Lucius Banda, popularly known as Soldier, has been in music for about 30 years and is one of the successful musicians in the country.
Now a Member of Parliament, the musician still ranks music among the best things in his life as it has exposed him to the world but also driven him to land other opportunities.
Although the music industry is not that rewarding, especially with several challenges on the ground including piracy, Lucius is all thankful to God for the musical talent which has seen him travelling far and wide.
“I cannot stoop low and start neglecting music because it is the talent that has made me who I am today. If I wasn’t a musician I could not have been the good Member of Parliament I am today,” he said.
The musician has used his art to speak for the voiceless and this is what earned him the nickname Soldier in that he fights for the poor.
He has used his talent to sing openly against political oppression in the country.
Lucius has several albums to his credit and they include Cell 51, Unity, Down Babylon, Take Over, Son of A Poor Man and Fifteen Fifteen.
His debut album, Son of A Poor Man, which he recorded at Shandel Music Studio in South Africa with the help of producer George Arigone, is the one which made him popular.
The album has hits such as ‘Mabala’, Get Up Stand U’, and ‘Life On Earth’.
And having performed with Alleluya Band, he later formed his own Zembani Band which is intact.
His band has helped give the platform to several musicians and some of them went solo. In some instances he has been criticised for failing fellow artists.
But the Balaka North legislator said he loves criticism, which has helped build him to where he is today.
“First of all, I should say that we are humans and prone to making mistakes. We are not perfect and this is why I am open to criticism. Criticism has led me to improve the way I do things,” he said.
Having starred in music for years, Lucius is also trading in events management through Impakt Events.
Some quarters have been on him saying he is better doing music than giving himself a tough time with event management.
He said it was challenging working on three things now but he was quick to point out that they complement each other.
“It’s challenging, of course, but they complement each other. Being a Member of Parliament is a stressful job as we go into the august House to make laws and discuss several other things but when I go on stage I relax,” he said.
He, however, indicated that, with event management, he is still learning the ropes but he is in love with it because it keeps him on his toes.
“ E v e n t management is challenging me and is keeping me vibrant. I have done music for 30 years and it’s no longer exciting as it was when I was in my youth,” the creator of ‘Cease Fire’ said.
“Today when I go on stage I concentrate on delivering the message and I want people to be entertained. I want to put smiles on their faces.”
He said event management has seen him being criticised all the time, adding that he gets angry but then he learns from criticism.
“We, as Impakt Events, are growing because of criticism and I believe that, in the next five years, we will get there and improve,” Lucius said.
He revealed that, as a legislator, he receives a monthly salary which he described as peanuts when compared to the demands in his constituency.
“There are demands I face as an MP and there are a lot of things I am doing that need more money and this includes paying school fees for hundreds of students and that is where music and event management comes in to help,” he said.
The musician said it takes a show for him to make some money which he uses in other projects in his constituency.
“This is why music will always be there on top and now, with event management, I am also learning to manage other musicians and give them a platform through different shows we organise including the Sand Music Festival,” he said.
Lucius said the key to success is dividing one’s time.
“When it is time for Parliament I have to be in Parliament and when it is time for a show I have to be on stage and when it is time for event management I have to make sure the shows are in shape,” he said.
“I just want to thank Malawians because they have realised that it is not easy to bring international acts. I have been receiving messages congratulating Impakt Events for bringing artists live here,” he said.
Lucius also said he was happy that he was doing something for the nation including entertaining people.
He also said that they were excited to have managed to host Jamaican artist Kenyatta Hill, son to reggae maestro Joseph Hill, and Culture.
“The two shows were successful in that, for the first time, we managed to hold them in two cities. But I must confess that it was a challenge. The weather was not on our side especially in Lilongwe where it was very cold and we ended up registering a low turnout,” Lucius explained.
He said the Mibawa Multipurpose Hall in Blantyre registered a huge turnout.
Lucius also said that the two shows were a success because Kenyatta delivered.
“In terms of financial gains, it was a disaster but we are not disappointed, it’s still a new industry for us but with time we believe we will get there,” he said.
Lucius said Impakt Events, which has also managed to bring artists such as Judy Boucher and Busy Signal, was looking at utilising the Sand Music Festival to promote tourism.
“For instance, Busy Signal, who we hosted, is the one who has sold Malawi to several Jamaican artists and so, in a small way, we are contributing to the growth of tourism,” said the musician.
He said the Sand Music Festival is there this year without fail and that they have already started preparations.
“The beauty about it is that it is settled but we are uncertain on the dates and we thought we should get those dates especially in September as there is no Lake of Stars Festival since in October there are rains. We are considering that but, if we can’t find space, we will stick to October,” he said.
Lucius said that they will announce in a month time where the Sand Music Festival will take place this year and the dates.
“There are a number of artists we are looking at but we are looking at different genres,” he said.
And now after years on the ground, Lucius said their dream for Sand Music Festival has always been to be at par with festivals such as Cape Town Jazz Festival.
Lucius even said that this year they are in the process of establishing offices so that companies should have confidence in them.
“Companies now have belief in us but we need to do more so we will be putting up an office. We are also looking at doing carnivals ahead of the festival. We need serious carnivals with several activities as an awareness tools,” he said.
Lucius said Malawi has potential to propel its economy through tourism and that their festival can help in national development.
“Let me also say it here that it takes a lot of money for one to put together shows. There are times we have spent 60 million or 70 million but have never registered profits as its either weather affecting the shows, low turnout and people producing fake tickets,” he said.
With all that said, the Impakt Events director said they have a lot of work to do to bring out memorable events.
“Although we haven’t been making profits, we are in it because of passion. We are still pushing and looking for money and believe that someday the Sand Music Festival will be able to create resources for itself,” the musician said.
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