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From harp to guitar

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It is still early in the morning and people are busy going on with their various errands in the commercial city of Blantyre.

And one blind artist, already in town, plants himself on his usual spot along the corridor of Chayamba Building.

His blindness is not something to keep him away from showcasing his talent and entertaining people.

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Through his talent of playing an old harp, he gets some money from passersby, especially from those who are touched by his gospel songs.

Sumbulelo has been brightening the corridor of Chayamba Building with his music for years. In fact, this is where he generates between K2,000 and K3,000 daily.

Every morning, except, of course, on Sunday, Sumbulelo leaves his home in Namiyango Township, Blantyre, for Chayamba Building in Blantyre Central Business District.

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He made Chayamba his office a long time ago. In fact, Chayamba became his place of operations the moment he started singing for people using his old harp. The harp was given to him by Janet from England, the United Kingdom.

But, today, he is no longer found at Chayamba.

He has moved his office further down the street, to the Old Nandos.

However, with rains on song, it is difficult for him to execute his duties.

“I am now here, I am no longer at Chayamba. I was told to move out because I did not have any permission to sit there. I felt bad but I had no choice but to look for another place and, so, here I am,” Sumbulelo said.

The past years he has been performing at Chayamba alone but during the time of this interview, he was in the company of his daughter.

“My daughter is here to act as a shield. There are people who have been taking advantage of my blindness to snatch the money I generate. She is the one who protects me although she has to be in school once schools open,” Sumbulelo said.

One notable thing is that he had been playing an old harp at Chayamba but, this time around, he is playing an acoustic guitar.

“I am happy that now I have a guitar, which was, again, given to me as a donation. The harp is no longer functioning,” Sumbulelo said.

He said, through media coverage, others came to his rescue and gave him the guitar.

“Actually, the person who gave me the guitar read in the newspapers that my harp was old and needed replacement. I just want to thank God for the talent because it is through it that I am feeding my family,” Sumbulelo said.

Sumbulelo also maintained that he has countless songs but cannot record them because he does not have enough funds to go to the studio.

“If there are well wishers out there who can assist me work on an album, I will be grateful. Producing an album will help me preserve my songs. I will also be selling if that opportunity is there but, for now, performing here is the only way out for me,” Sumbulelo said.

Before we parted ways, I had to give Sumbulelo K300 for him to play me two songs and he played two songs from a Christian hymn book.

He admits that some of the songs he has are from the hymn, but that he plays them using his unique style.

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