Sometime last year I got a WhatsApp message from one of the country’s finest acoustic musicians, Agorosso real name Lloyd Phaundi. He was informing me of the joint project he had embarked on.
‘Ankolo, I am recording a live album with Mtukudzi’. He seemed to be in a bubbly mood. The tone of his messages gave everything about the excitement that had wound up the man. Only that technology did not make it possible that moment to see how he was carrying himself on the other end, but I am sure he was almost floating on air.
His excitement was all the same quite understandable. It is not every day that one gets the chance to work and record with an artist in the mould of Oliver Mtukudzi. Most artists in the universe would give up anything just for such a chance. Or even just to share the stage with him.
After a lengthy exchange, in which he had intimated about the finer details of their project, I told him I needed to talk to his manager Emmanuel Maliro who had brokered the deal. With a promise to come back to him later, we left it there.
When I approached Maliro, I noted from his responses that he was mild. A stark contrast of the highly elated Agorosso, who from my decoding wanted nothing but a big story in the paper the following day about this once-in-a-lifetime project he had landed.
Just as I had suspected, Maliro was indeed not in the same lane as his protégé. He calmly advised me to momentarily stay any plans of publishing the story. I personally wanted the story too. A story about a Malawian artist recording a joint album with a great such as Tuku would earn me a lunch and an apple from my editors any day.
As someone who is into management, Maliro had his own reasons and fears of rushing to press with the story. “Akulu inuyo osadandaula. Palizambiri zoti zichitike kuti zifike poti zonse zapsa.”
He mentioned about Mtukudzi’s tight schedule which was another strain on the project. His availability for recording sessions was not guaranteed. Probably to his physical condition as well as a result of his ailment.
When I went back to Agorosso to share with him what his manager had told me, I shared his deflation. The gentleman was really keen to get this flyer into the public knowledge. His eagerness went beyond this, every time i talked to him about the project from thereon, you could see how much he wanted the project to be completed.
Minus fulfilling a long held dream, this collaboration, could as well have been a ticket that would help unlock endless opportunities on a much bigger platform, globally. One cannot fail to get noticed when riding on the back of a colossal gem such as Tuku.
When I heard of Tuku’s death Wednesday last week, unsurprisingly the first person who came to my mind was Agorosso and his project which he held dear to his heart. At what stage was it? What becomes of it now?
It was quite refreshing to learn from him when we talked that very evening that he still hopes something can be salvaged from the joint project as some of the work needed to be done is as little as mixing. The communication from Tuku’s manager, holds the fate of the project.
From the day Agorosso filled me about this project, I have tracked its progress. Likewise he has kept me in the loop about its progress. To the extent that I almost became part of it on a personal level. I imagined the two guitar wizards sharing the stage one day. Unfortunately death has put to a halt all such ambitions.
Just like him, I hope something will still come out of this joint effort. With the technological advancement this generation is currently enjoying, this should not be a problem. I shed a tear for Tuku, but I hope I will not do the same for Agorosso and his project.