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.
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.
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.