By Grecium Gama:
Usually, most artists would compose a song when they feel they have a specific message they want shared. It can originate from real-life events or imagined, personal experiences or from others, and it does not necessarily require that they be singers. Some just compose and hand it to gifted musicians to sing.
The message could dwell on politics, religion, morals, education or otherwise, but what is more evident is that it is an attempt to spread some light on the issue and that the target is advancing an idea or a cause.
Dedza based policeman, Cassim Manda, ventured into music back in 2005 when he was about to sit for his Junior Certificate of Education (JCE). He recalls that it was during this time when his brother told him that his only beloved girlfriend had been ‘snatched’ by a well-known Dwangwa based businessman, a thing that left him hopeless mind and with stress.
“It was a weekend when my elder brother came to our school to give me upkeep money and that is when he also shared that my girlfriend had been married off to a business man so, as a matter of emptying the stress, I started composing two songs, if I can recall, it was Usalire and Malamulo Khumi,’ he narrated.
Manda said after releasing the tracks, it did not yield much as he eventually failed to launch an album because of financial challenges. This saw him temporarily leaving the music industry.
He then thought of bouncing back after being inspired by Tanzanian singer Diamond Platinum. He ignited a fire in him and he would soon start composing a song which contained Covid- 19 messages titled Levitiko 26.
Manda said he channelled all the funds that he got from the Covid-19 song towards a project which he initiated some years ago of assisting girls who got pregnant before turning 18 years.
He said from all the songs that he has been producing, it is only Levitiko 26 that hogged the limelight since most organisations and individuals liked and used it during the Covid-19 period.
Reflecting on the music sector as a whole, Manda said artists face a lot of challenges in that their careers take time before they can get established and that jealousy among themselves is another element that pulls them back.
He said most well-known artists in the country do not like the idea of taking up-and-coming ones under their wings or collaborating with them as a way of encouraging the sharing of skills.
“We have been witnessing on social media and other platforms up-and-coming artists pleading with well-known ones for an opportunity to work together but they are denied such avenues, saying they are not on their level, which is different with other countries…if these so called big artists would learn from other countries how they behave it can help in the development of music and people would be depending on music as a serious job ,” Manda said.
He further urged government and the civil society to change the way they select artists to perform in different activities, saying many just pick artists with names in the industry, leaving those who have potential to deliver.
“Authorities need to balance up when giving work to artists, it acts as motivation when up-and-coming artists are given a chance besides assisting them financially,” he said.
When asked how he balances work and his musical career, Manda said he does music when he is off-duty.
He further said he usually composes his songs during the night or early morning.
“Being a police officer, I always make sure that I am not breaking the rules and laws of the land since one of rules for all public and civil servants is to make sure that they are not absenting from their official duties. So as to respect such rules, I choose to do my personal things when I am off duty,” he said
Asked if he can impress should he be given an opportunity to turn out for the revamped Malawi Police Band, Manda said he would enjoy it thoroughly and added that as an officer, he can work in every sections of the security agency.
“We are all police officers what differs is the mandate or work given on particular time, depending on the department your assigned to, so if the boss can decide, in line with my experience, to move me to that, I would equally successful,” he said.
According to Manda, he has three songs in his project of using music as a tool to boost the girl child’s right to education.
“I performed one of my songs with the girls, which is titled Maphunziro a mwana wamkazi (girl child education),” he pointed out.
In the song, he also hinted that underaged girls who are in marriages should be withdrawn and allowed to go back to school, so that one day Mwana wamkazi akaone Ku chanco basii (Later in her life, the girl child walks into a university corridor).
He is of the view that the problem of child marriages and pregnancies can be eliminated if girls are inspired to go to school and well supported.
Manda, who has to his credit an album titled Malamulo Khumi with 10 songs, which he released three years ago, works at Dedza Police Station as the station’s deputy spokesperson. You should therefore not be surprised if you meet him in a uniform, probably with a baton stick in hand.
He wrapped everything up by saying that not only does a good song need to have great chords, melodies and lyrics but it should also create some sort of rejoinder, or induce a certain emotion.