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Heavy Rains Crashes Touted Sand Music Festival

Weather especially nice one is good, but at times same weather can be unpredictable. It never occurred to hundreds of patrons at the 2020 Annual Sand Music Festival that drove from all corners of the country to the lakeshore district of Salima. To them weather would not spoil what they expected was a stress absorbing weekend. To them that was not part of the irresistible headlines they would walk away with.

No fun seeker could afford to miss the opportunity to step on the clean beaches that remained deserted for nearly the whole year courtesy of Covid – 19 pandemic, a deadly corona virus disease that has ravaged the entire world and changed the way of life for humans.

Unfortunately, both organizers and patrons defied the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services weather advisory which strongly forecasted a thundery with rains weekend along the lake shore districts.

*“In Lakeshore areas, we predicted partly cloudy and hot with locally heavy thundery rain during the day. Unfortunately, people are not willing to take into consideration all this information that we give out for free. We are using all necessary channels to reach out to Malawians,” Nkhokwe explained in an interview.**

“In Lakeshore areas, we predicted partly cloudy and hot with locally heavy thundery rain during the day. Unfortunately, people are not willing to take into consideration all this information that we give out for free. We are using all necessary channels to reach out to Malawians with climate information,” Jolamu Nkhokwe, Malawi’s Director of Climate Change and Meteorological Service looked surprised with planning that does not mainstream weather.

Many hearts were set to sample the South African DJ and record producer Master KG's performance of the gospel hit Jerusalema. Apparently, many patrons had the slightest idea if weather was to feature as one of the dilemmas and shocker to patrons during the festival. They were in for a rude awakening.

It was a mixed day on Saturday, mild sunlight things were okay for a start and then came the rains which started pounding late in the night. This sent the festival goers into panic mode and confusion with others opting to take cover in vehicles. Mission aborted, guitars and microphones down as organizers ushered the entertainers to a safe place for cover. But the climax of it all was when the equipment got soaked and become nonfunctional.

Came Sunday, patrons could not hold it thinking they had gotten a raw deal. They demanded some of the artists to perform, and as a show of revolt they started throwing empty glass bottles towards the main empty stage in anger while chanting vulgar to organizers.

Most of them appeared high, their feet could hardly carry them through the sand. However, they made sure only the empty-brown and green looking bottles were being pelted at the organizers main stage. This they did while holding on to the liquid-filled ones in order to drain the contents into their stomachs.

Frustration was all over, but against who? Weather. The experts had provided the information handy but they failed to utilize it to their advantage.

It is not the first time such has happened and it appears organizers have not learnt something or are simply risk-takers. In one similar event two years ago a beautifully erected stage was blown off by the heavy Mwera winds and some equipment got damaged in the process.

Other than the disruptions and damage inflicted by weather in the music sector, weddings have had a fair share of weather episodes too negatively. During the first week of October a number of outdoor weddings including one that was planned at Limbe Sports Club in the commercial capital of Blantyre were completely disrupted.

In some social media footage, organizers were seen moving away a wedding cake from the venue after heavy rains hit – hard the area accompanied with thunderstorms. It poured so hard on this day in Blantyre when even tents were razed down by wind. The high table at this wedding was all soaked with rain water. The bride and bridegroom had to run for cover too, something many felt was not ideal for the newlyweds.

Reacting to the news a Nkhokwe said this was avoidable and blamed the hosts for not mainstreaming weather in activities planning while well aware similar events have suffered from changing weather this rain season.

"We must pay special attention to climate and weather information advisory. This is the time to adhere to weather prediction by forecasters in the wake of a series of events disruptions recently. Climate information is meant to help the public to make informed decisions with weather in mind to help then in planning.” He warned, it is advisable to hold events in doors especially now.

This is important especially for events where huge investments have been made including planning and effort. We need to learn from experience and avoid these disruptions, they are costly.

A passionate environment follower Pauline Kauda writing from her home in Ntchisi district acknowledged this is rainy season [November] and the coming of the rains cannot be blamed on the event. Let nature take its course.

While another avid weather chaser reacted the best time for such festive events are the months of August and September. He said after learning heavy rains had brought sand music festive to a halt.

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About the Author
Charles Mkoka
Charles Mkoka is Secretary General of Association of Environmental Journalists in Malawi. He is also Lead Partner for Ecosystems Partners and Communication, a privately owned firm he set in 2015

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