Nanzikambe Arts reaches out to marginalized groups through drama

Nanzikambe Arts is living up to its mandate of providing forums for the inmates, disabled and the marginalized through art after it successfully provided theatre training sessions for its Community Arts Clubs.

Chris Nditani: to empower artists from disadvantaged or marginalized groups

The trainings were done under Marginalized Groups Project which targeted young aspiring women, vulnerable women, the disabled and young inmates.

And following the trainings, the clubs have since lined up public performances to showcase the attained skills. The performances will be done on Saturday 27th January 2018 at Blantyre Cultural Centre (formerly French Cultural Centre) in Blantyre from 2:30 in the afternoon to around 6 o’clock in the evening.

Nanzikambe Arts Managing Director, Chris Nditani told Nyasa Times that the Community Arts Clubs training project started in November last year and has been going on every week for a year.

“The goal of the Community Arts Clubs for Marginalized Groups Project is to empower artists from disadvantaged or marginalized groups with skills that help them to re-identify themselves and learn other equally important aspects of life,” explained Nditani.

 The project has the following four-tiered objectives: working with the youths on issues of that affect them – primary education, safe sex, healthy living and human rights; working with young women on their own issues – developing confidence as well as information and education; working with those marginalized from society through disability and other status and developing an understanding of what issues are most pertinent to disadvantaged and marginalized Malawians through theatre workshops.

“The ones trained under the banner of the Community Arts Clubs will be the early adopters of the skills and behaviour and as a result of their formal and informal interaction with those that have not undergone the training, the skills gained shall eventually spread even long after the trainings are concluded.”

The Community Arts Clubs for Marginalized Groups Project has been made possible by funding support from the Malawi Cultural Fund which is financially supported by the Royal Norwegian Government. The Malawi Cultural Fund is locally managed by Hivos.

Nditani said that his organization is highly indebted to both the Norwegian Government and Hivos for the support they have rendered to Nanzikambe Arts over the years.

In 2008, Nanzikambe Arts Development Organization was awarded a grant of MK100 million for a three year Consolidated Arts Programme (CAP), a multi-disciplinary arts programme that put Nanzikambe Arts on the world’s theatre map.

Under the Consolidated Arts Programme, Nanzikambe Arts produced devised theatre pieces, adapted several plays and had a writer in residence programme. The Community Arts Clubs were also introduced during the tenure of the Consolidated Arts Programme, which also included appearances at regional and international festivals.

“Hivos has been supporting Nanzikambe Arts since 2009, and helped the organization set up the Arts Café in Naperi Township in 2012. Further support was rendered in 2017, under the Malawi Cultural Fund, during which the Community Arts Clubs for Marginalized Groups Project was re-introduced. We have worked and trained some forty people in basic theatre techniques and it is our belief and strong conviction that the country now has a wider pool of theatre practitioners to tap from,” Nditani said.

“Despite the year-long training having been provided by Nanzikambe Arts, this pool of artists can be used by any drama outfit in Malawi. This is in line with Nanzikambe Arts’ mission which is to build capacity of artists and communities, implementing interactive communications projects, performing intercultural high quality theatre and arts to diverse audiences to promote positive change and goal of developing a better understanding and appreciation of arts among Malawians, and its linkage to the social, economic and political needs of the society.”

Nanzikambe Arts has been running Community Arts Clubs in Blantyre for over three years.  The Community Arts Clubs are a space and a place where groups of marginalized people can come together to use drama and theatre as a way to talk about issues in their lives, learn new skills and make their voices heard.

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