On the cultural flipside of the music of oneness, Malawians boast encounters with Zambian artists, ranging from General Kanene, K-Milian, The Third, Ozzy, Yellowman and Petersen to Organised Family who toured the country for the fourth time last week.
Despite the litany of visiting artists, Orga Kent and Rex One of the Organised Family say there have not been as many tours by local musicians in the neighbouring country in the past five years.
Only Skeffa is popular now
Whereas Kanene in 2010 named the late Israel Chatama as the top-selling Malawian that side, the Kokakola duo feel only Skeffa Chimoto has made realistic sales recently-albeit restricting his live shows to Chipata in the borderline Eastern Province.
“Although he is yet to hold a concert in Lusaka, Skeffa is hot on the market. In the early 1990s, Mlaka Maliro was a bomb, but we have seen low volumes of Malawian music in Zambia,” said Rex One after their show at Ozone Leisure Centre in Blantyre on Monday.
Added his brother, Kent: “Most people love Skeffa because of his vivid voice, danceable beats, real-life themes and the wise words in the songwords.”
They said so popular is Skeffa that he teamed up with Zambian celebs in a poll anthem, Tikondane, which, like Ndife Amodzi, calls for unity and tolerance among people of different political affiliation.
“Lusaka-based police commissioner Solomon Jere fell in love with Ndife Amodzi and bought me an air ticket to Lusaka where we produced audios and videos of Tikondane, featuring comedians Difikoti and Kapova as well as that country’s Police Band and choirs,” explained Chimoto.
Skeffa toured Zambia about 10 times last year. In June, he said concerts are more rewarding across the western border, but lamented that he got no penny from hot-cake sales of his music because he exported no CD to that country.
Piracy a problem
Similarly, the Orga Family pair decried that they are not benefiting from the heavy presence of their previous two albums Kokakola (2009) and Kabende (2011) in the country.
“As artists, we are partly to blame for piracy in our respective countries. If we fail to supply genuine copies when demand is high, the fans will always turn to alternatives and fakes. It’s time we started signing record deals in different countries to ensure originals are available beyond our borders,” said Kent.
In this regard, the Orga brothers approached Nyimbo Music Company in Lilongwe to duplicate their latest release Kabende, which has reportedly sold about 80 000 copies. However, the deal did not materialise -a mirror of Skeffa’s admitted rejection of Zambia’s Supershine Label.
In a telephone interview, Nyimbo president Daudi Suleman said he opted out because he had discovered a parallel syndicate which was reproducing the album in Lilongwe.
“I was uncomfortable because the existence of the syndicate meant that Nyimbo would not have full control of Orga Family’s music on the local market,” said Suleman, whose label partnered Zambia’s Digital X to promote artists from the two countries.
Meanwhile, Orga Family brought 300 CDs during their fourth coming last week -the only authentic consignment, according to the pair.
Orga Family was formed in 2001, but shot to stardom with 2005 album, Oga Oga which offer a comic and romantic break from Zambian artists’ imitations of Danny of Yakumbuyo fame. Kokakola was their country’s bestselling album in the past two years and they feel every show abroad is an encounter with a new audience and a necessary test of popularity.