Kungoni Cultural Centre

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Official name Kungoni Centre of Culture and Art.
Country / Continent Malawi / Africa
Director of the institute Fr. Claude Boucher.
Legal holder of the institute Dedza Diocese.
Sponsor of the institute Missionaries of Africa.
Year of foundation 1976
Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers) 3 Senior staff and 30 day workers.
Staff members of your institute All the staff are lay people except for the Director who is a priest.
Contact Box 41, Mtakataka, Malawi Tel.: 09511884 / 09294320



Particulars of your pastoral institute

Official name

Kungoni Centre of Culture and Art.

Director of the institute

Fr. Claude Boucher.

Legal holder of the institute

Dedza Diocese.

Missionaries of Africa.

Vision / mission statement

To help Malawians to deepen their understanding and appreciation of their Culture and in so doing allowing them to truly discover God in their lives.

Main areas of work

Preserving Culture (Museum/Research Center) Exploring Culture (Art Gallery/Dance Troupe/Teaching Courses/Carving/Women’s Center).

Addressees of your work (course participants[1])

Those who attend courses vary from religious/Priest/youth groups/NGO workers/lay people and people from any religion and belief.

Year of foundation


Organisational structure of the institute

Day to day running is overseen by the director. There is a group of “Friends of Kungoni” who give advice and guidance.

Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers)

3 Senior staff and 30 day workers.

Staff members of your institute[2]

All the staff are lay people except for the Director who is a priest.

Qualifications of staff members of your institute

The majority of staff have primary and some have secondary school training. The Museum guide has some certificates in computers and the administrator has certificate in accountancy.

Questions relating to the work of your institute

What pastoral options do you feel obliged to?

What are the pastoral focus areas of your institute?

Kungoni aims to help people to rediscover their cultural roots and is so doing that they may also decipher how their faith can be made truly alive in their daily lives. We also promote greater interaction between different religions and faith beliefs.

What pastoral aims does your institute pursue?

What pastoral services does your institute provide?

It provides introduction into the local culture of Malawi. Explaining the history/social set-up/Church history and relevant cultural issues which would be useful for people beginning work here in Malawi. These courses are helpful especially for seminarians/newly arrive priests and sisters/Volunteers/embassies/NGO’s. It opens its doors to all religions and many of its activities involve people from different denominations. Dialogue is considered a key element in greater understanding and cooperation in Malawi. We aim to build understanding at a variety of levels e.g. Through daily encounters to public occasions and ceremonies. It inspires different ways of participating in liturgy especially related to the local culture. It challenges people to examine how liturgy can be closely related to the people’s culture. There is a dance troupe which regularly performs providing people with a deeper understanding of the beauty of their culture and how God is present in this culture. It is a form of active and dynamic catechises which challenges people to allow their faith to be fully present in their culture and their culture to be fully present in their faith.

Kungoni has been an early advocate of respect for the environment and integrity of creation. Tree planting and animal husbandry have been means to help people to cherish creation and respect its cohesion.

Art has for centuries been a valuable means of expressing the spiritual. Kungoni is one of the leading providers of liturgical art in Malawi and beyond.

For years it has helped to decorate churches and institutions with art through paintings/carvings and other mediums. This art also challenged Christians to question how their culture can be expressed through their faith and is a reminder of God’s pedagogy in their cultural journey to Christianity.

What pastoral processes have you initiated or accompanied recently?

What does this mean for the areas of catechesis, deaconry and liturgy?

What notion of God inspires your work?

God is seen as a creator who promotes life. God listens to the people’s prayer in times from birth to death. He is present in times of mourning and joy. God is present amongst our everyday lives guiding us and protecting us. Christ is the focal point of history and human development.

In how far does Christian spirituality shape your work?

What processes do you use or develop to analyse reality? How are these elaborated and how are they linked to pastoral care? How do you pass these processes on?

What prophetic approaches does the institute put into practice with a view to shaping society?

Kungoni has been prophetic in its approach towards a greater understanding and appreciation of Malawi culture in the sense that God has been actively speaking to people through their written and oral forms of tradition. With the advance of mass media and consumerism, Kungoni has called for a revisiting of local culture as a means of challenging contemporary society. Kungoni has also challenged the church to dialogue and engage with the local culture as a means of truly rooting the gospel message in Malawian lives.

What does the work of the institute involve exactly? (Framework conditions? Publications? Courses? Lectures? Congress?...)

Publishes books on local ethnic groups and their culture and also promoting a Gospel based understanding of culture. Producing DVD on local rituals and dances. Receiving a wide variety of groups who want to be introduced into Malawian culture. This involves classes and exposure to different ritual through video and dance. There is a research centre which has collected the history of a wide variety of cultural practises and ceremonies. There is 20 room accommodation which allows people to stay for some days to gain more understanding. A museum which houses history/artefacts of the three major ethnic groups in Malawi-Ngoni/Chewa/Yao. An arena which allows for dance exhibitions and other outdoor collaborations. A carving centre which promotes carvers in the local area to discover their talents and find a market for their products. An art gallery which allows the exhibition of outstanding pieces of art which are considered thought provoking and liked to the surrounding culture. Women Centre – this allows women to meet and learn different skills so that they can participate in providing for their families and the education of their children.

What magazines, periodicals, books, manuals, work aids, methodological instructions etc. does your institute publish?

It produces a Kungoni newsletter which gives news of the centre and its activities. This is produced about 2 times a year. There are several smaller books which help people to understand the contents of the Museum and another which gives more insight into the surroundings of Mua and also gives an analysis of the ethnographic and historical background of each ethnic group.

What do you consider to be the most important service of your institute?

It provides a place for people to meet and contemplate the culture of Malawi. To discover its beauty and also recognise its great value in a contemporary society. It challenges people to gain a greater understanding of their culture and which in turn nourishes their faith.

How do you evaluate the work of your institute?

There is a group of “Friends of Kungoni” who meet every two months who help to evaluate the work being done and suggest the way forward.

What are the most important developments that you are dealing with at present?

Ensuring that all the research/documentation is being secured and properly preserved. Developing the women’s centre so that the skills and markets available to these women is broadened and secured. Continuing to produce more publications on the Chewa, Ngoni and Yao.

What are the main difficulties your institute is confronted with in its work?

Getting skilled personnel who have a passion for the work of the Centre. A lot of the work in media requires specific skills. Financial restraints mean that broadening the work being done by the centre is curtailed.

What challenges do you perceive for your institute at present?

What hopes, dreams and visions do you have for your institute?

That young people would learn to value and appreciate their identity and see it as a valuable tool in their lives That the centre may provide an alternative to a society which promotes consumerism and competitions.

To what extent does your institute support laypeople in the Church and in society?

Other that the director, who is a priest, all the other people full time involved in the centre are lay people. All the activities in the centre are geared towards lay people and challenges them to use their talents in a positive way.

How do you communicate your experiences and results to the respective local church, to neighbouring local churches and to other addressees (e.g. institutions affiliated to you)?

The centre is regularly visited by local clergy and church groups. Other centres often come to see the work being done here. Also many of the activities have been televised and shown nationally. This has proved valuable in getting our message out to other churches/centres and people of other faiths.

To what extent does cooperation with the Bishops’ Conference of your country or with your diocese take place?

We are often called on the produce carved objects for various churches or for Episcopal occasions. Kungoni has taken part in Diocesan liturgical celebrations such as the Consecration of one of the bishops. The centre is also consulted on topical cultural issues such as witchcraft.

What linkages/networks are in existence at national level?

We are belonging to networks of Suwon Catholic University institutes and have only loose cooperation with other institutes at national level.

What linkages/networks are in existence at international level?

What kind of interreligious cooperation does take place with non-Christian religions?

There is a regular cooperation with local traditional religions especially in their cultural events. We receive many different denominations who wish to know more about Malawian religions. This allows for a lot of sharing and questions. We also have people who work with us from different faith experiences. This involves daily workers and volunteers.

What kind of ecumenical cooperation does take place with non-Catholic churches?

Which theological mergers/associations are you affiliated with (personally or as an institute)?

How can we assist you with your intercontinental exchanges and with exchanges between the continents?

We firstly appreciate the assistance we have received from you over the years. Our requests have always been addressed. We acknowledge that there is still many areas which we have not yet dealt with due to financial restraints. It would be helpful to know what criteria you are now using to assess funding projects. Maybe we could get some assistance for future projects. We are always in need of skilled personnel in the area of media/computers. It would be helpful to be notified if such people were available.

  1. It would be interesting to know among other things whether course participants are active at parish, diocesan or supra-diocesan level and whether courses are attended by priests, religious or laypeople.
  2. It would be interesting to know among other things whether the staff members of the institute are priests, religious or laypeople.