Govt solicits views from Paramount Chiefs and Cultural Heritage Association on the proposed National Day of Unity and Dialogue

The Ministry of National Unity has started soliciting views and opinions from Paramount Chiefs and representatives of the Cultural Heritage Association on the proposed National National Values and National Day of Unity and Dialogue (NDUND).

The government intends to introduce the NDUND as a way of commemorating and promoting unity in diversity in order to enhance national unity, patriotism, social cohesion and sustainable peace.

Malawi boasts of many ethic groups, each with its own specific cultural heritage. This cultural/ethnic diversity has unfortunately been ranked as a structural cause of conflicts among Malawians.

The government therefore envisages that NDUND will provide a platform for all Malawians to appreciate how to exploit diversity in cultures, religious beliefs and political orientations to unify rather than divide the country.

Mtambo (centre in black suit) poses for a photo with Paramount Chiefs and representatives of Cultural Heritage Associations–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

And in order to solicit views and opinion from key stakeholders, the Ministry of National Unity on Tuesday organized a one-day consultation meeting with Paramount Chiefs and representatives from Cultural Heritage Association at Sunbird Livingstonia Beach Hotel in Salima.

In his opening remarks, the Minister of National Unity, Timothy Pagonachi Mtambo, said his ministry has developed and is implementing programmes for enhancing national unity, which includes the establishment of a national peace architecture, the national healing and building programme, development of transformative national values and designation and celebration of NDUND.

Mtambo reported that the ministry is developing these programmes in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, with preliminary consultations already held with stakeholders in selected districts, including the academia, Senior Chiefs and Traditional Authorities and Faith Based Organizations, among others.

“On transformative values, the objective of the transformative national values programme is to designate a set of national values that are commonly subscribed to by all Malawians and guide their conduct in both public and private life. On the other hand, the objective of designating and celebrating the National Day of Unity and Dialogue is to promote unity in diversity among Malawians as a way of supporting the development of commonly shared values among Malawians,” he said.

Mtambo added that the Chakwera-led administration is cognizant of the fact that Malawi cannot achieve the much-needed socioeconomic development in the absence of peaceful co-existence among citizens.

The said his ministry is therefore also engaging the Ministry of Education to include Civic and Citizen Studies in the schools’ curriculum to inculcate the culture of respect for laws and order.

“A nation that stands on a solid foundation of commonly shared values will easily mobilize itself to pursue its commonly shared interests in developing their country. At the same time, any values that are agreed upon by the nation as commonly shared need to be enshrined among the people of the diverse backgrounds such that they all need to be guided by those values in both their private and public lives,” said Mtambo.

The ministry’s Principal Civic Education Officer, Evelyn Sumani, said, among others, the government will be hosting an annual festival, which will be coordinated by the Ministry of National Unity working collaboratively with its key stakeholders, including the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife.

Sumani added that the Head of State will be invited to preside over the festival as one way of profiling the event.

“Preparatory works for the day will be coordinated through a National Organizing Committee that will be set up comprising government officials, representatives of FBOs, CSOs, cultural heritage associations, corporations and volunteers etc. The organizing committee will set-up sub-committees to handle specific assignments in the preparation and implementation of the festival activities,” she said.

While supporting the introduction of proposed day, Inkosi Gomani V and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Mulhako wa Alhomwe, Pius Mvenya, emphasized the need to depoliticize the activities on the day.

Inkosi Gomani V and Mvenya feared political interference would overshadow and water-down the importance of Malawians coming together to commemorate and celebrate their culture and traditions.

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