The year 2021 started on a very bad note. If it was possible, I am sure the arts sector would have loved to skip it.
The sad part is that as the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic was brewing in Malawi, it affected some of the country’s finest artists.
As early as January 9, the country lost its first artist in the name of Mariah Chidzanja Nkhoma who succumbed to Covid-19 at Kamuzu Central Hospital treatment centre.
Born on August 9 1952, Chidzanja Nkhoma was a musician and broadcaster who also worked abroad.
Her music career took her to Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Band which took her to various places both locally and internationally. She was also a broadcaster at MBC for over 12 years before moving to South Africa where she worked for Channel Africa.
As the country was still reeling from the passing of Chidzanja Nkhoma, another great musician died on January 30 2021. This time, it was the Afro jazz maestro Mtebeti Wambali Mkandawire. He too succumbed to Covid-19 at Kamuzu Central Hospital isolation centre. Born on July 10 1952, Mkandawire was one of the country’s most accomplished Afro-jazz musicians with various international honours bestowed on him.
Wambali’s music required a diligent ear to appreciate the elaborate guitar soloing and rhythm jams.
At the time of his death he was organising a comeback concert after taking a break from live performances.
Some of his famous albums to date include Up and Down Shire, Moto, Zani Muone, Ntchemo and Tidzamtamanda.
Music was not the only arts sector that lost in 2021. The visual arts also lost one of its finest. On June 23, Innocent Willinga Gondwe succumbed to asthma and pneumonia.
His creative works took him to a number of places, including reputable advertising firms such as RoofHouse Ogilvy where he was creative director and deputy managing director and Top Ad Advertising Agency.
His former workmate at RoofHouse Ogilvy Rogers Siula described Wilinga-Gondwe as a complete artist: “He was an all-round creative artist in as far as graphic designing, concept development of adverts and directing is concerned. He was also a fine painter and illustrator.”
But this was not all. On August 2, the country received news of the passing of comedian Eric Mabedi at Mwaiwathu Private Hospital. He had also succumbed to Covid-19.
Speaking during his funeral services at Catholic Institute (CI) Cemetery, a member of Kwathu Drama Group, which Mabedi had headed by the late Mabedi, Charles Mphoka simply said: “Eric was everything,” before breaking down in tears.
He was born on June 21 1963.
As if that was not enough, the country on August 27 lost yet another musician, the legendary Wyndham Chechamba at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital.
The 88-year-old was an accomplished musician who also owned a music school where he taught music to the younger generation. Sadly, another musician-turned preacher Chicco Kalirani also lost his life in 2021. The Achithekere star died on September 19 after suffering from hypertension. He was born on October 27 1974