It’s that time of the year when we, Malawi’s most travelled delegation and expedition, announce the names of Malawians that, besides us, did well and impressed us in the past year. Those who care will recall that in January 2017 we declared our man and woman of 2016.
We received a lot feedback from the Bottom Up populace. Some congratulated us for acknowledging the deserving stars of 2016, others, of course, described us as biased and called us Trumpian names. So, in selecting the men and women of 2017, we decided to create several categories to acknowledge more Malawians.
However, for 2017, we concentrated on what we thought we could confidently assess, judge, adjudge and adjudicate. Today we will unveil our musician of 2017. Next week we will tell you our politician of 2017 and the following week we will announce our corporate institution of 2017.
To select the best and outstanding musician of 2017, we considered four core criteria. Firstly, we looked for a musician or music band that sang entirely in a Malawian language or languages or in a Malawian language or languages but with small doses of English, our adopted official national language. Secondly, our best musician was the one who followed the guidelines of the Malawi Communications Act and Policy, which, in brief, encourage Malawian artists and communication content producers to use more Malawian than foreign content. Thirdly, we wanted a musician that promoted Malawian culture and unity. Finally, we sought a musician that used or created typically Malawian rhythms and styles. And our musician of 2017 had to entertain US.
Thus, rap or urban musicians, kwaito musicians, Nigerianised musicians, dancehall and reggae musicians were not considered because they copycatted music styles from elsewhere. To us copycatism is symptomatic of lack of originality or appreciation of self.
Gospel musicians were equally not considered mostly because we did not agree if Christianity, Islam, Atheism, Hinduism and Buddhism and, even Cha Makolo, constituted Malawian content.
We short-listed seven entertaining artists.
We had to use the 50 percent plus one vote system to resolve one case. We nearly considered Tay Grin due to the cultural relevance of his music content but we disqualified him on account of his style.
Then we assessed Josephy Nkasa, the father and founder of Mayaka Reggae or Uphungu music style. We liked his use of Chewa or Nyanja proverbs to teach society. His mastery of the local idiom was unparalleled. However, though entertaining his latest music showed that he did not mind the unity of Malawians by over praising, glorifying and even deifying corrupt individuals. So he was disqualified.
We further listened to the music of Joe Gwaladi, the plain talking and the non self-censored musician. We liked his fast rhythm. Nonetheless, we had problems with his self praise and promotion of a political party because that fail the criteria on unifying Malawians.
Finally, only four artists remained. Galang’ombe Boys from Chileka in Lilongwe, Ahtot Manje from Lilongwe, Symond and Kendall from Lilongwe and Andrew Machuluka Mphande, also from Lilongwe. The only factor that separated these artists was OUR impression.
Since the Galang’ombe Boys came out with Yadeyadeya, Pakamwa, Chanthunya, and Yesu Matiki we had not heard much about them. So, we decided to consider the band for the 2018 awards.
Symon and Kendall suffered the same fate as the Galang’ombe Boys. Their output seemed to have stalled. So, they too were pended for consideration for 2018.
Ahtot Manje has come up with entertaining singles since 2014 but he scored one less point than the eventual winner due to his earlier rap or dancehall style which we considered alien. But his entertaining songs Che Patuma and Tizipepeseko sent us into Sikili and Nyau dancing. The Most Paramount Native authority Mzee Mandela has promised to find out if Sikili is a typically Yao dance style.
It was Andrew Machuluka who won our full hearts. He sings in Malawian languages, he uses Malawian rhythms and styles or innovates them; his content is Malawian. He entertains, too.
If you think we are wrong, ask those who have listened to Zowala (za Mwana Wangu), Secret, Vwalako, Mwakambanga Boza or Amandikondera/Watindiyanjiya, a collaboration with Symon and Kendall, and tell us who, among them, does not like our musician of 2017. n