Blantyre Arts Festival attracts international artists

The words that a prophet is not loved in his hometown seem to be true following revelations that Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) is attracting more attention from international artists than local.

The annual gathering of both local and international artists, has received more applications for participation from international artists comparing to local ones, who seem to be turning a blind eye towards the event, which could shovel them to international stardom.

So far the event, set to take place from October 5 to 7 this year, has attracted attention of Mali’s Afro-pop singer Salif Kaita who is headlining the list of performers, Pastor G of Zimbabwe ( a gospel artist), America-based Nigeria songbird, Naira as well as a comedy from Japan.

To perfom in Malawi: Malian singer Salif Keita receives the award for best world's music album of the year for 'La difference' from Tv host Christian Morin (L) during the 25th Victoires de la Musique yearly French music awards ceremony. Photo AFP

Other international artists expected to participate in this year’s BAF event are Edzai Isu, a theatre group from Zimbabwe, Green Buffalos Theatre of Zambia, a band from German and Windybrow Theatre of South Africa.

According to BAF executive member Macarthur Matukuta poor response from local artists has forced them to extend the deadline for receiving applications from interested artists to next month.

“We have been calling for applications from local artists but the response is not as overwhelming as expected. We have received application from some top artists such as Lucius Banda, Skeffa Chimoto and others. But still we have to have a mix of veteran and up and coming artists if the event is to be worth its objective,” Matukuta explained.

Matukuta said in order to be in line with BAF’s objective, interested local artists’ works will be scrutinized, saying they were focusing on artists who will help in promoting the country’s arts and culture.

He added that soon BAF will start holding pre-festival shows in order to build up the hype and raise funds toward the actual event to take place at French Culture Centre (FCC).

“The Ministry of Wildlife, Tourism and Culture has given us permission to use the venue. We are currently waiting for it to be renovated since it was ransacked by thieves. The ministry has promised to meet all the renovation cost but due to time, they will only renovate the amphitheatre, the exhibition hall, two offices and the main hall. The rest of renovations will follow later,” he added.

Government is expected to spend K42 million in renovating FCC, which was bought from the Republic of France before it was looted by thieves due to lack of security.

Meanwhile, the centre which was a host of various artistic events lies in disgrace state not fit for its renowned history and contribution to the country’s arts and culture.

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