Chitungwi Catholic Church in Lirangwe, Blantyre, has been closed for being used as a set shooting a music video of Queen Sheba’s song Chiwanda featuring Wikise.
The song is about a woman’s weakness of dressing scantily that she pleads to a cleric to exorcise the weakness. In the video, the artist is seen wearing a skimpy dress and a revealing pair of trouser.
When the video was released, church authorities were incensed that they ordered the church to be closed. Queen Sheba has since written the archbishop to offer her apology.
In a communication that we have seen addressed to the Archbishop of Blantyre Archdiocese the Most Reverend Thomas Msusa, the artist is apologising what has been understood to be inappropriate and disrespectful.
“I accept complete responsibility for my actions and the inconvenience it has caused. I am truly sorry and I understand your disappointment in me and my team. I cannot defend myself, however, I will personally reach out to the parishioners and make amends immediately,” reads part of the letter.
In an interview from her base in United Kingdom, Queen Sheba, real name Rachael Muyepa, said though she is yet to receive a response from the archbishop, she is hopeful that an amicable solution will be worked out soon to have the church reopened.
She said: “It really saddens me that some people have been punished because of me. I hope the authorities see sense in my apology.”
According to our findings, a man identified as Richard Jeli was among those who gave permission to the artist to shoot the video in the church.
When we contacted Jeli, he admitted to have done so with the blessings of the church leadership.
He, however, cut the line when we probed for further details.
Archdiocese of Blantyre Vicar General Father Boniface Tamani said they are not happy with what happened as the godly standards of the church were undermined.
“To us, a church is a blessed place and sanctified place. The church is a place where God meets his people and God has his own standards and to have the church reduced to that level is an act of sacrilege,” he said.
Tamani said people will only congregate in the church after it has been dedicated to God again. He said their investigations show that the priest gave permission to have the church used for that purpose.
He said: “It looks like the people who were approached took the matter lightly. They didn’t even have proper information on what the church was to be used for.
“But, they have shown remorse in the aftermath of the whole thing and any action to be taken, will be made on that consideration.”
Arts commentator Wonderful Mkhutche said as much as he sympathises with the church, it is important that they should understand the song as merely an expression of art.
He said given the strong religious affiliations among Malawians, the action is understandable.
Mkhutche said: “To an extent the action undermines art. I take the action as an overreaction. The initial concern can be understood, but closing it means only certain artistic expressions are allowed in church.”