Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cry Our Beloved Alleluya Band

Everyone who is not aware of our modern music history, I mean history of digital music, will better be told from the beginning. The beginning therefore will be telling a different story if it does not start from Alleluya Band.
You know, it is not as if there were no bands that used to play before the multiparty dispensation; there were bands like the Likhubula Dance Band, which was backing Robert Fumulani, there were also Police Orchestra, the MBC Band and the Chichiri Queens and uncountable local artist.
There was also talent within the country but there was no knowledge of how one could put his talent into musical product through a recording studio.
Bands used to go to one and only place where the Malawian music was played and therefore this is where they used to listen to their music and for that reason, they knew that bands used to record there because there was nowhere else and this was at the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation MBC studios.
The music was also being recorded merely for MBC airplay because it was being stored on reels, which was something that could not be taken on the market for sale.
At least it was only the emergence on the scene of Alleluya Banda from Balaka, led by the agile guitarist hands of Sir. Paul Banda, that led people to realise several things about what can happen with music.
They appreciated that independent studios can record elsewhere other than the MBC studios alone. They discerned that local music performed by local artists could also be put in a cassette and be made available for the take of those with money to, to enjoy it in the comfort of their homes.
There was a time when the sound that the pen once emitted from the drum was to the effect that whether one likes it or not Sir. Paul Banda ‘revolutionarised’ Malawi music.
This was the case because of this history and for Bwana Banda to achieve all his deserving accolades it was because he used Alleluya Band to launch his decorated musical career.
Lucious Banda needs no introduction to the world of music from these parts; he has marked his name; no, he has engraved his name in the hall of fame.
All these can trace their history to Alleluya Band. Then there is the list of the country’s most accomplished artists, you mention artists like Charles Sinetre, Coss Chiwalo, Isaac Liwotcha, Rod Valamanja, Paul Subiri, che Kachingwe, and the list is just too long to fill the whole page with names.
However, one person that also features highly on this list is Foster Chimangafisi, Sinetre and Foster are two famous Alleluya products and one of the valuable musical artefact that bought them fame is the ‘Chimangafisi Dollar’ album and track.
‘Tipange yathu Dollar, Chimangafisi Dollar, Tisamavutike ndikumadzitsaka’. This is the chorus line of the track and remembering it now makes me start thinking; did we miss something in the song? Did it have a hidden meaning that we are so daft and failed to notice?
Were the two talent endowed musicians clearly telling us that Alleluya Band was just attractive from the outside and therefore the best way to get money was to have their own currency?
The story that Foster Chimangafisi was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and he is now bedridden in a hospital bed where he is suffering financial crisis because Alleluya Band cannot do enough, speaks volumes of how troubled our music industry is.
Do you remember how Ada Manda fought both his disease and poverty in Nkhatabay until he died? What about Stonard Lungu, do you remember how he was forced to still look for funds even in his ailing state?
Many questions arise from this and effort to find answers gives us a number of issues to ponder on deeply.
The first one is why is it that it is Foster Chimangafisi, out of the accomplished list that seems to be suffering in this manner? While we sympathise with Chimangafisi for having fallen to the exploitative means of a church managed secular band, we also have to answer the question above.
Does he fall in the category of artists who live for today. Our musicians are usually a sorry tale; they perform in all places and find little monies and unfortunately, they do not have any sense of saving.
One might argue that they do not make enough to save anything at all. However, how is it that some that have come through the rank and file of the band have progressed so gloriously?
It is a shame that a band like Alleluya on whose apparel, uncountable medallion for their unsurpassed musical achievement are pinned, should be paying its musicians K1500 a month.
One might wonder, if this is the money they are getting now, how much Lucious or Paul was carting home.
However, while we are at this, did Mr. Chimangafisi do enough to ensure that things do not come to this state? I beseech all musicians that while we sympathise with Chimangafisi let him be our source of lesson to prepare for tomorrow.

Feedback: drummingpen@columinist.com

1 comment:

Jimmy Kainja said...

This is a sad case indeed. Music is a professional career, and like any other professions, there ought to pension or saving to help people in hard times as these.

Do musicians, and indeed many other artiste get their royalties in Malawi? I thought this is the reason we have COSOMA? Is the organisation even functional?

Music Association of Malawi must come up with a special fund (in a form of insurance) contributed by all musicians. This fund would cover musicians' medical, and many other personal needs.

The case of the late Stonard Lungu should have taught us a lesson. It's a really shame. Wishing Foster Chimangafisi all the best, and thanks for the post.