The Lower Shire has a distinct musical touch. It is called the Sena Jive.
Listen to the music of the Lucky Stars, Joseph Tembo, Stanley Mthenga, Lloyd Phaundi aka Agorosso and others, you get a feel of the Sena Jive.
While you might be thinking the music would go with the old-timers, a new outfit is breathing a new life into the music genre’s heartbeat.
The eight-member Ulimba Vibrations Band, which curtain-raised a Lucius Banda show at Simbeko Lodge in Nsanje in January, is destined for greater heights as their musical touch takes you to a particular space and time.
Named after ulimba, one music instrument endemic in the Lower Shire—the xylophone—the youthful group features Nedson Mulosola aka Bush as band leader and lead vocalist, Lonjezo Chinthuli on rhythm guitar, Nathan Alfazema on drums, Mada Kaitano on bass guitar, Charlee Charles on percussions, Moses on keyboards, Square Kamwana as backing vocalist and Isaac Fote.
Mulosola, who also plays the lead guitar, says it is not by chance that the band is called Ulimba Vibrations.
“The xylophone is an instrument that is popular in Nsanje. It is used in most of the traditional music that we are playing: utse, maseseto, zoma, batcha and many more. These are dances that we bring together to come up with Sena jive,” says Mulosola.
Since it was formed a year ago, the band has been performing in the Lower Shire, but as they are growing, they muse about going to other areas.
“Our problem was instruments. We had to raise funds to buy keyboards, Mr Mbesa Godo proprietor of Simbeko Lodge gave us a drum set and the rest of the instruments were from the band members. We only rent speakers,” says Mulosola.
Fote observes music in the area is growing, as individual acts and groups are forging ahead, in spite of the hardships they face. The secret, he says, is playing a local and traditional touch.
“As musicians, we must focus on our own traditional music. We have very rich music, but if we copy music from, say, Zambia, we will give the Zambians an edge over our music,” says Fote.
Apart from performing in entertainment spots like the Nyamithambo Cultural Centre and the Bluetooth Pub, the band is also renowned for its performances during public events and roadshows.
The message in the songs is diverse. They cover culture, HIV/Aids, climate change and the environment.
“Our main focus is culture which is eroding. If we ask the elders how they see things today, they shed tears. It is our duty as artists to show the youths the ways of those that lived before us. Besides, there are other cultures that are endangering lives as they may lead to contraction of some sexually-transmitted diseases,” observes Mulosola.
On their future plans, the band dreams of recording. They have already started compiling their songs.
According to Mulosola, all they need is a sponsor for the music.
A Blantyre-based producer, opting for anonymity as he is still working with the group underground, said the group has the potential to grow.
“We are working on a number of songs right now and I must say they have talent that needs to be properly managed and promoted. Theirs is a local touch that is lacking in some Malawian musicians,” he said.