According to Malawian culture, the dead are respected. That is why the dead are eulogised regardless of having led a life that was not exemplary. This tendency is even worse when an artist dies as MAYAMIKO SEYANI discovered.
When Evison Matafale died, he was crowned king of reggae. Vic Marley, too, was crowned soon after his death. However, the crown of king of dancehall has duly been passed on to Mafunyeta after his death on Sunday night.
It is undisputable that Malawi lost an artist with rare talent in Mafunyeta (real name Patrick Magalasi).
He sprung to stardom after his album Ndimakondwa became an anthem for parties, clubs and other entertainment joints. But the artistic journey was not all rosy for the young artist—his music was banned on MBC for alleged explicit lyrics his songs carried.
Ironically, on Monday, President Joyce Banda praised the late Mafunyeta as a talented musician who sang of love and peace.
Thousands mourned Mafunyeta as tribute messages went viral on social network. Although he was not one of the highest selling artists in Malawi, his fame and charisma was overwhelming.
Joe Gwaladi’s song where he says “Ndangotchuka ulere koma ndalama ndilibe” (I am just famous but I am broke) fits like a glove into most Malawian artists’ lives.
Jolly Bro, a hip hop artist, hit out at fans for showing love now that he is dead.
“Malawi you did the same to Vic Marley, Matafale…some things will never change!” wrote the Ndimakonda Akazi rapper on Facebook.
Fredokiss, another hip hop artist, concurred with the fellow rapper.
“Jolly Bro has a point…Nonsenu munavaya kumalironu mukanangomugula CD bwenzi mutamuonetsa love alimoyo [if all of you who went to the funeral bought his CD’s while he was alive you would have shown your love],” reasoned the Ndikatseka Maso rapper.
Could it be the case that Malawians’ behaviour is moulded by the saying that “a rocker is worth more dead than alive”?
Speaking in a telephone interview, Armstrong, an urban music artist said there is no problem in mourning Mafunyeta, but was quick to attack pirates.
“The problem is that despite people loving your music, they go out there and pirate your material” said the Nde’feyo ace.
Poet Nyamalikiti Nthiwatiwa branded the idea of only supporting artists when they are dead as hypocrisy. He said he wrote a poem on the issue way back and Mafunyeta’s death has pushed him to release it.
“How many artists must die until we come to terms with the fact that the best support we can give them is to buy their records and/or patronise their shows? If we love them that much, why don’t we do the little-most thing they deserve from us?” said the poet.
“There are no record stores in heaven, let’s buy them while they are here on earth!” he added.
Surprisingly, the works of a dead artist are usually sought after maybe for fear of extinction of the material.