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Flames Heritage Malawi End of Project Event – Manchester a Success

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By Allan Mandindi

Saturday afternoon we joined other Malawians to grace the End of this year’s Flames Heritage Project, an event that was held at Wright Robison College Theatre Hall. The event attracted people from all walks within the Malawi community also including other nations. The Flames Oral History Project shorted to ‘‘Flames Heritage Malawi’’ is a Project involving Malawian People living in Manchester and was organized through the organization; The Order of St Hadrian and it was officially launched in January 2019 with the aim of collecting oral history on the subject of wedding ceremonies and marriage and preserving it for the future generation. The project has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and it is working hand in hand with Manchester Library.

Project Manager Dr Charles  Kachitsa giving Introductory Remark
Project Manager Dr Charles Kachitsa giving Introductory Remark

According to Dr. Charles Kachitsa who led the initiative, the project interviewed 30 people of Malawi origin, most of them as a couple. Through this interaction, they conducted and recorded audio interviews of all the 30 people. Out of that figure, 10 were revisited for video recordings, which was used for a documentary.  Dr. Kachitsa said this was perhaps the project’s first achievement. He further highlighted that prior to the interviews, they have had youth seminars, the first of which was a Web Development workshops, followed by a fine arts seminar in which the youth learned Malawi history. 

” As we live in the Diaspora there is a need for our younger generation to learn about our history and heritage and we are very positive that the project will go on for the next five years or so” said Dr. Kachitsa.

Archbishop Doye Agama, Director of the Order of St Hadrian, the organization that this project falls under, made the opening speech where he stressed the need for those in the Diaspora to remember their roots, especially teaching the younger generation our heritage. He thanked everyone that took part in the project, as the material gathered will help to shape how we view weddings and marriages within those in the diaspora.

Archbishop Doye Agama watches on after Delivering Opening Remark
Archbishop Doye Agama watches on after Delivering Opening Remark

Keynote Speech was delivered by Dr. Harvey Kwinyani who spoke strongly on the importance of Malawians in the diaspora to teach the children our Heritage. He noted that most families when they come to this country they assimilate too much to the English way of life, forgetting to teach the children the African way of life. He gave an example of Nigerian families who have done better in promoting their heritage in families.

 “if you go into the house of a Nigerian you will know? For generations, they have been taught that although being a child born in Uk – this is NOT Home. Therefore teach that Malawian’s born in the United Kingdom that they are Malawians born in the UK”. He said.

Dr. Harvey Kwinyani
Dr. Harvey Kwinyani

Apart from moving speeches, guests were also entertained by Malawian well-known artists and former X-Factor participants well known within the X-Factor fan base as ”The Duos” or ”Jay Z and Beyonce” – Godson and Charity Saiwala. They gave a brilliant performance with their new hit.   

Godson and Charity Saiwala Performing
Godson and Charity Saiwala Performing

Then,  there was also a special performance by a Russian Professional International Dancer, Sandra who entertained the guest with some amazing dance moves. When I asked the organizers why there was not a Malawian Dancer. They said the choice of Sandra was to give other Malawian Dances in the Diaspora  Confidence and take pride at our culture, there is a lack of pride withing the Malawian youth to showcase art through traditional dance, but I think the more they see how other countries are proud to showcase their tradition, more will come out and this is the area we as Heritage Organizations need to work on and promote greatly.

Sandra - Russian Dancer
Sandra – Russian Dancer

There was also a marriage counseling session( Chinkhoswe), this was mainly aimed at giving advice to the young people that are about to get married or those already in marriage and the session was led by Bishop Robbie Chiphaliwali and Ms. Patricia Chimangeni, who has recently written a book about Malawi tradition touching on issues affecting marriages in the modern age.

The youth were also given the opportunity to showcase some of the things they learned during the workshops through a performance and other songs led by Ms. Charity Chiphwanya and Mrs. Akuzike Mponda.

Youth Performance
Youth Performance

I asked Dr. Kachitsa about the Benefits  this project will bring to the Malawian  community in the diaspora, he said: First and foremost it’s the confidence it gives to people, as they embark on the process of self-examination, the knowledge it gives the youth, for instance, to know their cultural heritage and the resultant;  promotion of social integration as people from other cultures come to learn about Malawi cultural practices.

Others that came to grace the event include Dr. Erinma Bell who is a great supporter and champion of African Heritage, herself being a British born Nigerian and a well known Manchester Peace Activist, it was great to have someone like her.

Dr. Erinma Bell
Dr. Erinma Bell 

The  Maravi Heritage team that was present had a great time and they enjoyed and learned a lot about Malawian culture and we look forward to supporting future African Heritage projects.

More videos for the event.

This article was originally published on Maravi Heritage Foundation website. All photos and videos credit to Maravi Heritage Foundation Media.

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