Until Chileka reggae music band—the Black Missionaries story is pushed out of the Malawi music history, the name Musamude Fumulani will remain imperative to the story that epitomises the growth and the beginning of professional reggae music in Malawi.
Nature denied Musamude go-ahead in life on September 17, 2007 after he succumbed to tuberculosis at Mlambe Hospital in Blantyre, but he had already planted a solid foundation that continues to be the catalyst to the success of Chileka reggae music. Like in a relay game, Musamude, who took over the mantle from the Black Missionaries mentor and founder Evison Matafale, worked close with Anjiru Fumulani, the current band-leader.
Anjiru testifies: “It is six years without Musamude, but it feels like he left us yesterday because we continue to miss his talent. When I am in the studio, I feel like I am hearing his voice tipping me on what to do. He was a complete father who wished everyone success. What we have achieved as a band is because of what he planted in me.”
He added that to date, the band misses Musamude’s soft voice, the skillful arrangement of words in the songs and the lyrical touch that was palpable in the group’s English songs such as Rastaman’s Wife.
Even the band’s mentor Lawrence Chakakala Chaziya, who was very close to both Matafale and Musamude, says Musamude’s death was a huge loss to Malawian music.
“There is a lot of talent that can be forgotten, but not Musamude’s. I am happy that the band has managed to maintain the success, but for those who follow the group’s music, Musamude is the second biggest loss to the band after Matafale. He was such a great leader. He could do anything in the studio and provided the necessary guidance to his colleagues.
“But what was more striking about him was his humility, his dedication to work, his versatility in instrumentation, his leadership and the desire for best results every time. This is what steered the group forward after losing Matafale in 2001,” said Chakakala Chaziya.
He added that Musamude liked sitting under a mango tree listening to international music and this built courage in him to strive for better music.
Dedication to religion is another trait that swayed Chaziya: “Musamude was a complete Rasta and led the real Rastafarian way of life. He ate selected food. Words that characterised his speeches were Rastafarian and peaceful. This was not only in his private life but also in his music. He made sure there is a spiritual touch in some of the songs from Kuimba 3 to Kuimba 6,”he said.
Patrick Chisale, who has been working with the Blacks, says he remembers how easily Musamude took over from Matafale and maintained the pace. He added that the deceased star was a master of English songs and brought a new touch to the band’s reputation through his voice.
“There is a lot to remember him by. We saw discipline in the group both in the studio and on stage. He also promoted unity, a catalyst that has helped the group to prosper despite losing its two great brains,” he said.
Chisale added that the journey has not been easy for the group considering that the world is changing very fast. He said apart from Matafale, Musamude managed to bring a new touch to their music. He says he sees the same happening with Anjiru and hopes to see the band rebranding while maintaining the Blacks’ identity.
“This is a product of teamwork and unity. The members are able to shift in the same direction while maintaining their identity,” said Chisale.
Born on June 12, 1980, Musamude grew up in Chileka and did all his school in Blantyre. According to Anjiru, Musamude went to Kachanga and Chigumukile primary schools before proceeding to Chilangoma Community Day Secondary School where he did his secondary school.
According to Anjiru, Musamude started to love music while in school. He, however, said this was because of the influence from family members who were also into music. He added that Musamude’s initially liked to emulate songs by Jamaican ragga musician Shabba Ranks, which is why he quickly adopted the moniker Shabba, a name that most people knew him with.
Anjiru said Musamude’s road to stardom began in 2000 with the formation of the Black Missionaries Band. The band had a collection of Fumulani brothers—Musamude, Anjiru and Chizondi and cousins Gift Fumulani and Anthony Makondetsa.
This was after Matafale had parted ways with the Wailing Brothers to form the Black Missionaries. After Matafale’s death, the group adopted the Kuimba title for all its albums with Musamude as the leader. They released Kuimba 3 to Kuimba 6 after which they lost Musamude. Through the leadership of Anjiru, the band launched Kuimba 6 which Musamude left unfinished and released three new albums.
Musamude’s body rests at Singano graveyard, where some of the biggest names in Malawian music also rest such as Daniel and Donald Kachamba, the Fumulani brothers Robert, Sailesi and Arnold who collectively formed Likhubula River Jazz Band and the pioneer of reggae music Matafale.