Towards the end of last week, a rumour which appeared to excite many started making rounds, especially in the social media spaces.
The rumour suggested that one of the seasoned local musicians Lucius Banda had been appointed presidential adviser on youth and arts. Before the news was formally confirmed and communicated, many of the legendary artist’s followers swam his Facebook page congratulated the artist.
Playing it modestly, Soldier decided to lay low. His acknowledgements were subtle. Whether by the time he knew the truth, but tried to act the gentleman, we don’t know. The news was, however, confirmed through an interview with Sean Kampondeni, the State House director of communication and executive assistant to the President on Sunday.
That was followed by a formal announcement which was made on Monday from the State House. Indeed Lucius was going to be the first ever occupant of the newly established post in the President’s office.
Kampondeni said the establishment of the office is an attempt by the new leadership to right a wrong which has been there for long. He said for long young people who are involved in the informal sector artists have lacked representation of their needs in the President’s office.
The issue of lack of recognition and representation from the creative sector at such a level is one that has dragged on for a while. And in taking this bold step to establish such an office, it is news that has sent hope for a new turn among the local creatives.
Is this action a vindication of how the leadership values the art industry? Is it an affirmative statement that the leadership has faith and belief that industry can competitively contribute in pushing the country’s development agenda?
The victory is not ‘Soldier’s’ alone, but everyone in the industry who has for long yearned for that voice and representation. The country’s creative players have for years sent out pleas to have an art council established. But all those pleas have thus been met with cold promises with nothing to show for on the ground.
It has been a long held belief that the establishment of this council will unlock to the full the potential of the industry. It has been argued for long how the council will help solve the many challenges that continue to stifle the progress of the industry.
Pushing for the establishment of the arts council I am sure should be one ‘Soldier’s’ primary objectives and targets in his new office. I am sure he knows he owes his fellow creatives this council.
This task is just one of the many that beckon the popular music composer and singer. In an interview early this week ‘Soldier’ admitted that one issue that is on his priority list is the welfare of artists in this time of coronavirus when the artists are no longer performing.
He said he want to immediately engage the leadership in trying to find ways how the artists can survive in a dignified manner during this time. The issue of artists’ survival during this time has indeed proved to be challenging.
If a solution is to be worked out so that the industry is cushioned from the shock of the pandemic, it will be a welcome development. It has been a tough period for the players in the creative industry most of whom rely on the resources they earn through their art.
Lucius has so many years of experience in the trade and I doubt if there was anyone more fitting for the role than him. He is one artist who has developed his brand beyond music. That is one thing which has proved difficult for most local artists.
That is why most artists have been heavily challenged during this pandemic as their area of scope is only limited to live performances. It is my belief that Lucius will use his experience to the betterment of all. Has a new day come? All the best ‘Soldier’!