Good people, the Sand Music Festival returns to the shores of Lake Malawi today.
For festival goers, this marks the start of a three-day music marathon on the sands of the continent’s third-largest freshwater lake in Salima.
There cannot be a better place to be than the palm-fringed beaches where friends and same-minded fun-seekers meet to enjoy the beats from within and abroad.
Here comes the festival which symbolises some Malawian artists’ strides to take the lead in a showbiz game once dominated by enthusiastic entrepreneur Will Jameson’s Lake of Stars.
The return of Sand Festival rekindles some nostalgia: a time to remember one night of lights in 2012 when Lucius Banda and the Black Missionaries refused to take K100 000 to perform at the Briton’s famous festival which unites artists and audiences from all over the world.
When the locals staged a night-long festival of everything good about Malawian music at Zitherepano, they were sick and tired of playing second fiddle to artists flying in.
That night, music lovers were feted with beats of both worlds, starting with the riveting roller-coaster that was Zimbabwean mbira legend Oliver Mtukudzi’s Lake of Stars set at Sunbird Nkopola before trooping to Zitherepano where Lucius and the Blacks were making their revolutionary if not rebellious statement.
This is history.
It is amazing the festival which started so small is getting bigger and better.
In fact, Sand Festival remains the only calendar event that does not flicker like a firefly in the dark.
Since the birth of Sand Music Festival, the globally acclaimed Lake of Stars has become a blinking act—it comes and goes at Jameson’s will and some think its on-off spate has to do with the fragile economy.
Just like that, what started like a gathering of expatriates at Chintheche Inn and fledged into a crowd-puller at Nkopola before it returned to Chintheche last year has become unpredictable.
Whatever has made Lake of Stars lose its loyalty to the audience that grew up calling it an annual event, the good news is that Sand Festival has firmly established itself as a worthwhile substitute.
Sand Festival may not lure planeloads of tourists with as much forex as did Lake of Stars, but it cannot be ignored either.
Here is the festival which announced its march to greatness when it brought forth Jamaica’s reggae artist Busy Signal and Tanzania’s sensation Diamond.
Lucius markets it as a festival that unites the voices and spirit of Africa.
So far, it has grown from a local breakaway act to something a bit bigger.
This year’s edition brings together France-based Congolese Awilo Longomba as well as Zambia’s General Kanene and K Millan in a concert with the usual destroyers of boredom—Lucius and Zembani Band, the Blacks, Anthony Makondetsa, Skeffa Chimoto and Patience Namadingo.
Festivals are supposed to thrill as those who make pilgrimages to the open-air venues where the fun is pay to be mesmerised by sizzling hits and unquestionable hitmakers.
But, to say the least, the shortlist of artists reads like a litany of oldies, the have-beens who evoke some amazing memories of their genres just when people go to festivals for latest wonders and not history.
But half a loaf is better than none.
Half a stale slice is worse, isn’t it?
Pay or stay home
This week, Lucius Banda took to Facebook to speak against some Malawians’ penchant for free shows, the opportunists who jostle for free tickets while saving their money for booze, sex and everything under the sun. Hear O you who have ears. There is no free lunch in Jamaica.
Get paying and start demanding the very best from the artists who need the money as you do.n