After disappearing from the music scene in 2010 to concentrate on his role as a traditional leader, award-winning artist Ben Michael Mankhamba is back.
He is dropping a first single after years of inactivity in the industry.
“After a long time, on Saturday I was in the studio with Ras Rejected. It was an eight-hour studio session with producer Ralph Ching’amba for a massive production,” he said in an interview.
Mankhamba, who has been busy working as village head Chingalire in Nsaru, Traditional Authority Kabudula in Lilongwe, has reunited with his old-time friend on the project.
“Ralph is an experienced guy and I have worked with him for some time. Being a reggae piece, I had to involve someone who knows that too; hence, featuring Ras Rejected,” he said.
Mankhamba said they set up a studio in Chingalire Village.
“I am sure this song will resonate with many people as it is focusing on different angles,” he said.
Written by Mankhamba, the song titled Pilato talks about injustices in society.
“There are certain things that obviously are supposed to be done in a certain way, but because there’s no justice in the world, they happen differently,” said Mankhamba.
He said mostly he is looking at it from the Biblical perspective when Jesus was taken to Pilate’s court.
“The king knew the truth about Jesus, but he did the opposite,” said the musician.
Mankhamba said similarly, there are so many people that have the power and capabilities to change things or help other people but because they are protecting their interests, justice is trampled upon.
According to Mankhamba, the song marks his new journey of music in Malawi.
He said: “This is my comeback. This song will show fans that I am around. This is how it happens in music, you go up and down. There was a time Oliver Mtukudzi went mute for a while and he came back with more energy.”
Mankhamba said he still has the energy to perform on stage.
“The new generation will have a chance to see me reminding those from my generation how we used to do it,” he said.
On the impact of his comeback in his role as a village head, Mankhamba said he will juggle the two roles without hassles.
He said: “It’s possible to do music and be a leader in my village. Nothing will suffer. As for a band, I am not going back to Zig Zaggers. I will identify artists I will team up and to work with, moving forward. I will have to audition them.”
Scheduled for release at the end of the first week of July, Pilato is currently being mastered and mixed by the producer.
The project is being sponsored by Costen Mapemba who said in a separate interview that the support is one way of reviving old memories.
“I was his manager at one point. When an opportunity for him to return to music arose, I had to come in to continue from where we left off,” he said.
Mankhamba is one of the most decorated local musicians and won awards like Malawi Gin Music Trophy and Kuchekuche Music Awards. He also represented the country in many international festivals, thereby putting Malawi music on the world map.
He released chart-topping singles, including Moyo wa Mtauni, Cassava, Munthu Nkalulu, Ndiwopa Kuthenga, Kamba Anga Mwala and Street Vendor.