Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

When your Prophets Shine in Foreign Lands

At the 2010Music Crossroads Inter-regional Festival held between 16th and 17th July 2010 at Tasuba Theatre, in Bagamoyo, in the folds of Makumbusho Centre of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, as a country, Malawi came out with a bruised ego.
Our two representatives, the OMAFADAR a Blantyre based band that came on the musical scene in May 2009, bursting speakers with Afro-Jazz fusion and Mzuzu based band born in 2008 came back with their tails between their legs.
In the first place, this is not in any way indicative that these bands from Malawi were weak or mediocre, on the contrary; look at their resume for example:
OMAFADAR is a band whose name bears the initials of band members. As a new kid on the block they surprised many when they emerged third in the Chibuku Road to Fame Competition, not to mention the right road they chose in the thick of Music Crossroads and ably travelled to find themselves in Tanzania.
Kula needs no introduction, as the name suggests, it is still growing strong; it fuses African traditional music with Jazz, Blues, Rock and Reggae and this is what has seen them grabbing two national competitions: MAM Music Award 2009 and Chibuku Road to Fame Competition.
Although we can insinuate all sorts of how bad Malawi performed through her two bands, there was something Malawi won at the festival.
The Mzuzu based band, Body, Mind and Soul was this year’s Music Crossroads Interregional Festival 2010 symbol of success; this was besides being one of the guest bands
Everyone that attended the function, from organisers to participating musicians put on clothes that included T-shirts and Golf shirts that had the face of Body Mind and Soul’s band leader.
Even the badges, the Ids, the flyers, banners and the Special Festival magazines had the face of this distinguished Malawian.
Body mind and soul is described in the festival magazine as a 6-piece band from Mzuzu, Northern Malawi led by Davie Luhanga commonly known as Street Rat, the man whose face graced all covers and faces of stuff described above.
After starting like the rest, like a reggae band, Body, Mind & Soul is said to have reflected on the importance of sharing Malawi ancient culture in Modern time and after much thought and experimentation it created a new music concept it calls ‘Voodjaz’, a subtle mix of traditional rhythms with a jazzy feel.
With it, they conquered the Music Cross Roads Southern Africa Inter-regional Festival in Harare, Zimbabwe in 2007 to emerge winners that went on the road to their European Tour in Summer of 2008 where they performed at different big stages including the world famous Coyleur Café.
For starters it cannot hurt much to repeat that Music Crossroads is touted by those that started it as a unique program that empowers youth through music initiated in 1995 by Jeunesses Musicales International.
The program operates in five countries of Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe where through 40 festivals, workshops and daily activities; it has transformed the lives of many previously unknown young bands in the five countries.
Now with such decoration, one would still ask questions like, why is Body, Mind and Soul not known as much as our so called famous groups? Is something wrong with them or the country?
The music they play makes people from West drool for more; talk of a prophet who is never honoured in his homeland.
Nonetheless, when your prophets are shining in foreign land, it makes you produce goose bumps evoked by emotions of pride.

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