When musician Patience Namadingo decided to sing about other aspects of life other than gospel, which is what Malawians know him for, some of his fans were up in arms. They wrote on his social media pages and accused him of ‘abandoning’ his calling.
Malawi has seen a number of artists abandon secular music for gospel music. From Gwamba, Ethel Kamwendo-Banda, San B to Onesmus, the list is quite long. But for Namadingo some people took it negatively. From gospel to secular, they alleged.
But why did Namadingo choose to widen his scope?
“I want to use my talent to talk about different things about life. I have a platform that I can use to make the world better. I want to use my talent to educate people about several aspects of life. But I will also be doing gospel,” said Namadingo in a recent interview.
The artist said he feels he can contribute more if he stops restricting himself to gospel.
“We have issues of child marriages, HIV and Aids. As a voice of reason, I can help government deal with these things,” he said.
The artist said his calling is to serve other people and he can no longer restrict himself to gospel music when there are other aspects of life he can help people with.
He said he recently released three singles, Vinyo, Ngwi Ngwi and Maria; two of which are gospel and one inspirational.
In Ngwi Ngwi, Namadingo rebukes men who are unfaithful to their wives. He warns that once a good woman is gone, she does not come back. It is not a gospel song.
“Those against my decision are not the ones who called me. I believe singing about vices that affect society is still gospel in its own way,” he said.
How does he feel about fans who accuse him of departing from his calling?
“If somebody thinks I have departed from my calling, I am very sure whoever is thinking like that is not the one who called me. And they did not consult the one who called me. I am still along the same jurisdiction of the call,” he said.
Namadingo added that despite some quarters disapproving his decision, his fan base has grown and the response has been super.
He said this is the first time he is releasing an album after interacting with his fans.
“I am interacting with my fans constantly and my fan base has grown not just in Malawi, but across the border. In Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, among other countries,” Namadingo said.
But critics of his choice have also spoken.
Writing on Namadingo’s Facebook page, Jephthah Theu said: “Thus what the Grace of God does. And from this testimony to now secular? Just know we deeply love following you as you follow Christ.”
Namadingo responded: “In all honesty brother, I can no longer continue living in this world and only talk about Jesus. I have a responsibility to talk about other issues that are affecting people and leading them to disasters because people don’t have enough guidance and information. I want to talk about girl child rights and fight for equal rights and justice. I want to try to contribute to society both spiritually and physically. I hate it when I meet people who think I’m on earth just to sing Jesus and that’s all. I love Jesus yes, and I want to go to heaven, but I also want to make this place a beautiful place while I am here.”
An artist who did not want to be named said it is easier for Malawians to embrace an artist from secular to gospel than the other way round.
“But it’s all hypocritical really. I don’t think what Namadingo is doing is sinful or wrong in any way,” said the artist.
Namadingo entered the music industry at the age of 17 with his debut album Goseni in 2007. He has since established himself as one of the liked gospel artists before his recent decision. He will launch his fourth album Ya Kwa Symon on December 20 at Comesa Hall in Blantyre, the following day he will take the album to Lilongwe.