On Monday, May 3 it was World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) and journalists across the world staged celebrations to mark this important day on their calendar.
Malawi was no exception. And per its rotational policy, the Misa Malawi WPFD celebrations this year were held in the Southern Region with Blantyre being the epicentre. As per tradition, activities on the day are laced throughout the day.
The freedom march sometimes starts as early as 7AM which is normally followed by a themed panel discussion and debate. In between we have social games and interactions as the scribes awaits the biggest offering on the menu: Awards dinner gala.
This year the last article took place at the Sunbird Mount Soche. It’s always a moment where one can catch the pressmen at their glittering best. When everyone walks off the podium while carrying their various awards, they always want to look their best. The motivation is just so huge.
Various categories such as sports, investigative journalism, anti-corruption, good governance, health and business are recognised and rewarded as part of the event. The omission of arts and entertainment is not by mistake. This area is not there.
Post-the awards gala I have had to contend with enquiries from a lot of entertainment and art enthusiasts. Their questions have been common: Did we miss the arts category during the awards? Why is it not there?
Where I am standing, I feel very compromised to be commenting on the issue. Someone may see a direct interest in my innocent musings on the subject which can in turn make me liable to conflict of interest.
I am really in a bad space as whether to engage in this debate or let it lie. But the status quo is reflective of how the society hold the industry. The support the creative sector receives is shocking.
Art and entertainment are still viewed as pastime indulgence where one cannot earn a living from. That same discontent is held in is revealed on platforms such as the Misa Media gala. The financial support the industry gets from government, corporates and individuals is not only shameful but discouraging as well.
The prizes that are splashed out on that platform are not out of this world. Some are mere K150 000, K250 000 and laptops. That should not be too hard for individuals and corporates to find. After all what matters is the recognition.
But due to the liberties on this space, I will share, verbatim, one of the enquiries that I received from one of the staunch art enthusiasts and a follower of this page. Martin Chiphwanya has espoused his impassioned thoughts on the subject in a small, but meaningful way.
The Namisa dinner and gala awards night awarded some outstanding works ranging from governance, investigative journalism, sustainable agriculture and anti-corruption material among others.
It was a colourful night where a number of journalists were decorated courtesy of the generosity of the U.S. Smbassy and National Bank, among others. However, it was surprising that while almost all media categories were sponsored, the entertainment/showbiz segment was not recognised.
Understandably, funding has always been a challenge when it comes to these awards. But considering how huge the entertainment industry is one wonders if at all sourcing some funds for this segment is indeed a very tall order.
Jai Banda, Lucius Banda and John Nthakomwa are some of the names in the show business. They have hugely benefitted from the entertainment news content pushers and would surely not hesitate to support this category if approached.