Speech by Hon. Kamangadazi Chambalo, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture (Monday, April 7, 1997, Blantyre)
Mr Nolence Mwangwego
The Director of the French Cultural Centre
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great honour for me, ladies and gentlemen, to inaugurate the Mwangwego Script exhibition this evening. I am told that it is a syllabic system which uses symbols instead of letters for syllables. To my knowledge, this is the first time ever that someone has attempted to do this in Malawi. It is a new and broad idea and I think that it is a challenge to all of us. Since this is a unique exhibition, my remarks will therefore be brief.
Let me start at the outset, ladies and gentlemen, that the introduction of new ideas or new ideas has always been a challenge to the recipients of that idea. Very often, the initial result of that idea is that of puzzlement as people wonder if the idea is worth their attention and if indeed it will work. I will not be surprised if some of you feel the same tonight. If my understanding of history is correct, the introductions of scripts have always been milestones in histories of nations of the inventors of these scripts. That is true with some nations in Africa such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Guinea, just to mention a few, that use their own scripts. Some scripts have had a world-wide impact. They include the Latin alphabet which was adopted by most western languages, the Arabic script and also a few others. You can therefore appreciate, ladies and gentlemen, that scripts have been of the world’s greatest invention.
They had the effect of easing communication and preserving history and cultural heritage of various nations as written records begun to be kept for the first time. That is why I believe that tonight we are witnessing a great event in Malawi. Ladies and gentlemen, I think Mr Nolence Mwangwego deserves all our congratulations for this invention. The Mwangwego Script is in itself, history in the making.
Irrespective of how it is going to be received by the public national-wide, the script is bound to go in the annals of our history as a remarkable invention. I am therefore very glad that you and I are a part of this event. I wish, therefore, ladies and gentlemen, to encourage all Malawians to be as creative as they can. I know that we cannot all be like Mwangwego, but in our own way, let us be as creative as we can be.
All of us need to play our part to contribute positively to our cultural heritage. Let me reiterate what I have said elsewhere, that, of my Ministry’s major responsibilities is to encourage promoters of our cultural heritage to be very resourceful. There is no excuse for not using our minds creatively. My Ministry ladies and gentlemen, will always welcome new useful ideas.
Lastly, but not least, I thank the Director of the French Cultural Centre, I thank him for holding this exhibition here. This centre has played host to many Malawian cultural events, much to the benefit of Malawians. Your support therefore is appreciated. I promised to be brief, but allow me to speak in Chichewa so that I can express myself better than I have done.