Joe Gwaladi’s flight


Fame must, somehow, be a form of soliloquy; one creative individual can be in a group but, in reality, be by him or herself.

It is like one is standing on a bare stage with a big spotlight, surrounded by trees that may not jump to one’s rescue.

I have arrived at this conclusion after seeing an artist Chancellor College’s Associate Professor, Edge Kangongolo, fondly describes as “Malawi’s greatest philosopher”. You may not guess it, but I mean Joe Gwaladi.


Gwaladi, whatever goes on in his head, is one creative guy. Why? Because he knows what he wants, how to get what he wants, and what it means when he gets, or does not get, what he wants.

It must have hit him, sometime back, that, with the likes of OG Issa no longer active in the music distribution business, he needed to make a break-through, music marketing-wise, and so he started selling tapes in public corners in Blantyre’s commercial hub of Limbe.

Shortly after, artists such as Thocco Katimba fell for the strategy— selling CDs and DVDs of their music in Limbe and such other places. In fact, Gwaladi could go as far as Blantyre Central Business District, where droves of people would [they still do] gather around him, watch him play music and, if others had cash in their pockets, by a CD or DVD.


When Gwaladi is in town, the world notices.

So, all credit should go to Gwaladi for introducing this ‘new’ pompo pompo marketing strategy.

Now, I came across Gwaladi selling merchandise in Limbe two weeks ago. It seems that Gwaladi has diversified, for he now sells memory cards loaded with music. Not just his music; other artists’ music, too.

And he does it some 70 metres from the OG Issa shop that used to be the heartbeat of music distribution in Malawi. Daring Gwaladi.

It was while he sold his memory cards that Blantyre City Assembly rangers stormed the scene, chasing vendors who were selling merchandise in undesignated places.

They came when Gwaladi was busy playing music using one big loud speaker. Well, it seems the people from Civic Centre do not care about Gwaladi, for, in broad daylight, they made him run away, leaving the speaker blazing.

Well, I waited for the next two hours, to see where Gwaladi would pop up from.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! [Each ha! for the 12 tribes of Israel]. Gwaladi now knows how difficult it is to be a vendor.

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