Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Songs on Fuel Shortage

There is what is known as Freedom of Expression. This also goes with expressive art, music is thus supposed to be this work of art.
Would you say that most of the music that our artists have given us resonates with the general feeling of the populace?
Before I answer this question, let me seek your pardon as I will in these past weeks be referring to Jamaica, more so because I know it is past the musical experimenting stage, if the success the country has chalked with its music is anything to go by.
There has been a genre that, like a baton stick has been handing over the authority of ruling the dancehall from ska to skalites to reggae which has now had its attendant off-springs in the name of Ragga also referred to as dancehall.
What propelled dancehall to stardom over reggae which sits on its couch of wisdom and preservation is its tendency to sing about now.
There are numerous problems that have rocked our country Malawi’s economy and by extension this has badly affected the livelihood of the masses.
If you check how lives have been lost because an ambulance could not go to pick up a pregnant woman due to lack of fuel; how drugs were never in hospitals [like are there now]; how farming has been greatly affected because the fuel that was supposed to transport fertilisers and other farm inputs was never available.
And although the list of woes is endless, you would really be surprised how they would be kept under wraps. On one hand, in the government we have those that are keeping our purse called the ‘ruling’ and on the other, those ensuring that this money is made to do its rightful use, called ‘opposition’.
Both these sides will pretend to be siding with the people who are feeling the pinch. Government will bring all excuses in the book; from Satan sitting on the back of the authority to chain stores siphoning the scarce forex etc.
The opposition will try to remind all and sundry how the ruling has failed due to stubbornness to refuse to work with donors, to myopic economic policies etc.
Well, while all these are doing their stuff, I have not seen the musicians doing enough; either s/he is afraid or they are so daft that they do not know how best they can speak out on behalf of the masses.
While others will argue that this would be like fighting Joseph Nkasa’s later day Moses, others will even argue further that Lucius Banda is the one cut for this.
Yes, I would agree that Lucius indeed does his part, but this is not enough at all. After all, Lucius does it occasionally and such track usually has to wait for its cousin tracks to complete an album first.
Musicians are supposed to do singles that are specifically into exclusive problems hurting the masses at a definite time.
What is required is not even a harsh, rude and hastened stuff. You are now wondering what I mean?
Well, remember Malawi’s King of Reggae the fallen Evison Matafale? Few days after the September 11 terrorist attack on the twin towers called World Trade Centre, Evison Matafale came up with a track he called ‘Time Mark’. This piece was a typical Matafale reggae track, so mature and gapless. The lyrical content was thick, deeply thought of and pure translation of the biblical books.
It is more demeaning to hear people saying Matafale would have released a track to act as the wail of the masses that should awaken those in authority, both the ruling and the opposing. Demeaning because it will be like after Matafale we no longer have musicians around that can serve the masses by setting their agenda.
Like journalists, will use the press, radios or television to relay a message, musicians will use their music medium to set this agenda setting albeit relaying it through radios and television sometimes.  
Our local musicians, who are to numerous these days, can take advantage of our misfortunes to make a name.
Imagine what was happening earlier in the week in Lilongwe at first then followed by the other cities. Women who are mothers to all of us that are living on this earth had to have their dignity battered merely because they were putting on a pair of trousers.
We need innovative musicians who can create songs to either support something like this or sing against it.
By now we should have had competing songs over the fuel woes. We are always complaining that we do not sell our locally made music. Perhaps it is time we got experimental and understood what people really want their music to have.
Let our musicians take their rightful place by taking their rightful role to make those in authority who are deaf and blind to the realities on the ground, realise what the people really want through their music.

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