Malawians in UK celebrate independence in grand style

With British temperatures struggling to scale up to acceptable levels as summertime fails to materialise, you could  be forgiven for thinking that diaspora Malawians in the United Kingdom would stay indoors to turn up the heating, a notch or two and shy away from the country’s 48th Independence celebrations in East Midlands.

They didn’t.

Malawians from all walks of life across England and beyond joined by scores of other nationalities braved the odd summer chilly weather to commemorate this year’s self independence from Britain, on Saturday in Nottingham.

Well organised

Ably organised by Malawi Association Midlands (MAM), Malawians came in large numbers and got back together in the saddle to make merry at this year’s main event of Independence Celebrations for diaspora Malawians in the Queensland.

“This year’s Malawi Independence in the UK has been so exciting. More than ever before Malawians have come out of their shells to show solidarity and celebrate together as a closely-knit society,” said Leicester based former Bullets and Malawi international striker, Jones ‘Speedlink’ Nkhwazi who attended the event.

The event which was a family affair was full of pomp and grandeur and started in the morning with a football bonanza with six Malawian football teams partaking in the tournament at the Forest Recreation grounds before the fun was moved to Boys Club Youth Centre for a dinner and dance.

“We’ve enjoyed ourselves to the core, these things must be organised every now and then within the Malawian communities as a get together not on annual basis. The event was well organised,” said Derby based Peter Liabunya.

Silver platter

Despite a day-long wave of thrilling activities, hundreds of Malawian revellers flocked to the evening event dubbed ‘Malawi Freedom Glittered Night’ where a feast of Malawian traditional cuisine and indigenous music took centre stage.

Addressing the patrons, Malawi’s Charge de Affairs at the Embassy, James Ali said Malawians must always embrace their hard won freedom regardless of where ever they are in the world.

“We must embrace our freedom because it did not come on a silver platter. Our forefathers fought for independence and we can do them proud if we embrace and enhance our democracy,” said Ali who was accompanied to the function by his wife and two other embassy officials Mufwa Munthali and Vupe Kunkwezu.

“Malawi is best known for the hospitality of its people and by coming together at this event we have shown that we are friendliest people amongst ourselves and with others, too,” said Ali.

He also urged Malawians to support the new administration of President Joyce Banda “in making Malawi a safe haven of peace and that we emancipate our country from the economic bondage.”

Deputy chairperson of the Malawi Association UK (MAUK) Gertrude Chirambo said;”Our country needs us, our societies needs us therefore it is important that we are united because we all have a common goal, to make our country a better place.”

 Huge Success

MAM chairperson lawyer Boniface Chimpango, who was also the head of the organising committee of the event, thanked patrons for their support in making the Malawian Independence Celebrations in Nottingham a huge success.

“On our own without your support this event could not have been this great. You’ve shown Malawian spirit by braving the unfriendly weather to come and join us,” Chimpango said.

MAM deputy chairperson Pastor Rose Masina Nkhwazi asked all Malawians to put God first in all they do adding that Malawians are blessed and favoured people and it is imperative that they always look up to His glory for wisdom.

Notable faces

On behalf of Malawians in Nottingham, Mam General Secretary Rowland Mahata, welcomed all the delegates travelling from other parts of the UK to the both events – in the afternoon and in the evening – saying it was overwhelming to have a huge turn out to the event.

There were notable faces and prominent Malawians at the event who included; Air Malawi Cargo Services UK manager, Steve Msamala, former Malawi and Silver Strikers international goalie Chite Malema, former Malawi under 20 national team and Civo United ex-player, Sinkanawo Makaniankhondo, former Silver strikers football star, Steve Ng’oma, founder of Malawi Women Association (MWA) lawyer Grace Manyika among others.

But perhaps the highlight of the day and night was an unquenchable patriotism of a British national Nigel Newton and his son,  Daniel who attended both functions at the recreation ground and in the hall.

Air Malawi’s Msamala who has just been appointed UK’s country manager said it was privilege for him to mix with the Malawian community.

“I’m so happy that Malawians met their humble servant who has come to serve them on behalf of Air Malawi and the government of Malawi to put the Malawian flag on the map. It was nice,”

Loving Malawi’

Newton in an interview said he loves Malawi so much that as he has spent most of his time in the Southern African country. Nigel went to Saint Andrews High Schools in Blantyre.

He came to the function donning a T-shirt emblazoned ‘I love Malawi the warm heart of Africa.’

And surely, his actions proved he loved Malawi so much as he was seen mingling with Malawians and when Nyasa Times greeted him in English he replied: “ingoyankhulani Chichewa ndine M’malalawi mzanu!” (Just speak Chichewa, I’m your fellow Malawian)

At the dinner and dance, Nigel and his teenage son, Daniel volunteered to help at the bar serving beers and drinks to the patrons throughout the night. And they did with commitment and dedication.

“We were received with incredible kindness, the day was a pleasure watching the football,” Nigel said.

He continued: “The evening party took a twist for me and my son we ended up working at the bar. We had a Fantastic time. Truly the warm heart of Africa. I don’t care that I was demoted to a mere bar tenders at the party and I’m looking forward to attending more Malawian parties.”

Football Bonanza

A football bonanza was the toast of the day’s event apart from other things such as children’s games, barberque among others.

Malawian teams from Manchester, Derby, Northampton,  Leicester and Nottingham participated in a soccer tournament which was sponsored by World Cargo International.

A team from Manchester carried the day  after winning all its games but drew one against the host Nottingham who drew against their neighbours, Derby.

Then, the Malawian players from all the teams formed a select team which played against Nigeria and Zimbabwe select teams respectively as international match. They drew against Nigeria 1-1 but lost to Zimbabwe by 2-1.

In the evening the winning team, Manchester were presented with  a trophy by World cargo International Executive Director Munya Sajanga  in presence of Malawi’s former national team players, Chite Malema and Jones Nkhwazi and Charge de Affairs James Ali.

The Malawi High Commission presented the winning team with a bottle of Malawi Gin.

Captain for the Manchester team, Ben Namba, said he was happy that his team won the trophy saying they worked hard as a team and deserved to win.

“We will defend this trophy again next year and we have no doubt that we will win again,” said Namba.

Munya Sajanga presenting the trophy to Ali
Trophy presentation by World Cargo to Malawi Embassy's Charge de affairs James Ali
The patronage at the celebrations. Photos by George Mlanga
Nyasa Times editorial team showed thier football skills: Thom Chiumia and Peter Makossa
Bench for Malawi team - Nottingham
Proudly 'Malawian' Nigel and Fides Kachale
The barberque
Malawi football legends: Sinka Makaniankhondo (ex-Civo), Chite Malemia (ex-Silver), Steve Ng’oma (ex-Silver) and Jones Nkhwazi (ex Bullets)
Namba with the trophy and Pastor Masina Nkhwazi . Photo by George Mlanga

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