A new Culture is here

Good people, Culture is in town.

Culture is not everyone’s way of life.

It is the elite Jamaican reggae band the legendary Joseph Hill led across the globe until he dropped dead in a concert during a tour of Europe on August 19 2006.

Culture was Culture. 

Those days, there was nothing like Joseph Hill and Culture—just one band with a celebrated leader.

From the brood of the fallen great comes Kenyatta, the boy who dumped sound engineering for the microphone when his father died in Berlin.

His rise is a story of courage and loyalty to music and its lovers.

When the lights flickered off that fateful night, he did not tell the band: “Folks, the giant has fallen, pack up and let us return to his land of birth.”

Instead, he said: “Let the music continue.”

He soldiered on, leading the band to the very end of the ill-fated tour.

Death of an impassioned soldier does not signal end of war. When a general falls, great warriors rise to sustain the crossfire until the cause is won.

This is the spirit Culture’s youthful leader personified when his father bowed out.

Such was the grief that his demise brought to mind memories of the loss soccer lovers experienced when Cameroon national football team captain  died of cardiac arrest on the pitch during June 2003 Olympics in Lyon, France.

Death may be inescapable, but a new Hill is already here.

He is in our midst, scheduled to perform in Blantyre tonight and Lilongwe tomorrow.

Undoubtedly, this is not the Culture that made the world ecstatic and spellbound by its world hits.

It is a renewal, with its frontman always expected to fit in the shoes of his great father.

Being born of a celebrity is supposed to be a blessing that eludes many people.

But it can be a curse as audiences usually expect too much from them.

Remember Ziggy, the son and look-alike of iconic reggae pioneer Bob Marley.

When Robert Nesta Marley succumbed to cancer in 1981, his fans looked up to little Ziggy to take over the revolutionary, illustrious reggae career carved by his sire.

But Ziggy did not become the new reggae king sooner or later. He remains Ziggy—nowhere close to his father’s fame and dime.

Locally, some artists and pretenders struggle to scale the heights attained by their parents and siblings.

Remember Moda who has lived almost all his career mimicking and conserving his brother Gift Fumulani’s legacy; Star Marley Kunje whose flops testify against his promise to keep up his brother Vic Marley’s name; and Toza Kapito (self-styled Matafale) who imitates his inimitable half-brother Evison Matafale.

I pity teenager Miracle Chinga Moffat who has sacrificed her adolescence and freedom to the whims of those who expect her to sing and dress like her mother, fallen gospel songbird Grace Chinga.

It is amazing the girl always garb in traditional caftans comprising stacks and stacks of bright clothes and a massive headgear—as did her mother.

She just cannot be what she wanna be, can she? None prepared her for this!

But the bond the seemingly unlucky sons and daughters of prominent stars enjoy is the reason audiences follow them religiously.

This is why reggae lovers, all those Rastafarians who hoisted the red-green-gold flags on Kenyatta’s arrival at Chileka International Airport, cannot wait for Culture’s show at Mibawa tonight.

An opinion may be rising that the venue is too small for an international band of Culture’s standing, but the band is no longer the same.

It is not Joseph Hill anyway—but Kenyatta and Culture, as the posters proclaim.

Tonight, Culture start their tour of Malawi with a simple test to put up a memorable performance to justify every ticket sold, pacify critics and remind nostalgic Malawians of the Hill they loved and lost to eternity.

Let the tour begin. n

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