When Mutharika Honours Musicians Part 1


Malawi’s Constitution empowers the President to confer honours on eminent Malawians and other individuals for their dedicated service.
It is called a national system of civilian honours and decorations that established what is known as the Malawi Order of National Achievement.
Recipients of honours and decorations on July 6, 2009 had 15 names which were politically dominated and no musician appeared.
Things improved on July 6, 2010 as the Late Evison Matafale got an Achiever of the Malawi Order of National Achievement alongside another fallen musical giant the Late Saleta Phiri. This was also out of 15 names.
In 2011, things apparently improved as Mzuzu Stadium was set ablaze when President Mutharika determined that eight musicians out of 22 eminent Malawians and a Japanese national, both living and departed, be honoured.
The first musician to appear on the list of honours is Wambali Mkandawire with a Principal Achiever accolade for what the citation said was because he is a Prolific Malawian Musician.
This is justified by information that he was a lead singer of the Sounds Pentagon local band, toured South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe with Youth for Christ Band in 1985, took part in the campaign for the release of late Chakufwa Chihana, you know, political justification, still.
He is also honoured for going on tour singing in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Kenya where he promoted Malawian music and that he performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Cape Town in 2002.
He is the first African artist to be awarded the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Award for Creativity in 2002; and that he received the Kora Award Best Artist from Southern Africa in 2002 and Kora Award Best African Artist in the same year.
Then next is the Late Allan Namoko, who is also Principal Achiever; for having born in 1957 before his death in 1995 he had become Malawi’s top blind banjo player and composer.
The citation even took the trouble to add some of his notable achievements that included his promotion and preservation of Malawian musical and cultural heritage; his founding and leading of one of the most popular bands in Malawi, “The Chimvu River Jazz Band”.
Allan Namoko was also an enduring and creative performer, despite his blindness besides being a long-time popular Banjo Soloist with songs that dominated the local music charts. He is said to also have encouraged people to be kind to the vulnerable groups especially orphans, as evidenced through his music.
The citation also notes that he successfully fused Lhomwe traditional dances into irresistible beats that touched on a variety of topical issues in all genres of life.
Another musician who got the Principal Achiever honour is the Late Frank Vincent Ndiche Mwarare who between 23rd January, 1931 when he was born in Ntcheu District and 30th July 1991 when he died, he proved his talent despite his disability.
He is a musician whose hits of the 1960s have stood the test of the time having started his music career with the formation of Ndiche Brothers Band in 1955.
The citation for getting the honour says he was very popular because of his well-composed songs which have continued to enchant even some youth today and that he travelled to Harare for Pepsi-Cola promotional recordings because of his music talent.
He composed a lot of songs including ‘Chemwali Paja Munkanama’, ‘Ndiche Alombere Mitala’, ‘Ndimakonda Magita’ and ‘Ndavala Jekete Lobweleka’ – a Nyimbo za Makedzana fixture on MBC.
Joseph Nkasa also got the Principal Achiever honour, more so because his hit song ‘Mose Wa Lero’ is said to have assisted the current government achieve an overwhelming victory in the 2009 general elections.
The citations did not hide this fact as it says ‘in his song Mose Wa Lero, he refers to President Bingu wa Munthalika, as the Latter-day Biblical Moses.
The Citation on Joseph Nkasa describes him as a renowned musician to the majority of Malawians across the country thus he is fondly called by his fans as phungu wa Amphawi.
Through his music, the citation indicate that Nkasa has made an impact on lives of Malawians as he speaks loudly with his hard biting lyrics in his music and that his music has found space in the people’s hearts as he gives hope to the hopeless.
He is believed to also sing for the poor masses and the underprivileged in society and has risen to stardom because of his inspirational songs;
Nkasa is also accredited for adding his voice to the HIV and AIDS pandemic and encouraging the Malawian society not to relent in the fight against the pandemic.
The honours also noted that Nkasa has produced a number of albums including Tigwirane Manja; Wayenda Wapenga; Mose Walero; Zosiyana Siyana; Ndifedi A Malawi; Mamiliyoneya; Kalero and Mfumu Ina; and that he performs at most public functions and national events.
Nkasa’s citation was the longest and I am not better placed to say why it was so. I will continue looking at the recipients next week.
Feedback : drummingpen@columnist.com

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