They say ‘you have to taste a culture to understand it’. Perhaps this rings true for all products that are exposed to attract interest. This is particularly in the minds of cultural groupings in the country as Malawi prepares for the international tourism expo slated for April 26 to 28 this year.
Such is the belief that the cultural groupings are looking at such events as a perfect means of showcasing their cultures.
Malawi Cultural Heritage Association (Macha) secretary Richard Mdyetseni said events like the forthcoming expo should incorporate the cultural element more by exposing and selling cultures as a means of attracting tourists.
“International tourism expos are avenues where particular country’s people are supposed to showcase their culture or their way of life,” he said.
Mdyetseni said to make it richer, organisers must package other elements like traditional dances, handcrafts, audio and visual arts among others.
He said: “It is important during such expos to exhibit indigenous ways of living because that is what visitors expect to experience while in Malawi during this expo. Even accommodation facilities are expected to offer traditional cuisine so that visitors sample what is unique to Malawi in terms of food and drink.”
On the suggestions from culture custodians that during such events traditional dances should be performed by ethnic cultural groups and not dance troupes Mdyetseni had this to say: “It is important that indigenous groups showcase their dances,”
Adding his voice on the matter, a representative of Tonga Heritage, Levi Zeleza Manda, said in an ideal situation, it would be better for indigenous ethnic groups to perform their dances instead of modern dance troupes.
“If we want perfection, then we have to invest and make sure that we get the dancers right from the village. The real local people can perform the dances better, giving it that authentic touch,” said Manda.
He, however said because Tonga Heritage is new and they have not organised a pavilion at the expo, they will not have their dances there.
“But dances are not enough. We need to organise ourselves so that we can exhibit our dressing, food, and of course our way of life. In this way, visitors will be attracted to Malawi after appreciating not only the great accommodation and beautiful places, but also the people and their cultures,” said Manda.
Mdamyo Nedi Mwenitete, a representative of the Karonga-Chitipa Heritage, said cultural dances performed by dance troupes are not rich as they are done for commercial purposes.
“In most cases these dances are biased towards the beliefs of the one who formed them. Also the issue of exposure comes into play. So to get the real dances it is important for the country to ensure that it is using people from the ethnic groups, performing the dances,” he said.
He, however, said the dance troupes cannot be trashed completely as they have shown unity and diversity among Malawians.
“Next week, as Karonga-Chitipa Heritage, we will have a meeting to see if we can perform our traditional dances at the expo. Culture element is what can add colour to this great event,” said Mwenitete.
Malawi Government through the Ministry of Trade Tourism and Wildlife will from the 26 to 28 April hold the International expo at Bingu International Comvention Centre (Bicc) whose aim is to sell Malawi’s potential to the outside world.
According to www.tourism.mw, the expo is expected to expose Malawi’s uniqueness to the outside world.
Among the unique features that Malawi has include diverse nature which includes rivers, mountains and valleys, a vibrant culture and people legendary renowned for friendliness and hospitality. n