The death of founder of local reggae group the Black Missionaries, Evison Matafale created a void that many still believe will never be filled in as far as doing English compositions is concerned.
The easiness and flexibility which the Chileka-born artist possessed when on the microphone while dishing out English songs, is yet to be matched, such that the songs that he composed in 1999 still appeal to many today.
The rare ability he had deservedly earned him the status of Malawi’s undisputed reggae king and so many years after his death, nobody in Black Missionaries or on the local music scene has come close to challenge Matafale’s standing in the eyes of music lovers in the country.
But years on after Matafale’s death, another force emerged from Chileka wings in the name of Musamude Fumulani.
On his shoulders lay a huge responsibility to replace the music icon that Matafale was. He was never meant to be the second Matafale.
He needed to be his own man to run away from being haunted by the shadows of his late cousin who succumbed to tuberculosis (TB) while in detention and roped him into the Black Missionaries Band alongside his two siblings Anjiru and Chizondi.
The late Musamude took the mantle as the group’s lead vocalist and from 2005 to 2008, he did not disappoint. He steered the ship in between the release of their Kuimba 3 and Kuimba 6 albums with his renditions Reggae Music High and Rastaman’s Wife.
Some Black Missionaries fans were convinced that Matafale had left behind a good replacement who would carry on with his mission.
But when death struck the Black Missionaries family again in 2008, it spelled despair for those who love the reggae band. Not only was another leader gone but also a figure which many thought came close to Matafale’s flair.
Anjiru, Musamude’s young brother stepped in.
Anjiru is not a stranger to stage performance. Black Missionaries fans used to see him alternate on the vocals with his late brother. In fact, he was a support lead vocalist of the band since the release of Kuimba 3.
However, for all his good vocal qualities, Anjiru is yet to state his case as a master on English songs.
That is when the MaBlacks, as the band is populary known, unleashed the raw vocal abilities of keyboardist Chizondi in Kuimba 10.
When he was roped in to take the lead vocals on the song Mr. Bossman and High Grade, Matafale’s vocals came alive.
Five years later, Chizo as he is fondly called by his bandmates, has found himself in the thick of things again.
The Chileka-based reggae band has entrusted him in leading the microphone on Special Lover, a song which is expected to be part of their upcoming album, Kuimba 11.
Listening to the song, it is clear why the shy-faced Chizondi is steadily finding his feat in his new confines. He has proved to be a fast-learner and people can only look forward with great anticipation on what he will bring on the table once he solidifies his standing on the vocals.
In an interview, the soft spoken Chizondi played down comparisons with any of his fallen brothers: “I am slowly fitting into this role indeed.
“But people should not compare me to Matafale and Musamude. What I can ask from them is just their support at the moment.”
However, he says he has not assumed the role by accident and he has assured his fans to be on the look out for more productions from him as he has contributed a total of three songs in the MaBlacks upcoming album.
“What we have done is to reverse the situation to the way it was before whereby Anjiru was being assisted by Musamude on the vocals. We have kind of overworked Anjiru of late where he almost had to do all the vocals by himself. This should certainly offer him a rest,” he says.
The development has been warmly welcomed by his brother Anjiru, who has revealed the resistance he offered when the band members tried to coax him to try out on the vocals.
“It has been some time now that we have been encouraging him to come out and work on the microphone. We are not surprised that he has started so well because it shows he was preparing himself mentally for the role all this while.
“We have made it clear to him that he has what it takes to go as far as he wants. We are here for him if he needs our support,” he says of his young sibling who has rarely been in the limelight despite being one of the core members of the band.
The emergence of Chizondi may not be a response to the departures of Matafale and Musamude, but this may as well just prove to his chance and time. n