Good people, it was on a rainy Friday evening when I called Skeffa Chimoto not to verify whether he would go ahead to take part in a widely publicised mismatch with the US group Dru Hill.
I wanted the Jamming Machine to confirm a purring rumour that the R&B oldies from overseas were not on the plane to Lilongwe though the show was on just the next day.
To say the least, the news from the capital was depressing to many show-goers, especially those who had paid almost K15 000 for the concert.
Being an honest lad, Skeffa could not hide his frustration at being kept in the dark on a show he was supposed to be curtain-raising.
“There was no official communication. The social media is buzzing, but the organisers haven’t told me anything. They are not picking my calls,” he said.
Such was the dramatic guessing on the eve of the no-show that history will record that in 2015 we did it again.
Friends of the arts suffered a spate of similarly sickening secrecy in the early 2000s when they had to wait until the likes of rapper Ray Grin and other starters to go on stage to know that the main course, KC and Jojo, were no where near Lilongwe. When the US rappers stayed put wherever they were while Malawians were gathering, we did not unite in enjoying the satirical song Kesh and Bobo castigating promoter Ice Jay and the rest of the brains behind the comedy of errors.
Rather, a consensus emerged that Malawians willing to spend their hard earned dime and precious time on art performances deserve to be treated with respect and gratitude.
But that was never to be the last time we heard about the likes of Ice Jay. Calm prevailed until another Ice Jay came calling, telling the media that he had sealed a deal with the then US dancehall megastar Sean Paul to perform live in a concert in Lilongwe. The show was cancelled long before we knew whether he was a serious music promoter or just another comedian.
But the imposters did not become extinct the day the Sean Paul show failed.
It doesn’t continue.
It erodes the confidence of right – thinking Malawians who cherish the prime entertainment thrill that comes with internationally acclaimed shows.
The majority of fun-seekers clamour and throng the shows of international top-raters because they do not only expected to exemplify the very best of live show culture. The artists coming in, the likes of Jamaica’s reggae stars Busy Signal and Luciano, offer glimpses of what Malawians seldom get from local performers.
Unfortunately, the liars disguised as music promoters dent the image of real show-makers who take music promotion real business.
Following the no-show that was Dru Hill’s, some gig-goers have been reluctant to buy tickets ahead of Morgan Heritage’s concert slated for December 27 in Lilongwe.
What if the Royal Family of Reggae does not turn up?
What if it’s another lie–another case of theft by music-related trick?
What-ifs are many, but they only disadvantage those true to the spirit of music as serious business.
But the real promoters in the league of Bon Afrikan, the dude who brought forth Luciano, Busy Signal and Fantan Mojah, do not want ifs.
They invest millions in importing music greats from overseas to make profits, not to earn doubts.
They want to give people a deserved stint of leisure, not a flurry of buts.
This is why the buts emanating from Umodzi Park and other outfits close to the Dru Hill no-show are not only disturbing but unbecoming.
The bad apples poisoning the systems that are supposed to be promoting the arts need to be accorded time for soul – searching and atonement.
The blame games surrounding the no- show is nauseating to ticket-holders still waiting for their refunds–with or without interest.
Umodzi may have hurried to the press and the nearest police station to crucify South African Archie Tigere of Tigere Media of failing to deliver the band they were supposed to fly from to Malawi via South Africa. Similarly, Tigere points to an unnamed patty failing to honour it’s part in the shoddy deal.
The raging blame shifting further sours the bitter food for thought.
Once beaten twice shy is supposed to be an ancient saying.
Malawians, especially the so-called promoters, must learn from the excessively repeated scandal and renew the promise to deliver what they promise the arts lovers.
The major downside is that the dramatic no-show is not that it pans out like a thrilling movie.
Rather, Tigere, whose media company deals in film making, has threatened promised to churn out a movie offering the behind-the-scenes peek related to the massive disappointment, his arrest and acquittal from fraudulently obtaining money in the name of Dru Hill.
This is it: we have just given a foreign media voice the ammunition to tell the world Malawi is a nation of crooks and liars.
It was needless. Dru Hill are clearly forgotten oldies. Matching them with reggae singer Skeffa was odd. Pairing them with the likes of R&B princess Lulu and Patience Namadingo would be more odd. Only if they were available in the 1998 to use the same stage as Bubu Lazy of Banja Ndalephera and Albert Khoza of Akunenepa Nako Kachilombo!
As we rise from the hyped mistake branded Dru Hill show in Malawi, we need to look back and ask ourselves whether we really want the world to know us as a country of Cashgaters and tricksters.
Don’t cry, my country. Repent and have a merry Christmas. May the dawn of the New Year mark the beginning of the end of this festival of lies. n