When the American poet, Robert Frost, was writing his famous poem, “The Road Not Taken”, little did he know that one Joseph Nkasa in Malawi will also go for the shunned road. When the character in the poem took the less travelled by road, it ended up making a difference, but not with Nkasa’s latest effort.
The now infamous ‘Maizegate’ scandal involving the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Irrigation, Dr. George Chaponda has taken Malawians’ opinion on the man, the party and the government to an unpopular direction. With the commission of inquiry, set up by President Peter Mutharika, recommending that the minster be investigated, it tells the whole story: Something went wrong.
The conduct of the minister in the procurement of the maize from Zambia has questioned his integrity. Worse enough, the attempts by the President to protect this long time Democratic Progressive Party loyal member has also questioned the commitment of government in dealing with corruption. All in all, Malawians have openly expressed their dislike for the man.
But one Joseph Nkasa has chosen to take the other road on this matter. To begin with, Joseph Nkasa remains the undisputed top musician, especially when one looks back to his career. But as time went by, his music career took the dead end, and no one, apart from him, is to take the blame.
He came into the limelight with a unique beat and message that many even copied his style and made legendary careers from it. He used to call himself ‘Phungu’, which meant Counsellor. Indeed, that was where his music was centered. When he claimed in one of his songs that his music saved hopeless people from suicide, he was right.
But his delve into politics ruined his career. ‘Mose Wa Lero’ in 2008 was an influential hit. But that was the beginning of his end. As if that was enough, in 2013 he again made an attempt into politics when he sung for President Joyce Banda in her ill-fated bid to the Presidency. After that attempt, Nkasa largely went into oblivion, only to appear this year with another political song.
Just days ago, he has come up with a pro-Chaponda song. When many people are accusing Chaponda of wrong doing, Nkasa thinks he is being a victim of some jealous people. He further says that the stone beings thrown at Chaponda will make him build a mansion from it. This will end up making him being a landlord of the same people who are throwing stones at him. He sings;
Chimene ndachiona ndi mtima wa njiru
Kaduka Nsanje, zakula M’malawi
In his good old days, Nkasa could have been on a wrong beat, but his lyrics could square everything into a good song. And that was what made him a gem. The ability in him to weave vernacular words and paint images into the listeners’ mind was the legendary quality he had. But not anymore. The beat and the lyrics are all off point. The song sounds to have forcibly come out of him.
But the message; as an artist and Malawian, he has every right to offer his opinions on what is happening in the country. The only challenge is that his opinion is contrary to what many think about the scandal according to the available evidence. This has the potential of further tainting his career, if at all it still exists. He has taken himself to the very low point of his career, and for some of us, his die-hard fans, we get worried if ever we are going to experience the same old Nkasa.
The man needs to do away with politics. There are other better ways he can be political than taking such unpopular stances. In his immediate past projects, he sounds out of touch with both reality and his old self. But make no mistake, the Nkasa that took Malawi by storm fourteen years ago is not really gone, he just needs some soul searching to bounce back. And one day, he will.
About the writer: Wonderful Mkhutche is a speech writer, a political scientist and a manuscript editor and developer.