Silver Stadium, in Lilongwe, was on December 27 2015 heavily painted in Rastafarian colours. One would see from all sides Rastafarian garments twinkling white, green, black and red. Morgan Heritage, a Jamaican-based reggae band, was in town!
Generally, there was increased activity at Bwandiro—one of the city’s popular drinking places. There were groups of young people clad in Rastafarian vestment as early as 8am.
The Morgan Heritage show, however, was a total mess and act of disorganisation. The gates were slated to open at 10am. However, until afternoon hours, patrons were still locked outside the stadium.
The first sound check was at 3pm. But even then, for the first performance to start it wasn’t until around so many minutes after 4pm.
Sally Nyundo, of the Ras-amadya-nzimbe fame, was first to curtain-raise the show. He was able to restore hope that the show had started, but far from restoring the hunger for serious and coordinated reggae music. Like most artists, he spent a good share of his time bragging about this and that, instead of seizing the opportunity to prove this worth by dishing one song after another, professionally, at least taking advantage of the “international” stage.
The better thing that happened is, perhaps, the Soul Raiders Band and Black Missionaries. The two bands did their best.
Bon Afrikan came on stage around 10pm. The audience had been left to no business from around 8pm after the Black Missionaries had left. It was two hours given to patrons to waste away without any apology whatsoever.
Bon Afrikan is generally a talented artist. He played great reggae music, perfected by clear sound. One would hear each instrument by itself. The only problem was that by this time patrons’s patience had been lost. So, while Bon African tried hard to prove his talent and possibly wipe sins that were about to be committed, he succeeded less. Most patrons abandoned dancing and were seated on the bare ground, just waiting for the much-anticipated Morgan Heritage (The Royal Family).
Then came the announcement from the master of ceremonies that Morgan Heritage has not come a full family. The most surprising moment came: The stage is dressed with mixing instrumentation and a laptop. Then the MC announced the arrival of the royal family on stage. The three giant men invaded the stage, each with a microphone. They came in with background music playing from a compact disc (CD). They sang along. After three songs, it was confirmed that the much-anticipated Morgan Heritage had come to play a CD and singalong, all the way from Jamaica.
This frustrated expectations of the patrons, who started getting out of the stadium. Many patrons felt duped. The promotion that went about was that the band would conduct a live performance. While there may be several definitions of what a live performance is, the general understanding was that Morgan Heritage would come to Malawi and use full band equipment and not sing along a CD being played on a laptop.
Music is a catharsis of sort: on both the singer and the listeners. People’s love for it should not be taken for granted. Promoters and events organisers should make sure they are up to the game to provide as expected. Unfulfilled expectations have the potential to turn into ugly scenes. The problems of sound and lighting should be history considering that we now have Jai Banda and Mibawa owner Nthakomwa providing such services. But, the sound and lighting, at the show, were poor. n