A couple of months ago, Malawi First Lady Gertrude Mutharika donated sets of musical instruments to University of Malawi’s Chancellor College and five secondary schools in the country, namely; St Mary’s, Mary Mount, Marist, St Patricks Academy and Lilongwe Girls’.
The reason the China Africa Business Council (CABC) donated musical equipment worth $10m (K7.2billion) was to support young Malawian musicians to develop and nurture their talents.
This is according to CABC general secretary Erick Wang who made the announcement at a New York event on 25 September last year where Malawi’s first lady was present.
The other details are that the donation was made through the first lady’s Beautify Malawi Trust (BEAM) via Chinese youth initiative called Public Benefit International Challenge (PBIC) where young Chinese students mobilised resources for the acquisition of the equipment.
Where my contention is coming in is the choice made by BEAM on the recipients of these musical instruments. This is so when one considers observations made by the Malawi first lady that the donation will make a huge impact on young musicians.
I want us to look at the take of the two officials thus Mr Wang and Mrs Mutharika. Both said these instruments would go a long way to help young Malawian musicians.
Now, who in their right minds thought these young musicians can be found in these places? I think this was a misallocation.
I have argued before, and I am going to argue now that most of the young musicians that are really struggling to achieve something out of music are in our localities. Most of them completed their secondary school education and are now making an effort to try their hands on music because they have talent but with no provisions of a place where they can nurture it.
Last time my argument was to include music in the programmes being offered under the technical entrepreneurial and vocational education training system.
I once argued that there has never been one single trade that has generated youthful interest in Malawi at any given time than what music has done. Unfortunately this interest is not at Chanco neither is it at those five secondary schools.
A lot of Bachelor of Arts students majoring in music from Chancellor College have nothing to show for it. They have taken a totally different route. Those that have made it big musically are self-taught and have no Chanco connection whatsoever.
Now upon realising that there is a musical donation coming from China, targeting young Malawi musicians, BEAM should have looked around and ensure that those that would really make something big out of this donation really do get them.
Yes, Chanco has students studying music but they are not musicians and they have proven to us over time that they do not become musicians. If you ask me, the effective music institution right now is the Karonga based Lusubilo Music school.
Yes, secondary schools have music as a subject which is not even examinable and it will be total fallacious to take learners there as young musicians of this country.
BEAM should not have gone further than enquiring who young musicians in this country are and how best they could be reached out by merely reaching out to the Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM).
Not sure if the status quo remains, but long time ago MUM – when it was an association – used to have regional offices with special spaces that had musical equipment where young musicians would go practice or learn.
Better still if BEAM was of the view that in following it up with MUM they won’t score any political point, then Mrs. Mutharika would sure have taken advantage of her husband’s rural community colleges concept.
It is in these communities where one would easily find young musicians. Like I have argued before, this is where an arrangement with those in the administration of courses being offered in these community colleges would be asked to come up with a course in music and made use of this donation.
With a huge hunger in the young musicians to perfect their acts, you will be surprised how beneficial this donation would have been.
But with what BEAM has decided to do with it, then it is as good as not having received any donation at all; it only massages our political egos without necessarily bringing out any positive musical results.