A new OM ministry in Malawi is allowing a local man to serve God through creative and performing arts.
On the southern end of Lake Malawi, a popular pastime—listening to the radio—has many tuning in to hear their favorite music and programmes. And while plenty of good music brings families and friends together, an entire people group is missing out.
The Yao people of Mozambique and Malawi account for a sizeable percentage of the population in the Mangochi District, just south of Lake Malawi; and yet, despite their numbers, they continue to struggle in finding their place. Many deal with being excluded and marginalised, resulting in a lack of unity.
Though missionaries have laboured amongst the Yao in Mangochi for years, only recently has the gospel taken hold. And now, though they have not had a permanent ministry in Mangochi in the past, OM Malawi is set to reach the Yao people in partnership with other missions organisations and individuals, through the construction and launch of a brand-new radio station—specifically designed for the Yao people.
In Mangochi, all radio programmes are broadcast in Chichewa—the local language. Radio Lilanguka (Yao for “rising dawn”), however, will be the district’s first and only station to broadcast in the Yao language. OM Malawi field leaders say the hope is that having a radio station created specificaly for the Yao will motivate them to tune in. And in addition to hearing their own popular music, the Yao—a nearly 100 per cent Muslim people group—will hear regular gospel messages.
The radio station will cover part of the Mangochi district, up to a 100-kilometer broadcast range.
But Radio Lilanguka belongs only in part to OM Malawi; the station is the result of efforts by multiple missions agencies and individuals.
One of those individuals, a young Malawian named Kondwani, has been given the opportunity to pursue his dream of using his gifts for God’s kingdom.
As Kondwani is the assistant producer of Radio Lilanguka, as well as the DJ, his responsibilities will be varied; but at the heart of the work are the performing arts skills he has pursued since his time in school.
Even before he came to faith in Christ, Kondwani pursued drama and performing arts—directing, stage performing and script writing.
“I was doing dramas inside and out of church,” he says. “But I didn’t have a personal relationship with Christ.”
Now, with a desire to grow in his faith through ministry, Kondwani is putting together Radio Lilanguka’s lineup.
The programme will feature not only Yao music, news and sports updates, which will draw listeners in, but also Saturday radio dramas, written and produced by Kondwani and his team. The dramas will feature biblical and life lessons, and include opportunities for listeners to implement what they hear throughout the week. For Kondwani, it’s exciting to have a creative gospel-centred outlet, but as the leader of the skits, he knows it’s a big responsibility.
“It’s a little bit scary,” he says. “It’s not easy to make this programme. But it will be a time to develop as well.”
During his personal devotions, Kondwani said he has been studying the book of Joshua—when Moses died and leadership passed on to Joshua, God told him to be strong and courageous, and to fear the Lord.
“I relate it to me, coming to Mangochi for the first time in my life,” Kondwani says. “My friends didn’t understand why I was leaving my home for this, but it’s time for me to be strong and courageous.”
Since the weekly dramas are just one part of the programme lineup, a lot of planning will go into Radio Lilanguka’s production. The manager of the station, Paul Kränzler from Germany, says that the broadcasting team needs to fill 6–12 hours of time for a trial run. If the trial run is a success, the project will be ready.
Kondwani is preparing the material. At first it will most likely include plenty of music.
“There are lots of Yao songs that are popular among the Yao people, but it’s very rare for their music to be played on radio stations or in town,” he says. “We will play their own music—and not just Christian music. There are Malawian [Yao] artists who produce good music. So we’ll have those ‘acceptable’ songs, and we will reach the Yao even more.”
In addition to the completion of the tower, OM Malawi will also be distributing fixed-frequency radios to individuals and groups, so people will have easy access to the radio programme. Through these radios, Kondwani says, Radio Lilanguka hopes to offer weekly challenges where groups compete against each other for fun. The challenges will have biblical themes, as well.
Kondwani says that it was no coincidence that his love of the performing arts led him to his position now with Radio Lilanguka. Now, as an adult, he is able to channel his passions into ministry and the building of God’s kingdom.
“I feel like I was being prepared for this,” he says.