Oskido’s unprofessional antics

Something is not adding up. Either the problem is in the mediocrity that is our entertainment industry that the so-called ‘big names’ play games with us or there is something professionally wrong with South African artists.

Last time in April we were told by Platinum Entertainment and the Entertainers Promotions that they had invited the renowned South African Kwaito/House star Oskido, real name Oscar Mdlongwa.

He was scheduled to perform at Wakawaka Hotel in Lilongwe on May 4 and later follow up with a Blantyre show at Country Club in Limbe on May 11.

First they announced the postponement of the Lilongwe show but promised come rain or sunshine Oskido will perform in Limbe.

Come the day when patrons had parted ways with their hard-earned K3,000s to sample the famous hits Tsa Mandebele  and Y’Tjujutja (Waichukucha) at Country Club, they were told the artist missed his flight and will, therefore, not make it.

The organisers said they had already paid him all what he had demanded in order for him to come and perform in Malawi and they had to give back to the patrons the money they had paid as entry fees.

The world being a small village these days with the internet, it was clear to establish if indeed Oskido had missed his flight or was playing games. And, good heavens! The dude had another show in Soweto at Dreamers Celebrations alongside Professor and Uhuru, some big names in South Africa who he has collaborated with on some projects.

Locally, there also used to be some gospel and secular artists who used to collect money from organisers while knowing they have other scheduled shows on the same day some 500 kilometres away.

Now this Oskido guy is not just a toddler in the profession and considering that he was named one of the Top 10 Kwaito legends of all time by MTV Base in 2009, you would expect him to be professional.

I don’t want to be tempted to doubt his professionalism by looking at his beginnings because it might not be fair.

But wait a minute; this is a guy who started his career from outside Club Razzmatazz in Hillbrow where he was selling roasted sausages having left Zimbabwe, his father’s home country, for South Africa the home of his mother where he was born.

It was in the early 1990s when late at night he would sneak into the club to have a dance and ended up being fascinated by deejaying. Occasionally he used to take over the mic when DJs were taking a breather.

As the story goes, one day the club’s resident DJ didn’t pitch up and, as fate would have it, Oskido was approached to provide relief and he has never looked back.  

Honestly, a disciplined performer would not take people for granted if he seriously wants to advance professionally. Perhaps he thinks he is advanced professionally already?

Imagine, organisers at the previous event were crestfallen and even refused to go ahead with the show with the local acts that included King Chambiecco, Gwamba, Nessnes, Black Jak, Skeffa Chimoto and Real Sounds Band.

Now Wakawaka Hotel has taken over the initiative and says they have already spent K5 million to bring the artist into the country. The next date is June 29.

My prayer is that come the day, the most sought-after dude should not fail to turn up again, should not miss his flight again.

Perhaps the solace would be in the fact that another South African artist, Big Nuz, also missed his flight last year but he later turned up for the Wakawaka show.

But in the event that Oskido misses his flight again, please organisers shed off the mediocrity displayed last May. This time sue for breach of contract.

Or there is no contractual agreements in these deals?


When fame clouds Lulu’s head

Last week I wrote something about the show organised at Lilongwe Golf Club by Mibawa. What I dwelt on more was how I thought Mibawa owner John Nthakomwa is one investor that the Malawi music industry desires his replication.

One of the performers at the function was one local artist artists I hold in high esteem. Lawrence ‘Lulu’ Khwisa is a complete musician. In fact he is a full package that has been sufficiently value added. He is a guitarist, a drummer, a keyboardist, a vocalist, a dancer and a music producer all rolled in one.

It’s not all the time that one person can be as blessed as Lulu is. One thing in the past that made everyone appreciates Lulu, which I still believe is the case, has been his humility despite his multi-endowment.

However, lately it looks like his talent is going to his head and as his fan I would be failing in my duties if I will let it pass as if it is ‘business as usual’.

At this show at the Golf Club I saw a Lulu that attempted to prove to the contrary the humble image that I have always associated with this multi-talented artist.

It all started when the patrons started demanding for particular tracks from several of his albums but he could hear none of such demands.

“Ndizipitatu mukamavuta. Lero ndiyimba zofuna zanga. Musandiwuze zochita.” (I will leave if you will be pestering me. Today I will sing what I want. Don’t tell me what to do). This was the response from Lulu when his fans made demands to him. When they kept on demanding for tracks that they wanted he retorted: “Mukupitiriza? Ndizipitatu. Tikatere ndiye timawerukapotu”. (Are you still continuing [demanding songs]? I will leave the stage. This is where I call it quit.)

Make your own judgement but to me who has seen Lulu perform for countless times, I think this was a new phenomenon. It does not augur well for the image of humility that he has cut for himself over the years.

The danger of such tendency when it creeps in the psyche of our artists is that it eats away the system and takes away their allure. We have examples where artists have become big headed and telling off the very patrons they perform for, only to experience a crumble in line with the saying that ‘Pride comes before a fall.

Before it comes to this, Lulu has people like me who would shout out a warning and plead with him to remain what the industry has known him to be.

When musicians compose, they do it for the fans. When they perform, the fans they compose for show their love for particular songs and while artists prepare what exactly they will perform they also need to be accommodative as Lulu has been over the years.

Because he has always been compromising, his fans have been attuned to behave in a way where they will express their demands and this cannot be changed just one day without warning.

Like in this case, Lulu was supposed to be tactical in sending his message across that he would not be doing what his fans were demanding. The absence of this tact portrayed a bad image of an arrogant Lulu who is getting drunk with fame which is ironically coming from the very fans he wanted to be bossy with.

I hope this is not the new Lulu.

When music runs into a saviour

Granted, no one seems to know when next we are going to swear in our fifth President as it is now apparent that President Joyce Banda has done her God given two-year-term.

While people on all levels of life are trying to make sense of the political situation that the nation is faced with, the artists have shown that they do not want to be left behind.

You rarely hear about the ‘Soul Raiders’ – a Lilongwe based reggae band led by Prince Martin. Those that have followed Malawi reggae music would not need introduction of who Martin is.

Our musicians are known to get involved in politics, but it is usually when the campaigning in ongoing like the case of Lucius Banda and Joseph Nkasa for example.

But it is perhaps only late local Reggae King Evison Matafale who showed a way on how reactive artists can be to come up with prompt compositions based on the situation on our hand. Remember ‘Time Mark’ a track he did soon after the September 11, 2001 attack when terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners to strike targets in the United States where they killed nearly 3,000 people died.

The track got revs for its swiftness and the wit observed in its composition. Matafale who was known to play Reggae music that stuck to the Rub-A-Dub a style characterized by a powerful, round, low and deep bass, as well as a very simple drumming, with the bass drum and the snare drum alternating on the first beat of each bar. But with ‘Time Mark’ he brought an urgency to the track that made it look like the ‘ska’ version of reggae.

Now with the current political scenario, the Soul Raiders have come up with this track ‘Song for my Nation’ which, well, speaks more of what people are into with not knowing where the country goes next. Here is part of the lyrics:

My nation is in frustration,/ Lacking direction;/ Does the government has a solution?/ I doubt./This song is for my nation/ In desperation,/Life is in devaluation

Please God, give us direction/ we’ve lost our vision/Can’t see the way/And who’s gotta bring peace to my nation?/ Seems there’s no way out/ From this situation.

Of course the situation is not as hopeless as the track depicts. First impression would be that it is a very good reggae track.

On second thought though is that it lacks the urgency that Matafale used when he did ‘Time Mark’.

This important message coming at the ‘correct’ time should have been packaged in an extraordinary envelope.

My point is, you would miss the gist of the track’s theme if you would listen to it casually as just one of the Soul Raiders’ tracks.

This point is even strengthened by how one of the band members Joel Suzi has posted it on Facebook when I first saw it.

In fact what compelled me to listen to the track were they lyrics that have been posted alongside a link to the reverberation website where the track has been uploaded.

A unique track like ‘Song for my Nation’ needed a far better innovation in terms of choice of the reggae beat to go with it. However, that said, it does not take away the spirit shown by the reaction from our artists from these situation. It’s wrong to always think of singing praise songs – for a price of course – when politicians are campaigning for positions.

Of course the argument would be, so what changes can it bring to the political situation, but the fact is the ability from our artists to be charged artistically and come up with tracks like ‘Song for my Nation’.