Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tired of writing about MAM

I am beginning to think that I waste my precious time and space over here when I write about the Musicians Association of Malawi (Mam).
Last time, I wrote that Mam has been a big letdown to me as well as to the owners – the musicians – in more than over half a decade that I been writing about music on these pages.
This body, to start with, is supposed to be the big thing that ever happened to music in Malawi; big thing in the sense of being a blessing; but no, it is a big curse that continues to mock Malawi’s music growth.
You might thing I am maliciously being hard on Mam, but let me share with you my experience of last Saturday when Southern Region chapter of MAM organised a musical festival at the Blantyre Cultural Centre, formerly French Cultural Centre.
They indicated that the show will be starting at 10 AM in the morning, but I and my son Vinandi went there around 2PM.
What we got ourselves into there had my six-year-old son surprising me with his observation: “Ada mwangobesatu ndalama zanu” and lord! I didn’t know the young lad’s vocabulary is growing as the society is still busy coining words and phrases.
Yes, he said I had lost my money because they were charging K700 per head and they shamelessly had to get the money under the eyes of Southern Region Mam boss Patrick Simakweli who was sitting right at the entrance.
When I proceeded to the stage there was something that would make you think some little boys in Ndirande or Chilomoni had collected rundown musical instruments that they got from some pawn markets and were trying them to see if they can play.
It was so childish that they had four small ragged speakers, a pair on both side of the stage which were struggling to give out sound not because they were too damaged but because the instrument used were even too rickety to produce any sound themselves.
While I was still looking in disbelief as six people were trying to tune a guitar so that the backline system would be transposed for lack of straight performing equipment, there came Njati Njedede who was expected to be one of the performers.
When I was leaving the venue, he left with us saying he was equally disappointed that MAM can sell ‘Zinthu za Masanje’  - meaning something childish and completely devoid of any iota of professionalism – and expected him to perform.
In the middle of playing the equally ramshackle of a keyboard, they sound could get lost and they would be trying to pull around badly taped wires. Lord! What a big shame it was.
“Band yakuti zida amazitchera pa transpose” was all Njedede said when he indicated that he did not want to be part of the shame.
No wonder, there were about 20 people at the venue and apart from I and my son, the rest of the people were performers and their relatives, which meant they paid nothing.
As I was leaving the place, so many questions started getting into my head. More so, because last time I talked to MAM President Rev. Chimwemwe Mhango I was made to believe that this is an organisation that was professionally run.
Earlier this year, I had a telephone discussion with Mam Rev. Mhango
He said in our talk then that gone are the days when Mam embraced mediocrity by associating with dubious musicians and ignoring well established musicians.
The Rev. Mhango said there was an ongoing process within the musical body that is aiming at regaining trust and ensuring that musicians become responsible to sacrifice not only for the good of their association but for their own good as well.
I dare say that last Saturday, they just lost my trust.
I am failing to imagine that a whole professional body can take nursery school musical instrument to a professional venue like Blantyre Cultural Centre and expect people to take them serious.
I am pleading with the body for the last time perhaps to get serious with themselves.
There are plenty of the youth that have been taken up by the music frenzy that has gripped the country. If Mam were a seriously managed body they would hire professional instrument and invite the many blossoming musicians out there that crave for an opportunity to perform before a crowd and at a bigger stage.
This is because much as the youth are training themselves at the backdoor spots, they only show how good they are when try emerge from studios and are not sure how they can do it on stage.
This is where a serious musical body come in, but it’s a shame when a body reduces its self to mediocre and ridicule as it did last Saturday.
This is not the time that a body like Mam should be showing signs that they do not know what is expected of it when it comes to organising musical shows.
 
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