Kamuzu’s mbumba music echoes


Tiwonge , tiwonge Ngwazi yatiombola,yebo, yebo Ngwazi Kamuzu Banda, taona Sanjika, Ngwazi yithu, Tiwonge takwera ndenge ndimwe a Banda… wawina ndimwe kuno ku mpoto… Mmmmmh… mhhhhhh… Khalani chete, tikhale chete Ngwazi lero wawina, tonse tikhale chete… khalani chete kwa Kamuzu... The Ingoma ya bo Mama songs from Mzimba sound as fresh as they were recorded years ago. Yeah, at this moment in time I am listening to Mbumba music not as a political fanatic of any party. No. I am listening to these songs as a special way of remembering the first president of Independent Malawi, Ngwazi Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda.


I am listening to mbumba za Kamuzu songs with keen interest. These women were great composers. How could they compose such rich songs full of touching melodies and harmonies? I may not agree with the idea of hero-worshipping. I may not agree with the idea of brainwashing the people and make them believe that man is an immortal being. I may not agree with those who were handclapping all the time without even sparing a minute to reflect on their inner consciousness. All I know is that Mbumba za Kamuzu were first class creative master artists. Yeah, countryfolks you heard me right. Kamuzu’s mbumba were top notch composers and dancers. Period.


I know pretty well that we were meant to believe that some voices which were muffled were louder. Yeah, we were meant to believe that there were rebels in Tanzania and Zambia who were meant to overthrow his government. We were also meant to believe that even those who were sitting close to Kamuzu would one day betray him like Judas. Yeah, this song ndiomwewa omwe akupampando, ndi omwewa ndiwo aukila Kamuzu. How true. How life reflects upon itself through mbumba music.

Kamuzu would speak at a mass rally. Immediately the mbumba would respond with a song. Call it improvisation? No. I do not think so. This was something else. As I am listening to the songs, I am left with my mouth agape.



I am listening to the drum beats and the manner in which these drummers were talking to each other. Yeah, the drums were speaking. The drums were in dialogue. The master drummers were part of this creative cycle. Yeah, I am listening to mbumba music. I am paying much attention to the music itself as opposed to the lyrics which are all similar as they praise Ngwazi Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda as the founding father of the nation.

I like the variety of the drum patterns. I like the layering of the drum beat. I like these polyphonic sounds. I wonder where our musicologists were at this time when the nation was full of this mbumba music.I wonder where our artists were to draw some lessons on the mbumba music and the impact of this music not only on our mothers but we who were also called as born free generation.


As I am listening to the mbumba music, I am reminded of the top class choreography too. I vividly remember the mbumba clad in their attire with the imprint of Kamuzu. Yeah, the dominant colours being blue for the southern region mbumba, Red for Mbumba in the central and of course green for the mbumba in the northern region.

How ironic. How some things are better left as they are for the better tomorrow. How posterity will one day judge us today of how we are so naive in our appreciation for artistic creativity. How we are all in this drama called life and playing different roles as the script of life continues.

As I am listening to mbumba music this week ,I am watching the mbumba dance. I am watching the mbumba dancing as they sing about the Lion of Malawi. Yeah, the Lion of Malawi who roared from Sanjika Palace in Blantyre, From Nguluyanawambe, From Mtunthama, From Zomba, From Mzuzu. from Chikoko Bay! Yeah, the Lion of Malawi as he joined his mbumba singing the Chimdidi songs. Inde, inde yaya tate mwamuma amakhala wa wekha oyikila mazira a nkhunda…

Aluta continua…

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