Lucius Banda is the one who first calledthe Late Ken Siyabu ‘Seven Years’. It was because he was born on February 29and usually four years elapse before those born on this date of a leap year cancelebrate their birthday.
At the time that Ken Siyabu was workingwith Lucius Banda for the first time, he had celebrated his birthday for sevenyears only although he was 22 years old.
I first met Ken in 2006 when he was workingat Initial Digital Production, a media production firm that was into music anddocumentaries.
At that time I was deputy chairperson ofLilongwe Press Club, a grouping of journalists of central region and RastaEzaius Innocent Mkandawire working for the press club secretariat waspioneering a documentary to do with food security in Salima and he had taken methere to check on Ken who was applying to the documentary his video editingwizardry.
Intheir production studio there were only the two of them; Ken and Prince Donda andfate had it that both had to be employed at MBC, later in the years.
From the first day that we met we clickedand we have never known any discomfort or displeasure with each other’scompany.
A smile on Ken’s lips was a permanentfixture; even under intense pressure on any project he could still afford aninfectious smile for all those around him.
When you could be watching a movie or aninternational music video, while you would be captivated with its storyline,Ken would be pointing you to areas within such video production that wereoozing with ingenuity.
We loved the same genre of music and weused to discuss that as a country, we were not doing enough to promote such agenre and he used to say there will come a day when he will do something aboutit.
Indeed he started the Dancehall programmeon television, those who used to watch it can testify that this was one of thefew video graphical innovation on display on our television station.
I witnessed Ken Siyabu working on thevideos for Lucius Banda’s album ‘Survivors’ especially the ‘Zakukhosi’ track; howhe explained on what he wanted to do with the video was a complete sign ofgreat things in store for him.
Ma Blacks and Lucius are the country’s topbilled performers and Ken handled their video projects with aplomb. Everwatched the ‘Dalo’ video?
On Saturday evening last week Luciusperformed at Key Lounge in Mzuzu a few days after burying Ken and when he tookover the stage he observed a minute of silence in honour of the fallen Giant.
The following Sunday at Mzuzu Hotel’s BomaPark, he played ‘Nthawi’ from the ‘Freedom’ album as an honour to Ken whohandled its video.
It must have been on October 11, 2011 thatI last met Ken. It was in Eswazini in Mzimba during the installation of InkosiKampingo Sibande. He had come with Dr. Rupert Poesch? A German Researcher whofor years on end has been recording cultural practices of the Ngoni people.
They had brought state-of-the-art SonyVideos Cameras and in his own words, he had told me that the machines were thelatest on the market. The German was manning one, the other one was manned byLawrence Nyale while Ken handled the other one which had a roving mounting likeone used in film making. He went on to school me on how sophisticated themachine was and how unbelievable its ability was.
He explained to me about his collaborationwith the West, how he used to travel to Germany to edit the materials he wascollecting and more dreams that clearly removed Ken from the common expertsdoing his very job and placed him above all.
You know one thing? He accused me of notwriting about his efforts; he said after discussing about reggae, ragga anddancehall at least he had started something and I never showed any initiativeto write about him.
I promised Ken that I will write about him,comfort in the feeling and knowledge that he would outlive me since I am of oldage, but I never at any second imagined that the next thing I will write aboutKen I will be eulogising his beautiful life.
Ken was a brethren who never shared thesame womb with me, his artistic gift only endowed in him by the ALMIGHTY waseverything that we cherished as his friends, brothers, colleagues and cronies.
I have struggled with PAIN to cry for KENhere and I am trying so hard not to over bereave him – whatever this means – butcelebrate him.
Sorry Ntcheu, death has overstayed on yourveranda, robbing us of the sons you gave us to serve in the world of music.After Lovemore Mwanyama, now it is Ken.
Go ye well Brethren Ken ‘7yrs’ Siyabu;Rastafarie Liveth!!!!!!