MBC has K50 Million for Musicians

Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) is sitting on over 50 million kwacha for Musicians, and it is seems not perturbed with the need to give to Ceaser what is due to Ceaser.
Fifty Million Kwacha! What can this money do to a life and a career of a musician? This question was prompted by a posting I made some weeks ago called ‘Royalty Politics Maul COSOMA’ where I was saying the government is toying with the urge to privatise the Copy Right Society of Malawi (COSOMA) merely because it is demanding back the money using all means necessary.
I was saying the money owed to musicians is eight million kwacha, but acting Executive Director for COSOMA Dora Makwinja wondered why I was afraid to exactly say that in fact the money is in the legion of the said fifty million Kwacha and that they have not come to the dead end in their quest to ensure that they recover all this money.
I have said in the past and I will say it here again that MBC is being irresponsible to (for lack of proper word) dilly-dally for years on end when it comes to cutting its coat according to its cloth.
Last time COSOMA was dishing out money to musicians from Broadcasting Royalties was on December 29, 2009 and Makwinja at that function decried shameless tendency by MBC, Star Radio and TVM that love to eat their cakes and have them.
At the same time it was rightly put by the then Minister of Tourism and Culture Anna Kachikho, who had observed that the musicians would have received more money had these institutions paid what is due to Ceaser.
I had said then how it beats all forms of imagination, that big institutions like MBC which is state owned, meaning; they operate using my tax under state subvention and have room where they make a lot of money through advertising, can fail to pay out musicians.
Last time I had declared that it is so easy; if you do not have lemons do not desire lemonade, the same with MBC, TVM and Star radio, if you do not have money for royalties please do not play the music!
But even when I repeat this, perhaps I should demonstrate what I did to drive a point home. I communicated to several musicians themselves to establish what they think fifty million kwacha can do to the industry as well as individuals.
Out of about fifteen musicians that I contacted only five came back to me, although they did so differently. While the hoarse voiced local Ragga star Binge texted back, MacDonald Mlaka Maliro called to find out who had texted him with the question, Overtone Chimombo asked for my email address to respond better. Bon Kavalasaza called to explain his side while encouragingly Lucius Banda called to arrange that we meet and talk.
Binge said with that kind of Money the Malawi Music industry can transform tremendously as it can help in putting down big musical shows; introduction of music awards, publication of musical Magazines etc.
I arranged to meet Lucious at Nyimbo Studios in Area 15 where he is recording his latest album.
As a man who has done and seen it all in the Malawi music industry, the soldier simply summed it up this way: “Malawians Love Music but Hate the Musician.” He justifies this by saying this is why they are not bothered to support the progress of the music industry in the country. Why should they pretend that MBC is right? He wonders.
He said with his shares from within this fifty million kwacha he would have established his own top-notch recording studio; buy a Coach for the Zembani Band so that they keep checking punctuality whenever on a tour.
He observed that unlike in the past where sales had not nose dived; now the money is needed more than ever before.
Lucius says he pays tax every time he does business musically or otherwise but MBC which has even stopped playing his music is using his very tax for its operations and failing to pay him an outstanding debt through the royalties…
He insists that all this is because Malawi does not respect musicians and this is reflected more with the radio stations that when they are doing newspapers reviews they will jump the pages that are carrying out articles on music or generally entertainment.
Telepathically, Bon Kavalasaza mourned for artists like Lucius Banda whom he said are being owed 10-year-old debt on royalties.
This money can uplift the lives of musicians and their families besides improving their career and yet all routes have been travelled to make MBC give out the money with little success, so he observes.
In his case, he says for the last three years he has been involved in all measures to try to get this money; he says he has just been told out of the whooping K50m MBC has now released a million kwacha.
Surprise, surprise, Overtone started by wondering why COSOMA is saying MBC owes musicians K50 million only; does this mean that MBC has paid the other monies in the last 10 months? I have no answer as well.
Chimombo says last time COSOMA had a meeting, with musicians where they said MBC was keeping more than K57 million. More so that MBC is still playing the figures should be increasing.
MBC’s reluctance to pay, Chimombo says, is an infringement on the musicians’ rights and that this means the musician is tortured psychologically considering that the musician knows he has money somewhere being held by someone illegally.
Some musicians, Chimombo attests, are failing to do some of their projects like recording albums and shooting videos because they are broke considering that Malawian musicians are the poorest in this part of Africa.
Chimombo calls this oppression and manipulation which has been going on since independence.
He then turns to government that has COSOMA and MBC under its belly to rescue the ‘underprivileged’ musicians. He thinks government can do it but it has chosen to look the other way.
Feedback: drummingpen@columnist.com


Sean Kingston Coming!

Take it or leave it; love it or hate it; believe it or not, but the realities of it is that the life of 21-year-old Sean Kingston, born Kisean Jamal Anderson, has a life that is similar to that of some local artists.
One coming to mind decidedly is Njati Njedede who does not hide that he spent part of his life in the streets.
When you consider lives of Njati as well as Joe Gwaladi who at first as young boys were deep into begging for alms in the streets; if you were to meet them at that time; and if you were to list your guesses on all what they would become, being a musician would not have made the list.
Likewise, when you consider the life of Sean Kingston and meet him as an 11-year-old boy you would not have thought he would make a musical star of international repute.
Born on February 3, 1990 in Miami, Florida Sean Kingston moved to Kingston, Jamaica aged six where aged 11, he was hauled to jail for breaking and entering although he only spent 21 days.
And then Kingston’s mother and sister were incarcerated for identity theft and he had to live in a rundown stationary car as a house. Having a rough childhood, Sean Kingston poured out his heart in a track called “Dry Your Eyes” that tells how much he missed his mother and sister when they went to jail.
Sean Kingston himself attests to the same. He told Aceshowbiz.com: “When my mother and sister went away, it took a lot out of me.”
“My sister went away for four months and my mom has been away for over a year. When she went away, I was like ‘nah man, this is too much.’ I was only 14. I missed her like crazy but I pulled through and used it as my motivation. “Dry Your Eyes” is a defining song on the album for me because it touches on something that’s very personal to me.
Given this kind of beginning, there is little good that one would think would be extracted from such a life.
Of course, the point of departure in comparisons between Njati Njedede and Sean Kingston would be that he attended high school which is exactly what Njati will also tell you, “I am the only educated minibus tout!” he would say.
But while Sean’s grandfather was a noted Jamaican reggae producer Lawrence Lindo, who worked under the stage name Jack Ruby, Njati will tell you nothing about his grandfather inter alia being into anything musical.
Njati will tell you of comedian cum flute player cum musician Kennedy Ndoya the late, popularly known as Madolo where he suckled his talent.
Sean Kingston had the beginner’s luck because when he was discovered through MySpace by Tommy Rotem at Beluga Heights and signed to the label in a partnership deal with Sony that was it.
He also became acquainted to his native music after Reggae legend Buju Banton befriended his family.
Unlike Njati who decided to become Njedede instead of our capital city Lilongwe, Sean being a Jamaican singer got his stage name “Kingston” from the capital of Jamaica – Kingston.
At the moment, for fear of spelling doom for the musical future this is where the comparisons stop.
And this is the reason why Sean Kingston should not fail to come to Malawi.
By sheer stroke of luck Sean Kingston recorded and released the single “Beautiful Girls” and that was way back in May 2007.
Disregard the fact that this song was based on the single bass line and lyrical “association” of the 1961 hit “Stand by me” by Ben E. King, but it registered his arrival.
Just with this song Sean Kingston managed to reach number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, topped the UK Singles Chart not to mention many other international charts.
When he released the album ‘Tomorrow’ in September 22, 2009 that involved big-name producers like former Fugee Wycliffe Jean then this helped him raise his s.
Despite rough childhood his choice on avoiding profanity for his lyrics has helped him achieve success that has seen him even nominated in Image Awards in 2008, for the Outstanding New Artist slot, scooping the MOBO Awards in 2007 for Best Reggae Acts and getting the Teen Choice Awards in 2007 for his track ” Beautiful Girls ” which occupied the Choice R&B Track slot.
Sean Kingston is scheduled to perform according to his official website at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe on 25th April, 2011.
Fresh are the memories when same pomp accompanied news that KC and Jojo as well as Jamaica-born dancehall icon Sean Paul were scheduled to stage concerts in the country.
Sean Kingston would be a great inspiration to the Malawi youth who are hopeless because of their history or the situation they are in. Given his story, Sean Kingston coming to Malawi would be to the benefit of such youth. Whoever will facilitate the failure of his turn up would therefore do a great disservice.

Music Education Southern Africa

Music Education Southern Africa shortened to MESA is a two-year project run by the Music Crossroads International. I had never heard of it until March 12, 2011. Have you ever heard of it and that something is wrong with me?
The aim of MESA is to contribute towards the development of the musical infrastructure of Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, by training potential local music teachers.
The bad news is that the project started on November 1, 2009 and will be winding up on October 31 this year and I am not sure if it is on course.
The major objective of the project was to help contribute and enhance professional opportunities for music teachers and development of the music educational infrastructures in Sub-Saharan Africa.
It specifically intended to improve the functioning and quality of music education of Music Crossroads Centers in these five countries besides increasing the number of trained music teachers in the region.
Since the project started it has been trying to identify an international steering committee that intended to add expertise, set the policy guidelines, assist in developing the syllabus and methodology and participate in the evaluation of the project.
Within the five countries, a research team with one international and one local researcher respectively set to map existing music education and commonly used methodologies.
These were biased towards what the young people need and are interested in musically and how these can be catered for in relation to available and emerging work opportunities in the local market.
The team was then supposed to compile the results of the five countries’ research findings in order to identify common areas as well as country specific issues; traditions, instruments and idioms.
Based on these results a modern, useful and standardized curriculum or methodologies would be developed for diverse instruments based on African music traditions and relevant to the five countries.
Where if it is established that banjo should be the lynch pin in a particular country’s musical lessons then be it.
To achieve all this, five excellent music educators, one for each country have been training these music teachers in the established syllabus and methodology and adjusting these to the local circumstances.
The future teachers and the Music Crossroads local partners will then jointly create detailed education plans for each Music Crossroads Center.
Music Crossroads International head for Malawi, Mathews Gaighaye Mfune says this is the starting point.
Because either the private sector or the public institutions will have to take advantage of those that would have graduated through the training currently under way.
I have been arguing here that we needed to seriously embrace music as the tool that will do wonders for Malawi.
I once wrote in one of my entries here of the need to introduce music in technical colleges, I wished you could see the overwhelming support that came from the youth.
I have observed, rightly so, that most youth are venturing into music after exhausting all channels on the job market and the pathetic result as regards what has happened to our music industry is something that I can discuss here now.
I always wonder, what needs to be done to see the people we call principal secretaries, the so called directors or the whole government team of technocrats work towards need-based programmes.
Gone are the days when we have to stick to curriculum and programmes that we inherited from our colonial fathers, come on this cannot fit now it’s like forcing a rectangular peg into a round hole.
We have to take use of programmes like the Music Education Southern Africa (MESA) that can be integrated right into the primary syllabus right up into one for our secondary school curriculum and if it is present in the technical colleges it would only be a continuation.
We do not need someone to go to the moon to bring us ideas on how we can take advantage of one opportunity to end a litany of related problems.
Feedback: drummingpen@columnist.com