When furnishing your house, the options that stand are either a ready-made sofa set or one that is custom made in a furniture shop.
Young families now are opting for cane furniture found in different outlets all over Malawi.
Visual arts markets in Malawi are seldom flooded by local people, but foreign tourists. Conversely, shops that sell foreign goods are thronged by Malawians scrambling for foreign materials.
Visual artist Mathews Chikapa describes this as blindness breed from the powers of colonization adopted by the country’s ancestors.
Most people believe that what comes from outside is best and local products are cheap.
Out of many Chikapa sees beauty and success in local things. He says Malawi has the potential to produce any beauty on any environment with local and artistically made art materials. For this reason, he says he concentrates on producing local materials made from cane for special events to curb the foreign items. Chikapa says he sees cane products becoming everyone’s household furniture in the near future.
He says he believes in that Malawians have a design and likings they appreciate and not what is displayed at the international markets.
This should be true. Think of ‘Ndalema’ chair also known as ‘Kakhutagona’-Its flexibility and how it is cheaply and artistically made.
Appreciation of design goes with time. Mushrooming of sofas and couches seems to have overtaken the pride in Ndalema’s and other traditional seats.
Today, most people strive to have a sofa set or couch and they say it is fashionable. Chikapa is against this. He says there are Malawian sofa sets made from simple materials like cane.
He has a brand of locally made seats that can substitute sofa sets in a living room. Among them are Mama D, Amakhulu and Amakhosi.
“There is need to have an identity. Africa is rich of natural resources and art skills. We need to utilise them, “says Chikapa who boasts that he produces any type of furniture.
With Mama G ADK, one cannot dream about buying a sofa set or couch.
Mbembayasanjani is artistically made in an almost sofa set design with sitting space of six people. One can sleep or fold legs while on it.
To match the beauty. Chikapa produces a local coffee table with four stools and a simple newspaper rack. The living room list is complete with a flat television stand.
Chikapa knows no one can ignore buying a bed. He produces a bedroom set. Amakhulukhulu bed chair is there and in all mattress sizes.
Mbembaya Sanjani chair also known as chiefs’ or crown’s chair replaces Ndalema, but is more than Ndalema- call it royal seat if you like.
Other cane chairs include Boney M, Swetsa Love and three Mama D chairs namely ADK, Lame K and Linda.
Chikapa should be winning the market now. Last year for the first time in history he sold 25 sets of Amakhulukhulu chair. He says he expects more sales from the just introduced Swetsa chair.