Good people, the festival that celebrates the immutable beauty of Malawi’s prime tourist attraction, Lake Malawi, returns tonight.
The three-day Sand Music Festival slated for this weekend at Sunbird Livingstonia Beach in Salima has become an annual tourist attraction.
The crowds that patronise the arts festival on the sands and rock outcrops that pave the palm-fringed lake do not only make the anticipated trips to pay tribute to the unrelenting spirit of Lucius Banda and other local artists who co-founded the festival to give their kindred a stage where they can perform for decent pay.
For all it means to different people, the Sand Festival is first and foremost a melting point of art performances convened to ensure the pilgrims to Africa’s third largest fresh water lake do not go home wishing they had used their money for everyday bills.
The brains behind any festival that demands K37 000 for a three-day ticket at any spot in this country, ranked the world’s third poorest nation, have a moral obligation to ensure everyone on the festival grounds leaves happily when the music stops.
This is not to doubt what this year’s edition of the Sand Festival has in store for merrymakers geared to make the trip to Salima, where the entertainment affair born at Zithere Pano Pub in Mangochi in 2010 seems to have found a second home.
It is generally agreed that the calendar event has been on the rise since the night of a revolutionary gig when Lucius Banda teamed up with the Black Missionaries, Anthony Makondetsa and Tay Grin in a concert to send a message to organisers of the Eurocentric Lake of Stars that Malawian artists could not continue singing for K100 000 at a festival that takes millions from party makers.
Over the years, Impakt Events, which brings you the Sand Festival on the go-to beaches of Lake Malawi, have brought forth reputable performers from the rest of southern Africa as well as Jamaica.
We are talking about the likes of Tanzania’s famous heartthrob Diamond and Jamaican reggae dancehall star Busy Signal.
Success brings more success, so goes the saying in the world of how-to musings.
According to posters that have been circulating for months, this year’s return comes with it an array of sizzlers, including an encore of Jamaica’s reggae child Kenyatta Hill and his famous father’s band Culture as well as the first coming of Andrew Tosh, the son of legendary reggae moderniser Peter Tosh.
Take away the fame and dime of their highly gifted, iconic sires, Kenyatta and Andy have a combined allure to stun all lovers of good reggae music, whether old or youthful. In their zeal and strides to sing on is a confluence the old and new order of reggae music.
However, if it were for me to choose between the two sons of reggae greats, I would not hesitate to choose Andrew Tosh, for he is the newest Jamaican voice coming to this country where mesmeric Kenyatta performed at Mibawa in Blantyre and Civo Stadium in Lilongwe just last year.
Of course, my penchant for Peter Tosh is no longer a secret. In his rather radical lyrics my kind derive our belief that we were not born to be silent on matters affecting humanity. In our world, those who stand for nothing fall for anything. But this affinity for the I Am That I Am has nothing to do with Sand Festival.
What really concerns those going to the festival on the sands of Lake Malawi is the uncertainty over the coming of Tosh’s son.
On Wednesday, Lucius Banda poured cold water on the mounting anticipation for Andrew Tosh, saying the artist has been ill for a while and he needed a wide-ranging clearances to jump on a plane that was leaving in just 45 minutes.
This does not offer much hope to festival goers who were waiting to have the first ever encounter with the artist. To them, all the talk about Andy Tosh sounds like another tale of advertising that does not match goods delivered, and it is not a fair trade practice. In fact, this is the reasons the country’s entertainment enthusiasts were up in arms the day the royal reggae family, Morgan Heritage, sent a fraction of its much-loved band to come to Lilongwe and sing using pre-recorded instruments publicly maligned as a CD.
While music fans speed off to Salima, some of us can only wish Andy Tosh the best of health-if he is really taken ill. If, and only if. n