State vice-president Saulos Chilima attended the Umhlangano cultural celebrations for the Ngoni Maseko on Saturday at Nkolimbo Village in Ntcheu but despite government making Minister of Civic Education and Culture Grace Chiumia as guest of honour, it is Chilima who recieved a rapturous welcome on arrival at the annual cultural jamboree clad in fulle Ngoni regalia.
Chilima broke ranks with government in July this year accepting public calls to contest for presidency in 2019, a development that has seen his United Transformation Movement 9UTM) change the political landscape – pushing both the government and opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) to the drawing board.
It is this arrangement that led to an awkward situation on Saturday where Minister Chiumia visibly looked out of place despite being guest of honour because much attention by speakers and onlookers went to Chilima – an Impi (adviser) to the Ngoni kingdom.
On arrival, the Vice President was mobbed by scores of Ingoma dancers and fellow impis as he was taken to a holding house nearby.
From there the crowd, refused to disperse vowing to escort him to his seat which was opposite from where Chiumia sat.
After being greeted by several guests and traditional leaders, including Inkos ya Makosi Mbelwa 5, the Vice President was escorted by an army of people clad in Ngoni traditional regalia to his seat.
As he arrived at his seat, Chilima humbly went to where leader of opposition Lazrus Chakwera sat and greeted him.
Ironically, Chakwera’s entourage was all smiles and extended their hands for a handshake with Chilima and his wife, Mary.
The handshake by the two came amid a mounting criticism on Chakwera that instead of outlining his promises to Malawians he has started attacking Chilima over UTM’s promises.
Actually, the talk out there is that Chakwera is leader of opposition while President Mutharika is leader of those opposing UTM.
Speakers were told to first salute the Minister being the guest of honour but this was defied by many including United Democratic Front (UDF) Secreatry General Kandi Padambo, an Impi, who throughout his Ngoni history citation saluted the Vice President.
In her speech, Minister Chiumia said culture is a catalyst for unity and development.
Since his installation as the Maseko Ngoni Chief Gomani V on August 5, 2012 , the chief has promoted his culture through this yearly event.
Chilima did not make a speech at the event.
But he is scheduled to address a UTM political rally on Sunday at Ntcheu Secondary School ground.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :