The unemployment rate among the youth in the country is deafening. Most young graduates in search of jobs are now hopeless and disappointed. Those willing to venture into entrepreneurship have an uphill task to source capital.
But for a group of young artists in Zomba called The Tribe, the narrative is different. They have united in purpose, pulling together different skills and resources to hold the beast of unemployment by its horns. The group has what they call The Tribe Hub, a creative hub that serves as an incubator for creative and entrepreneurial ventures.
“It is a co-working space that currently houses and supports the business and creative operations of different groups such as The Tribe, Sketch Media and Tribe Studios,” explains Tawanda Mpando, Hub manager and administrative director.
The Tribe Hub opened last September and serves as both a residential and co-working space for its members. It has a band, a multi-purpose recording studio and a performance stage, among others.
“The motivation behind the Hub was triggered by a realisation that we can achieve certain successes by working together and by a desire to have a space where we could work on our ideas freely and with the support of our peers,” says Mpando, who is also a graphic designer, producer and musician.
The Tribe is a collection of creative individuals with a common desire to create.
Each member is multi-talented with varying years of experience. The members are skilled in graphic design, motion graphics, drawing, illustration, photography, videography, music production, filmography, web development, event planning, digital marketing, social media management, tailoring and woodworks.
Apparently, there are 10 executive members who fund and manage the operations of the unit. These are Mpando, Vitumbiko Liomba who is social media marketing, concepts and creative direction, Alfred Kaambakadzanja as visual content, Ian Ngalande as Tribe Studio manager, Hope Ngalande as producer, singer and song writer, Chawanangwa Malanga as musician and promoter, Ben Kalukuni as musician, photographer and filmmaker, Kelvin Mkumbira as painting, sketching, web development and computer hardware repairs, Wezi Chilenga as musician and promoter and Mandla Ndlovu as DJ, interior and exterior décor, stage setup and event planning.
Some of these members are University of Malawi graduates who studied arts, humanities, social science and media for development.
Through this executive, Mpando says the Hub has reached out to about 30 artists with various free services such as recording, photo-shoots, career advice, creative direction and platform to perform.
“This collection of members and skills is essential to the operation and success of the Tribe as the ecosystem allows us to turn ideas into action in an efficient and assured manner. There is indeed strength in unity and the collective size affords us resources that would not be available to us as individuals,” he says.
So far, the Hub has hosted four events, including the Mwezi Wawala Festival which took place last month. Mpando says the festival provided a platform to 12 Zomba-based artists to perform. The event also had art exhibitions where various artists exhibited their artworks such as paintings and drawings.
“Most events in the city do not give Zomba-based artists an opportunity to perform. It is usually a show for artists coming from elsewhere. But here we are giving our own a space to showcase their talents.
“Our primary purpose is progression as individuals, as a collective. We want to empower ideas of progression. Ideas for action. That is what we are striving for. We also believe in art and its power to affect the world positively and thus, like all hubs, we aim to make a difference to businesses, economies and communities.
“Our philosophy is one of Ubuntu and being self through others. We believe strongly in team work and the creation of value through a collective,” he explains.
Arts commentator Vitumbiko Gwambaike says The Tribe Hub is an important place not only for Zomba, but Malawi at large.
“It is a rare place where different young artists come together with ideas and nurture their ideas into reality. The artists are not only nurtured but the hub also provides them with a platform to showcase their talents to a huge audience. For instance, the Mwezi Wawala Festival was headlined by young talented artists who haven’t really made a name but The Tribe trusted such raw talents.
“The Tribe Hub is a milestone for the arts in Malawi because it is a centre of all rounded artists from musicians, visual artists, poets, producers, theatre practitioners, videographers, graphic designers and event managers. It is my plea that the industry and corporate world should support these young, brave, talented artists because it is rare to find a single place for such huge talents,” said the former Chanco Travelling Theatre president.