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Getting funky the Godly way

STAMPED THEIR MARK—Tionge Mhango

STAMPED THEIR MARK— Gift Mhango

Most people would agree that, until lately, many in this country used to have great discomfort whenever congregations or gospel artists would sing praises to the Lord in what they considered to be an ‘unconventional’ Church way. It was therefore not surprising to see that rap or hip-hop, which was already finding it hard to penetrate the secular arena in the 20th century, was equally deemed a ‘taboo’ by the Church ‘conformists’.

This, however, would not stop the movement as those propagating gospel hip-hop would still manouvre and display their act at any given opportunity.

Flashback to 1990 and a selected number of gospel groups had gathered at the then magnificent Kamuzu Institute for Youth where one of the top acts billed to perform was the Mhango Salvation Singers. While many would be wowed by the fine artistry of the Mhango siblings such as Chimwemwe and Wezi, not to mention the baritone voice of their brother Patrick who made the choir such a marvel to watch, it would be the youthful Tionge and Gift Mhango that would leave a lasting imprint of Hip-hop on little spectators in the audience such as myself, back then. The two would have a go in between breaks.

Praising the master/ Yes I am a Born Again!

I am a new creation/ I’m a born again!

This is the time/ This is the time for praising the Lord!

I am a new creation/ I’m a born again!

Chamba ndasiya! Chamba ndasiya! Woooh—chifukwa cha Yesu!

Kunama ndasiya! Kunama ndasiya! Woooh —chifukwa cha Yesu!

The two would rap interchangeably and the audience would, in turn, erupt with joy at the melody they produced. Elsewhere, the genre of hip-hop would continue getting support, particularly among the youth most of whom, up to this day, utilise gospel hip-hop when conducting gospel crusades and youth rallies.

Over time and slowly, the walls making the barrier preventing hip-hop from penetrating in gospel circles would start to fall. On the other hand, Gift and Tionge Mhango would stamp their mark as their music would bless many souls through the radio airwaves.

Ena mumati akhristu saakondwa yeey yee!

Ife tikuti chikhristu n’chokomaa!

Bwanji mumati chikhristu n’chobowa yeey yee!

Ife tikuti chikhristu n’chokomaa!

Turn it up! Turn it up if you like it!

Turn it Up! Now! Now! Now!

Turn it up! Turn it up if you like it!

It did not end in the 90s as at the turn of the millennium they were still at it with their solo offerings, with Gift rebranding himself to Mahara. They would also work with other artists and their presence would be felt on such collaborations, notably on some tracks by another Malawian Gospel Artist and pastor Zenzo Matoga such as ‘Zikomo Yesu’ and ‘Shine’.

It doesn’t matter what you’re going through

Because of Jesus we are gonna be just fine

It doesn’t matter what you say or do.

Because of Jesus we gonna be just fine.

We gonna shine! We gonna shine!

And indeed gospel hip-hop has shone like a beacon in recent years,

There are certainly many gospel artists, both within and outside the Church, that played a part in regularizing gospel hip-hop and without their effort, we would not be where we are right now, with a promising future as more and more artists keep emerging and stirring excitement and with it, altering the gospel hip-hop terrain for the better. Over the years, people have been blessed and entertained by artists such as Pastor David, G.O.S.P.E.L (Aubrey Mvula), Suffix and Liwu, just to mention a few, whose commitment is more of a mission to propagate the gospel than just mere entertainment.

No doubt David has equally asserted his mark since ditching secular hip-hop many years ago to go into full ministry as a youth pastor, but that has not stopped him from utilizing his skill to bring people closer to God. Here is an extract from his track ‘As you grow’ in which he features Lawi:

Wow! This is unbelievable.

You’re growing up.

I feel like a typical Father, trying to keep up with his baby girl.

Trying to protect her from the world (world).

Back then you were so innocent.

Willing to listen and learn you were heaven sent.

You were not caught up in doctrine.

Anyone who loved Jesus was your friend.

And it was not about the music You just did it for fun it was amusing.

There were no record labels and no clicks.

We were one family united.

Remember Gang it up, Youth-fest o six.

Remember Youth for Christ, In His Steps.

We used to be like Jesus Malawi holy hip-hop what happened to us.

No doubt, gospel hip-hop is akin to preaching, but using a different style which is very popular among the youth, not just in Malawi but worldwide.

And to appreciate Liwu’s prowess, here is an extract from his song ‘Broken Jeans’.

I’m a priest now is why I’m rocking Levis.

Preparing for that rapture so you know I gotta be fly.

I got true religion true religion.

These shades got me on super vision, team so real aise my crew si fiction.

I be rocking Diesel at the next Puma.

It’s a Total waste of time tryna spread rumours.

Coz we already know what the verdict is.

Jesus Christ is coming back like Vertebrae.

I think I need a beat from Stitch Frey.

Cos Jeans yanga ndi yong’amba who’s gon fix me.

My jeans look like they need another pair.

Coz I’m all about the King we Cavaliers.

T-shirt ndi yo Khwatcha call it CrossFit.

Working out my salvation making sure that Cross fit.

Hallelujah Amen I just say it like it’s church boy.

Blessings over Blessings man I shouldn’t even work boy.

Shirt ndi yo khwatcha.

Mbwa ndi yo chonga.

Bling bling yokha umadziwa sindichots Shades ngati Tosh.

Keys ngati Porsche.

Nthawi yokha ndilibe mfana sindivala watch Koma jeans ndi yong’amba

Much as it sounds a bit playful, once the music hits you and you begin to meditate on it, you get to appreciate why gospel hip-hop does not only entertain but also help to bring back onto the right path people that have gone astray.

Thus, one can be assured that till the unforeseeable future, people will continue to get funky in a Godly way, compliments of Gospel Hip-hop.

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