Malawi’s controversial reggae maestro Evison Matafale died on November 27 in 2002. On Friday next week it will be exactly 12 years after he passed on to our ancestors.
Just like in his life, Matafale has lived up to his billing in death as an enigma that still leaves you with many unanswered questions.
Before he came on the musical scene, Malawians never took anyone playing reggae seriously. But when the Rasta musician came on the scene with his first Album KUIMBA 1 in 1998 people started paying attention.
Fate only allowed him a second album, Kuimba 2 that epitomized his Rasta mission and whose voluminous potency each and every single Malawian talked about, and to rightly cap it, he did it with a band he called The Black Missionaries.
Now all you need to do is patronise any Black Missionaries show and you will appreciate the kind of influence that Matafale left behind. His legacy still remains unparalleled because when his music is still played everyone stops a bit, to pay attention.
So far, Matafale is the only musician in Malawi to achieve a considerable stature by using a type of reggae whose fibrous lyrical content and vocal output has been so appearing to any normal conscience.
His mysterious death in the wee hours of Nov 27 2002 at the age of 33 found that he had established himself already as a fastidious equal rights fighter, who like another Jamaican reggae legend Peter Tosh, had a personality and songs whose lyrical contents carried unquenchable sense of fury, cynicism, irony and of both a poetic and direct nature.
Like before on the very pages, I still say that Malawi government claims Matafale died of natural causes, when he passed on to our progenitors while under the police custody; He was arrested for penning down a letter to the then state President Bakili Muluzi which the government described treasonous, defamatory and a tirade.
Popular pressure left government no space and the president was forced to institute investigations, which were to be carried out by a Human Rights Commission besides another presidential commission.
Strangely, five months later, the two commissions came out with two identical reports, claiming Matafale died a natural death despite the fact that the autopsy showed he was badly beaten and clubbed while in police custody.
The pathologist described his death as having been caused by ‘traumatic injuries’. One of the then famous local Newspaper columnists the late JIKA NKOLOKOSA described the out-come of both inquiries as having been concluded from a bizarre logic.
The columnist wrote in one of his Malawi News column and I quote. “Both inquiries concluded that he (Matafale) died of natural causes. In short, Matafale was ill when the police arrested him and anything they did to him in custody could not be blamed for his death; he was ill and was going to die anyway.
On the strength of this bizarre logic, the police cannot be held responsible for Matafale’s death. Consequently, nobody should take the rap of his death.” End of quote.
The dust seem to have settled, in the hearts of the masses, a belief still lingers, rumour is still milling that the government killed Matafale, but clouded and in the process hidden the truth, which 12 years down the road is yet to be unveiled.
To prove that he had more than a musical and spiritual prodigy Matafale, released a track just five day after the 11th September American ferocious disaster in which he described it as fulfilment of the prophecy. He called this track ‘TIME MARK’.
In his ‘Time Mark’ he refers to the terrorists as a ‘Whip’ used by God to punish the world. And there is no way a whip can claim victory and overtake the authority of the one using it.
In part the ‘Time Mark’ goes; “It’s everybody’s concern, just by the name of building World Trade centre; more over who will tell me, which Nation on earth does not have its people in America.
Now hear Rasta word, despise it buy hey! Devine piece of advice, This mysterious fall was long dreamt already by King Nebuchadnezzar and I am Rasta Daniel, And I am only here to finish up the revelation, The World of Today, Made up of Iron and Clay, this Kingdom is never to last.”
Commenting on the radio chart show regarding the abundance of his talents and composing skills, Matafale played it modesty again, saying he never sat down and composed songs but believed God just used to give him, he said it was the reason he never denied when people called him a prophet.
“This talent is God’s work…I do not think I sit down and compose music, I just receive it, as of now I’ve got too much of it to sing…” he seemed wrongly envisioning before recollecting it prophetically “If God gives me this lot of work, yet the world system is to record an album, may be ten songs every year; that’s why we say Rasta will live forever, because we shall always sing this music which God want us to sing; even in the new kingdom we gonna be singing.”
Now for twelve years Matafale is still singing in Zion.