During the first decade, we hope a lot has been learnt from the resilience that the festival has rode on. We hope new inventions in the delivery of the event will be rolled out. There is no longer holding back now. If the Covid-19 has failed to stop the festival then they may as well reach for the sky.
At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic over some seven months ago, I engaged Lucius Banda on a number of issues.
In the course of our discussion, the unmissable subject about the prospects of hosting the annual Sand Music Festival in view of the global pandemic popped up. Covid-19 was at its peak in many countries around the globe at that time.
Though Africa as a continent was yet to feel the full impact of the pandemic then, but projections from health experts had predicted Africa as the next epicentre of the disease. It wasn’t the exact news that we wanted to hear.
In my engagement with the Impakt Events director, whose firm organises of the Sand Music Festival, it was clear he was not ready to give up on hosting the event this year. His reason was simple: “Angoni, this year we will be celebrating our 10th anniversary. We can’t miss such a milestone.”
His stance was that resounding and unequivocal. ‘Soldier’ said even if it meant pushing the event to December, it did not matter. The SandFest was on this year. His conviction hinged on the significance that he attached to the 10 years the event has been in existence.
Ten years is a long time. Banda considers this moment in the life of the festival a milestone, is all too understandable. When the SandFest flag was hoisted up for the first time at Zitherepano Entertainment Centre in Mangochi none could tell its story beyond that year or the next.
Times more than number we have witnessed a number of art and cultural events being introduced in the country. Most of these events have disappeared faster than they come on the scene. A myriad of challenges have often being attributed for this lack of sustainability.
Sometimes the reasons are valid. At times it is just sheer lack of the required passion to nurture such dreams and keep them alive against all odds. As a result most event organisers have flirted to deceive.
But it appears when Banda hatched the SandFest dream he knew what he wanted. He had a clear vision of the kind of gap that the event needed to fill within the local entertainment and culture spheres.
He understood that if it is not him doing it then nobody else will. We cannot stand here to proclaim that it has all been smooth sailing for the festival through the years. The annual event has had to endure its fair share of false starts and disappointments.
The story of the festival has at times been laced with lukewarm performances of some foreign headliners, which has left patrons riled. In my immediate memory I have the poor showing of Awilo Longomba who hardly lasted an hour on stage.
They have hard to survive weak partnerships and last minute pulling out of potential sponsors of the event. They have also encountered wrong perceptions from some sections who still feel for something to be worth spending on it has been organised by someone not Malawian.
All these are ailments the Impakt Events team has had to endure throughout the nine years. As the first strum of the guitar will sound for the 10th time in the history of the festival this afternoon on the beaches of Lake Malawi at Sunbird Livingstonia in Salima, I want to save a moment for the organisers.
Over the years, within the organising ranks of the festival I have interacted with a number of passionate young men and women who have shown their uttermost dedication to the cause. I can mention Nkhwachi Mhango, Wendy Harawa, Ras Ray Harawa, Johnny Zembani Banda as some of the lieutenants that have been on Banda’s side to make the festival tick. A big salute to you. During the first decade, we hope a lot has been learnt from the resilience that the festival has rode on. We hope new inventions in the delivery of the event will be rolled out. There is no longer holding back now. If the Covid-19 has failed to stop the festival then they may as well reach for the sky.