Jah people, the Grammy awards are gone and the chance of having Malawians on the winners’ seems dead and buried.
But Zomba Prison project Band are no losers and goners.
The I Have No Everything Here hit-makers are winners in a special way: they have put the beautiful side of Malawians, a nation ill known for the plunder of the hard-earned cash of donors and taxpayers, on the map.
When the band was nominated for the Best World Music Album Award, it was easy to expect the singers in confinement not to bring the globally covered gong home. Nothing could have been more unrealistic than expecting the band to beat the regulars the size of winner Angelique Khidjo and runners-up Ela Sir and the Inala Ensemble, Gilberto Gil, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Anoushka Shankar.
They might have missed the coveted first prize, but they did not only win a nominees’ medal alone.
They won a global glow that no politician, footballer, comedian and other people who waste billions belonging to poor Malawians will ever achieve.
Forget the billions of kwacha that keep going down the drain in the name of a bunch of impostors called the Flames, the country’s lacklustre national football team whose major achievement in recent times comprise a losers plate from a less known competition.
Those conmen, who literally swindle the country in the name of chasing an empty piece of leather, are back on song—wanting you and I to offer them about K150 million to make a losing trip to Guinea for a fixture that points to the same old story of wasted funds.
Forget the pot bellied politicians who burn your money, jet fuel and time hopping from one place to another, doing nothing to enhance the standing of the country and Malawians’ good name on the world stage.
Talk about the good music that severally persuade the international press—the BBC, The Guardian, New
York Times, Washington Post, The Telegraph and other mastheads that matter—to tell the world that Malawi has got the vibe.
For once, the world press took a break from their portrayals of Malawi as a hugely impoverished nation where US pop diva Madonna adopted a boy and a girl.
They were not talking about a country they love to hate as a paragon of corruption, mismanagement and all the pilfering that has gone into history as Cashgate.
They were talking about music, the scintillating sounds from the country’s largest maximum music.
The country might have incarcerated the inmates for crossing the line in terms of criminal and penal law, but it couldn’t contain their magical voice.
The un-muted voices went all the way, reverberating in all corners of the world where the Grammies represent the very best of the world of music.
The inmates did what no career musician has ever done, becoming the first Malawian group to be nominated for the topmost awards since Scottish missionary explorer Dr David Livingstone docked on these shores in 1859.
This is another story of music, a poorly funded industry which absorbs the massive number of young Malawians escaping huge unemployment in the country, scaling the heights that the filthy financed nothings, including politics and football, can only envy.
This a wake-up call for policymakers to start treating the creative sector with the seriousness it deserves. n