Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Where are the Lady Secular Musicians?

If you were to point out at a legendary lady musician in the country, who is into secular music, would you do that at the drop of a hat?
I would really be surprised if that were to be the case. Over a period of time if at all we have had lady musicians doing secular, then they would be a one album sort of artists.
I would not desire to go a yonder to give examples. I know you know Amina Tepatepa, Emma Masauko, Wendy Harawa, Maria Chidzanja Nkhoma, and Beatrice Kamwendo as some of the names that have hogged the limelight and then either disappeared completely and got stuck in the peripherals.
If you look at our history of the late Robert Fumulanis of this world, you will find that one will be able to make a list of names that will date back to the early 1960s when music was being grooved on LP discs in Rhodesia; you will be able to have a number of names all of whom would be males.
You could be mistaken to argue that, but we had Miriam Makeba, without knowing that this is a South African.
This is a South African singer who is one of Africa's best known voices and a champion of the fight against apartheid during three decades in exile. She earned herself the title Mama Africa.
Of course she died of a heart attack after a concert in Italy in 2008 at 76. Imagine. You also have to admire the likes of Yvonne Chakachaka and the late Brenda Fassie, some names that have made big headlines.
What are the major problems that have left our women in kitchens? Why is it that our Malawian women have either crammed themselves within the gospel confines or left at the back of the front liners under the guise of backing vocalists? Why have they been used more as waist wrigglers hiding under the banner of dancers and not be amongst the ‘Creame de la Creame’.
There has always been talk of positive discrimination or an affirmative action to allow the women whom we have pressed down to rise up for a long time to either use our backs to take the first step upwards or to stand aside and let them move forward with much ado.
Why have we not done something as a country about the female folks that have talent in music that can not blossom due to lack of suitable environment?
Much as I appreciate the challenges that our music industry is generally faced with, I would be damned if this would be the very reason that can be attributed to failure for the absence of lady musicians.
Can Musician Association of Malawi (MAM) put in place a deliberate policy where female musicians can stand side by side with the Skeffa Chimotos of this world or even a lady Lucius Banda.
It is so bad that most of the women musicians are dominating the gospel arena where they survive by the faith of such religious following other than sheer talent and creativity.
There are very few names within the gospel cycles like Grace Chinga and Ethel Kamwendo Banda and of course Favoured Sisters and the Chitheka Family who are musicians by talent first and playing gospel as a contribution of their talent towards the work of God.
This Ethel Kamwendo Banda would be marked as the most complete musician. She weathered the storm and survived as a secular musician during the Wepaz Band days. When she decided to switch ranks, very little people gave her chance looking at what was happening at the time.
But she has proved wrong all critics and doubting Thomases alike when she has not only survived in Gospel musicianship but she has as well led the way.
Imagine there was no gospel that propels most of the so called gospel musicians, would you think we were going to have anything around?
This is the point where we should have talked more...But I think I can easily link it to one write up where I wrote something about Lucius Banda being beaten by self. There I explained how parents contribute towards failure by musicians to blossom from tender age to a point where they can be respected musically.
Seriously, do we have a Malawi female musician worth mentioning? Because I don’t any name with me.
drummingpen@columnist.com

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