Barely a week after affirming that his art will not die after being appointed as Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, Michael Usi has played a role in a new radio and TV drama series on Covid-19.
The Sankhani Moyo drama series, which premiered last Wednesday on MBC TV and Times Television (TTV) as well as several radios, including Yoneco FM and Mzimba Community, will feature Usi as Manganya and Ruth Simika as Mayi a Sikono. The two join other versatile vernacular actors such as Precious Denja.
In an interview yesterday, Usi said he was happy to be part of the series aimed at sensitising Malawians on the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I am elated to be part of spreading this message for us to choose life over death. In my view, this is not just about entertainment. It is about life. For me, that is very critical,” he said.
Sankhani Moyo is not only promoting preventive measures against Covid-19 like use of masks, hand-washing with soap, social distance and isolation or quarantine where need be, it also brings the personification of life and death in a struggle for people. This comes amid a backdrop of resistance from some people.
Observed Usi: “There is need for us to change our behaviour. When death is around us, we only have to follow the unusual measures that medical experts are telling us.
“When it is raining, the wisest thing to do if you are going out is to put on a raincoat or use an umbrella.”
Usi is renowned for his stinging comic, but educative stints in the Tikuferanji radio and TV soapie, as well as films like Dr Manga and Manganya the International Cook. He also brought Ubatizowu ndi wa Tonse.
“I am what I am and cannot change because I was appointed Cabinet minister. The actor in me can’t die, only that now I have to follow certain protocol and etiquette,” said Usi, who previously told the media that President Lazarus Chakwera gave a nod to his acting.
Sankhani Moyo is produced by the Applied Development Communications and Training Services (Adecots) in partnership with the Ministry of Health with funding from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency. It will be in five initial episodes.
Adecots executive director Mercy Simbi said they were honoured to bring Manganya on set.
“Active politicians who don’t repudiate art play a major role in spreading important messages,” she said.
Ministry of Health acting deputy director of preventive health services responsible for health education Mavuto Thomas said they plan to compress the drama series and provide the episodes in hospitals that have TV sets so that those who miss the actual broadcast can follow.
“The compressed versions will also be shared through social media platforms. It is a creative means of spreading the word against Covid-19. The messages are clear, concise and, most importantly, correct,” he said.