At 80, Malawiâ€™s veteran musician Giddes Chalamanda is still going strong.
Giddes remains the pinnacle of handful veteran musicians in the country.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Flip into old newspapers and you will appreciate the journey that Giddes, fondly called â€˜AGideâ€™ by his fans has travelled; not an easy feat. But Giddes, who thanks God for the gift of life, is far from packing his bags. Over the years, he has unleashed the other entertaining side of him; dancing.
Memories are still fresh of how Giddes, with his seemingly two best friends Edgar ndi Davis, performed at the Chameleon Bar at the Four Seasonâ€™s Centre in Lilongwe two weeks ago.
His turn to entertain fans came, and like any other Octogenarian, Giddes slowly moved past the crowd and appeared on stage, sited on a strategically positioned chair before starting to pluck his instrument that brings him bread and butter, a guitar.
He sung Buffalo Soldier, originally done by the late king of reggae Bob Marley, Linny and Baby Come Back, among the many of his favoured songs.
He played on his own and changed his performance and the way he interacted with the audience was very unique. After dishing about six of his tracks, Giddes left the stage for his good friends Edgar ndi Davis. It is at this point that Giddes showed his other art side when he engaged women from the audience into dancing.
He mimicked the womenâ€™s dancing antics with little or no fail at all. He became the centre of attraction as the patrons shifted their focus from Edgar ndi Davis to Giddes the dancer.
Like a youth in his prime, he gyrated to the left then to the right before swivelling on the centre. When the woman changed tune and step, Giddes energetically followed suit, much to the pleasure of fans.
He was propelled when people started throwing money on him, he danced more and more even after his partner left. He attracted the attention of another woman. This is the energy of an 80-year-old!
Deep into Edgar ndi Davis show, Giddes bounced back on stage dancing.
â€œThe energy in this man can make you not believe that he is 80 years old,â€ said Davis Njobvu.
The trio made some Manganje moves before jumping up and down under music. Giddes was at it again as he followed the lead by Edgar ndi Davis by making the correct dance moves.
â€œFor the gift of life, I thank God. I wish some of my old folks were around, I guess it could have been nice and I donâ€™t know what kind of music we could have been playing. Sometimes, when I am home, I recall the times when there were no electric guitars, but today, here I am playing an electric guitar,â€ said Giddes.
â€œMusic gives you a chance to voice out your concerns. With music, you can speak for the voiceless, but I feel sorry because I have spoken for others and used all my skills, but here I am with nothing. I wish I had enough money so I could talk about having my own band and maybe driving my own car,â€ said the veteran musician.
Giddes started playing music decades ago and throughout his career, he has rubbed shoulders with several musicians, who put Malawi on the map, but sadly, most of them have passed on.
He could have dumped his guitar way back because of poverty, but today, he continues to entertain people for the love of music.
In his usual trade mark dressing; casually in faded jeans and a striped shirt plus a cap, he gallops his favourite Carlsberg Green beer, which a patron had bought for him and reminisces:
â€œI have travelled to places in the country holding shows. I have also been outside the country, particularly Germany twice, but that is nothing to me, I want to live a better life. A life where people would say there goes Giddes.â€
During performances, Giddes has continually said that if he dies, then he will not play music again. â€œOf course, I have made strides with Edgar ndi Davis and I just want to thank them for giving me a chance to hold several performances with them. But my heart is still bitter because for all the sweat and creativity, there is nothing I can show now for it,â€ said the veteran musician in an interview in Lilongwe.