Malawi is blessed with numerous tribal groupings. These make the country a cultural melting pot.
Lately different tribes have established cultural groupings to preserve their beliefs and practices.
Although Malawi has these diverse cultures, the country remains one nation with one people. Informed by such a position, a new national cultural grouping –The Malawi Cultural Heritage Association (Macha), has been formed.
“We are yet to formally register and become a fully fledged non-governmental organisation, but once we are in business full time, our goal is to promote diversity of cultures,” said interim chairperson Richard Mdyetseni.
The association, which has a membership of over 20 groups, will also help government use culture to promote tourism.
“In other countries culture is a serious tourism. We want to promote the same in Malawi,” said Mdyetseni.
Despite the proliferation of various cultural groups, he believes there are challenges which have to be dealt with at national level to ensure culture and heritage drive the tourism agenda.
Explained Mdyetseni: “Some of these challenges are lack of national leadership for the culture and heritage sub-sector and lack of creativity to make culture a tourism product. There are no documented causes for production and marketing of culture as a tourism product, resource mobilisation for the operations and investments in the sector is still a problem, among others.”
How will Macha operate?
According to Mdyetseni, the national heritage group will strive to promote all member groups so that Malawi’s diverse cultures are well preserved and promoted.
“We will be conducting and documenting the origins, beliefs and values of various cultures in Malawi for posterity and transmission to younger generations and for research purposes,” he said.
Macha, he opined, will also raise awareness and attract tourists through periodic national events such as carnivals, exhibitions and road shows.
“We will be lobbying relevant authorities such as parliamentary committees to enable allocation of resources in meeting the 2018-2022 MGDSIII which places tourism in the third priority area,” added Mdyetseni.
The groups under Macha include Mngumano wa A Sena ndi Amang’anja, Muhlako Wa Alhomwe, Chewa Heritage Foundation, Mzimba Heritage Association, Chiwanja Cha A Yao, Tumbuka Heritage, Mdawuku Wa A Tonga, Maseko Ngonis, Karonga-Chitipa Heritage and Mchinji Ngonis Heritage Association.
Challenges currently facing cultural groups
“We lack creativity by institutions and the general public to come up with a Malawi cultural product. We also have poor publicity, production and marketing of culture as a tourism product which then leads to lack of identifiable investment and resource availability for the subsector,” Mdyetseni pointed out.
Further he said there is lack of cooperation between various cultural groups across Malawi and there is need to form partnerships with private companies and individuals with similar agenda.
Earlier this month, Inkosi Gomani V told The Nation that it is the responsibility of this generation to ensure that Malawi preserves her cultural heritage.
“That is why we as Maseko Ngonis will be building a cultural village where we will promote our cultures and traditions,” he said.
As the group gets set to conquer the world of cultures and traditions, it has a strong and representative interim committee.
Reacting to the news, Eggrey Khofi, who is a Lhomwe, said the umbrella body is welcome as it will help foster unity.
“Much as these traditional groups are good, at times they have acted as catalysts of division among Malawians due to ethnic lines. This body unifies everyone,” she said.
Rachel Phiri, who said she is a Chewa, said she is yet to see the fruits of the new group. n