After a foreign sojourn that lasted close to eight years, musician-cum-pastor Mlaka Mlairo has returned to Malawi. He has subsequently embarked on a mission to resuscitate his music career. But his return may not have turned out the way he had envisaged. Soon after it became public that he had quit his role as pastor at the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church, controversies erupted which bordered on some accusations directed at his wife. Our Staff Reporter BRIAN ITAI caught up with him.
Welcome back to Malawi. How does it feel to be back home?
Greetings. Thank you so much for welcoming me back to Malawi. East or West, they say home is best. So, I am happy and actually overjoyed to be home. Here you can eat the food of your own choice, you can move around any time without fear, you can speak your language and communicate with your own people. It is good to be back home.
How long have you been outside Malawi?
I left Malawi in 2016 and I have been away for almost eight years. That’s why I say it feels good to be back, though I won’t be here permanently. Soon I may leave again.
You are stepping back into active music, what feeling does it bring to wear your musical robes again?
It is definitely a good feeling. All these years that I have been away, I have been off the music spotlight. I missed the stage as I was preoccupied with the pastoral work. I did not want to put much pressure on myself because I have been doing music ever since. Because for me to embark on the pastoral work I needed to give it more time to dedicate myself in the hands of God that’s why I took a break from music. The other reason I took a break from music was because there was no longer a proper market for music. During our time, when we produced an album, we had outlets such as OG Issa, Clifton Bazaar, and Portuguese Shopping Centre who were helping us sell the music. So, since they stopped it was becoming difficult for me as a musician to continue producing albums.
What pulled you towards pastoral work?
I received Jesus as my personal saviour in 2011 and in 2012 I dedicated my life to serve God full time in church. It is a calling that has been there only that at first I didn’t realise it. May be God’s time was not yet ripe. I thank God for choosing my life so it can be a vessel of carrying his word. I am happy to be a pastor, I will remain a pastor and I will be a pastor forever. Nothing can separate me from my God. What people need to understand is that I just resigned from one church so I can concentrate on other things.
You recently announced you have quit the Esteemed Christian Gathering (ECG) Church where you were a pastor. What were really the reasons behind your decision?
We have been moving around as a result my children were also forced to be changing schools and it was affecting them. The different languages and syllabuses in the places we have been to took a toll on their academic pursuits. So, we thought of making the welfare of our children a priority and not us as parents. So we secured for them schools here in Malawi. Because of this my wife was staying here full time to look after the children. The other thing is that because of her own reasons, my wife told me that she is no longer comfortable in our church. In our church set-up it is us men who are recognised as pastors and the spouses are there to support us. I could not force her to be at a place where she was not comfortable. She pledged her support as my wife but she made it clear she was no longer part of the church. That position started dividing my family because it caused divisions among my children, some said they will remain with me and others left with their mother. As a husband and I thought of standing up as head of the family. I thought the best thing for me to do was just to resign, too, so that the whole family can do one thing as a unit. In a family you always compromise for the sake of oneness and peace.
How would describe your relationship with the founder of ECG Church Shephered Bushiri?
I just resigned and if you read through his recent statement he said he wishes me well. He knows that wherever I go I will succeed because he knows that I am a hard worker. For the six and a half years that I have been with him, I was never summoned for any misconduct. I have been loyal and humble to him. Even now, personally I don’t have any problems with him apart from others who maybe want to take advantage of my resignation to look like they are loyal by telling him lies and things that are not there.
For example, there was an issue going around suggesting my wife was caught in some scandal in Eswatini. That has never happened. This was just a creation of some other people. I don’t know who pays them, but it is just a lie. We are living in a world of technology and apart from being pastors we are well-known people. If that issue happened it would have been all over. We are in an age where people can take pictures, videos and share. My wife has been in Malawi for over four months before I joined her here. So why is this issue coming out now because I have resigned? These are just lies and I am not shaken about them. I personally know my wife better than anyone else. I have been with her for 22 years. My wife cannot do something stupid and then I resign and join the same person who did that. I am not that nice. Because of our status we know the battles which we can face. People should learn to concentrate on their own issues than advising me what to do or how to run my family issues.
Do you feel bad about the insinuations that were recently directed at you through a statement issued by the church?
I didn’t feel much bad about that because I know where they are coming from and I know they were spreading such rumours just because they are paid. But I don’t have any problem with that. If I had done something wrong before God I would have felt bad. People can create stories and they can talk but that is none of my business. I know what I am and I know what God wants me to do. My family comes first.