Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Who is Cleaning Katelele Ching’oma?


You remember some months ago I hinted that Katelele Ching’oma is a gem that needs to be picked, brushed and polished for all to appreciate its glimmer.
How disheartening that, apparently, those that picked this gem are failing to polish it perfectly, so that its true and illuminating colours can be appreciated.
I know you are wondering, but just go in our streets today and you will discover that Katelele Ching’oma is in the league, which – by Malawian standards – is an ivy one. This is the league where Lucius Banda, Skeffa Chimoto and Black Missionaries rule supreme.
Agree or disagree but unfortunately, and of course fortunate to others, this is the true reality in our ‘Street of Fame’.
But now, if you look at how Lucius Banda, Skeffa Chimoto and The Blacks are doing in this street, you’ll discover that Katelele Ching’oma – not out of his own making – is made to offer this large following some half baked ware.
Stage endurance, resilience, magnanimity, magnetism and studio-like-near-perfection delivery is yet to be tested for Katelele Ching’oma.
I know that by our standards, Lucius Banda is a stage grandmaster; Skeffa Chimoto is a powerhouse when it comes to stage performance.
I have discovered that The Blacks, for long were ‘a stage-perfect-robot’ where their performance earned itself a reputation of a live CD.
They had, until three Sundays ago, a predictable pattern where you would know that after this track, then they will play this one; or that at one time Peter Amidu will say these words and it was fast becoming predictably boring.
Now they claim to be transforming and I am yet to bear witness to this.
But one thing for sure is that even in their predictability, they were faultless. They still retained the same quality also present in the live performances of Lucius Banda and Skeffa Chimoto.
Now considering that Katelele Ching’oma is now in this league, I wonder if the same would be said in the same breath of him.
Of course, other quarters have grumbled that Lucius Banda is exploitative, but this is to a large extent a gluttonous and greenly induced reaction. We have a list of successful names that have passed through Lucius Banda’s hands.
Lucius Banda has tried to assist the Ching’oma lad by incorporating him on their live performing acts but nothing fruitful has come out so far.  
At one time he was supposed to perform during Lucius Banda’s northern region tour. Patrons expected him that Friday evening at Key Lounge and the waiting continued till afternoon at Boma Park the following day.
Zembani Band would have been the preeminent outfit where he would have tried what Rasta would call ‘Levicate’ his studio toils, people have fallen in love with.
I remember Joseph ‘Phungu’ Nkasa’s tracks that had hit ‘red’ on scale of popularity and fame with numbers like ‘Zosayina-sayina’ (sic) could only come in CD and tape form.
There was no live performance for the tracks. One reason was that Nkasa was yet to be tried and tested for live performance and when he indeed did, he was found wanting.
The band which was backing him brought him more embarrassment and shame as their beat could not even come close to Nkasa’s studio version.
But watching Nkasa perform now with Zembani Band backing him, you really would have to be a fastidious fault finder to have issues with him.
Now this is the reason I strongly believe Katelele Ching’oma needed this opportunity.
What has now even stolen verve out of Katelele Ching’oma, the musician, is his latest video called ‘Ndirinawo mwayi’.
If you are just listening to the tracks; brilliant stuff, but if you so happen to watch the videos you will have to endure a bleeding heart because this exactly ‘new wine in old wineskins’.
Video Production for music albums is not a small project. And this can be proven in this Katelele Ching’oma production. It is one where they just picked a Camera man and started off for Nsanje via Khonjeni in Thyolo where most of the shooting for over ten songs were done.
Now imagine looking at the same people dancing the same styles, standing at the same places for over ten songs.
Even if you were to fall for the songs but surely you will get fed up with the pictures. Pattering of legs and waist gyratory antics for both women and male dancers, including Katelele himself is a common stay in the production.
Whoever is assisting Katelele Ching’oma with these productions must ask, consult and seek direction. Ironically those that have done such a shoddy job are called ‘Given Productions’. And I bet the giving ought to ooze quality.
In one of the tracks Katelele Ching’oma peddles himself as he sings: “Katelele Ching’oma ngolangiza, ndipo iye sadzasiya kulangiza” (Katelele Ching’oma advises and he will not stop advising).
I guess a good advisor has a good ear to take heed of advices going his way.
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