The year ending on December 31 proved yet again that the Black Missionaries Band is arguably Malawi’s biggest reggae outfit. From the time it was founded, the band has consistently dished out music that puts them apart from all the pretenders. The reggae band has survived the test of time even when the band lost some key members, including the founder, Evison Matafale, along the way.
So, when the band leader Anjiru Fumulani announced earlier in 2018 that the band was going to release a new album, the anticipation among fans was naturally high. The band has always named its albums Kuimba, only differentiating them with numbers in their particular order of release. The year 2018 was for Kuimba 11.
Come June 29, the waiting was over. The much-anticipated album was launched at a show at Robin’s Park in Blantyre.
The event, which was well patronised, saw the band staying the course as they delivered Ma Blacks typical songs that received a grand welcome.
During the night of the launch, most patrons generally appreciated the fact that the event was well organised. Every artist who performed brought their A game to the fore.
“All the performances were impressive. The organisation of the show was nice as well. Largely it was a peaceful occasion,” said Alice Bwanamdogo, a Zingwangwa resident who attended the event.
Some of the songs on the new album include Zikomo, Gombe la Nyanja, Katswiri, Unali Kuti, Chant Reggae Music, Saviour, Zofuna Mtima Wanga, among others.
But the reaction from music critics was not so impressive. Generally, fans felt the reggae band had delivered a half-baked album whose lyrics, progression codes and sound lacked the ‘wow’ factor that is associated with the Kuimba series.
Wrote one Boniface Kaisi: “Apapa Ma Blacks nde apala. This album is below average, I am not impressed.”
But in an interview with The Nation following the reactions, band leader Anjiru Fumulani said as a band they were aware of some negative reactions and that they knew they could never impress everyone no matter how hard they tried.
“We know we tried our best. That album is rich and we are proud of the production. Every album we release does meet some sort of criticism. It is actually part of the game,” said Anjiru.
And when the band took the album to Lilongwe for another launch, they proved that despite the negative reviews, they are still the crowd-pullers in as far as music shows are concerned.
On July 1, the band descended on Lilongwe Golf Club to give their Central Region-based fans a taste of the music.
Though the event organisers Entertainers Promotions had announced that the event would take place in the afternoon, it only started at around 8pm.
The band members took at least an hour to play tracks from their new album before switching to songs from the previous Kuimba albums.
Besides launching the latest Kuimba album, the Black Missionaries had a hectic year both within and outside the country. In July, they were hired by mobile phone company TNM to perform at this year’s Mulanje Mountain Porters’ Race.
They also performed in South Africa, Botswana and Europe.
With tripartite elections set for next year, 2018 found Mablacks being dragged into some political shenanigans where some political parties claimed that they are going to perform at their political rallies.
As has been their position over the years, the Black Missionaries always came out smart by disassociating themselves with any political affiliation.
Three years went by before Kuimba 11 was released, 2019, therefore, does not offer any hope that Kuimba 12 might come as was the case when Kuimba albums started coming. n