For the first time in history of Blantyre Arts Festival (Baf), this year’s event exhibited a visual artwork by a 22-year-old Kondwani James Chunda, which was priced at K250 000 ($440).
The masterpiece is a pencil drawing of President Peter Mutharika and his Vice Saulos Chilima.
The drawing caught the attention of Sports and Culture Minister Grace Chiumia, who described Malawi as home of talented sons and daughters.
“Wow! This is incredible. I just can’t imagine that Malawi is a home to such amazing talent,” reacted Chiumia to the drawing, which depicts the President and his Vice at a political rally.
She said the country is sitting on gold which can easily be excavated by promoting artists and their work.
“This is the kind of work that can help to improve the socio-economic status of the country’s artists if market platforms can be created. I wish the President and the Vice were here with me to see for themselves what their children are capable of doing,” remarked the minister.
Next to the most expensive artwork of the President and his Vice was also a pencil drawing of singer Rabecca Malope, who also performed at the event. It was sold for K75 000 ($132). However, the South African gospel diva was yet to be taken to the artistic galleries to appreciate her drawing.
According to Chunda, it took him two weeks to draw the President and his Vice. And another week and three days to come up with Malope’s drawing.
However, the artist, despite his immense talent, bemoaned lack of marketing channels for his work.
“Yes, honourable minister, we can be creative like this, but we lack marketing channels. Imagine, we keep such drawings in our homes because we have no place to exhibit them,” said Chunda.
He pleaded with the minister to turn Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC) into a cultural village where different arts associations and artists should have stalls to exhibit and sell their artworks on full time basis.
“Unless something is done to turn BCC into a complete cultural village of some sort, artists will continue suffering and exhibit their work in their homes where children and relatives become the only supporters,” said Chunda.