There is a long story that anchors the success story behind the music being enjoyed in Malawi today. There are people who have toiled to put together music instruments, form bands and create a platform for many artists who are shining today with their releases. Collen Ali is one of them. Our Reporter ALBERT SHARRA shares his story.
Born on February 10, 1976 Ali is one of the people who have contributed to the music industry through bands and instruments.
He is among the people who founded and performed with the country’s oldest and popular music bands.
Ali’s journey into music started during his primary schools days. As he lives on today, Ali blames his strong passion for music as a burden that affected his education success.
By 1989, Ali was already a specialist in playing music instruments. His first mark, he says was at Apostolic Faith Mission church in Naperi in Blantyre where he was a band member for the church’s band. He was playing drums. Other members of the band according to Ali were Peter Likhomo, Jack Kasosa and Charles Soda. He performed with the band till 1992.
The same year, Ali joined Thukuta Band as a drummer and was among the team that helped the band to make a name and become people’s choice when choosing a band to perform during special events. With the band he also performed at several public functions of the late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda.
However, he did not stay long with the band. He transferred to join Ethel Kamwendo-Banda’s music group. He was playing the keyboard. Unfortunately, the group did not stay long and Ali with other members of the group formed Sapitwa Band. That was in 1993 and the band disbanded after few months.
These escapades did not put him off to try other careers, he continued with the journey and joined hands in forming Likasa Band. Due to some reasons the band also disbanded.
Together with mate Likhomo, Ben Michael, Jack Kamwendo and Peter Malata, they formed Mibawa Band. The band curtain raised Kanda Bongoman’s show in 1994.
Nevertheless, Mibawa’s journey did not continue. It was stopped by Brite Nkhata after he had poached the talents in the band to revive his falling Makasu Band.
In 1995, Ali joined Makasu Band and he performed with the band for a while before crossing over to join Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) band in 1996.
“This is the band that exposed me to the world. We toured almost all the districts of the country with live performances,” says Ali who is currently based in Chimwankhunda in Blantyre.
At MBC, Ali was on the lead guitar and sometimes on bass guitar.
The same year (2006) Nkhata left for South Africa for some personal businesses. When he returned he re-approached Ali to revive Makasu Band together with DaudiNyirenda, Patrick Simakweli, Malata and Likhomo.
However, it was Mr. Entertainer—Jai Banda who marked a new chapter for the crew after watching their magnificent performance at Mount Soche in Blantyre sometime in 1997.
“Jai Banda was impressed with the way the group performed and he offered himself to buy music instruments for the band and we accepted. I was very happy to be a member of Makasu Band with full equipment,” he reckons.
Sixteen years down the line, the successful story of the band is still alive. They are the team (Ali, Nkhata and Likhomo) that went to Zimbabwe to record the popular Muroyi hit at Prince Tendai’s studio called High Density.
In 1998, Ali worked with Likhomo to form Kaligo Melodies under the support of Charles Machemba. Ali was the band leader. Together they released Tinjoye album the same year. It was the same time Billy Kaunda defected from Zembani Band to join the group.
Ali and others are the artists that performed instruments in Kaunda’s popular album called Kumidima.
Apart from this journey, Ali has worked with Wambali Mkandawire and part of his talent is in Wambali’s Manyasa album called Up and down Shire River. In 2002 he went to Botswana on an invitation to help one of the county’s popular musicians Duncan Sinyasu. He also has a solo secular album called Ndaziona which was recorded in 1997.
In 2006, Ali started to think of his future and survival with returns from his talents through bands. He observed that it was not enough. He bought band equipment to hire to music groups. To date, this business is thriving.
The same year, Ali together with MlakaMaliro and Ben Michael travelled to Japan on an invitation to help KoheyaMada a Japanese artist who producedNdimakukonda, a hit with Japanese accent that enjoyed good airplay on local radios and television few years ago to produce his Chichewa songs.
This year, he was in Nigeria for the African Movie Association Awards (Amaa) together with Joseph Tembo’s Groove Magic Band.
Ali has a studio in Chimwankhunda he also says plans are underway to revive the Kaligo Melodies.
Ali comes from Thom Mperera village in T/A Somba in Blantyre. He is happily married with three children.