Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Folly of Political Songs

When we talk of political music in Malawi, what fast comes to mind is Joseph Nkasa’s ‘Mose wa Lero’ and of course ‘Yellow’ by Lucius Banda, that came before it.
When you look at the relevance of this music then, and what remains of them now, then you are given the codes to such musical maze and right before your eyes you clearly see the folly of such compositions.
There have been such compositions, in fact the United Democratic Front (UDF) and former President Bakili Muluzi had plenty of such music that filled the air play of his radio station.
Music, I mean good music, is supposed to be eternal. Take piece of art, like compositions of Mozart and Beethoven for example you will agree that bear testimony to this if you consider the time they have existed.
Full name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, who lived between 1756 and 1791, composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his death.  He is said to be among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, and his influence on subsequent Western art music is profound
The same would be said of Ludwig van Beethoven who lived between 1770 and 1827. He is considered a crucial figure in the transition between the classical and romantic eras in Western art music; he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. Beethoven’s best known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 concertos for piano, 32 piano sonatas and 16 string quartets.
The reason I am writing in 2013 about people who composed in the sixteenth century is because of the musicality of their productions, the eminence that it was then, still oozes now.
Malawi as a country has so many opportunities to create a musical art that can last and there is no ways it can be done otherwise when it comes to stuff that are composed to get political favours.
Take the 2003 ‘Yellow’ for example, Lucius Banda himself realised he had made a mistake to do the track, not because he thought it passed through mediocrity machine that did not do it justice but because he fell out of grace with one of the persons he hailed in the track, the late President Bingu wa Mutharika.
Mutharika ditched the party that, probably with the help of Lucius’ track, put him in the state house. When Lucius as Member of Parliament tried to move a motion that was meant to put in place procedures of impeaching a President, while targeting Bingu, government ransacked Lucius’ person and discovered that what he presented as his Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) was in fact not his. As they say the rest is history.
After helping the same Mutharika win elections in 2009, with his track ‘Mose wa Lero’ in 2012 Phungu Joseph Nkasa, regretted doing the track.
When you consider why Nkasa would regret doing the track, you will come to the same conclusion as mine that he was never happy with how much he yielded from the track.
Many people including Mutharika himself acknowledged that ‘Mose wa Lero’ was a masterpiece, which is to me, a misplaced adjective.
Of course Nkasa has not learnt anything from his past experience with releasing of such tracks as he has now commoditized his talent by now composing different political tracks in disregard of what beliefs he stands for.
During the DPP Convention he composed a track for Speaker of Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda which was meant to raise his candidature against Peter Mutharika. Now he has released a number of tracks for PPM.  
Evance Mereka, Symon & Kendal are also said to have put together a team that will be singing tracks that will praise President Joyce Banda in readiness of the 2014 Presidential elections. 
One of such tracks is called ‘Adzakhale’ which is currently enjoying unprecedented massive beaming on state owned MBC television.
Just to show that greed for some windfalls is the driving force behind such compositions; Mereka also did another track immediately after the MCP convention elected Lazarus Chakwera as its torch bearer for the 2014 elections titled, ‘Lero Chakwera’.
There are tracks like ‘Angwazi Senderani’ a campaign single that promoted Mutharika’s candidature alongside tracks from Billy Kaunda, Mlaka Maliro, Joseph Tembo and Bauleni Mana.
Clustering all these tracks together with one done by Monty Lewis ‘Mundibwezere ma voti anga’ which was meant to protest Mutharika ditching of UDF, it is clear that what we call our musicians are doing the planet of art a disservice. 
The proof of my proclamation comes from the fact that event Monty Lewis came back and reworked on his track and called it ‘Musandibwezerenso ma voti anga’, later on.
In a way this is abusing the art of music to achieve one’s personal goal; musicians want to make quick money while politicians hope to get fame that can trap a vote in the long run if the music sales, but later after everyone has or has not reached the desired end, the music is left to decide its fate.
And look at where all these tracks are and gauge them if they are still relevant. You will be tempted to describe them as bubblegum music that has to be spit out the moment it has been chewed enough and robbed of its sweetness.

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