Malawi Independance DayMalawi 

US-based Malawians commemorate 60 years of freedom in grand style

By Janet Karim

And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you? ‘ Then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians. — Exodus 12:25-27

US-based Malawian Diaspora held a three-day grand-style commemoration of the 60th (Diamond Jubilee) festival, noting with deep aplomb the prayers, a music extravaganza, and a family picnic. The three-dayster pulled in Malawians from all corners of the United States; Malawians from California, DC-Maryland-Virginia, Texas, Illinois, Washington State, and Wisconsin, to name a few of those corners. Under the known circumstances the country has faced this past month, the organizers aptly placed the Interdenominational Memorial Service at the formal start of the festivities. This was the grand ole South Bend, Indiana.

1.      Get together for Greet and Get to Know You reception – On Friday evening a get together for Malawians to greet and know each other was held. Although relatively low key, the reception gave Malawians to know each other as others caught up with friends, family and compatriots shared experiences, challenges, and triumphs.

2.      Interdenominational Memorial Service – The first official event for the three-day commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee, was the Interdenominational Memorial Service. Held at the First Presbyterian Church, the service attracted the participation of the Malawi Embassy, represented by the Deputy Head of the DC Malawi Embassy, Bishop Charles Phanga, Reverence Gladys Nkhonjera, Reverend Paul Mpaso, and Pastor Johnson Nyirenda.Malawi’s faith music maestros Alan Ngumuya, Faith Mussa, Living Waters Choir, and Ethel Phangala gave rendition of known faith songs in Chichewa.

Non-clergy panelists were Doreen Chisiza (daughter to the late Wakhumbata Ensemble Theater, Du Chisiza Jr.), and Malawi’s media professional Janet Karim. On their part, the clergy called on Malawians to be united, love each other instead of using the PHD policy (pull him/her down), and lastly a strong word to the diaspora is with regard to the scripture “Can anything good come out of Galilee?” in John 7:46. During his presentation, the Bishop asked Malawians to ask themselves, the biblical statement “can anything good come out of Malawi?” He called on diaspora Malawians to think positively of their country and to do all they can to help Malawi.

Chisiza’s presentation was a biography of the fallen late Vice President, the Rt. Honourable Saulos Klaus Chilima. On her part, Karim introduced the first part of a discussion of the insider position she was in during Malawi’s 60 years of freedom. The catch-phrase “I was in the room” became the catch phrase from those that attended the church service. On sale after the service were two signed books by Janet Karim (Zinyama Village Road, and Grandma’s Garden).

a.       Lunch for contributing clergy and panelists at a Malawian-owned restaurant – As a token of appreciation, the clergy and panelists that took part in the Memorial Service, were entertained to a mini luncheon. This was held by Malawian Chef Vanessa.

b.      Soccer Match 

c.       As is the custom, a soccer game was held following the church service, drawing participation mainly from men and young children.

3.      Evening Dinner and Dance Concert with Malawi’s music maestros Faith Mussa and Tay Grin – food by Malawian operated restaurants – On the evening of July 6, 2024, all roads led to the music and dinner dance at the Holiday Inn. Dinner was prepared by the Malawi Chefs Vanessa, and Kate Joyo. Dinner guests were treated to succulent Malawian dishes such as oxtail, fried chicken, fried fish, and a fruit platter. The guests were treated to music throughout by the country’s musical giants. But the highlight of the evening was watching Tay Grin steered himself into the hall on a knee scooter.

With no explanation, Tay delved into his musical repertoire; the hit for me and others “Kumanda kwa bambo anga” as an apt tribute to the late Vice President Chilima and the other heroes of June 10th and also the late Lucius Banda. The frenzy was captivating and contagious; the guests had to be moved out by a repeated calls from director of ceremonies. Something about hotel rules.

4.      Picnic and music extravaganza – The finale of the three-day commemoration, was a family picnic at the Henry Frank Park. There were barbecues, drinks and plenty of music by Faith Mussa and others. The joy of the event was watching the glee on children’s faces. Sale of Malawi artifacts such as caftans, black, red, and green bracelets, and plenty of T-shirts. These commemorated Malawi’s 60 years, others celebrated SKC’s “I will die for the Malawi flag” signature comment with Osaopa, and Osafowoka, inscribed on T-shirt fronts.

The picnic, as with the dinner dance the night before, came to an end due to event premises’ officials’ rules. However sad Malawians were to see the finale of the 60th Anniversary celebrations in South Bend, there were unanimous agreement that the festivities were well thought-out, well-organized commemorative event; so, to the-Organizing Committee: CONGRATULATIONS for the job well-done! At every function, there were visible collaborating between the organizers. Another visible aspect of the festivities, were Malawians displaying obeying/going along with the rules issued by the organizers. Lastly, a big “Thank you” also for permitting me to share Malawi History from this insider’s perspective.

Happy 60th Anniversary to all Malawians.

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