If there were still some doubting Thomases in terms of the country having a depth in its culture, then this year’s Mulhako wa Alhomwe festival could have easily persuaded them to make up their mind.
The tribe, boasting of numerous dialects and ethnic groups such as the Khokholas, Nyamwelos, Malokotelas, Mihavanis, Metos and Thakhwanis, among others, is a rich vein of cultural tutorials one can possibly have in the country.
The cultural festival, in its 11th year, reached its climax at Chonde in Mulanje on Sunday.
The carnival, which attracted patrons from near and far, displayed all there could be to satisfy both the eye and the mind.
Like any other festival, dances dominated.
The coming in of Ngoni’s Ingoma and Gule Wamkulu that escorted Chewa Paramount King Gawa Undi from Zambia, among others, just spiced the event even better.
But the hosts could not be beaten to the art they are best known for.
Right from the entrance, they had mounted colourful pavilions where, apart from Lhomwe delicacies, a variety of herbal aphrodisiacs were on display.
Manning the pavilions that were in structures depicting ancient Lhomwe huts were modern Lhomwe women draped in various designed outfits from the festival cloth and accessories. It was sheer beauty.
But the displays were slowly having an effect on both the patrons and the hosts. The sight of gondolosi, tseketseke and waist beads, among others, thrilled many.
Dances like soopa, sekhere, masewe, maraphi, likwata and nahache all marvelled as they had one common thread running through their garments: exaggerated gyrating of the waist by the dancers.
Business tycoon Leston Mulli, who is Mulhako wa Alhomwe chairperson, took the wild imaginations to another level when he addressed the multitude gathered.
With former president Bakili Muluzi part of the high-profile dignitaries in attendance, Mulli found some charisma in his address.
He declared: “We don’t want to have Lhomwe women failing to appease [sex] clients out there. There are some tricks and items to help make your trade as exciting and profitable. Even for men, we have something for you as well. You can have the battery charged up at all those pavilions. Go get some help!”
His words attracted some chuckles across the audience, most of who had tasted the free Chibuku beer and food on offer.
However, the look on his face said enough of a man satisfied to have sent a vital message across.