Minister of Local Government, Unity and Culture Richard Chimwendo Banda has announced the official launch of Umodzi Day this week.
Briefing the media in Lilongwe yesterday, he called on citizens to come together in pursuit of a more peaceful and sustainable nation.
Chimwendo Banda: The day seeks to sustain peace and unity
He said: “The Umodzi Day seeks to sustain peace through promotion of inter-faith, inter-political and inter-cultural co-existence. The celebrations will bring all Malawians together regardless of their political, religious and cultural affiliations.”
According to Chimwendo Banda, peace and unity also provide an opportunity to deal with violence against vulnerable groups such as women, children and persons with disabilities.
“The Umodzi Day celebration reminds us of the importance of political tolerance in Malawi and respect for the rights of all,” he said, adding that political party supporters will be allowed to dress in their party colours during the occasion.
Chimwendo Banda said all political parties and various religious and cultural groups have been invited to the launch.
He said Umodzi Day reminds the nation “that in spite of our religious, political and cultural differences, we are all Malawians and, therefore, need to work together and support one another for Malawi to develop for us to become reliant”.
Principal Secretary for Unity Elizabeth Gomani Chindebvu said this year, the celebrations, budgeted at K100 million, will be held at Chilimampunga Ground in Mtandire in Lilongwe and President Lazarus Chakwera is expected to attend.
She hailed the United Nations for supporting the initiative.
The event will be spiced up by traditional dances, prayers, commitment speeches and performances by youth and women from different political parties.
The theme for this year’s Umodzi Day is ‘Action for peace, our ambition for Malawi 2063’. This, the ministry said, is inspired by the theme of the International Day of Peace ‘Action for peace, our ambition for global goals’.
In an interview, governance and human rights expert Undule Mwakasungula hailed the initiative saying it a commendable step that will serve as a cornerstone for national reconciliation, peace, and development.
He said: “We have a shared history and heritage, including struggles for independence or against adversity, which often serves as a strong unifying factor. Flags, anthems, and other national symbols evoke a sense of unity and pride among citizens.”
Mwakasungula further pointed out common languages such as English and Chichewa, Geographical Integrity, Civic Institutions, events and festivals, economic aspirations as other unifying factors for Malawi.
However, he was quick to caution that much as this initiative might be applauded, other potential challenges which might hinder achieving the goal should not be ruled out.