Jah people, it is said international stars only tour Malawi two times when they are fading. This could be one of the falsehoods powered by repeated encounters with bubblegum performers, especially the likes of The Third and other regulars from Zambia.
With such one-hit wonders, some Malawians were grappling to understand why a fun-seeker, cornered by soaring cost of living and a floating currency, should pay K10 000 to watch a musician whose sole album hit the stores in September 2011.
But while civil servants were being smoked out by teargas amid strikes for better salaries, South African’s singer Zahara came for the second time in five months, performed and confirmed she is still the same monstrous songbird whose album sold 100 000copies in 19 days two years ago.
Sixteen months after her debut CDs flew off the shelves, the often divergent local press unanimously proclaimed that she had done it again, fully repaying those who parted with their frail kwachas which are floating in freefall.
Zahara’s limited playlist was clear, she stranded into restyled versions of her fallen idol Brenda Fassie’s Vundlela and US singer R Kelly’s Storm is Over, but how she used her backing crew was a lesson to behold.
Whereas local hitmakers usually confine dancers to wriggling their bottoms like sex objects, her sextet was majestic both in dance and on backing vocals. The backers’ versatility saved her from the high cost of bringing an exaggerated entourage the size of a band of cabinet ministers President Banda could not introduce in 10 minutes at last month’s dinner for an international panel of safe motherhood advocates.
In her one-hour act, Zahara also shattered the myths that women are weak. Apart from joining her backers on the jam, she continued to give the patrons an energetic solo performance when they were all tired and retired for some recess.
Days before the World Mother Language Day yesterday, how the audience cried for replays of the hitLoliwe whose Zulu song words are Greek even to Ngonis of Mzimba, Mwanza, Neno and Ntcheu was a call on Malawians never to stop singing in their tongues because art knows no borders.
Truly, the talented can save their endangered cultures and break the bounds without surrendering to colonial languages.