A National Cultural Event
Nora’s Sisters, inspired by Ibsen’s Nora and supported by the Norwegian Embassy was a National Cultural Event aiming to provide an opportunity for people to meaningfully discuss gender issues, raise awareness and inspire those people with an influential public voice to re-conceive the image of women.
The Event attracted members of the academia, Musicians, Human rights and gender activists, politicians, writers, chiefs, lawyers, dramatists, members of the press and artists. Included were also college and university students, teachers, Malawians from all walks of life and people from overseas. There were about eight hundred people.
The event brought into focus how women in Malawi have been represented in literature, mythology, traditional culture, radio soap operas, popular music. ‘Even the men present are horrified!’ Ben Mankhamba, Musician and Chief. In her opening remarks Justice Anastazia Msosa who through her achievements is a testimony that there is much more to a woman than working in a kitchen, bemoaned how the Malawian society views a woman:
‘Women’s achievements and contributions have not been fairly recognized. The status of women is pathetic and their roles undermined’
In concurrence, Professor Uledi Kamanga, while presenting his thorough researched paper pointed out:
Among any traditional stories, the sins of male characters are easily understood and forgiven by society as normal human errors, whereas a woman’s error is seldom forgiven and often damned as immoral or a witch.
The same was seen to be true in music as well. Several songs were cited during the discussions that belittle women. Some musicians who were present said they were ashamed of their own songs! This prompted some musicians to confess that they viewed their songs as befitting women but after the event they saw that they had been wrong and would change their composition in future songs.
My songs have been misunderstood. I intend to advise. In fact Several of my songs talk good of women. Benh Mankhamba
Writers were also shocked at how they represent women in their stories, A thing which they do unconsciously. This, they said, has been happening because people have made the oppression of women as normal daily life but the event made them become aware that indeed women have been suffering in silence for too long.
Through out the event, there were interludes of speeches from dignitaries from the Norwegian Embassy, pastors, and both local and international writers. The Nanzikambe Arts production Anambewe drove home the essence of the gathering: exposing ways in which women are misrepresented in the arts, media, popular and traditional culture.
Asking who is Nora and what makes me Nora’s sister? A woman who is oppressed, gets fed up with being treated like a door mat and finally gets her liberation through a conscious choice.
Chauvinists who believe that men are more important and intelligent than women might have been stripped of their misconception as they watched women display the power of femininity – Nation on Sunday 28, October, 2007.
“At the end of it all, the battle to liberate women” Some thought, it was a war against men while many applauded Nanzikambe for what they called a right move towards the continuation of a fight for the liberation of women.