Chinamwali Youth Group performance
Ever wondered how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be explained, understood and worked towards in the Malawian context? How do we attain visible gender equity? How do we show deeds towards climate justice? How do we ignite progress in health and well-being? Our talented MASA squad members showed how all this is possible.
With the motivation from winning the UN SDG Action Award (2019) under the Creative category, the MASA squad members utilized their skills once again for the Global week to #Act4SDGs, 20-30th September, and took action to the people. People from all over the world took part in this week of action and highlights were being shown at the UN media zone in New York. The squad decided to run an Art For Action tour focusing on Climate Action, Gender Equality and Good Health and Wellbeing. They developed short interactive theatre pieces on each of the three focus SDGs, to be followed by ‘Dream Machine’ workshops to inspire young people to come up with their own creative ideas on the SDGs. Aside from the tour being aired on Malawi Broadcasting Cooperation (MBC) TV, Timveni TV, the Nation newspaper and Yoneco radio, the tour was also shown at the UN SDG Media Zone for all around the world to see.
Starting within the hometown of Zomba, the squad met with Chinamwali youth group to kick off the tour. Over 40 members attended and all were lively and active in the activities set. When doing an activity that was targeted on SDG 5 (Gender Equality), the initial attitude showed that the males were against having female leaders. Fortunately, the squad’s interactive theatre helped them to question that view.
“It would be difficult and almost impossible for us to develop if we don’t include women. Being in groups with them (female members) and coming up with these ideas excites us and helps us learn more about each other and how to do better things together.” – 16 year old male Chinamwali youth member.
The first day of the tour ended with an evening showcase of the MASA acts and an introduction by Executive Director, Helen Todd, on why ArtGlo had chosen to work on the three SDGs. The District Youth Officer, Mrs. Katie Malweni spiced up the event by speaking more on one taking responsibility to know their HIV status as a way of attaining SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing). The evening crowd was very attentive and inspired from start to end.
Touring through Bangwe and Bwaila secondary schools in Blantyre and Lilongwe respectively, the vibrant students were beyond astonishing throughout all the activities! Almost every student was interested in showing their knowledge about the various SDGs. They were each in their own right creative and passionate on bringing Malawian based solutions to the SDG’s as they teamed up to create original art pieces.
In Bangwe, for example, a team of male and female students within a few minutes had made an image theatre piece showing the dangers of multiple sexual relationships. Aside from this, theatre, poetry, song and short dramas were made all from scratch and in less than 30 minutes! The power of creative arts in Malawian youth is truly alive and to see more of these acts, check out our Facebook and Instagram page at artgloafrica. Both male and female students voiced out their opinions with respect and zeal. When conducting theatre acts on climate action, some interesting solutions sprung up at the end.
“We should start imposing strict laws when people cut down trees, anyone that is seen cutting one down should be watched as he/she plants 10 more! Also, we need to find alternative methods of cooking and lighting that are useful and affordable to all Malawians.” – 14 year old Bangwe female student.
Lilongwe had a heartfelt session as the squads performed their pieces to delegates and inspired art enthusiasts who had been following the tour. Amongst them, UN Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres Macho was in attendance and not only did she inspire the crowd there but she too was inspired by ArtGlo’s MASA squad.
“Just like art, SDGs are not to be contemplated but we are supposed to do something about it” – Maria Jose Torres Macho
Next up was the annual Social Good Summit in Lilongwe that was commemorating the 10th year of activism, and focused on Climate Action. Surrounded by other activists and organizations from across Malawi, the Art for Action tour members lit up the room with a Climate Action piece. The performance got the attention of all members in the room and surprised a few with how art can be used as a tool for activism.
The tour finally made its stop at Kachere Kastle in Chinteche for Lake of Stars Discovery festival, and its’ youth curtain raiser, ‘Day of Ideas’. The Day of Ideas hosted fascinating Nkhatabay students who became a part of the acts by incorporating their views in the tonga perspective. The students wrote down pledges that were pinned on the “Idea’s tree” and felt the need to want to do more to save the environment. Ideas of recycling bags, cloth and bottles and spreading the word to local citizens around them were emphasized.
At Lake of Stars Discovery itself, the MASA team also had a chance to showcase the highlights of the tour in video form and also entertain the crowd live. Furthermore, members of the squad had the opportunity to lead panel discussions and interviews with artists such as Annemarie Quinn, Hazel Mak and Moonchild Sanely.
The SDG Art for Action tour showed people from all walks of life that art is a tool for change as it can transform mindsets in a way that is understood by all. For highlights on the tour, visit our social pages: Facebook, twitter and instagram at @artgloafrica.
Climate Change performance in Chinamwali
Bangwe Secondary School
Audience interaction at Lake of Stars