In July of each year, Determined to Develop partners with the community to celebrate and display the vibrant culture and traditions of the Chilumba region. This year, the day consisted of dances, music and commemorative speeches. Happily coinciding with the visit of University of Dayton representatives (D2D’s largest partners), American medical students and the UD human rights practicum students, the event welcomed a mix of attendees, illustrating the inherent ‘togetherness’ and welcoming spirit that is a central tenant in Malawian culture.
The 2017 event built on the efforts in 2016, seeing an increase in the number of community members who came to celebrate their colorful culture and a wider variety of participants, ranging from mothers groups, music bands, girls clubs and local youth artists. Throughout the day, locals reveled in music, dance competitions, performances and singing. Buzzing with excitement, children and youngsters from the community enjoyed the bright costumes and different musical instruments.
A spectacular Gule Wamkulu performance excited the crowds and drew great applause and excitement. Gule Wamkulu is a ritual dance, shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Dancers wear wood and straw costumes, representing a number of characters such as wild animals and spirits. An energetic performance, dust is kicked up from the ground to hide the identity of the performer behind the mask, keeping the secret cult ever more elusive. The audience, entertained, view the performances as representatives of the world of the spirits and the dead. Such an event would not be complete without celebrating the famous Gule Wamkulu.
Senior Chief Wasambo, the Traditional Authority of D2D’s catchment area, took to the stage to commemorate the event, touching on the importance of the bond between local villagers, the organization and ‘behind the scenes’ supporters and funders. He thanked the delegates from the University of Dayton, welcoming their presence and showing appreciation. In turn, Professor Jason Pierce, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at UD, addressed the crowd and expressed his thanks in being welcomed into the community. Professor Pierce is a D2D board member and, having visited Malawi 2 years ago, he commented on how impressed he is with the development he has seen the area undergo.
The event was also a chance for local chiefs to enjoy performances and watch the members of the communities they serve enjoy a day of togetherness and enjoyment. During short speeches from a number of local VIPs, D2D’s Wasambo High School was mentioned and touted. Opening in September, the community is excited to see the school take shape and open its doors. The day was a reminder to everyone that community forms the heart of the village. When everyone participates, when everyone is involved, we can do more to push development in the direction guided by the greatest community need.