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A painful year in the arts

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The year 2016 will be remembered for the pain it inflicted on the creative industry.

In the year, death pounced and robbed the country of some of its well-known artists. The gap left will be difficult to fill.

For example, 2016 is a year the country lost gospel songbird, Grace Chinga. She died in March and was laid to rest at HHI Cemetery in Blantyre.

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Her sudden death shocked the nation and, not surprisingly, thousands attended the burial ceremony— which started with a funeral service at Robin’s Park in Blantyre.

The City of Blantyre nearly went to a standstill during Chinga’s burial.

Chinga was arguably one of the most talented female gospel artists in the country.

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She was a performer, songwriter and composer.

Famed for the hit ‘Thandizo Langa,’ which was voted the Best Song in Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Entertainers of the Year programme, Chinga was a performer, songwriter and composer.

The songstress was blessed and she composed songs rich in lyrical content.

In 2005, Chinga launched her second album, Thandizo Langa, which won the hearts of many. The album features songs such as ‘Kweza Maso,’ ‘Delira,’ ‘Getsemani,’ ‘Sambi,’ ‘Murena,’ ‘Ndani Wamva Uthenga,’ ‘Zioni,’ ‘Zolengedwa Ziyimba,’ and ‘Mtanda.’

She told The Sunday Times, then, that she was named Grace by her mother whose only hope was God when doctors could not trace any baby in her womb after scanning her a day before she was born on June 28 1978.

Survived by three children, her other albums are Yekha, which has the hit ‘Uleke’ and Ndizayimba Nyimbo which features songs such as ‘Korona’.

This is also the year when the country lost popular comedian John Nyanga, better known as Izeki, who was an entertainer.

He and longtime friend Eric Mabedi, alias Jakobo, moved souls with their jokes.

I z eki was a comedian extraordinaire. His very presence on stage, even without uttering a word, could send people into stitches.

Renowned writer Willie Zingani, who wrote the book Madzi Akatayika—which was later performed by Kwathu Drama Group in the play Izeki played Alufeyo— said Izeki and the late Du Chisiza Jnr were the ones who showed Malawians that one could earn a living through acting.

Izeki, who was laid to rest at HHI Cemetery in Blantyre, hailed from Nyangayathyoka Village, Traditional Authority Mabuka in Mulanje and was born on June 11 1963.

The year will also be remembered as time when the country lost actor Jacobs Mwase, commonly known as Zakaliya.

Mwase died at Thyolo District Hospital four days after celebrating his 50th birthday.

He was laid to rest at Namalimwe Cemetery in Ndirande, Blantyre.

Mwase, who formed his own Zakaliya and Mwambo Arts in 1986, lived arts.

The actor used his own unique style of acting using the Yao language while playing various roles.

Mwase was from Chiponde Village, Traditional Authority Mkumpha in Likoma.

The year 2016 also saw death rob the country of veteran actor Augustine Lubani.

Lubani was born on July 10 1968 and hailed from Luwatala Village, Traditional Authority Chikowi in Zomba.

The veteran actor worked for MBC where he produced several plays for Theatre of the Air.

This year the country also lost youthful left footed drummer Stanley Jere.

Jere was one of the founders of Malimba Band, which used to back gospel artists during performances.

Other groups he worked with included Body, Mind and Soul, Mapale, Kaligo Melodies and Lulu’s Mathumela Band.

The drummer was born on July 17 1987 and came from Mtambalika Village, Traditional Authority Kapeni in Blantyre.

The year 2016 also saw the country lose musician Andrew Matrauza, who was famed for the hit ‘Musadabwe’.

Matrauza featured Joseph Tembo in most of his music videos and Tembo often returned the favour.

Born on May 31 1978, Matrauza was at his peak in the 1990s/2000 before he went silent on live performances. He then went to South Africa.

Matrauza came from Ndawawa Village in Thondwe, Zomba.

This was a painful year indeed as death also robbed the creative industry of Black Missionaries’ keyboardist Gift Thugo.

Thugo was laid to rest in Thyolo.

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