Nthawi zina mavuto athu
Legendary artist Lucius ‘Soldier’ Banda sings his heart out in one of his popular songs, ‘Adzatimva’. For the time being, avid music fans are contented with just listening to such songs by ‘Soldier’ on radio stations, Compact Discs and even watching them on television.
If Banda were to have his way, he certainly would wish to be on stage performing live frequently, giving the fans an electrifying performance like he always does. But, for now, that is not possible as Lucius, famed for his combatant and matter-of-fact music, who, behind the microphone, battles for freedom from oppressors, has been battling a different opponent; disease.
Inu mumati zidzakhala choncho
Mpaka liti abale!
Ana a mulungu sangakhale kulira
Masiku onse amoyo wawo
Analanda ufumu kalero
Nawupereka kwa oyenera
Ambuye mulungu wachilungamoo!
Mabala is one such revolutionary song that catapulted ‘Soldier’ to the apex of the local music industry, from his maiden offering, Son of a poor man. This is one song that pacified the hurt of many people who suffered various acts of abuse and atrocities in the battle for multiparty democracy.
And, now, it is time for all those who have had their various wounds (Mabala) healed with the aid of the musical therapy of ‘Soldier’ to return the favour as he now battles kidney failure.
In his other life, Lucius is an established politician and has been serving as Presidential Adviser on Youth and Arts. It was not surprising, therefore, when his boss, President Lazarus Chakwera, who was returning to his base in Lilongwe from Mangochi where he had graced the Society of Medical Doctors Conference, decided to take a detour and pay Soldier a visit at his base in Balaka.
Since the Malawi leader is also a man of the cloth, you can be assured that prayers rained. But the story is about Lucius and not Chakwera; so, I do beg your pardon.
People from far and wide have been dipping deep in their pockets, one after the other, forking out contributions to ensure that their beloved ‘Soldier of The Poor’ quickly gets back to his feet and mesmerises them once again with his velvet voice on stage.
You can bet that a lot of them are now excited following news that Lucius is set to make an appearance at the forthcoming Sand Music Festival, which has also pulled other big stars such as Jamaican reggae giant Gramps Morgan, South Africa’s gospel great Sipho Makhabane and that country’s artist of the moment, Makhadzi.
The festival aside, ‘Soldier’ has not entirely been quite off the stage because, while recuperating, he has managed to release two entirely new songs ‘Ndinu Yemweyo’ and ‘Tili Ngati Nkhosa’, in which he collaborates with Allan Ngumuya, another giant of a musician in as far as local gospel music is concerned.
This is one way of showing his admiration and thanking God for being with his family through the difficult time they have been going through. And being the good person that he is, ‘Soldier’ has also made sure that there is no vacuum in as far as live music performances for his Zembani Band are concerned as, over the years, he has groomed his son Johnny, otherwise known as ‘Mr Zembani’, whose stage work has only proved that, indeed, the apple does not fall far from the tree.
‘We shall never be able to thank you enough for the prayers and support. My love and trust in people (Malawians in particular) has just been rejuvenated. God bless you all,” wrote Lucius on his Facebook page after he managed to attend church on July 11 2021.
It is not only Lucius who has been ill as two of his brothers, Francis and the legendary ‘Sir’ Paul, have also been unwell.
This was, perhaps, what motivated fellow artists to mobilise themselves in May this year and form the Get Well Soon Club with a mission to do a fundraiser targeting K30 million, and the proceeds would go towards meeting ‘Sir’ Paul’s medical bills as well as that of another veteran musician Isaac Liotcha.
“We are so thankful for people’s response. We put up an account and it is Get Well Soon FDH account number 1230000176191,” veteran musician Charles Sinetre, who was among the organisers, told our sister paper, The Daily Times, at the time.
Again, to show appreciation, Lucius wrote another post on June 29 2021:
“I keep thanking each and everyone who is supporting me and my family in prayer and financially. Without such support I don’t know where I would have been, together with my two brothers. God bless you wonderful people.”
Now, ‘Sir” Paul too is no ordinary musician. I remember, from my younger days, when either Civo Stadium or Lilongwe Community Centre Ground in the capital would play host to Alleluya Band, and ‘Soldier’ as well as ‘Sir’ Paul would be in the thick of things, with Paul doing the vocals and ‘caressing’ the guitar while Lucius would be on the keyboards as well as providing background vocals.
You could just tell from the jovial fans on the ground yearning for more that these, indeed, were good times. As if noting that the majority of those dancing were youths, ‘Sir’ Paul would immediately start playing Konzani Moyo:
Tinali okondana ndi anzathu
Olimbikira pa za Ambuye, indeee!
Lero dziko latembenuka
Tataya chikhalidwe chamakolo, indee!
Dzidzimuka mnyamata iwe,
Galamuka iwe nsungwana, chondee!!
This would be ‘Sir’ Paul belling out the best of his music to a captivated and appreciative audience. And now, for all the good times in which the Banda brothers have entertained us, it is only right and proper that people have been coming out in large numbers to render support in their time of need.
As the saying goes, one good turn deserves another.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).