Good people, Mzuzu citizens on Saturday got a glimpse of Zembani Band without Soldier Lucius Banda—and it’s not shocking the most wanted veteran went to bed with no sense of time.
It’s unacceptable—or signs of the times.
Lucius Banda is alternatively known as Soldier — a nickname derived from defence forces where every operation demands unfailing discipline, punctuality and dedication.
He might be just a soldier of the poor, but the noble title requires more than just a camouflage garb and revolutionary songs defending the territory, rights and interests of the voiceless.
Musicians and soldiers have a shared workmanship—allegiance to time. Time is Lucius Banda’s 17th album. There is time for everything: time to work and time to sleep.
Where punctuality is a virtue, there can be no greater scandal than going to sleep before the job is accomplished. Oversleeping is a recipe for capitulation. This is why photographs of a police officer sleeping over his gun at Likoma Festival have been trending for two weeks.
Armed forces say it treasonous for soldiers to sleep amid a raging battle no matter how tired they were. More unforgivable are platoon leaders who find themselves on the verge of surrender having snored before the war began or failed to wake up in time for enemies’ assault brigade.
Sleep is no respecter of exhausted minds.
It was deadening when Lucius stammered, apologised and made tough admissions why he arrived at Key Lounge around 2am for a show that had started around 9am.
Same old story? Not for frustrated fans who wanted their money back.
While Soldier was away, the fun-seekers, who paid K2 000 each, had to do with second-string curtain-raisers comprising Nalero hitmaker Nepman and Sofia’s Sam Simakweli who left some with the certainty that Zembani needs better voices—the Lulus and Dan Lus capable of impressing in Lucius’ absence.
Having admitted oversleeping, Lucius disclosed it is becoming increasingly difficult to work day and night.
‘Good Ole Soldier Oversleeps on the Job’ was a possible headline.
And the musician also atoned for going to sleep hoping his son-friend Johnny would wake him up, saying: “A man who walks with a boy walks alone.”
Experience is a great teacher.
While burly gatekeepers were arguing with those clamouring for their dues, some drunken feller said what was supposed to be a sober mind’s thought and Zembani’s reflection: “Soldier akugonja (Soldier is losing the battle)!
Old soldiers never die, but the musical soldier is battling with time.
There is time to build an empire and time to let it grow.
Lucius is no longer the energetic boy who gifted us the hit album Son of a Poor Man in 1994. After 20 years singing, he is a big man; his hair is greying, age-related rude awakenings show time to retire is nigh. Even Johnny has learnt to sing.
Tragically, the moderniser of Malawian music will not rest because Zembani Band does not sound ready for life without him.
The excessive sleep signals time to fill the blanks in the band which once had such formidable crowd-pullers such as Billy Kaunda and Mlaka Maliro on one stage.
The band’s future has been questionable for years, with Lucius recently weeping for his backer’s livelihood if he obeyed his wish to cut back on live shows due to age and health issues.
Zembani’s heartbreaks make Lucius sound like a victorious warrior who conquers vast empires but keeps fighting after losing his wife while he is away.