Malawian brand? We Malawians and our obsession to only associate ourselves with foreign brands has held back our progress on multiple fronts. The things we crave for outside the country started small just like the SandFest, only that the locals there offered them all the support to grow big.
But as Milhade said last Thursday, Castel Malawi is a Malawian company, Malawi Gin is a Malawian brand which represents the values and aspirations of Malawians. He, therefore, said it was with all the pride that Castel Malawi had chosen to identify with a brand that is also Malawian.
If you are Malawian, if you feel Malawi in you, then stand up and be counted as a Malawian. If you are a Malawian and you feel you have a little that you can offer to support such causes, then come forward and make your contribution to better Malawi.
To more years of the Castel Malawi/ Impakt Events partnership and to more gulping of the all-Malawian brand Malawi Gin at the Malawian festival in Mangochi