Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) must be a very lucky institution to have the Rev. Chimwemwe Mhango at the helm. To start with, when he was starting, I dismissed him as just one of the many heads of the then Musicians Association of Malawi (MAM) who have come to confuse things even more.
Just last month, the grouping of the musicians saw something in the good reverend and retained him as their president.
When I talked to him in March last year, he told me about the vision that he and his executive had in running the affairs of musicians in the country.
The body has been a shame and I have written enough on my misgivings with it not to waste time to repeat the same here.
The body that was MAM was failing to be an affiliate of the Federation of Professional Musicians because, as the requirements demand, it was not a union.
What it means now is that no one will just wake up one day and claim to be a musician as there will be a Code of Ethics and Conduct that musicians will have to follow to the letter.
Likewise, no institution, corporate, religious or otherwise will not just wake up one day and make musicians perform at their events without signing the dotted lines of binding contracts.
The industry has now gained the semblance of order and soon the body, in collaboration with government, will come up with a mechanism where all foreign artists that come into the country to perform must pay temporary affiliation fee.
When I talked to Mhango then, the reasoning was that this is because foreign artists come here to work. Besides, the local body will be raising an alternative income.
Slowly the musicians’ body is getting rid of the mentality that was inculcated in the musicians that MAM’s duty was to be begging on their behalf.
And where it was failing, the musicians would ask for alms themselves, which was a defeatist attitude that was helping them to embrace mediocrity.
The reverend has now made every musician in the country to be counted and earn respect.
I know the advantage with unionism is that there is always a saving culture which will remove the situation where when our artists are down on their luck they should be going around with begging bowls looking for alms. This tendency brings ridicule to the profession.
Seeing the good work that Rev. Mhango and his team are now doing at MUM I thought I should dedicate this week’s entry to them so that they are encouraged to steer the musicians’ ship to clear waters and finally earn the respect of all and sundry.