Performed by the Chewa people of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, the Gule Wamkulu is a dance that accompanies initiation ceremonies, weddings, funerals and the installation of chiefs. Male dancers wear full costumes and masks made of wood and straw, expressing a great variety of spiritual and secular characters.
This multinational project, coordinated by the Malawian National Commission for UNESCO, includes, among others, the following safeguarding activities:
- capacity building among master practitioners (training of trainers) and training workshops for young initiates through exchange programmes and the distribution of educational materials;
- awareness raising effort through inter-village, national and multinational festivals and joint radio and TV programmes;
- support to Malawian, Zambian and Mozambican staff for research, documentation and the creation of an inventory on Gule Wamkulu, collating resources of all three countries;
- encouragement of legal protection of intangible cultural heritage.
For monitoring and continuous exchange among three countries, a multinational safeguarding committee composed of tradition bearers, Chewa authorities, and the respective national implementation agencies in each country has been created.