A Domasi College of Education cultural expert has warned that Malawi risks losing most of its cultural practices to the fight against child marriages and HIV and Aids.
Anthropologist Misheck Munthali was reacting to a presentation by traditional leaders who claimed at a child marriage symposium in Mangochi that they have banned dances that are traditionally performed at night.
“I am worried. At the rate we are going, we may end up losing most of our valuable cultural practices to the fight against child marriages and HIV and Aids.
“Let caution and good judgment guide us on what we must preserve and what we must discard or modify,” he said.
Munthali added that traditional dances are one of valuable assets Malawi should jealously safeguard.
Making the presentation on behalf of traditional leaders from the Southern Region, Traditional Authority (T/A) Sultan Chowe from Mangochi said most chiefs in the region have banned traditional dances that are performed at night as one way of fighting child marriages.
Mbwiza, mchomanga and manganje are some of the traditional dances that are usually performed at night in Mangochi, according to T/A Sultan Chowe.
The meeting, however, applauded chiefs for modifying some cultural practices such as kupitakufa that have for a long time been blamed for fuelling the spread of HIV, especially in the Lower Shire.
“Married couples are now performing the sex ritual [kupitakufa] instead of the unmarried,” said Senior Chief Malemia from Nsanje.
The two-day symposium was organised by Youth Net and Counselling (Yoneco) and Girls Empowerment Network Malawi (Genet) with financial support from Hivos.
The meeting—whose participants included the media, civil society organisations, faith communities, traditional leaders, Malawi Police Service and different ministries and government departments—was held to discuss ways of ending child marriages in the country.