Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife, Michael Usi says it is high time Malawian artists are appreciated for their true value. The minister said this when he spoke to multitudes of revellers on Saturday evening, October 2, at this year’s Sand Music Festival, which took place at the Sunbird Nkopola Lodge in Mangochi.
Usi said he has noted that there is a huge gap between the fees paid to international artists and that paid to local artists for them to perform at events like the Sand Music Festival and similar events, something he said is not acceptable and that it must be changed. He said this scenario often comes about when there is lack of appreciation for local talent by various stakeholders that are involved in the value chain of organizing events like the Sand Music Festival.
The minister said artists play a critical role in as far as putting the country on the map is concerned, and as such they must be recognized and appropriately rewarded for their talent. He added that government has placed the creative industry as one of the cornerstones in the Malawi 2063 development vision, which means it recognizes the pivotal role that the industry will play to transform this country into a developed nation by 2063
“The creative industry is among the sectors that have been earmarked in the Malawi 2063 development agenda, and artists such as musicians stand to play a crucial role in pushing that agenda forward. We want our musicians to be happy because they are our ambassadors and harbingers of our story as a country when they go outside the country. As an artists myself, i want to make sure that the creative industry is at the centre of our development strategy as a country,” said Usi
Usi said he would be sitting down with Lucius Banda, who is also Presidential Advisor on Youth Affairs, and other stakeholders, including the international artists to find a way of ensuring that Malawian artists are also invited to festivals outside the country so that Malawi is adequately represented at the international stage.
At this point the Minister thanked all musicians who have participated in this year’s event for their patriotism and love for their country but also encouraged them to be original in their creativity and not copycats.
USI, who was clad in just a bare muscle t-shirt and a shot, came on stage while dancing to the delight and cheering of revellers at the fully packed Sunbird Nkopola Lodge sandy grounds by Lake Malawi. His speech was consistently interrupted with loud chants of ‘anduna, anduna’ from the fans.
Before opening of the festival on Friday, October 1, the minister was briefed about the event by Sand Music Festival Chief Executive, Nkwachi Mhango about the vision of the Sand Music Festival concept and how they hope it will compliment government’s effort to promote the welfare of artists as well as promoting Malawi as a tourist destination.
The briefing was also attended by representatives from sponsors of the event such as Castel Malawi and Standard Bank. The minister thanked the sponsors for sponsoring the event and assured them of government’s full support in making sure that the objectives of the festival are fully realized.
Among some of the local artists who participated in the event were Lulu, Kell K, the Black Missionaries, Picksy, Saint, Wendy Harawa, Rushly and others. Among the international artists who performed at the event were Makhaza and Sipho Makabane from South Africa whilst the event was headlined by Gramps Morgan from the Morgan Heritage.