April 20, which was last Wednesday, will go down as one of the most unpleasant days in Malawi’s creative world.
What started as a normal day progressed to be a bitter one in which three artistic lives were lost. The first unpleasant news which filtered in the early hours of the day was about the passing on of one of the country’s youthful entertainers, DJ Fresh.
Born Douglas Green Malunga, the music spinner lost a battle against cancer at the Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe where he was being treated for the condition. A promising life dedicated to arts had been nipped in the bud in the most unexpected manner.
DJ Fresh came on the entertainment scene when he won the Sprite DJ competition over a decade ago. From then on, he never looked back and established himself as one of magic deck manipulators of his generation.
By the time of his death, DJ Fresh was working as a resident DJ for popular Capital City entertainment joint, Living Room.
While the creative world was still trying to come to terms with the passing of DJ Fresh, news emerged that one of the seasoned artists, singer-cum-producer Chris Kele had died in South Africa where he had been for the last 10 years.
Those who were around and following the music trends in Malawi since the days of Acacias Band can appreciate how much of a force the outfit was. Alongside names such as Ben Michael and Erik Paliani, the group nearly defined an era.
After the group disbanded, Chris Kele, born Christopher Chipwaila, went to work for MC Studios and later formed his own Metel Jive Studio. After a brief period, he trekked down to South Africa where he formed his own Blue Arts Studio and he was also leading his own jazz outfit until his death.
The eulogies from his peers were almost common: the industry had lost one of the finest music producers. His appearance in Mlaka Maliro’s Vinyo Watha on the guitar was Chris Kele’s last notable contribution in his illustrious artistic life.
Lightning, they say, doesn’t strike the same place twice, but on Wednesday it did, not twice, but thrice. Energetic Zembani Band youthful dancer Shupo Makata died in a road accident on her way from Mangochi where she went to watch Mlaka Maliro’s Easter show at Zitherapano.
Personally, Shupo is someone I had seen as a little girl in the dusty township of Area 36 in Lilongwe where we both used to stay. Her decision to pursue a career as a dancer did not surprise many who knew her for long.
It was always her passion. And when I first saw her on stage doing her thing with Zembani Band some years ago, I knew the young girl had found her home. When on stage, her small frame talked in a huge way.
Her courage to take up dancing as a career was admirable. Many girls her age fail to maximise on such talents, which may look small, but attract good value once one invests passion and professionalism in them. Sad she had to go at such a tender age.
While we look back at the painful deaths of these three artists, we are proud that they shared their talents with us. We delight in the passion that they displayed in their art. We are grateful for the selfless contribution that they made in uplifting arts in the country.
If there is anything more to say, then it would be a special prayer for God to allow their souls to rest in peace. The Malawian art space has lost big time. Rest well our stars!