Malawi finalizes takeover bid for French Cultural Central

After about eight months of inactivity Blantyre’s entertainment mecca the French Cultural Centre will resume its operations anytime, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Daniel Liwimbi has
confirmed.

This follows Malawi Government’s finalization of a whooping K300 million payment two weeks ago to France for the purchase of Malawian artists’ dream venue.

“It has been a very long process due to various factors such as the issue of forex but I can finally confirm that government now wholly owns the place after paying the whole money to the French government.

Liwimbi: Finalise take over

Right now officials from my ministry are busy working on proper handovers, and to see how best to renovate the place and anytime it should be open again to the public,” explained the minister.

Since the French Government closed the theatre mecca last year in June, thieves have done a great injustice to the place because there was no security. The place just stayed without even a single guard.

Sorry state

Nyasa Times reporter who visited the place was greeted with a sorry picture of the situation that has provided utmost entertainment in assorted forms since its opening in November 1973.

Peeping through the iron barred-fenced one is greeted with a number of vandalised sights.

Right at the main gate, the guard room’s steel door is gone and all window panes are destroyed.

Looking beyond the main gate, one is again greeted by a Mitsubishi 4×4 blue vehicle that is now uncomfortably sitting on stones because all the tyres have vanished.

To the right side, there is a library whose windows have also been broken and nobody knows the condition of hundreds of the books it used to stock.

Some unconfirmed reports also indicate, that thieves have also stolen state-of-the-art equipment such as public address system, Plasma TVs, computers including some furniture.

“We know the facility is in bad shape at the moment but we will first look at something that the public can start using immediately as we work towards ensuring that the whole place is renovated and uplifted to better standards,” he said.

Uplifitng arts

The minister has also refuted reports that government intends to turn the facility into a library.

“Government will maintain using this facility for performing arts,” said Liwimbi. “By managing to purchase it in the face of current economic problems government shows that it is committed to uplifting arts and culture in the country.”

Meanwhile, artists have thanked government for the commitment it has shown in procuring the artistic designed facility.

“I just hope that government will not depart from the way how the French were using the facility which has assisted hundreds of Malawian artists,” said Ian Chitsekula, President of the National Theatre Association of Malawi (NTAM).

Most of the artists, particularly actors, actresses and Gospel singers in Malawi, have made names because of FCC, he observed.

According to officials at the ministry, government has delayed to buy the place because of forex shortage as Paris Government wanted the money converted into Euros.

Under the French, FCC was also well known for hosting top artists from across the world, particularly those from countries that also speak French.

For many years, FCC has been instrumental in organizing various performances and artist workshops because of its relatively low charges.

Before its closure, the maximum charge for the French was about K50 000 which was far below what many good venues in Blantyre charge which range between K100 000 to K300 000 per performance.

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