Malawi centre will store cultural heritage

February 2006 -

A cultural centre is under construction in southern Malawi. The name of the project is Tisunge!, short for: Lower Shire Heritage Centre. Tisunge! is an initiative by two of Malawi’s national institutions and the foundation Stichting Mlambe in the Netherlands. The centre is intended to become the place where Malawians and foreigners can keep up to date with reference to the Lower Shire's natural and cultural heritage.


Ingang van het Lengwe National Park, waar het Tisunge! zal verrijzen

The Shire valley was the political centre of what is now Malawi from the thirteenth century until far into the eighteenth century. Arabian slave trading, invasions by the Nguni from South Africa and seventy-five years of British rule - Malawi was a British protectorate from 1889 until 1964 – put an end to this lengthy tradition. The independent country’s new government also showed little interest in this centuries-old cultural heritage.

A gap came to exist in local historical knowledge. The Tisunge!  - a Chewa word that means ‘let us retain’- project is intended to keep more from being lost and to stimulate knowledge of Malawi’s own history. The Lower Shire Heritage Centre will have centre stage in the project. From there the initiators hope to distribute knowledge of the partially unchartered cultural heritage and promote relevant historical research. The centre will also serve to permanently attract tourists and provide some employment opportunities. It is for this reason that in addition to an exhibition room the centre will have a number of rooms for guests and a souvenir shop.

The centre’s construction will cost € 170,000 and the operating costs are estimated to total € 8,000 per year. The consulate of the Netherlands in Malawi and the Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia have already made contributions. Both hope that the centre will generate further development and activities in the Shire valley. If the project proceeds as scheduled, the centre will be opened in April 2007.