East or west, home is best. But there is a good reason Lucius Banda keeps going back to Balaka, his hometown, where he launched his career and performance is never short of surprises.
This time around, the self-styled ‘Soldier of the Poor’ had a pleasant surprise on Saturday night when a grimy man jumped on stage, grabbed the bass guitar and joined him in a concert at Modern Garden.
Such was the encounter with a highly misjudged bassist, who is widely known to be mentally-ill, that Lucius instantly shared the experience with his followers on Facebook.
Said Lucius: “I was surprised when I saw Ephraim Mkwepu taking over the bass guitar. I have known him in the past as a great bassist for the now defunct Malawi Army Bravo Band in the 1990s.
“When the band was disbanded, I occasionally saw him looming around Balaka market. My understanding is he has been suffering from a mental disorder.”
But the man played the bass guitar perfectly, touching all the right chords as Lucius and Zembani Band played a 2001 hit, wrote Lucius.
“Patrons at the show were impressed. He performed Ndiwe Mbale Wanga with me. They gave him some money and cheered him loudly as he displayed his skills,” added Lucius.
According to Lucius, Mkwepu led the singers and players of instruments in a rendition of Jamaican fallen star Gregory Isaacs’ hit Substitute.
Lucius said the development on Saturday night has given him the zeal to look to for a psychiatrist to assess and assist Mkwepu.
“Music is about memories. If Mkwepu could remember the chords correctly, it means all is not lost. If he gets the right treatment and help, at Zembani Band, we can work out how best to help him. It was a great manifestation that art does not die easily. It lives on and on,” he said.
After sharing the experience on his Facebook page, Lucius received almost 700 likes and 130 comments.
“Please soldier, use his talent I think he can do more than that,” wrote Rose Liwonde Mteteka.
Mkwepu starred in the Army Band at the time the late Jocious Kanjauke was at the helm in the 1990s. They were famous for the hit Ndapota Nanu Mabwana.n