…Nkasa pleads for a second chance
Rejection is not something that is new in Joseph Nkasa’s life story, going by his own admission.
When you talk to the one-time music darling, he will tell you of the hurdles he encountered when he tried to make his musical breakthrough notably in 1996 when he released his debut album Satana Waponya.
The album was inspired by the HIV and Aids scourge which ravaged a lot of families that time.
“I remember one time Salim Saltar of OG Issa Music shop—which was the central, if not the only market for local music—told me in the face that I cannot make it as a musician and I should rather concentrate on farming.
“I was hurt, yes! But I was not discouraged,” he said. So like a soldier with both feet already on the battlefield, Nkasa never gave up on his dream.
After a number of unsuccessful albums, his breakthrough came with chart-topping 2002 release of Wayenda Wapenga.
“When he heard the lead song, Saltar called me so they I strike a deal with him,” says the soft-spoken singer.
Nkasa’s follow-up, Tigwerane Manja a year later cemented his reputation as one of the country’s great composers.
His unique compositions and captivating delivery earned him a celebrity status. He became so popular that his music was played on every radio station.
Within that moment of glory Nkasa took a direction which unfortunately signaled the start of the decline of his career.
At the peak of his popularity Nkasa became the most sought after musician and politicians sought him too.
He made himself a machine that produced political praise songs such as the popular Mose Wa Lero, a crown he bestowed on the country’s second democratically elected president Bingu Wa Mutharika.
He is also credited for other compositions such as Owina Wina, Yoswa, Tinene Za Peter and Anakunamiza among other popular hits which were all on leaning on discernible political hero worship.
The decision proved divisive among his many fans.
Nkasa regrets the route he took today: “I made some poor decisions which I am not proud of now.
“I exalted some human beings to a Godly status which they did not deserve. I should have used such energy in praising God,” he says.
Nkasa says is done with political praise singing and doesn’t even want to have those songs in his memory.
The disdain that people held him was so huge that a number of times Nkasa was physically attacked by proponents of political parties that did not favour where he placed his loyalty politically.
“I have lost teeth not because of old age or some sickness, but it’s all down to the beating that I received a couple of times.
“One time I required surgery to have a stone I was hit with removed from my face. It was that bad,” he laments.
Perhaps his biggest regret is spurred by the fact that though people viewed him as someone basking in plenty, there was no tangible political reward on his end despite his sacrifice.
He said he lost a lot while his supposed-political pay-masters stood and watched from a distance.
Now, bruised and left for dead, Nkasa says he wants to dust himself and revive his once-thriving career.
The 42-year-old said: “It is the people who made Nkasa to be Nkasa. The same people almost unmade me and I am coming to them with a humble heart to announce my rebirth. I have belief that they will render me the same support.”
It appears he still enjoys the affection of a section of his followers as evidenced by the outcome of an online poll which was conducted on Mikozi Network. Nkasa was pitted against Billy Kaunda, Nepman and Malinga Mafia in a poll to find out an artist to stage a virtual performance on the platform.
The artist emerged tops in the poll. And his way on the platform was also powered by financial pledges amounting close to K700 000 from well-wishers.
After the virtual show, one of the fans Caleb Thole pledged to mobilise resources to buy the Zomba-based artist a car and various items.
Last week, Thole kept his word. He donated assorted household items worth K2.6 million to the artist. Among the items were an L-Shape sofa set, beds, mattresses, side drawers, a TV screen, DSTV decoder and subscription and other items.
“I want to see the artist thriving and living a good life. We will also honour four more artists under our Jobs through Arts and Culture initiative by the end of the year,” says Thole.
Nkasa was also roped in by mobile service providers TNM plc where he starred alongside current music sensation Eli Njuchi and another urban artist Leslie in the company’s promotional theme song TNM Tikolore. The song was unveiled last Wednesday in Lilongwe.
Mikozi Network coordinator Bright Excess Chiligo is all smiles: “We are witnessing the impact of the internet in this digital age. Nkasa’s recent revival serves as evidence that internet is the new way of life.”
Whether Nkasa rides on the wave of the current goodwill to re-establish himself as the country’s undisputed music king, is a question that only time will tell. But he has promised to drop new hits soon. n