Good people, there is something about politics that leaves me jittery when a learned politician grabs a mic.
Not their degrees, but an inner fear that they may say something ridiculous and numb someone to think higher learning makes one dumb.
Professor Thandeka Mkandawire said it succinctly: “There is something about politics, I have known intellectually capable academics become political disasters and unfathomable idiots.”
I was strangely afraid when former Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume took the microphone during President Peter Mutharika’s rally in Blantyre West and said: “When I stand here, I do politics.”
Chicken politics he did when he hit out at cockerel-like minds that ruled for decades without constructing a tarmac to Nkula, the country’s largest power plant.
A cockerel is the symbol of opposition Malawi Congress Party which the ruling party loves to deride.
But Kumpalume, a top-notch chemist in politics, said something good for these entertainment, arts and culture pages when he requested the President to consider opening a music school in Chileka as part of the community technical colleges he promised to establish in all 28 districts and 193 constituencies.
Chileka, the setting of the rally, is the cradle of numerous legendary musicians that the pint-sized politician sounded like a griot chanting an epic varied greats from Daniel and Donald Kachamba to Robert Fumulani and Fumbi Jazz Band, not forgetting reggae kings Evison Matafale and his Black Missionaries.
Kumpalume envisages his Blantyre West constituency owning a music college named after one of the legends to celebrate their stellar contribution and develop skills of aspiring musicians.
They need a hand up–like poor Malawians in the hamlets of Neno and Mwanza who cry for a fruit canning factory to turn oranges and tangerines into gold. The tears of the poor, who see their succulent fruit fall to the ground to rot as they go to sleep without a tambala, water the opinion that many Malawians are wallowing in poverty amid of plenty because we do not how to tap abundant wealth in our midst.
Every fruit that rots or gets sold on cheap due to lack of the means to add value to its succulence is money going to waste in the backyard of people who need it most.
So are the youth whose burning urge to play music for a living falls and dies noiselessly in the absence of skills development centre to fan the innermost flames that illumine their calling.
When Mutharika rolled out community technical colleges in 2015, the trades on offer were already a tad monotonous and unhelpful to artistic fledglings.
Alas! The restrictive courses mistakenly reduce technical and vocational training to carpentry, bricklaying, welding and metal fabrication, tailoring, baking and motor vehicle mechanic.
Something a little more creative will ensure the youth who are gifted in drama, music, poetry and other arts are not confined to study how to fix blocks because there is nothing artsy in the curriculum.
A music school can help nurture a cadre of musicians with proper instruction where the self-taught greats excelled out of sheer luck and inborn talent.
Art is money. When Black Missionaries tour or perform live, they make six-figure cheques.
Lead vocalist Anjiru Fumulani made business sense when asked about the reggae band’s performances during Mutharika’s rallies lately.
“We are in business. Music is our business. We will perform for anyone who hires us, even you, the same way we do for DPP. We would do the same if any party booked us to do so. Music is money; our bread and butter.”
Mutharika, who has turned to musicians to sex up his rallies, needs to add some music to his beloved community colleges to nurture more talent dying for a chance to play sensible music for a living. n