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Joram Nyirongo soothes souls with music

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TRANSENDING — Joram recently strummed his guitar in Lusaka, Zambia

If multi-skilled and talented were a person, then Joram Nyirongo would fit that description. A Medical Doctor by profession, he is also a singer, song writer and a guitarist. He has been in the limelight of late for his album ‘1987’ which he released in 2021. But where does he trace his roots in music?

“I fell in love with music from a young age in church. I began to play guitars made from gallons at 10 years of age. I later started playing an acoustic guitar and performed mostly in church in my teens,” he said.

He recorded his first song in 2010 in which he was telling the story of a girl who never seemed to like him back then despite all his attempts.

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“The story was totally made up but I was shocked when people begun to ask me questions about the fictional girl. To them I sounded so real when I sang. And so that is when I fell in love with storytelling through my music. I went on to record a 12 track album which I released in 2012 while I was reading Medicine and Surgery at College of Medicine [now KUHES].

“I toured Malawi during this period and performed mostly at College Campuses. I later worked with Patience Namadingo during the period he was transitioning to predominantly acoustic music in 2015 and 2016. We performed together at various venues across Malawi until I moved to the capital in 2016. I later worked with Edgar ndi Davis as their opening act before going back to my solo career which I have focused on for the past five years,” Nyirongo said.

His album ‘1987’ was preceded by an Extended Play released in 2020. The EP had four songs in it titled Tamuuze, Mmakufira, Pepa and This is Love.

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“This prompted me to work on the album which has done really well on the market. I sold in millions of Kwacha within the first week, which made me realise that there is a huge market for great acoustic music in Malawi,” he said.

Known in music circles simply as Joram, he pointed out that it is very tough to mention one song which he loves the most on the album.

“I can mention the song that I love playing the most on the guitar and it’s called Pepa (sorry). It’s a song that talks about a man who is apologising to his loved one for being caught cheating. I just love the story there. I love this song because I get asked a lot of questions about my own relationship and so the learning point there is that the audience (my listeners) will have to learn to separate my artistic pieces from real events in my own life. You do not have to be a murderer to write in the first person about the life of a murderer,” he added.

But what inspired him to compose the politically-charged song Mr Politician?

“I composed the song to address the common problem we see in Africa and Malawi in particular. You find that during political campaigns, politicians will churn out a whole list of promises they truly know they will never even bother to pursue once elected. And indeed once elected, these politicians will then begin to show voters a side no one knew they had. Once again the poor get cheated. And the country does not progress. We continue to see the collapse of our financial systems. We continue to see common men struggling for drugs in the hospitals which are never there. We continue to see poor road networks,” he pointed out.

Last month, he performed in Lusaka, Zambia and he has fond memories.

“It was the most amazing experience. I found that our brothers and sisters next door truly love that acoustic sound. They stayed quiet to listen to the picking and plucking of every guitar string. They listened to your voice as you went down or as you went high. It was an amazing audience. I had this great opportunity to support a Zambian Brother Mumba Yachi on his album listening session,” he said.

Considering that as a doctor he usually has an engaging schedule, how does he manage his time?

“I love saving lives and being the arms of our Lord bringing healing and alleviating pain and suffering through medical practice. That surely does take a lot of my time. But every man creates time for what he truly loves. I love the sound of guitars. I love listening to good music. I love writing new songs. It is so natural for me I don’t have to worry about time. After all the day, is divided into the first 8 hours of daylight when one can work in an office, and the next 8 hours when one can work on their business and craft before retiring to sleep in the next 8 hours,’ he added.

Now with independence celebrations just a few days away, Joram has released a new song titled Ufulu.

“This song gives us all the historical narrative starting from 1915 when the idea of a free Nyasaland was first truly conceived by men like the Reverend John Chilembwe who preached that he saw that colonial rule would eventually weaken and crumble and freedom would come for Africans,” he said.

It is no easy task soothing souls both musical and medical wise, but for now, Joram is happy to juggle the two and he is determined to soar beyond the ordinary.

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