On January 17, 2008, a dark cloud hovered over Malawi as acoustic music great Stonard Lungu died at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH). The nation mourned that passage, as the pain of never seeing the stalwart musician was too hard to bear.
That pain was not without cause as music lovers tried to come to terms with the reality that Lungu, who made seething mellow tunes like Uthenga wa Imfa, Pilot Soldier, Anachita Chobaya and Ndikakwatire Kwathu Kumangoni, was gone, forever.
Soon after LunguÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s body was laid to rest at the HHI Cemetery,Ã‚Â the music loversÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ hopes rose, when human rights activist Undule Mwakasungula said StonardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s posthumous album, Chikondi cha Ambuye, would be out the following month.
Today, almost three years down the line, the album is not on the street. The acoustic musicianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s son, Kondwani says there have been demands for LunguÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s music.
To keep the Stonard spirit alive, Kondwani and his siblings have made appearances as Young Stones in various performances, apart from featuring in Telling Our StoriesÃ¢â‚¬â€a documentary on the life and times of Stonard by Michael Phoya.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“People have been asking for the music and we have been reproducing the previous albums,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Kondwani.
Ethnomusicologist Waliko Makhala, who has been working on the album, said the album is done and ready for release in February next year.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We had to hold it as StonardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sons were doing other projects and we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want a collision. We are done with the mastering, which has taken us some time as we had to do a lot of boosting since we recorded Stonard when he was ailing,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Makhala.
The eight-track album, which was recorded by Goodson Gomonda, will feature fresh Stonard Lungu songs, with only two: Mukanene and Zapadziko, reappearing from the musicianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s two albums Mukanene and Kumangoni.
Waliko, who previously worked with Stonard on a rendition of his Mukanene with saxophonist Rick Deja and guitarist Nathaniel Chalamanda, said they also had to look into legal issues.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Producing a posthumous album involves certain legal issues so that the proceeds go to the real beneficiaries.Ã‚Â We also had to make sure the album is secure from the grip of pirates,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Makhala.
The 58-year-old Lungu passed away at QECH, a day after he was flown back from Tanzania, where he sought cancer treatment.