As a sign of acknowledging that he is doing the right thing, one of the finest talents on the local music scene Lawi has been identified to work on a World Bank music project
According to the musician, born Francis Phiri, the project grew out of a conversation his manager has had with the bank about the sluggish speed of development in Malawi.
“My manager sat down at some point with representatives from the World Bank at a forum and discussed how, as a young person, I can contribute towards achieving development in Malawi,” he said.
Lawi observed that Malawi has worked in partnership with the World Bank for the past 50 years, but compared to other countries such as Rwanda, South Africa, Mozambique and Kenya that have also engaged the Bretton Woods institute over the same period, Malawi’s case is disheartening.
“Look at Rwanda, for instance, where they boast the cleanestwas the genocide not long ago. There was war in Mozambique, apartheid in South Africa and we have never had any kind of violent activity similar to these and yet we are said to be the poorest. How?
“What kind of war are we fighting? Development is quite visible in many countries on the continent that are new to independence as compared to us. In a conversation I had with the team at the bank, they expressed that they feel the bank has failed in Malawi. However, this is not just the bank’s failure it is also our [Malawians’] failure,” he explained.
Lawi explained that as a result of the discussion, the bank thought it would be important for Malawi to answer the question what will it take to end poverty.
He said: “This question grew into a project of which saw about 1 600 entries in essays, poems, paintings, drawings and cartoons come in.
“Malawians under the age of 40 spoke on the kind of Malawi they envisage in 20 years ahead and those above 40 spoke on where they come from and how they think we can still achieve positive development as we face the future
“I feel as a young person this is a very important process for me to be involved in. We have seen the youth play an important role in shaping development in many African countries, South Africa being an example.
“If my generation cannot answer the question what will it take to end poverty in my country, then this will definitely see the next generation struggling with the very same problems that continue to hound Malawi even after 51 years of independence. I feel that I am a great part of a revolution that will see this country become independent from poverty. This will take a long time, but it begins with us today.”
The musician, whose self-titled 2014 debut album has been lauded by music pundits and critics alike, said by virtue of being a Malawian, he should automatically be concerned about the state of the eeconomy.
“Honestly, it does not feel good to be looked at the poorest in the world. That we are making slow progress should make me think how we can make strides and move ahead to see the Malawi we all desire soon. I come from Malawi and I love my country and I know how sweet life can be even in poverty, but I cannot help but think how a Malawi, which will be able to provide basic needs to the average Malawian, will look like.
“Being Malawian and having lived my whole life here has a lot of influence towards my music, I tell stories that come from our daily experiences,” he said.
Lawi also said he is working on his long-awaited sophomore album.
“It feels great to write and we will begin recordings soon. I am also excited that we are recording the album in different countries, so far we are headed to France where we are working on a collaboration with one of the people I have a great respect and admiration for.
“I look forward to the recordings. I am not sure when we will finish with the whole project, but I know it will take a long time, I will be able to give updates on the progress of the album so as we move together with all who love and appreciate my work,” he said.