- Balaka. Malawi. It was business as usual for Paul Banda. By the year 2000 Balaka had become the bedrock of music in Malawi. It was the busiest place as far as music was concerned. A general look at music in Malawi will tell us that a good number of the greatest musicians and singers to have graced us were products of this district.
Paul Banda was the main architect. 2001 was the year some of the biggest stars like Mlaka Maliro and Coss Chiwalo were having their sophomores, establishing themselves as legendary voices of Malawi music. But as some were making second steps, some were making their maiden attempts, of course, with the help of Paul Banda.
Francis ‘Dangoman’ Kadango was one of them. Then, a gangling young man, trying his shot at Balaka reggae, a genre that was manufacturing future stars for our industry. With an ability to compose good songs, a voice that could deliver the message and a social-oriented mind, with Paul Banda across the board, one was assured of making it.
And that was the story of Dangoman, as he is fondly known. A voice that sounded deeper than his age and one song that tackled youth recklessness amidst the threat of HIV / AIDS was enough to get him established an emerging star from Balaka. His story was not a struggle for success. He had it within him to make it with his efforts.
His debut album was ‘Ndiri Nanu’. It had songs like ‘Wasalire’, a Manganje inspired beat that gave him the break through. But it was the song ‘Manga Mabuleki’ that defined and eclipsed expectations on him as a new artist. The song was perfectly made for the time. Its HIV / AIDS message, asking the youths to slow down with the recklessness, was the trending talk then.
But the man disappeared from the scene faster than he came. After ‘Ndiri Nanu’, he made another effort seven years later with ‘Maso Patsogolo’ having songs like ‘Alibe Pabwino’ and ‘Kanjole’. But the work suffered in the shadow of the maiden effort. Asked on what went wrong, the Balaka based star said, “Publicity did not go as planned. The album was good but it was not taken to the people as it should have been”, he said.
Sixteen years after making his mark on the music scene, Dangoman has again attempted another come back with an album titled ‘One Love’, this time, better than his previous ones, he thinks. “I feel hopeful because the break I had has given me new ideas”, he said in his comeback effort which is entirely being sponsored by Black Missionaries’ front man, Anjiru Fumulani. “People will appreciate the talent, seriousness and the vision,” he adds. Just as he was driven years ago to go into the studio with ‘Manga Mabuleki’, the inspiration remains the same; to share with the world what he thinks is best in him.
It seems he wants to give it his all again. He still sees a future in music and continues to plan and think big for it, and hinted on the possibility of working with the Black Missionaries band in music shows. Listening to a few songs in the album, one cannot help it but appreciate the musician in him, a talent that has refused to rust despite being out of the scene for almost a decade.
Songs like ‘Nzeru’ will reveal to people how music is knack for Dongoman. Although he does not sound Balaka anymore, as in his maiden work, now tilting towards Chileka reggae, he remains himself. The star in him is constant, unaffected by time and space. It is like he created Malawi music, and chooses to be away from it, knowing exactly how, why and when to come back for it.
About the author: Wonderful Mkhutche is a professional speech writer, a political scientist and a manuscript editor and developer.