Coincidence or call it chance, led me to adiscovery of Jamaica’s ragga, or commonly known as dancehall music but done byMalawian youth which is under the banner of ‘Mabiringanya’.
By the way Mabiringanya is the chiChewa wordfor eggplants. I am not sure why this is the name chosen, but one thing forsure is that the artists playing under the banner are so excellently talentedand their videos are artistically done that they defy belief.
When you listen to all these tracks, plusmany more that I have not mentioned here, like one called ‘Simple Life’, youwill discover that dancehall element in all these tracks is very evident andthe artists involved are very talented. This talent is not only in the way themusic is produced, but even in its lyrical content.
Check the track ‘Simple Life’ which goeslike:
‘Simple life ndimene ndi ma lida’, ‘Akatiwonakukhalira kumangotida.’
Another track ‘Swagger Dance’ says: “Aliyense akudziwa lero kuvuta”
“KuvinitsanaSwagger dance mpaka thukuta”.
The same is in the track called Kamete Tsitsi: “Pasukulu pano ineyo ndineSala”, “Sindimafuna Tsitsi choncho ngati wamisala”, “Kamete Khobaliro salaDotolo walamula”,“Ukapanga Chibwana iwe ukakumba dzala”.
Well, my point here is not to dwell too muchon the excellent dancehall pieces by Mabiringanya but I want to discuss themessage and influence.
Let me start by looking at dancehall whichstarted in Jamaica in late 1970s to early 1980s because so many of the recordswere deemed unfit for radio airplay and therefore were suitable only for thedancehall.
It was born out of reggae because theartists of dancehall represented a new generation of reggae’s primary audiencereclaiming the music for themselves after ten years of roots and culture.Reggae purists were furiously debating as to whether dancehall was genuinelyreggae or not. To date this remains a bone of contention.
The Jamaican audiences wanted records that were raw and producers like Henry ‘Junjo’Lawes and King Jammy made deejay, as this is what the artists of dancehall orragga are called, like Yellowman, Josey Wales, Lone Ranger, Eek-A-Mouse andBrigadier Jerry.
The birth of dancehall also helped inexposing singers such as Barrington Levy, Little John, Cocoa Tea and FrankiePaul who had been struggling to be heard.
The danger that dancehall brought though, was its radical approach aimed atshaking reggae out of its seeming complacency and it opted for the apparently loathsome,to satisfy nobody beyond the sound system crowds.
It was aided by rapidly developing studiotechnology which made records quicker and cheaper.
In 1992, theinternational backlash to Banton’s violently anti-homosexual “BoomBye-Bye”, and the reality of Kingston’s violence fanned by dancehall sawthe deaths of deejays Pan Head and Dirtsman.
And slowly in themid-1990s with the rise of dancehall BoboShanti artists, such as Sizzla and Capleton,a very strong connection between dancehall and Rastafari was developed.
When you listen to artistically weavedlyrics by Malawi’s dancehall act Mabiringanya, you are to notice that they arestill stuck with the violence element that was the moniker of dancehall at thetime it was starting in Jamaica.
Look at the track ‘Wangongole’ byMabiringanya, its video, apart from being a good dancehall production, is anencouragement of violence to those that owe you money. The youths in the videoare welding machetes, spears, bow and arrows while dragging and roughing up theperson owing money to the other.
Despite skilful dancing in the dancehalltracks by Mabiringanya, the element of violence is very present.
I believe Musicians Association of Malawi(MAM) needs to take a role in directing such good talent towards good.
Looking at the Mabiringanya videos youcannot rule out the huge influence it is going to have on the country’s youth,but the violence would be undoing all efforts to create a better Malawi throughmusic.
Believe it or not, dancehall has a hugeinfluence on the youth, and good pieces of dancehall music like theMabiringanya dancehall act I am talking about, can have a rapturous influence.