Travelling on a minibus Wednesday morning from Zingwangwa Township to Ginnery Corner in Blantyre, passengers got treated to reggae vibes from fallen Jamaican reggae star Bunny Wailer.
The driver of the minibus kept on telling those sitting in front that he “loves reggae and I am saddened by the death of Bunny Wailer”.
“We have grown up listening to reggae music and we have enjoyed the reggae vibes of the likes of Bunny Wailer, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh and so I made sure I listen to his songs today,” he said.
The world is mourning Bunny Wailer, one of iconic reggae voices that have inspired a lot of reggae musicians in the country and Africa.
He died on Tuesday morning at the age of 73 and reggae music fans in the country posted messages on social media mourning his death.
The musician, from Kingston, Jamaica, was a founding member of The Wailers alongside his childhood friend, Bob Marley.
Together, they achieved international fame with reggae classics like ‘Simmer Down’ and ‘Stir It Up’, before Wailer went solo in 1974. He went on to win three Grammys and was given Jamaica’s Order Of Merit.
My cousin was a fan of reggae music and he had a collection of several tapes of reggae musicians from Jamaica and Bunny Wailer was there.
Lambanie Dube, one of the country’s reggae musicians, Wednesday described Bunny Wailer as being among the fathers of reggae music.
“I wouldn’t lie to you that Bunny Wailer inspired me to be singing reggae. He was good at vocals and, if you listen to most of his songs, you will notice that his English was very good and different from other Jamaican musicians. He had a metal voice and, so, I was listening to his music to improve my vocal ability,” the ‘Chisoni Nkumatenda’ star said.
He said Bunny Wailer was a controversial musician because he was always standing for the truth.
“Reggae music is all about consciousness. You cannot talk about reggae music without mentioning the name of Bunny Wailer. He was such an inspiration to several reggae musicians in the country and the world. So, his death is a blow to reggae music but his legacy will live on,” Dube said.
Reggae group Black Missionaries has also been inspired by the sounds of Bunny Wailer, starting from the time of their founder Evison Matafale.
“It is sad to lose such a reggae maestro. We were young but we have been playing some of his covers. Some of the songs in our Kuimba albums have been influenced by the likes of Bunny Wailer. During most of our live performances with Evison Matafale, we used to have a session playing reggae music from Jamaica and we would not skip Bunny Wailer,” the group’s lead vocalist Anjiru Fumulani said.
Joshua Chienda, who is a long-time member of Blantyre Joint Choir, described the death of Bunny Wailer as the end of an era.
“He was the only one of the three original Wailers left, with Marley departing in 1981 and Tosh in 1987,” Chienda said.