Sand Music Festival founder Lucius Banda says sponsorship has been the biggest challenge in organising the event since its inception 10 years ago.
Speaking during a press conference in Lilongwe to announce the headline acts for this year’s event, he said lack of interest from the corporate world has been a constant issue that has at times made him feel like quitting.
Banda said: “We have been learning on the job and it has not been easy. It has had its own positives and we have had to learn how our friends out there are doing it out. Financially, it’s been hard as we have lost partners.
“New ones have come and others have remained with us.
“But the fact is that very few companies are interested in sponsoring events like these. It is actually the very same companies stepping in by sponsoring the arts in the country.
In an introspection of the journey of SandFest, he said there were also moments of regret too.
“A number of times, we have come up with losses and there have been two times I ended up in the hospital due to high blood pressure. There have been regrets and times of giving up but here we are. We can boast to be the biggest festival in the country,” Banda said.
The festival is one of the biggest events on Malawi’s entertainment calendar. It was founded in 2010 at Zitherepano Club in Mangochi.
The initial festival saw Tay Grin, Black Missionaries and Zembani Band performing on the fringes of the Lake of Stars. It was sponsored by ‘Mr. Entertainer,’ Jai Banda.
“What was supposed to be a one-night event has now grown bigger over the years. It has evolved and moved from Mangochi to Salima. We have travelled a long difficult journey and now we boast of having invited four big Jamaican artists plus a horde of continental stars.
“This is why this year is big for us. It’s been 10 years of an exhilarating journey through ups and downs. So, we thought we would bring the biggest festival ever. However, the devil had other plans. Covid-19 is here but it should not stop us from living,” said Banda.
Commenting on concerns that this year there are a few female musicians, Banda said most of them are not flexible.
“There are about four female musicians for this year. The poster you are seeing is an old version and soon you will see an updated one.
“We encourage female musicians to work with us, but the problem is that most do not bend their rules and so they become too expensive. Males do understand the situation, but females are a bit highly commercial,” he said.
In keeping with the spirit of promoting and following the global pandemic’s safety measures, the festival will engage an extra gear in order to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
“We will have disinfectant spray machines at the point of entrance to be used by all fans and wearing of masks will be mandatory.
We have also employed security to make sure that all these conditions are followed.
“Washing of hands will also be encouraged by providing buckets and hand sanitisers around the festival site,” said the festival’s projects manager, Priscilla Mhango.
Meanwhile, Sand Music Festival has partnered Zamm Investments; producers of bottled water, Cool Drop and Venom Energy Drink, among others, for this year’s event.
Zamm’s commercial consultant Zachariah Nyirenda said: “They have been doing well as a brand for Malawians by Malawians. So, we thought of partnering with such a great brand. We appreciate the efforts they have and continue to make. For us, that is also our way of giving back to Malawians.”
Some of the major international stars to have performed at Sandfest include Uhuru Kenyatta, Diamond Platnumz, Busy Signal, Awilo Longomba, among others.