At least 1 300 patrons gathered at Club XL on Friday to witness â€˜Soldierâ€™ Lucius Banda’s return to Blantyreâ€”but he made them dance to a repeated load of political overtones.
True to his philosophy of active citizenship, the self-styled â€˜Soldier of the Poorâ€™ was not just contented with making his first appearance in Malawiâ€™s commercial city since the opening of a hall at Mkango Lodge in January, but gave the crowd a fair glimpse of his maturation and return to the good old gig ways.
Just when concert-goers accuse the artist of late-coming, he jumped on stage around midnight and gave them two sets comprising about 10 songs each. Whereas they say he stays glued to the microphone , the soldier criss-crossed the stage and took command of the proceeding on stage, but not without dipping one foot in a boiling pool of politics and the other cautiously strolling the world of music.
In his political plunge, Lucius got the audience dancing with a refreshed edition of his inaugural chart-bursting anti-tyrannical anthem Mabala, criticising government for perceived politically orchestrated arrest of its critics, including lawyer Ralph Kasambara and United Democratic Front aspirant president Atupele Muluzi.
Equally provocative were his full-dose version of Tikamalira and sporadic snippets of the forthright Life.
Both of them provoked a hush every time the militant singer paused for an interlude of straight-talk against what he sees as the creeping in of “worse dictatorship than what Malawians experienced at the hands of the late founding president Kamuzu Banda’s one-party rule”.
In fact, he dedicated the hit Nthawi to lawyer-cum-music promoter Jai Banda for standing by his side in the past seven yearsâ€”including the 67 days at Zomba Maximum Prison for forging a Malawi School Certificate of Education.Â The song tells off opportunists for deserting him when he was in problems and flocking back because he is doing better.
Years on, the former Balaka North parliamentarian feels his imprisonment came in response to a motion he moved in 2005 for the National Assembly to put in place impeachment procedures, which were largely denounced as targeting the incumbent president, Bingu wa Mutharika.
He explained: “When I saw Malawians demonstrating against deteriorating economic and political governance, I feel the impeachment [procedures] would have been a smarter way of doing away with leaders who don’t respect the will of the people.
“When I hear Public Affairs Committee [PAC] and other lobby groups demanding a referendum and resignation of the president, I feel vindicated. We should have corrected the situation, but people thought I was sabotaging government.”
Lucius has included visuals of the July 20 protests, which cost 19 lives, in the videos of Life and Tikamaliraâ€”partly explaining why people chanted achoke (Let him go) when he delved into the two songs.
â€˜No active politics for meâ€™
He insists he is not going back into active politics, having retired two years ago. He says the closest he goes that path is wishing he were still in Parliament to bring points of orders when “unprincipled politicians constantly praise a government notorious for bad laws and suppressing different viewpoints”.
“The only politics I play is that of an active citizen. I would rather be in prison for speaking my mind than live the oppressed life you call freedom. Take me to prison, that is my hotel. There will be people to give me coffee,” said the artist.
The show also marked the reunion with Dan Lu, the Shuppie star who led Zembani Band before Lucius was fired from Parliament. Dan Lu mesmerised the audience with the stage movements, eye contact and audience engagement that accompanied his Part of Lifeâ€”to the hoarse backing from his mentor.
Equally, Lulu, Kaka and Nkasa put up an impressive show.
Venue owner Terence Nkuta said the show was a success as shown by the attendance and audience reaction. The show, replete with an array of lights from Entertainers Promotion, also marked the launch of steel stands that offered patrons a platform to watch the show in comfort.