There once was a Lucius Banda— fearless of the powers-that-be but ever sympathetic to the social and political cause of the public.
The fearlessness started when he produced Son of a Poor Man, his first album, and continued (the fearlessness/sympathy) in albums such as Cease Fire, Yahwe, Money and Power, Down Babylon, Time, Fifteen Fifteen, Cease Fire, Survivor, Not An Easy Road, Life and Take Over.
Oftentimes, the threads that formed the spine of Banda’s albums used to be such issues as political impunity, social ills, the labours of love, the vanity of nationalism, hope, self-awareness, among others.
To a large extent, the songs reflected Malawi’s aspirations, fears, hopes, and disappointments, and the artist aptly served the role of a stock-taker of issues, be it social, economic, or political.
It was, therefore, easy to analyse the historical context in which Banda was singing. He measured Malawi’s success through the prism of self-rule.
The short of it is that, whereas politics was supposed to be a smooth road, the tendency by local politicians has been that, once the electorate put them in power, things change for the worse and it feels as if they (voters) have paved the politicians’ road to paradise while paving their (voters’ own) road to hell.
At such moments, Banda could pop in with his songs. That is the Banda music lovers knew.
However, for the past two and a half years he has been in Parliament, the Banda music lovers knew seems to have gone into hibernation.
Maybe Joseph Nkasa could have come in, but he, too, has been singing about isolated cases of systematic ostracisation of certain members of society and professions. For example, in ‘Anenere’, the artist is limiting the bank of Malawi’s problems to the woes of police personnel, leaving the rest at the mercy of jungle justice.
And, then, it so happens that the Banda people knew has announced his come-back.
“Actually, I just finished recording the last song two days ago [two days before Thursday]. I just recorded the 13th track of my fourth-coming album, Crimes. I am coming back hard,” Banda told Times Exclusive, a programme that airs on Times Television, on Saturday.
But he actually granted the interview on Thursday, when a Times Group crew visited Balaka.
Banda says he wants to assume the role of social and political critic that endeared him to Malawians. Indeed, it is on the basis of that role that he fitted the bill of a soldier— characterised by, as noted before, arrogance to the powers-that-be, and sympathy to the ‘grass’ the political elephants trample on.
Drawing conclusions from his past tracks, it could be that Banda has, really, severed ties with decorum and hero-worshipping and wants to go back to his roots.
Banda even offered some insight into the title track, saying it mocks people’s tendency to see problems from the position of a silent observer standing on top of a hill.
The silent observer is, in this case, the Malawian— who talks about crimes against humanity, the type that beset Rwanda in 1994, pitting the Hutus against the Tutsi. Millions perished under the sharp sword of ethnic cleansing.
But Banda said Malawians should not look as far as Rwanda— a distant land— to get a taste of crimes against humanity but should just take a peek into the management of finances in Malawi.
Horrible crimes have taken root on our watch, Banda observes, calling on the citizenry to watch the rot in their backyard before spying on a neighbour’s backyard.
Banda said public officers have been committing crimes against the people of Malawi, but they would like the people to believe that the worst thing happen outside Malawi’s borders.
And, according to the artist-cum-events manager, he may go back to the roots as soon as April.
“The album [Crime] will be launched in April,” Banda said.
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