Society – The Nation Online http://mwnation.com Top Malawi Breaking News Headlines Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:45:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9 Lawi whistles again http://mwnation.com/lawi-whistles-again/ http://mwnation.com/lawi-whistles-again/#comments Fri, 17 Nov 2017 12:51:28 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=222459 After a four-year hibernation, musician Lawi, says he has undergone a rebirth, refinement, achieved growth, learnt a lot, importantly he has seen the ‘sunset in the sky’ and is back with a new album. During this time, the musician says he has been on a journey that has seen him achieve some of his wildest…

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After a four-year hibernation, musician Lawi, says he has undergone a rebirth, refinement, achieved growth, learnt a lot, importantly he has seen the ‘sunset in the sky’ and is back with a new album.

During this time, the musician says he has been on a journey that has seen him achieve some of his wildest dreams, met a lot people he has shared experiences with, from where he has drawn inspiration and energy that has resulted into the new album christened Sunset in the Sky.

Lawi: It is from childhood experiences

Lawi, real name Francis Phiri, is set the album on December 2 in Lilongwe at the Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) exactly four years since his last offering, Lawi, which covered hits like Amaona Kuchedwa, Whistling Song and Nkhawa.

“Since the last time I put out an album, it has been an amazing experience meeting with new people, establishing new relationships and, most importantly, sharing my life with my fans. Time has now come for us to celebrate a new beautiful piece of art together,” said Lawi.

Lawi, who calls his music ‘world fusion’, a combination of traditional ethnic music with contemporary jazz, is positive of his planned 25-song album and he believes it will bring with it a transformative effect on the people.

“This is an offering from the bottom of my heart to my country Malawi and the rest of the world. In this album you will find stories of our lives. Some will bring you good memories and some will help you connect with your spirituality.

“It is my hope that trough this music some broken hearts will heal, hope will flourish in our young and old pains of our lives. Broken relationships will mend and peace, love and unity will find a home in our hearts,” he said.

The title track, Sunset in Sky, is inspired from his personal childhood dream. The wish he held for so long of wanting to fly in an aeroplane one day finally got real for him and it has borne fruits.

“When we saw aeroplanes fly in the sky it always brought a curious feeling. I promised myself that one day I will get there no matter what it takes. It took a lot of hard work and perseverance and today I fly more times than I can remember.

“Watching the sun set in the sky is a feeling of fulfillment, an assurance that dreams come true and that everything is possible for the rural child of Africa,” said Lawi in an interview.

His last album got rave reviews and all round acclaim. It was replete with topnotch compositions that set the artist apart from the everyday musicians but he says he is not afraid to step into the colossal shadows of the success of his previous offering.

“I do not want to believe I can think well as a young man and worse as an older one. I retain the same body and mind, with an improved perspective of life which has taught me new things,” he explained.

Lawi the person and the artist derives a lot of inspiration from life and listening to its surroundings from where he has drawn powerful lessons that have empowered him with new knowledge and fresh perspectives.

“There is no other place to draw inspiration from than life itself. I have days when I just go out of the house and look at the beauty of the world and let it amaze me,” the 31-year-old artist confided.

And that is even made concrete with his latest release, Timalira. This is the Lawi signature.

It is a soul-lifting song that gives hope. It shows that it is, after all, okay to cry when you are so low and when things go hard.

Lawi, basically, says in the song we all cry. The wailing, moaning and groaning depends on the pain one is feeling. It does not matter where you stand in society.

The compositions are a result of taking his time.

He says: “I am the type of guy who takes their time to do something. I also have a lot of respect for my brand and therefore I make sure my personal circumstances do not deter the growth of my music image.”

He has a word of advice for fellow musicians on the importance of thorough preparations before holding shows as he blames the current approach as not being capable of putting out a performance with a lasting impression on the people.

“I do not want to be a statistic so I decided that if it means giving people just a single performance in a year then be it. I always want to give something they will cherish, a memory to impact them longer than I can live,” he elaborated.

Lawi has knowingly or otherwise brought to life the acoustic prowess of the legendary late Allan Namoko.  The apparent elements of the great Namoko in his new single Zonena Kuchuluka have not gone unnoticed in the musical eyes of many, with mixed views.

When put to him if he is really trying to sound like Namoko, the Lilongwe-based musician gave a sly smile and said maybe the people are just nostalgic and yearning for another hero in his mould.

“First we are all Malawians in an identical genre of contemporary Malawian music. Namoko is a legend and to be associated with his name is so humbling. Maybe people miss him so much and they would love to see another Namoko in me [Laughs].

“I am not sure if that will happen as we are two different musicians with different sources of inspiration as we lived in different times. He pioneered the revolution of Malawian music and I will always honour his work,” he said.

Manager for the artist,  renowned socialite Emmanuel Maliro says preparation for the launch of the album next month in Lilongwe are on a good course and they are about to give out the greatest show in the year 2017.

“People should expect maturity in the music itself and organisation of the function. Lawi is mature and focused, probably the most serious musician Malawi has ever produced. He is firm on his Malawian identity and he is an artist we should all be proud of as Malawians,” said Maliro.

The album Sunset in the Sky has been recorded and produced by Lawi himself both in the country and abroad through his mobile studio he takes along with on his frequent travels. Tickets for the show are already on sale.

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Fredokiss and his ghetto gospel http://mwnation.com/fredokiss-ghetto-gospel/ http://mwnation.com/fredokiss-ghetto-gospel/#comments Fri, 10 Nov 2017 18:18:11 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=221823 On a sunny afternoon at Ndirande Community Ground, Fredokiss’s fast and furious renditions did not only melt the hearts of the ghetto youths, they also ignited the fire of activism in them. In the scorching heat, he sang, for free, a ghetto gospel to the ‘down-trodden and broken-hearted’ which was received with palpable enthusiasm. In…

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On a sunny afternoon at Ndirande Community Ground, Fredokiss’s fast and furious renditions did not only melt the hearts of the ghetto youths, they also ignited the fire of activism in them.

In the scorching heat, he sang, for free, a ghetto gospel to the ‘down-trodden and broken-hearted’ which was received with palpable enthusiasm. In that frenzy of a moment, the youths, hypnotised by the cacophony of crashing cymbals, surrendered their bodies and souls to the mesmerising sounds.

Getting down to earth: Fredokiss touches base at Masintha in Lilongwe

James Chauluka, one fan in the thousands lost in song and dance, encapsulated the moment. “Here is an artist who has climbed down the scaffold to interact with us in our own world where others spurn to look at,” said the youth from Ndirande’s Safarao location.

Like Tupac Shakur, an American hip hop rapper whose songs To Live and Die in LA, Life Goes On, and Changes address real issues facing people from the ghetto, Fredokiss is an embodiment of ghetto hip hop culture—defined by lyrics that draw attention to the realities of violence, drug abuse, poverty and desperation.

Some of his songs bear the hue of ghetto ethos, life-centred subject matter and hard beat instrumentation.  He epitomises the spirit of popular culture in entertaining ‘the ordinary person’ and at the same time speaking their mind.

Fredokiss, whose real name is Penjani Kalua, in an interview with Weekend Nation,  says he brings his music to the ghetto youth because his music resonates more with them in general, and particularly those who are marginalised.

He responds to another moniker, Ghetto King Kong. That is the very basis of his musical and artistic expression and prowess. “That name connotes someone so powerful but has the welfare of the people at heart, just like gorilla in the King Kong movie. I am trying to give the ghetto some positivity. It’s just an artistic coinage that I made to associate myself with the ghetto,” says Fredokiss.

He addresses day-to-day social issues in his songs. For him, that is a sure way to make the youth look around and examine themselves.

“I haven’t done it perfectly but I believe I have managed to make some youths become active in solving challenges affecting them,” he says.

For Goliyo resident Chimwemwe Rapozo, a stratified ghetto needs a Fredo of some kind. “The youth choose who to align with. We, the ‘nonentities’ from the lower stratum of society, relish songs of the likes of Fredokiss. What he sings resonates well with our way of life,” says Rapozo.

Fredo uses his song Malamulo Khumi a mu Ghetto, Fredokiss as an introduction to ghetto life. Posing as someone in the ghetto, he presents the 10 commandments:

Malamulowa ndi a mu ghetto… awa ndi malamulo khumi mu ghetto…..one, kusunga chinsinsi nkofunika, kambakamba akhalira deal zikanika, zikanika zinthu zoti zikanachitika…

In the ghetto, where life is harsh, survival depends on one’s discipline in keeping friends’ secrets. Saving money is also paramount. Womanising, which brings down empires, is discouraged.

Of Fredokiss songs, Chauluka says he enjoys Zautsiru featuring Young Kay (rebranded as Hyphen) and Martse. The song talks about the injustices that people from the ghetto suffer in the hands of government. The song opens with the persona declaring that he hates mediocrity. He then tackles poverty, disease and power outages, challenges that have hit people living in the ghettos hard.

Then, the persona takes a swipe at amwenye alleging that some mistreat Malawians when doing their business but in the end the same Malawians end up helping them get rich.

In Dear Jah Jah featuring Angie and 4Sight, Fredokiss turns to God for answers to the problems people face.

After realising that earthly leaders have failed the ghetto people, Fredokiss reaches out to Jah and asks Him how ghetto youths like him can be blessed.

He sings: Dear Jah Jah/Ndakumverani mbiri, mwadalitsa ambiri/Dear Jah Jah why can’t you hear me/Dear Jah Jah ndipange bwanji kuti mundione, mwina mwina nane zanga ndi kusintha.

Through these lyrics, Fredokiss can be placed in the literature of realism genre where he portrays life in its raw state rather than portraying it romantically. The raw language in the songs such as Zautsiru are clichés that are synonymous with people from the ghetto. It is in the ghetto where life is real unlike in other locations where it is romanticised.

By connecting with them musically, Fredokiss lays a bridge of communication through which he can champion various changes to the youth.

Although he cannot change them immediately, he is fast becoming an agent of change in a section of society that feels detached from the upper class.

Fredokiss says the shows are not ‘really free’ as the youth are paying with a unique currency—love. “Not all the time should music be exchanged with money, especially when that music is aimed at changing mindsets,” he affirms.

And changing the mindset was the gospel he brought to the youth of Ndirande Township. On that day he sang the change the youth must embrace—their way of thinking, viewing themselves, perceiving their communities and being alert on the consequences of population increase. n

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Jay Jay makes hay http://mwnation.com/jay-jay-makes-hay/ http://mwnation.com/jay-jay-makes-hay/#comments Fri, 27 Oct 2017 13:08:26 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=220583 He has talent. When he performs Busy Signal’s Missing You, the Jamaican reggae artist voice comes alive. As he turns to Bob Marley’s One Love, you feel the Jamaican reggae king’s voice living again. Before you realize it, he turns to Lionel Richie’s All Night Long and the mellow voice breathes again. Surprised? Don’t be.…

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He has talent. When he performs Busy Signal’s Missing You, the Jamaican reggae artist voice comes alive.

As he turns to Bob Marley’s One Love, you feel the Jamaican reggae king’s voice living again. Before you realize it, he turns to Lionel Richie’s All Night Long and the mellow voice breathes again.

After a long music trek Jay Jay has gone solo

Surprised? Don’t be. That is just the very musical life of John Kutsokwe Junior, the artist known in Malawi music corridors as Jay Jay.

Give him a song, and time, he will catch the pitch and deliver it with ultimate precision where the vocals are concerned.

Those that have seen him perform live during music shows or corporate events will testify that if you take off his album-less career, Jay Jay has been a musical force to reckon with.

Today, Jay Jay is growing wings, as he looks forward to releasing his own album, expected next month.

“Time has come for me to release an album, after so many years playing instruments and leading songs, especially those done by other artists. The month to watch is November,” says the artist, whose normal voice is husky.

Jay Jay (3rd L)with members of Mizu Band

Work is in progress at Step up Records in Chirimba, Blantyre in the hands of producer Don Foxxy. Some songs, like Dream, in which he features the producer and Lonjezo Langa, a collabo with his long-time music partner, Eunice Kadzuwa-Mhango are playing on some radio stations.

Another song, which Weekend Nation has sampled, Are You the One, is the 12 cut-collection’s spine where the message of love is at the fore, mixing Chichewa and English. It is a song that is not solely for the ear but the dancing feet as well, with its reggae undertones.

Says the Ndirande-raised artist: “The album is all about love. I have been flexible in the genres from reggae to Afro-dancehall. People have always said I sing other peoples’ songs well. They have been asking me when I would release my work, so here I am.”

Mizu Band’s Eunice and JJ on stage during the Miss Malawi event last year

 

Musical journey

Jay Jay sparked a fire when he and Eunice Kadzuwa-Mhango frontlined the Mibawa Band between 2012 and 2014.

Friday nights became satisfactory for those seeking fun in the commercial capital as all roads for those seeking live performance led to Mibawa Café.

The artist retraces his journey from the days his father John Kutsokwe was bishop at the United Living Gospel Church. The congregation had just bought a keyboard and there was no one to play the instrument.

“I learned it in no time. I knew from then that I was destined to be a musician,” says the artist, the last born in a family of five. That is before he teamed up with colleagues to form Dark Clouds Band.

Yet, his music ride has seen him as a keyboardist with Imagez Band—which brought us Sally Nyundo—to his days harmonizing the keys for the Young Generations Band of the Afiti Opemphera eminence, to his times at Uhuru Band where he became a feature as a backing vocalist to his days as lead vocalist and band leader for Matumbi Vibrations, the resident band at the popular Lunzu hotspot: Roadhouse.

His music career as a keyboardist has seen him play the keyboard for Nde’feyo Entertainment with its featured artists including Maskal, Piksy, Armstrong (now Onesmus) and the Biriwiri duo.

It is a trek that also took him to Mizati, which was owned by the then Musicians Association of Malawi (MAM) president Costen Mapemba before he and others broke away to form Maziko Band before the Mibawa stint. Today, he is on the frontline with Kadzuwa-Mhango at Mizu Band.

“Eunice is a God-given colleague in performance. It was [producer] Uncle Lai who was then working at Marvin Hanke’s studio who linked us up as we were working on Winiko [Bon Kalindo’s] album. He is the one who knew each of us individually and brought us together,” says Jay Jay.

The award-winning Eunice also believes Jay Jay is a God-given partner in music. “We have come a long way. It is difficult to tell what makes us tick. We just thank God,” she says.

While some musicians launch albums before their music careers, Jay Jay’s hay-day of bringing together an album comes a long way after launching his music journey. It is only time that will tell if he will see the light of day.

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Season of jacarandas http://mwnation.com/season-of-jacarandas/ http://mwnation.com/season-of-jacarandas/#comments Fri, 20 Oct 2017 08:55:40 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=220013 Once again all roads lead to Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC) and Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC). Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) is in town again, but this time dominated by an art exhibition. Surprised? BAF comes to Blantyre in the season of jacaranda blossoming flowers—October. This year BAF run from October 6 to 8. As the trees…

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Once again all roads lead to Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC) and Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC). Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) is in town again, but this time dominated by an art exhibition.

Surprised? BAF comes to Blantyre in the season of jacaranda blossoming flowers—October. This year BAF run from October 6 to 8.

Namalomba’s Lake Scene embodies the beauty of nature

As the trees scent crisps the city air and jacaranda trees stretch into the vast skies above, the roads from Limbe down the market, Chipembere Highway, Independence Drive are draped in violet carpet.

Purple petals fall gently as snowflakes sailing on ground. It is immaculate beauty from the natural world.

The enchanting splendor of jacaranda blooms offers the perfect setting for artists.

No wonder, at JCC, artists mimic nature’s beauty in blossoming jacarandas. They depict these scenes of nature and others on acrylic paintings.

For instance, Kenneth Namalomba’s Lake Scene embodies the beauty of nature on a canvas.

The masterpiece shows blossoming jacaranda trees, punctuated by other trees standing majestically.

A lone hut is sand-witched in the middle of jacarandas. The jacarandas leap into the empty sky, reflecting those in the City of Blantyre.

Lindstaedt (L) bought Singano’s ‘The Current Situation’

The clouds floating in the austere sky remind all of the approaching spring, a season blossoming jacarandas herald. The avenues dotted by jacaranda trees symbolise the beauty of paving the roadsides with natural vegetation. The hut borders the sea down below, stretching its vastness to the shores wearing luxuriant trees.

Then across the wall there is Meeting Under the Jacaranda Trees by Andrew Missi.

In it trees are in full blossom and people are meeting under them. The foliage ahead forms a good shade.

According to a myth from the United States (US), “fortune ensues for those who are lucky enough to have jacaranda bloom fall on their head.” Perhaps the people under the trees are waiting for some fortune.

But not all artists think in the same way. The beauty in diversity is depicted in the different paintings the artists are exhibited.

Maxwell Banda’s Women at the Borehole on acrylic gloss is an example.

The painting shows a woman drawing water and another leaving the borehole, carrying a pot.

It exemplifies the power and strength of a woman in sustaining the home. In Malawi rural setting, women draw the water far from home. The painting depicts life in rural Malawi, where water is scarce in some areas and women travel long distances to access it.

Banda depicts challenges facing women in their quest for safe drinking water.

The young artist says he draws his inspirations from fellow artists especially the legendary Kay Chiromo.

“I started painting when I was young. I do portraits and paintings. However, I like acrylic paintings. I am inspired by other artists’ works,” Banda says.

Then one’s eye cannot avoid noticing Caron Magombo’s Lady with a Lion Head. The painting is a fabricated artwork showing a lion queen.

The woman has beads, shells and wears make-up. She is carrying a winnowing basket epitomising the hardworking spirit of Malawian woman.

“This painting is just my wild imagination. I drew a lady who is pregnant. I put a lion head on her to symbolise authority as she is the queen,” explains Magombo.

However, the most fascinating painting is Mayamiko Chalira’s Village Scene which depicts a village set against the background of a flowing river.

The tall trees on the sides of the river are beautiful, big and green. The village has people looking back at a path leading to the river. The grass forms a beautiful meadow below.

Behind the mud huts are kholas for doves standing taller than the houses, depicting life in the villages where a home is not complete without rearing poultry or livestock.

For many foreigners it was Gilbert Mpakule’s Mulanje Mountain that attracted the attention. It’s a painting of the massif its grandeur. In the background tea plantations offer a true representation of the iconic beauty of the mountain that caresses the sky.

Charles Levison’s showcased Washing on a Sunday while Ellis Singano’s The Current Situation on batik mesmerised art lovers.

It is a complicated web of networks—a labyrinth. A modern lady stands peering into the distant future. She symbolises rich people from high class in society—the elite and by extension, the donors.

Opposite her and down below, squats a beggar who is representing the poor or by extension, poor Malawi.

The pale colours depict a gloomy situation of helplessness and hopelessness.

Singano says he was inspired by the current situation in the country .

“I was looking at the situation that we have here in Malawi. It saddens me to see how desperate we have become. However, we have all resources to be self-reliant. We can do a lot of things on our own as we have everything,” he says.

Art collector from Germany, Rike Lindstaedt who bought Singano’s The Current Situation at K75 000 was all smiles and impressed with the exhibition.

“I saw the picture and I fell in love with it and its colours. You don’t understand it at first but later on, you understand what the painting is about. It covers the current situation in Malawi. The little child and the woman, both are searching for success.”

As the exhibition comes to an end at 7:00 o’clock at night, all depart and disappear into different streets of the city paved by jacarandas. They are all hoping to come again to Blantyre next year, in the season of jacarandas.

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On politics and violence http://mwnation.com/on-politics-and-violence/ http://mwnation.com/on-politics-and-violence/#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 13:00:00 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=219496 Politics and violence seem to enjoy a rather healthy matrimony in Malawi. Our history, since independence, as a matter of fact, reveals that violence has, with varying levels of intensity and sophistication, always been part of Malawian politics. Think about the First Republic, for starters. As soon as independence was secured, the wisdom of the…

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Politics and violence seem to enjoy a rather healthy matrimony in Malawi. Our history, since independence, as a matter of fact, reveals that violence has, with varying levels of intensity and sophistication, always been part of Malawian politics. Think about the First Republic, for starters. As soon as independence was secured, the wisdom of the day ensured that we quickly became a One-party State with a life president. Many people have written about the brutality that became synonymous with the One-party State and I will not belabour the point. However, the only sense in which many people remember the Malawi Young Pioneers and the MCP Youth Leaguers is probably tinged with spectres of the violence that these entities perpetrated. I actually doubt if there has been an authentic and comprehensive accountability process for all the atrocities that were perpetrated during the One-party State—for now, let’s keep this discussion for another day.

Our transition to a multiparty democracy did not, sadly, banish the demons of political violence in the country. No sooner was the Second Republic in office than the nation was introduced to a cadre of thugs politically referred to as ‘Young Democrats.’ Well, I am not sure whether these fellas were indeed young but they certainly weren’t very democratic. Newspaper reports, from the time, are replete with stories about the violence that the Young Democrats inflicted on those whose political views they did not approve of. Looking back, it is clear that the Young Democrats were simply a continuation of the Malawi Young Pioneers and the Youth Leaguers rolled into one entity with a democratically beguiling name.

As it has turned out, however, the Young Democrats were not the end of the story. Somewhere along the way, there was a change of government and the nation was introduced to yet a different level of thuggery. This time the hoodlums have been trading as ‘Youth Cadets’, so I am informed. Although another deceptive moniker was again used, I am not so convinced about the youthfulness of these so-called cadets but in terms of methods, they aren’t that different from the Young Democrats and by extension there’s little to differentiate them from the Malawi Young Pioneers and the Youth Leaguers. If you can get my drift, you will note that there has been a troubling continuity in the relationship between violence and politics in the country.

Over the past 20 years, thugs masquerading as the youth wings of various political parties have, with a measure of impunity, perpetrated violence across the country. In some instances, civil society leaders have found themselves the victims of the violence largely for voicing critical views about the government. In other instances, opposition leaders have been targeted. In many of these cases, the Police Service has demonstrated its compromised position by failing to conduct meaningful investigations and/or prosecutions. The result has been that as long as the thugs belong to the party in power at the time, violence on political opponents has gone unpunished. At the one level, this is a very sad reflection of the State of professionalism within the police service. At the other level, the continuous resort to violence suggests a failure to embrace the demands of multiparty politics. A failure to countenance divergence of opinions and views and to permit political competition to be premised on ideas. The continued affinity between violence and politics also reveals the shallowness of our democracy.

As we are heading into the next general elections, the relationship between politics and violence in Malawi will again become prominent. It is not by default that violence has been ubiquitous in our politics. This is a result of cold-hearted calculations by gullible politicians. Violence, however, is not necessary to political competition. We can have political competition devoid of violence. This, however, must start from the top. Political parties, being the dominant players in our politics, need to disavow all forms of violence. Look, if a political party establishes a youth wing that by itself is not a bad thing. If, however, the political party establishes a youth wing simply as a means for organising thugs to terrorise political opponents, this is not only retrogressive but a waste of youthfulness. Political parties, therefore, need to focus on creating ways in which their youthful followers can participate in democratic processes without undermining the very values that allow for political plurality. Just by way of illustration, ‘cadetship’ presupposes preparation for a calling, what calling are the Youth Cadets being prepared for?

Violence should never be allowed to characterise our politics. Violence distorts political competition. It shrinks the space in which political competition can be defined by the merits and demerits of particular ideas. Is the resort to violence a way of stating that a political party does not have confidence in wooing supporters simply by the power of their manifesto? I wonder! Violence can only breed more violence. We truly do not want to get the nation on that slippery slope.

By way of conclusion, let me reiterate some truisms which should inform our thinking in a multiparty democracy. The political pluralism that we re-introduced in 1994 entails that we cannot all belong to the same political party neither can we hold the same views. This is the very essence of a multiparty democracy. The political space that we have created must be allowed, actually encouraged, to support different views and persuasions. Violence cannot be the response to the holding of different political views and opinions. Leaders of all political parties must ensure that their rank and file, walk the talk of non-violence in politics. They must unreservedly condemn any violence perpetrated in their names or in the names of their political parties.

*Associate Professor of Law, University of Malawi

 

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From China with lessons http://mwnation.com/from-china-with-lessons/ http://mwnation.com/from-china-with-lessons/#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 12:57:35 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=219497 Mixed feelings engulfed my mind when Nation Publications Limited (NPL) nominated me to join a group of journalists travelling to China for a week-long visit. Excitement pulled me one side, anxiety the other. The idea of leaving my year-old daughter left me very anxious. Again, the question of food—coming from a background where popular belief…

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Mixed feelings engulfed my mind when Nation Publications Limited (NPL) nominated me to join a group of journalists travelling to China for a week-long visit. Excitement pulled me one side, anxiety the other.

The idea of leaving my year-old daughter left me very anxious. Again, the question of food—coming from a background where popular belief was that Chinese food is dogs, crabs and frogs—made me think twice about leaving.

MBC’s Paul Kamanga and NPL’s Edith Gondwe on set at Shangdong Media Agency

But then, the greatness of China as an economy, artistic and cultural identity, education, history and so much more, lured me more to go. Travel, they say, is the best teacher.

Come September 17, I joined Paul Kamanga and Ernest Ndalama from MBC-TV, Wanangwa Chafulumira of Times Group and Zodiak Broadcasting Corporation’s Christopher Sande on the plane from Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) to Bole International Airport in Ethiopia. A day later, exactly at noon, we were at Beijing International Airport in China.

Alighting, the ‘scent’ of adventure tickled my instincts. Wild stares and language barriers took centre stage. We made it through the checks and met our host, Miss Wang Xiou.

After a 20-minute drive, we were at Kuntayi Royal Hotel which was our home for the first two days.

Having changed and refreshed, it was time for lunch. Then, it was time for our first affair: a visit to the legendary Red Theatre of Kung-Fu.

As we made it through the checks to the auditorium, Paul and I started doubting if at all we would see something new since we have grown up watching all sorts of Kung-Fu movies.

The Malawi team with The Big Nest in the background

But we were in for a surprise of our lives. Once we settled in the auditorium I realized that you cannot claim to have experienced Kung-Fu until you see a live performance. The actors, both young and old, were a marvel to watch. Depicting a story of a monk who fell prey to the desires of the flesh. As I got out of the auditorium after a 90-minute performance, I felt I had just been welcomed to China!

National Beijing Stadium was the next point of call. Making our way through the busy streets of Beijing, I wondered what I would possibly find interesting in an empty stadium. But once we reached the gate, I realised that our Chinese friends meant business when they built the stadium. Also known as the Bird’s Nest due to its shape, the stadium was initially constructed for the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics and will be used again in the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Inside the large complex were thousands of tourists, mainly Chinese people in groups, touring the wonderful piece of architecture.

The next day, we had official engagements with Guo Haiyani, counselor in the department of African Affairs responsible for Central and Southern African countries. But it was the evening shopping escapades that opened my eyes that indeed the world is one and whereever you go, vendors will always be vendors.

As we ‘sneaked’ out of the hotel to do some shopping at the famous Silk Market, without a guide, we were welcomed by persuasive vendors strategically waiting for potential clients outside the market complex. With them were wrist watches of all shapes and sizes, handbags and scarves, among other things.

And yes, these vendors were good English speakers by Chinese standards!

As we made our way back to the hotel our taxi driver started offering us information telling us where we can find ‘adult’ toys, where my male friends could find ‘escorts’ and all the related information.

My counsel to my all-male team was simple and terse: “Musatengeke nawo awa, mungapite ku Malawi opanda kalikonse.” I strongly believe they all listened and never tried to sample that aspect of China!

I did not let that worry me much, as we had to visit the Summer Palace, the abode of ancient Chinese kings.

The following day, it was time to change provinces and go to Shandong Province. Our first stop: Jinan City. I must say it was nice to ride the speed train which was as far as 190km per hour! Our first visit in Jinan was the Shandong Museum, where the history of early life in the province is well-documented.

As we made our tway hrough the galleries we heard some clicking sounds; flashes and more clicks. It was then that we discovered that we were being pictured by the curious and interested.

Those with courage asked for selfies with us. As we left the place I looked back and wondered why in Malawi we do not have our rich history well-documented for all to see and learn from.

But the best was yet to come in Shandong! From Jinan city we went to our final destination: Waifeng city. In Waifeng, our main visit was the Shandong Agriculture High Tech Fair where farmers have this huge demonstration farm to learn from. All sorts of fruits and vegetables are grown in neat tubes, bottles and pipes with little soil but well watered and with all the nutrients for their growth and survival.

As we made our way through the place, our host Zhou Huiqing, director of Shouguang Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office reminded us that the demonstration garden is there to help farmers in Shandong embrace modern high tech methods of farming for maximum results.

In between other small visits to media houses and markets we finalized our tour with a visit of the China-Japan-Korea Industrial Expo.

The expo was a replica of Malawi’s own trade fairs only that in China many of the things on display were being offered for patrons to try food or game gadgets.

Now one interesting aspect of my China trip was the food.

The food

The Chinese love their food. They have a variety of food for one to choose from and always well laid at the spinning table.

We had fun trying out their ‘weird tasting’ foods. Thank God we did not develop stomach pains, we all survived.

Work 

The time I was in China, I noticed people going to work daily. A taxi driver told us that in China, there is no such a thing as a weekend.

Said the taxi man: “Here we work every day and long hours because we want to achieve personal success. The longer your working hours, the better the pay.”

Before I knew it, the September 23 had arrived and I had to kiss China goodbye. With fond memories I made it out of Weifang on a high speed train straight to Beijing International Airport where my workmate Yvonne Sundu was waiting. Hugs, jokes and loud chit chats, then we had to go. We were inside the plane on my way back home, back to Malawi. As the plane left the grounds of China, I looked back at the beautiful city of Beijing as I quietly said ‘China, thanks for the lessons’! n

 

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Bicycle taxis the way to go in Malawi http://mwnation.com/bicycle-taxis-way-go-malawi/ http://mwnation.com/bicycle-taxis-way-go-malawi/#respond Fri, 29 Sep 2017 14:35:23 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=218428 Bicycle taxis with padded passenger seats fashioned onto their metal baggage racks line the road waiting for customers to hop on for a low cost ride—Malawian-style. Two-wheeled transport rivals cars outside of big cities in this small southern African nation, where simple bikes with a few bells and whistles are used to ferry anything from…

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Bicycle taxis with padded passenger seats fashioned onto their metal baggage racks line the road waiting for customers to hop on for a low cost ride—Malawian-style.

Two-wheeled transport rivals cars outside of big cities in this small southern African nation, where simple bikes with a few bells and whistles are used to ferry anything from giant stacks of firewood to iced lollies and even the sick, in special attachable wagons.

Kabaza bikes

“Boat making was a hard job, that’s why I decided to switch. I make about 5 000 kwacha ($6.60) a day,” said Panjira Khombe, 28, who has taxied passengers for years.

“I’m used to it. I’m able to carry big-bodied people,” he said, unfazed at potential heavy loads. “We don’t mind—so long as there is a customer.”

Unlike the noisy swarm of motorcycles that have replaced bicycles in other parts of Africa, rural Malawi has a quaintly unhurried retro feel set to the occasional gentle squeak of bicycle parts at work.

Alex Hockin, a volunteer with Engineers Without Borders—a non-profit group which works to improve lives in rural Africa—paid just over a dollar to a kabaza driver to glide along an empty stretch of highway with her shopping from the eastern town of Salima near Lake Malawi.

“I really like them,” said the 21-year-old environmental sciences student, comparing their ease and availability to the public transport system in her native Canada.

Bicycle taxis are a source of income for many

 

Reaching more

“You just hop on a bike taxi if you want to get around,” Hockin said, adding however that she’s learned to stay clear of the models with non-padded passenger seats.

“It was surprising. There are like 10 or 20 bikes for every car that you see going through Salima.

Malawi, a mainly agricultural country of about 17.5-million people who are mostly desperately poor, registers about 3 000 vehicles per month.

But motorists are crippled by unprecedented petrol and diesel shortages that have also affected the frequency and cost of public transport in a land struggling to make up for years of underdevelopment.

This is where the taxi bikes step in. Not only can they skirt the fuel costs, they are able to reach more places and people in an impoverished, rural, land-locked country where 39 percent of the population live on less than a dollar a day.

“The bicycle is very popular in Malawi, because people can’t afford a motorbike and because Malawi has a high density of population,” said Dutchman Peter Meijer who set up a bike business, Sakaramenta, in 2009.

 

Helping end poverty

Meijer’s company, based in the economic capital Blantyre, makes several bike carts, notably to transport or sell goods.

But his most popular product is what he calls the “CareCar” bicycle ambulance which carries patients in a special cart attached to the bike, with thousands already sold.

“The demand for the ‘CareCar’ is big,” Meijer said, saying 80 percent go to non-governmental organisations while companies with social responsibility policies snap up the rest.

“It is used to transport patients and pregnant women from the village to the hospital. The average distance in the rural areas in Malawi from the village to the health centre is 13 kilometres. Normally people have to walk this distance.”

Dealers sell between 10 000 to 20 000 bikes a year imported from India for between K40 000 and K60 000 kwacha.

A basic single gear, standard 55cm wheel model is the most popular.

“It is a tool to transport people as well as goods, it [requires] no road taxes and does not need a parking space,” said an official at one of the dealers.

In a busy street market in Nsundwe, west of the administrative capital Lilongwe in central Malawi, bike mechanics busied with repairs near two-wheelers loaded with firewood.

“People use bikes because they are poor,” said Felix Ziwande, next to a group of bikes outside his video shop, Helbert Video Show, which charges 10 kwacha to watch a Chinese movie screened on a small television with subtitles in English, the official language.

Moving through the market was frozen lolly seller 16-year-old Banda Chimupuwe, with a red cooler box strapped to his bike.

“It’s easy when I want to sell my business,” he said about his green bike that he bought new for 12 000 kwacha. “It’s cheap—it does not need petrol.”n

 

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Daring Jazz with female voice http://mwnation.com/daring-jazz-female-voice/ Fri, 22 Sep 2017 17:40:38 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=217919 Mellow smooth jazz is a demanding genre, which requires a certain degree of skill and obligation to deliver successfully. It is a type of music that is looked at as something which appeals to a specific audience that is considered mature and smart people. These usually appreciate jazz music deeply right from the array of…

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Mellow smooth jazz is a demanding genre, which requires a certain degree of skill and obligation to deliver successfully.

It is a type of music that is looked at as something which appeals to a specific audience that is considered mature and smart people. These usually appreciate jazz music deeply right from the array of intriguing instruments to voice projection.

Chikondi at the vocals during one of Find Codi’s performance

Jazz is also viewed as a kind of music that is specifically enjoyed by the ear and it soothes the soul.  Some Jazz enthusiasts say it is best enjoyed in cool environments such as in hotels and executive bars.

So cool is jazz music that some university students say listening to jazz music, while studying for an exam or writing a thesis paper, usually helps block out any wandering thoughts that might be floating around the head.

“If I’m listening to Young Thug while driving, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that I’ll soon hit double the speed limit, without even being conscious of it. While face down in a textbook, jazz calms me down,” Aaron Banda, a jazz lover says.

He says with jazz music, there is something about the lack of words—as the trumpet, harmon mute and all—does all the speaking necessary, which calms him.

Studies show that music and stress levels go hand in hand. While faster tempos can get you up and going, slower ones— such as the standard tempo of jazz music—will soothe both the mind and body.

Perhaps that’s why Find Codi jazz music is striking the right notes for many jazz music lovers in the country.

Find Codi is one of a few bands with female jazz voice on the local scene.  For a long time jazz in Malawi was dominated by male artists.

The Afro Jazz band is managed by Nyimbo Music Company (NMC) owned by businessman Daud Suleman. It is led by his wife Chikondi, whose gripping voice has earned her band a spot on the country’s jazz arena.

Currently, Find Codi plays with Mibawa resident band at Mibawa Executive bar, rendering some smooth and soul-healing vibes. Apart from popular renditions done by other international artists, Find Codi perform own songs such as Nanjiri, Mwezi Uwale, Tukuka Mayi Mwana and Sondela.

Find Codi has dropped its debut album Tukuka, which is packed with Afro jazz.

Chikondi admits that it was not easy to break into the Afro jazz world, which is dominated by respected male artists such as Wambali Mkandawire.

“Passion and determination made it easy for me to venture into this type of genre which is rarely challenged by female artists in the country,” says Chikondi, who dumped law to take up music.

She says that she challenged herself with Afro jazz to stand out as a female artist in the country.

“I didn’t want to do what everyone else is doing but pursue my own musical path which is rarely traveled by most female artists. After all, people need variety of music,” says Chikondi.

Find Codi’s Afro jazz delves into Malawian, Zimbabwean and South African touches to establish own feel.

“Basically, Find Codi’s Afro jazz seeks to create a Southern Africa touch which people from this bloc should always associate with,” says Chikondi.

Today, there are several resident bands that are into jazz in uptown pubs and hotels that are aimed at entertaining their customers. Chikondi acknowledges that performing Find Codi’s Afro jazz live on stage is a different thing from listening to their newly-released CD Tukuka, which has 14 lively tracks.

She says her live act involves a lot of creativity, traditional instruments such as chisekese and live presence on stage. In fact, her entire music set is delivered in tangible and professional manner to appeal to the sensory nerves of the targeted audience, which are particularly old people.

“It’s a huge task but manageable because that’s what I choose to do. It becomes huge when you try to sing and impress a mature audience that is really into jazz. But I always manage it because it’s a mission that I want to fulfill,” says Chikondi.

Owner of Nyimbo Music Company Daud Suleman commits to taking Find Codi brand to great heights after nurturing Fikisa of Akamwile fame.

He says the potential of the band relies in its innovation and passion to bring the best to the audience.

“Find Codi has potential to make it big as another forceful musical brand from the Southern Africa bloc. People should sample its new compilation of Afro Jazz Tukuka and mark my words,” says Suleman.

Chief executive officer (CEO) of Mibawa Entertainment Company John Nthakomwa described Find Codi as a gifted group.

“We have sampled their music and live performance, they are really good. Chikondi is just another amazing singer who is destined for great heights. And Mibawa has found great talent in her,” says Nthakomwa.

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Tonderai, Lucius to revive int’l music shows http://mwnation.com/tonderai-lucius-revive-intl-music-shows/ Fri, 08 Sep 2017 17:03:42 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=216836 It is yet that time of the year when the country’s entertainment industry gets busy with international artists that flood Malawi to perform or headline a number of events such as annual music festivals. For example, this year’s Sand Music Festival, which is a brainchild of musician Lucius Banda and his Impakt Events, will be…

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It is yet that time of the year when the country’s entertainment industry gets busy with international artists that flood Malawi to perform or headline a number of events such as annual music festivals.

For example, this year’s Sand Music Festival, which is a brainchild of musician Lucius Banda and his Impakt Events, will be headlined by a Congolese musician Awilo Longomba who is popularly known for his energetic stage performances.

Tonderai: We are long-time partners

According to Lucius, it is a deal done with Awilo and he promised fireworks at this years’s festival, which is scheduled from October 27 to 29 on Lake Malawi’s Livingstonia beach in Salima.

“For Awilo Longomba all is set. He is one of the international headliners of this year’s Sand Music Festival,” said Lucius.

Formerly, the country has hosted other big names such as Jamaica’s Busy Signal, Mali’s Afro-pop singer and song writer Salif Keïta and Diamond Platinumz who headlined last year’s Sand Music Festival.

However, while international events excite many people and help to build the reputation of the country’s entertainment industry, the issue of sound quality and stage setup has been a dodgy one.

For example, poor sound engineering and stage have spoiled otherwise good shows. And now, the feud between two of the country’s entertainment players-veteran music promoter Jai Banda and Lucius Banda, which ensued last year, has been one of the major negative developments impacting on the development of the country’s showbiz industry.

Lucius: We are back to our senses

Late last year, the verbal battle between Lucius and his Impakt Events and Jai Banda alongside his Entertainers Promotions, reached absurd proportions, probably over the kingship of the country’s entertainment as far as events organisation is concerned.

It all started when Jai, who is a lawyer-cum-music promoter, purportedly posted a remark on Facebook apologising to both local and international audiences for the alleged drawbacks that marred last year’s Sand Music Festival which was headlined by the Tanzania’s Diamond Platinumz.

Jai’s post read in part: “I wish to apologise to [Tanzanian musician] Diamond Platinumz for the show he has been subjected to. He should not think that this is the way we organise shows in Malawi.”

However, this did not go down well with Lucius and his team who thought Jai went out of bounds to apologise on their behalf. Since then, the two sides have not been seeing each other eye-to-eye.

 

Unity of purpose

A sudden turn of events this week offers some hope to music lovers. The two warring forces are working together once again following Entertainers Promotions inclusion of Lucius in their Sound and Light festival which is slated between 29 and 30 September at Livingstonia Beach.

Entertainers Promotions is now managed by Jai’s son Tonderai.

The lawyer’s son said Lucius has been a long time partner of Entertainers Promotions since 1990s; hence, the partnership is beyond personal.

“Our partnership is good for the growth of the country’s entertainment industry because we are aware of what our contributions can make. For your information, Lucius started working with my father a long time ago. So, we are long-time partners in music development,” said Tonderai.

On his part, Lucius said it was in the best interest of Malawians to restart their working relationship with Entertainers Promotions.

“When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers the most.  Our differences were not healthy for the growth of the entertainment industry. Further, it was not painting a good picture before the corporate world that supports our industry. But what we are saying now is that we are back to our senses. To me, there were no issues. I think it was a matter of a communication breakdown,” Lucius confessed on Wednesday.

The sudden change of hearts between Lucius and Entertainers Promotions has excited music fans because Lucius is one of the respected musicians who have influence when it comes to music and attract international artists. While Jai Banda and his Entertainers Promotions are leaders in their own league when it comes to providing best equipment and stage.

Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) President the Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango described the combination of the two as ‘super’.

“It is stimulating to learn that the two have buried their differences. This shows a sense of maturity on the two and positive message to the corporate world. Their collaborative efforts are super,” said Mhango.

Apart from Entertainers Promotions, the country has other event organisers with quality equipment such as Mibawa Entertainment Company, which is owned by John Nthakomwa and Nyanja Productions by Lemme Phiri.

Mhango underscored the importance of collaboration as key to uplifting the country’s creative industries.

“There is power in unity. We can’t make strides if we operate in isolation. We must also accept other people’s talents and contributions in whatever we do for the good of the country’s entertainment industry,” he said.

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Raiding our parastatals http://mwnation.com/raiding-our-parastatals/ Sat, 02 Sep 2017 12:15:51 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=216578 On July 29 2017, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) held a dinner event dubbed ‘Blue Night’, in essence a fundraising gala evening intended to solicit donations from the public for the running of the DPP. Since we do not yet have a framework for political party funding, there is nothing wrong with such solicitation.…

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On July 29 2017, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) held a dinner event dubbed ‘Blue Night’, in essence a fundraising gala evening intended to solicit donations from the public for the running of the DPP. Since we do not yet have a framework for political party funding, there is nothing wrong with such solicitation. However, a number of contributors to the DPP cause posed genuine and well-founded concerns. These contributors included statutory bodies such as Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu City Councils and Lilongwe Water Board amongst others. There are reports that the list of parastatal contributors is even longer.

A number of civil society organisations including Centre for the Development of People, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Church and Society, Human Rights Consultative Committee and Youth and Society (CSOs) took a stand against these donations and demanded that the DPP refunds the money received from the parastatals or face court action. This call was echoed by the Malawi Law Society, which condemned the illegal donations.

Seeking or demanding contributions from parastatal organisations is not new in our political dispensation. This type of abuse has taken place since the Kamuzu days and has been perfected in the multiparty era.

When given the opportunity, political parties of all colours, from yellow, to blue to orange, have all forced or otherwise induced officers in parastatals to breach their fiduciary duties and hand over cash or in-kind services to ruling parties.

For example, parastatals with the remotest concern in the transport business have purchased trucks and buses with no apparent connections to their central role only for these to be seen furtively carrying party cadres to and from campaign rallies.

Party functionaries strategically placed in the various boards have openly demanded excessive and unjustified allowances and other benefits, which have then been back-channelled to political party activities. So entrenched has been the practice that it is now unsurprising that it is carried out in the open, with officers from parastatals blatantly jostling with each other to be announced as the purveyors of illegal bounty.

However, it should not take the threat of a court case to realise that demanding donations from parastatals is wrong. Neither should it take CSOs to point out that handing out these donations is poor corporate governance.

Such actions are illegal both on the part of the DPP and the responsible officers at the concerned parastatals. As the ruling party, the DPP should be worried about not only the legality of these transactions but also the morality of the same. Political memory may be short but it would serve our politicians and officers serving our parastatals to remember the case of the formerly honourable Sam Mpasu and his Fieldyork problem.

When the yellow political song had come to an end, it was the formerly honourable Mpasu that was left squirming to the tune of accountability.

A refund of the so-called donations is the first step and this should be immediate. It is pointless discussing whether the DPP is right to keep the donations—the officers from the parastatals had no authority to gift these funds and in so doing have breached their fiduciary duties and other laws.

The second step will have serious repercussions for the individuals involved in soliciting these donations and the officers that authorised the gifts.

This step will require that prosecutorial agencies such as the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and the Anti-Corruption Bureau investigate if any financial crimes have been committed either under the Corrupt Practices Act or the Penal Code.

If these agencies do not move, the CSOs that have taken the DPP to task will be within their rights to seek judicial review for the lack of action from these prosecutorial agencies or indeed to launch private prosecutions over these donations.

Our political class still seems in denial that Malawians are tired of their excesses. How is it possible that at a time when Lilongwe Water Board cannot clear sewage from our water supply, they have the funds to donate to party political causes?

How is it okay that at a time when our children do not have adequate sanitation services at school, our city council officers are busy splashing money at a Blue Night?

The responses from the DPP when these matters were raised were full of entitled arrogance. There was little recognition of the grave repercussions for these illegal actions especially on the part of the responsible officers.

My Vice President, who has spearheaded reform in the public service, has spoken now and again about responsibility in public service but where is that responsibility when parastatal funds are misapplied at the behest of the ruling party?

And where is the Malawi Congress Party in all this? The silence from our main opposition party is worrisome as it indicates a consensus amongst our politicians that parastatal resources are fair game.

I have argued on this column that we need to resolve the issue of political party funding with a robust and transparent legal framework.

This episode highlights the urgency of these legal reforms. The message from the CSOs is clear: Malawians will not stand by when politicians and our public institutions conspire to squander the little we have. Stop raiding our parastatals. It is wrong. It is illegal.

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Women objectified in music videos? http://mwnation.com/women-objectified-music-videos/ Fri, 01 Sep 2017 09:02:43 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=216310 Women are objectified in music videos, especially in hip hop and rap; from sexy dressing, speaking in seductive tones to acting and dancing in a sexual manner. “It’s the perfect portrayal of women as sex objects. Why women constantly need to be exposed or half-naked is beyond me. Is it to sell albums, or to…

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Women are objectified in music videos, especially in hip hop and rap; from sexy dressing, speaking in seductive tones to acting and dancing in a sexual manner.

“It’s the perfect portrayal of women as sex objects. Why women constantly need to be exposed or half-naked is beyond me. Is it to sell albums, or to further impose the idea of a woman as being the object of a male’s pleasure? quizzes music fan Mercy Banda of Ndirande Township in Blantyre.

Ritaa defended her artwork saying it has nothing to do with morals

She says sometimes in music videos, the woman’s face is not shown, instead, her body, especially her buttocks become a showpiece and is put on display.

“It angers me a lot as these videos depict a woman as not having an identity or a sense of individualism thus, reinforcing a woman’s role in society as a sex symbol,” she urges.

South African author, Erving Goffman in his book, Gender Advertisements agrees with Banda’s sentiments.

“Women’s bodies are often dismembered and treated as separate parts, perpetuating the concept that a woman’s body is not connected to her mind and emotions,” states the sociologist.

He says for example, certain body parts like the woman’s breast, her buttocks or her legs would be emphasized in music videos or on stage performances while her face is not shown at all.

For a longtime, a woman has become a subject of many things both good and bad in the world. For example, we cannot talk about poverty and HIV/Aids pandemic without mentioning them as the most vulnerable groups.

Almost at the centrestage of every global challenge, be it climate change, population boom or economic meltdown, there is a female face. But is this why the world of entertainment in Malawi also uses the female form to tackle different societal issues?

“Not all artists portray women as objects,” a local artist argues. “Some of us potray women  as the most beautiful and loving creatures on this planet. Imagine, a world without a mother or wife who soothes you in times of trouble or gives you hundred reasons to smile.”

However, music lovers Society interviewed said a majority of artists continue to portray women as sinners and sex objects.

Some industry experts argue that music is all about money. They say that money can build or destroy morals or drive some people crazy.

But if Malawians are to draw a lesson from abundant music videos in which women are paraded almost naked, one is left with an impression that money is the driving factor for women to dance in the video semi-nude.

Women are objectified in music videos, especially in hip hop and rap

In other words, women are increasingly becoming slaves of their actions as well as a centre of controversy such as blame game whenever something goes wrong in love or society, as a whole.

For instance, whether some music compositions are influenced by anger or vengeance, women are being attacked left, right and centre as the most wrong-doers. Some songs go to the extent of demeaning women are weak characters in society, which is in sharp contrast with the gender related teachings that strive to empower a women as a subject which deserves equal treatment in society.

For example musician Saint sings about anxiety in love in one of his popular songs called Delilah. Ha partly sings: “Timano tako ukamasekelera/Timawu tako ukamandiyankhula/Timaso tako ukandiyang’ana/ Ndimaafa head/Timiyendo tako ukaponya step/Kambina kako mkumagwedezera/Timanja tako tikandikhudza….ndimadzifunsaa/Kuti sudzandidyera chuma change iwe?

(Delilaaah)/Sudzawazunza abale anga iwe (Delilaah)/Mkundipereka kwa adani iwe? (Delilaaah).”

Statements like ‘Sudzandidyera chuma change iwe?’, ‘Sudzawazunza abale anga iwe?’ and ‘Mkundipereka kwaadani iwe?’ potray a woman (Delilah) as some fortune seeker, wicked and someone who is not worth the trust in love.

Another musician Young D has also released a song titled Mkazi Oipa which features E-Word, Genii Blakki and Nepman. Basically, the song dismisses a woman as some evil for breaking a promise in love.

While money continues to dictate behaviours of some women such as dressing and dancing half-naked in the music videos, some young women defend their rights to freedom of expression.

“Art has nothing to do with morals,” says musician Ritaa.

Recently, the female emcee released artwork for her hitsong Winner, in a revealing swimsuit which exposed her thighs. Ritaa’s fans reacted coldly to the artwork, branding it as soft porn.

But Ritaa shot back, arguing the artwork was in line with her music brand.

“The artwork has nothing to do with my morals, but an attempt to defend and celebrate my power as a woman,” she told the media.

Gender activist Jessie Kabwila, in her 2012 Lead Pan-African presentation on on Gender and Climate Change, decries songs that are gender insensitive.

She argues that such songs portray women as weak, victims, worthless and powerless.

“Music must champion gender equality,” the lawmaker said. She criticises Lucius Banda’s Zakukhosi, Zili Ndi Iwe and Wa CV by Maskal and Coca Cola by Organised Family from Zambia for potraying women as weak.

“Music has power to shape thinking or decisions of people towards women. So, when women are portrayed as insignificant, society accepts this gradually,” she argues.

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Rediscovering Namadingo http://mwnation.com/rediscovering-namadingo/ http://mwnation.com/rediscovering-namadingo/#comments Fri, 25 Aug 2017 16:04:48 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=215669 Patience Namadingo was barely 18-years-old when he decided to pursue a music career. The young singer, his debut CD in hand, would go around gospel shows begging for a slot in the performance line-up. Today, that young lad is one of the biggest stars on the local music scene. Although the account captures the gist…

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Patience Namadingo was barely 18-years-old when he decided to pursue a music career.

The young singer, his debut CD in hand, would go around gospel shows begging for a slot in the performance line-up.

The ‘Tili ndi Yesu’ album spilled Namadingo to stardom

Today, that young lad is one of the biggest stars on the local music scene.

Although the account captures the gist of Namadingo’s rise to fame, it falls short of telling the more complex and intriguing story of how the 26-year-old became the most sought-after local musician.

Here is his story.

“I recorded my first album Goshen in 2007 but it failed to take off because I lacked the resources to push it.

“However, that did not bother me because I realised that it wasn’t time to shoot, it was time to learn,” the Msati Mseke musician explains in a candid interview this week.

From the disappointment of his little known debut, Namadingo learnt valuable life lessons which have served him well in his coming of age.

“By watching established musicians, I learnt valuable stuff about good composition, about what they do to sustain their careers and, from these lessons, I decided to work on my composing skills and improve my working relationship with other people,” he says. “I also learnt to be independent and to trust in God always.”

Namadingo says his years in the music wilderness taught him to differentiate between a musician, an artist and a singer.

“When I started out in 2007 I was just a singer. And what I realised is that everyone can be a singer but it takes some experience to be a musician. So, during this period I took to learn how to play the piano and the guitar. I am not quite a genius yet but I am satisfied with what I know.

“I also learnt how to be an artist and how to appreciate art more. Gospel music is a difficult genre because it is basically the same message of salvation, but the art is what makes it different,” he says.

But how did his journey begin?

“I don’t really have a serious music background in the sense that I have never sung in a choir or with any music group. Actually, 2007 is when I tried music and instantly fell in love,” he explains.

From then on, with his mother aiding him along, he started composing and recording.

“I started composing and my mother spotted my talent and decided to sponsor my first album and she also helped me with backing vocals and contributed two songs to the album.”

The Tili ndi Yesu album spurred Namadingo to stardom within his neighbourhood. But not beyond.

“I remember I used to take the CD to gospel shows asking to perform but the MCs [Master of Ceremonies] turned me down all the time but I wasn’t disappointed because I knew that I was a musician for life,” he says.

Destiny has a way of directing people’s lives and shaping their future. And so was the case when the young musician lost his passport in Johannesburg where he had gone to visit his father.

Bored and with a lot of spare time on his hands as he waited to process a new travel document, the youngster used to spend his days at the nearby Johannesburg Art Gallery which is a meeting place for up-and-coming South African artists.

“I was both impressed and encouraged with what up-and-coming South African artists were doing and, from then on, I decided to take music more seriously.

“When I came back home, I used what I had learnt to make myself a better musician, more especially on voice projection,” he notes.

Namadingo went on to release Tili ndi Yesu in 2012 which has the hit single Mtendere and Nyumba ya Ndani.

From then on, he has blazed a trail that continues to spiral upwards. His two follow up albums Ba Yesu and The All New have both been local classics.

But having come this far, he says it is time to set a new trail and change the industry.

He has embarked an All New Namadingo project and tour. The tour started with a solo performance at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe two months ago. He takes the tour to Blantyre at Comesa Hall this evening.

He says the All New Namadingo project is about rebranding the image of Malawian music by changing the image that has been portrayed for a long time.

“When you talk of Malawian musicians, the image that has been depicted is that of chamba smokers. It is not a career that one would want their children to pursue with gusto just because there are no role models in music.

“The image of a musician must change. People don’t think music is a career worth chasing or a dream worth living. So the All New Namadingo project encompasses all this branding,” he says.

The All New Namadingo Tour is a class act, according to the musician.

“What we did at the BICC surprised a lot of people because we charged a premier charge for a show where only I performed with no supporting artists. I believe that Malawians are not stingy people, they have the money but people will pay for what is worth the value,” he remarks.

Namadingo says the Blantyre show will be supported by new music from his new album.

“But it is not a launch. It is stuff that people have not heard from Namadingo. This is a revolution of music in Malawi. We have embraced a new kind of spirit where we have to perfect our art. We believe we can pull off something special and we would love our Blantyre fans to be there to bear witness to this on Saturday,” he says.

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Championing hip hop for positive change http://mwnation.com/championing-hip-hop-positive-change/ Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:02:07 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=215115 Imagine, a young star in the ‘Ghetto’ calling himself a gangster and spending his precious time drinking the popular midori or terrorising their neighborhood and families with petty thefts of decoders and radios? What about those who spend their time chasing women and answering to such tags as ‘Bae killers’ or womanisers? Not only boys…

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Imagine, a young star in the ‘Ghetto’ calling himself a gangster and spending his precious time drinking the popular midori or terrorising their neighborhood and families with petty thefts of decoders and radios? What about those who spend their time chasing women and answering to such tags as ‘Bae killers’ or womanisers?

Not only boys are caught in the mess of reckless lifestyles all in the name of leading popular cultures. Girls too are embroiled in a similar trap with some dressing in erotic attires that make them look like zombies ready to attract the attention of every loose man on the street. They are busy riding uncle Baes’ cars and patronising night clubs anyhow.

Fredokiss performs to young people during one of his shows

In same vein, the young are increasingly becoming self-possessed with the popular urban culture to the extent that discipline is lacking among them.  To them, they have a right to behave the way they want.

Activists argue that most young people today copy bad lifestyles from the media such as music videos. For example, when one watches a character that is depicted as a womaniser in a movie or music video, they tend to copy such behaviour and apply it in their real-life experience.

“It’s not normal at all because this exposes them to danger. Instead of consuming positive messages, young people today are increasingly exposed to immoral content which put their lives at risk of contracting HIV,” observed Chimwemwe Kaonga, a youth commissioner for the National Aids Commission (NAC).

Just like many artistic genres, hip hop is heavily connected to negativity. For example, some hip hop videos depict traits of ‘thuggin’ and drug-dealing’ as a way of life. This eventually imparts negativity on those youths that copy and try to apply it in real-life situations.

As a matter of fact, hip hop originated from the streets of Harlem and Bronx in the United States of America (US) and it has always been associated with street life. This culture has been spread over the world, including Malawi, where young people behave as if they are on the streets of Bronx and Harlem.

Historically, hip hop culture is connected with the majority of young people around the globe. It was a way for members of marginalised communities to express themselves on their own terms. But once hip hop went global, the capitalists caught on and started twisting it to portray a negative narrative, according to Hip Hop for Change (HH4C), an American initiative aimed at reclaiming hip hop and use it as a force for social justice.

“The mainstream music industry sells sexism, drug abuse and homophobia, materialism and gang violence as if these problems represent the cornerstones of hip hop culture,” states the HH4C mission statement.

“[But] hip hop stems from the roots of artistic, creative and militant demands for justice and the acceptance of diversity in all its forms. In this way, hip hop is what we, as individuals, want it to be.”

As young people continue to be frenzied by negative lifestyles that are mostly depicted in videos, some think Hip hop is a misleading genre which is igniting problems in the society. But not all is lost as some artists and organisations in the country have embraced the genre as a tool for bringing change.

HipHop4HIV is one of the projects—founded by Vida Germano—aimed at creating an HIV-free community.

“Expressing ourselves to what we feel or what we went through and what we are still going through because of HIV through music is easier than just talking about it. This is why we introduced this project which uses the power of hip hop to fight HIV,” he says.

Recently, HipHop4HIV organised a music competition in which Mlaka-Maliro’s song, Jammal, triumphed after composing a theme song for the project titled Love and Protect Yourself. He went away with K50 000 as a prize. The theme song is being used to raise awareness in youth programmes in different radio programmes and music shows.

“The aim of the competition was to bring together youthful innovative minds through hip hop which they love and deliver a compelling HIV and Aids message to create a genuinely informed and an HIV and Aids negative community. We are grateful to Jamaal Mlaka-Maliro for emerging the winner,” says HipHop4HIV countty director Victoria Masanje.

Rapper Fredokiss, who is popularly known as Ghetto King Kong, believes he has revolutionalised hip hop to address the needs of young people in the country.

He observes that majority of young people are swimming in poverty as well as facing all sorts of challenges hindering their personal growth.

“As a representative of Ghetto youths, I feel the need to compose songs that give hope to this group. There is no need for me to talk about lavish lifestyles or flashy cars while majority of young people are languishing in the Ghetto,” says Fredokiss, whose real name is Penjani Kalua.

He emphasises that young people need employment and positive lifestyles in Malawi; hence, the need for artists to embrace hip hop for change.

“We need to preach hard work and advocate for conducive living conditions for the country’s young people. We need to inspire them to be go-getters and hard workers who can make it through amid the crisis,” says Fredokiss, reiterating that his music represents the struggles of Ghetto youths. n

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Vic Marley’s music style http://mwnation.com/vic-marleys-music-style/ http://mwnation.com/vic-marleys-music-style/#comments Fri, 11 Aug 2017 21:43:08 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=214568 Victor Kunje aka Vic Marley marked the epoch of a new era in ragga music to a generation that was being exposed to different genres of music, including those from Jamaica. At 23 in 2003, he appealed to the youth who, just like him, had embraced modernity in his lifestyle and music. Marley came into…

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Victor Kunje aka Vic Marley marked the epoch of a new era in ragga music to a generation that was being exposed to different genres of music, including those from Jamaica.

At 23 in 2003, he appealed to the youth who, just like him, had embraced modernity in his lifestyle and music. Marley came into the limelight in 2003 with his single Malilime before releasing his debut album, Mau Anga. From then up to the time of his demise in 2005, the young generation had fallen in love with his style of music.

Radio broadcasters and music commentators say that until Marley ventured into the music industry with his hi-ho music style in 2003, ragga music had little appeal to many young people.

According to Carim Mpaweni, a radio presenter at taxpayer funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), Marley was an artist who brought change in the way artists performed ragga.

“His music style stirred interest in the music circles, especially among the youth of his generation. He had a unique style of singing. He introduced his own music style and he maintained it,” he says.

Annie Matumbi, the late Vic Marley’s close friend, describes the fallen ragga artist as exceptionally talented and skilled in his music style.

“Vic Marley brought in a new ragga style which was performed in Jamaica, but was not known in the country. He creatively added a new touch to it. He fused it with his local beat style of hi-ho and the result was an instant success. With this music style, he won the hearts of the young generation,” he says.

Matumbi, a ragga artist as well, explains that what sets Marley apart as a music genius was his originality, creativity and skill in the way he came up with music compositions.

“He was unique on his own. The ideas he articulated in music were mature, brilliant and important to society. In short, the lyrical content of his songs was great,” he says.

Another musician, Fuggie Kasipa, speaking to The Nation in 2005, a day after Marley’s demise, described him as an exceptional musician.

“He was one of the few musicians in the country who was able to develop his own music. It will take Malawi sometime to find another creative musician such as Marley,” he said then.

Commenting in the same paper, Anjilu Fumulani, a member of Black Missioneries Band, said Marley put Malawi music on the map with his style which was unique.

A music promoter, Tonderai Banda, says Marley had his own type of music and singing style that endeared him to music lovers, especially the youth.

On his part, Matumbi cites songs such as Zimbabwe and Adaferanji (Aida) as some of his great compositions in lyrical content and style.

“In Zimbabwe, the talented artist was discussing challenges facing Zimbabweans and relating them to Malawi. This showed his understanding of the issues of that time.

“His message was concerning the whole of Africa. An artist is the one who sings about the challenges people are facing,” says Matumbi.

Marley also did a song with Matumbi titled Chidikhodikho which criticises some people for being jealousy towards other people’s success.

However, Mpaweni hails Traffic police as a song that tackles real issues happening in everyday life, especially concerning minibus drivers and the traffic police.

“One could not think of a song that could talk about the cat and mouse relationship between traffic police officers and minibus drivers. It is this ability to see things from another level and sing beautifully that earned him a special place in Malawi’s music industry,” he says.

Another song Mpaweni hails is Pokhapokha in which the artist is appealing to Malawians to love one another by supporting local artists or products.

“In the song, Marley is criticising people who prefer foreign things to local ones. He is calling for patriotism in the song,” he says.

Marley’s contribution to the music industry is a lot, according to Banda, as he also happens to be one of the people who recorded some of Marley’s songs.

“I worked with Vic Marley. In fact, we are the ones who produced Traffic police and a couple of other songs. I remember that he was one of the first young musicians to hold live solo band shows.

“By then, many young artists liked to use CDs [compact disks] in their shows. After his demise, everyone has gone back to CDs,” says Banda.

Vic Marley was one of the first young artists to produce and launch a music album, according to Banda.

“It was popular for young artists in those days just to produce singles and not put them into an album. But Marley showed his generation that a young artist can record a music album,” he says.

Soon after his demise on May 24, other artists have tried to imitate his music style to connect with his fan base, but have not succeeded, music commentators say.

“Even his young brother, Star Marley, who stepped into the shoes of his brother [Marley], found them too big and threw in the towel. To no avail, he tried to mimic his brother’s singing style, but fell by the way-side,” explains Mpaweni on Marley’s talent.

Meanwhile, Annie Matumbi continues to lament over the passing on of his best friend whom he says would have achieved greater things in music if he had lived to this day.

As he sang in his tribute with Dustan Kapitapita and Lulu that “imfa ya Vic Marley/Ine sindingayiwale/ndzalirabe mpaka kale/Poti iye anali monga mbale…” so will his fans continue to remember him for his hi-ho music style.

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Reviving theatre performances http://mwnation.com/reviving-theatre-performances/ Fri, 04 Aug 2017 14:08:02 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=214084 Drama enthusiasts in the country are complaining about the scanty theatre performances in recent years. They cite a time when there used to be a lot of drama performances from theatre groups such as Wakhumba Ensemble Theatre, Kwathu Drama Group, Nanzikambe Arts Theatre and many others. Of late however, only a few groups are active—groups…

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Drama enthusiasts in the country are complaining about the scanty theatre performances in recent years.

They cite a time when there used to be a lot of drama performances from theatre groups such as Wakhumba Ensemble Theatre, Kwathu Drama Group, Nanzikambe Arts Theatre and many others.

Nanzikambe Arts Theatre used to perform regularly both locally and internationally

Of late however, only a few groups are active—groups such as Mzuzu Theatre Arts Group (Mutag) and Dikamawoko Arts Troupe have been holding performances regularly.

Dikamawoko just performed a two cast play at Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) and at the HS Winehouse in Blantyre titled Taking Madiba at the end of July. On their part, Mutag just performed Final Faithfools in late June in Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must).

These irregular performances do not please theatre fans such as Chikumbutso Chigalu, a Ndirande resident who used to patronise auditoriums and theatres for drama.

Chigalu only has fond memories of the past when he would regularly go to the French Cultural Centre [now Blantyre Cultural Centre] to enjoy himself.

“In those days we would travel from Ndirande to French Cultural Centre just to watch Du Chisiza or Izeki perform. To us it was real fun and entertainment. But now, only memories remain,” he says.

Erick Mabedi, president of Theatre Association of Malawi, says that in the past there were a lot of theatre performances because among other reasons, venues were cheap.

“We do not have more theatre performances these days as compared with the past because of the economic situation we are going through. This has slowed theatre activities. To put up a show we need to find a venue. In the past they charged us 10 percent to 15 percent but now they are charging us between K80 000 and K150 000 for a hall,” Mabedi explains.

Further Mabedi said that some plays need a big cast of about 10 people. As such the burden of transporting them is costly.

“If we are going to Lilongwe, Dwangwa and other places, we need to transport and accommodate these people. It will cost a lot to transport over 10 people,” he said.

Another challenge Mabedi cited is advertising—in the past there was only one local station and it was easy and cheap to put an advert during morning programmes because artists knew that many people would be listening to the advert.

“But now there are many radio stations. You have to advertise through four stations. This is a lot of money. Again, some do not listen to the radio. They just watch television. So after spending a lot for the play, you go to Salima and you only get K400 000,” he says.

Misheck Mzumara of Mzuzu Theatre Arts Group (Mutag) said a number of artists are taking steps towards making theatre vibrant. But it’s a slow and painful process.

“It’s positive and there is a lot of collaboration. So far, Mutag has performed Sizwe Banzi is Dead which was a collaboration between Mutag and Lions theatre of Thlupego Chisiza, Prison Escape, written by Smith Likongwe of Chancellor College was in collaboration with Nanzikame four months ago in Blantyre and Final Faithfools by Mutag alone last month in Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Must and Tales of a Migrant, a one-man cast play by Mutag in Blantyre and Mzuzu it was written by Thokozani Kapiri and the poetry is by Nyamalikiti Nthiwatiwa.”

Another setback according to Mabedi is that a quality play that Malawians can like is expensive adding that they need to write scripts that carry issues that are relevant.

“For example, political prostitution happening now. Again, the language in the play ought to be formal. When I write a play, I send it to the Censorship Board to check the language. I wonder whether our fellow poets send their works to the censorship board because it appears some poems contain vulgar language,” said Mabedi.

He added that to revive theatre performances, the people in the industry should show seriousness. There must be talented actors, good plays and issues of copyright should be tightened.

“No one should just be allowed to stage a comedy of Izeki without due permission. There must be originality and not just copying the works of others,” he suggested.

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