On Monday morning, the Robin’s Park Hall in Blantyre was transformed into a venue of a huge music festival.
But it was not really a music festival. It was a send-off ceremony of the fallen music genius George Mkandawire. The event was meant to allow family, fellow musicians and friends to honour and say their final goodbyes to the artist who breathed his last in Zambia on Wednesday last week.
Instead of turning the Robin’s Park arena into some sombre engulfed enclosure, the gathering decided otherwise. They chose to celebrate Mkandawire for what he was: a musician. Accordingly, the eulogies were delivered through singing and not tearful speeches.
It was a pleasant sight to see Mkandawire’s son take to the stage for a performance. Seeing him sing side by side with Piksy and Lloyd Phiri, people were hopeful that we may not be done yet musically with the Mkandawires.
A lot of pleasant things passed through the eyes of those present on the day. After over a decade, one-time popular gospel quartet Adams Family, led by Ken Manana regrouped and delivered a beautiful performance. I had myself asked why the guys can’t get back in the studio one more time.
Away from everything good that can be said about the happenings on the day, there was one magical moment to behold.
This was a moment when music ace Lulu brought his genius to the fore with a moving rendition of his song Ili ndi Pemphero Langa. Lulu performed straight from his heart and he had the moment frozen with his magic.
His performance was so moving such that when he strung the last chord of his guitar, everyone in the hall stood up to offer him a round of applause. It was a moment, which probably left Mkandawire, who by then lay a few metres away in his white casket, very proud.
But then, the unity that musicians showed in trying to give Mkandawire the perfect send-off cannot go without mention either. Maybe there was some special bond among musicians who were active between mid ‘90’s and around 2005.
The long forgotten faces that used to grace the music scene then all made their way to Robin’s Park on Monday to pay their last salutes to their fellow soldier. If one ever doubted the unity that musicians can sometimes harness, that was their perfect response.
Reference is being made to the bandwagon of the yester-years. I hope the current crop also values artistic ties as much. One cannot do it on their own, in happiness or sorrow. You always need that pushing hand. That was commendable ladies and gents. Hands down!
People use every platform to empty their chests on various issues that have been bothering them.
Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Michael Usi appears to be a man who had been bothered for some time. And he could not miss the opportunity on Monday to lay bare what has been bothering him.
It is the conduct of artists. In a side interview during the ceremony, Usi decried what he called a segmented approach from Malawian artists when sourcing support from authorities. He warned them against having so many faces and speaking using numerous voices.
If a person of authority, an elder in the village setup, condemns you in public that means you have gone out of bounds. That moment you need to check yourself and rethink your next steps least you are embarrassed even more.
What this conduct from artists as alleged by the minister entails is mere greed. By now I am sure all artistic facets have established bodies with legitimate leadership that represents them. It is these leaders who are expected to represent the rest at every platform.
Imagine a situation where artist A bulges in the minister’s office today to present his case and tomorrow artist B does the same. That conduct is amateurish and bothersome for the person on the other end. We hope the message from Usi landed on fertile ground and that from now on artists in the country will act as a united front to achieve a unity of purpose.