Controversy reigned at St Johns College of Nursing in Mzuzu one Saturday morning when the country's theatre heavyweights battled it out for positions in the National Theatre Association of Malawi (NTAM) executive.
The event, NTAM's annual general meeting, was nearly boycotted by members from the central and northern regions when the issue of allowances refused to be solved.
The south was being blasted for pocketing K21,000 each when the central and northern regions members got K8000 and K1000 respectively. In the end however the grieving regions agreed to carry on with the elections saying "change is bigger than money."
To the observant eye, the winner was clearly marked with the bid by the North and Centre to unite in toppling the South which the two accused of dominating the association without bearing fruits.
In the end, Ian Chisekula carried the day taking the post of the presidency beating MacArthur Matukuta who was seeking a second, term by 14 votes. And other losers on the big post included Andy Longwe, Fred Mukhuwa. Mafumu Matiki and Eric Mabedi withdrew from the race.
Chisekula of Lilongwe's Rising Choreos and Theatre Company will be deputised by Henry Ntalika, a former Wakhumbata member who shied away from the top post after seeing the works of the alliance. Oneness Arts director, Manasseh Chisiza took the post of secretary.
Katoto Mvalenji's Boniface Tivalenji is the new treasurer deputised by Max DC, Astrovaganza's Isaac Banda is the publicity secretary and Frank Yalu will be his deputy.
Regional chairpersons make Committee members of NTAM thus Sam Sambo of Oneness Theatre (North), Grace Chinula of Tongue Arts (Central) and Lyson Namalomba (South) assume the ex-officio honours.
Chisekula thanked God and the North for their pivotal role in his glory but said the alliance with the north was just a winning strategy and that he will focus on uniting, consolidation and improving the country's theatre.
"In the past executive you could be in the executive yet not know what was going on, the South has dominated theatre without giving artists a feel of what theatre is," said Chisekula, "I will bring in transparency and accountability."
Chisekula said he would also modernise the arts and try to end the association's dependence on the Norway fund that the association gets through Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma).
Reacting to the news, Northern region Theatre Chairperson, Sam Sambo congratulated Chisekula and said he expected big things from him. Central region's Theatre secretary general, James Kitchen said the north had chosen wisely and said it should continue in monitoring the incumbent
"For the Southern region guys, let them know that there is time for entering and time for exiting. There is always next time," said Sambo.