Good people, the launch of Kuimba 11 confirms the Black Missionaries’ determination to move into the future without their fallen heroes.
The past is already gone, they sing on Gombe la Nyanja, in which the persona defies the certainty of death.
The band, which unveiled its newest record in Blantyre recently, has remained steadfast in studio and on stage since the death of its founder Evison Matafale and his successor Musamude Fumulani.
On Kuimba 11, the much-loved duo is well covered by Musamude’s resolute brothers-lead vocalist Anjiru and co-vocalist Chizondi. They are the two reasons the band sings on 17 years after Matafale died in police custody on November 27 2001.
Stop judging the Blacks by the stellar stuff of their legend. Matafale was in a class of his own. Like it or not, the Blacks are a living band and they are doing their work their way-differently!
Do not judge them by the cover of their new offering either. It may be irie-in reggae terms-but who judges music by graphics anyway?
Sticking to the tunes packed in the new album, it appears the band- which prefers calling itself Ma Blacks owing to their amphibian ambitions to remain local while frog-marching into the international glow-seem to have mastered the art to cheat their followers.
The four promotional tunes they dished out a few months ago did not do much to impress critical listeners who expect nothing but the best from the peoples’ band. Rather, the group sounds like a bunch of singers and players of instruments contented with doing business as usual, giving nothing unexpected.
However, in the remaining tracks released later show they served the best for the last.
Not all the tracks are mesmeric though.
Here is a quick lowdown for a few anthems worthy the ear-the type that lure multitudes the size of audiences that packed Robin’s Park and Lilongwe Golf Club where the faint-hearted could not jostle their way into the show.
First things first. Judging by crowds singing along and jamming to the tunes, Umboni is the hit of the first foursome. It has kept audiences dancing and talking about the Blacks despite being a rewind of Khunju reggae the vocalists have inherited from their famous daddy, Robert Fumulani, whose Mulomo the band recycled and reused to a great applause in 2008.
Chant Reggae Music is a sweet track to a reggae-loving ear, perhaps a tune that will liberate and mesmerise fans fettered by doubts and questions about the Blacks loyalty to reggae culture. What happened to the reggae style Matafale willed to the lads? Chizondi rightly answers the question in the song which affirms Lucky Dube’s aphorism that nobody can stop reggae and alludes to the punch line of Bob Marley’s Trench Town Rock-“when hit with music, you feel no pain”.
On Saviour, Chizo, nicknamed Mr Bossman after the song he leads in Kuimba 10, brings diversity and a fresh breeze to a band whose over-reliance on Anjiru sometimes sounds monotonous.
Anjiru is a gifted vocalist and poster face of the people’s band who sometimes gets too little credit for what he has contributed to its lucrative status since he succeeded Musamude. However, team play and taking turns on the microphone is what makes great band as enjoyable as Morgan Heritage and the Original Wailer.
Anjiru is at best on love songs like Special Lover and Unali Kuti. The tell-all track, Chikondi Chatha, is not disappointing either.
Probably, the most interesting takeaway from Kuimba 11 is the Blacks keep sailing against doubts and adversity-and they say as much without alluding to the biblical story of Daniel, Mischeck and Abedinego which they have clichéd with untold repetitiveness. n