Peter Mawanga reappears

MAWANGA — There is a lot I have done locally

Peter Mawanga is among the most talented musicians in the country but he has not been appreciated fully.

The past years have seen Mawanga concentrating more on international shows, with little shows for the local audience.

His performances in countries like United States of America with his Amaravi Movement has seen him building a strong base, which has seen a number of gigs following on his plate.


But having been out of the local limelight, Mawanga of the ‘Amakhala Ku Blantyre’ fame and ‘Zanga Zozama’ comes out in 2021 to rebuild his local base.

He could have been on the ground by now but due to Covid which affected the creative industry in terms of shows, he gave himself a break.

The break also gave him enough time to reshape himself and also put things together in preparation for the shows that he will be holding.


The soft-spoken musician, who plays a number of instruments and also values traditional instruments, admitted that it has been awhile since he held concerts in the country.

“I only took a break from the international performances in 2019 to spend time with my family and then Covid hit. But here I am, I will try as much to do a number of shows,” he said.

Mawanga is just like Mokoomba in Zimbabwe, who have been active on the international platform holding several shows with little to show on the local front.

Mokoomba, which is a product of Music Crossroads is rarely in their home country when it comes to holding shows and they are not that popular.

But the musical group which has had a stint at Lake of Stars Festival where they won the hearts of many people, are popular outside Zimbabwe and their exploits have seen them performing in various top festivals in Europe and United States of America.

This is the same trend with Mawanga whose international exploits are visible and strong but he still has little as far as local performances are concerned.

His international tours started in 2014 and he has travelled on some of these outings with fellow acts such as Faith Mussa who has also done well on the market to build his own brand.

It is a proper thing for artists to expand their nets and reach out to international audiences because that makes one an international artist but one also has to lay an apt foundation at home.

“There is a lot I have done locally since I launched my music career, live performances, corporate engagements, charity activities as well as mentoring other musicians, so when the opportunity to share my music with the international audience presented itself, I took it,” he said.

Mawanga adds: “Unfortunately for an independent musician like me, it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare for an international tour”.

In 2013, Mawanga speaking to BBC Africa Beats said he felt that it was high time the world was exposed to the riches of Malawian music.

While some of the artists in the country have adopted other genres tied to Western style, Mawanga has remained faithful to traditional elements as part of respecting his culture but also at the same time promoting and preserving the country’s culture.

“With my band, we make music inspired by traditional Malawian rhythms and instruments,” he said.

He said he is passionate about music and that this is why whenever he is holding live performances; he makes sure that he prepares well to give out his all.

Mawanga said to him, music is a tool that he uses to tackle various issues and that he will continue to be the voice of the voiceless using music.

“I have a strong social conscience and I am not afraid to speak out on behalf of the voiceless,” he said.

In one of his interviews with the international media in 2017, Mawanga said Malawi, just like many African countries, has embraced the digital sound and because of this, traditional music and dance is becoming less visible.

“The younger generation of deejays and TV presenters prefer to feature pop music on their shows, so what it means is that a teenager in my country would know an American pop artist more than he/she would know a traditional artist like me,” he said.

Mawanga was however, quick to say that the use of traditional instruments and traditional music and dance is so much in demand in Africa.

“The only challenge is, there are a few of us especially in Southern part of Africa and Malawi in particular that have managed to go out of the norm to research and preserve our traditional heritage. Our traditional instruments are on the verge of dying and as more and more young people are getting educated and learning other foreign languages like English, our vernacular languages are dying as well. This is why I have chosen to preserve our instruments and language through my music,” he said.

Despite making a name with ‘Amakhala ku Blantyre’ a track that angered some dwellers in the commercial city, Mawanga has crafted other equally powerful songs that bring to light challenges faced by the society.

In December 2018, Mawanga released his first independent project titled Nyanja Vibes.

“In September this year I will be releasing an Extended Playlist (EP) which was produced in collaboration with a musician from Florida in United States of America. We have been working on this EP since December 2019,” he said.

The singer and guitarist said the production for the EP is complete and that it is now being processed for release and distribution.

Mawanga’s first move in his local outings start early July at Jacaranda Cultural Centre in Blantyre where he is set to share the stage with Nyago. The show at Jacaranda Cultural Centre will take place on July 3.

He is also set to perform at this year’s Ufulu Festival on July 6 2021.

“This show at Jacaranda Cultural Centre just like many musicians is for me to announce my return to the stage since the pandemic started,” Mawanga, who is based in Lilongwe, said.

This is an acoustic/unplugged show and that his next show in Lilongwe is where he will perform with his whole band.

Mawanga released his debut album, City Life, in 2003, under name Peter Pine before he later changed name.

Having changed his name to Mawanga, the musician released his second album Zanga Zozama in 2004.

This is an album that changed the direction of Mawanga’s music as he showed all the traits of African traditional sound.

In 2007, Mawanga established The Amaravi Movement, which has had members like Faith Mussa, Alfred Nkhoma, Dryson Mwimba, Mayamiko Chimkoka, Mavuto Milion, Marlyn Chakwera Chimombo, Joyce Kaliwo and Omex Chimpeni.

In 2018, Mawanga released the album Takula together with Faith Mussa, Marlyn Chakwera Chimombo, Samuel Mjura Mkandawire and Norwegian musician and producer Georg Buljo in a project band called Takula.

“The aim of the band was to re-imagine and re-interpret old and forgotten radio recordings from the archives of Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, and was done in collaboration with Norwegian radio journalist Sigbjørn Nedland,” he said.

Mawanga has also collaborated with Sally Barker and Vicky Genfan, Georg Buljo, Qabaniso Malewezi, Andrew Finn Magill and Lulu among others.

Apart from City Life, Zanga Zozama, Takula and Nyanja Vibes, his other albums are Paphiri Ndi Padambo which he released in 2009 and Mau A Malawi – Stories of Aids which he released in 2011 and collaborated Andrew Finn Magill.

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