Is Malawi Reggae a Match of Jamaican Reggae?


Last time on these pages I discussed about the proliferation of reggae with the Malawian music.
Since reggae music originated from the West Indies Island of Jamaica, the question everyone has been asking is that is Malawi reggae a match of Jamaican reggae?
I will base my discussion on the matter on what a number of Jamaican music artiste who visited Power 101 Fm said about our reggae.
Malawian reggae is rated far much lower that the Jamaican Reggae, when Jamaican DJ Management visited the country he just described it as just African music, despite giving a description of pure reggae as being any music that liberates people from mental slavery, a sort he described as a revolutionary liberating music.
Jesse Jenda thought Malawians reggae was improving. He compared it from his first visit of 1999 to that of 2000, and said that he had observed some tremendous improvements.
Shalom quipped that it was not easy to play reggae. He said one has to listen and learn a lot about it, and charted hardworking, practice, continuous learning and exposure as the rightful rooms of improvement for a Malawian artist.
However, Jenda believed that in few years time Malawi will have high standard reggae artists.
Malawians, thought that time had come though. When, liked a bolt from the blues, Evison Matafale, a self-confessed Rasta Reggae maestro appeared on the arena and left it before the prime of his time.
Before him though a youthful Rasta Reggae Musician Sally Nyundo had stormed the local charts with a lovers Rock album ‘Namwali’ (woman) which surprised Ibo Cooper and he rated it so highly, especially the title track. He did the album with a youthful friend Diwa Khwiliro.
Sally said in an interview, when I run into him on the Sunday night of April 28 2002 while on a country wide tour, that Malawian Reggae emerges from a background of its traditional music setting, much of a fact that it hence influences its characteristic make up and picks itself out of the authentic and original reggae music character.
Nyundo formerly of images Band, had just released a solo album he called ‘Zinyimbo’ (SONGS) where he made an effort to clear Rasta misconceptions and misrepresentations, especially in the title track called ‘Dreadlocks’.
Sally Nyundo who once played bass for visiting Jamaican artists Ibo Cooper, Sholom and Jesse Jenda, hoped to storm the international charts with his reggae as he had said ‘most Malawian reggae artists mix reggae with traditional because they target local audience.
Sally thinks he can do better as he craves to produce Reggae stuff of International Standard no matter the language.
“I want to impress” he declared, “like Alpha Blondie I want those who can understand the language enjoy both the message and the instrumentation but for those who love reggae have to fall in love with my reggae rhythm, better still instrumentation is language on its own.
Then, he thought he has an idea to mix reggae with a traditional dance called ‘Mwinoghe’ practiced by people from Northern Malawi. The dance involves rat-tat-tat hands clapping and expert drumming.
Sally had said at the time that to his dismay, though, he has discovered it won’t sound so original for the crossed blend will just be the very same reggae, internationally played, “If you remove everything except the percussion lines in Black Uhuru songs then you remain with purely an African beat.
True to his one song that can standout tall as purely African projecting a Malawian Mwinoghe, is DUB JUDAS ‘STAND TALL’ from the album “Better to be good”. In this track the drum beating extractions just needs some local afro-lingo Lyrics to sum up one good afternoon of African ancestor commemoration in a ‘Mwinoghe’ set piece.
Whatever the case, Sally said at the time that reggae owes it all to the African music, a reason he believes it is why it is now easily accepted in African societies like in Malawi.
If one had any doubts about how he viewed reggae then, his successful exploits with the International tours he has made and sharing stage with reggae greats at the Reunion Island, the you would think we are there.

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