The Musical Vibes in 2011

We have had a 2011musical year full of mixed fortunes and misfortunes. This we hope will create a foundation for a successful 2012, musically.
Before we start this New Year, I want us to travel back2011 and see the issues that we tackled as the pen drummed loud, loudest and somehowfaintly in the year winding up.
I first start with what we tackled in the first quarterof 2011where we looked at the:
Royalty Politics Mauling COSOMA
We looked at how Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA) was established in1992 and that it operates under the 1989 Copyright Act which protectscopyrights and “neighboring” rights in Malawi.
Although the RegistrarGeneral administers the Patent and Trademarks Act, which protects industrialintellectual property rights in Malawi, COSOMA has a very central role in thisaspect.
At the moment, rulesthat govern the World Trade Organisation (WTO) allow Malawi because it is onlya less developed country to delay full implementation of the Trade-RelatedAspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement until 2016.
Government through theIndustry and Trade Ministry is working with COSOMA and the Registrar General toalign relevant domestic legislation with the WTO TRIPs agreement with technicalassistance from the Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO).
Wemourned Government’s decision which, without any regard to what the 1989Copyright Act underscores, said it wanted to privatize COSOMA.
Itried to bring the background to this where I said it all started from onebroadcaster that accumulated over K8 million in royalties for musicians and wasfailing to honour.
Iraised questions on why I thought to privatize COSOMA therefore has itsattendant and serious questions that require immediate answers.
Whereare the modalities of trying to achieve this? If a private person takes overCOSOMA what happens to the debt that is yet to be honoured in terms ofroyalties?
Then we also looked at how “MAPEMBA Rescues Musician from Daylight Robbery”
We established that eight years ago, a Malawian musicianneeded to part ways with K12, 000 to produce an album in a studio. Now a 10track album can cost the musician close to K50, 000.
But within this eight-year period, the musician is stillgetting K25 from a copy of their album from distributors.
We looked then at how the then Musicians Association ofMalawi (MAM) President Costen Mapemba fought with distributors to now have itadjusted.
In the year there was a “Cry for Our Beloved Alleluya Band” where I reminded all andsundry that everyone who is not aware of our modern music history, I meanhistory of digital music, will better be told from the beginning. The beginningtherefore will be telling a different story if it does not start from AlleluyaBand.
It was about the story that Foster Chimangafisi AlleluyaBand Member of then was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and was bedridden in ahospital bed where he was suffering financial crisis because Alleluya Band couldnot do enough, I thought it spoke volumes of how troubled our music industryis.
Then the pen drummed about “Giving a Salary to the Musician” where we observed that the Musicindustry in Malawi continues to be elusive to the main player who matters inthe business. The musician is still a beggar even in the face of all thetalent, effort, sacrifice and courage to bring something on the music market.
Amongst the culprits that make musicians fail to achieveanything at all is the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation – MBC which loves toplay the music from the local artists although they have no money to pay backin form of royalties.
At one point, the Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA)complained that MBC had a debt of K8 million in royalty arrears.
I said that it is only when a musician gets a salary forhis toils that we would say our industry is growing.
Then the pen drummed about our own “Malawi Cultural Centre” which came due to the closure of the French Cultural Centrewhich for the past 38 years was dependent on the French Embassy to Zambia andMalawi elicited a mourning that made me shudder with shame.
Unlike crying over divorce or death, theclosure of the French Cultural Centre, if anything, should have made all of uscelebrate.
Celebrate because, the centre’s existencewas never in vain. The French’s stay in Chichiri in Blantyre should have beenendearing, knowing what vast lessons had been left. With such knowledge,instead of writing mourning pieces or airing out woeful programmes for theclosure we would have said:
Exit French Cultural Centre, Enter MalawiCultural Centre, I said.
The Pen also drummed aquestion on why there is no “EntertainmentJournalist Award”.
I wondered why Malawi Chapter’s Media Institute of Southern Africa annualawards miss out entertainment writers.
I have inmind, prolific entertainment writers like James Chavula and Kondwani Kamiyalaof Nation Publications Limited (NPL), and at Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL)we have Sam Banda Junior, Jack Macbrams Chirwa and Clifton Kawanga who are somegrand masters in weaving out beautiful pieces on entertainment pages of thecompany’s titles.
What is very,very funny is that the core business of media institutions is to Educate,Inform and Entertain. Mark that … Entertain…
We willcontinue next week.

Losers and Winners in Rumphi By-Elections

Enock Chihana - the Winners Takes it all

By Gregory Gondwe
On September 6, 2011 Rumphi Central Constituency went to the polls in by-elections that replaced the former Member of Parliament for the area Prof. Moses Chirambo who died in August last year.
In short, the Rumphi elections came and went. Enock Kamzingeni Chakufwa Chihana who stood on the ticket of the Alliance for Democracy – AFORD, triumphed over three other candidates.
The three Enock out muscled, include Norman Malonda-Nimaso Nyirenda who came breathing on neck of Chihana as second best with the well resourced ruling Democratic Progressive Party – DPP that backed his campaign and candidature.
Appearing for the first time in the political elections was the northern region political party the People’s Development Party (PDM) which everyone thought would carry the day with its candidate Peter Chihana.
The CCAP church of the Livingstonia Synod and a Catholic priest of the Mzuzu Diocese came into the open during the elections and declared their support for PDM.
Chidumba Mkandawire was another candidate representing People’s Party (PP) which was high flying what with the squabbling towards its establishment which made it registered in court and its leader Vice President Joyce Banda who was suffering scorn and rejection from President Bingu wa Mutharika and his party in the processing helping its popularity.
It was believed that this would have catapulted the party’s candidate to stardom by means of a sympathy vote.
Political Machinations & Reality
Top brass of the CCAP Livingstonia Synod and Father Eugene Ngoma of the Catholic Church declared their stand in Rumphi at the launch of a campaign rally for the party; apparently all what they said to persuade voters fell on deaf ears.
Former Moderator of the Church Rev. Mezuwa Banda said since the former MP of the area late Prof. Moses Chirambo was buried on August 20, 2010, they decided to launch the campaign on the same day.
The day that the former MP of the area late Prof. Moses Chirambo was buried on August 20, 2010, was also the day that leader of the CCAP church of the Livingstonia Synod Rev. Levi Nyondo was arrested for what he had said at the funeral.
Mezuwa Banda said August 20, 2011 on that Saturday was the day the northern region based Political party decided to launch their campaign for their candidate Peter Chihana was not a mere coincidence.
“This by-election is coming because of the death of the MP of the Area Prof. Moses Chirambo who was laid to rest on 20 August 2010. Today is 20 August 2011 the day that we of the CCAP church remember the arrest of our leader Rev. Levi Nyondo,” said Rev. Banda before adding:
“This is a day which is so meaningful to us. If someone arrests a leader of Ecclesia, then it means he has turned against the whole church.”
Father Eugene Ngoma of the Catholic Church of the Mzuzu Diocese who also heads the Church’s Community Radio Tigabane in Mzuzu also made his declaration and attempted to clear the question of their involvement.
“Many of you will be surprised that why Catholic priests and reverends are found here. We are here to present a message to you here in Rumphi and the north as a whole; Political parties in the North are just too numerous because every northerner wants to be a President. This is why others thought of having a single political party where all the parties are supposed to join and vote for and that party is PDM,” explained Ngoma.
Besides the message that they want the party to become a northern block, the religious leaders had no kind words for President Bingu wa Mutharika leadership.
The current Deputy Secretary General of the Synod Rev. Maurice Munthali said as religious leaders their primary objective is to get rid of evil and replace it with good.
“So we thought we had elected a leader who will administer proper medication. But we are getting poisonous injections. As Church leaders we cannot keep quite when things are going astray. We are the salt of the earth. Bingu has dissolved this salt, as the salt of the earth, there should be no one to point fingers at us that we have gone overboard. No pot of meat can despise salt,” he said.
The church took over proceedings at this particular rally. They hoped that electing PDM will revolutionise a political posture of the northern region.
PDM top brass led by Loveness Gondwe Deputy Chairperson and Secretary General Harry Mkandawire tried to convince the gathering to vote for their candidate with such religious backing.
With failure of their candidate eventually, the church and religious leaders got bruised and while the Synod was increasingly becoming a voice against government policies, their involvement and failure thereof left a gaping hole on their credibility.
“The DPP government will scoff them off now, as it will claim that they do not speak for the people,” observed a Mzuzu University political analyst.
Numbers for Victory
In the Rumphi By-Elections, numbers of voters were the basis that could give a picture of who would carry the day.
The Rumphi by-elections were a reflection of the 2009 General Elections. And in these by-elections two people were having a second go at the polls.
In 2009, 31 thousand constituents had registered to cast their vote but only over 16 thousand voters elected DPP candidate Prof. Chirambo. AFORD’s Enock Chihana amassed over 4 thousand voters as a runner-up.
The September 6 by-elections therefore meant that the battle was for the 16 thousand plus votes of the late Prof. Chirambo.
As rightly observed by AFORD campaign director Bowoyeke Munthali, AFORD supporters were never moved and hence the party had their votes waiting the polling day.
“We had our votes that were intact, while the DPP votes were to be split with its break-away shoot-outs in form of PDM and PP,” he said.
To add salt to injury, AFORD invaded the 16 thousand plus votes and amassed over 6 thousand votes for their candidate Enock while following second after him was DPP candidate Norman Nyirenda with over 3, 000 votes.
Over 2 thousand votes were casted for Chidumba Mkandawire of PP while PDM’s Peter Chihana had over a thousand votes.
Over 14 thousand people came out to vote and over 17 thousand voters shunned the by-elections.
Another number to look at is 20 which are the projects that included bridges, school blocks, roads etc that Peter Chihana PDM candidate gave the constituents in the hope that they will thank him with their votes.
His team and PDM spent over 4 million kwacha to get the coveted prize which nonetheless escaped their grasp.
The other self undoing of the PDM was internal bickering where a senior party member was going back wherever they had courted support of the potential voters to tell them to rescind their decision and vote for an AFORD candidate.
DPP had several tricks up its sleeves and it bordered on name calling and black listing other candidates, which never paid any dividends.
Why the Rumphi Elections Mattered
The Rumphi By election was the trickiest of such elections due to a number of factors relating to the four political parties contesting.
During the electoral process that included public debate and final announcement of the eventual winner Chairperson of the Commission Justice Anastasia Msosa and notably Commissioner Dick Mzumara and Ambassador Ron Nkomba were always present.
AFORD thought for it to re-launch its revival it needed success in the by elections. It had failed to take off even when it won the solitary Karonga Nyungwe Constituency in the 2009 General Elections taken by its Secretary General Khwauli Msiska.
It also realised that people were mirroring successes of its fallen Czar, if any, on the failures of the current government and the belief that he would have done something. The fielding of Enock Kamzingeni Chihana, son of Chakufwa who was also former MP of the area was not coincidental.
More so, Enock rode on the name of his father when he added Chakufwa to his names on the ballot paper. It worked.
On the other hand DPP badly needed Rumphi Central Constituency which was in its grip after the last general elections as at the moment the ruling party is trying to wade its way out of turbulent waters with poor economic and political governance.
Disgruntlement from Malawians over such failures had led to a violent protest on July 20 where 19 people were killed when the police tried to quell the situation.
The main figure in PP was not their candidate, but the leader of the party Vice President Joyce Banda.
Likewise in PDM with Harry Mkandawire as its secretary general and the church backing they had a point to prove.
More still, both Banda and Mkandawire started DPP and fell out of grace with President Bingu wa Mutharika. They both hoped to make a bold statement which was never to become a case.
Winner in the Elections
While AFORD and Enock are in jubilation that they carried the day, democracy has won tremendously, and constituents have proven a point as they said they still had to settle for Enock who was attacked by his fellow contestants that he would not be able to stay in the constituency and that he was heir to the throne of the Mwase chieftaincy in Kasungu and therefore was not to be trusted.

Same Death Different Mourning

By Gregory Gondwe

The 20 July demonstrations made the Northern Region pay the heaviest cost with 9 men that were slain when the police used guns to quell the situation. The aftermath was massive as it turned the nation on its head.

Reaction to such a gory action came in different colour and shade.

On the day of burial, people’s response was over whelming; thousands of people thronged the road from Mzuzu Central Hospital and escorted the slain to Zolozolo Cemetery where they were buried at the same place, in the same grave yard as heroes.

Already, the government protested the inauguration of the slain as heroes, with President Bingu wa Mutharika saying all the people that were killed, 19 in total in the country, ‘died in vain’.

The Police have not gone without any better explanation as regards those that were killed, as they are saying they shot at thugs who went flat out vandalising and looting property

Livingstonia Synod Creates Mourning Ground

Church of Central Africa Presbytery (CCAP) Livingstonia Synod suddenly has become the major bereaved union in the Mzuzu murders.

Already, all opposition parties and their leadership including the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and John Tembo, United Democratic Front (UDF) and Atupele Muluzi, People’s Party (PP) and Vice President Joyce Banda, Congress for Democrats (CODE) and Ralph Kasambara, and later People’s Transformation Party (PETRA) and Kamuzu Chibambo all came to the church to pay their homage to the slain.

All took a similar route; first they would go into the office of the Party’s Secretary General Rev. Levi Nyondo for a few words before meeting the media and the bereaved family members in the women’s hall where a few words of condolence and prayer would be shared.

The next place was the Zolozolo Cemetery where a prayer and the laying of wreath would take place.

While all the opposition leaders were of the view that this was the best way to console the bereaved members, ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials were of the view that they needed to console ‘the damaged property’ and those that suffered as a result.

Mutharika and DPP Mourns their way

President Bingu Wa Mutharika also toured the damaged structures which included DPP regional offices that were being housed in Sports Minister Symon Vuwa Kaunda’s property as well as what used to be a house of an innocent person who works for Airtel Malawi.

All these houses were in Katoto Township and while all these houses were razed due to the connection with the ruling DPP the other house suffered because a DPP driver had driven a DPP vehicle within its grounds.

When Mutharika finished touring the damaged property he moved to Chibavi to talk to the people about what happened on July 20 and pledged to institute an independent commission of enquiry that will be represented by the African Union, United Nations and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

Some Asian businesspeople whose shops were looted have started leaving for their respective countries as they say they cannot revive their businesses.

Business Threat and Investigations

Most of the shops that were looted in Mzuzu during the fracas belong to Asian and Chinese nationals.

Property worth around 500 million kwacha was looted prompting some traders to declare that they might now be leaving the country since they do not have money to resuscitate their businesses.

“I wished I could continue doing business in Mzuzu but I cannot because things are out of hand,” complained one of the businessmen living the country a Mr. Farook.

Director for Church and Society of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia Moses Mkandawire a member of the civil society members that organized the ill-fated 20th July demonstrations told journalists on July 23 that although things got out of hand, they had a fruitful meeting with the police on the eve of the demonstrations on how to peacefully present their petition to authorities at the City Council.

“Before the demonstrations started, there was news that an injunction against the march had been sought,” he said.

After seeing no further communication coming forth, protesters decided to begin marching a few minutes after this, Mkandawire says this is when the police fired tear gas in an attempt to stop them. This is it that angered the people and triggered chaos.

Mkandawire said the civil society organizations are contemplating reporting the government especially police officers who have shot dead the angry people to international criminal court.

When Mutharika toured Chibavi he spoke from his Land Rover under heavy security that he is ready for a dialogue with the Civil Society Organizations in order to address their concerns.

It is here that he talked of instituting a commission of enquiry which was in contrast with what the Civil Society Groups wanted.

They said they will only support a parallel commission of enquiry to be conducted by Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC)

This prompted Mutharika to get angrier as he declared that even when 19 people were killed and 275 arrested after the July 20 saga, the civil society leaders were warned to take care

“I’ll go after you! Even if you hide in holes I’ll smoke you out!” warned Mutharika.

20-Point Petition and Bereaved

In a 20-point petition, protesters demand that the president stop paying his wife Callista a salary for charitable engagement, trim his bloated cabinet, tackle corruption, address shortages of foreign currency, fuel and medicines, solve intermittent electricity and water supply, and reinstate media freedom and human rights.

Nonetheless, as seen by how the death of those that was killed is being politicised – where the opposition is for the bereaved while the ruling party is for the damaged property that included their vehicles and that of their officials – it is not clear whether or not a lesson has been learnt.

The ruling DPP and its leadership has nothing to do with those that were killed and has no kind words for the bereaved, prompting an angry reaction towards the president through a petition that wanted him to at least wear a kind face and speak a word of condolence on their loss.

“We the bereaved families and injured persons of the July 20, 2011 police brutality in Mzuzu…are concerned that the president…has not condoled with the dead and injured,” reads a press released signed by Aubrey Nkosi representative of the bereaved families and the injured.

Hospitality, the Sunbird Way

Sunbird Hotels are known for theirhospitality business. They have also put in place facilities that are used forleisure purposes; an extension of trying to add value to this hospitalityservice. The reason such facilities are put in place is to help residents whilethe hours away while staying at the place. Entertainment of other magnitudesthough gives room for other non-residential patronage.
Not that it is only sunbird that is in thehospitality business, no, several are, but my interest today is to talk aboutSunbird Hotels. The talk is also not for all of their hotels, but just one of themwhich is in Mzuzu, rightly called Sunbird Mzuzu Hotel.
The Mzuzu Sun Bird Hotel has a number ofhall-like facilities that are used for conferences as well as entertainmentevents. Unlike other hotels they have a place called Boma Park where there is astage where performers use to display their art; the place has also somechalets that sell fast foods as well as alcoholic drinks and minerals.
This, I mean the stage and the food plusthe drinks, do mix well when there is a musical band performing.
All musical names of value in the countryhave performed at the Boma Park Stage at one point or the other.
In fact, no one can separate music from theMzuzu Sunbird Hotel. Their lounges and corridors are sometimes filled with softmusic that seem to be emitting from the walls and the ceiling.
Every Fridays Mzuzu Sunbird Hotel alsoconducts a nightlong disco show at its spacious Choma Bar which is becoming aFriday ritual for Mzuzu revellers. The reason the occasion has become so famousin the city is because of the quality of music that becomes part of the disconight. After all what is a disco night that is devoid of music, anyway.
At this place the Hotel has also abortivelytried their hands on a resident band arrangement.
Now, if you look at how Mzuzu Sunbird Hotelattaches importance to music, you would expect them to act like such musicpromoters that they are supposed to be, more so when you look at how music alsohelps them to make business. But developments on the ground suggests to thecontrary.
First, it was an exorbitant price tag thatthe hotel stuck to the Mzuzu Sunbird Hotel Boma Park, where musicians had tospend a fortune in order to perform there, thereby acting as a restriction toour musicians who utmost struggle to put their act together.
Apparently, those that enter such anexpensive deal to perform at the Park are also given specific period when theycan stage their show.
While all this is happening, the Hotel isalso busy selling beverages and fast food and they also have their man at theentrance to see to it that the money that would be claimed to have been made isindeed what had been declared so that their cut is exactly within the agreedpercentage.
Let me look at the two recently and closelyfollowing musical shows that have taken place at the park and the lessons Ithink the management of the hotel should learn as a result.
First was the Black Missionaries Band whichwas supposed to perform between 13 hours and 17 hours. When time to drop thecurtains was nearing, an official from the Hotel was seen ascending the stageand whispered in the ear of Anjiru who was in the thick of things, telling himthat time was up and they needed to decrease the watts to Zero.
The Blacks, however, read the feelings ofthe patrons and they could not just switch off and go so they started takingtheir patrons down to a level that they could easily declare the show wasindeed over. Eventually when they were leaving the stage dusk had engulfed thecity.
After the Blacks then came Lucius Banda.When Lulu, who has become part of Lucius’s act, took to the stage, after only asong or two, the unimaginable happened because this time round the hotel managementdid not even bother to give a warning but they just decided to pull out theplug from the sockets.
In this case, they created two scenarios;the obvious one was when unsatisfied patron descended on band members, otherseven on Lulu and demanded their money back, mind you it was K700 per head.
It had taken the security team to protectthe members from the angry patrons who threatened to break the equipment orworse still the hotel property, which could have been the other second worstcase scenario.
Such inhospitable conduct was completelyamateurish from management of the Mzuzu Sunbird Hotel; it was uncalled for asit destroyed the spirit of music which builds peace and happiness not unrestand anger.  

Where is Carlsberg in Music?

If anything, Carlsberg Breweries limitedshould have been the main player in the country’s music industry.

Look at how many crates of beer will sell ifmusicians are performing, look at the blaring sound that is a dominant fixturein all beer selling spots. Do we need to tell the marketing gurus at thebreweries company of the need to give back to musicians?
For two years running now, South AfricanBreweries has been funding Lucius Banda’s trips to perform in that country.This year too, Lucius Banda will perform alongside Lulu in Johannesburg andDurban.
Imagine if people had gone to sip theirCarlsberg beer and found that there is no music and that all they can listen tois the noise of silence.
The East African Breweries Limited realisedwhat their business would become if this were to be the case and they have, formany years now, been investing in music. The good thing with investing in musicby breweries is that they create a win-win situation.
The East African Breweries Limited has beencarrying out competition for musicians in the Eastern African Region calledTusker Project Fame – a reality Television competition, which was at a value of1 billion Kenyan shillings which is an equivalent of 12.8 million US dollarswhich is about 1.92 billion kwacha. All this money invested in music, imagine!
I am not saying, our Carlsberg Breweriesshould do likewise, but they, at least, should appreciate that without music,there will be no Carlsberg.
In the case of the East African BreweriesLimited, it posted more success than they imagined with the Project fame andthey never hesitated after unveiling the new Tusker brand to take the samemusical route to sell the product and at the same time promote music andmusicians.
If you ever attended musical shows you willsee how refrigerators run dry as people scamper about trying to outdo eachother in getting a bottle of beer, too many, than the other.
Lucius Banda says he has been sellingCarlsberg for the last twenty years almost each and every weekend and yet,Carlsberg Breweries has never, at any time, thanked him in any way.
Now, by this, Lucius was only looking at hislive shows, but he is also forgetting one way that he is helping in the salesof the alcoholic beverage where those that have bought his CDs will keep thedance floor hot with his music.
You have heard of Chez Ntemba in theCapital, Pa Stereo in Blantyre and Sport Cafe or Paris in Mzuzu. These placeshave been made famous because of not its beers, or prostitutes or revellersthat patronise it; it has become famous not because of how majestic theinfrastructure… It is music that has made their legend.
If you want to listen to latest songsaround, you just have to visit these places. What are common in these jointsare the larger-than-life speakers that threaten to force out your innards dueto heaviness of sound that pound out of them.
If you must know, there are some revellersthat will heavily patronise specific joints, specifically because of theirknack for local latest music; musicians that are in their twilight have made itbig somehow through these places.
And what this means is that there is justtoo big a market created by music for the beers to sell.
At least here in Malawi, Chibuku productsrealised this and they have been engaged in promotion of music although therehas always been complaints from musical entrants in music competitions, eversince such competitions that include the Kuchekuche music awards started, thatnot much is done for the musician to benefit.
Kuchekuche is one from Carlsberg Breweriesyes, but if you look at how much was involved and the intermittent commitment ondisplay, you really wonder how the marketing strategy for the company isdevised.
There is just no two ways about this,Carlsberg Breweries or better still any name that they call the company thathas Carlsberg beers on our market need to come out and appreciate the musicianfor keep them in business all this long.