“It was pure class, elegant and stylish. A night to remember and a moment to cherish in a lifetime. Malawians rocked the event in grand style,” remarked Jarvis Matiya, a London based international human rights lawyer after the first edition of Malawi Achievers Awards took place at the four-star Marriot Hotel in Leicester last Saturday organised by Malawi Association UK.
An array of ‘Who is Who’ among Diaspora Malawians in the UK Saturday night turned out with chic and slick to the alluring ceremony organised to celebrate and reward deserving outstanding ‘sons and daughters’ of the Malawian soil for their colossal contributions to their communities both abroad and at home.
The historic and first-ever spectacular red carpet event dubbed ‘The Malawian Grammy’s as marked with pomp and solemnity – it was a purely night of glitz and glamour spiced with a sumptuous three-course meal and an assortment of thrilling music performances by several up-and-coming Malawian artistes who included Metamol, Hazel Makunganya and Justice Madeya among others.
Hosted by renowned journalist Peter Makossah and Mirriam Ngosi and supported by Grey Nkhondo Msonthi and Ngina Samantha Mphongo, the Malawi Achievers Awards drew Malawians and Friends of Malawi from all parts of the England, Wales and Scotland while others travelled all the way from Republic of Ireland.
The all sold-out show had in attendance Malawians of high social standing and from all walks of life and they included Doctors, Lawyers, Economists, scientists, academics, engineers, and media professionals to mention but a few, others.
But conspicuously missing at the glamorous event which is the biggest function to have been organised by Malawians in the UK, was the Malawi High Commissioner to London Bernard Sande and all the Malawian diplomats at the Malawi Mission in London stayed away from the event.
During the event the organisers of the function, Malawi Association UK (MAUK) unveiled Jane Hampton as the organisation’s patron.
“It is a great honour for me to be the patron of Malawi Association. I love Malawi and I have passion for Malawi. I am so humbled by this great recognition. Thank you so much,” said an elated Hampton accepting her role as patron for the MAUK.
Nanzikambe Arts Theatre founding director Kate Stafford who also runs Bilimankhwe Arts group in the UK was given a special achievement award in arts and culture for her incalculable contribution to Malawian culture and arts through theatre for the last ten decade.
“I am deeply honoured and humbled to receive this award. I am so grateful for the recognition. I love Malawi and I love the people of Malawi and I feel so welcome whenever I go to Malawi. Arts and culture is a way of life and to be part of Malawi’s way of life is phenomenon,” said Stafford after receiving her special recognition achievement award in arts and culture.
Watipaso Mkandawire, a vibrant economist of international repute who works for the Commonwealth Secretariat in London was decorated a special mention recognition award for his contribution to the social economic development not only for his country but for the entire 50 something Commonwealth member states and for being an inspirational figure to many in the society both in the UK and in Malawi.
“I am so shocked. I did not see this coming. I so humbled for this. I receive this award on behalf of all those who have supported and believed in me. It is an honour for me that what I do inspires many others,” said a visibly Mkandawire.
Speaking during the event Malawi Association UK Chairperson, Martin Guga applauded Malawians for their support saying: “It was only possible to hold such a wonderful event with the help and support of Malawians.”
He emphasized that that the idea to come up with the awards was not just to have fun but to bring all Malawians together in the UK for a common good adding that Malawi was founded on foundation of unity by the forefathers.
Guga said his association was indebted to companies and individuals who sponsored the event who received a certificate of appreciation and they include; Air Malawi Cargo, Express Links UK Ltd, Just Trading Scotland, Crown & Law Solicitors, Nyasa Times Media Group, Robert Brown Consulting Group, Softek Shipping, Sacha Care, Apex Cargo, Liberty Immigration Services, Apikanile Women and Colour Paints Leicester.
Speaking earlier Chairperson of the Special select Committee Fransisca Mkandawire said her committee comprised independent people who were given a task to run through the nominees and choose the winner and that the winners were picked on merit.
“It was a tough task to do. But we did our best to select the winners from the nominees based on their achievements. It was an honour to be given such a task and we trust we did our best. We made our choices independently and without fear or favour,” she said.
In his keynote address Malawi Achievers Awards Coordinator Felix Banda said the time has come for Malawians to stand out saying the idea to come up with the achievers awards was to honour and recognise hardworking Malawians who tirelessly work to improve lives of others in their community.
“We came up with this initiative to bring unity amongst Malawians together in the UK and at the same time to appreciate our own people for the good job they are doing for their communities,” said Banda.
Banda said that all Malawians who came to the event are winners for making the function a success saying he did not envisage such an overwhelming support.
However, Banda said being the first time organising such a big event there were a few glitches and that resulted in a delay in running to schedule.
“It was a beautiful occasion but notwithstanding, we had a few problems which we eventually rectified and together we pulled it as the people understood. Even at the Oscars or the Brits Awards they face problems. We have learnt a lot from the little things that went wrong.”
“But Most important is the fact that everybody went home happy. All the people who attended the event are winners for together we have set the standards so high,” said Banda.
After the function which ended at 2:00 am the event patrons were treated to an after-party at an African pub downtown Leicester City, The Oxygen where fun continued until 6: 00 am.
In an interview after the function Ewey Chikoleka-Usoh commended the organisers for making such a wonderful and eventful function saying the event proved that Malawians in the UK can together do something big.
“It was beautiful. He or she who cannot appreciate such a glamorous such as this is either a witch or a wizard or simply do not live in this world. It was great and out of this world,” stated Chikoleka-Usoh.
Speaking in another interview Phyllis Chipojola aka Sweetjuice applauded the show organisers for a job well done saying: “You killed it big time. It was a momentous occasion and we hope that this just the beginning for more good things to come.”
Another patron Sinka Makaniankhondo, former Civo United and Malawi under 20 i1nternational midfielder said the event was classic.
“It was something out of the ordinary. We had fun. What a great show for Malawians in the UK. We have networked with lots of important people,” said Makaniankhondo.
Accepting his medal for the best professional award, Air Malawi Cargo UK country manager Steve Msamala said: “This is an amazing experience to remember. I will cherish the rest of my life. Let me confess, this is one of the most profound ceremonies that I have ever encountered.”
Added Msamala: “I offer my heartfelt thanks to Malawians living in the UK through MAUK for according me this award. I am sincerely grateful and I feel very, very honoured. I couldn’t have done it without you, I say thank you for the support. This Award is not for me only, but for all Malawians who are Air Cargo customers.”
But the pinnacle of the night was when Patrician Mlundira Chirwa took to the stage to accept her achievement award as an inspirational figure as she declared publicly that she is HIV positive challenged the people in the hall especially women to stop living in denial saying being HIV positive is no death sentence.
“Look at me, I am HIV but I look healthy and I am beautiful. Stop living in denial. Accept your status and live positively,” she said sending the hall into an emotional frenzy.
Here is the list of winners of the Malawi Achievers awards 2014
Best Corporate Business: Apex Cargo
Best Professional: Mr Steve Msamala – Air Malawi Cargo Country Manager (UK)
Best Arts and Entertainment Award – Daphine Kasambara
Best Online Media: Nyasa Times Media group
Best Emerging Musician: Hazel Makunganya
Best Malawian Event: MAHECAS Dinner Dance 2013 – Nottingham
Malawi Association of the year: Leicester Malawi Association
Rising Star: Pastor Caleb Kondani Gombe
Community Champion: Selemani Chitulu
Best Student Achiever: Spiwe Zulu
International Recognition: John Riches
Academia and Technology: Dr. Mpalive Msiska
Malawian Inspirational figure: Patricia Mlundira Chirwa
Special Achievement: Tilinanu Orphanage
Special Achievement : Shine Relief Trust
Life time Achievement: Dr. Matiti, Dr. Lizi and Late Dr. Kadzombe (Joint)
Special Recognition in Arts and Culture: Kate Stafford
Special Recognition achievement: Watipaso MkandawireFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :