The Funny MAM Concept of Talent Exposure

On these pages, long before the Chibuku Road to Fame Competition kick-started, I lamented the criteria used to determine entrants to the competition and something interesting arose at the said event in Msumba.
The Professor was privileged to be one of the three judges during the northern region competition that was held on March 20, 2010 at the Mzuzu Stadium.
Initially 11 bands were scheduled to display their talents and triumph over the other but two cowered when the temperature rose too high for them to handle, so we remained with 9 bands.
The bands included Fitzgerald Simfukwe and the Chitipa Wailers, One Star, Harrisson and the Planet, Mpositoli Vibrations led by the established soldier musician Dave Kampala, Sweet man & The Royal Sons and Daughters, Ma Africa, Kula Band, Paradise Africa, Kamikaze, Body, Mind and Soul and Thomas Nyirenda & Future Kings Vibration.
Kamikaze as well as Harrison, and the Planet cowered and therefore the judges were to look for five elements in the band on stage against a given number of percentage points.
The elements under scrutiny included ‘Originality’ that was carrying the highest marks of 30%, ‘Instrumentation’ was earning the band 15 %, Message or Language was set at a maximum mark of 20% , Harmony 15 % while Stage management that also looked at issues of time and positions was earning the performing artists a maximum of 20%.
Before the competition, there were also conditions that were set for entrants some of which were that the bands that have ever produced an album should not contest while bands that had a member or members that were below 18 years of age automatically were ineligible.
Today, I am not discussing how the bands performed but suffice to say Body, Mind and Soul carried the day along side Kula band.
Now while as judges we had spent hours watching and assessing different performances there came a time when we had to add up the points each performer accumulated and it emerged that all the three judges established that the two winning bands I have mentioned deserved a place at the national finals.
What bothered us as judges when we were about to go on stage and announce the winner, was the coming in on the scene of Musicians Association of Malawi (MAM) President Mr. Costen Mapemba.
He told us that before we announced, we were to ensure that a band that has an album to its name be disqualified. We pressed him down to tell us what he meant and then he said Body Mind and Soul, which we had not even revealed to him at the time, that it had emerged victorious, was to be disqualified because they have an album.
Also with albums to their credit amongst the competitors were Sweetman and The Royal Sons and Daughters, Dave Kampala and Mpositoli Vibrations and Fitzgerald Simfukwe and the Chitipa Wailers.
Well, according to Mr. Mapemba the Chibuku Road to Fame Competition aims at exposing hidden talent where a drummer should now leave his or her set or a guitarist should now go on the leading microphone and lead in the singing. To MAM this is talent identification.
Therefore, based on the criteria, Dave Luhanga who trades as Street rat when he is leading his Body, Mind and Soul band, Sweetman and The Royal Sons and Daughters, and Fitzgerald Simfukwe and the Chitipa Wailers were to be disqualified because they all have albums to their names whose lead vocals were performed by them.
Only Dave Kampala and Mpositoli Vibrations were still in contention because Kampala had left the lead vocals for other band members and that he was only playing a lead guitar.
As judges, we declined to enforce this suggestion because we were asked to judge performers that MAM had admitted to perform having satisfied the conditions set before a band could be allowed to partake in the competition.
Secondly, it is laughable for the whole MAM president to suggest that talent exposure is when a drummer leaves his or her set to take up the leading vocals.
This kind of reasoning means two things, first of which is that according to MAM when a band is playing it is only the lead vocalist who is showcasing his or her talents and the rest of the band members have nothing to show. Secondly, MAM has no room to improve talent in the areas of instrument playing.
While we will discuss in later entries on this page on why the decision we made stood, do not you think it is strange especially coming from a President of a national music association on how they uncover hidden talent.


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