From Kingstone kwacha to Kaunda dollars


Theree is a place, somewhere, where the desert-of-poverty ascends to the mountain-of-riches. Literally.

Yes, a place where hopelessness tumbles into, not some dry ground, but stepping stones into the future that is soft, bright and rich with the fragrance of success.

Well, acoustic musician Kingstone Kaunda reached that place some six years, or so, ago when he stopped thinking in Malawi-kwacha-terms and embraced United States (US) dollars. Literally.


That is why this entry’s title is ‘From Kingstone kwacha to Kaunda dollars’.

The artist, who does not shy away from donning suits even when performing at an oven-hot stage, said it with his mouth during the Sounds of Malawi Acoustic Session at Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) in Blantyre on Thursday. I am talking of last week.

The thing is, I receive electronic newsletters from JCC every week without fail. Truth is, I have written arts stories on Sounds of Malawi Acoustic Sessions, sensitising the reader— of The Daily Times, of course— to what is happening at JCC come the next Thursday.


But, and this is the truth, I had never been to the sessions! Therefore, I was like a signpost that points in the direction of my M’madi Village in Blantyre without necessarily being there.

Wait a minute! I am past that stage now. This is because I went to my first Sounds of Malawi Acoustic Session last Thursday and, to say the truth, relished the experience. Kaunda was simply on top of the afro-jazz gospel game, killing the game off with ‘Ndi Memory Card’, a danceable song that, like a small child running into the centre of the storm, cannot be ignored.

It was my first time to see Kaunda— guitarist Collen Ali Matola and percussionist Anthony Supriano in tow— perform as one of the pieces [Kaunda] of a three-piece band.

In fact, it was my second time— the first time being the time I read an arts article, penned by the energetic, athletic and talented Sam Banda Junior himself, to the effect that Kaunda would perform at JCC on the said Thursday— to learn that we have, in the Warm Heart of Africa, an artist known as Kaunda.

But, as I have said, it was worth it. That is for me, of course.

For Kaunda, the most exciting part is not when he performs on stage. Far from it. It [the greatest time in his life] is when he is cashing US dollars. For real.

Kaunda said, to a bemused audience at JCC, that “I sell my music in United States dollars because there is a certain grace in my music. I am special”.

Here is what happened for him to move from the mighty kwacha to the great dollar.

Six years ago, Kaunda was a hopeful man, albeit with little to show for his hope, until he bumped into an American who bought a CD of his music and spread the ‘good news’ in America.

Well, it turns out Kaunda had created a habit-forming product, like cigarettes, in the minds of the kind-hearted Americans that listened to the songs across the great waters.

Well, like a chain-smoker, they started calling for his CDS from Malawi to America. They still do.

Can they pay in kwacha? No. US dollars, of course!

That is how Kaunda has become a dollar-boy. When the forex reserves are running dry in the country, Kaunda is sure to have some dollars. Do not smile, Big Man Wamkulu central bank governor Dalitso Kabambe! I did not say Kaunda’s forex reserves can come anywhere near the hillock of Reserve Bank of Malawi’s reserves. Find products that will bring us the much needed dollars instead of hoping on Kaunda! Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha! Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!

It must be relief in raw form for one to sell music CDs and DVDs in dollars. Better still, to receive the gift of a guitar painted in US colours from the same people you ‘milk’ dollars! Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha! Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!

Kaunda does things his way.

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