For a while, Malawian artists and event organisers have strived to bring international acts for performances in the country. Some have succeeded, others not. Born Afrikan, born Nelson Chimango Shaba, is one of those that have succeeded in the area. He brought Jamaican reggae artists Fantan Mojah, Luciano—the Jah Messenger—and twice The Royal Family of Reggae, Morgani Heritage. YVONNIE SUNDU (YS) chats with him.
YS: How can you describe the journey in music this far?
BA: The journey has had its ups and downs. We have done well and we have also flopped, but we take our failing as a learning curve and try to do better next time. On record as some would remember, we started doing events in Malawi in 2008 and our first show was at Blantyre Youth Centre. Comparing then and now, we have grown and established our company as a force to be recognised and set a trend for others to follow.
YS: What is the mission and vision of Born Afrikan Productions?
BA: We are all about bringing people together, building a great nation, building a great continent, educating through entertainment.
YS: What is next in store for Malawians?
BA: We do not have anything planned for Malawi this year.
YS: Why are you only bringing Jamaican and reggae artists?
BA: Our core is reggae music and that is what we know best and have good connections in that genre. Why Jamaican artists? It just happens that Jamaica leads the way with some of the best reggae musicians in the world today. From the great Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Culture, Burning Spear, Third World, Jacob Miller, Jimmy Cliff, Toots Herbert, Dennis Brown, Black Uhuru—the list goes on to the current crop of artists like Morgan Heritage, Sizzla, Luciano, The Marley children, Antony B, Chronixx, Taurus Riley, Busy Signal. We thought it makes sense to start with the masters of the genre. Of course we plan to host other reggae artists from other countries outside the island in future. A karateka feels honoured to train with Japanese being the masters of the art as much as it is a global art these days.
YS: What are the challenges you have encountered this far?
BA: The challenges are that it is not easy to get sponsors on board which is greatly needed to organise a great show. Additionally, venues are a big challenge. Other countries have arenas which can really make life a little easier than outdoor venues. You tend to spend less on security personnel when you use indoor venues than outdoor venues.
YS: What would you say is Born Afrikan Productions’ lowest point?
BA: The lowest points will be when every local artist phones and wants to be part of the performers. It is not possible. Again, when we approach companies for sponsorship and they tell you “we will get back to you” and you wait until the last minute and they tell you “we do not have a budget.
YS: Any moments when you felt like giving up?
BA: So far, doing shows in Malawi has never made me feel like giving up. As much as we have not made money in some of the shows we have organised, we feel it is a long journey and giving up is not in our minds.
YS: What are your plans for the future?
BA: Our plan for the future is to open a radio station, possibly also television station and have the whole production house based in Malawi. ‘Mission possible’ is our motto and we have lived by it.
YS: What are your parting words?
BA: We have the ambition to help put Malawian artists and music on the global stage. One love!