Malawi Government has said the Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC) is open to interested artists—but at owner’s risk.
According to Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Fletcher Zenengeya, they have decided to re-open the ruins of what used to be the French Cultural centre due to pressure from the art sector, but government would not be held responsible for any mishaps.
“Because of the pressure the ministry has been getting from artists in the country, the centre will be re-opened. Government purchased the venue for the same artists who want it functioning now. Since it’s still in a bad shape, they will be using it at owner’s risk,” said Zenengeya in an interview.
The sight of the venue speak volumes of the looting and deterioration that went uncurbed as the French Embassy delayed to hand over keys to the ministry after government acquired ownership of the facility at K300 million.
Zenengeya said proper rehabilitation, budgeted at K200 million, will start soon. He said the cost and damage were underestimated, stating that the department of building found out that a lot needs to be done.
But Musicians Association of Malawi (Mam) president, the Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango, said artists are “frustrated with what is happening to the centre”.
“A lot of promises have been made of revamping the place but they are not fulfilled; government has not stuck to its promises,” said Mhango in an interview.
Stating its pivotal role to the arts, the venue hosted top artists, including Senegal’s Ismael Lo, Jamaica’s Mutabaruka, Algerian-born Bibi Tanga, Zimbabwean Oliver Mtukuzi, Angelique Kidjo and Mali’s Salif Keita.