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From Malawi to Dayton

By Brother Andrew Kosmowski, S.M.

The “University of Dayton Nativity” is the centerpiece in the crèche gallery of the Marian Library. This set was hand-carved in Mua, Malawi, by Thomas Mpira. Mr. Mpira has participated regularly in activities at the Kungoni Centre for Culture and Art. It was here that he encountered Matt Maroon, who arranged for the set to arrive at the University of Dayton. Mr. Maroon graduated from UD in 2006 and received the Joe Belle Memorial Young Alumni Award in 2016. The Marian Library received this set in that year. It was displayed at the President’s House shortly after it arrived. This year (2017-18 season) marks the first time it has been exhibited in the Marian Library.

This set is very detailed as it is comprised of 29 pieces, not counting the shelter. Mr. Mpira carved each piece from a different wood. The khola, which is the Chewa word for this type of shelter, has 29 pieces of wood in its roof, one piece corresponding to the figures. Mr. Mpira has portrayed the three magi as chiefs from the Chewa, Ngoni, and Yao tribes who are carrying gifts of great value and statues in Malawi. Numerous other farmers are present as well carrying their offerings, including livestock, fruits and vegetables, and a pot of sorghum-based beer known as mowa.


How to go

At the Manger: World Nativity Traditions
Marian Library, seventh floor of Roesch Library 
8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. weekdays Nov. 27, 2017–Jan. 5, 2018 1–4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2–3
1:30–4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7
1–4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9–10
(closed Dec. 8, Dec. 25–Jan. 1)

Visit for all 2017 venues.


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