Lake of Stars Music Festival is quite an overrated event which unsurprisingly continues to receive huge support from local companies which have done little to recognise the local initiatives.
As a fan of poetry, I remember being at the Warehouse Cultural Centre one Sunday afternoon. Njonjonjo Katsoka recited ‘Tikudikila Mzungu’ to tell us that there is so much about Malawi that is ignored by Malawians.
The feeling of unfairness among most local musicians – when Lake of Stars Music Festival decided to do things the wrong way – led to the birth of Sand Music Festival with the aim of giving local musicians the platform. That is the reason Lake of Stars Music Festival is far from being a local event because it is dominated by foreigners – both artists and patrons.
It is quite remarkable that Sand Music Festival has received support from a number of companies, most notably Sunbird Hotels and TNM. But perhaps Sand Music Festival should stick to the original concept; focus on local musicians more.
Indeed, there is so much talent in Malawi which is worth celebrating. The last time I spent some time with local musicians was in October 2007. This was the time I had the opportunity to appreciate their creativity.
For three months in 2007, I listened to Gift Fumulani’s sermons – at times sharing the word of God from his preferred book of Revelation.
During that time, Sally Nyundo was always quiet but when he spoke, I blamed myself for knowing little about him. About 10 years later, I am yet to write the many stories he told me.
I still see pictures of Evance Meleka offering unrivalled comic sessions which left fellow musicians struggling for breath. He kept them laughing for long periods.
The musicians are preachers, some are good narrators and others are dramatists. All these musicians combined, you are assured of an event that will not fall short of creativity.
I am yet to experience such moments again. When I proposed few years ago that a single day of events would best serve the purpose, none seemed to buy the idea.
My expectation then was to see either Musicians Union of Malawi or Copyright Society of Malawi identify a single day for a music festival. Perhaps that was asking for too much from the bodies mandated to oversee more serious things.
Today, music festivals are common. What has been missing on the calendar are plausible music awards to celebrate the creativity of local musicians. Of course, there is UMP Awards, which, despite focussing on urban music, has done a lot to uplift urban music which has now been accepted by the society.
However, Nyasa Music Awards encompasses all genres of music. The organisers of the event have done a lot bringing into the country international acts. But accepting that local musicians deserve recognition too has been a huge factor in the their decision-making.
What is impressive is that the organisers realise how important it is to appreciate local talent. Usually, we blame music bodies or government for doing little to appreciate the talent the country is blessed with.
Surely, the government has so many areas to focus on, and that is why the individuals who come up with initiatives like Nyasa Music Awards deserve the support.
It is high time we started celebrating what we can truly own as ours in Malawi. A number of initiatives have failed because we ignore what is ours yet we fully support initiatives that may be conceived at some pub in London or Manchester.
There is so much that can be gained in supporting Nyasa Music Awards. What would be the excuse for not supporting what is our own?
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