Jah People, the gods of written and spoken word art, have blessed us with good people we love to impoverish.
Forget the music, drama and all that jazz. Muse about poetry, the few colourful words that deliver condensed meanings.
It’s amazing how the sublime form of human expression confronts realities in our midst. Imagine how poor Deus Sandram squeezed himself in the heart-stopping insanity of rusty taxi to Manje Township when he wrote Zakwamanje on the chaotic and above-the-law rough rides of the Blantyre suburb.
Wow, isn’t it?
However, it is sickening that the poets who belabour to entertain the nation like musicians or any other artists get no tambala from the mushrooming of poetry programmes in the mass media. Thanks to a rebirth buoyed by the late O’brien Nazombe and Joy FM, poetry has become an in-thing state-owned MBC, Matindi FM and other radio stations.
Sure, no money is trickling down to the hands that toil. Watching Nthiwatiwa’s Bwalo la a Lakatuli on MBC TV last week, it was dumbfounding to hear Poetry Association of Malawi (PAM) spokesperson Sylvester Kalizang’oma lament that media house which play poems to entertain, educate and inform their audience remit no loyalties to the artists.
This is Thangata, work without pay, not what the likes of veteran Gospel Kazako and Wokomaatani Malunga wanted when they fashioned poetry for radio use back in the days?
If poetry was just any other curtain-raiser, inferior to music and drama, why would radio stations cling to it in their quest to remain relevant to its publics? What happened to the Copyright Act? Did it die yesterday?
I know media houses remit millions and accumulate massive debts in form of royalties for songs that enjoy airplay every day. Why then don’t they pay the bill when it comes to the poems they air to grow their audiences and ratings?
In any civilised world, poetry is serious business, a standalone art—complete and worth every buck from those who use poetry for broadcasting purposes.
Give to poets what is due to poets. End this Thangata, the thing the John Chilembwe who gifted us the holiday on Wednesday loved to hate and died fighting.