Anjiru Fumulani, the 35-year-old band leader of the famous Black Missionaries reggae band has an interesting story. It looks like he switched places with his legendary father, the iconic musician Robert Fumulani.
His father made his name as a musician first from early 1970s to late 1990s before he established a company that used to clean aircrafts at Chileka International Airport.
His son Anjiru’s story is a complete direct opposite as he started from the airport, cleaning aeroplanes, to become a household name in music like his father.
Anjiru says his father died on January 24 1998, followed a year later by his mum.
From the airport to dancing halls
In 1993 Anjiru’s father established a company called Aircraft Cabin Handling Services almost towards the end of his serious musical journey.
Anjiru recalls that this job involved taking care of private aircrafts by cleaning, refuelling and handling luggage.
“Long before Lilongwe Handling Company came into being he got his licence from government to be doing this work,” he said.
Anjiru recalls that around 1997 his father started taking him to the airport where he used to work with the other members of staff.
At the time his father was sick he lessened going to work and introduced Anjiru as the one who was going to take over the company.
“So I can say this job paid for my education and for my family to survive,” he said. “Up to the time that my mother was dying this was the work that I was doing.”
“In fact, I stopped doing this job on my own in 2001 soon after sitting my Malawi School Certificate Examinations [MSCE] when my interest in music was taking a serious turn,” he said.
Anjiru’s music genesis
Anjiru, a fourth born in a family of seven (three boys and four girls) says since his father made his name from 1970s to 1990s it meant they grew up in a family of music lovers.
“I remember in 1996 while we were in primary school, two years before his death, our father bought a small keyboard with single notes and I and my two siblings Chizondi and Musamude used to play with it,” he said.
He said for some years, before the death of their father there was a man who was running a secondary school in the entertainment hall that their father had constructed.
“The gentleman was not able to honour rentals. When our father passed on we were unable to recover the money so he asked us to go to his house to collect some stuff that included a keyboard.”
Anjiru says this was a better keyboard which aroused his interest in mastering it even further.
It was also a time that he was starting his secondary education at Chigumukile CDSS where he created a musical group called the Cool Gees.
“We used to get Chizondi who would be playing the keyboard at the morning assembly while I would be doing voices. We used to play all sorts of music, some my own compositions, and others, covers of other artists,” he said.
It is towards 1999 that Matafale arrived back from Zimbabwe that he found that the Fumulani boys were all grown up and Musamude was at Lunzu Secondary School.
Matafale wanted to know what they were up to and they explained to him that they had mastered the keyboard and had several compositions including a tribute to their father that they never recorded.
“We had an album that we thought we could record. Muli Ngati Abwino which is in Kuimba 7 was also part of these tracks,” he recollects.
Matafale fell in love with their music and joined them.
“Together we started playing covers of Bob Marley, Culture, Burning Spear, UB40 and we could play music throughout the night,” recalls Anjiru.
The first show they played with Matafale and the Wailing Brothers was at Lunzu Secondary School in July 2000.
Family and music career
Anjiru is a family man with his 14-year-old first born son Robert doing form one at Matandani Secondary School in Neno, Maziko 8, a standard 4 learner at Playdor Private Primary School, and Icleave, named after rasta elder from UK, is 2 years old and in lower nursery.
He says he has maintains a fair balance between music and family and that all his three sons were born when he was already a musician so they have become used to the routine where between Mondays and Thursdays he is always home.
Anjiru also recalls that his wife had difficulties to accept the nature of his work at the beginning.
“She always thought that once I am out then I will forget about the family and her but by and by she started understanding it and now she has accepted that this is my work,” he explained.
His sons are also following his musical footsteps.
“You can’t believe, Robert is master on the drums set while Maziko imitates my singing,” he said.
As a Seventh Day Adventist faithful, he says most of the times he misses church service whenever the band is on the road.
“But when I am home I always go to church,” he says.