Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fitzgerald Simfukwe – The Musical Resilience

There is a Track done by Anne Matumbi called ‘Nyakwawa’ where he claims that when Malawian Ragga emerged, a number of artist equally emerged but due to the roughness and toughness of the tide the rest jumped ship, thinking that it was sinking.
Anne Matumbi says in the track he never deserted it and has steered it into the present. ‘Ndinakakamirabe Ngalawayo’ it’s how he expresses it. In the same breadth, there is one artist that has shown almost similar disposition; he is Fitzgerald Simfukwe.
I first heard of Fitzgerald Simfukwe when Black Missionaries used to put him along those artists to curtain raise there shows across the country. He had at the time just released an album he was calling Kadundulu.
It should have been in the mid or late 90s that I bought this copy whose cover was poorly done and on the face it was written Fitzgerald Simfukwe and the Never Ending Chitipa Wailers.
Listening to his music, one would think here is a man who would not last long because like the Area 25-C based Hax Momba he was so obsessed with the styles of Burning Spear and Culture.
Just to indicate how reggae influence has left an impression on Simfukwe, one has just to look at his supporting band. Bob Marley used to sing as Bob Marley & The Wailers and when he died in 1981, the band members thought of continuing as ‘The Never Ending Wailers’, likewise when the three pioneers of the wailers – Bob himself, Peter Herbert Macintosh and Bunny Livingstone Wailer were starting, this is the name the started with.
In folklores, Kadundulu is some little bird, which builds its home along the human paths or close to human homes because it aims at getting food crumbs left and dropped by people. Fitzgerald Simfukwe has chosen Kadundulu to be his theme. Call him a folk singer, but what he plays is purely reggae but he squarely calls it Reggae of Kadundulu music which is fighting oppression and encouraging people to live in harmony regardless of the differences.
When Fitzgerald Simfukwe decided to announce his coming he did by becoming a part of Black Missionaries’ country wide tour, how he managed to convince the Chileka boys to be part of their entourage in another story of another day.
But when he had completed the tour his album sold thousands of copies yes, but not enough to break even. Like the same bird Kadundulu, he came back home to Mzuzu to roost and turned it his operating base.
Life though was so tough and rough and besides his musical career, like is the case with our so called professional footballers, needed to be complemented with something that has to generate income. He ventured into sign writing and painting.
Whatever he was acquiring he was investing into music and from Kadundulu I he recorded two more albums Kadundulu II and Kadundulu III.
The journey though continued to offer him challenges, as performing in Mzuzu is not one of the most rewarding things, more so when you are what they consider as their own sibling from the region.
Every other time Fitzgerald Simfukwe was releasing an album it was always almost like investing in vain, but then he would sweat in other ventures to get more money for more music where most musicians would have thought this was the parting moment, he soldiered on.
Now he has selected tracks in these albums and has released a 9 track DVD he is calling it Kadundulu DVD and this has demonstrated that Fitzgerald Simfukwe is resilience personified.
This should be a spirit that musicians can borrow. If you check his DVD and are one such person who like, love and respect reggae music, you will really appreciate Fitzgerald Simfukwe’s efforts. Here and there some productions ailments which are common to every human work can be noticed but the long and short of it, is that this is a DVD to sample to reward Fitzgerald Simfukwe’s resilience in the tough and rough musical terrain in Malawi.
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