A Befitting Dirge for Bingu


The first time I wrote about President Bingu wa Mutharika was when this column was appearing for the second time. It was titled “Mutharika – The Musician”.
I had discussed President Bingu wa Mutharika not as the then head of the Malawi state, or an accomplished economist, but because he had proven to us all that he was also a musician of sorts.
President Mutharika collapsed on April 5, 2012 while giving an audience to a cabinet member after he had already met two. He suffered a cardiac arrest that eventually killed him.
In March 2010 I also wrote here that ‘Veep Joyce Banda Sings in Nkhatabay’.
It was something to do with Gray Mtila, one of the country’s accomplished musicians. He worked in the Malawi Police Band after graduating from Nullhall Music College in the United Kingdom.
He also became the first black teacher of music at the glamorous Kamuzu Academy, but after retiring from there, he led and taught a number of church choirs. His death, though sombre, was during a church sermon where he collapsed at the pulpit and was pronounced dead of a heart attack.
The two men Gray Mtila and Bingu wa Mutharika have a very direct link to President Joyce Banda and how sad that they both died doing what they were called to do, and both died of heart attack.
The three, Gray, Joyce and Bingu have had a significant role in the music industry of the country.
To start with, I wrote at that time that the late President Mutharika’s musical talent came to the fore during the 2004 campaign, when politically; music also decided the pace of the campaign when musician Lucious Banda came on the scene with his hit single ‘Yellow’.
Then, Mutharika would sing out former Zambian President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda’s ‘Tiyende Pamodzi ndi Mtima Umodzi’ verses which never captivated anyone musically.
But having gained the incumbency, eventually, and formed his Democratic Progressive Party after ditching the United Democratic Front it looks like he got a totally new mettle for his musical capabilities.
Now this ‘Tiyende Pamodzi’ mantra had a different swirl to it, now that it was being sung by the first citizen who gave it an executive appeal. And when one of his Members of Parliament, gifted music producer and singer Joseph Tembo, [of course the name is now preceded by the title Honourable] took ‘the executive singing toils’ into the studios and manipulated it with his wizardry, what came out is still a hit.
To show how outstanding the track has become one has just to measure how it is still terrorising the beer halls as well as the dance floors.
With the President’s musical involvement, one would not have been surprised to see how many old and new artists went home composing one song after the other.
Exist Bingu wa Mutharika enter Gray Mtila.
Mtila is the man who sired one girl Joyce, who stood out amongst her siblings; she married a lawyer Richard ‘Mwanabola Shoeshine’ Banda who became Chief Justice in his homeland as well as in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
Joyce Banda was said to have joined the musical fray, like Bingu and her late father, when she started singing since 2006 but in the confines of her Malosa home in Zomba.
She however jumped parameter as she went to Nkhatabay South-East on August 1, 2010 where she sang in presence of her husband, two daughters and her sister.
The singing was through the Gray Mtila Music Trophy which she established in honour of her father the musician. In Nkhatabay alone, a whooping half million kwacha was spent for the competition.
Considering that there has been a deep connection of music to the two executive heads I have expectations that our music industry would do us kind with some tracks.
Lucius Banda, I know will forget his sour relationship with late President Mutharika and eulogize his life and works as not only the first citizen of the country but also an ‘accomplished’ musician.
Likewise a congratulatory song for President Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda won’t be that bad, considering that she is a daughter of a complete musician who even taught the art.
Mutharika has also enjoyed compositions from artists in the likes of members of parliament Bauleni M’mana, Billy Kaunda and Joseph Tembo at the time that he was welding the executive powers that was bestowed on him.
Now that he is dead, a ‘dirge’ for the departed leader would be a befitting farewell gift, considering that he has also left a musical legacy that needs to be appreciated as equally as politicians and government will be planning to honour him as much.
Feedback: drummingpen@columnist.com

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About Gregory Gondwe - Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Gregory Gondwe is a Malawian journalist who started practising journalism in 1993. Until March 31, 2012 he was regional editor and bureau chief for Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS). Gregory is also a media consultant assisting several international journalists pursuing assignments in Malawi. He holds a Diploma of Journalism and an Intermediate Certificate in Journalism among other media-related certificates. He is also columnist for Malawi's first and oldest weekly, Malawi News. He can be contacted on gregorygondwe@gmail.com.
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2 Responses to A Befitting Dirge for Bingu

  1. make yuyu says:

    Good piece, much thought went into this piece! Greg!!

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