This BLOG is hosted by Gregory Gondwe who is a Malawian Journalist. He covers most of the issues unfolding in this part of Sub-Saharan Africa. Lately, his focus has been on Musical information about Malawi, most of the musical articles that appear here until March 2016 were a reproduction of Column entries since he was an entertainment (with bias towards music) Columnist for Malawi's Oldest Weekly Malawi News which was called Drumming Pen.
After two years, the reggae outfit The
Black Missionaries toured the Northern Region again. Did the people in the
region miss them? Were they up to the mark?
The first show on the Mzuzu tour on the
night of November 4, 2011 at Key Lounge which preceded the Mzuzu Hotel Boma
Park show on November 5 afternoon proved the same fact that the band still
The record turn-out in the two events
talked volume of what respected the band is in the region even in the face of
being glossed over by the band which never gave a plausible reason for a 2 year
gap that the region had to endure with.
The northern region in general and Mzuzu in
particular is still considered as the backwater. Even the region’s own Mtebeti
Wambali Mkandawire chose to launch his ‘Liberty’ elsewhere and never repeated
the act anywhere near the centre where he is now doing his missionary work.
Let me not digress, but talk the Blacks
Tour in the north; the band showed that it is still as tight as ever in terms
This is one of the only few bands that seem
to take the audience down the road they are very familiar with. It manages to
light the dancing floor with fire and douse it whenever necessary, more so when
people are on the verge of collapse with over excitement. The band also
rekindles the fire when only ambers are visible.
Meaning, they have realised they have the
power of drugs to an addict. They know when to give a fix and how well to
punish the addict.
Apparently, they seem to be so serious with
what they intend to dish out so much so that they tell you that they were
training before bringing the music on. Chumbu, Moda Fumulani, Anthony ‘Mr.
Cool’ Makondetsa and the band seem to be talking one and the same language.
Of course at Key Lounge, a big letdown was
the size of the venue and even the down pour which found its way right on the
dance floor even when it hitherto boast of a roof above.
The art of chaining a number of sings
without faltering and denying the audience of quality was also evident on the
tour, which but exposed the band’s rigidity to play only what they practice
making you want to attend a single show and decide not to attend any subsequent
one because you know their act.
Why live shows are called live, is because
they somehow tend to be experimental moments for the band. It is risky of
course but worth trying because this is what has pushed bands to the stardom.
The reason lead vocalist says “take it down,” only when it has started is
because it is live.
Anthony Makondetsa tries it with ‘Mbumba ya
Abraham’ but it looks over rehearsed and steals the thunder it is supposed to
effect on the audience.
The Key Lounge tour also revealed to the
region that Chizondi the master keyboardist for the Blacks has come of age.
This was apparent when everyone was surprised when Anjiru moved back on the
backing queue when his young sibling took charge berried out “Pamene tiyenda mu
Mthunzi wa imfa; sindizaopa zowopyazo, Yesu zandigwira zanja”…
Yes, with this track which I always say was
Msamude’s parting shot and how Chizondi handles it reminds me of Gramps Morgan
and how he juxtaposed his leading vocal charge with that of the front man Peter
I would not want to talk about the audience
response at Key Lounge because of the influence that alcohol had over the
audience. Anything was danceable although on a few occasions; legs would be
seen hanging in the air because the sound could just cut off or because one
drunkard had decided to jump on a speaker as a sign of excitement, which the
speaker would not take kindly as it crashed down with such a crazy imbiber.
Talk of the Mzuzu Hotel Boma Park show;
very few would be seen dancing at times, while many more would be seen
appreciating the musicality oozing out of the band as it played, reminding me
of how the Dutch audience is taken spell bound my performances in a musical
hall in Amsterdam of Salif Keitha for example, when they miss out on what the
lyrics are saying but not what the music is communicating.
Like I argued when the band released Kuimba
8, I still would reiterate my position on the band’s output.
The show was still apparent that the Black
Missionaries still continue a journey started by founder Evison Matafale which
was taken over by Msamude when Matafale fell and taken over now by Anjiru when
his elderly brother equally fell as well.
I should believe very soon we will have
Kuimba 9 and this is the time the current Blacks should attempt to stir very
far away from their traditional songs.
Last time I said when you are listening to
the tracks from a distance where you are missing out on what the lyrics are
saying, you are bound to think this is one of the many old tracks from the
And yet these are the new songs that are same old, same old.
One thing that is very clear is the
clinging to the template that Matafale and later, Msamude created.
Anjiru and kid brother Chizondi, Peter
Amidu and brothers Takudziwani and Paul Chokani need to rethink their future
with the forthcoming Kuimba albums.
This is the time to dismantle the
Matafale/Msamude template and come up with their creativity.
Today I still ask the same question as to
why people flock to Black Missionaries performances.
it more to do with their pedigree that separates them from the competitors full
of mediocrity, than it has to do with whether they are progressive musically or
With the Mzuzu tour they proved otherwise
and I hope Kuimba 9 will say the same.