Emulating Music Crossroads Initiative


A point where two or more roads cross each other, by Malawian cultural practice is more valuable than anyone outside African culture can accept as truly of any importance.
To begin with, most rituals were, or are, still conducted at places where several roads or paths are conjoined.
I remember when a cousin of mine could not have a male child as he had four daughters, the traditional herbalist he consulted advised him to throw some herbs at any other crossroads of his choice. Five years later, he is a proud father of a bubbling son.
With such African perspective, you would not doubt how further deep into the musical fraternity the Music Crossroads International initiative has found room in our Malawi.
Wait a minute, Music Crossroads International or shortened to MCI is an initiative sparked by Jeunesses Musicales International (JMI) in 1995 and by way of the name, this is not African at all.
Nevertheless, what the initiative has done is to encompass five southern African countries, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe into musical gem hunting especially in the younger generation.
Believe it or not, the 15 years it has been around, the programme has roughly reached almost a whooping 35,000 musicians and close to a million listeners.
MCI organises workshops, festivals and completion, which promote the African traditional and contemporary /urban music of young Africans.
Without shame of contradiction, the project has satisfied its aim where it has managed to create sustainable musical structures in the targeted countries.
Those that have ever participated in the musical clinics arranged by MCI under the stewardship of Malawi’s Festival Director will testify that indeed, they have made use of the plethora of music knowledge that Stieg Hannsen has inculcated in them and the good thing is that he is a strict disciplinarian.
If ever you thought indiscipline rocks soccer players more than it does musicians and that discipline is therefore of no essence, then you were as good as barking at a wrong tree to an extent.
Within the period, that the programme has been running in the country its highest point is its back-to-back success in 2006 and 2007 respectively when Mzuzu based Body, Mind and Soul and Lilongwe’s Area 23 based Konga Vibes triumphed over other competitors from other countries.
You might be mistaken that these are the only groups of musicians from Malawi that toured Europe as a reward of their triumph, but before them Mzuzu based Tikhu Vibrations a combinations of first letters in the names of brothers Tiwonge and Khumbo Hango graced the European stages.
Now, as soloists in their own right and individuals that have carried out different projects and succeeded, you cannot take anything away from the two brothers. Tiwonge has even assembled a band he is calling ‘Bafipa’ a Tumbuka language word for the blacks.
Body, Mind and Soul is into different deals with different international music labels.
If you ask all those that participated in the Music Crossroads clinics you will learn that they have become better musicians technically and otherwise; they have also the know-how to nurture and protract their talents into something else.
I think it is time, all local Malawians in serious musical business emulated the MCI concept what with half baked musicians that have littered the market; surely we can produce the best out of the chaff.

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About Gregory Gondwe - Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Gregory Gondwe is a Malawian journalist who started practising journalism in 1993. Until March 31, 2012 he was regional editor and bureau chief for Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS). Gregory is also a media consultant assisting several international journalists pursuing assignments in Malawi. He holds a Diploma of Journalism and an Intermediate Certificate in Journalism among other media-related certificates. He is also columnist for Malawi's first and oldest weekly, Malawi News. He can be contacted on gregorygondwe@gmail.com.
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