Narrative report for Blantyre Arts Festival 2019

Silvia Hesse Blantyre


Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) was formed in 2009 and it is operating under the banner of arts and cultural development in Malawi. It is one of the leading organizations in the Arts and cultural fields. Blantyre Arts Festival responds to the need for development and to promote various sectors of arts and culture. BAF presents the best of Malawian creativity to the widest possible audience by organizing events, festivals, cultural exchanges, local and international performances, and training programs. BAF also provides social development capacity building and awareness programmes. BAF is a registered trustee and it has its secretariat. In 2019 it reaches over 400 youth under its school program as well as 300 artists with training workshops. Through the audience-building process, BAF has greatly improved its millage through its outstanding Blantyre Arts Festival corporate brand both on local and on the international level.

It promotes the positive side of the African continent and people, the beauty, vibrant, energetic, talented, and inspiring men, women and the youth varied culture and the arts as an expression of life, hope, and creativity.

BAF focuses on culture for development takes into accounts every aspect of society. It works with different segment of the society through training and cultural exchange programs to commit into social professional and economic development of the artistic needs.

Its aims among others is to equip the artists youth, women and girls with skills, information and tools to ensure their social economic well-being and their place in society.

Blantyre Arts Festival emphases on character professionalism as the attributes that will save the artists, youth, women and girls best in their continuing journey away from poverty, as well as harnessing talent and controlling their mindset change, for the better future that allows such talent for the good of their own world and that of the others.

Blantyre Arts Festival is always held at the Blantyre Cultural Centre in the first week of October every year.

BAF invite notable and high profile artists from different countries which attract huge audience during the Festival.


To consolidate and promote Malawian arts and culture through interactive events and capacity building initiatives that lead to artistic liberation and socio-economic empowerment.


A future where artists and the youth are recognised, rewarded and are able to trade freely for their creative artworks and access market.


  • Securing Blantyre Arts Festival collaborations and partnerships for capacity building in the organizing team. 
  • Holding the annual main event of Blantyre Arts Festival  and profiling the diverse range of creative arts
  • Using Arts and Culture activities as tools for development and to quantify to the MDGs of which Malawi is a signatory.
  • Providing an annual platform for artists from Malawi and abroad to showcase their talent and to create collaborations for economic contribution for their well being.
  • Providing an opportunity to the artists, youth, students, women, girls and arts practitioners of earning creative skills, interacting through local, regional and international collaborations for economic viability.


Some of the local and international activities which were held during BAF include:

  • Fit-For-Life women and girls rights project performances
  • Schools creative performances
  • Workshops: creative writing, theatre, music/dance, arts and crafts
  • Children activities
  • Panel discussion
  • Cultural street carnival
  • Traditional and contemporary  dances
  • Music
  • Poetry
  • Visual arts and arts crafts exhibition.
  • Theatre
  • Film screening and book display.

BAF 2019 theme was FIT-FOR-LIFE. This was in regards to the challenges that the youth, artists, women and girls are going through where they don’t have enough skills to make them relevant to reduce economic hardships and harnessing arts and culture in the society.


BAF 2019 included schools in a program where 15 schools from three districts were competing in theatre, poetry and cultural dances to voice out issues which deter youth development and increasing school dropout reflecting on harmful cultural practices portraying negative impact on youth’s development especially girls.



BAF street carnival covers a distance of around 5 Kilometres to display various arts activities prior to the main BAF event at Blantyre Cultural Centre. The street Carnival is aimed at displaying and embracing arts and cultural activities to the wide scope of the society thereby appreciating and harnessing our cultural values. 

Over 30 schools which had over 1500 students and youth from Blantyre City and from other districts benefited by participating in the festival with their different arts and cultural activities to enhance Blantyre City Council cultural values in Malawi

There were also various local activities which were presented by artists, women and girls from other school students from different districts.


Speaking during the Festival opening, the Deputy Mayor of Blantyre City Council Mr Joseph Makwinja spoke the need for safeguarding culture as an element of national pride and he added that each nation is best known by its culture. He also recommended BAF for consistently presenting the Festival with vibrant program which has a great impact to city of Blantyre City Council and contributing to skills for the youth and creates job opportunities in Blantyre city council since 2009.

The Germany ambassador Mr. Juergen Borsch also said that the Germany Embassy will continue to support Blantyre Arts Festival because its activities has a greater impact to the society especially youth, women and girls who are facing numerous social and economic challenges in the country. He further said that BAF activities resonate well with Germany embassy in Malawi. 

She appreciated Hannover City for being supportive to Blantyre Arts Festival since 2011.  She also said that it is imperative that BAF initiatives should be supported as their activities improve the economic and provide creative skills to youth, women and girls in the country. It also enhances the twin sister city between Blantyre City Council and Hannover city council from Germany.

Encouraging youth and students, artists and arts practitioners in Malawi for their efforts to participate during Blantyre Arts Festival activities and he appreciated and appealed the partners such as OSISA, Hivos foundation, Germany Embassy, Blantyre City Council and Corporate Society for their continued support to Blantyre Arts Festival activities which has a greater economical positive impact to the creative society in Malawi.

Mr Msadala said that BAF will continue to preserve, promote and present culture in Malawi.


Some of the issues discussed during panel discussion are:

  • Women and girls rights towards democracy to economic empowerment hampered by harmful cultural practices.
  • Arts and cultural role in contributing and to provide job opportunities


BAF has a schools Festival program which involves over 15 to 20 schools across the country with their creative related activities in their respective schools‘ art studies. This program is aimed at achieving the development of arts and culture from the grass root level by providing them with a platform to make a voice out of their concerns and showcase their creative talents.



Through the workshop and training, artists and arts practitioners have benefited by enriched them with potential knowledge and skills to develop the creative sector which has resulted in the increase of youth and women participation in the festival in 2019.