Malawi diplomat Tembo asks UK diaspora to embrace cultural heritage

Malawians resident in the United Kingdom have been urged to redouble and amplify their efforts in embracing their cultural heritage of ‘warm-heartedness’ in order to continue upholding a resounding image for their country and at the same time raising Malawi’s profile on the world map.

Malawi’s deputy High Commissioner to London, John Tembo Jr. made the remarks at the weekend in Nottingham, East Midlands of England, when he presided over Malawi’s first ever ‘Cultural Fiesta’ which was organised by the Malawi Association Midlands (MAM) amid clear-headed calls for all Malawians living abroad to actively take part in contributing to their home country’s social economic development.

Tembo said all Malawians living in foreign countries are the country’s envoys and therefore it is imperative that they hold themselves in a Malawian way which he described as God-fearing, peace-loving and hard-working.

Deputy Malawi High Commissioner to the UK John Tembo Jnr
Deputy Malawi High Commissioner to the UK John Tembo Jnr

“Any nation in the world is identified by its people way of life and their cultural heritage. As Malawians we are best known to the world as the warm-hearted people and I would like to urge you all to embrace that culture and maintain upholding such a notion that we are the friendliest people in the world,” he said.

” Wherever we go as Malawians we represent the image of our country,” he added.

Tembo said the cultural fete was a good initiative, saying:  “I implore you all my fellow Malawians to embrace our culture and maintain to represent our country’s good image. We must live as one people and love one another as people from one big family that is Malawi. We have a good image as a country, let us show the world through our way of life that we come from the warm heart of Africa.”.

‘Economic development’

The Malawian deputy envoy to the Queensland then implored all Malawians not only in the UK but across the globe to help in the social and economic development of Malawi saying it is a duty and responsibility of every Malawian to be involved in nation building saying Malawi belongs to all Malawians.

He said: “I would like to appeal to all of you here, and all Malawians in the diaspora in the world, to help in developing of our beautiful country economically and socially. As Malawians, we all have a responsibility to develop our country. The government needs our support and our president Dr Joyce Banda has an open policy for every Malawian take part in the development process of our country.”

Tembo said the Malawi embassy in London is open to all Malawians emphasizing that everybody is welcome to visit the Malawi mission and ask or seek any help on how to go about in investing, trading or acquiring land and property in Malawi.

“We encourage all Malawians in the UK and across the globe to invest in Malawi. Only Malawians can develop Malawians. If we don’t want to develop our country then who will?” asked Tembo who was accompanied to the event by the Malawi Mission’s expert on Trade and investment, Mufwa Munthali.

Tembo said: “Numerous Africans including some Malawians at times put on the wrong glasses, and pessimism is always at the tip of their tongues saying Africa is poor; nothing can come out of it. I have lost faith in my country; there is no need to invest in my home country…”

“Assertions like these can only halt the progress of the continent and our respective countries. We need a positive attitude. We must speak positive about Africa, about Malawi. We must strive to find means and ways to assist the government in unveiling the hidden treasures.”

‘Cultural identity’

Tembo hinted that it is only people with a strong cultural identity who always put their country’s interest to the fore saying: “As Malawians we must always be proud of who and what we are no matter where we are.”

In her keynote address Malawi Association UK (MAUK) vice Chairperson Gertrude Chirambo commended Malawians in Midlands for organising the event saying it was paramount to promote one’s cultural identity.

“A people without a national identity are like trees without roots. We must always remember where we are coming from in order to ascertain where we are going,” said Chirambo.

Speaking earlier on MAM chairperson Boniface Chimpango said the idea to hold the event was to bring all Malawians together in Midlands and celebrate Malawian cultural heritage.

“We thought it could be a good idea for us as Malawians to come together and celebrate our culture and traditions to remind ourselves where we come from and at the same time to teach our children some of who were born in this country (England) our way of life,” said Chimpango.

Moderating the event, Pastor Rose Masina-Nkwazi urged parents who have children to always teach their children Malawian tradition saying they should not forget where they come from.

“East or west, home is best. Let us teach our children of our cultural identity so they must know who they are and where they come from. Tell them those old Malawian folktales and teach them about our history,” said Pastor Masina-Nkhwazi.

‘Traditional fiesta’

Among the activities marking the family affair cultural event was a Malawian sumptuous traditional food cuisines and rations which included Chambo, local Chicken (roadrunner) Nkhwani wotendera, Mfutso, Malawi rice,  Malawi Gin, Malawi’s Premier Brandy. There was also an array of  fork-tales, traditional songs and dances and the patrons were entertained to Malawian music.

Pastor Lokote recited an old Malawian standard five popular folktale, about ‘Majoti’ a boy who believed in his dreams, while Elton Phiri performed a Manganje dance and a Mr. Chinyama of Nottingham sang a Lomwe traditional song, called Nantchengwa. 

Mrs Yesaya, Wife of Pastor Yesaya and Mrs Thipa wife of Pastor Thipa of Calvary Church and MAM’s Secretary General, Rowland Mahata also recited some moving traditional old folktales in a Padangotero -Tilitonse and Ndagi – Gize fashion.

 Malawi’s renowned gospel singer, Gertrude Munthali also performed some traditional hymns but fused with gospel beat. There was also a hip hop group comprising three Malawian youths calling themselves 3-Dees also thrilled and mesmerised the audience with their hip-hop mantra fused with traditional sounds and mashed-up with several Malawian traditional folklore songs including a rendition of the Malawian national anthem embedded between Hip hop and Hip-life.

There was also a raffle draw in which the patrons won an electric Iron, a prized Dedza Pottery vessel and five kilograms of Malawi Kilombera rice donated by the Malawi Embassy.

The event was well patronised by Malawians from East Midlands and far and wide and after the day’s event patrons continued fun at Kwacha House in Nottingham.

Among those who attended the fiesta, there were prominent Malawian figures who included Pastor Pangani Thipa Calvary Family Church Nottingham, Pastor Kennedy Lokote of Glory House Revival Church, Pastor Yesaya, Pastor Dinga Mjojo of Citadel International Church, Selemani Chitulu and Arthur Mvula who are the founding members of MAM.

Also gracing the occasion were Medical doctors Dr. Henry Matiti and his wife, Dr. Milika Matiti both executive members of Malawi Health Care Support UK (Mahecas) a charity organisation which supports health care systems and various establishments in Malawi.

There were hordes of Malawians from London, Luton, Birmingham, Leicester,  Coventry, Oxford, Northampton, Manchester, Derby and Nottingham among other place who graced the occasion.

“It was simply epic. I have enjoyed myself and I was taken back home to Malawi. Everything was Malawian – the music, the dance, the forgotten folktales and the food. It couldn’t have been better,” one patron, Kelvin Osman told Nyasa Times in an interview after the event.

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