The Manda Wilderness Choir Festival
The Trust organises an annual Choir Festival, held at the colonial-era Cobué Roman Catholic Church. Its success has now won the generous support of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation for the next five years, perhaps linking the Wilderness to London's West End. Each of the sixteen villages sends a choir made up of the twenty finest voices, supported by a choirmaster training run by a volunteer Guest Choir Director.
Enthusiastic dancing and a remarkable lakeside setting make for an unforgettable evening. A local band provides further entertainment for everyone, including a huge feast under the stars and culminating in a mass choir piece with all village choirs performing in unison. "One of the most thrilling parts of the Choir Festival was to see so many people gather together; that is something to be appreciated," gushed Bernard Matifalo, choirmaster of Chicaia village, now proudly bearing the third place Manda Wilderness Choir Festival ribbon this year.
The Dug-out Canoe Race
Village teams compete for honours in the annual Dug-out Canoe Race on Lake Niassa, with two teams from each lakeside village, made up of both men and women, competing for prizes to go towards development in their respective villages. The event is sponsored by Gerard van Dijk, a long-time investor at Nkwichi Lodge and strong supporter of the work of the Trust.
The Manda Wilderness Community Trust Football League, an initiative that began within the Manda Wilderness region of northern Mozambique in 2005, is one of the few events where communities have a chance to mingle with others and engage in healthy competitive spirit. It is also one of the rare events where people enjoy leisure time, away from their agricultural fields and the laborious duties of collecting firewood and water.
Football is the most popular sport in the region and always attracts a very large and vocal following. All sixteen of the Manda Wilderness villages have a pitch, but often of very dubious quality! Trust donated footballs are in constant demand. The sport has additional benefits, which a local health project has noted - a reduction in alcohol-related illnesses and injuries in young men during the weeks that the league runs.
Netball for Women
Netballhas recently been revived as a Manda Wilderness sport throughout the lakeshore villages. The revival was led by an enthusiastic local woman, Magret Chambo, who has used the netball experience she picked up during her time spent in Malawi in the best way possible - to give back to the very communities where she lives and socializes. She teaches the teams drills and encourages the players to schedule regular practices in their villages.
Striving to bring the Manda Wilderness communities together, sport and community events act as a platform for building inter-village relationships, while encouraging healthy activity and providing rural villagers with an extraordinary opportunity to come together and engage in an experience beyond their limited daily activities that every community member faces. It is said that sport brings people together, and it has done just that. Team members and communities alike demonstrate their love of sport through shared community events.