Malawi - The test

Transmission date: Wednesday, 6 August 2008
Language: Chichewa with English subtitles

You can run but you can’t hide

A comedy about facing fear. A successful, ambitious young Malawian man is too scared to have an HIV test. Can he overcome his fear or will he lose the girl he loves?

Story synopsis 

In a rural village in Malawi, Auntie Fela tells Uncle Simbi that their niece is bringing her young man from the city to discuss lobola with them. Uncle Simbi is not impressed. There will be no discussion about marrying Tinyade until the city boy has done an HIV test and proved his mettle. Meanwhile, back in the city, Tinyade sets the rules. If Limbi loves her, he must have an HIV test. Limbi, who is after all a smart college graduate, heads for a bar and listens to bad advice from Kenson, his long-time friend. ‘Don’t do the test, at any cost,’ is Kenson’s view. So Limbi, aided by Kenson’s schemes, plots ways to avoid doing the test. Finally, Tinyade has had enough and leaves for her uncle’s place to tell him the wedding is off. Faced with losing the woman he loves, can Limbi overcome his worst fear to win her back?


Producer: Maneno Mtawali 

Malawian-born Maneno moved to South Wales in the UK where he did his diploma in Computer Studies. It was here that he developed an interest in film/TV production. While studying computers he began reading film/TV production books from the college library and became certain that it was the career he wanted to pursue.

Back home in 1996, Maneno learnt of the Television Malawi (TVM) project and was trained as a producer.

After working for TVM for a year, Maneno moved on to establish his own company, Kings Multimedia Productions Ltd. where he is head of production and managing director. Maneno is known as the top in-house TV/film/video producer in Malawi, experienced in television and radio production, with credits in broadcast television programmers and commercials. The Untold series is his first drama production.   

Writer and director: Jolly Ntaba

*Jolly on being a writer and director, views on training 

‘As a writer this was my first experience of directing a film. I really didn’t know what a director was supposed to do on set. I got to understand the role of the director, which was more than telling people what to do. It was a wonderful experience to put into practice what we had done in theory for the last two years and also see the words that you put on paper actually coming to life. 

In Malawi there is no film school. So anyone who is doing film in Malawi is through the school of hard knocks. You just go through and experience it. I come from a journalism background and I had been doing hard news for nine years; I’ve never had the opportunity to go to film school, which is expensive. No film makers in Malawi have been trained. I worked for the broadcaster for nine years but never had the opportunity to be trained in film production. 

The Soul City training is one of the most important trainings that I’ve attended in my life.

Malawians are people who are itching for their own productions. Now you can really appreciate why the training that we received from Soul City is so important – not just to us as individuals but as a country. For the first time, people can see a production that has been produced professionally – and it’s their own. It’s their own language, their own people. I’m sure we could pass on the skills that we’ve learnt. I really, really want to see Malawians participating in film festivals.

I think the audience is going to watch this film, because it’s about them, what goes on in their minds, the decisions they are going to have to make. I believe people are going to sit and watch and say, “oh yes, that’s me!” ’  


Jolly holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Malawi. He worked for Television Malawi as a reporter and news anchor for nine years. In that time, Jolly produced a number of documentaries on a variety of subjects, including health and education. In 2006 he left to form Atlas Productions where he is now the managing producer. At Atlas he has produced a number of documentaries and music videos.

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