By Richard Chirombo
Money is, somehow, like a drum; it makes people’s hearts beat rhythmically, or un-rhythmically, as the case demands.
Money, more so for banknotes than coins, beats people into submission.
That is why artists such as Ian Lizi sing about money in ‘Mandede’. In the track, the persona zooms in on the issue of people’s quest for improved livelihood through the acquisition of money.
In it, the persona mentions notes such as K200.
At no point does the persona mention coins.
So popular was the song in those days that, perhaps to keep it alive in the public sphere, some local artists have redone it.
These are the trio of Gemini Major, Charisma and Toast.
Whether Lizi is angry that the artists did not seek his permission, or that they used his image on the promotional online download links of the song, is neither here nor there.
Thing is, the allure of money may have attracted the three artists to ‘Mandede’ because, when everything is said and done, all of us need money.
Atoht Manje, too, delves into the issue of money in ‘Ndalama’, as he knows, for sure, that money attracts all and sundry.
Whatever is in money.
Then, there is Che Malamba, another artist who has come into the limelight with his song ‘Ndalama Zandipanikiza’.
Just that, in his case, the persona in the song makes an unusual complaint: “I have too much money; please help me out!”
And, yet, in Malawi Police Orchestra’s ‘Ulanda’ song, the persona complains about bad spending habits.
The persona, apparently male, spends much of his money on booze, which leaves his family in financial doldrums.
The male persona seems to be a perpetual offender, beer-drinking-wise.
Money, it seems, is a loud drum that cannot be ignored.
However, while money songs are strewn in the music industry, with both veteran and up-and-coming musicians waxing lyrical about it, the public transport sector seems not to heed to one call, namely the money-making opportunity that has availed itself in the music industry.
A case in point is Friday last week, when the Blantyre-based Black Missionaries launched Kuimba 12 album.
The launch, which took place at Robin’s Park in the commercial city from 08:30pm, was colourful, with people from far and wide townships trekking to the event venue, which is close to Njamba Freedom Park.
However, instead of anticipating that the show would run up to the early hours of Saturday and ensuring that minibuses that often ferry passengers from dawn to dusk were on standby, the transport sector slept on the job.
They lost out on the opportunity to generate money through the provision of transport services.
Instead, it was bicycle taxi operators that lined up their pockets with cash from patrons who, having witnessed the launch of Kuimba 12, were longing for home.
People were forced to hire bicycle ‘taxis’, most of them have no number plates and are not licenced to carry passengers.
In fact, the bicycle ‘taxis’ do not even have certificates of fitness, insurance and other requirements.
This, to me, was a lost opportunity to minibus operators.
In truth, passenger service vehicles have an advantage over bicycle taxis in the sense that, once one boards a motorbike ‘taxi’, they know they are doing it at their own risk because, should something happen, there is nothing like compensation.
One only hopes commuter minibus and other operators can wake up from their slumber and start ferrying people from artistic shows that take place at night. For, there, money, like a drum that follows rhythmic patterns, is always up for the taking— at least from patrons who may folk out the occasional K2,000 banknote just to meet their wish of getting home.