It was the first ever international and entertainment event at the magnificent and exclusive Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC). As such peopleâ€™s expectations were highÂ for Standard Bankâ€™s Joy of Jazz Concert.
It was pure superiority at the end of the night as South Africaâ€™s singing sensation Zahara alongside Malawiâ€™s music legend Wambali â€˜Mtebetiâ€™ Mkandawire took people on an overture through Africaâ€™s past and present.
Zahara (Bulelwa Mkutukana) appeared on stage while singing her hit Xe Bendigena mama, at exactly midnight. She showed the night was still young as she performed dance moves no one expected from her.
While singing one of her hits, she unleashed Zahara the guitarist. The jam-packed centre was so thrilled with her technical knowledge of the instrument.
It was an emotional ride when she performed Umthwalo and Ndiza. Many more, especially ladies, sang along to the latter prompting Zahara to engage them. Then in party mode she dished out Incwad Encane and Thekwana.
The audience danced long as she did Yousour Ndouâ€™s Africa, late Brenda Fassieâ€™s Leave Me Alone and Vulindela. Zahara also paid tribute to Miriam Makeba by singing the legendaryâ€™s African Success.
Then, as if trying to show her guitar strumming prowess, Zahara engaged her two guitarists in a strumming marathon with vigour and passion, proving to people that her life solely depends on it.
Perhaps in a typical saving the best for last style, Zahara swayed the audience by sending them on their toes as she did her last song, Loliwe. And they sang along while dancing.
Grinning from ear to ear, Zahara ecstatically said: â€œYou are warm people. Thank you Malawiâ€ and left the stage around 1:18am. The audience stood still, awed and watched her disappear backstage. Perhaps a signal the fans wanted more of the Zahara magic.
However, the night had started off on high pitch with up to par performances from African Bible College student-band Mingoli, and saxophonist Kelly Dehnert.
Zaharaâ€™s performance was only matched by Malawiâ€™s Jazz master Wambali Mkandawire who performed many songs from his yet to be launched album. Inde Mbuye Wathu brought fond memories of the late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Bandaâ€™s times as its tune is derived from a popular political song â€˜mwasamutsa likulu, kuchokera ku Zomba, kukamanga Lilongwe. He fused it with more colour and the gospel song lost its political undertones.
The pinnacle of Mtebetiâ€™s performance was when he did his last song Nkhujipereka. For all joined the musician in singing along, while slowly dancing. As women ululated, men whistled resonating with the handclapping from all, while the legend took a bow.
It was a show that could call for an encore.Â â€œThis woman is simply amazing and very inspirational. At that young age, she sings with such strength that you rarely find in young people. And her songs are very inspirational. Wish the party could go on and on but I hope Zahara will find it in her heart to come back to Malawi. As for Wambali, he is the godfather of Malawi jazz music,â€ said Area 49 resident Sharon Chinkanda.
Another fan Charles Maso said: â€œShe is simply irresistible. This is the best ever Malawi has been given in terms of entertainment. Good artists and watching them on such a beautiful international stage was way out of this worldâ€.