JB graces Tumbukas’ Gonapamhanya cultural festival

President Joyce Banda became the first Head of State to attend the Tumbukas’ annual Gonapamhanya Cultural Festival at Bolero in Rumphi on Monday, saying her government is exploring on upholding and promoting the Malawian national identity and dignity as a national heritage for socio-economic growth and poverty eradication.

The Gonapamuhanya Cultural Festival is celebrated to commemorate the first Chikulamayembe who was named Gonapamuhanya”.

President Banda said there was a need to link our cultural festivals to the Film and Music Industries in order to develop an integrated tourism sector.

“I would therefore call upon the local assemblies in collaboration with chiefs to customize cultural festivals as tools for promoting tourism in Malawi,” said the Malawi leader.

JB elavates Chief Mwankhunikira to Senior Chief

“Culture is a key ingredient in the development and promotion of tourism industry. My Government has prioritized tourism as one sector that can quickly generate jobs and foreign exchange for our economy,” she said.

“I have been informed that I am the first ever Malawi Head of State to grace this festival, I feel greatly honoured and privileged. This is due to the cordial relations that my government and our chiefs are enjoying at the moment.

“I have further been informed that our father Gonapamuhanya, whose life we are celebrating today, was a pleasant leader who always took the welfare of his people at heart. I have learnt that he used to give alms ranging from food to commodities such as farm inputs. He was a leader who was listening and loving. I wish to urge all chiefs in this country to borrow a leaf in doing good work, being exemplary and generous to our subjects, even to people of other ethnic groups.”

President Banda sais as custodians of culture, Chiefs should be unifying agents and not otherwise.  The President hailed the “tremendous peace and happiness in this once mighty Nkhamanga Kingdom through living a life of harmonious existence and tolerance”.

State of the nation

On the plight of the people in the country, the President said her administration had put up an Economic Recovery Plan to redeem the economy, which had collapsed due to poor economic policies of the previous regime under the late President Bingu wa Mutharika and the DPP.

“One of the strategies was to devalue the Kwacha in order to save our country from collapse. My Government was aware of the pain associated with devaluation. Hence in the Economic Recovery Plan, we included social protection programmes to cushion the poor against the negative effects of devaluation. These projects include labour intensive public works; Cash Transfer and School Feeding Programme,” she said, adding that the Fertilizer Input Subsidy Programme and that the future of Malawi is bright.

During the ceremony, the President elevated T/A Mwankhunikira of Rumphi to Senior Chief status, observing the Tumbukas have the least number of senior chiefs. The President also announced that Mtima Gondwe, son to the ageing Tumbuka Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe, will regularly act on behalf of the father.

The President also pledged that her government would construct a tarmac road from Rumphi Boma through Bolero and Nyika Plateau to Chitipa, noting it is an economically strategic road, particularly for tourism and agriculture purposes.

Tourism and Culture Minister and His Royal Highness Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe hailed the Head of State for her recognition and appreciation of culture and tradition and the role that the traditional leaders can play in socio-economic development of the country.

On Tuesday, the President will officially commission the new state-of-the art South Rukuru Bridge on the Mzuzu Karonga Road.

According to President Banda’s press aide, Tusekele Mwanyongo, as the project was funded by the government of Japanese Ambassador to Malawi, Fujo Samukawa, including other members of diplomatic corps, will grace the “significant event”.

President Banda speaking at the Tumbuka function

Economist and lawmaker Goodall Gondwe sitting at the Royal Stand

His Royal Highness Paramount Chikulamayembe addresses his people

JB announces Paramount Chilamayembe’s son Mtima Gondwe will act on behalf of ageing father

Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe arrives at the venue

Part of the crowd that braved the sweltering Bolero heat

Zambian Tumbuka women were also at the festival

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