As role models in our society, some of our local artists have played important roles than just producing something that sounds like music. Since there are many challenges and problems that confront our society, these artists have conveyed messages of such issues through their songs. One crucial aspect is that of being the voice to the voiceless. Unfortunately our society at times perceives female artists as objects that do not have any voice. But these are the people that are crucial in the fight against climate change, gender-based violence, unity, equality, homosexuality, HIV and Aids and corruption, among others. Female musician Angel Mbekeani, well-known by her stage name, Sangie, has managed to speak on behalf of females by being an advise, educator, social critic and custodian of Malawian culture through her songs.
Beginning with her latest song titled Say No More to Violence, Sangie has showed us that she is highly concerned with gender-based violence, which is one of the major problems that our country is injected with. She uses her music to advise that we must unite as a nation in ending gender-based violence.
Since the song was done by a woman, this gives a clear picture that women are not just sitting idle in the fight against gender-based violence in this country. Sangie used the title Say No More to Violence as a direct way of telling us that we must not just watch our children, wives, relatives, neighbours, workers and other people being abused but rather take action such as reporting to the police or any other security agents in our area. Throughout the song, Sangie is singing against early marriages. She further asks traditional leaders to monitor such cases of gender-based violence in their areas so as to end the malpractice in our homes, schools and societies. This is evidenced through her last verse of the song, where she sings “kaya mafumu kuli konseko, ndi udindo wathu asamenyane, mabanja angavulizane/kaya makolo kuli konseko, mwana wamkazi asakwatibwe ali wachichepele/ kusukulu nkophunzira, sikuti ndizizunzika, you are my teacher respect yourself and you deserve my respect/ ngati uli bwenzi langa, usandikakamize zomwe sindikufuna, ngati umandikonda, I am to be respected.”
Secondly, since a lot of women have internalised the negative stereotype that is perceived in them that they are lazy and not powerful enough to indulge into certain jobs, Sangie acted as a female advocate by coming up with a song titled Ngwazi Zachikazi. This was meant to help the government and non-governmental organisations in eradicating such negative stereotypes about females and again, letting us realise that females are also capable of doing the jobs that men do.
In her song, Sangie featured well-known poet Robert Chiwamba who also acted as a female advocate by introducing the song with the words “Iyedi ndi wamkazi koma zoti sangagwile ntchitoyi chifukwa ndi yachimuna ndikuletsa” to clearly tell Malawians that women can work in any profession regardless of whether it is seen as a male-dominated job. And the fact that the song was done by both a man and a woman affirms that both male and female celebrities are working together to end the negative perceptions about women in terms of their abilities. Furthermore, since the message is conveyed by two celebrities in Malawi, this will persuade a lot of school going girls to engage themselves in male-dominated disciplines such as science and engineering.
Sangie says she will always use her music to lift women’s status.
“I believe in equality and will always use my talent to promote the same while at the same time entertaining the masses,” she said.
But Sangie is not alone. Another female artist who is a voice of reason in our society is Ethel Kamwendo Banda. She is the ambassador of the Malawi Police and Interpol. Though she has not recorded a special song for her role, she has been using her star power to convey messages of national importance to society.
During the just ended Christmas and New Year celebrations, Kamwendo-Banda advised Malawians on safety tips to avoid being victims of thieves. In a video message, Kamwendo-Banda further asked Malawians to avoid drinking and driving.
“If you are found drinking and driving, the police will do their job and punish you. They are on the road all the time,” said Kamwendo Banda in the video message which On The Arts saw.
As more and more female artists join the trade, we can only wait to see if they too will use their voice and star power for the good of the society apart from exhibiting their talent for monetary gains. n