Malawi Govt told to close Blantyre Cultural Centre, reopen after renovations

Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC), formerly French Cultural Centre (FCC), on Saturday hosted an urban music show which brought together most of the country’s top urban musicians and attracted an enormous audience, despite the rains in the city.

The musicians included Maskal, Piksy, BarryOne, Blakjak, Daredevilz, Diktator, Fredokiss and Blackah Fellah & Massa Vega, among others.

However, as they welcomed the reopening of once the mighty entertainment hub in Blantyre, the artists have asked Malawi government, now owners of the structure after they bought it from the French government, to close the facility and put it under serious overhaul.

FCC was closed in December 2010 after the French Embassy stopped running it and was eventually looted, leaving it a very dilapidated state not fit to host events.

Blakjak on stage at BCC

Blakjak on stage at BCC

Although it was temporarily opened last year to host Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu’s ‘Shouts of Praise’ choral competition and the Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF), it was recently reported that government had reopened FFC and renamed it BCC.

“Yes the closure was a big blow to artists and the entertainment industry and much as I welcome the reopening, this facility needs serious renovations.

“If you look at the toilets, the backstage, among others, they are messed up,” said Afro-Pop singer Maskal of ‘Udalire’ and ‘Zili ndi iwe’ hits.

He told Nyasa Times in an interview: “If it’s Blantyre Cultural Centre, government has to do something. It’s a cultural centre and a big venue, they should close it and reopen after rehabilitating it.”

Sharing Maskal’s views were dancehall maestro Blakjak and radio personality Joy Nathu of Radio 2 FM, who co-hosted the ‘Pre-Valentine’s’ urban music show with Capital FM’s Annie Chisala aka Nyuchi.

While observing that the re-opening of the centre gives artists what belongs to them, saying the place had history as it has created a lot of talent, among them musicians and actors, Blakjak called upon the authorities to take action.

“Since now it’s in the hands of government, I presume the understanding will be far much better, easy to reach, a bit cheaper and tailor made for performances,” the artist said. “However, this structure needs some serious renovation. It’s in a very dilapidated state and a threat to people’s lives.”

The artist, popular for his controversial songs such as Wadya, Timukoke Makutu and Ele added: “Best way would be to subcontract people to be running it.”

In a separate interview, Nathu complemented: “The place is not fit to host events at the moment [and] it was a very bad idea to reopen it now. Government must reinvest in it or should be subcontracted to someone who shall take care of it.”

Authorities were not readily available to comment on the matter. However, during the opening of BAF last October, the then Minister of Tourism and Culture Daniel Liwimbi hinted government had set aside K200 million to refurbish the facility.

Part of the audience at BCC on Saturday

Part of the audience at BCC on Saturday

Diktator (R) also performed

Diktator (R) also performed

Piksy performing at BCC on Saturday

Piksy performing at BCC on Saturday

According to Liwimbi, renovations were supposed to start by December, 2012 but up to date, no repairs have started.

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