By Andrew Magombo:
Barely a week after impressing fans at the Lilongwe Music Festival (LiFest), renowned urban artist Eli Njuchi real name Chifuniro Magalasi, on Sartuday evening staged yet another impressive performance at the seventh edition of the Tumaini Festival at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa.
The Zitaye hitmaker’s performance, which lasted for about thirty minutes under dazzling lights, left the audience gasping for more after finishing his act.
Backed by a live band, Njuchi interacted well with his fans through improvised performances among other things letting the audience sing along to his songs most of which were from his debut album The Book of Z.
His arrival on stage at exactly 18:30 sent an atmosphere of wild excitement around the dusty ground as his performance was the first of a few lineup of popular local urban artists.
Despite intermittent technical glitches during his performance, the artist consistently kept the audience on their feet with his dancing antics which resonated well with the rhythm of the instruments.
Notably, some of his popular songs like Ma Ine, Zitaye, Phone, Zitheke and Free Up Ganja led to hard-rock stomping on the ground thus sending particles of dust flying all over the place much to the dismay of other patrons who had to put on face masks.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA), Njuchi expressed content with the warm reception at the camp which is a home to over 10 different nationalities.
“It is a blessing to perform here and this was an amazing experience because this is my first time at Tumaini Festival.
“Last weekend I was at LiFest but this weekend I am here at another festival which is thrilling considering it has been a while since I rocked the stage due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
One patron, Iradukunda Munyemana, a Burundian refugee national, said until the show, he had never seen the celebrated artist performing live and he was mesmerized despite not understanding some of the lyrics which are usually in Chichewa.
In his remarks, founder of Tumaini Festival, Tresor Nzengu Mpauni, said the festival is a good platform to let the outside world engage with asylum seekers as they are often left out in many initiatives including festivals.
“The main objective of Tumaini Festival is to promote the peaceful coexistence between refugees and the host community as well as to change negative perceptions that people have about this refugee camp.
“Dzaleka is only 45 kilometres away from Lilongwe but it totally feels like a different place which is isolated with little to no entertainment. For that reason, we decided to create this festival which gets bigger and better every year,” he said.
Apart from music performances, the festival which run from November 4 to November 6, had other forms of entertainment like poetry, cultural dances, theatres in five different stages.
Other notable artists who performed at this year’s Tumaini Festival included veteran gospel artist Rudo Chakwera, Shammah Vocals, Faith Mussa and Keturah.