Malawi’s French Cultural Centre re-opens, Salif Keita show Oct 5

Finally the French Culture Centre (FCC) re-opens its doors after a year-long closure with Mali’s Afro-pop singer, Salif Keita enlisted as first international headliner to premiere the re-opening.

Salif Keita will be performing in Malawi for the first time during this year’s three-day Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) to be held at FCC early October.

BAF will be first event to take place at French Culture Centre since it was closed down last year. The premise yet to be renovated currently lies in disgrace state after being vandalized by unknown thugs who went away with multimillion worth of music equipment and furniture.

According to BAF Executive Director, Thom Chibambo, Keita will premiere the three-day festival which has attracted other artists from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria and Japan after government permitted BAF to use FCC.

To perfom in Malawi: Malian singer Salif Keita

“Blantyre Arts Festival will take place from Friday 5th to Sunday 7th of October 2012. BAF main International head liner will be Salif Keita from Mali. Him and his full band will perform on the evening of Friday at the French Cultural Centre (FCC) in Blantyre,” Chibambo said in an interview.

Chibambo said BAF has managed to invite Salif Keita one of high profile artists in the African continent through funding from Alliance Françoise in Zambia.

“Alliance Françoise have paid Keita’s fees, travels and BAF only contributed part of the fees and flight costs from Zambia where he will perform on Thursday 4th of October for French Embassy before he performs in Malawi during Blantyre Arts Festival,” Chibambo said.

Apart from Keita, other international artists to participate in this year’s BAF event are Pastor G of Zimbabwe, America-based Nigeria songbird, Naira, comedy from Japan, Edzai Isu theatre from Zimbabwe, Green Buffalos Theatre of Zambia, a band from German and Windybrow Theatre of South Africa.

Government this a week ago allowed BAF to use FCC, making it first event to use the facility yet to be renovated.

However, officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture said BAF will meet all costs incurred in renovating selected areas earmarked for the festival, and that government will only embark on full refurbishment of the premise soon after evaluation of total renovation cost is done.

Principal Arts Officer in the Ministry, Anganile Nthakomwa disclosed in an interview  with Nyasa Times that per agreement, costs for renovating amphitheatre, the exhibition hall, two offices and the main hall targeted by the festival will be met by the BAF officials.

“Let me set the record straight, we are not renovating the place for BAF. Our initial renovations will be done soon after the building department has finalized the valuation of the total cost. But as of now, the ministry has allowed BAF to do some maintenances in the areas that will be used for the festival,” Nthakomwa explained.

Nthakomwa said government has earmarked K200 million for the renovation of the dilapidated FCC, thus, including replacement of stolen and vandalized furniture and music equipment among others.#

“We expect to start the renovations possibly by September end, but that will depend on how fast will the paperwork done. Government allocated in this year’s budget 200 million for the renovation but more details will be known once the building department is done with its evaluation,” she said.

Earlier this year it was revealed that government will spend K42 million in renovating FCC, which was bought from the Republic of France before it was looted by thieves due to lack of security.

Meanwhile, the centre which was a host of various artistic events lies in disgrace state not fit for its renowned history and contribution to the country’s arts and culture. And it will only take Salif Keita and BAF event to bring back its lost glory.

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