The reverberations of Malawian musicians have, from the look of things, been ignored in the crescendo of policy-makers’ self-serving acts, leaving the lead vocalist, backing vocalist, guitarist, drummer, conger player, keyboardist and even the sound engineer at the mercy of natural devices.
And nature, by its very nature, nurtures only the fittest.
However, this state of affairs is “unacceptable”, according to Nigerian musician Peter Okoye, also known as Mr P, formerly of P-Square.
Mr P, who performed at the 11th edition of Sand Music Festival held at Sunbird Nkopola from Friday last week to Sunday this week, must have been speaking from a position of knowledge because, through P-Square, which has been drowsing since September 25 2017, he learnt everything he had to about music, in terms of ups and downs.
P-Square, now defunct, was a music duo made up of twin brothers Peter [Mr P] and Paul Okoye, who worked with Square Records to churn out one song and album after another, at the pinnacle of their fame signing a record contract with Akon’s Konvict Muzik label in December 2011.
Not just that. P-Square signed a record distribution contract with Universal Music Group in May 2012.
Before the duo’s eventual split on September 25 2017, P-Square first split in 2016.
At its prime, the duo became one of the top African pop music groups for over 10 years, only for Paul ‘Rudeboy’ Okoye and Peter ‘Mr P’ Okoye to split— leaving their fans longing more for such songs as ‘Danger’, ‘I Love You’, Gimme Dat’, ‘Bank Alert’, ‘Beautiful Onyinye’, ‘Chop My Money’, ‘Personally’, ‘Shekini’, ‘Collabo’, ‘Alingo’, ‘Taste the Money’, ‘Paloma’, ‘E No Easy’, ‘Do Me’, ‘Bring It On’, ‘One More Night’, ‘Nobody Ugly’, ‘Wokie Wokie’ [featuring Nyanda], ‘Ifunanya’, ‘Temptation’ and ‘No One Like You’.
Throughout those years, and through the years he has been performing solo, Mr P has learned one thing: “Musicians excel when supported by their own people. In our case, the Nigerian people supported us and put us on the map.
“For Malawian artists to excel, they need to be supported by their own people. Actually, before I started performing here [at the Sand Music Festival], it is your own artists who were performing. You need to support them. You need to promote them so that they can excel. We [Nigerian artists] are where we are because our own people supported us. Even today, people in Nigeria patronise our shows in big numbers.”
He suggests that, when supported, Malawian beats will reverberate across the world like a rhythmic heart that throbs and throbs until it gets the attention of international audiences.
Musicians Association of Malawi General Secretary Khuza Rampi cannot agree more.
He says, in terms of passion and energy, Malawian musicians have them in abundance, so much so that, if that ‘capital’ of passion and energy were allowed to flourish unbridled, they would take on the world with the local beat.
Malawian musicians long to roll across the world like the waves of Lake Malawi, Rampi enthuses, but are let down by lack of support from both policymakers and individual citizens in Malawi.
“Malawian musicians have the talent but just need that push to compete favourably against those from other parts of the world. Give us, musicians, support and we will put Malawi on the map,” he says.
His sentiments are echoed by Dan Lu, real name Dan Lufani, who feels that home support will give local musicians the impetus to prosper.
“Whenever Mr P has travelled to Malawi and performed here, he has been emphasising the message that Malawians have to support their own artists and accord them the respect they deserve so that people in other parts of the world can see sense in supporting us.
“It is true that Malawian artists need the support of Malawians. If we are fully supported, we will not disappoint. It is good that Mr P has emphasised the importance of supporting local artists because he has been there and he knows what it means to get support from your own people,” says the ‘It’s Part of Life’ star.
Lulu, real name Lawrence Khwisa, cannot agree more.
“Support from fellow Malawians can go a long way in giving us the much needed morale. This will also lead to reduced cases of piracy because Malawians will be buying original works and musicians will earn something from their sweat.
“We need that support. Maybe, after Mr P’s sentiments, we will get increased support from Malawians. They support us, yes; but much more support will go a long way in helping us, musicians, advance our cause,” he says.
Maybe local support is the ‘capital’ local musicians have been longing for; its cultivation will, surely, bolster their global acumen.