Performing abroad must, surely, be on top of the agenda of ordinary artists, and this does not depend on whether you are a secular or gospel musician.
So, it must have been angering to gospel artist Lloyd Phiri when his trip to the United Kingdom (UK) failed for the second time in 2004.
Phiri had been billed to travel to the UK that year but, contrary to his expectations, the trip failed to materialise— which must be troubling to a man who, as a gospel musician, might have prayed over it.
Don’t they say we should pray anytime, morning, noon, afternoon, evening— whatever time thoughts of prayer tickle our fancy?
Add that to faith, the oil that fuels the engine of those who believe in the one who resides high up and you have, in your hands, a human being high on the alcohol [excuse me!] of hope. So, Lloyd should, no question about that, have professed his faith in his maker, thanking Him for the gift of life and the trip. Trip? Trips! It’s two that failed, after all!
But, thanks to that animal called faith, Lloyd did not give up [on making the trip] the first and second time the trip failed. He, definitely, had other ideas. He could visit the UK, erform and try out other things.
After all, don’t they say that we all aspire for good things? And what good surpasses the news of a trip to the UK, or the States. I know, for example, that, before I die, I will have to visit Queens, that New York area made famous in ‘Coming to America’. In preparation for that trip— which, in fact, will come early next year when I will have two weeks to see the land I admire — I surf the net to found out more about Queens. I mean, the people, way of life, population dynamics and the like— which is in line with what I am: cultural theorist.
Which means my next destination is UK’s Birmingham, the city accredited with ‘founding’ cultural studies. Actually, it is not the city, per se, but Birmingham the university. So, like Queens, Birmingham University is a must for me. It is like a home away from home.
And I use the tab the good people of America gave me as Blogger of the Year 2016. America! America! As Lucius Banda puts it in Cease Fire.
The short of it is that it is good to dream, even if the dreams may not come true, or even if the trips we intend to take are cut short.
So Lloyd dreamt, as the day to fly out to the UK approached— only to be told, again, that the trip was off. Now, that is embarrassing for, sometimes, it happens when we have advertised to friends and family.
It also happens that as the bearer of the good news takes an ‘innocent’ walk around town, people point fingers at them, while, perhaps, speaking in muted voices: “Man Roy [other version of Lloyd] aja awo. Akuphululukira pa Mangalande amwene/amwali [there goes Lloyd, who will be on the next plane to the UK shortly”].
But, as Lloyd said on December 7 2004, dreams do come true. He finally made it to the UK. On the third attempt!
So, imagine the sense of relief upon being told that the pain of failing to make it to the UK is to be forgotten. It must have been with a sense of relief that Phiri boarded the plane at Chileka International Airport in Blantyre.
“Basically, I am here for prayers but if prospects of doing something better with my life [are there], I might consider [staying,” Phiri told Blantyre Newspapers Limited on December 7 2004.
Did “something better” happen? Of course it did. And, again, Lloyd thanked his God.
But, as they say, home is best.
The allure of the UK failed to brainwash Lloyd who, being home now, continues to serve fellow citizens. I think there must be no better feeling than that of helping your own people; mourning with those that mourn and dancing with those that dance. Of course, so long as there is kwaito involved.
Pajatu galu amanyada akakhala pakhomo pake! Nyang’wani a Roy, nyang’wani! [Make the best out of the situation].
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