Black Missionaries Stuck in the Past


Whether one likes it or not, the signs are all out for all of us to see. The Black Missionaries is stuck in the past. It has a history, has a wobbling present, but has no future.

It is for the love of the mission mooted by fallen Reggae King Evison Matafale and his ‘Simon Peter’ in Musamude Fumulani that I will try to jerk the remnants into realization that things ought to be moving forward.

One would argue that this is incorrect by looking at how The Black Missionaries, fondly shortened as ‘The Blacks’ are still managing to pull large crowds at their shows.

But do you remember when they last released an Album? Do you remember how that album was done where it sounded like their past work? And how it has miserably [by their standards] faired on the market?

The last two weeks I have been attending their shows to see if what I was observing was indeed correct. I was disappointed that indeed The Blacks seems stuck and devoid of the kind innovativeness that pushed them to eminence when Matafale and Musamude were around.

The Beatles is one of the world’s musical bands that were revered by millions. The Beatles changed attitudes to popular music in the world and no wonder at one time it was considered the global trend-setter.

But all this did not stop public protest after publication of a quote from John Lennon’s remarks about Christianity. Lennon, besides being The Beatles member is a musician of no less influence.

Likewise, back home here fans are supposed to demand from their artists what they want them to become, because their reason of sticking around in business is to ensure that they give the fans the quality stuff.

Quality is attached to The Blacks music because of the pedigree which the current crop is failing to sustain. If another band, full of novelty can appear on the scene, the band cannot resurrect the guiding ghosts of Evison and Musamude to compete with such a band.

The other argument is that perhaps Anthony Makondetsa should have headlined the band to give it a kick in terms of sustenance.

At the moment the band might be riding on its popularity but if it has no artistic arsenal to keep it going, definitely what we might be seeing is a band that is on its death bed and only surviving on a life supporting machine – which is the past where it has strong roots.

The funny part with roots is that it nourishes the good food the leaves are making for it, and this is where The Blacks has to move quickly.

There was an argument that the challenge I am posing before the band was already sang against in the track ‘Ndiimba Ndekha’ by the Blacks.

But honestly this is one of the tracks that tell you there is a lot that is lacking in the current Blacks grouping.

I may not be a musician or a poet of top drawer but I’m not too daft to deduce that art work like music, poetry, painting, sculpture and curios are done with the purpose of putting across a certain message to the intended audience.

The message can or most of the time is put in a “language” best understood by all. Over concealing the intended message is therefore not only shooting oneself in the foot but short-changing the audience too. It also explains that you are as blank as the music you are churning out.

While Anjiru Fumulani the leading voice of the current crop of the Blacks has arguably great talent, the artist should learn the art of clarity.

I see no reason why one should be biting their heads trying to decipher and understand lyrics of a song sang in one’s own mother language.

Anjiru, and indeed the rest of his sort, should learn to sing in chords and not in codes.

Unlike their forbearers who were moving with time, because of lack of creativity the current crop of The Blacks are failing to move with the current trends. If Matafale were alive, imagine what he would have sung about.

The ‘cruel’ administration of President Bingu wa Mutharika and perhaps his subsequent death. If Matafale died in the hands of the politicians, what would have become of him?

Don’t read me wrongly, where what I am saying might be construed as instigating the band to be on top of composing protest music for the regimes that are in power, no.

But do you remember what happened in the US on September 11, 2001? And did Matafale the founder of the Black Missionaries just sat on his laurels? No, he released the timeless ‘Time Mark’.

As a band which Matafale branded with such stature, The Black Missionaries should be in the forefront in coming out quick to be in step with the current events. After all this was the mission of the band’s forbearer.

It will be a pity if the Black Missionaries will fail the mission because they are still enjoying the honeymoon sparked by the successes of Matafale and Musamude.

Feedback:drummingpen@columnist.com

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3 thoughts on “Black Missionaries Stuck in the Past

  1. I have always felt the same but had no platform to share it. Great job! The suggestion “the other argument is that perhaps Anthony Makondetsa should have headlined the band to give it a kick in terms of sustenance” is not only yours, there are many who think the same way including myself. From kuimba 7 – 10 there is a pattern of declination in terms of performance. One of the strengths of your observation Gregory is that you are making comparisons within members of the same band unlike Rob whose comment seems to be astray as he is talking of people who were not connected in any way. It is like comparing Bob Marley and Joseph Hill who existed in different eras. While one may argue that Bob Marley was propped by Chris Blackwell and Hill lifted himself up, I would say it is subjective to choose the best depending on an individual’s taste.

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  2. Don’t agree with at all, i believe we should not compare the late (Matafa/ Musamude) with the current crop of the Blacks, there will always be one Bob Marley, one Lucky Dube, Nelson Mandela, King Solomon and all the great people who walked this Earth

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