If you recall, in 2009 when this column, The Drumming Pen, started appearing on these pages, it started with the name Gregory Gondwe before a forced metamorphosis led it to Prof. Zungwala.
I borrowed the name, Prof. Zungwala, from my late Great Grandfather who has now demanded it back and I am now left with me. From now on, I am reverting to Gregory Gondwe with sadness.
Sadness, because when I was writing under the pseudo, it was possible to critically look at poor musical work of artists without directly courting their wrath.
Now all that privileged status is gone and I am left alone without the protection of the Prof., now to pay for all the truth that will ruffle some feathers, once told.
There was a time, nevertheless, when I wrote something about the dwindling standards of Billy Kaunda music, when without warning I got him on the other end a phone call.
There was no phone number on the column then and I was surprised how he first, knew Prof. Zungwala was in fact Gregory Gondwe and secondly even got my number to chastise me for critiquing his work, somewhat using political powers as at the time he was deputy minister.
Reverting to the real name is not a big deal to others when you consider that I have been invited by Music Cross Roads as well as Musicians Association of Malawi to be a judge at their various music competitions. This means that there were numerous members of our community who had no problem connecting the two identities.
South African Based Malawi Musicians
Well, now that I am back to the beginning, let me try to look at the something I stumbled on, when I was browsing the internet sphere. It is called South Africa Based Malawian Artists Inc. (Sabma)
This Sabma thing when I enquired about it, I was told is an organisation of Malawian artists based in South Africa.
It was established on 14th October, 2012 by the disbanded Born Famous Hip Hop Duo, Mathews Lawnex Tembo and Danny Jones Simfukwe, Gospel Artist Clara Thom, & Promoter Samuel Mwale, with a point of uniting all artists who have been for long working individually.
To be honest with you, before this information I had never heard any such musical names ever existed anywhere else in the world.
But listening to the guys chatter their dream you are actually nearly believing what they are telling you that they want to act as a bridge linking artists back home here in Malawi with them that are in the land of gold. They told me that they now have quite number of artists, gospel as well secular ones, joining them in South Africa under a project they are calling ‘Together We Can’.
Naturally I wanted to learn how they would achieve anything at all and they told me that their approach to promoting artists and making them the centre of their focus is by organising live performances for artists within their organisation, in order to showcase their talents.
Sabma also wants to invite upcoming as well as established artists based in Malawi to perform alongside the South Africa based ones, to ensure an enhanced link between artists in Malawi and South Africa.
The will therefore also support the said artists financially, either in Album launches, studio solo projects or any other way.
At the moment Sabma says they have a live band set and a professional sound crew available to all Sabma artists at a free of charge.
And Sabma is aiming at having their own state of the art music studio to accommodate each and every artist. They tell me once they lay their hands on the desired equipment at the expiry of every 6 months, they will be coming to Malawi ‘to explore and promote hidden talents one at a time’.
They will be choosing artists right here in Malawi and take them to South Africa for recording deals before engaging them in promotional deals after the final production of their music.
So far Sabma claim that they once invited Symon & Kendall to perform live in Johannesburg alongside with Sabma artists last November.
If you ask me, this sounds too rosy to be true that one has only to demand more information before allowing themselves to be taken on board Sabma.
It is a musical project that sounds familiar. We have heard about such over the years and we are left licking the wounds as we have been left badly bruised with what has turned out to be mere lies or lost an arm and a foot when a supposedly free offer turned out to be an opening where we deposited our meagre savings only to disappear into thin air right in front of our noses.
We better be vigilant as this is neither the first time we have heard such promising news, nor will it be the last time. Our role is simply to be watchful and cautious.
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