Masauko Chipembere’s self-titled album

United States-based Malawian musician Masauko Chipembere Jnr officially released his self-titled album on Sunday, June 16. The album is now available on various online music platforms.

“We are celebrating our fathers with the release of the album Masauko,” screamed a notice on Chipembere’s official Facebook page to announce the release of the album.

Masauko: The album is a celebration of my father

“This album is an offering made by a son in tribute to his father,” it read further.

Masauko was a child of exile, born to political nationalists Henry Masauko and Catherine Chipembere.

Henry was one of the architects of the movement that broke the federation of Nyasaland and the Rhodesias, ending British colonialism in what would become Malawi. Henry went on to become the first Malawian minister of Education following Malawi’s independence on July 6 1964.

Masauko says he is using music as a bridge between his African past and his American reality. With this album, he celebrates the principles of human rights and dignity put forth by his pan-Africanist father through healing songs.

The album has songs such as Africa Calling, Old Shackles, Come to Life, Makolo, Selassie and Chipembere, Welcome Home, Ichi Chakoma and Building.

In Welcome Home, Masauko says home is not about a physical place. It is a song about feeling completely at peace and safe wherever you might be and recognising that sensation as home. For Masauko, home is family.

He offers these songs dedicated to and inspired by his father to the entire human family.

In Old Shackles, Masauko adapted lyrics from a speech made by Henry to the Nyasaland Assembly in May 1964 in which he stated: “Freedom is meaningless unless people can see change.”

Henry was a firm believer that Africans must control their own destiny. He fought passionately for human rights and the dignity of all African people and understood himself as a pan-Africanist.

In this song, which was released earlier as a single, Masauko has taken his father’s words and added melody to music written by Mongezi Ntaka in an effort to amplify a powerful message of encouragement: that it is time to break the shackles of anything holding our lives back.

Masauko has produced the album with the help of some Malawian artists, including Ernest Ikwanga (lead guitar), Chambota Chirwa (bass guitar), Kyle Luciano Phikiso (drummer) and Sam Mkandawire (keyboard).

The album’s creation finds its roots back during the US Presidential elections of November 2016 when Masauko was invited to a jam session on Salt Spring Island, Canada.

A number of artists had also gathered on Salt Spring to deal with the coming of the new regime in the US and to remind themselves that they could battle the destructive nature of the new political reality with creativity through art.

They sang, they chanted, they cried and testified. At the end of a particularly beautiful jam session, Masauko was standing with David from Guayaki and Daryl Chonka, who was the sound engineer for the event.

He recalls: “David said to me ‘We should start a record company’. I simply agreed, suggesting that the moralistic nature that has characterised the Guayaki brand could make a positive impact on the music industry.

“I never dreamed that Daryl would call me a few months later to say: “We are starting the record company we talked about and you are the first artist we want to make a record with.”

Masauko says Come to Life is now a reality as he has produced an album that captures the richness of why he believes people call Malawi, “The Warm Heart of Africa.” 

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