Whoever said a prophet is not respected in his place of birth did not have Chileka-based Black Missionaries in mind because, at Pa Zinziri in Chileka in Blantyre on Saturday, the reggae band was at its best.
In a Chilembwe Day well-patronised show that started at around 8pm on Saturday up until yesterday morning, everyone— from curtain raiser Khuza Rampi to the usual suspects Yanjanani Chumbu, Khozie Masimbe, Moda Fumulani, Chizondi Fumulani, Anthony Mr Cool Makondetsa to the Black Missionaries proper [epitomized by lead vocalist Anjiru Fumulani]— was at their best.
Bassist Peter Amidu was also in his element, strumming the guitar from evening till dawn without the slightest hint of tiredness, which was also true of keyboardist Chizondi who, after dishing out four songs and paving the way for others, tirelessly kept the spirit of intonation alive by keying in at the right moments.
Rampi performed three songs, including ‘Gadabwali’. Moda did likewise, including a rendition of Robert Fumulani’s famous ‘Bwenzi Langa’. In his last act, he employed mask dance moves, much to the excitement of patrons.
In terms of Masimbe, he made sure that ‘Utatu Oyera’ was one of the songs on his menu. Chumbu performed ‘Mzinda Okongola’ when he took to the stage to follow the script of three songs apiece for supporting artists.
If Ma Blacks, as the Black Missionaries are also known, were the main course of the menu, Makondetsa was definitely the sub-theme.
‘Usandiweluze’, ‘Ndagwira Mbendera’ and ‘Muyuda’ were some of the songs he dished out, performing more than eight songs. He engaged patrons every now and then, letting them complete some lines.
When Black Missionaries’ turn came, Anjiru went straight to business by ensuring that the first song he performed was from the Blantyre-based band’s latest offering, Kuimba 12.
He, in fact, dished out several songs from Kuimba 12, including ‘Sadziwa’, which has become one of the famous songs from the latest album.
When the band launched the album at Robin’s Park in Blantyre, the track was performed several times; just as was the case in Lilongwe and Mzuzu cities.
At Pa Zinziri, Anjiru even spiced things up by letting patrons complete the ‘Sadziwa’ part during chorus time.
In the end, when the skies started clearing darkness in that self-ignited system of nature, Anjiru made good of Makondetsa’s earlier promise to fans that it would be a “from dusk to dawn thing”.
On their turf, Ma Blacks are unlike the mythological prophet who gets accustomed to snubs among peers and friends. Here was a true case of home is best.