Traditional instruments are not old fashioned—Chavalamangwere


Nkhota-kota-based Ethno-musician, Charles Chavalamangwere Mkanthama, who has taught many artists traditional instruments in the country and also plays for Chewa King Gawa Undi, has described traditional instruments as unique.

With traditional instruments slowly fading away and most artists and young people not interested to learn them preferring modern instruments, Chavalamangwere said traditional instruments are part of culture and that they need to be valued and given all the attention.

The veteran ethno-musician said this on Sunday when he starred at this year’s Pakhonde Ethno Music Festival, where he showed his artistry in playing the Sansi (Thumb Piano) which is also known as mbira in other countries.


“These instruments are what define our culture. They have to be passed from the older generation to the current generation. These instruments are not old-fashioned because they can offer sound, just like modern instruments, and young people can even use them in playing different genres such as reggae, rap and what have you,” Chavalamangwere said.

He said that artists who play these traditional instruments have found it easier to get opportunities of playing outside the country.

“Apart from producing authentic sound, African sound, these instruments are attractive and this is what attracts people outside because other people have never seen them,” the veteran Sansi player, who also plays Kaligo, said.


He also said that most traditional instruments make artists sing and perform passionately and that there is always a strong connection.

Some of the artists that have been taught by Chavalamangwere include Ntchisi-based Patrick Chimbewa, who has gone on to develop himself by creating a Sansibar, which is a combination of Sansi and Baza, and Peter Mawanga.

In a drive that is aimed at propelling the playing of traditional instruments and also sensitising people about them, Chavalamangwere is set to perform at Sounds of Malawi Acoustic Session at Jacaranda Cultural Centre in Blantyre Thursday.

“I am happy to perform in Blantyre and speak volumes of the beauty of traditional instruments. These traditional instruments need to be taught in schools and universities,” Chavalamangwere said.

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