Jah people, the Martyrs Day is gone and the countdown to the 50th Anniversary of self-rule has begun.
For the old guard, March 3 is no day like any other, for this was probably the saddest day in the history of nation-building when about 40 people were butchered by British colonial army blinded by the obsession to prolong their repressive rule despite learned Malawians’ keenness to take over the affairs according to the agreement of 1891.
This was the day the patriots exemplified their firm belief that there is no greater gift than dying for others by facing the filthily armed colonial army imported from South Africa and Zimbabwe with no arms but their determination for self-rule.
Even after attaining independence in 1964, founding Kamuzu Banda, whose arrest in 1959 sparked the protests that heralded the bloody killings during that year’s state of emergency of that year, had a way of paying homage to the grand lives and bloodshed in the historic struggle.
And this was the routine which ended with the restoration of democracy in 1994 when Martyrs Day was split from John Chilembwe Day: Stay indoors, turn up no other music apart from Mjura Mkandawire’s Kunali John Chilembwe, all shops and pubs closed, listen to replays of Chilembwe play on the radio (meaning MBC) and all that jazz.
All that is no more, dead like choral maestro Mjura who passed on last year.
But there was no better homage to the first Martyrs Day without Mjura than having his former MBCBand teammate Wyndham Chechamba carting his saxophones, violins, acoustic guitars and hoarse voice to College of Medicine Sports Complex to add a little music to the sombre day.
And Chechamba, 60, is no ordinary giant. Since his MBCBand exit, he has stood true to the standards of classic music standards the likes of Mjura willed to newer generations and opened a school where many a musician has honed school.
Complete with the theme song Praising the Heroes composed for the day, the day couldn’t go without befitting brilliant reviews.
We need more brilliant minds like Chechambas in the area. He is quality getting better with time, like wine.