It was not the Pope making an appeal for world peace, nor was it the Dalai Lama imploring warring factions to cease fire. This was the Black Missionaries, a popular reggae band from Chileka in Blantyre celebrating the life of its pioneer Evison Matafale with a caution to its fans not to misbehave.
On Sunday, Malawians again invoked the spirit of the departed reggae icon at Mankhokwe Ground for the 13th Evison Matafale Memorial Show, defying the drizzly weather earlier in the day to sample sounds from one of the country’s finest bands.
Band members Buju Mlanga, Ras Lion Dread and Anjiru Fumulani made passionate appeals to the expectant crowd: “Our reggae music is for peace. Please do not cause trouble after this show. We do not want a repeat of last year’s event where cars were broken and women raped, among other evils.”
A heavy police presence was stationed at the venue.
Anjiru, the current leader for the Blacks, had to pause his performance after dishing his first track Tikudikila to let the message sink.
Furrows of crowds immersed in a sea of red, gold and green, the colours of the Rastafari faith, were infused into incense chalices of ganja smoke that is synonymous with the sect as thousands pairs of feet pulverised the dusty dancefloor, creating a mixture of sound, smoke and dust.
The jam-packed ground was electrified when the hit song Tizingocheza was played, with the crowd singing along with the band, dancing and jamming to local reggae music made in Singano Village in Chileka where the custodians of the trade, the late Robert and Arnold Fumulani plus Daniel and Donald Kachamba and Matafale all came from.
The Blacks’ performance was preceded by Anthony Makondetsa, who wowed the fans with his killer tune Muyuda after Moda Fumulani, Khonzi Masimbe and Yanjanani Chumbu also shook the audience with some reggae vibes.
Traders of various merchandise such as scarves and bracelets, food sellers and alcohol merchants made a killing out of the sell-out crowd as minibus operators took advantage to charge K300 from Chileka to Kameza roundabout instead of the usual K100.
Mlanga said the band plans to take the event to other regions if all goes according to plan.