Mzuzu, in as far as entertainment is concerned, is like Nazareth—that hometown of Jesus Christ as reported in the book of John.
His disciples found themselves in an argument: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” But out of it, came the messiah to save the world.
Like Nazareth, Mzuzu can’t brag about being an entertainment powerhouse ahead of Lilongwe or Blantyre.
But the small Northern Region popularised as the ‘green city’, has produced some of the country’s renowned artists such as Wambali Mkandawire, Tionge Hango and many others.
Now, something good is brewing up in this country’s fastest growing city again.
A young artist has emerged from the populous township of Chibanja and is bent to change the narrative of Malawi’s music industry. His name is Mest—a 25-year-old video director, born Frank Mhango.
His name graced the UMP Awards nomination list in 2017 and 2018 as Best Video Director. As if that is not enough, the up-and-coming artist was also nominated for the 2018 Nyasa Music Awards as Best Video Director.
Such nominations have not come from a silver platter. He has directed videos for some of the country’s celebrated musicians.
He is the man behind Nthawi Zanji, a music video by Gwamba and Fredokiss. He has also shot Juju, Nono and Finca by Kell Kay as well as Jay Jay Cee’s Jangiriya (remix).
The list of his best works will be incomplete without mentioning Ndendende, a music video by Janta and Macelba which was nominated as the Best Video during the UMP Awards (2018).
“People think Mzuzu can’t produce something big in the urban music industry. I want to prove such mentality wrong, that one can make anything big irrespective of location,” he says.
“So, I want to encourage even those in rural areas that they can achieve their dreams wherever they are. As long as they are good, the world will follow them just as is the case with me now,” he adds.
In a recent Facebook post, Gwamba described Mest as a fast-rising video director with potential to make it big in the country’s music industry.
“A week ago, I had the privilege of working with this young man. His name is Mest, he is 25, he comes from Mzuzu and he is a video director.
“I have huge respect for VJ Ice, Essim and Suke…. And I always want to work with the best, but for months now, my close friend (Kell Kay) has been asking me to work with a kid called Mest. I told him I only work with pro’s.
“Long story short, this is the guy who shot the video for my recent hit with Fredo (Nthawi Zanji). I must say I’m impressed,” he wrote.
Gwamba said he has drawn several lessons from the project with Mest, including the fact that young artists have the potential to rise given the platform, resources and necessary equipment.
“There are so many young talented people in Malawi who can deliver massive results but they lack great equipment. There are video directors, music producers etc. For example, we made sure Mest uses the same equipment that other people use, and he delivered. Now we will be taking young producers to work at proper studios and see if they don’t give us great quality. If we can’t change the game, then who will?” said Gwamba.
Fredokiss described Mest as “the next big thing in the visuals industry”.
“He is unique. He gives his all and most of all he is open minded. Gifted hands I would say,” said the Blantyre-based hip hop artist.
Real name Penjani Kalua, Fredokiss said up-and-coming artists are usually looked down upon in the country instead of giving them a platform to showcase their skills.
Fredokiss said it is because of such a reason that he intends to work with Mest in shooting his song Ntchana later this year.
“People look down on everything simple and different from what is the “norm”. It’s normal to be looked down upon. That’s where am coming from too. I have made advancements beyond all those who looked down upon me. Such things make one work extra harder,” he said.
But who is Mest?
“I am someone who has always wanted to be a video director. But my parents wanted me to be a nurse,” says Mest.
He says it was after writing the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations that the parents allowed him to follow his career path.
“So, I started shooting videos as a pastime for musicians from my ghetto. It was until I shot Together Remix by K-Man that a lot of people came to know me. And that’s when Kell Kay noticed me to the extent of recommending me to more artists,” he says.
Looking forward, Mest plans to enroll for a college course in video making and animation to enrich his skills and talents. n