Yes Skeffa Chimoto is honoured more in Zambia than here in Malawi, his home and land of birth.
This is the conclusion I made when I and a few colleagues were watching his latest DVD titled ‘Tisawanyoze’, which includes a track produced in Zambia called ‘Tikondane’.
The track was in fact, a Zambian government initiated project through their Police service to ensure that the General elections that led to the elevation of Opposition leader Michael Sata to the office of the President were done in a free and fair manner and without electoral violence.
‘Iwe nawenso iwe ukufuna Skeffayo tizichita kum’beleka’ [Come on, do you want us to carry Skeffa on our backs], this was how one of the colleagues responded upon my observation of how much we have failed to utilize Skeffa Chimoto and most of our artists.
Well, perhaps most or some of the readers might agree with my colleague in thinking that the patronage that we give to Skeffa by buying, not burning, his music and DVD as well as attending his live shows is enough.
But don’t you think we can do better than this?
In the DVD, Skeffa explains that the Zambian government did not even require any special persuasion, all what the officials did was watch his video on ‘Ndife Amodzi’ which encourages unity in the diverse political opinion held by Malawians.
He says the impact that ‘Ndife Amodzi’ left in Zambia left the government there with no choice but to use Skeffa for their campaign against violence during elections.
He was asked to write the song and was also told that in order to give it more dynamism he was supposed to do it with some Zambian artists.
Watching the video piece produced in Zambia and done by a seemingly senior Police Officer Dr. Solomon Jere and friends one is left with a feeling of proud Malawian, knowing that as a Malawian Skeffa did something worth commending.
Now talking about the whole DVD, I think it has achieved what Skeffa wanted.
Skeffa reached the dizzying height with his album ‘Nabola Moyo’ that took the country by storm and earned him a place amongst the counted.
It is not as if Chimoto never graced the corridors where musicians strut before; long before the famous ‘Nabola Moyo’, Skeffa had tried his hands on an album called ‘Wekha’, which did not make any mark at all.
While enjoying the rollercoaster ride that ‘Nabola Moyo’ provided, Chimoto was all intent to show Malawians that he did not become a musician by mistake. The best way to send this message across was to put together another album, which he titled ‘Tisawanyodze’.
Ask anyone to comment about the album, all they will tell you it was a flop and Skeffa acknowledges the same in the DVD of the album, especially why it has to come now.
When I talked Chimoto at the time the album had been released, he had told me that when an album is called a flop; usually it has nothing to do with lowering standards of the production but it sometimes could be a matter of tastes.
He had said that what happens is that when an artist is recording an album without any previous work, there is nowhere or nothing to compare him/her with, no one is expecting the artist and know what s/he can offer so the recording goes without any problems to impress.
He says when you are, however, recording another album, the biggest problem that you face is that there is a continuous development-taking place in the world of the music consumers as well as in musicians and this is always happening at different levels.
His philosophy is that musicians can change, depending on new things that they have understood and learnt and they can up the gear by changing the kind of music listeners know and associate with the musicians.
Somehow, says Chimoto, when a musician develops at a faster rate than consumers, then they stop understanding what the musician is playing and they stop patronizing his or her music because they do not know where artists are taking them to, because based on their earlier works, they expect that they will take them to a familiar place; may be there could be change of the music tempo, style and approach to musicians’ lyrical arrangement.
That said the DVD has managed to palliate the earlier misgivings by the consumers.
One other thing in the DVD is that there is a tribute to Lovemore Mwanyama, the man Skeffa says made him to become a musician we all praise today.
In my tribute entry to Mwanyama when he died on road accident I said that there was need for this, I am glad Skeffa has just done that.
One other thing, Skeffa says the DVD is in away produced to make consumers enjoy some Skeffa music while he is busy composing new songs whose release cannot be predicted.
Well, while this is not the time to critique it more, suffice to say the Zambian aspect is a great Plus to his skyrocketing journey.