If truth be told I started following dread locked Ben Michael when he was playing with the Acacias band that used to practice in the top floor of Larji Kulji building in the heart of Blantyre City.
His story though, is that he started his musical career with the Ethel Kamwendo led Wepaz band to whose he owes his musical development.
Of the many reasons that first drew me to Ben is the genesis of my music passion. Amongst the music genres that has fascinated me half of my musical experience, half because I suspect I have chewed almost half of my longevity, reggae seems to have taken a central stage; I will explain the reasons why reggae musicality has been more appealing.
Then, anyone in dreadlocks with a guitar or a drum used to draw my attention and on top of that Jupiters used to match the reggae performing prowess of local reggae at the time and therefore it was not surprising that Ben got my interest.
What I do not desire at the moment is to bore you with myself.
I want us to dwell more on Ben and see what a selfless Malawian he is. Unlike many of our musicians whose route is rote and their idea is making quick bucks, Ben took a halt in the middle of his educational journey at the University of Malawi’s college of Polytechnic and decided to start a musical journey.
This is very courageous because during his days, parents and the nation as a whole used to look at music as a non-starter and painted education as heaven and earth for one pursuing it.
Well still have some people that I have ever discussed with about Ben who are very convinced he would still have made a great musician had he first completed his university studies; and this is a subject for another day.
Besides his music, Ben has made a name in the West for his role in a film ‘Baba’s Song’. You have to realize that it is his musical talent that opened his door to the film industry. Most famous actors like Will Smith and Ice Cube first made a name in the music industry which catapulted them into successful film stars.
If you must know, in the said film written and directed by Swiss film director Wolfgang Panzer, which also features famous German film actress Franka Potente who also features in the Pirates of the Caribbean Ben featured as one of the country’s biggest music stars.
Well, Malawians have been spoilt with the approach our musicians have taken whenever entertaining them and this is the reason anything that is not danceable to them is not music.
Look at how less Ben would attract the Malawian audience compared to Lulu, Lucious Banda or the Blacks and yet this is a man who has to his credit seven international and national music awards.
Our local entertainment pages have covered Ben on his awards decoratively and I would not desire to waste time giving you repetitions.
As a nation I think we are noisy when it is Isaac Chilemba the South African boxer we all try to turn into a Malawian because he has shown the world a clout that we think has Malawi written all over it, but when artists like Ben do likewise we burry our heads in the sand.
The musicians association of Malawi, the institutions that are involved with our music and even a nation as a whole has to give a special recognition to artists like Ben Michael Mankhamba.
We have to take into account his successes and how he has managed to achieve it and how budding musicians can tap into this success and on where they can also build their own.
At least the pen has drummed this out, and let’s takes it up…