Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Accepting Malawi Music and Musicians

There was a time when anything musical or musicians in Malawi was stereotyped as something for the misguided.
Worst still, when reggae artists decided to come on the scene with artists wearing dreadlocks and using cannabis without any iota of shame to declare likewise, the Kamuzu regime did not hide its distaste.
Paul Ngozi a Zambian dreadlocked musician was denied entry into the country once it was discovered that his hair style bore something never allowed in Malawi.
Around the same time most famous world musicians had a connection to usage of drugs and their death was as a result of violence.
The resultant attitude based on these was that musicians were never revered, but were instead pitied.
This is the reasons established artists like Robert Fumulani and the Likhubula River Dance Band remained a solitary voice for sometime in the industry.
Daniel Kachamba was only respected by Europe which was captivated by his guitar wizardly while in Malawi he was just one misguided soul.
What was strange though, was that people loved their music but detested the musician. Just like I read somewhere of people that love beautiful flowers as long as the smell of manure in the flower gardens is kept far away from their fastidious noses.
Evison Matafale and Saleta Phiri became the first musicians to be conferred ‘The Malawi Honours of the Achievers Award’ and to an extent this is a statement that has to send a different message to all and sundry.
Lucius Banda is perhaps one of the few locally bred musical talents that have been seen to prosper by being musicians and musicians alone and this has started offering an opportunity for a paradigm shift in the attitude of Malawians towards music and musicians.
Because our musicians are dismissed as losers by the nation, they toil in vain. Their albums are neither patronised nor are their live performances.
Besides honouring musicians, Malawi has first to introduce the music course in our technical colleges and secondly facilitate the introduction of Entertainment and Recreation Departments in our city, municipal, town and district councils.
Those that said all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy had something carved out.
After doing work for the body and toiling for it, good health demands that the body has to undergo a great deal of relaxation which is the foundation of tomorrow’s progress. It has to soothe the soul and the medication for this can only be found in music.
The aspect of recreation and entertainment has been left out big time; government has dismissed it as useless, while private sector investments are afraid to tread the area for fear of business flop.
But while other governments around the world have understood the need and therefore established Entertainment and Recreation Departments, we do not appreciate the necessity.
But once put in place, the talented youths moving the breadth and length of our city, town and district streets aimlessly can find something worthwhile doing.
If the Entertainment and Recreation Department can have a band that is used to send messages of important events, activities or policies that councils have in the offing or on the ground, the youth will be saved from the ravages of the streets that force them to be masters of mischief.
This is also the time that Malawi would finally give the music and the musicians its deserving place, unlike the scenario at the moment.
Feedback: drummingpen@columnist.com

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