Mulhako Wa Alhomwe, a cultural heritage group has claimed that despite the success of this year’s annual festival, it faced serious logistical challenges following a government order to ban the use of chairs, desks at the event as well as the use of surrounding government schools as areas of accommodation.
The festival took place between Saturday and Sunday at the organisation’s headquarters at Chonde in Mulanje.
According to senior Mulhako officials that Nyasa Times spoken to, all school heads and division officials in the surrounding districts of Thyolo, Mulanje, Chiradzulu and Phalombe were instructed by the Ministry of Education headquarters not to release any school chairs, desks for use at the event as well as not allow Lhomwes travelling from far to spend their nights at the schools.
This instruction, went to the school officials despite claims last week by Malawi President Joyce Banda that looking at her roots, she is actually a Lhomwe by tribe.
Over the years, Mulhako has been borrowing school chairs and desks from surrounding government institutions for use at the festival and the same schools have been used for accommodation by Lhomwes coming from far places to the event.
Mulhako wa Alhomwe administrator Muchanakhwaye Mpuluka said the organisation learnt of the government order in the last week of the preparations for the event.
“Normally we write the Education Division asking for the use of chairs and desks as well as the actual schools for accommodation. We did that and to our surprise for the first time there was no response at all.
“ Further efforts to follow on the matter made officials push us from one person to another until we could not pursue this any further,” said Mpuluka.
The official disclosed that the organisation therefore decided to hire chairs from private institutions and individuals further bloating the budget.
Guests to the event were also accommodated in private schools and accommodation centres but now at a cost. According to one of the organisers and trustee Leston Mulli, Mulhako has spent well ove K80 million for the annual festival this year.
There was drama from Friday when almost all division education officials including school heads switched-off their phones to avoid interacting with Mulhako officials over the matter.
Despite these logistical hiccups, Mpuluka said Mulhako wa Alhomwe was grateful to some government agencies and departments who offered their services to the festival seeing it as a cultural event.
Mulhako wa Alhomwe was founded in 2008 by former Malawi late President Bingu Wa Mutharika with an aim of discovering and protecting the Lhomwe culture in the country.
Mutharika died of cardiac arrest in April this year and this was the first annual festival without the founder and patron of the grouping.
Efforts to talk to Ministry of Education spokesperson Lindiwe Chide proved futile as her phone could not be picked when we contacted her to seek the Ministry’s side of the story.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :