Inviting Davido to plant trees

Nigerian David Adedeji Adeleke whose stage name is Davido got his fame
through music. Last week he was in the country where he was paraded
around like a doll to pose with fans and plant trees here and there.

Davido who is a recording artist, performer and record producer was in
the country for three days courtesy of M-Cinema and the Go Green

Mainly he was invited to be a red carpet guest at a special screening
of new Nollywood film Spirits of the Assassin.

He also planted trees around.

Not surprising, he ended up posting a picture of himself in bed at
Capital Hotel expressing his feelings at that particular time which
was that he was bored.

Now everyone wanted his head, the patriotic and the not so patriotic
Malawians thought he had insulted them because all it meant was that
he was saying that Malawi is a boring country.

But wait a minute, what do you expect when you invite a musician from
a foreign country into yours in order to be planting trees and posing
with fans?

Why didn’t the organisers invite him to perform as a musician? This
guy sings on stage and not planting trees around.

And talk of our organisers; what is the meaning of inviting a star
like Davido, book him at Capital Hotel when you do not have what it
takes to host anyone at a facility like Capital Hotel.

Now that the failure by the organisers to honour their contract with
the hotel only ended up helping the spilt over when it exorcised the
violent demons in Davido, where he roughed up a few, broke to pieces
anything fragile article standing on his way before speeding off to
the airport.

There was commotion at Capital Hotel Davido fought his way out of the
hospitality facility in order to evade payment of a hotel bill of K1,

Police had to shoot in the air when the American-born Nigerian and his
team tried to drive off in a car prompting the driver to stop when the
gun was pointed at him.

What was the agreement and why should we be inviting musicians to do
the opposite of their calling.

We know Davido as some guy who sings. And now with all his talking and
perhaps taking one too many, he kind of lost his voice and added to
difficulties for anyone within his earshot to grasp what was coming
out of his mouth compounded by his thick Nigerian accent.

There was nothing that one could get from him which is a clear show
that his voice is wasting away because he is not using his system for
music alone.

The other thing is that it is very apparent that fame has got the
better of this young Davido guy. Talk of youthful exuberance but this
is something that cannot excuse him to live undignified life as he

Does it say anything about failure to manage fame? Does it tell us
anything about our own artist as well? Is humility that expensive that
most of these young artists cannot afford it?

What reputation does this leave us with when it comes to organising
and hosting foreign artists? Are we being able to attract the best
quality to come here and perform and not do stuff that is not part of
what made them?


Where are the Music Malawi Awards?

In January 2014, the Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) inaugurated what it called the Music Association of Malawi Music Awards (MAMMA); the awards have since changed and rebranded to Annual Music Malawi (MUMA) Awards to reflect the overall mission and vision of the Awards.

By August 2014 organisers of the awards, the MediaCorp Limited and Trocadero Consulting who were doing so in partnership with MUM had already started calling for nominations of the best artists/groups/songs for this Edition of the awards to be presented in the Month of January 2015.

The way I read my calendar, it looks like today is January 24th. I am sure if I have not heard of the date the presentation is going to take place, it is because the organizers have not announced it yet.

While this can be changed as per the dictates of the circumstances I cannot help it but to consider the fact that it was rebranded and with it came a new format in the selection, nomination and voting of the best act.

One other act done for this year’s awards was the involvement of media houses that’s both print and electronic, selected clubs, music outlets and media practitioners to nominate the best act for the 2013/2014 season in each of the 13 categories.

Each participant was invited to select a maximum of ten acts in each category and thereafter a panel of judges will scrutinize the given lists to come up with 5 (five) in each category. These 5 (five) will then be put to a public voting.

The initial arrangement was that at least by Wednesday October 15, 2014 nominations would have been received.

Those that delayed to submit their completed nomination forms, where given an extension to do so by Wednesday December 10, 2014 meaning by now everything is set and the winners are now in the bag just waiting to be unveiled.

Soon after the inaugural awards everyone who matters tried to give the awards its Good, Bad and Ugly side.

I had my own misgivings as well and fought the temptation to point out at some glaring anomalies including failure to create categories with nominees that were mismatching.

Last awards were scandalous because even the MUM Chairperson Rev. Chimwemwe Mhango also got himself an award and so was the then Deputy Chairperson of MAM Women Desk Favoured Martha.

The demand I made last year was for the two to surrender back the awards because they did not deserve them, which was never the case.

Now this time round I am looking forward to an improved organisation in the awards giving process having learnt many lessons with the last year’s charade.

I expect the nominees to be in their deserving categories and please no executive member of MUM should walk away with any award again this time round. It is immoral to do so therefore take heed.

With all the time the organisers had in the world since August last year I should have been seeing posters, stickers, flyers and what have you informing us of the day the event is going to take place.

The inaugural event took place in January and it would have been befitting had the same also taken place this same month as the organisers told us last year.

Is it still on or?

Sangie’s jump into cheaters sequel

Sangie is the name that is lately on the lips of many. In June last year she did a track ‘I do it all for Love’ which has hit the airwaves as both an audio track and a musical video.

Of course it is a rhythm pronounced ‘Riddim’ created in 2012 by Foxxy at Step Up Records studio but she has bolstered it with her composition which is a reggae track that is in between the borders of Lovers’ Rock and non-hardcore dancehall.

Real name Angel Mbekeani, Sangie at 20 has managed to carve her place amongst the established artists, not in Malawi alone but also in Jamaica.

This is what I mean: When you listen to her track you realise its a sequel of an issue that was first started by Christopher Martin when he released a single ‘Cheaters Prayer’ in August 2011.

In November the same year Ce’celie released ‘Cheater’s Prayer Counteraction’ in reaction to Martin’s hit single.

Now when you check the lyrics you will understand why Sangie’s can be lined up as the two tracks by the Jamaican stars is also one to be taken seriously.

For example Martin sings: “Oh Lord, don’t let me cheat on my girlfriend, cause as far as I can see, She loves only me.

Oh Lord, don’t let me cheat on my girlfriend, but Lord if you can’t stop me from cheating, just don’t let me get caught.”

In response Ce’celie sang back:

“Lord I don’t wanna cheat on my boyfriend But as far as I can see he’s cheating on me Lord I don’t wanna cheat on my boyfriend But lord since you can’t stop him from cheating wait til him left di yard, is a next man a come in yah.”

But while these two are trying to compete, where Ce’celie tries to cheat back on Martin for our Malawian voice through Sangie its a different case she sings:

“Oh Lord, don’t let me catch my boyfriend cheating instead make him stop because I am not leaving… Because I do it all for Love.”

It is a revelation that gives a fresh air to contributions from our ladies towards the development of our secular productions. The challenge is that the moment we start looking at our music with a spectacle Published on Jun 25, 2014.

“I do it all for love” audio was recorded at Mtanda Media produced by Sispence instrumental programmed but the Video was shot and directed by Lion Soldier and was edited by Platinum at Black Flames Edutainment.

But when you consider all the matters, it is clear that Sangie has not ashamed us by challenging with her part in the sequel as she has done it wonderfully well.

It is a revelation that gives a fresh air to contributions from our ladies towards the development of our secular productions. The challenge is that the moment we start looking at our music with such a spectacle, we blur the picture completely.

I have asked before that if you were to point out at a legendary lady musician in the country, who is into secular music, would you do that at the drop of a hat?

I would really be surprised if that were to be the case. Over a period of time if at all we have had lady musicians doing secular, then they would be a one album sort of artists.

I would not desire to go a yonder to give examples. I know you know Amina Tepatepa, Emma Masauko, Wendy Harawa, Maria Chidzanja Nkhoma, and Beatrice Kamwendo as some of the names that have hogged the limelight and then either disappeared completely and got stuck in the peripherals.

It is so bad that most of the women musicians are dominating the gospel arena where they survive by the faith of such religious following other than sheer talent and creativity.

There are very few names within the gospel cycles like Grace Chinga and Ethel Kamwendo Banda and of course Favoured Sisters and the Chitheka Family who are musicians by talent first and playing gospel as a contribution of their talent towards the work of God.

Sangie now comes to answer my question: Seriously, do we have a Malawi female musician worth mentioning?

Malawi music from a US Perspective

Heather Maxwell produces and hosts the award-winning radio program “Music Time in Africa” and is the African Music Editor for the Voice of America. Maxwell is an ethno-musicologist with a doctorate degree from Indiana University specialising in African Music.

She is also an accomplished jazz and Afro-Jazz/Afro-Soul vocalist and has been working, researching and performing in Africa and the U.S. since 1987.

Recently, Maxwell visited Malawi and on December 3, she posted on the space for VOA bloggers what her experience was like.

Enjoy the excerpts below:

“I landed in Lilongwe, Malawi on October 9th, 2014. My mission: to learn more about the country’s music. The energy of Lilongwe was entirely different than in Johannesburg or Cape Town, South Africa, where I had just been the week earlier. Here, things moved at a slower, more relaxed pace. Day and night, joyous voices of nearby church choirs wafted through my windows. I discovered sweet songs sung in four-part harmony, soft acoustic guitar melodies, and to electric dance beats with wholesome good fun lyrics.

“I was surprised to find a music shop in the city centre that still sold cassettes. In fact most of music items available there were cassettes, followed by CDs and some DVDs as well.

“DVD music by Symon & Kendall, purchased at shopping mall. Lilongwe, Malawi 10/10/14. The most popular genre, by far, was gospel music. But in popular music, the Lilongwe-based duo Symon & Kendall were the staff’s number #1 pick.

“Popularly known as the Nyembanyemba Boys, this duo produces only DVDs of their music and their videos usually feature village-wide involvement. Their most popular clip to date is ‘Nkhwiko’ released in December 2012.

“According to Malawian music blogger Gregory Gondwe, the title track is about the oesophagus. ‘Imagine,’ he writes, ‘you might think there is a serious message to this, but nope, as the track merely tells the oesophagus to get ready as it will experience better food passing through it down into the stomach.’

“What’s great about 9the song) is that it captures moments of everyday life in Malawi with a twist of humour. The quality of the video and sound is also excellent.

“The highlight of my stay in Lilongwe was on Saturday morning when I visited Music Crossroads – Malawi (MCM). It is one of five centres for music training and production in southern Africa; the others being in Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. I arrived at the centre to find a well-organised group of young musicians waiting to greet me and to share their talents. Each one gave me their music on CD and a short performance that I filmed on the spot.

“Some had professional CDs to offer while others had only rough mixes. During a brief interview, they told me why MCM was important to them. George Kalukusha comes because it offers a great sense of community and a place to meet like-minded people and share ideas. He’s currently working on a song called “Good Blood” about a girl living with HIV/AIDS and the struggles she goes through.

“Neil Nayar is an English singer/songwriter who came to Malawi two years ago to be here at MCM. He heard about MCM musicians playing in Malawian youth prisons. After arriving he did that for nine months and from there, has been developing his own music style with local bands that he calls Afro-country fusion. ‘Country music is really popular here. Since I arrived as a foreigner not knowing any local language, the one style that carried me through in the beginning was Country because people really love Country.’

“Lackson Duncan Chazima is a singer and teaches voice and music theory at MCM Academy. He likes it here because so many ‘big’ musicians from Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and even West Africa countries converge here and share knowledge and repertoires. He says he learns a lot just being around them.

“Last but not least is singer songwriter, Ernest Ikwanga. He says he’s grown up at Music Crossroads – Malawi. He’s been coming since age 17. ‘It has been and still is my home’, he says.

“Ikwanga has just finished his theory classes and recently opened up his own home studio in Lilongwe.

“There are also other musicians and singers who contribute to the diversity and positive energy of the place. Thanks to all of them, and to Director Mathews Mfune and Music Crossroads International Director, Joe Herman.

“Music Today in Malawi is developing and several of the Music Crossroads artists told me that they were searching to find Malawi’s music identity. They have a few models to look to for direction such as Fikisa, Wambali Mkandawire and Symon & Kendall, but they are already well on their way.”

Hax Momba’s seventh revelation

The last time I wrote about Haxi Momba over these pages was in
September 2012 which was also around the same period that he had
released his firth album.

I intend to repeat what I had written at the time that Haxi Momba
arrived on the musical scene with Chibvumbulutso Volume 1, a debut
album which had a hit track ‘Kufa Safelana’.

This is a pattern first seen in the country when Evison Matafale
announced that all his albums will be called Kuimba 1 and so on and so forth. The Black Missionaries have lived the Matafale dream as they
are now about to release another Kuimba sequel.

No one gave Momba any chance of continuity, more-so because most of the songs on the album were shameful replete of imitation of either Burning Spear or Joseph ‘Culture’ Hills.

The more the tongues wagged about how short the future held for his
musical career, the more the albums kept coming from Haxi Momba who started calling himself ‘Prophet’.
Now in this 2014 the Reggae Prophet is back with Chibvumbulutso
Chapter 7. It used to be volumes; I am not sure what has prompted the
change. This is, however, beside the point; the main issue is the
maturity that has been carried in this particular production.

Momba is a kind of an artist who is never short of bringing out all
the issues he feels are bedevilling progress in all aspects of life at
the time.

The latest album is a continuation in keeping with Chibvumbulutso
messages that are not bringing anything new apart from the fact that
it has a latest chapter.

The fact that he had to use expert hands of The Black Missionaries
lead guitarist Takudziwani Chokani has kind of brought some change to the seriousness of the reggae beat.

He has decided to adopt his identity as the one who tries to mimic
Jamaican reggae grandfather Burning Spear or is it the fallen megastar
Joseph Hill.

Like the rest of his albums this seventh Haxi Momba revelations is short
of explaining his spiritual sanctuary. Instead he has brought a new
question of whether he is on the verge on turning to Gospel Reggae
considering the rendition of the hymn ‘Siliva Ndilibe’.

Despite trying to sound like Spear or Culture who are confessed Rastas
Momba, however, tries to run away from declaring whether he is a Rasta or not in his tracks like he has always achieved in his previous albums.

He has the temerity to chant some Jah Rastafari in his songs in the
past albums which is not the case in this latest album. He has in fact
sub-titled Chibvumbulutso Chapter 7 as Muyuda Olonjezedwa which is reggae piece hailing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

“Who Jah Bless, No one Curse!” he chants in the track which is
seemingly trying to swim closer to Anthony Makondetsa theme in the
famous ‘Muyuda’.

He has also made it his mission to continue mourning fallen local
reggae king Evison Matafale as he has in the 10th of the 13 tracks on the album entitled ‘Remember Matafale’.

Chibvumbulutso Chapter 7 is a breath of fresh air for those that follow Haxi Momba with passion as he continues to dish out ‘unrevealing’ sequels.

Ray Phiri defies fatigue

South African Jazz maestro Ray Phiri warned the audience during the dinner and concert at Cross Roads over the weekend that he was literally dragging himself due to fatigue as he has been on the road before the show.

This was soon after he had just given the stunned audience in Sapitwa Room a sample performance of things to come and his warning did not provide enough ground where people would build their enthusiastic expectations.

It was, however, never to be the case as he later defied the fatigue that was feared to disrupt his performance and showed why he is a living legend that showed some wizardly with the guitar while maintaining his deep voice.

The next four songs that he performed before he retired gave the audience enough reason to appreciate why he has had his name as a household one since the late 1980s through to 1986 when he contributed immensely to Paul Simon’s Graceland album.

Before him came another Phiri in the name of Francis who performs as Lawi. His ten tracks showed he has not slackened a bit.

Apart from the tracks from his self-produced self-titled album he also played at least three tracks which are not part of the album, including a love track Keterina.

“This is a love song of a village setting depicting how back in the days courtship used to occur,” he told the audience.

At first the audience was absorbing the vibes while seated but when tracks that have made him a name started coming like ‘Africa, My Mother Land’ and ‘The Whistling Song’ people leapt from their chairs and took to the dance-floor.

The show was organised by Icare and Coopi, two institutions that are raising funds to improve the critical conditions in the country’s intensive care units.

“I would like to that you the people in this room,” said Icare Chairman Bright Kamanga. “Your being here tonight underscores the commitment of the various stakeholders.”

There was also a live auction where successful bidders won themselves an overnight stay for two at Kumbali Lake Retreat; two VIP tickets to the 2015 Lake of Stars festival; visit to Chelinda Lodge in Nyika National Park in Rumphi; and a cup of tea treat with former Official Hostess to late President Kamuzu Banda, Cecelia Kadzamira.

Besides organising the event for a different cause other than musical, this opened a window for the country to sample their own talent in the name of Ray as he traces his roots back to Malawi.

In fact he says he learnt the art of music from his father who hailed from Kasungu but went to South Africa to work in the mines.

Ray joined his first band Jabuva Queens in 1967 and by the following year their hit ‘Sponono’ was a public anthem.

Why Oliver Mtukudzi still matters

Was it a privilege? Yes, I guess it was.

On the night of Wednesday, August 20, I had an opportunity to share the same dinner table with Oliver Mtukudzi, hosted by Latitude 13, barely 48 hours before he staged a sterling performance at the Bingu International Conference Centre auditorium on invitation by Qoncept Creative which is setting some ambitious bars in the entertainment business.

Talking to him on the day, his voice was perpetually husky; you needed to pay close attention to listen to what exactly he was talking about.

Also present on the table were his female vocalists, Alice Muringayi and Fiona Gwena, as well as his drummer Sam Mataure and a youthful bass guitarist, Enoch Piroro.

The one who was taking command of the conversation was Sam who talked a lot about their globe-trotting career which has taken them to almost all corners of planet earth.

Both Tuku and Sam recalled names of people they have dealt with in Malawi before, including Enoch Mbandambanda and a music promoter from Blantyre called Pedro, whom Tuku described as the calmest Malawian he has ever met.

Both Sam and Tuku recalled how disorganised this promoter was. He was so disorganised that everything that was supposed to facilitate their performance was not adding up and yet Pedro never pressed the panic button as he kept assuring them with aplomb that all was well.

The instruments were poor, they remembered, and that when they reached the stage it was very dark they had to use headlamps from two vehicles that were positioned on the either side of the stage for the show to take place.

Well, this is a story for another day.

At the dinner the impression Tuku gave me was that age was catching up with him although he is only 62. His speech was almost a drawl, twiddling around issues like he was not ready to talk at all.

Even when my colleague Yvonne Sundu and I asked to talk to him away from the dinner table, for him just to rise from where he sat and walk to the place we needed him to be took a lot of effort.

But come Friday night at the Bingu International Conference Centre auditorium, I saw another Oliver Mtukudzi.

Throughout the show I kept asking myself how can one person live two lives that are a total contrast of each other?

From a seemingly tired old man to an energetic musical super star who danced throughout the 16 songs that he played for two hours running, I was left dazed with amazement at his energy-consuming dancing antics.

My fear throughout the performance was that fatigue will catch up with him. I was wrong. His dinner table fading voice was gone, replaced by a booming voice that has become the Tuku signature worldwide.

My goodness, Tuku and The Black Spirits only use five instruments for all the international appeal; the voice, the lead guitar, the bass, the drum and an occasional tambourine.

However, because Tuku is so good at his game, he leaves you with the impression that he has a whole range of instruments, including an orchestra, for his trademark Tuku music.