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Who was Alinane Mildred Mphande?

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The country on July 14, 2017 woke up to the news of the passing on of Alinane Mildred Ligoya Mphande, who until her death was a music lecturer at University of Malawi’s Chancellor College in Zomba.

Born on January 25, 1982, Mphande died of maternal complications at Zomba Hospital and was laid to rest at HHI Cemetery.

Her burial ceremony was attended by people from all walks of life – who included Mary, wife to Vice President Saulos Chilima, business captains, religious leaders, academic and artists.

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Mphande’s name might be strange to others but she was a woman who played a crucial role in shaping the creative industry.

During a funeral service at Kabula Seventh-day Adventist, Mphande was described as a musicologist and that this was what she used to tag herself with among her students at Chancellor College.

She was a singer with a golden voice and with her angelic voice she starred with the Seventh-day Adventist group Harmony composing and leading in some of the songs popular of it all being ‘Chipata’.

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‘Chipata’ is a song which continues to stand out because of its deep-rooted spiritual message and no wonder as Mphande’s remains were being interred, Harmony performed the song.

It was a sad moment.

“I am short of words to describe her. She was a true friend and we just clicked one-day when we met in church before Harmony came into being,” said Dumisani Mfune.

Mphande worked behind the scenes in some projects but most of her works were key.

Musician Lucius Banda, popularly known as Soldier, wrote on his Facebook page that he was saddened by Mphande’s death describing her as a golden voice that coloured some of his songs in some of his previous albums.

“In one of the most powerful albums Freedom, she sang with me songs like ‘Zulu Woman,’ ‘Jah Say,’ and many more. Mildred Ligoya as I knew her was always smiling and friendly,” he said.

Peter Mawanga also said on social media that it was hard to say goodbye to Mphande.

“I will always remember how you brought colour and depth to ‘Sungani Mwambo’ project. Rest in peace Mildred,” Mwanga wrote.

Lambanie Dube star of ‘Chisoni Kumatenda’ also wrote that he sang together with Mphande.

“We fought like a brother and sister and in one of my songs, she sang like Marcia Griffins,” said the reggae musician.

A member of Lilongwe-based reggae group Soul Raiders – Prince Martin, described Mphande as a super blessed lady who was his favourite local female voice of all times.

“Hurts to know you are gone, Fare thee well songbird,” he wrote.

Coordinator of the E-Wallet Talent show Felix Njawala also said Mphande was an amazing lady with exceptional talent.

“She had passion for music and played an important role in shaping contestants. She was hard working and her passion for music went to the extent that she gave up the judging position for that of a vocal trainer which was more demanding than being a judge,” Njawala said.

He said that Mphande contributed a lot to the E-Wallet show and that in her they had not just lost a trainer but a partner of the show.

“I actually asked her to choose between being a judge and a vocal trainer and she chose to be a trainer. Last season, she was driving every day from Zomba for training sessions imagine and that is why words alone cannot express the shock and we thank God for the life we had with her,” said the former legislator.

And meeting dramatist and lecturer Smith Likongwe at the funeral ceremony, he whispered into my ears, do you know Mphande was the only qualified vocal trainer?

Head of the Fine and Performing Arts Department at Chancellor College Dr Grant Nthala said Mphande was the deputy head of the department.

“Alinane was a young extremely talented academic. Her departure has left a gap that only her could fill. She was humble and down-to-earth individual. She was passionate about music and often sacrificed her time and energy to see others excel in music through her training and establishment of singing groups,” Nthala said.

He added that Mphande, who is survived by a husband and a daughter, was a hard worker, great trainer, patient teacher and a passionate singer herself.

“She often told me that she wanted to advance herself academically in the area of voice so that she could contribute more significantly nationally in training others to become voice experts.

Dr Nthala said that Mphande was wise, highly critical and spiritually stable and that she stood by what she believed and befriended people of all types without discrimination by even often disregarding her status.

“This is far from exaggeration but the truth about this young scholar. Perhaps her excellent achievement in both her honour’s and master’s degree with distinction clearly explains what Alinane Mphande was capable of achieving,” he said.

Dr Nthala also said that Mphande was also the only lecturer in voice.

“This course is also offered to our second year to fourth year students. This means that there is no-one who will teach these two courses until we urgently recruit new staff members from the pool of her former students,” he said.

Dr Nthala said apart from voice, Mphande was also good at piano/keyboard and the recorder as her specialised instruments. She graduated with her BA in Music and Psychology at Chancellor College, BA Honours in Music Education and MA in Music Education at the University of the Free State in South Africa.

Fine Art lecturer at Chancellor College Mike Chilemba, who is also Visual Arts Association of Malawi (Vaam) president, also described Mphande as a talented musician and lecturer.

“I sung with her in the contemporary and choral music ensemble. She was very passionate about music mainly choral and inspirational spiritual music. She was ever friendly and always organising musical and artistic events. We will miss her skills in leading the graduation congregation choir,” Chilemba said.

He added:

“On July 26, we have a graduation and definitely, she was going to conduct such a choir. This is a great loss,” he said.

Musicians Union of Malawi (Mum) president Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango said the music industry had lost a singer, who was passionate.

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