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Changing perceptions through music

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At 19 years, his peers have been to this or that place in search of that elusive breakthrough in life.

For the most part, making a break in life means securing a job in the tobacco estates that have made Ntchisi District one of the unrivalled producers of tobacco in the Central Region.

Not Kamba Joseph Makhalo, a soft-spoken but ambitious young man who has turned Malomo Trading Centre in Ntchisi into home away from home.

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Which is strange because he lives less than two kilometres from Malomo Rural Growth Centre, which is sandwiched between Kasungu and Nkhotakota Boma.

“I spend much of my time here because I want people to know me better. In fact, they already know me because I am a renowned artist,” Makhalo, who I found dancing to music from a CD player, said.

With hindsight, one may think that the music blaring from the CD player, which is attached to loud speakers, is from a foreign artist. Especially when they find that one of the people who are singing along, and dancing to the music [Makhalo himself], is a minibus tout.

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Make no mistake about it. He is dancing to his own music.

From the look of things, the people around here— motorcycle taxi and kabaza [bicycle taxi] operators, and those waiting for a ride to Nkhotakota Boma through Nkhotakota Game Reserve— love him.

“You see, I started singing over five years ago, and one of my songs actually celebrates Malomo [Rural Growth Centre], which has endeared me to the people,” Makhalo said.

Indeed, the man [should I say boy?] can sing.

His masterly of music is evident in ‘Msika wa Malomo’, ‘Kapikule ndi Patali’, ‘Ambuye Mutimvere’, ‘Ambuye Mubwere’, ‘Chauta wa Kumwamba’, ‘Mtengwa Wanu Wandithawa’ and ‘Ndaziona’, some of the songs he recorded at JB Studio, Malomo, recently.

“Before I recorded the songs, I was already performing them in public, which means people are conversant with them. I sing for the people and not for money,” Makhalo said.

His commitment to music is clear when one learns about how he recorded the songs. Each studio session costs K4, 000 and Makhalo is a young man who is yet to make a breakthrough financially and musically.

As such, he had to wash people’s cars, work as a minibus tout and do some farming to generate funds used for recording songs. Actually, he has recorded seven songs and is looking for well-wishers to give him a financial push that would see him record 10 songs at the end of the journey.

“After that, I will be able to market myself. I will be able to sell CDs and DVDs. I will be able to make that breakthrough I have been longing for,” Makhalo said.

Jericho Banda, owner of JB Studio and the man who recorded Makhalo’s seven songs, said “the boy has talent; it’s financial constraints that let him down”.

To say that, Banda, who was recording music for an artist the time we visited JB Studio at Malomo Rural Growth Centre, had to stop recording and attend to us.

“He is clearly talented. What surprises me is that, despite his being 19 [years old], he specialises in rhumba, which is considered an old school genre. He also delves in hip-hop, I think because he wants to reach out to the youth,” Banda said.

He said Makhalo is also open to new things; hence, he takes heed of other people’s input.

After saying that, Banda gets back to work; shooting videos using Vegas 13.0.

Maybe, one day, he will not just shoot music videos; he will shoot [catapult, as they say] Makhalo to fame.

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