By the time you are reading this piece, the sandy beaches of Sunbird Livingstonia Beach have returned to normalcy with the monstrous stages taken down and fishers reclaiming their space.
When the dust settles down, the lingering memory that will remain in people’s minds is that of a 33-year-old Jamaican dancehall artist digging into his well of talent to give an enticing mix of fusion, fun and creativity to Malawi.
That was the 2015 edition of Sand Music Festival weekend. That it was going to be one busy weekend for entertainment lovers in Malawi was not under dispute. However, only few had envisioned how a night out with Jamaican dancehall reggae artist Busy Signal would be.
From the fans that travelled far and beyond, including some from neighbouring Mozambique and Zambia, to the international headlining act himself, everybody was busy. There was no idle moment. No dull scenes, just “network busy” as it happens in the telecommunications industry.
Saturday, the day Busy Signal performed, was simply the climax of the three-day Sunbird Sand Music Festival.
Director of ceremonies on the night, Annie Matumbi, who dazzled the audience with his Scottish gear by donning a kilt, could not stop heaping praises on the Jamaican as the stage was being set.
While it took longer, Matumbi could not help it, but keep the expectant audience busy free-styling some of his songs while interacting with the audience at the same time.
The fans were stunningly so patient, a rare occurrence among Malawian revellers who are fond of booing artists when they are taking ages to perform.
“Wabwera,” some fans were overheard screaming, rushing closer to the stage just to catch a glimpse of one big artist, rated as humble by many local fans.
Clad in a grey shiny jacket, a black bowtie, sky blue shirt and a black pair of trousers, Busy Signal did not struggle to strike a chord with the fans. While he was jumping all over the stage, singing in patios, the cheers, jubilation and the screams were what the fans could afford, and of course, dancing.
The energy was too contentious as more and more fans started dancing to his tunes. In unison, they swelled, forming a wave, undulating from one side to another.
The sands reverberated with the sounds of music booming from all angles of the Sunbird Livingstonia Beach Campsite, in rhythm with the roughly 6 000 fans’ dance moves.
Dishing songs from his past and new albums, fans could be heard singing along showing that they really know and love his music. Songs such as Reggae Music Again, One More Night, Unknown Number, Sweet Love, Gambler, Come Over and many more left fans in ecstasy.
He also performed his dancehall version of South Africa’s Khona by Mafikizolo and Nigerian P Square’s Personally.
The man could not hide the feeling that he was enjoying the presence of his fans who had travelled far and wide to witness him perform live on stage.
“I am happy to be in Malawi. You know before I came, there was too much talking, but here I am in the Warm Heart of Africa,” he said in patios.
Less than 30 minutes into the show, things were getting heated up as Busy took off his jacket and later on his bowtie.
His voice ricocheted within the beach and surely, sending waves that echoed kilometres away. He was visibly absorbed into his performance that sparkled with a great deal of vivacity, and exuberance oozed from his cadaver. Although not surprising, that was the vigour of a 33-year-old man, his proficiency as one of the reggae makers from the island of Jamaica, stands out. This is something that Malawian artists, especially the younger generation, need to borrow a leaf from.
Born Glendale Goshia Gordon, the artist continuously created suspense in the fans as he repeatedly thanked them, which gave the impression that he will be moving out of stage anytime.
He later on grabbed an empty Carlsberg beer crate, comfortably sat on it in the middle of the projected side of the stage and he sang to the ladies.
Ecstatic, amid cheers and exuberant smiles, the ladies swamped closer to where he sat and scrambled for his free hand while others touched his glass shoe.
With his shirt drenched in sweat, Busy went on to perform old songs of artists such as Chaka Demus & The Pliers as well as a tribute to Gregory Isaacs by doing a rendition of his three tracks, including Number One and Night Nurse.
“This part of the show is called request,” his voice boomed from the microphone as many fans responded by screaming Dreams of Brighter Days.
It was one long anthem, a remake of his own hit and a medley of some sort as he went on and on.
Before anyone realised it, it was 2:30am. The crowd was still swelling, they got a surplus of a gig in all departments as the artist continued to inspire and mobilise his international fans.
But it had been about two hours and 30 minutes since the busy man got on stage and he was calling it a day.
With hands in the air, the fans clapped and chanted. Busy Signal walked off the stage, with his face a bit down, humbled. That signalled the end of his performance. n