The events planning and management industry in Malawi can be categorised into two types, corporate and social markets.
While the two are broad, social events are the main thrust of the industry in Malawi with events such as entertainment shows, birthdays, weddings falling in this category.
Of late, there has been a boom in the number of firms or individuals taking interest in events planning and management.
Often young, the crop of new blood in the industry has come with not just fresh and innovative ideas, but also excellence in the creation, management and planning of events.
Women too are taking a leading role, delving into this business world and bringing with them diverse ideas. One such young mind making big strides in the industry is Priscilla Cynthia Mhango.
The 22-year-old was at the helm of this year’s Sand Music Festival in Salima as the event’s coordinator. Her role meant that she was pivotal in managing and running the festival during its three days duration.
“Making sure the overall festival was executed properly isn’t an answer I can personally give as I do not have the keys of command.
“There was higher management with the final say as to how the festival should run. My job was to make sure those plans came to fruition,”she said in an interview.
But organising an event of such magnitude comes with a price. Oftentimes, the tag is more than what one bargained for and this was the case with Mhango on the very first night of Sand Fest 2020.
“The equipment got soaked in the rains was tough but I was calm. I had to be strong,” she said.
Mhango said she learnt a lot from the 2020 Sand Music Festival experience. She said she wants to build from that experience.
She said: “Since the stage was down, the audience had no idea what was going on. We couldn’t communicate because there was no sound. We should have communicated better and earlier.
“This made them angry and they resorted to violence. Once they were communicated to, calm returned. So, communication, especially in crisis, was the biggest lesson. Lots of lessons for me personally and my future events.”
All in all, Mhango hails the team behind Sand Music Festival 2020 for pulling off the event within a short period.
“We had a better and improved system in all departments, but this festival took only a month to plan due to the uncertainty of Covid-19 and considering the time-frame, the team did great. I’m sure given enough time, we would have been amazing,” she stated.
Apart from Sand Fest, Mhango has planned and managed a number of entertainment events in the country some big, while others more locally focussed.
“At 19, I was the production manager for the first ever Nyasa Music Awards show. This is the show I was most proud of, as it made me grow and the feedback was amazing. I had already started working and getting experience from events like Lake of Stars, Sand Fest and Ufulu Festival, among others.
“I have volunteered and still do on countless events. Since then, I have personally produced and managed many big events,” she explained.
Mhango doubles as arts manager, event producer, arts advocate, a booking agent and creative entrepreneur. Besides, she is an ambassador for Visa for Music; a professional market for African and Middle Eastern music.
One of the young minds in event organising and management Dalitso Mizaya says Mhango represents the main brains out there who have capabilities to bring change.
“Young blood leading in the organising of big entertainment events shows that things are changing for the better and the mantle being passed on to us, who used to be volunteers at such events, is a beautiful crossover,” he said.
Mizaya, however, cautioned his peers against slackening after successfully executing some events.
“The only challenge is we lack discipline as we think because others have done it before, it is easy and ,therefore, we can just jump on it and do it,” he stated.