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In full flower?: Patience Namadingo’s safe landing

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Patience Namadingo

There are different ways of achieving international acclaim, with each artist colouring their act in a way they think will make them relevant.

For Patience Namadingo, spending some time in Zambia seems to be his way of colouring international success.

While they say it is not always that an artist gets rewarded, sometimes the positive outcomes are immediate— as has happened to Patience Namadingo, who has set base in Zambia, oscillating between Zambia and Malawi when implementing projects.

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Namadingo— who has been travelling to African countries with artist Tay Grin, clinching deals and making presentations on issues that affect African musicians and other creatives— has just gone into Trade Kings’ good books.

The firm has pledged to fund Namadingo’s first ever live concert in Zambia.

“I [have been blessed] with an initial twelve million [Zambian] Kwacha [ZK12 million] given by Trade Kings through its wholly owned subsidiary (Big Tree Beverages) to the first ever Dr Namadingo Live Concert in Lusaka, Zambia, next month Saturday [November 27 2021] at the magnificent Lusaka Show Grounds Main Arena.

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“The Bible says in Deuteronomy 28:6: ‘You are blessed in your coming in. You are blessed in your going out’. Zambia, I am here and we shall fill up the Lusaka Show Grounds Main Arena,” Namadingo said in the week.

With the money issues sorted out by the private sector, Namadingo can, between now and November 27 2021, have the leeway to enter the realm of fantasy that can even lead him to be thinking that he is up there with the best, although the truth is that, in three or four songs he has released recently, Namadingo has committed some abhorred kindergarten mistakes.

The issue of speaking instead of singing comes to mind.

And, of course, his tendency of making his lyrics go on forever, emphasising on lyrics instead of instruments, which puts the music lover who does not understand a particular language at a disadvantage.

That aside, Namadingo has been building his game to a climax, starting with the fact that there is some nobility and dignity in his choice of original songs.

At a time, between 2015 and 2016, when there was a certain shallowness of creativity in local music video productions, he produced quality work.

That time, it was as if musicians in particular and artists in general were unable to take to the unfamiliar grounds of creativity. It must be a sad development to an, otherwise, revolutionary trend that began when someone at the then Malawi Television – now Malawi Broadcasting (MBC) Television (TV)– was visionary enough to settle for the idea of shooting local music videos free-of-charge.

These music videos were shot and later played to a vast and ecstatic audience between 1999 and 2004.

Between those years, MBC TV could not invest a lot in photoplays and other costly tasks for fear of incurring huge costs, but, still, the music videos broke new ground, and opened Malawi up to new video production possibilities.

This is time when the television station produced Limbani Dube’s ‘Chisoni N’kumatenda’ music video shot on scene at the Zomba Mountain dam, Gymkhana Club and Sunbird Ku Chawe in the old capital city.

In those days, Billy Kaunda’s ‘Mphinjika Yawo’ was shot along Kunthembwe road, Chileka, in Blantyre.

Wilfred Kasito’s ‘Nyamuhanga’ was shot at Civic Centre – the headquarters of Blantyre City Council– in Blantyre City.

Soldier Lucius Banda joined the music videos’ party, too, and his ‘Tina’ was shot on scene at Blantyre Sports Club while Ethel Kamwendo Banda’s first music video was shot at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre.

Music videos by other artists, most notably Chrissy Kanthunzi, Rudo Nkukupa Chakwera and Joseph Alfazema, were shot at MBC TV’s Kwacha Studio grounds in Blantyre. Later, Kanthunzi’s ‘Ngokoma’ was shot in Lilongwe, on location at Chinese Gardens, now Bingu International Convention Centre, and Area 18 round-about in Lilongwe.

Secular-turned-gospel musician San B’s ‘Daily bread’ was shot in Lumbadzi, Lilongwe. He was captured baking bread.

When Evison Matafale observed the new trend of music videos, he did not hesitate to hook up with the MBC TV people who produced his ‘Yang’ana Nkhope’ music video on scene in Blantyre Central Business District and Chichiri Museum grounds.

The LAC [for Lameck, Amos and Chuma Soko] was another group that rose to prominence during that time, and their first video on television was shot on location in Blantyre’s Zingwangwa Township.

However, not all music videos were shot outside the studios, as evidenced by those produced from the Mussa Family, The Trumpeters and Bob Zumani. These were studio productions.

While it can be said that MBC TV did its best in exposing local musicians to the technology of music videos, there is evidence that very few musicians are willing to move on and experiment with other creative techniques of production.

For the most part, familiarity seems to be the safest route.

Not with Namadingo, who broke new ground with ‘Sin’njenjemela’. His previous music productions were like those of others; half-baked.

Not ‘Sin’njenjemela’, which offered a breath of fresh air.

Musically, the song is, in itself, a good work of art. For example, the guitar starts in minor chords in an arpeggio form, as opposed to strumming.

Then, as the song wears on, the bass guitar is carefully introduced. Snare drums then rattle, and a hi-hat is employed as a major percussion.

Latter, a conga, if not jetty, follows and the instruments take major shape with foot drums. The result is a good build-up of lyrics and vocals.

Then comes the video part, which surely breaks new ground— meaning, it moves away from the MBC TV ground-breaking monotony.

The concept is very good. The storyline is also easy to follow.”

There are a number of features worth noting.

For example, in depicting war between a Christian and opposing forces, Namadingo neither uses that renowned tool of perpetuating violence, a gun, nor the Bible. He opts for the guitar instead, depicting it as a powerful weapon for wedging a war for God and bringing souls to Him.

Somehow, he falls for Jesus Christ’s teaching that we should reward those who want to destroy us with kindness.

From ‘Sin’njenjemela’, Namadingo came up with mash-ups, redoing songs with the Black Missionaries, Lucius Banda, Billy Kaunda, Giddes Chalamanda, among others, in the process breaking new ground on the local scene.

And, then, Namadingo has also decided to operate from two countries; Malawi and Zambia.

Already, with Trade Kings and other private sector players in Zambia warming up to him, it can be said that Namadingo’s road has been paved in Zambia.

Whether he is in full flower or not can be left to time, the best judge. What is true is that the artist has landed safely in Zambians’ hearts.

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