Almost 15 years ago a new song hit the airwaves. It was unique both in its production and the subject it was tackling.
The self-styled ragga queen Wendy Harawa, in a rare collaboration hooked up with a then young Lulu who had shown promise in the art, but was still taking baby steps in the trade.
Immediately after its release, Sindili Choncho saw its popularity soar.
“At that time there was absolutely no-one who could do the song and take to the level I wanted than Lulu. He was the perfect fit for the role. Though he was young but I saw his potential and I wanted him to grow and touch the sky,” says composer of the song, Wendy.
Unlike Wendy, who by then had established her name on the country’s music landscape, Lulu was yet to define himself in the industry. It was a daring act for the two to commit to such a project in the time.
Sindili Choncho talks of the sexual advances a lady is making on a man after being mistaken by his generosity. After the lady is shamefully rebuffed, she comes to a painful realisation that not all men who help a lady do so with evil intentions.
It was released at a time Malawian society had not yet opened up so much musically. It was almost a taboo to sing about sex, let alone watching a video of the song on TV which many found ‘very suggestive’.
Wendy recalls how she came up with the song.
“There was a night, while asleep, I heard voices in my head of a song to such effect. A woman was literally forcing herself on a man but the latter was refusing. So when I woke up I called Lulu and told him I had an idea for a song.
“We started working on the song. He helped on the lyrical development, he wrote his verse which eventually made it easy for me to come up with my content as well for the second verse. That was the birth of that song,” she says.
The artist acknowledges how challenging it was but at the same time she reckons somebody needed to do the song and it happened to be her.
Lulu went on to produce and record the song at his Mathumela Studios in Lilongwe and he has fond memories of the path the two took to come up with the song.
“It was an amazing experience and a blessing at the same time to have an opportunity to work on that project. People are always trying to make such songs and to have actually done it brings a feeling of satisfaction,” he says.
Much as the song may no longer command the popularity it once enjoyed in 2003 but every chance the duo gets to perform the song live rekindles the artistic masterly they invested in the song. One such moment came at the recent Sand Music Festival (SMF) in Salima.
Wendy performed on the opening night of the Festival on Friday, the following day was for Lulu to complete his slot. From the list of songs he did, he made a decision to perform Sindili Choncho on his own. The resultant delivery was flat.
Whether by design or otherwise, as Lulu’s time on stage was coming to a close, Wendy emphatically appeared on stage spotting short white jean hot pants and a black sleeveless top. Very few had an idea that what would follow then will be one of the stand-out moments for the three-day Fest.
Then Mathumela Band reintroduced Sindili Choncho. What followed was an epic display of understanding by two artistic minds performing as one. Their time on stage oozed energy. They sang, danced like one well-oiled single machine. The crowd went frenzy and roared in approval.
Lulu recounted afterwards: “Wendy is a performer and she knows what people want on stage. On stage she is a different person that is why it is so easy to perform the song every time.”
But will there ever be another Wendy/Lulu duet?
Lulu responds: “We always talk about that. As we go we will make it happen.”
And Wendy remains optimistic as well: “Ooh yes! This will happen again one day for sure.”