The resurrection of Billy Kaunda


Sometime in September of 2011 when I was a tenant of the title across the street, I wrote something to the effect that musical star Billy Kaunda was ‘The Fading Musician’. Oh Dear, you should have seen how he reacted.

I still blame the gatekeeper of the Weekender at the time for I was writing as Prof. Zungwala but this did not stop Billy from getting hold of me – this is a story for another day.

Billy was deputy cabinet minister at the time and I really do not understand whether his not taking my perceived ‘attacks’ on the chin was bolstered by this fact or not.

It is not for any fears of similar attacks that I come again to proclaim of Billy’s resurrection having watched him perform at M1 Central Point in Lilongwe recently. This was a musical show organised by Skeffa Chimoto who brought along the Zambian acrobat chief Dalisoul who masquerades as a musician.

Billy was the last to perform and from the onset of his performance up until over 150 minutes later when the curtain fell, he never disappointed.

Billy has a band called Armageddon but on this occasion I was surprised to see smartly dressed young men who I later learnt are members of Lilongwe Baptist Church Band which Billy plays with.

I have never been impressed with such adroit display of a band that never lost it in any way save for one occasion when one of the three keyboards – 3 keyboards you heard me right – went off key and Billy went right there to assist putting it back in order.

What is interesting is that the one behind that particular keyboard was Billy Kaunda Junior, his own younger son who is part of the band. Of course this mishap cannot take away the fact that the boy is equally very talented considering that he is into music as a pass time activity going by his father’s explanation. He just had sat for his form 5 exams at Kalibu Academy and is set to pursue his studies elsewhere.

Let me borrow from my last entry to say matter of fact that ever since music ‘revolutionalised’ from the era of Robert Fumulani to that of Paul Banda in the early 1990s, the coming on the scene by Lucious Banda followed shortly after by Billy Kaunda changed the music landscape.
‘Mwapindulanji’, an album by Billy Kaunda stormed the industry with, helped to give a fresh impetus to the euphoria of having kissed goodbye the dictatorial rule, ushering in the multiparty democracy that had been ignited by ‘Son of a Poor Man’, a South African recorded album by Lucius Banda.

 

My argument for thinking that Billy’s career is fading took us back to the early days where lyrics in songs of Lucius Banda and Billy Kaunda were all but political and it was of little surprise that the two ended up doubling as politicians.
Again Lucius stepped on the political terrain earlier and from this time he started experiencing a divided following; others that followed his music thought the United Democratic Front, a party he had vilified in his songs but later joined, showed that, in principle, he is more worst than the politicians he musically castigated.
When Billy followed, the public swipe he faced was not as bad as the one Lucius had politically.
While both entered parliament and pursued political careers alongside the musical profession, Lucius had to be brought down politically and his music managed to clean up the political egg that smeared his face.
Love him or hate him, Lucius managed to survive because regardless of his political involvement he still had time for his music and every time he entered the studio to do a piece or two he brought out that which keep people debating.
Unfortunately for Billy Kaunda, ever since he joined the political fray, he never gave the seriousness that his musical career deserved and therefore while Lucius suffered political backlash it is Billy’s musical career that had to contend with some hostility due to the raw deal the industry says it was getting from him.

Now out of politics Billy’s musical career is back. I will explain why later.

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