A legend and one in the making. Two distinct voices were brought together under one roof to spread the word of God.
This is the picturesque that characterised the Bingu International Conference Centre (Bicc) auditorium on Friday evening when Malawi’s award-winning gospel artist Faith Mussa and South Africa’s celebrated musician Benjamin Dube came face to face.
The Malawian was the first on stage and started with Sinzamkondanso Wina before sending the audience on its feet with Nditumeni, Desperate and He Loves Me Anyway.
From the days of The Mussa Family and Mussa Brothers, his voice continues to grow and getting better. His album, Desperate is a symbol of his maturity and one of the best music in Malawi at the moment.
As the blue seats were getting filled up at Bicc, Mussa’s performance was slowly soaking the hall into choruses. His success on stage was being echoed by victory over 300 kilometres away.
The Mdidi hit-maker was simultaneously amassing awards in absentia in Blantyre where Nyasa Music Awards was decorating Malawi’s crème de la crème in music. Mussa bagged three accolades: the Best Live Act, Best Acoustic and Best Gospel artist awards.
The epitome of the slender artist was when he performed Mdidi, one of the songs that usually make him emotional when on stage.
Apart from singing and strumming the instrument he is known for, a guitar, he also demonstrated his prowess on the Badza, Mbalule and Mpanje drums.
Badza is a traditional trumpet commonly used in Mganda performances. Mpanje on the other hand is a long straight-sided cylinder, which has been aptly described as a pole. Mbalule too are a form of drums.
As his music draws inspiration from traditional touch, the harmony in Mdidi derives from his careful use of such traditional instruments.
It is this fusion of music spiced with skill of singing that creates traditional beats that send fans into involuntary dancing. He wound up his performance with Moyo Wanga and He Fights For Me, before paving the way for Pastor Dube.
The next time you see and admire Dube on stage, looking dapper, calm and collected, do not be cheated. The quinquagenarian transforms on stage.
He best suits the adage ‘dynamites come in small packages’. As soon as he walked on stage amid a thunderous applause, he metamorphosed into an energetic young man. If he was not jumping then he was lost in foot tapping while singing, defying some of his agemates at 56.
Sixteen albums to his name, he went straight into business that has made him the star he is known to be the past three decades. The night was high but praise and worship had just started with songs like Make A Joyful Noise, I Feel Like Going On, Thel’ uMoya Oyingcwele and Ngiyakuthanda/ Jehova is Your Name.
The performance was so tempting that even leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera and his wife, Monica, could not hold their muscles, but joined other patrons in dancing.
Dube indeed turned the capital city upside down with the Bicc transformed and converted into a place of worship and singing praises and dancing.
His energies were simply overwhelming and irresistible, as he danced and jumped to the audience’s amusement. His voice ricocheted within the auditorium and beyond, sending waves that echoed outside the massive structure.
The power of music lies in how it transcends across borders and have almost a similar effect even on those that cannot understand the language. So, when the fans, mostly Malawians, sung along songs like Yebo Linamandla, Ithuba Lokudumisa/ Ongiholayo just like they comfortably knew lyrics of Oh How I Love Him, I’ll Rise Again, He Keeps On Doing as well as Bow Down and Worship, it did not come as a surprise.
With sweat running down his face, Dube was visibly absorbed in his performance that sparkled with a great deal of vivacity while exuberance oozed from his face. Such was the vigor of a man who has spent more than five decades preaching the word of God mostly through music.
He was actually backed by some of his sons who form a band called The Dube Brothers, obviously mentored by the award-winning artist.
Having charged up the tempo, he conclude his set with Sakhiwe, Yiwo Lawa Amandla and Ketshepile Wena songs that also reverberated well with both the young and the old that thronged the venue.
As a performer, Dube has always been top-rate and surely, the fans got more than what they had bargained for. They got a gig and a surplus.
As he said: “Invite me back and this time I will bring the Dube Brothers,” it will not be a surprise if another promoter courts his signature soon. n