Playing with Food

Playing with Food
Award-winning multi-media, musical production, that tells the tale of the 2002 food crisis in Malawi – in which Malawians reclaim their story which was distorted beyond recognition by Malawi’s media and leadership. This was part of Nanzikambe’s Playing With Food in the Theatre for Decision makers series July 2004 – March 2005.


Playing with Food tells a story that touched the nation. Drawing upon the events surrounding Malawi’s food crisis of 2002 in which up to 40,000 people died, the play deals with one of Malawi’s most crucial issues. The crisis is widely believed to have been preventable, and the many deaths the direct result of corruption and political mis-management.

A multi-media production, Playing with Food integrates filmed sequences, photo images and a pre-recorded soundtrack into the live stage action.

Also featuring gospel singers and highly-skilled percussionists, this lively, engaging show explores how political decisions affect the lives of the people. This production takes the audience deep into the heart-rending reality of life without food.


The production follows a group of normal Malawians as they attempt to understand the facts of the crisis. Through their investigation into the many political and commercial manoeuvrings they are forced to come to terms with what happened in their own lives.

pwf_EX_BENIn addition to a major national tour, Playing with Food was shown to a specially invited group of key decision makers and opinion formers, and was followed by a televised panel discussion. Ex-vice President Justin Malewezi, Director of Public Prosecutions Ishmael Wadi and prominent Human Rights campaigner Rafiq Hajat were among the influential panellists.

This production was born of many months of meticulous research, an intense devising process with Malawian performers, and many insights from prominent decision-makers. With Malawi’s political landscape shifting dramatically, a further food shortage looming at the time of touring, and the “maize scam” scandal gripping the nation, the timing was electric.

Playing with Food – Theatre for Development
The production encouraged debate around the dubious political and legal circumstances which caused the death of 40,000 people. At a time when the ‘maize scam’ was a hot local issue and ex-finance minister, Friday Jumbe was arrested for his involvement in selling the national food reserve and personally profiteering from hunger.
The piece toured nationally to sell-out audiences. In addition to this, Nanzikambe organised televised performance led debates for key decision makers, from the government, donor and NGO community, judiciary and civil society. The aim was to raise debate, public consciousness of food security issues, and critical thinking around the legal and political consequences of the food crisis.

The production won a national award for it contribution to the improvement of the human rights situation in Malawi.


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  • Angella Ching’amba
  • Thlupego Dunduzu Chisiza
  • Bennie Msuku
  • Baba Twaya Sanudi
  • Dipo Katimba
  • Aaron Ngalonde
  • Zondwayo Juba
  • David Chiwaya
  • Mbumbah Mbewe
  • Chimwemwe Maloya
  • Belinda Kapengule
  • Kondwani Kamango


  • Director:Melissa Eveleigh
  • Music by:Fredrick Muphuwa

Spectacular. Down to earth. Stunning. The performance makes sense of the confusing facts surrounding the crisis, and moves you to tears in the process.

The Nation

Nov 2004

This is dynamite!


Sunday Times, Dec 2004