First prime minister of Britain Winston Churchill once said, “success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” Looking at the current state of Malawi music, one is likely to be driven into the conclusion that there is progress. But should the industry relax and celebrate while there is a lot to be done?
Since Trace TV Africa was launched last year, Malawian music videos have been enjoying international exposure on the platform. The likes of Tay Grin, Zani Challe and Bucci are having their videos played, a development deemed good for the country’s music.
This is different to the days when the country had a few Digital Satellite Television (DSTV) subscribers. For example around 2005, the best the country could export to international content providers like Channel O was one to two videos. The most notable video was Kilimu ya ku Malawi by Aphofomoka, a duet that long sank into oblivion.
Maybe we can have an excuse that urban music was in its babyish stage with less advanced production studios (both audio and visual). Now things are picking up that music produced in Malawi for the international ear, is as good as that baked in countries with vibrant entertainment industries.
Our music is now able to sell our country like Reggae did with Jamaica. However it is too early to celebrate as we still have miles and miles to travel, to reach the promised land. Others may be deceived with a few internationally recognised local songs, to believe that we are a force to reckon with in Africa.
Until we reach a time when it will no longer be news to hear that a Malawian music video has been featured on international channels, we should not sip champagne in celebration.
Do not get me wrong, when it becomes a norm for Malawian videos to be played on international platforms it will not be time to relax but to sweat more blood so as to maintain the position or climb higher.
In this 21st century it’s sad to see some so called urban musician thinking they have made it. People should not forget that it takes artists putting up more works that people like and not showing any sign of retiring from the Mic because they feel they are achievers. If that was the spirit in other countries with great entertainment industries, believe you me, they would not have achieved success.
Malawi may boast about Tay Grin, Zani Challe, Gemini Major, and Dan Lu, yes they are justified to do so but up and coming musicians should feel motivated to do even better. We cannot not have the same flag bearers and expect the industry to grow.
I remember when Africa came to know about Nigerian urban music, there were only few known artists continent-wide. The most notable were 2Face Idibia (now 2baba) and P Square. A decade later, hundreds of musicians emerged from the nation and they are the ones currently setting music trends in Africa.
It takes never ending hard work to reach a point where it is justifiable to relax and celebrate ones success. All Malawi music industry need is support, be it financial or spiritual, and not cheers, am afraid it’s too early.
The inclusion of Times and Zodiak televisions on DSTV is a welcome development. It’s an extension for platforms local artists have that can expose them internationally. This should be considered a motivating factor to the artists.