Sometime last year, there was a music award event in Blantyre at Comesa Hall—the Nyasa Music Awards (NMAs).
Being an urban themed event, the awards brought together almost all the top names that matter in the local entertainment industry. And to top the bill, the presenter of the awards was none other than South African TV personality and socialite SomiziMhlongo.
Even the list of performers on the evening, who included hip-hop stars Gwamba, Tay Grin, Macelba, afro-pop singer Theo Thomson, Zani Challe, Great Angels Choir and Zathu Band, gave out a huge impression even on paper.
As the days of the event drew nearer, organisers made a surprise announcement of the inclusion of one more local artist. It was a name nobody would have guessed in a million attempts.
Forgotten local music darling Thomas Chibade was to grace the show as the throwback artist of all time. Nobody saw that coming. And even after that announcement, when one considered his discipline issues which have undermined his status as an artist, one was tempted to cast doubt on his availability on the day.
But the day came, the carpets rolled, the lights were glittering and the flashy dressing meant to suit such a highly colourful and dominantly youthful event was the order of the day. It was almost a platform where everyone wanted to showcase their fashion sense.
For all the impressions that everyone tried to make on the evening through their dressing and performances, little did people know that the person who would offer the most loved moment of the event was tucked at some little corner in the hall, almost unrecognised.
Co-host Judie Emcee came on stage to announce the next act on the line-up. From the sound system which was feeding the huge hall, came the name of Thomas Chibade. What was to follow was a huge roar of approval.
Then appeared the pint-sized artist. From his dressing you got the sense that he was just there to fulfil his obligations of the night—sing and go home. Not to impress anybody in whatever way.
He held the microphone and without wasting any second he introduced his first song, A.E. I. O. U (Mau Anga). This was a tune that endeared him to music lovers over a decade ago, when he had just arrived on the scene with his Zatukusira album.
Before everyone realised, the small area which was designated to act as a stage was flooded by patrons and for lack of space, all others were up on their feet singing along to his songs as some were chanting his name.
Such is the love that local music lovers have for the boy. The way he left the stage left people shrouded in a feeling of nostalgia. Malawians still need a little of Chibade. Everyone prays that the artist will organise and bring himself back on the path that made him a darling to his fans.
Efforts have been made by some individuals to help bring his career back on track. After an article we carried in our sister paper Weekend Nation which detailed his current life status, a Mchinji businessman who professed to be one of his huge fans came forward and pledged to support him record a new album and organise promotional shows.
That move, for whatever reason, did not see the light of day. The gentleman made his best efforts, including buying him a phone to ease communication problems between them.
Now fellow artist Lulu, has come in by dangling another offer. He has offered to record him free of charge at his Mathumela Records. So far, nothing on the table to show for as he has remained incommunicado.
But his latest single, Banja, is already topping the charts in local radio stations. It shows the boy still has his magic.
From his latest offering it is hoped that the artist will do some soul-searching and realise how much Malawians need his music.
He should count himself luck. Let him remember that no single person has the monopoly of luck and goodwill. One day he will wish these opportunities came again.