Favoured SistersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Martha Pingasa and Mwawi Kalolokesya of Moyo Wanga Akusungawe Ndicholinga fame, tell Paida Mpaso about their passion for gospel music, the process of composing touching songs and the joy of being ministered to by their own music.
What are your real names?
Martha Pingasa and Mwawi Kalolokesya
How did you come up with your group name?
Martha: We met different women with the same ministry and we thought God had favoured us to meet and begin this wonderful ministry, hence the first part of the name; Favoured.Ã‚Â Because we have been together and we have been friends for so long, we are more than friends, we are sisters, so we added that to our stage name.
Mwawi : Yes, we came up with the name after we realised that God has given both of us the gift of worship. We are friends, neighbours and family friends and we felt that having a similar passion and talent was a unique favour from God.
How did the two of you meet?
Mwawi : We first met about 10 years ago.Ã‚Â We were neighbours in Chilobwe at Mr Elwin MaluwaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s compound at the time.Ã‚Â We had been introduced to each other through Pastor Alick Thindwa, who was my neighbour before Martha and her family moved into the compound. He was MarthaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Pastor at the time and we began attending mid-week prayers at the same houses.
We often led in the praise and worship. By and by, we started getting involved in music by helping backing peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s albums in studios. Some of the people we provided backing vocals for are Petrey Mtodwa and Jeffrey Chikhwaza, the Revival Trumpeters praise team and many more.Ã‚Â Following this, we both had the urge to start ministering the Word of God through music.
A lot of musicians, especially females, often fall apart after they become successful. What is the glue that has kept you together?
Martha: A group is made up of two or more people and inevitably misunderstandings will arise. I think what makes people look past those is remembering why they are together in the first place.Ã‚Â The other thing is, we are gospel artists, which means we put God first in every circumstance.
Even though there are a lot of things that could have separated us, we always turn to God with our troubles and he has never failed us. I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just a matter of realising your weaknesses and working on them.
Mwawi: I agree, the grace of God has helped us come this far. He has bound us together with the precious cords of amazing love.Ã‚Â When I sit and meditate on what people see as Favoured Sisters; all I see and feel is just GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s precious love.
Are you married or in relationships?
Martha: I am married and I have three children.
Mwawi: I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know if I would want to open up about that to the world!Ã‚Â
How do you juggle family, your careers and music, as you sometimes have to travel for performances country wide?
Martha: We have been to a lot of places within Malawi but have never travelled outside the country for a performance. My husband is very accepting of my ministry. I was already a musician when I met him, so he knew the kind of person he was getting into a relationship with and he accepted that.Ã‚Â
I think the most important thing in marriage is trust, and we trust each other. This is my ministry and this is where I belong. I cannot live without music and no-one can take music away from me!
Mwawi: We feel humbled.Ã‚Â God should continue to increase as we decrease.Ã‚Â We are optimistic and see God taking us where he wants us to be.
What motivates you to write music?
Martha: A lot of things! We might write something out when the pastor is preaching or we might write about what people are going through. Sometimes, we write about personal experiences. We realise that we cannot stand at the pulpit to preach because that is not our profession, so we reach out to the masses through our music.
Mwawi: I am almost always motivated by the Word of God. People face a lot of challenges, but some might not know that the answer to all their troubles lies in the Bible. I hope that our music will teach people that important fact.
What state of mind is conducive to writing songs?
Martha: You need to be in a prayerful mood, because while praying, God can give you a song to reach out to the people. For instance, we composed our new song Akudziwa, after we saw a child on the streets sleeping in a cardboard box. I felt sorry for this child and I wanted to cry.
I looked at my children and imagined them in a similar situation, but I then I remembered that God is a God of time and He is aware of everything that is going on. I asked myself a lot of questions and we decided to put what we had seen in a song that would reach out to the people.
Mwawi: A sound, sober and prayerful mind.
How do you feel when you listen to your own music?
Martha: Ã‚Â My songs minister in my own life. I know that I cannot just sing the songs for people without practising what the song was saying because I too, need to grow spiritually.
Mwawi: I feel and see the Glory of the Lord. I feel encouraged, inspired and motivated. At the same time, our music ministers to me in a unique way. Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
When you are on stage, how do you make sure you maintain contact with your audience?
Martha: I feel what I am singing; I more or less let the song wash over me. Someone once said that people who sing need to be careful because whatever spirit they have can be transferred to other people. If the musician is not serious, the people listening will take the message lightly. Therefore, we have to be serious. At the same time, we have to live what we sing or practise what we preach.
Mwawi: We make sure that they are part of what we are doing. If we are praising God through dance, we motivate them to join us, if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s time for worship, we worship together.Ã‚Â We encourage our audience to sing along with us.Ã‚Â Before we perform a certain song, the audience is aware of what we will be performing and there is some sort of spiritual exaltation concerning the song.
Your first song, Moyo Wanga Akusungawe Ndicholinga, was a big hit, especially at bridal showers and weddings how did it feel?
Martha: Ã‚Â We praise God because we realise that when a song is received so warmly, it is not just about dancing and singing; it also has something to do with the message. So, when people still play the song and give us feedback on what it has done in their lives, we are moved to compose even better songs.
Mwawi: Honestly, sometimes I feel like crying. I ask myself; Lord is this true?Ã‚Â Is this happening? You are really keeping me alive for a purpose.Ã‚Â You are indeed great.Ã‚Â I see God in this song and I never get used to it.Ã‚Â It always ministers to me in a new way every time. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s this new feeling in me that God is yet to perform another miracle to me or somebody out there.Ã‚Â He is such a good God and has ever been and forever will be.
Was there a point you felt the song would never be received?
Mwawi: Yes. We were very worried when we were in studio, I picked out another song which I thought people would like, but we were astounded when they settled on the opposite!
What have your highest points been thus far?
Martha: When we went to French Cultural Centre to perform our songs for the first time. We had previously been told that most first-timers make mistakes but when we heard that people had come in their hundreds to listen to us and that they had queued all the way up to MTL Training School, we were so overjoyed all our nervousness vanished.Ã‚Â
Mwawi: My highest point is when we were launching the Kulambira 1 DVD in Lilongwe at Sheaffer Hall. A certain lady knelt in front of us with tears streaming down her cheeks and started singing along to Ndichitireni Chifundo Mbuye Wanga. Oh, she moved me so much! I felt GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s presence and His spirit of restoration as the song says from Psalms 51verse 1-2 and 10-11.Ã‚Â The picture of this sister vividly still clings in my mind whenever I hear or sing this song.
What have the lowest moments been?
Mwawi: My lowest moment is when we were new in the Gospel ministry and went to French Culture to perform as curtain raisers. The organisers of the launch openly said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“You canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sing because you were not part of the programme and as a matter of fact, we did not pray for you, so, we are sorry.Ã¢â‚¬Â Oh, I was crushed and I said Lord, is this going toÃ‚Â work?Ã‚Â But from this, I learnt that God will always fulfil his promises in your life despite any stumbling blocks that comeÃ‚Â your way.
What do you do, apart from singing?
Martha: Ã‚Â I am a businesswoman; I own a hair salon and two shops
Mwawi: I am currently working at Cure as an Associate Hospital Chaplain and Fundraising Officer.
What are your dreams?
Martha: To enter the Kingdom of God and enjoy the fruits of my ministry. I also want to promote music in this country. I want people to understand that, through singing alone, the Glory of God can really come down upon His people and perform wonders.Ã‚Â
Mwawi: My dream is to see God taking this ministry to higher levels.