Reggae has a Malawian Story – Part II

Last week, we discussed about reggae with a Malawi story to a point where Lucious Banda released Son of a Poor Man.
However he opened floodgates of suppressed talents when he released his second album’ Down Babylon’.
This title track was a denture of JAMAICA’S Hardcore Dub reggae poetry, but the album had a rootical hit track ‘MIZIMU’ (Spirits) in reference to the spirits of those killed by the previous government. The hit reached the height no song had managed to in the past.
In the album Banda who calls himself ‘Soldier of the poor’ numbed the clamours of the generation gap and managed to squarely attack and challenge the policies of both the former and present regimes, the masses which included, now would be reggae stars, felt emancipated from both the physical and mental bondage and were ready.
Paul Banda a mentor and brother to Lucius Banda (not related to the former president). A man whom to a large extent Malawian in indebted to, for siring the modern Malawi music, established the first open recording studio in the early 90s – Imbirani Yahwe (Sing for Jah) studio, uncluttered with restrictions and expurgatory and censorship policies.
All those down trodden artists who felt they had stories to tell flocked there and strangely, they all did the telling in reggae, it was a shattering talent exposure, a talent that Malawi was not aware it ever possessed.
It was now names like Charles Sinetre, ‘reggae ambassador’ as he calls himself, who decried the state of the orphans. But not before Paul Chaphuka. (Who passed on to our ancestors) had begged JAH to heal him by restoring his health as at this time he was down with cancer.
Billy Kaunda another star who mixes reggae and traditional music sang against political trickery and propaganda. Coss Chiwalo laughed down the uneven distribution of wealth, the rich getting better and richer, and the poor worse and poorer.
Isaac Liwotcha who strictly plays Malawian Reggae, blasted the marital infidelity and child abuse. Charles Nsaku who has been dubbed king of ‘Mayo Mayo’ (crying) because his reggae tracks wailed louder than the rest did just that and his vigorous life packed performances earned him a title ‘non-stop reggae machine’. Mlaka Maliro scathingly attacked govt’s soullessness to the masses.
It was reggae, reggae and more reggae and for the first time in Malawi the voiceless had a voice and those in sorrow were able to wail loudly.
Vocal groups emerged, ‘Jupiters band’ ‘Young generation’ and ‘the Chosen few’.
The result: reggae music was selling big, amidst the civil liberty which others accused the artist of abusing it.
Other Malawian reggae artists worth this write up’s mention are American based Kwesi Mzumara whose music met an understanding reception back home in Malawi. Then, there was also Zomba based late Muga Mutaya.
Malawi’s own Ras Wazza who has ever shared stage with Jamaica’s greats Mama Rita Marley and Ziggy Marley at Namibia’s independence anniversary celebrations in 1991 and again the first Malawian reggae artist to release an all English reggae album to even be played at Jamaica’s Irie FM, Frank Kalonde.


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