Here is an artist wet with potential: Khuza Rampi. From fighting piracy, which, as Musicians Association of Malawi General Secretary, he describes as a “worm” that has been eating through the gains made by artists in the music industry, to the stage, he seems to be a gallant fighter ready to fight on all fronts.
Rampi is one of the local artists that fought hard for the resuscitation of Musicians Union of Malawi, after some artists and musicians spearheaded the formation of Musicians Union of Malawi.
He, and others that have joined Musicians Association of Malawi’s cause, have been fighting the usual enemies; lack of music schools in the country, under-utilisation of veteran artists, which veteran musician of the ‘Baba Mika’ fame Lommie Mafunga describes as a “disease with deep roots”; lack of favourable policies, which Rampi describes as “regrettable”.
The general feeling among association members, according to him, is that Malawi has requisite laws but follow-up has been a problem.
For instance, there is the Copyright Act of 2016, which the government, through the Ministry of Culture, spearheaded in the course of its transition from Bill to Act. The new Act repeals the Copyright Act (Cap. 49:03), which was enacted in 1989, and incorporates recent developments that have emerged since the old Act came into force.
For instance, at the time of enactment of the 1989 Act, Malawi was a party to the Berne Convention but this did not stop events on the global stage from overtaking it and making it irrelevant.
For example, between 1989 and 2016, countries saw the adoption and entry into force of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (Trips), the World Copyright Treaty and the World Intellectual Property Organisation Performances and Phonograms Treaty, among others.
These conventions, particularly the Trips Agreement, set down new minimum standards for the protection of Intellectual Property Rights, which, according to Musicians Association of Malawi members, means artists stand a better chance of benefitting from their sweat.
Late last year, members of the association he serves as general secretary for met with government officials to clear out the question: Which membership group should we work with between Musicians Union of Malawi and Musicians Association of Malawi?
Rampi and others were equivocal on the point that government ministries, departments and agencies should work with all arts associations.
In terms of music performances, the musician has also been at his best, collaborating with artists such as Nepman in songs such as ‘Ndavomereza’ and his own solo productions.
It is as if music has always been a part of him.
The reggae musician— who launched his music career in 1999 and has shared the stage with the late Evison Matafale and Lambanie Dube, among notable artists— is not one to give up on anything.
“Music is in my blood,” he said.
“Since I produced my first single at Rhemu Studios, under the tutorage of the late Chuma Soko in 2001, I have not looked back because I want to share a message that seeks to change society in a positive way. I am building on the journey I started after producing two singles ‘Nthawi Isadakwane’ and ‘Chiri Chonse’ in 2001,” he said.
The Blantyre-based artist, who also has songs such as ‘Opanda Boot’, ‘Chikondi’ and ‘Maupo’ to his credit, said one of his secrets is his never-say-never spirit.
This is, indeed, true because, despite his first album Nthawi not shaking the country after being released in 2014, he continued with the mission. His resolute spirit was evident when he released Njoka Saweta album and the single ‘Opanda Boot’, which was recorded at Marvin Hanke’s Audio Clinic in Naperi, Blantyre.
The projects did well.
“The good thing these days is that there many radio and television stations. As such, when one station does not play your tracks, others play it,” he said.
The artist cut his teeth in music while at Mulunguzi Secondary School in Zomba in 1999.This was after the late Ammon M’geduyi of Freedom Band roped him in and nurtured his talent.
But it took 15 years for him to release his first album Nyimbo, but just under two years to come up with a second album.
And, as someone who travelled and performed alongside the late Evison Matafale when launching Lambanie Dube’s Yankho Likadzafika album, he has been pushing hard enough.
Just last Saturday, he performed at Pa Zinziri in Chileka, Blantyre, where he performed such songs as ‘Gadabwali’, elating patrons.
“I just ask everyone who follows my music to keep supporting me,” he said.