Netball matches and football tournaments are generally far from the mind of most UK festival-goers, but then again the Lake of Stars festival nestled on the shores of Lake Malawi in Africa is no run of the mill event. This 3-day international multi-arts festival, which has been held in Mangochi on the southern end of Lake Malawi for the past 3 years of it’s 8 year history, welcomes artists and audiences from all around the world, and is almost entirely run by volunteers. This year’s festival hosted headliners including the Foals, Beverley Knight, Freshly Ground, The Very Best, Lucius Banda, The Black Missionaries, Baio (Vampire Weekend) and another 60 acts from various countries.
One of the most important areas of the festival’s work, and what makes it so unique, is the Lake of Stars Outreach programme; a series of musical, educational and sporting activities and events amongst the local community. The festival site lies within the boundaries of the Chipoka Village, and every year the festival team plan a range of outreach activities to happen in the village itself. We were hugely grateful to ETHLETIC who kindly responded to our request for help by donating an array of netballs and footballs – greatly valued in Malawi - and here’s how we used them!
The activities started with the much-anticipated annual ‘Nkopola Netball’ match between all the key partners in the festival. There was a team from the Village, a team of Lake of Stars staff, a team from Sunbird (the venue staff) and a team from the Bookbus (an educational initiative who took part in this years event). Netball is huge in Malawi, and is taken incredibly seriously. The team from Sunbird and the Village both took 2 netballs back with them to continue their dedicated practice in order to humiliate Lake of Stars’ team next year!
The big event for the Outreach is a Saturday football tournament; the ‘Pamudzi Cup’. Coordinated alongside the Mangochi Youth Sport Association, it welcomes teams from all the surrounding areas and is a highly competitive event. The festival atmosphere extends out to the pitch with artists and press from the festival coming out to get involved. There were several performances using a sound system on the back of a truck; even headliners Foals and Seye Adelekan got stuck in and had a kick-about with one of the teams. The ETHLETIC gear was a much sought after prize with all the teams taking away a couple of Fairtrade footballs. The winning team took away an International Match standard ball as well.
Some of the ETHLETIC balls also found happy homes in the MOET Orphanage, a fantastic organisation in Mangochi. Many festival-goers visited the Tililanu Orphanage Choir from Lilongwe along with some of our star performers of the weekend as well. Our thanks go to everyone at ETHLETIC for the donations – netball and football are a national obsession and good quality balls are hard to come by, especially in rural areas. Your donations were much appreciated by many children across Malawi – and all of us at Lake of Stars!
Post by Eddie FitzPatrick, Production Manager for The Lake of Stars Festival