Keita arrives in Malawi for Blantyre Arts Festival, premieres

With hours ticking towards the grand-premiere for this year’s Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) this weekend, expectations are hyping up in the commercial city of Blantyre with the arrival of some of foreign artists including  headline act  Mali’s Afro-pop singer, Salif Keita.

The annual event-getting bigger yearly-rolls into life on Thursday evening with an official opening to be glanced by Minister of Tourism and Culture, Daniel Liwimbi, while glitz and glamour are set to characterize the three-day festival.

As of Tuesday some of the international artists from Zimbabwe, America and German had already started arriving in the country, building-up the excitement and expectations that this year’s event will be a diversified, and top-most, prizewinning one.

To perfom in Malawi: Malian singer Salif Keita

“Currently we have guys from Hannover, German and some of artists from Zimbabwe and America already in the country. Some of the foreign performers will jet in on Wednesday evening, by Friday we will have full house,” explained BAF Executive Director, Thom Chibambo.

Keita arrived Friday afternoon through Chileka Airport in Blantyre with 12-man ensemble and told reporters through an interpreter that he was “excited to be in Malawi” and nlooking forward to a great performance.

BAF lopes in some other foreign artists in the likes of Pastor G of Zimbabwe, America-based Nigeria songbird, Naira, comedy from Japan, Edzai Isu theatre from Zimbabwe, Green Buffalos Theatre of Zambia, Evelyn Kryger band from Hannover, German and Windybrow Theatre of South Africa.

The festival will also have Poetry performances from South Africa as well our own poets, Nyamalikiti Nthiwatiwa and Okoma Atani Malunga among others.

A visit to FCC by Nyasa Times, found the organizers busy putting the place in shape in readiness for the festival, to from October 5th to October 7th, with Lucius Banda, Maskal, Ben Mankhamba, Ethel Kamwendo-Banda, Black Missionaries, Mlaka Maliro billed as some of local acts to mesmerize the patronage.

In an interview, Thom Chibambo said this year they have expanded the children festival category to ensure young people have a platform to showcase their artistic talents.

“Unlike in the past events, this year we have expanded the children festival so that families should have full entertainment. We will have 10 schools in this category. Some of them are Chichiri secondary, Stella Maris, HHI, Joyce Banda Foundation, Jacaranda and Maranatha showcasing their activities like visual arts, theatre and music.

“It is a family entertainment and people should come out in large numbers because we have demarcated the place in sections just for their pleasure. We have VIP section as well as Fun Park so that everyone should have a choice of what to patronize without being forced. It’s an event worth people’s time and money. It’s about giving arts its deserving face,” he said.

BAF returns with expanded categories and sets to re-launch the closed French Culture Centre (FCC), which government has authorized to be opened strictly for the annual gathering of both local and international artists.

Some of the local acts slated for the event include urban artists, Barry One, Armstrong, Piksy and Daredevils. On secular it’s Skeffa Chimoto, Music Crossroads 2011 winners, konkalazi band, Fikisa, Gides Chalamanda and Agoloso.

Gospel fans are not left out as the organizers have lined up a team of artists in the likes of Ndirande Anglican Voices, Great Angels Choir, Limbani Simenti and Thoko Katimba.

In theatre, the patronage is expected to be entertained by performances from comedian Mr. Jokes, Logos Theatre, Nanzikambe Arts, Solomonic Peacocks as well as Chichewa veterans, kwathu Drama Group.

“We have traditional dances as well. There will be Sambang’oma Cultural troupe, Dygo and Judges cultural troupes. Those who love comedies are not left out because we have a cross-section of comedians to entertain patrons. BAF has a mixture of veteran and up and coming artists for the event to be worth its objective of promoting the country’s arts and culture. ,” Chiwambo explained.

As of Tuesday, several training workshops on theatre, dance and music were being conducted at French Culture Centre which is part of the BAF objectives.

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