It is on record that at one point a journalist asked Evison Matafale why his songs have hidden meanings. His simple response was: “I want people to use their brain when listening to my songs.”
This version is one that his cousin and current Black Missionaries Band leader Anjiru Fumulani still recounts.
Fumulani believes that knack is what set Matafale apart from the rest.
“He always stressed that he wasn’t here to spoon-feed anyone. He wanted the listener to search for the meaning of his delivery, which many times lay deep,” he said.
On Saturday, November 27, it will be exactly 20 years since Matafale’s death. However, his music still sounds fresh to the ears, the meanings of his messages are still relevant and some of the prophetic undertones are coming to pass.
Long-time radio personality and local music promoter Patrick Kamkwatira believes there will never be another music artist with such lasting impact and influence in Malawi as Matafale did. He said Matafale is a true definition of a music legend.
He said: “His music and story will live on forever. It is all about how he composed, wrote and sang his music. The issues he addressed are still relevant. He was an extraordinary character and a remarkable artist.
“I seriously think we should class Matafale in the same mould as Bob Marley and others. Truly phenomenal.”
Journalist, Frank Kapesa, said the themes that the artist picked such as promotion of unity, jealousy and betrayal are still issues that the world is contending with till now.
He said Matafale’s music resonates well with people because it speaks of their struggles and hopes of a politically free Malawi. He added that his courage to condemn oppression and his reverence for God made him stand out.
“He spoke of real issues like he did in Zaka Zonsezi, Nkhawa Bii and Yang’ana Nkhope. Even the country now is still trying to find ways of embracing cultural and tribal diversity,” said Kapesa.
Arts commentator Wonderful Mkutche said: “Before him there were others who did reggae music, but there was none who was militant and conscious like him. The establishment of the Black Missionaries Band also adds to his story.”
As per tradition, the Black Missionaries family has organised a memorial show for the fallen star, which is tentatively slated for Mankhokwe Ground in Singano Village, Chileka on Sunday. Fumulani said the moment provides an opportunity to celebrate what he means to them.
He said: “He has meant everything to us and to this mission. When we hear people sing praises of him, it makes us happy. If we look back to 20 years ago, a lot has changed. And the wish is that if he could have lived to see how far we have gone.”
“Nanga ankhanzawa awachita bwanji? Ingoti phee uwone. Nanga akubawa/ awachita bwanji? Ingoti phee uwone…from his grave he is still singing as he did in the track Nkhoswe. n