Jah people, music promoter Jai Banda has a funny way of welcoming arts journalists. When he is not talking about decades of nurturing nearly all big-name hitmakers from Makasu’s fallen king of hybrid music Bright Nkhata to survivor Lucius Banda, Mr Entertainer will be disclosing what his latest travels yielded: 50 000 megawatts instruments complete with spotlights, disco lights, stage lights, bubbles and smoke machines.
Always imitated but never equalled he claims to be. Quality sound instruments and lights always speak for themselves, but Jai’s is no empty talk. The mess at African Movie Academy Awards (Amaa) nominations in Lilongwe last weekend confirms this, albeit the hard way.
Whereas viewers deserved better lights, glitz and glamour than they know, Amaa accomplices could only afford strings of blinking shocking disco lights manufactured for bush pubs dying for Christmas trees.
Movies are about colour, picture and action. But instead of beaming clips of nominated films, Amaa had mobs of political misfits with disruptive sloganeering, dreary drumming and other unwelcome spectacles typical of President Joyce Banda’s costly safe Maizehood rallies.
…And what was marketed as the continent’s finest movie meeting became a mini-rally.
Amayi Chiwongolero! Boma ilo!
As the party loudmouths amplified their sound pollution with ease, the co-directors of ceremonies were left crying for better microphones.
If we really hosted Amaa to sell our beautiful country to the world, it was an expensive experiment, a shambolic show of classlessness and a disgraceful way of scaring away potential tourists and investors.
The Lilongwe mess was a scandal—a funny way of reminding Malawians never to look down on themselves, but to always celebrate Jai’s type.
Otherwise, congratulations to Shemu Joyah and The Last Fishing Boat cast for earning five nominations in the continental showdown. Amid barefaced mediocrity, the local nominees should remind government and the business community to start investing in the arts to create jobs and bring forex.