There has been talk presented in engraved tones about Balaka and Chileka when it comes to music. I know I have celebrated the musicians from the Lhomwe belt because of their immense contribution to Malawi music.
In fact at one time I even declared that the Lhomwe belt has entertained Malawi more than any other in as far as generating music is concerned and therefore needed a special award.
Then I thought it strange though, that on one hand we had coined the Balaka beat [Paul Banda’s brainchild] and on the other hand touted Chileka for all the music goodies, but we always came short of writing a deserved story for the Lhomwe belt productions.
There was a special kind of innovativeness that was employed in producing music of Michael ‘Mukhitho’ Phiri a.k.a Michael Yekha and Alan Namoko. This is the reason why, to date, if their music is played in entertainment joints, it keeps sending patrons unto cloud nine.
There are also names like Joseph Nangalembe, Mikoko Brothers Band, Murimwa Brothers Band, Diamond Kudzala, Namakhwa Brothers Band, Fyson Ngwezu & Mulanje Mountain Jazz Band and Chimvu River Jazz Band to mention but a very few, but would send patrons into a trance using locally made instruments.
The Lhomwe belt has also not been left out when it comes to usage of modern day instruments. Joseph Nkasa, Thomas Chibade, Collins Bandawe, Moses Makawa to mention but a few…have soared with such equipment.
For Chileka there is Singano Village, clipped between Michiru Hills in the West and Chileka Airport to the East where the Kachambas started being heard as early as the 1940s. But Daniel Kachamba went on to get a doctorate degree in music from Germany because of the unique way he produced his music.
Daniel Kachamba’s father, his elder sister Anasibeko and his young brother Donald and many of their colleagues were also musicians of note. After them, Singano produced Robert and his younger brother Arnold Fumulani before hell broke loose where we now had/have Evison Matafale, Fumbi Dance Band, Anthony Makondetsa, The Blacks, Kachamba New Breed and Davis Kapito who was part of the Christ in Song Quartet…
While mulling over these three places; Balaka, Chileka and the Lhomwe belt one good afternoon something just hit me when I realised that Ndirande – the most popular and populous location of Blantyre – has neither had its share of respect nor has its contributions been noticed enough.
Remember Hotel Chisakalime and its resident Love Aquarius Band in the 1980s? It had its band leader in Stampie Kamwendo – a Ndirande resident.
Then talk of Saleta Phiri, The Jupiters, Kapirintiya of Code and Shadre Sangala, and of course with their elder brother Wallstone Sangala doing his musical indentation in minds of many with his musical jingles.
The modern musicians of Ndirande also make up a very attractive array of Sangie, Nepman, San B, Sally Nyundo, Ndirande Anglican Voices and Ndirande Anglican Melodies to mention but a few.
It is therefore clear that Ndirande cannot only take its rightful place when the narrative is political but it has produced enough artists to also claim a place in the musical hall of fame. It’s indeed ‘Kwathu ku Ndirande’ as Kapirintiya touted the place as the cradle of music and musicians.