There is something about death of musicians that beggars belief. It seems musicians always hint about their own death.
Take Vic Marley, for example. A few days after his track ‘Ndikazamwalira’ where he was wondering whether he would die in an accident or after some illness, the ‘Hi-Ho’ creator died in a road accident in 2005.
Across the Atlantic, rap stars Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls (‘Life After Death’) and Tupac Amaru Shakur aka Makaveli (‘If I Die Tonight’) sang about their own mortality.
Two weeks ago, I mourned Patrick Magalasi aka Mafunyeta. He died at 25 and at that time he was in the studio working on his third album which I have gathered was entitled ‘Ruling’.
The three-year-long career of Mafunyeta was about to make a huge turn for the better going by some tracks recorded under the Warge Record label that I have listened to.
Without becoming something that was not Mafunyeta, the pre-mature ‘Ruling’ album shows that that the dance-hall star had gotten tired of teasing girls as he ably demonstrated in his previous album ‘Ndimakondwa’.
This time round he got so bold. Without being direct in some instances, he took on President Joyce Banda in tracks like ‘Rrrrraaaaaah’ which was addressing the late President Bingu wa Mutharika who he is calling ‘Dad’.
He again pulls the ‘Dad’ banter again in the track ‘Nyerere’ where he is saying had he been an ant, surely he would have burrowed deep into the soil and gone underground and came out through late Mutharika’s tomb at Mpumulo wa Bata in Ndata to asked him if it was true that he was murdered.
“Ndikanakhala Nyerere ine aye, Ndikanakumba Ndilowe…
Ndikanakumba nkulowa, nkusowa
Ndikanatulukira pa manda pa Robert Chasowa
Ndikadamfunsa mafunso kuti: ‘hey man, ndi chani chimene chinachitika
Chonena ife chikutisowa
Kenaka ndikatulukira ku manda ku Ndata
Kenaka ndikanawafunsa wadada
Kuti eti inunso anachita kukuphani?”
The lyrics are purely political rhetorical expression as he further says as an ant, he would have entered Parliament during refreshment break and ate all the food to protest that what parliamentarians deliberated on did not serve the constituents.
He further says as an ant he would have gone to the seat of authority and ate it off so that the leader should fall through.
‘Come back again’ is a track where – like ‘Rrrrraaaaaah’ – he announces that his style is evolving from the old. “I have a new style called ‘Come Again’,” he pronounces.
On this track he says when Vic Marley died, he (Mafunyeta) ‘came back’ and when he would die, someone would come back.
“Vick Marley him come
And dead and me come again
After me come somebody else
Come back again!”
He mixed this track with at least three traditional songs like “Sinkupha ndine nkangudya nawo,”; “Musakanene tapeza a Khristu natamba,”; “Mwana akamadwala mfiti namuwona samusiya mpaka atafa”.
The dancehall artist says if he were a witch he would have flown to the World Bank and collected forex for Malawi or better still he would have flown to the Middle East and collected fuel and filled all the automobiles in the country.
There is also ‘Udikire’, which I had listened to before, where he is encouraging a girlfriend he has just impregnated to be strong and not fear her parents.
There are other tracks like ‘Dancing Class’, a departure from his dancehall sound-set rhythms and an adoption of the Kwaito beat. In ‘Ghetto Yute’ he is featuring colleagues Blaze and Chizzy.
Mafunyeta has shown his mellow side on this album by coming up with matured girl-teaser version of the ‘Kangobwela’ and ‘Ndimakondwa’ class in ‘Kakungokamba Mbwelera’ and ‘Pamkeka’.
Those that really got taken by ‘Kangobwela’ and ‘Ndimakondwa’ will now be overly hooked up by ‘Kakungokamba Mbwelera’ which he really did show that Mafunyeta was indeed the master of his own musical style.
With some political shades that he has adopted in the music and the doggedness to tackle social ills, ‘Ruling’ without attempting to sound nice to the dead, would have taken Mafunyeta to another level.
Imagine with a single album he conquered all. When other artists take more than four albums in as long as a decade to make a name, it only took Mafunyeta two songs to gain him fame.
The irony of death is heart-wrenching. Mafunyeta had only to sing that he wished he was an ant so that he could go to the tomb of Bingu to ask him if he indeed he was murdered. But death gave him more than he bargained for; it took him to the world of the dead where he would now have to face Bingu and ask him this question.
And this brings me to where I had started before: Do musicians fore-see their own death?