They work from morning to dusk as bus touts at Wenela Bus Depot in Blantyre, helping passengers to board buses taking them to their different destinations.
But they also share a common passion —music. This is the story of the six men who have formed a musical group called Manganga Dancehall Band.
At face value, they are just regular Rastas enjoying life in the city. But theirs is an inspiring story of men who are disciplined enough that from the year 2013 they have stayed together to grow their music with their love of dancehall music.
Band leader Robert Kansila, who also plays the drums, told On the Arts that they were inspired by the late Evison Matafale to start playing music.
“After working at the Wenela Bus Depot we meet for rehearsals. We rehearse regularly to perfect our art. Though we do not have an album yet, we hold regular shows at our rented hall in Ndirande and people love us,” he said.
Kansila said they have recorded one song Dancehall Dancehall but are in the process of writing more songs.
He added that on Tuesdays and Thursdays, they perform on the roadsides where people give them whatever they can afford.
Said Kansila: “We are also hired to perform at clubs and at special Rastafari functions.”
What is unique about the group is the fusion they have created using Nyabinghi chants which use three kinds of drums called harps. One of the drums which produces bass is called Pope or Vatican Smasher. The one that produce middle pitched sound is called Funde. The third one called Akete is also known as Repeater because it plays an improvised syncopation.
The band uses a repetition of these drums which when fused with drum set, bass and lead guitars and a keyboard produces unbelievably unique sound.
The group now hopes to make its big break during this year’s Evison Matafale memorial show which is scheduled for Chileka.
“We will give Matafale a befitting tribute during his memorial show,” said Kansila after the band has finished practising in readiness for the memorial show in Chirimba.
Other band members are Davie Makoloni, Victor Wesley, Rodrick Edson, Madalitso Isa and Zakaliya White. n