The country's staple food, nsima, has been nominated to the Unesco representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. According to a press release from the Ministry of Information, Tourism and Culture, the nomination of nsima, the Culinary Tradition of Malawi, if accepted, will raise the number of elements from Malawi on the list to four which will be the highest in Southern Africa.
The ministry has since invited the public for any comment or objection to its intention to nominate nsima, the Culinary Tradition of Malawi, to the list by giving reasons in writing, according to a statement signed by Secretary of Tourism and Culture, Elsie Tembo.
Currently, Malawi has three intangible cultural heritage elements on the same list and they include Gule Wamkulu of the Chewa people, Vimbuza Healing Dance of the Tumbuka people of the Northern Malawi and Tchopa Dance of the Lhomwe people of Southern Malawi.
The statement says Malawi became party to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010 and that a number of awareness-raising workshops have been organised since then targeting journalists, government officers and the youth.
It further says that from January 19-20 January, 2015, the Department of Culture, with financial support from Unesco through the Malawi National Commission for Unesco, organised another workshop to raise awareness among local leaders about the Convention and the National Cultural Policy.
According to the ministry, the workshop was held at Sunbird Lilongwe Hotel and was attended by 22 traditional authorities, councillors and officers from the District Commissioners' offices representing 22 districts.
"At the end of the workshop, the participants gave consent to the government of Malawi through the Department of Culture to nominate nsima, the Culinary Tradition of Malawi to the Unesco Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity," reads the statement.
It says that the nomination of nsima was proposed by the community under Sub Traditional Authority Mphomwa in Kasungu and supported by communities under Traditional Authority Mwakaboko in Karonga, Traditional Authority Nthondo in Ntchisi and Traditional Authority Nanseta in Thyolo.
The preparation of nsima is the most significant culinary tradition among all communities in Malawi. Director of Culture Elizabeth, Gomani Chindebvu, said yesterday that they are yet to submit the nomination and that the press release was part of the process.
"We need support from the community before we submit the nomination and so the press release is part of reaching out to people out there. We need feedback as soon as possible before we submit the nomination," said Chindebvu.
She said nsima has proved to be very important in the life of every Malawian and that everyone eats and prepares it.
"This is why we want feedback from the community because we eat and prepare it. The nomination of nsima brings something different from the elements we have so far as they all are traditional dances. Again although nsima is eaten in Malawi you will also see that its also eaten in other countries like Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa but we thought we should do it," said Chindebvu.
On the time factor, Chindebvu said they need the information as soon as possible. "The inter-governmental committee meets in November but before that there are other processes so we need to submit the nomination in time so that if there are other problems we can look at them," she said.
The press statement said the government is aware that nsima is prepared from different foodstuffs and that the nomination states that apart from maize flour, cassava flour, sorghum flour and millet flour, nsima is also used depending on the community.
Some people preparing nsima which is known as Mmemo said yesterday that it would be good for nsima to be part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
"We all love nsima, it's our special food and the way we prepare it, people from other countries admire it," said Blantyre-based Jacob Tembo, who was preparing nsima with maize flour(ufa wa mgaiwa).