Imagine starting a career only to land your lifetime experience 30 years later. Would you still love the job or hold on to a particular career path?
There are two main reasons why people get promotion in their job or particular career path. One and foremost is hard work, which has no exception, second is, even though not reliable, luck.
However, for Fumbi Jazz Band, one of the country’s oldest music groupings, the application of the above elements is seemingly overdue. The hard work has been there all along but promotion and luck did not knock on their door. Until this year when it was selected to perform at Lake of Stars (LoS).
Fumbi Jazz Band leader Charles Mtembenuza described the group’s appearance at this year’s LoS as remarkable.
“You can attribute it to hard work, luck or God’s miraculous intervention. But performing at LoS is one of the highlights for Fumbi Jazz Band. In fact, it showed that people still love us because it’s not easy to be on such a stage and compete with the current generation of artists ,” said Mtembenuza.
Fumbi Jazz Band is a traditional music grouping whose music is rich in cultural and communal affairs. The Chileka-based band, which comprises three members-Mtembenuza, Ronald and Ramsy Mitanda, has been around for over 30 years, releasing chart-bursting hits such as Masiku Sakoma Onse, Mufera Khunkha Achimwene, Ndikokota, Mabodza, Patsogolo Mpambuyo Pomwe, Wamwayi Ndi Wamwayi and Wamkulu Ndine.
Mufera Khunkha Achimwene warns men of women who do not keep their families due to their untrustworthiness.
The band was formerly harmonised as a band in 1986 and since then it has been releasing music passionately as well as holding performances using traditional equipment. The band started recording music with Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) in the early 1980s.
“For Fumbi Jazz Band, it is passion and support from Malawians that have taken us this far. You may wish to know that the group started recording music with MBC with no expectation of financial gains. It was all driven by in born talent and passion. And by then to be heard on the country’s sole radio station was also an honour,” recalled Mtembenuza.
Apart from recording music with MBC, Fumbi Jazz Band has also been conducting numerous street and residential performances countrywide.
Mtembenuza was quick to point out that 30 years down the line, it was encouraging to note that Malawians were still in love with its music. This was unlike many musicians in the country who either run out of ideas or bow down to stiff competition.
He attributed the development to the role of the band’s manager Ben Mlasaanthu who has been helping the band to network.
Local musicians in the country have been trailing badly when it comes to the issue of networking. Their use of technology is not active as compared to their urban counterparts.
“We attribute Fumbi Jazz Band’s improved networking to Mr. Ben Mlasaanthu who has even helped us to put our music on internet and secured the Los deal this year, among other things,” said Mtembenuza.
On his part, Mlasaanthu said he met Fumbi Jazz Band in Blantyre.
“When I look at Fumbi Jazz Banda, it is one of the music groups that the country must treasure. I came in because I didn’t want the nation to lose such a treasure. The group is part and parcel of Malawi’s history of music and culture which needs to be preserved for future generations.
“Better still, I saw the need for the members of Fumbi Jazz Band to benefit from their art by partaking in different activities than staying idle at home,” said Mlasaanthu.
Fumbi Jazz Band, among other prominent places, has performed at Blantyre’s Shire Highlands Hotel as a resident band.
With three albums under their belt, Fumbi Jazz Band is working on its fourth album which is yet to be titled, according to Mtembenuza. He said the group has been encouraged by the unwavering support from fans to bounce back into mainstream music.
“We are confident that the music industry seems to be falling in love with traditional music again. And we are looking forward to collaborations with the new blood of artists,” said Mtembenuza.
One of the country’s renowned DJs Raymond Sekeni aka Frartenal of MBC Radio 2 said traditional music is bouncing back into the limelight. But this time around with a contemporary touch; hence, a majority of urban musicians tapping from traditional music.
“Traditional music is the future of Malawi music industry. There is no way it can die a natural death because it serves as foundation of Malawian touch. This is the reason old timers such as Fumbi Jazz Band will not be forgotten completely,” said Fraternal.
The desire to promote Malawian culture through music has seen the rise of many urban artists that are fusing traditional music and the modern genres. Others are simply doing remixes of local hits. n