But the First Lady, Dr. Gertrude Mutharika had a sweetest card of surprise, tightly kept close to her chest. Somewhere, in the dark, outside the Marque was a deep freezer and two plasma TV screens waiting for three luckiest women to carry home. Icing the night that was already packed with various prices splashed to four Zokonda Amai groups, and 10 other give aways to individual women through a raffle draw.
This was all on top of the three course meal, live Pamajika performance, music and live performances from the gifted Ethel Kamwendo Banda and the new song-star in town Miracle Chinga.
During the similar event last year, MBC Director General Aubrey Sumbuleta had promised to up the game in the 2017 season, by dangling a MK1.5 million cash price to a Zokonda Amai group that would invest its ingenuity in uplifting its members, the surrounding community and the nation at large.
Hence a team of judges comprising of Blantyre Synod’s Reverend Innocent Chikopa, veteran musician Overton Chimombo, Angela Lanjesi and Austin Mzumara among others to critiques the social-economic activities of the groups.
13 were shortlisted, but after a critical sieving, Zokonda Amai Blantyre group qualified for a fourth position and cut home MK500, 000. Chitipa Lufita came third and went away with MK750, 000. Kasungu was second winning MK1million while on first position was Kapiri Club of Mchinji.
To qualify for the grand price, Kapiri Zokonda Amai Club, through self help project brought the first ever Under five clinic to their community. Does farm work for a disabled man, and is currently building a house for a man who suffered from Leprosy.
The group was currently struggling to raise funds for the purchasing of a sewing machine. But the night was indeed theirs as Madam Mutharika promised to purchase three sets of the machine for them.
Taking to the podium, Madam Mutharika further promised to finalise her tour of various Zokonda Amai groups having done so in Kasungu, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Blantyre.
Going by the evening’s theme; Tigonjetse Cancer ya Amai, the First Lady appealed to the women to consider embracing the culture of going for cervical cancer screening saying that was the only way to defeat the ailment.
“Let me seize this moment to hail the women clubs that engaged in door-to-door cancer screening campaign. This is the way to go if Malawi is to defeat cervical cancer,” said Madam Mutharika.
Taking his turn, Information and Communication Technology Minister Nicholas Dausi commended MBC for successfully turning a mere phone-in programme into a conduit of transmitting developmental projects to the rural masses.
“Am also thanking the First Lady for her openness and unwavering support toward initiatives that aim to uplift status of women while keeping a girl child in school,” said Dausi.
On his part, Sumbuleta said MBC believes that women in the country have a greater role to play in as far as spreading development across the country was concerned.
“That is why we joined you, through Zokonda Amai, in the fight against cervical cancer in the country,” said Sumbuleta.
Sumbuleta also announced a 21,000 notebook donation towards the First Lady’s Beautify Malawi Trust.
Meanwhile, Nico Insurance has partnered MBC in an initiative that will see Zokonda Amai group members accessing up MK75000 cover.