In the beginning of any project, the thought of a 20 year anniversary is merely a far off dream that realistically may never become a reality but a humble journey that started with the publication of a church leaflet has grown into a fully fledged Catholic news organisation, Montfort media, Mkwaso – a vernacular newspaper, two magazines and a TV station.
It is hard to believe that Reverend Father Father Piergiorgio Gambaof the Catholic Parish in the Eastern Region district of Balaka, the pioneer of Together Youth Magazine and other several Roman Catholic Church projects in Malawi is already there celebrating that very anniversary.
Montfort Media was established by the Montfort Missionaries of t he Catholic Church “to proclaim the Good News of God’s kingdom” through various m edia.
Some people might have forgotten, and some may not even be aware, that a small b ooklet published in the small town of Balaka at Morntfort Media changed Malawi forever. Living Our Faith, a pastoral letter authored by Catholic bishops, pricked the social conscience of the country as it brought to the fore social ills Malawians h ad been enduring silently for close to three decades.
Hundreds of people on Saturday 12 November 2016 joined Fr. Gamba and the Montfort Media team in celebrating the 20 years of Together Magazine at a colourful and worth celebrating ceremony which took place at Montfort Media offices in Balaka.
Speaking at the function Fr. Gamba described the twenty year journey as a success which has resulted into “several achievements beyond expectations” including the establishement of The Lamp magazine in 1995. The symbol of advocates of multi-party democ racy was a lamp.
According to Gamba who is also Managing Director of Montfort Media, Together Magazine has all these years within its core objective of being a voice for the youth who are mostly not given a chance to speak out their voices.
But Fr. Gamba also observes that alot is not been done to groom Malawian youths to be responsible future leaders.
“The youths are not being encouraged to do more and they don’t have role models. We need to do more as a nation and us as Together Magazine, we promise you we will be a different together in 20 years from now with the advancement of technology,” said Fr. Gamba.
“What we want to achieve now if we have enough money is that we want to open an office in Lilongwe for both Montfort and TV (Luntha-also Catholic),” he said.
He went on to ask students present at the function and across the country to establish Together Magazine Clubs so that their views be published from all angles.
“If you dont put your voice in Together Magazine, no one will hear your voice because there is no any other youth magazine in Malawi,” said Fr. Gamba.
While encouraging the youths to extremely take part and continue reading the magazine, Fr. Gamba asked business gurus and the corporate world in general to support the Magazine through placing adverts.
“Voice out to build a better Malawi and by 2026 going beyond, you will be proud to be part of the change through Together Magazine,” he concluded.
Taking his turn, one of the pioneers of the magazine who joined the the crew in 1999 before switching to other fields Patrick Bwanali was also delighted that the publication has reached this far.
“I feel honoured and greatful to be part of this celebration. Together Magazine is the best mode of communication to the the youth. They (Together Editorial Team) have stood for the truth that is why they are here today,” said a visibly excited Bwanali who once served as an Editor for the publication.
He also agreed with Fr. Gamba in calling for support from the corporate world for the sustainability of the historical magazine.
The Editor Batholomew Boaz, who is also one of the longest serving members of Montfort Media, hailed readers for their support rendered all these years and encouraged them to continue being supportive.
“Without readers like you gathered here and those who failed to make it, we couldn’t have been here celebrating 20 years of existence of this magazine. It hasn’t been easy but we have managed to overcome the challenges,” Boaz said.
Together Magazaine was introduced in 1996 and the first issue hit the market in the month of August.
To date, it has managed to grow and is been circulated beyond the Eastern Region as it was the case at the beginning of the journey.
Only few dozens if not only Together Magazine has made it to 20 years in the Magazine publication business and maintains stability, successfullness and continue to flourish and thrive.
It is published once in every two months but efforts are being made that it become a monthly magazine.
Guest of honour at the 20th Anniversary was Fr. Henry Saindi who is the General Secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) who hailed Together Magazine through Montfort Media for maintaining high levels of professionalism.
He said since its inception, the magazine has ably promoted the youth in the society and in the Catholic Church.
Father Gamba was awarded the Lifetime Achiever A ward by the National Media Institute of Southern Africa (NAMISA) for his and Mon tfort Media’s contribution to the development of the media in Malawi.
But Father Gamba attributed the success of Montfort Media to collective efforts by many people, saying: It is not a one-man job., saying “Montfort Media has always been a group effort.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :