Marketing Malawi through dance

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The Malawi National Dance Troupe was established in 1987
with the sole purpose of reviving, promoting and preserving the country’s
Malawi’s traditional dances and performing arts to ensure their continuity.

The group is also tasked with promoting general awareness,
respect and appreciation of Malawi’s traditional dances and music. It acts as a
symbol of national unity by bringing together people from different parts of
the country to perform traditional dances from various ethnic groups of Malawi.

Currently, the group has 20 members drawn from all districts. Eight of the members are females. Over the years, the group has represented the country in many different international fora such as Southern Africa Developemnt Community (Sadc) conferences, tourism indabas and African dance festivals, among others.

National Dance Troupe members performing in China

The crew has been to China, The Netherlands, Taiwan,
Algeria, South Africa, India, Zambia, Swaziland, and Mozambique just to name
but a few.

This year, Malawi is participating in the 2019 Beijing
International Horticulture Expo which started in April and is expected to end
in October. Though the expo is focusing on horticulture, the platform is also
used by countries to showcase what they have in terms of trade, investment,
tourism and culture.

As part of the expo, each country is given a national day to
showcase what it has on offer. And Malawi’s national day at the expo was last
Wednesday July 3.

As part of its obligations, which is to participate in
traditional cultural exchange programmes, competitions and festivals, the
troupe was called upon to represent Malawi during the national day in Beijing.

The group brought on show some of the country’s popular
traditional dances such beni, chisamba, gulewamkulu,
mwinoghe, mganda, tchopa, manganje
, among others. Also on display
was local food such as thobwa, mfutso, nyemba, bonya, banana
fritters, dried fish and local beverages such as Linga wine, Malawi Gin,
Premier Brandy and Malawi Vodka.

In an interview with On The Arts manager for
the group Leleni Nyasulu, who is also one of the choreographers said their
displays at the expo left them encouraged that they have created enough
awareness for the country for people to start visiting for business investments
and tourism.

“Most people confessed that they now know Malawi in a
positive way and we believe this can open numerous business opportunities for
the country,” he said.

Apart from performing at the theatre during the official
programme on the Malawi Day, the troupe thereafter performed at the luncheon at
the Malawian pavilion.

Nyasulu said: “Malawian culture, traditional dances and even
the food are among the most adorable in the world.

“The Malawian pavilion attracted people until evening who
came to watch the dances and sample Malawian food.”

Malawi’s participation at the expo is being coordinated by
Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (Mitc) and its spokesperson Deliby Chimbalu
said the performance by the troupe was critical as their role was to showcase
local traditional dances.

“People were excited and interested to watch the national
dance troupe perform. We can say without doubt that performances by the group
have really put Malawi on the map in terms of its culture,” she said.

Chimbalu said according to the response they received, it
was evident that the group marketed Malawi’s culture whose benefits may come
with trade and investment opportunities.

The troupe has over the years scooped several awards due to
its outstanding performances. Among the awards it has won are the Life-time
Achiever, Malawi in 2017 and Africa Freedom Dance Festival Award, Zambia in
2008

They have also won the Life time Achiever Award, Malawi in
2008, the Miaoli County Mask Festival, Taiwan in 2004, the Sadc Multidisciplinary
Festival, South Africa in 2002 and the Sadc Dance Festival, Zimbabwe in 2001.

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