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.
Feedback: drummingpen@columnist.com
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