Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Whipping Bush Telegraph into a Hurricane Force

Have you ever imagined why people keep on killing musicians before their actual death? You are wondering but I am saying the same things into which you have ever participated.
Long before the South African anti-apartheid reggae icon, Lucky Dube passed away or as Rastafarian Reggae musicians would put it ‘passed on’, people killed him a number of times. I remember people used to pop questions like, is it true that Lucky Dube is dead.
Sometimes you are in a bus, you will hear someone telling a story to a group of fellow passengers on how one famous musician passed away, and yet, you who have the opportune access to information know better that this mortar is belching out a blue lie.
I always like referring to the past either to opine better on any issue under discussion or because we just cannot do without history.
Michael Mukhitho Phiri or commonly known as Michael Yekha disputed on our one and only radio at that time that he was alive and kicking; the same was the case with Alan Namoko.
However, when Daniel Kachamba was interviewed on the same, he did not only dispute...come on! can one dispute that he is not dead? Well Daniel Kachamba did and he labelled all those peddling this bush telegraph as liars.
“Anthu abodza eeeh! Akuti Kachamba wafa eeeh!” so Daniel Kachamba sung...
Is it not surprise therefore that we used to kill many of our famous musicians then? Why is it that now we do not kill lots of them as it were...
I posed this question to two best friends whose interest in music is more profound than mine going by a litany of historical issues they can stitch together once you enquire anything musical from them.
The first thing the first friend talked about was that slow communication used to drive many into rumour mongering.
People would gather to guzzle some beer and one would just start from the blues telling stories that ... ouch! Whom can I mention? Death!? Well, like Prof. Zungwala is dead, and everyone will believe it for lack of reference source.
These days, people would get rumours like, ‘Lucky Dube is dead’ and they will either call someone they think will know or go on the internet to verify.
Perhaps the verification aspect is irrelevant but the question should be why we kill them before their time.
While other factors could come because of a big ego by those spreading the rumours, whereby they want to get attention from whoever is listening to them, others do so just to post a sense of loss in others.
Some musicians have done so much, they have composed songs that will never be matched, through their music, people love them so much, and therefore there is a general fear hovering over their longevity.
While other artists in America have ever feigned death to gauge their popularity others have done so to make huge sales.
Do you remember how music CDs by Evison Matafale used to be scarce soon after his death, when everyone else wanted to buy his music? I should not even go very far in history, recently when Pop King Michael Jackson died even here in Malawi people wanted to buy his DVDs or music CDs in large quantities, with little success.
Well, I still get back to the question why should anyone start the bush telegraph that one particular musician is no more.
The main reason is to create a sense of loss amongst followers. Where people are left with a feeling that they will never again listen to new compositions of their loved musicians, is the same conclusion I am coming to.
At the peak of Dr. Daniel Kachamba’s musical journey, a rumour that he is no more was whipped into a hurricane force.
In no time, Nsanje to Chitipa was aware that Kachamba is dead.
Unfortunately, at the time this was announced he was conducting a European tour and mind you, internet was a myth at this time, so it only awaited the return of Kachamba himself to dispute his death.
But you know what happens, once people have heard that Prof. Zungwala is dead, even those who never attended the funeral will believe that the Prof. really kicked the bucket and believe you me, the time we will run into each will send you scampering for safety, as I will no longer be me, but a ghost.
So Kachamba was embarrassed that some people even thought he was his apparition, so he composed a song merely to dispute his death, because mere rebuttal on radio alone was not enough.
Have I answered why people will kill musicians before their time?

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