A public space includes a vast array of places- gardens, beaches, parks, historical monuments, town squares, business centre, markets and museums. Malawi has a vast public spaces, however in Blantyre the place of usual gathering is around food and therefore restaurants make up for a perfect space. After my walk around Blantyre town I came across a place we commonly call “pa Ziboliboli”, this is the place where Malawian portray and sell traditional crafts of Malawi.
This area is a public area where people going to various other institutions in the city such as banks, insurance company, restaurants can pass by and it’s expected for people to visit to see the handicraft of talented Malawians, it would make it easier to appreciate our cultures with the craft that the men do sell there.
Craftsmanship is the quality of design and work done shown in something made by hand artistry. In spite of Malawi being known as an agricultural nation, many people dedicate their live to arts and crafts. Different talents are shown by the arts and crafts they produce. The local artist use basic tools such as a carving knives, sand paper and other material in their production. They do make chess boards, chairs, decorative bowl, native; earring, bracelets and necklaces. The wood carving are varied and charismatic.
I had a chance to interact with one of the people and in my inquiry I was informed that most customers that they get are foreigners/tourists with few customer being residence of Malawi. Those tourist who have come from far countries in interest in the arts, other cultural knowledge that they can get from Malawi and the craftsman deal with people from other countries rather than us Malawian taking a keen interest in the work of these artist. To my surprise after talking to one of the people passing by they answered briefly that they had no keen interest with this place. In spite “pa Ziboliboli” being a public market area most Malawian are not aware of the cultural material that is found at this public place.
I came across a wooden chair that the local used to call “ndakhuta ndalema” these chair in the old days were used after having their lunch, for people to place it under a tree and rest, as they digest there meal. I personally was surprised as it was my first time to see such a chair. I also came across the wooden chess board, the different sized bowls and the work done is impressive.
In spite this public space being of interest I have no doubt that other place attract attention even though it’s not that of a big crowd but a family or two appreciating our culture can be good. Having come in conversation with a wide number of people for my research for this article, most of the people I encountered told me they rather spend their time out swimming, eating ice creams than visit a museum or cultural centre where traditional heritage is portrayed. Another person indicated he could only visit a cultural centre only if there was a fun activity happening.