Last week, Kenyan musicians stormed Nairobi streets to protest a loud and clear takeover of the airwaves by foreign artists.
Brandishing placards and megaphones, the Kenyans put it on the record that they were unhappy with lack of airplay and bias towards music from South and West Africa when a government order requires local music to account for six out of 10 songs on air.
“We are demanding for 70 percent airplay from our local media as we see only Tanzania and Nigeria music being aired,” he lamented.
Music Union of Malawi should has been clamouring for more airplay from the country’s stingy, outward-looking radio and TV stations.
Here, a visitor would take hours to know this is Malawi—not Nigeria, South Africa or Zambia—because of broadcasters’ obsession with foreign tunes.
However, the foreign legion that local artists love to hate with all their vocal chords did not take over the airwaves at gunpoint like the Al Shabab militants who killed innocent shoppers at Westgate Mall in the Kenya capital last year.
The situation at hand could be a silent coup d’ tat partly sponsored by the local artists’ shyness to do what the locals seem to do best.
You have heard about listeners whining about Malawian music being more tearful than dirges; more quarter-baked than the cheapest bubble-gum bar; a bunch of lousy lyrics on beats shoplifted from abroad.
Surely, the unskilled hands in the makeshift studio by your toilet wants to hoodwink you to mistake their noise for music.
There may be a lot of bad sounds in the air, but don’t you trash them together with the good ones.
The good few must stand out, enjoying the spotlight they deserve.
With empty tins making noisy as usual, your, the wagging tongues on radio and TVs often discredit the locals clamouring for more airplay as petty loudmouths—the worst victims of their own ineptitude.
Malawian music is not up to standard, they say.
However, the hands commanding the airwaves are partly to blame.
Their crime? The people that are supposed to be exemplar of standards willingly play tunes that are bad, ugly and atrocious having pocketed kickbacks from musicians.
This is the story of many DJs, presenters and other corrupt hands that select what to go on air or not based on a shady give-and-take rules in the absence of in-house panels to come up with the playlist objectively.
Sadly, the bad music that dominate airplay has been replayed, imitated and recycled to the extent that the DJs are pushed into the foreign music listeners enjoy in their homes, clubs and vehicles.
It is not infatuation with foreign things.
It is an escape from the worse devil.
The electronic media must invest in nurturing unique local beats just as government is supposed to take care of Malawi Netball Team the same way Jamaica nurses a culture of producing and exporting sweet, sweet reggae music.