Musician-cum-parliamentarian Lucius Banda has been embroiled in a heated debate with some of his fans and Malawians in general over what an activist has described as “homophobic” comments Banda made regarding two gays who kissed in public.
It all started at dawn on Christmas Day when Banda, who is also member of Parliament (MP) for Balaka North (United Democratic Front-UDF), and his Zembani Band were performing at Zitherepano in Mangochi where he suddenly stopped the show having seen two men in the audience kissing.
The musician then posted on his Lucius Chiccio Banda Facebook page: “Ndipepese kwambiri kwa ma fans anga ku Zitherepano dzulo. Ngakhale ndinali nditatsala ndi nyimbo ziwiri kuti ndimalize, koma zinativuta kumaimbabe nkumaona amuna awiri akugwirana mpaka kumakisana pafupi ndi stage yanga…
“Please never do that pamaso panga again. Remember, am not musically funded by any Western country, my donors who are God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost have attached their funding with a no sodomy condition. So, I don’t want to violate the deal.”
Some of his fans took turns to support him, hailing the musician as fearful.
“I am proud of you mwana wa mmudzi. I wish all men and women in high authority could come openly as you have done and speak strongly against this evil. Let them, the donors keep their aid and we keep our dignity,” commented Peter Chikazingwa.
Ernest Bush Chimata added his voice: “Thanks Soldier for standing strongly condemning such. These guys are not real gays, but seems are just funded by Western countries to test laws of Malawi. So they took [an] opportunity seeing you to check where you stand.”
However, other fans were generally not amused with Banda’s sentiments on the matter.
“Just focus on your music, you think you can control the actions of every single person that attends your shows? As long as they paid just do what you do and take their money. Be disgusted only if they try to tell you to turn gay otherwise why waste time?” wondered D-Fox.
The debate took an interesting twist when the musician started responding to some comments, against his opinion which in turn irked others.
“Well, Lucius has lost a fan in me. How ridiculous,” Gwen French wrote to which the artist responded: “Please remember to tell a few more who think like you so you can go together.”
But the Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), one of the organisations that promotes minority rights, has branded the musician’s comments as homophobic and inciteful.
“It is unlikely that LGBT people would be kissing at a concert by Lucius Banda who has been recently expressing hate of gays on social media. This was likely staged by people aiming to incite further hatred from him. It is also important to remind Lucius that Malawi is a secular State and everyone is entitled to attend public events in this country. When he says that gays are not allowed at his concerts he should know that such events have no place in this country.
“He should also be reminded that he is a secular musician who goes to beer drinking joints to entertain people. His shows are attended by different groups of people with different backgrounds and you cannot discriminate or insult such people based on whatever grounds. These are the people and fans who have made you to be a musician who you are now. I think Lucius has seen heterosexuals kissing many times during his shows where lots of things happen. May be it is a high time he considered singing in the church,” said Cedep executive director Gift Trapence in an interview yesterday.
He wondered why the musician is bringing the issue now when the party he belonged to prior to the last general elections committed to respect human rights regardless of sexual orientation.
As we went to press, the post was still trending with close to a thousand comments and over 1 800 likes.
Banda’s comments have come barely a week after Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu signed a statement announcing the unconditional release of two men accused of engaging in homosexuality. The two suspected gays’ freedom came amid pressure from several Western countries—including the United States of America (USA) and Germany—United Nations and Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Malawi suspended enforcement of anti-gay laws, among them Sections 137(a), 153, 154 and 156 of the Penal Code pending a High Court review of their constitutionality, but the process is yet to be concluded.
The country is also a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantees the right to privacy and the right to non-discrimination of all people. n