he Nyasa Music Group has always meant well when it comes to promotion of local arts, especially music.
Nobody can fault their determination when they embark on a cause. And few can raise their hands to question the passion that the team has towards the arts.
Led by James Makunje Jnr, the crew have over the years displayed unprecedented courage in trying to change the narrative in this trade.
In a country where we have few channels and platforms to recognise and reward outstanding performers in the music industry, the Nyasa Music Group, over seven years ago, hatched the Nyasa Music Awards (NMAs) idea.
And to their credit, they have done averything within their means to make the awards as glamorous and glittering as possible. They have brought in stars of international repute just to spice up the events. The other year they brought South African hip-hop star Casper Nyovest and just last year they brought home socialite and TV host Somizi Mhlongo.
Their history in the organisation of the NMAs points to nothing but a spirited team is ready to spend their last penny just to help Malawian music get a place on the global circuit. It was, therefore, good news when early this year the group announced the addition of Nyasa Music Festival (NMF) on their portfolio.
Almost all music lovers in the country waited with bated breath of what this maiden festival will turn out. When the organisers started announcing the line-up of the festival’s headliners, teasingly, the anticipation among Malawians doubled up.
It is not every day that you see names such as Busiswa Gqulu, Dj Kaygee, The Vibe, AKA, Nasty C and Dj Noxx, all from South Africa, share the same platform. On paper this festival had the potential to create a piece of history.
Nyasa Music Group said they wanted to run away from the usual tradition of holding music festivals along the lakeshores. They said they wanted to make the event more accessible to those who don’t have the capacity to travel and lodge at the lake for three days when such events are happening.
Thus, they announced Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre as the venue for the first ever NMF in Malawi.
Their idea was a commendable one. Bearing in mind that with the prevailing economic wind, not many citizens have excessive disposable income to channel towards budget lines which are otherwise deemed a luxury by many.
But, they got one thing wrong, which in hindsight, they have admitted was indeed an oversight on their part. The gate charges of the three-day event were somewhat prohibitive to an average Malawian.
They failed to gauge their target audience properly. The cast which they had put together mainly appears to youths whose income can hardly allow them to part away with K20 000 or K15 000 at the gate for a day’s performance.
It was with little surprise that during the three days, hordes of youths were seen just loitering around the venue. They had the heart to see their favourite stars perform but they did not have the means.
Just like a determined bunch that they have always been, the Nyasa Music Group have refused to be thrown down under by the turnout of events in the first NMF. And they have announced an immediate return of the festival. This time in Lilongwe on October 26.
This is their moment to atone their status and get things right. The wise have always learnt from their mistakes. The bruises that their brand suffered in Blantyre has not been a source of discouragement to them. This is a personification of their real character.
Let them engage those who have the experience in organising music festivals so that they can learn a trick or two make this event an enjoyable one to all. The legacy they are building with their endless efforts can be a pad for reference and lessons for the generations coming.n