Reggae fanatics, Black Missionaries fans and groupies look forward to the Evison Matafale Memorial Concert, which is held every November at the home of the reggae band in Chileka. It is a day they celebrate the life of the fallen reggae icon and an influential figure in Rastafarianism in Malawi.
Kameza round-about was heavily congested with trucks, minibuses and other smaller vehicles as they ferried patrons to the concert at Mankhokwe Ground at Singano Village in Chileka.
Along the front side of the fence were pavilions, where sachet liquor, Chibuku, Chimera and marijuana were being sold. On the gate, we were greeted by a dreadlocked vendor persuading us to buy his ganja cakes. Besides him were two men, who were painting patrons’ in the Rasta colours of red, green and yellow at a fee of K100.
A struggle through the jam-packed dusty grounds led one to have a vintage point and, through the crowd, vendors sold chamba—already rolled into cigarettes for K100—monthball sized packs for K150 and a ‘chamba cob’, tightly preserved in banana leaves, at K1000. Liquor sachets, cigarettes, necklaces and Rastafarian hats were also being sold at the concert.
Whether heightened by the weed, the drinks or both, one thing was certain—there was a general feeling of ecstasy and excitement at the concert.
The promised international performers, Jamaican superstar Sizzla Kalonji and Ivorian reggae icon Alpha Blondy, did not show up for the event, but the show carried on.
In an interview with The Nation, Black Missionaries frontman Anjiru Fumulani said the international artists failed to come for the concert because there was no funding to support their flight and accommodation.
“The problem is that they notified us about their interest to come at a short notice so we did not have time to talk to sponsors. But next year we are going to start preparations earlier,” said Anjiru.
Also performing at the concert was Moda Fumulani, who paid homage to his late brother Gift Fumulani by performing some of his popular songs.
Reggae musician Toza Kapito, Matafale’s half brother, also performed the reggae king’s songs. Anthony Makondetsa mesmerised the fans with a sterling performance of his popular songs.
Other artists that supported the concert included Khonzi Masimbe, who has just launched his debut, Soul Raiders Band, The Never Ending Jupiters and Trumel.
Lawrence Chakakala Chaziya, Matafale’s confidant, was overwhelmed by the numbers that turned out to pay homage to his departed friend.
“What is worrisome, however, is that we still don’t really know what happened to him. We can’t find closure because those that slew him were left scot-free,” said Chaziya, who recalls making visits to Likhubula River with Matafale to meditate and compose songs.
The security at the event was tight. The organisers hired 100 police personnel and 100 civilian bouncers. However, there were no first-aid shelters and toilets.
“We, however, organised a car that was dedicated to handling all emergencies,” he said.