Fifteen years after he ruffled feathers with his proclamation that Malawi music is trash, reggae musician Limbani Banda says, although there have been some improvements in the industry, there is still a long way to go before Malawian music can be taken seriously.
Speaking exclusively to The Nation, the militant Zomba-bred musician said the problem with Malawian music is that the industry’s preference of singers over musicians.
“Most of the people that make it in the industry in Malawi are singers and not musicians. So what happens is that most singers hardly have content in their music, so after a short while, they disappear from the scene, never to be heard of.
“What happens is that the people might be attracted to a song, but after a while, they realise that the song is not really good because good music takes a little while to sink in. Half–baked music can never take us anywhere,” he said.
According to the controversial and free-speaking musician, most Malawian music is still thrash.
“Because it is only a handful of our musicians who understand what music really is. This is because in Malawi, people start singing because they seek fame and not necessarily because they are talented. But they do not know what is involves to make good music,” he said.
Banda, famous for the hit Chisoni Kumatenda, noted that it will take time for Malawi to establish itself as a country that produces good music.
The musician, who is inspired by revered Jamaican reggae icon Peter Tosh and South African reggae musician Lucky Dube, further observed that corruption by radio DJs is another bottleneck that has been hindering progress on the musical front.
“The tendency nowadays is for DJ to play from what they eat from. Resultantly, the good musicians are hardly exposed. And the thrash becomes the norm with people thinking that this is the standard,” he said.
However, Banda acknowledged that there has been some progress since he made his controversial statement in 1999.
He cited the standard of music video and the quality of recording as two areas worth celebrating.
But the musician said Malawian music has failed to progress beyond the borders because Malawians are jealous people.
“We hate good things. And because we hate good things, we cannot make progress. Because even if we love thrash, it can never be accepted outside. But if we love good music and we push and promote it, we will go international.
“The problem is that when people see a musician who is smart and drives a good car, they start hating him for no reason, accusing him of being pompous. But people forget that music is show business and elsewhere, musicians drive classy cars and live expensive lifestyles. But in Malawi, we want our musicians to be beggars,” he observed.