President Dr Lazarus Chakwera has been invited alongside Vice-President Dr Saulos Chilima and former Heads of State, Dr Bakili Muluzi, Dr Joyce Banda and Prof Peter Muthatika to be part of the Heritage Group, Chiwanja Cha Ayao annual celebration scheduled for October 22 in Mangochi.
This was disclosed by chairperson of the Heritage Group, Abdul-Aziz Kennedy Yassin, saying the keynote speaker will be Paramount Chief Kawinga.
Scheduled for Mangochi Stadium, celebration activities include a variety of traditional dances, parade of Yao chiefs, visit Chigawe Point where there will be a sharing the history of the place and speeches.
There will also be other performances such as poetry recitations, drama songs, good displays of art and artefacts which displays the Yao culture.
Chiwanja Cha Ayao was initiated in 2015 and was officially launched in 2019, which was also graced by the then Head of State, Peter Mutharika.
Aziz paid tribute to partners who have contributed towards the success of the event, saying so far they have managed to raise close to K15m through generous support from well-wishers — both Yao and non-Yao members such as Members of Parliament, village heads, chiefs and senior chiefs.
This week, Dr Bakili Muluzi — who is also the patron of Chi Wanja Cha a Yao — contributed K5 million while MP Halima Daudi gave K300,00 towards the success of the festival.
The cultural grouping of Yao people from all the districts of Malawi — which is non-political nor based on religious background, whose sole purpose is to unite the Yao people, preserve its tradition and culture while promoting the Yao language, among others.
“The Yao tribe and language has not been immune to the effects of cultural globalisation where other cultures and languages are neglected,” the chairperson said. “This is very evident in today’s youth and middle class families where the tribal language is not spoken among the members of the family.
“Yao tribe has been an integral part of the political and social economic aspect of Malawi and in the neighbouring countries, mainly Mozambique and Tanzania. The Yao language and customs have influenced so many other customs throughout this vast land of South-East Africa.
“The Yao way of life and culture involves a ceaseless quest of perfection of the human personality at the innermost depth of which is found the answer to self-realization, wisdom and empowerment.
“This makes the Yao custom very diverse and may be even very complex if not seen with an open mind, but a sincere aspirant will definitely achieve the purpose if he or she can think and apply the wisdom of this rich culture.”
The chairperson emphasized that people who “adopt other cultures usually never progress in every aspect of life but those who stick to their cultural values, beliefs and practices do progress in life.
“We cannot allow the Yao culture and language to die a natural death — there is need to promote and preserve way of life of Yao people; to inculcate Yao values and teach them that they can succeed in life with Yao culture.
“There is need to educate the population that Yao is a tribal and not a religion as the two are distinct and separate. This was why the Yao Heritage Group was established to achieve.”
He highlighted that success stories through the establishment of Chiwanja Cha Ayao include providing space for Yao chiefs to discuss matters of common interest; reached out to Yao people with messages of awareness to send children to school and created platform for people with diverse background to co-exist and live in peace and harmony with other tribal background.
Going forward, the executive committee has plans to establish a Yao Heritage diet; lobby government to construct schools where there are no adequate educational facilities; promote girl child education among the Yao tribe; to engage Yao community to protect and preserve the environment and to continue fundraising activities to manage their plans.
According to Rhodrick Kalumpha, one of the founding members who steers the Heritage’s diaspora members, the idea to form the Yao tribe heritage group was first hatched by late Dr Mekki Mtewa way back in 1994/95 after he came from the US where he had been in exile.
But since Bakili Muluzi was the Head of State at that time, and being a Yao himself, the idea was shelved because they did not want to be seen using his position to prop up one tribe.
He said after Muluzi’s term, efforts were made by a group of individuals to revive and after been fine tuned it was finally launched in 2019.
“Today, we stand united as Yaos in Malawi, hand in hand with other tribes as we forge ahead in the development of this beautiful multicultural, multitribe nation.
“All of us in the steering committee are glad and humbled to have played a very small part in its establishment for the benefit of the younger and upcoming generations.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :