Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Tears for Ken ‘7yrs’ Siyabu

Lucius Banda is the one who first called the Late Ken Siyabu ‘Seven Years’. It was because he was born on February 29 and usually four years elapse before those born on this date of a leap year can celebrate their birthday.
At the time that Ken Siyabu was working with Lucius Banda for the first time, he had celebrated his birthday for seven years only although he was 22 years old.
I first met Ken in 2006 when he was working at Initial Digital Production, a media production firm that was into music and documentaries.
At that time I was deputy chairperson of Lilongwe Press Club, a grouping of journalists of central region and Rasta Ezaius Innocent Mkandawire working for the press club secretariat was pioneering a documentary to do with food security in Salima and he had taken me there to check on Ken who was applying to the documentary his video editing wizardry.
 In their production studio there were only the two of them; Ken and Prince Donda and fate had it that both had to be employed at MBC, later in the years.
From the first day that we met we clicked and we have never known any discomfort or displeasure with each other’s company.
A smile on Ken’s lips was a permanent fixture; even under intense pressure on any project he could still afford an infectious smile for all those around him.
When you could be watching a movie or an international music video, while you would be captivated with its storyline, Ken would be pointing you to areas within such video production that were oozing with ingenuity.
We loved the same genre of music and we used to discuss that as a country, we were not doing enough to promote such a genre and he used to say there will come a day when he will do something about it.
Indeed he started the Dancehall programme on television, those who used to watch it can testify that this was one of the few video graphical innovation on display on our television station.
I witnessed Ken Siyabu working on the videos for Lucius Banda’s album ‘Survivors’ especially the ‘Zakukhosi’ track; how he explained on what he wanted to do with the video was a complete sign of great things in store for him.
Ma Blacks and Lucius are the country’s top billed performers and Ken handled their video projects with aplomb. Ever watched the ‘Dalo’ video?
On Saturday evening last week Lucius performed at Key Lounge in Mzuzu a few days after burying Ken and when he took over the stage he observed a minute of silence in honour of the fallen Giant.
The following Sunday at Mzuzu Hotel’s Boma Park, he played ‘Nthawi’ from the ‘Freedom’ album as an honour to Ken who handled its video.
It must have been on October 11, 2011 that I last met Ken. It was in Eswazini in Mzimba during the installation of Inkosi Kampingo Sibande. He had come with Dr. Rupert Poesch? A German Researcher who for years on end has been recording cultural practices of the Ngoni people.
They had brought state-of-the-art Sony Videos Cameras and in his own words, he had told me that the machines were the latest on the market. The German was manning one, the other one was manned by Lawrence Nyale while Ken handled the other one which had a roving mounting like one used in film making. He went on to school me on how sophisticated the machine was and how unbelievable its ability was.
He explained to me about his collaboration with the West, how he used to travel to Germany to edit the materials he was collecting and more dreams that clearly removed Ken from the common experts doing his very job and placed him above all.
You know one thing? He accused me of not writing about his efforts; he said after discussing about reggae, ragga and dancehall at least he had started something and I never showed any initiative to write about him.  
I promised Ken that I will write about him, comfort in the feeling and knowledge that he would outlive me since I am of old age, but I never at any second imagined that the next thing I will write about Ken I will be eulogising his beautiful life.
Ken was a brethren who never shared the same womb with me, his artistic gift only endowed in him by the ALMIGHTY was everything that we cherished as his friends, brothers, colleagues and cronies.
I have struggled with PAIN to cry for KEN here and I am trying so hard not to over bereave him – whatever this means – but celebrate him.
Sorry Ntcheu, death has overstayed on your veranda, robbing us of the sons you gave us to serve in the world of music. After Lovemore Mwanyama, now it is Ken.
Go ye well Brethren Ken ‘7yrs’ Siyabu; Rastafarie Liveth!!!!!!

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