Hosting of this year’s Mulhako wa Alhomwe cultural festival hangs in a balance as the group’s board is yet to meet and start preparations for the annual festival.
Previously, Mulhako wa Alhomwe organising committee would start its preparatory activities in June, but this year up to now no preparations have started.
In an interview on Monday, Mulhako wa Alhomwe chief executive officer Muchanankhwaye Mpuluka said the Lhomwe cultural grouping was yet to start preparations for the celebrations which usually take place in October.
He said the festival was supposed to take place this year, but due to the coronavirus pandemic and government restrictions on gatherings of not more than 100 people, the board and chiefs failed to meet last month to discuss whether or not to cancel this year’s celebration.
Said Mpuluka: “If the Covid-19 situation in the country improves by end September, the celebration will take place, but if not, we will cancel.”
He, however, said the final decision will be made by the board meeting which he said will take place soon. He did not indicate when the meeting will take place.
“We need a physical meeting since some members cannot afford these virtual meetings. The challenge is we are over 100 people who include chiefs,” he said.
Mulhako wa Alhomwe was widely associated with the former ruling party- whose stronghold lies in the so-called Lhomwe belt. The cultural group was also founded by the late President Bingu wa Mutharika.
Another group within the Muhlako wa Alhomwe is said to be of the view that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the celebration should not take place.
In a separate interview, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Michael Usi said if Mulhako wa Alhomwe fail to hold the celebration because of coronavirus, it will be understandable as the pandemic has affected many sectors including tourism and culture.
He said: “The Tonse Alliance government is going to promote culture as a product of tourism. But I need to get details of their plans. Mulhako wa Alhomwe attracts a lot of people and with the current situation I don’t think it will be advisable to hold such a big event.”
Last week the Chewa Heritage Foundation (Chefo) cancelled its annual cultural festival called Kulamba due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Organisers of the Maseko Ngoni cultural ceremony called Umhlangano wa Maseko said they will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation before deciding if the cultural event will take place.
Other cultural events whose celebrations this year are not clear are Mgonapamuhanya for Tumbukas and Chiwanja Cha Ayao.