Kungoni Centre of Culture and Art
The Kungoni (also spelled KuNgoni) Centre of Culture and Art is a non-profit organization in central Malawi. Kungoni is located in Mua, a village in the Dedza district, about 60 km from Salima. Kungoni is both easily accessible, being about two hours drive on bitumen from Lilongwe and three from Blantyre. Kungoni sits a little above the lake plain, with views to the lake in one direction and the African Rift Valley escarpment in the other. The site is landscaped and planted as a botanic garden with a variety of tropical trees and shrubs.
The Kungoni Centre was established by the White Father Claude Boucher Chisale with the intention of giving the local carvers training in a variety of artistic forms with the intention of improving local incomes. Besides the carvings, the Kungoni Centre has also developed a culture sector which includes the Chamare Museum, the research centre, local traditional dancing troupe and cultural courses. The centre employs over 120 carvers and is just setting up a new project called Kumbewu (The Seed). Kumbewu will offer skill training for women and serve as a site for various information sessions including Aids education, agricultural diversification, money management and more.
The Carvings are the essential and the core activity of the Kungoni Centre. In the beginning Father Boucher founded the Carving Centre to teach the local artists new techniques. Today the Carving Centre is used by the experienced, established carvers to teach the young and emerging artist. The artworks are sold to tourists or shops everywhere in the country with a special view on a fair price for the carvers so they can support their families. In 2009 the art gallery was opened to give carvers and the public a better sense of the carving history. The gallery documents, the thirty years of work performed in the community and the advancement of the themes and craftsmanship of the pieces. The Kungoni carvings are that popular, that it is even possible to find some in the Vatican museum and in the Buckingham Palace and in Churches and private collections in Africa, Europe, and North America.