The name Gwanda Chakuamba is no mystery, obviously with a controversial legacy in domestic politics. That aside, the old man is a family man and among his grandchildren is Gwanda Chakuamba II who trekked to the US at the age of 12 and currently plies his trade as a musician and actor. ROGERS SIULA explores the young Chakuamba’s exploits and background.
His mother’s luck with the American Green Card Lottery landed this young man in the United States, a home of great opportunities, at the age of 12.
Born Gwanda Chakuamba II, named after the great, yet controversial politician and grandfather. Gwanda was born in Blantyre at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital on June 12 1988. He has lived between Blantyre, Lilongwe, Nsanje, South Africa, and Mzuzu until he was 12.
Being in an environment where Gwanda Chakuamba wouldn’t mean a thing ,the artist has created a character by the name of Slim DeLeon which he expresses through music. “Slim— means young and DeLeon— meaning the lion or the king, so collectively, the young lion or the young king.
“Slim DeLeon is the world-wide voice of the youth. I represent Africa and I speak for Africa. I hope to inspire music, film, and art in Africa. The world sees Africa as naked, hungry savages but that is not the case. Africa is the world’s richest people, the most creative story tellers and film makers and also the most talented musicians,” he says.
He explains that his background in the entertainment industry is really something that happened almost by mistake.
“I would sing songs in the mirror as a kid. So when I came to the United States that had always been in the back of my mind but it didn’t seem obtainable for a long time. Up until about a year or two ago; I went to a classified ad website looking for an opportunity. So after searching, I found a local singer that was performing at a Lounge with a live band and I volunteered to help gaining experience.
“After the experience and inspiration from the artist I was going around the city of Atlanta, Georgia, USA, promoting myself as the next best thing emerging from the underground. I was having a freestyle battle with this artist from Germany, and T Miles (Master P and Lil Romeos right hand man at No Limit Forever Records) discovered me and handed a flyer which had an advertisement for the movie Recogniz’.
“I followed up with the information that he gave me and I ended up working as an intern (for free) for a little under a year. In this year is when I learned everything there is to know about entertainment,” says the artist.
He says he has so far released his debut album which he is giving out free as a mixtape.
Could this artist be the next best thing for Malawi?
“I’m a kid from the village, who is now rubbing elbows with people on the social status of the elite celebs in the industry,” he says.
Young Gwanda’s inspiration is his grandfather whom he grew up with and was always willing to help others.
“My grandfather was a voice for the people through politics. I am also the voice of the people through art and expression music and film,” he adds.
Gwanda can be followed on Twitter @iamslimdeleon Instagram — @iamslimdeleon Facebook and Youtube — iamslimdeleon.
“I am open to any collaborations and features and business ventures, performances, anything to empower our people and spread our culture through the world.”