Music has been one of things which keeps people busy nowadays. In the past, when we heard the word ‘Malawian music’, what came into minds was Everson Matafale, Allan Namoko, Paul Banda, Giddes Chalamanda, Saleta Phiri, Robert Fumulani and other few talented musicians. During their time, music was a talent I guess that’s the reason why their tracks never lose value. Listening to Malawian music in these good old days was really an inevitable thing. People danced to local tunes on Gumbagumbas [big radio cassettes] which were brought by Matchona a kusozebele [Malawians who worked in mines abroad]
It was during these good old days that local music in Malawi were rich in traditional culture and values. The songs by then promoted local culture at the expense of the foreign culture. But things seem to have changed now. Music is no longer a talent as it used to be but rather a career. Instead of promoting the local values and culture, many artists now serve the function of promoting foreign culture. I don’t know if this is as a result of popular culture.
Technology has now dominated in the music industry. In the past, there were very few music recording studios in the country and MBC was the major recording studio. The availability of few recording studios in the country was a major result of few artists in the country. You can bear with me that in this technological age, recording studios are found everywhere and they are also cheap for a person to record a hit. This is a good development as far as quantity of musicians is concerned because everyone is a musician now. The presence of many studios is also a serious threat as far as music quality is concerned. What the artists are dreaming of these days is to release many single tracks in a short period of time without thinking of quality.
The same music which educated and entertained people in the era of Namoko and friends is now used for personal interests. You see a person recording a hit cursing a girl just because his love proposal has been vetoed. I respect those few artists who still have the mentality of promoting local culture and values in Malawi. The rest’s mind has been corrupted and they waste money to produce a trash of what they call music. A lot of people have now flocked to the music industry only to meet their personal needs not of the society. I have sampled some tracks from renowned musicians which do not communicate anything tangible to the society but rather misleads the society.
The first artist is Mafo. Mafo and his friends including Leginz Boy, Shozie and Mr prezident have managed to take over the streets and they call their crew Good Shudren Choir. From pubs like Sterio to clubs like Chez Mtemba, You are likely to hear Mafo’s music. Mafo, a Dancehall artist, is a funny person who uses simple lyrics and head-on delivery. There are so many good songs bearing to the name Mafo which even small kids sing along. But my concern is on the newly released accapella hit called Gwirani. To be precise, this song is there to mislead the society not to build it. One would easily tell that in this track, Mafo and his friends had nothing in their mind to communicate to the society, all they are looking for is reputation. All they did was to release the song so that they should have more songs bearing to their name. Here is part of the lyric; Ngati chick yakufilani Gwirani anzanga gwirani Musaope Gwirani anzanga gwirani I was of the view that instead of informing the society on how it can abstain from the deadly pandemic of HIV and AIDS, the artist tells the society to indulge into immoral behaviour which might lead them to contracting the virus.
Let’s take the song of Makambale brothers band titled “Check your Step”. In the song, the artists know that AIDS is a deadly virus. They then inform the society about the disease that they should check their behaviour. The band tells the society that it must abstain itself from ways which can result into HIV contraction. The choruses of Makambale brothers band goes like this: AIDS is a killer Check your step A good number of our artists these days do not even know what an artist needs to do. All what they know is insulting their fellows through songs whenever they differ on something. They call it beef or diss. This diss or beef thing has now come out of control as the genres which used to say no to it have now accommodated it. It feels awkward nowadays to see that instead of serving the flocks, gospel artists are busy castigating each other if I may call it. Instead of preaching the word of salvation, the ministers have abandoned their flocks and joined the diss community. What does the future of Malawian music holds? I’m just a helpless creature looking for answers.
Let’s meet in my next entry where I will talk about the diss issue in Gospel music.