During my last entry, I published verbatim an opinion that was shared by poet Q Malewezi on his Facebook page last week.
In case some of you did not get the background of what sparked such a reaction, here you go. The end of 2021 had one event which sent the nation talking. It was the birthday bash that business mogul Simbi Phiri organised for his wife in Mchinji. District
Initially, the party meant to star both South African hot artist Makhazi and Congolese Soukus seasoned artist Koffi Olomide. Due to some technicalities the former failed to arrive in Malawi in time for birthday bash.
The event drew many reactions. Everybody tried to weigh in depending on where they stood and how they viewed it. But at the end of the day, this was a Simbi Phiri private event. He had to do what he deemed fit for his wife.
But the basis of our discourse has been informed by an interview that the well-travelled business mogul made on the event’s sidelines. Phiri is on record to have told MBCTV that he was not compelled to invite any Malawian artist to perform at the party because he saw none better than the Congolese.
Ladies and gentlemen, this statement did not sit well with many local artists. Endless debates ensued in different platforms. The argument by most of them was that he went overboard and showed lack of respect for the local artists.
The debates rumbled on and the opinion by Q Malewezi was the reaction from the discussion that stemmed from Phiri’s opinion. It was insightful I must confess.
Just like Phiri was in his right lane to offer an opinion on something that he was innocently asked, so were the artists who reacted to what he said. Opinions have always been held as subjective points of view.
There is no single opinion on a particular subject that can be used to determine the truth and finality of any position and debate. That is why scholars, when conducting their research, they reach out to a larger specimen and of different composition too.
Decisive positions are based on strong and wide viewpoints. This was simply Simbi’s viewpoint and he is entitled to it.
But as singular as it is, despite the anger and furore it sparked, it can as well be used for good measure. Instead of rushing to dismiss his opinion, have we stopped for a moment to do an introspection of why he said that?
Have we taken a moment to assess the pointers which the old man from Mchinji used to base his opinion? Or to ask ourselves a simple question of what Olomide may possibly have that we don’t get right?
I look at music as a very sophisticated art with so many facets. There can always be something which artist A gets right, but artist B gets wrong. Just like in this case, we should analyse what comes within the package of Olomide’s brand.
As artists, it is even important to use every situation and opinion that people make about us to spark a reaction that will facilitate our further growth. The anger which the local artists showed is healthy and welcome.
It shows they also dream of being mentioned in the same breath as globally accomplished artists such as Olomide. But that status won’t come by chance. It won’t be accorded based on patriotism alone. This is a status one has to earn through hard work.
The question we should which ask ourselves is: How do we get to the level of Olomide? We need to sustain this anger in all our undertakings as artists. We need to lay our case before people such as Simbi Phiri so that they have no excuse when they organise similar events in future.
I don’t want to believe Simbi Phiri has something against Malawi or local artists. Let us work on our art and give him a tough choice next time he organises another event. We needed this anger