Malawi’s entertainment industry is growing, but management of events sometimes leaves a lot to be desired. HOWARD MLOZI (HM) talks to Tonderai Jai Banda (TJB), the manager of Entertainers Promotions since May 2015.
HM: It is over a year since you took over leadership of Entertainers Promotions from your father, Jai Banda. How has the journey been so far?
TJB: It has been quite interesting and challenging at the same time. Interesting because I am establishing myself and the response from fans and clients has been impressive. However, taking the leadership from my father, who has been in the entertainment industry for many years, comes with its own challenges. It is not easy to wear his shoes because his size is big. But my time is coming when I shall also reach his level and probably surpass him. My mission is to do better than him. The good thing is that my father challenges me to do even better than him.
HM What has it been like walking in your father’s shadow?
TJB: The misconception that people always have, especially when one has taken over leadership of a family business or something else, is that he or she will do exactly the way the father, mother, brother or sisters were doing. While my father is there to give me moral support, this is Tonderai Jai Banda, who has his own leadership style and approach to the entertainment industry.
First and foremost, I am focusing on innovation to bring the best to Malawi’s entertainment industry. Our entertainment industry needs innovation to grow. We are in the modern era where people expect new things, such as quality sound, equipment, classic stage and contracts.
For example, we have introduced the Light and Sound concert which is an annual event that will provide local artists a big stage for live performances. This is not an ordinary stage. It is designed in such a way that meets international standards. It is a kind of platform where Morgan Heritage and Joe Gwaladi can use regardless of their status.
We do not want a scenario where Malawian artists are treated to elegant stages only when international artists visit the country. They should have their own initiative that can accord them such an opportunity any time. We believe in the power of our home industry. If we do not set standards for ourselves, no one can come and set it for us.
HM: How does the Sound and Light operate?
TBJ: Sound and Light concert is a group of local artists which seeks to give them international experience on their own soil. They do not need to wait for an international act to come to Malawi for them to be treated to this experience while Entertainers Promotions is here. We have so far organised two events and the third one is happening on September 4 at Lilongwe Golf Club.
HM: Why do you invest in entertainment?
TJB: Just like any other fields, the entertainment industry creates lucrative jobs for different people such as musicians, sound engineers, artists, designers and drivers. So, Entertainers Promotions exist not only to promote the entertainment culture in the country, but also to create jobs for young people because we pay all those that render us services during events.
Another unique aspect of Entertainers Promotions this time around is that its strategic direction focuses on empowering youth initiatives. For example, we have supported youth-led initiatives such as this year’s Blantyre Street Fashion Expo. This is our area of focus because we want to keep young people busy and stimulate their thinking for them to take action. We are also into signing contracts with potential artists. Presently, we are managing Patience Namadingo. Our goal is to set standards in the field of artist management.
HM: What are your future prospects in entertainment circles?
TJB: Most importantly, I want to make the entertainment industry relevant in Malawi; one some people can regard as a viable source of employment. But for this to happen, we need the corporate world to sponsors of events and invest in entertainment too because it is not a one-man show. We need everyone to be involved.