Lilongwe-based artist, Elson Aaron Kambalu, says his battle against
the demolition of heritage sites will not end with the Ministry of
Culture’s U-turn on demolition of the old District Commissioner’s
office in Lilongwe, vowing to submit pragmatic proposals during
Malawi’s next law review exercise.
Kambalu revealed in an interview that he feared for the future of
Malawi’s heritage sites and would not give up the fight until Malawi’s
next law review exercise.
Kambalu said, among other suggestions, he would submit a proposal with
the aim of safeguarding and preserving the Malawi’s heritage sites.
“We must not remember that we have children who may wish to refer back
to things at some point in their life. That is where the issue of
heritages sites, and the important role they play in a nation’s
history, comes in,” said Kambalu.
“Among other things, I plan to submit a proposal that all buildings
built before 1950 should never be demolished, except with a letter and
special permit explicitly written and signed by the minister
responsible for either land or tourism. This will promote
accountability in handling matters pertaining to our heritage sites,”
The artist added that the issue of heritage sites went beyond the
scope of the Ministry of Culture. He disclosed, therefore, that his
conservation efforts would also include proposals to review the
country’s land laws.
“I think the Land Act should also be looked into, though I don’t know
what it exactly says on issues related to heritage sites. All these
efforts are part of my heritage sites’ conservation efforts. In fact,
Malawians should be possessive of the handful heritage sites we have.
We have already lost so many treasured sites over the years,” said
Kambalu gave the example of Dowa district, saying, before Lilongwe
matured into a city, Dowa used to perform similar purposes to people
of both Lilongwe and Dowa. He said trade used to flourish in Dowa in
those days, but nothing has been done to preserve that history.
“So, even Dowa’s legacy should be maintained. We can make some of the
treasured sites in Dowa national property, and benefit a lot by
preserving its culture,” said Kambalu.
Kambalu came into the spotlight for penning the Ministry of Culture
against plans to demolish an old DC’s house in the capital city.
The Ministry has since suspended demolition works at the site.
Meanwhile, particulars of the individual or company involved in the
demolition remain unknown even to Kambalu.
“They hide the name of the individual, or company involved,” Kambalu said.