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MEET: John Fire Ndaferankhande

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Blantyre-based musician John Fire Ndaferankhande’s name is not that popular, although his brother, Chikumbutso, is a well-known writer.

Just this year, Chikumbutso came tops in Malawi Writers Union (Mawu)/FMB Short Story competition. His moment of glory came last month in last month’s Mawu National Literary Awards.

The writer pocketed K1 million and a trophy with his story Chronicles of an inmate.

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Enough of Chikumbutso. Today, we are meeting John Fire, who, despite being a pharmacist, is also trading in arts seriously.

While his brother Chikumbutso is into writing, John Fire is in music and he believes he has made strides as well as polished his work to be where he is today.

The musician has been under the mentorship of veteran trainer Francis Mijiga at Music Club where he has even expanded his base by learning the guitar.

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He said music is a serious business; hence, linking up with Mijiga to perfect himself.

Although his name sounds new in the music game, John Fire said he has been there and has two albums to his collection.

He debuted with Wondilenga, which he recorded in South Africa, and claims the album did well on the market.

“I have been there, only that, with my debut album, I did not make much noise but I am happy that it sold well on the market,” John Fire said.

John Fire is now out with his second album, Emmanuel, which he is set to launch on June 8 2018.

The 13-track album has songs such as ‘Typhoid’, ‘Mawu Akewo’, ‘Ofuna Abwere’, ‘Musakayike’ and ‘Guguda’.

Recorded at Chimwankhunda in Blantyre, John Fire said he is into music not by chance but rather he loves the art and wants to use it as a vehicle for disseminating information.

“When I was releasing my debut album, I only concentrated on vocals but, now, I want to go deeper as a musician and this is why I am learning the guitar. I am not there yet; I am still an amateur as far as playing the guitar is concerned but I will get there,” John Fire said.

The launch of his album will take place at Jacaranda Cultural Centre in Blantyre, where he will share the stage with other acts— among them Blantyre Music Club, Rek and Spare Fingers, Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust Band, Joshua Chienda, TJ and Louisa.

“People will see something beautiful on the day and it will be a time for people to appreciate music and also be part of it,” he said.

As he prepares to launch Emmanuel, John Fire, said he will have a pre-launch at Winners Chapel Auditorium.

“The pre-launch is free and this event is set to prepare me for the main course on June 8. Again, this show is a chance for people to see what I will have on stock on the day of the launch. The journey in music has not been easy; it has been tough,” the soft-spoken musician said.

Before he went solo, John Fire has the experience of performing with Blantyre Joint Choir and was also the praise team leader at Winners Chapel for six years.

“So, you can see that it’s been a process for me to be here. I have had different experiences. Starring with well-known groups such as Blantyre Joint Choir helped a lot in terms of perfecting my vocals and also leading the praise team for years opened up the way,” he said.

John Fire added that he believes that he has the gift of singing.

“We are a blessed family because, apart from our other careers, we have embraced arts. Chikumbutso has done well in the world of writing and then my other siblings have also done well in it. So, this is all God [at work] and the most important thing is to realise you have a talent and then utilise it,” the musician said.

John Fire iss from Bereu Village in Chikwawa.

He did his primary at Chichiri and secondary education at St Patricks and Kamuzu Academy before being selected to College of Medicine, University of Malawi, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy.

He is working with Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust as a Research Pharmacist.

“Working as a pharmacist has given me a lot of stories [which I use when] composing songs. You will notice that, in my second album, I have a song titled ‘Typhoid’, which is a disease.

“Music is something I am using to entertain people, speak for the voiceless, disseminate information and, more importantly, minister the word of God,” John Fire said.

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