I must have been living under a huge rock in a parallel universe such that I did not witness that faded Congolese singer and dancer Awilo Longomba become a legend.
Awilo Longomba who came to prominence in the early 90s and maintained a standard following through the opening years of the 2000s was certainly a bigger African brand.
Now, he lives in the shadow of his old self such that not two of a hundred Malawians can say with utmost precision that he is still in the business of music and name his latest releases.
Little wonder then that when Lucius Banda announced that for the Sand Festival they are bringing Awilo Longomba, the Malawian Facebook almost erupted into a laughter of mockery.
There have been other voices of course including of Banda himself who believe that in 2017, the best international act that can come after Busy Signal and Diamond in the previous years is Awilo Longomba. What a beautiful irony!
Unless this Sand Music festival is themed old school, the choice of Awilo Longomba is as lame. It must have been driven by dire economic conditions plaguing the entertainment sector.
In 2017, who would be busy gyrating on the sands of Livingstonia to songs that got released long before Lucius himself discovered he has the brains to be a Member of Parliament? According to Lucius, it is the older persons of Malawi. Like him. Those who have money to play with.
As a frequent patron of the Sand festival and the Lake of Stars, I really find the reasoning there flawed and based on a small reality applicable to Banda himself and his inner circle.
And there purchasing power. It is not empirically valid.
In the years I have been to those places, I have seen mostly youngsters, whom Banda has spat upon by his choice of a musician whose music is as old as Mabala, dance the nights away to music they associate with.
Yes, old guards patronise those events but mostly they are men lured by their younger MG2s or the prospect of chancing upon some younger girl the size of their child. It is not as if they go there for the performances as Lucius would have us believe.
If it was for the performances they went for then they would demand Lucius call Hugh Masekela or Mahotela Queens or Platform or Les Wanyika or Tabu Ley and even Holy Cross Choir for them.
Indeed, even in numerical value, young people outnumber the old in such events and it beats all logical sense why the organisers would settle for Awilo Longomba.
I should set the record straight: Awilo Longomba is not a bad artist.
But for a festival that has celebrated trendy artists in its previous years, settling for Awilo Longomba sounds more like inviting Paul Mtoliro of the Abiti Malembe fame to headline the Urban Music Party festival.
The logic of such a decision would still be wanting even if we would prefer to call Mtoliro a legend.
In a way, it is what Lucius Banda has done by inviting Awilo Longomba to be a main international act at his festival.
It is good to appreciate the old but a choice of Awilo Longomba at a time that Zimbabwe’s Jah Prayzah has taken over the sound spaces of the country sounds more of excellent failure at event management and organisation than it is a strategic appeal to a particular clientele.
As a rough veering off the point rejoinder: isn’t it funny that Lucius who was once credited with unearthing talent is now a certified archaeologist busy excavating and carbon dating dinosaurs such that he proudly labels them legends?
Not long ago, Lucius brought the Reggae spent force Limbani Banda (sometimes Lambanie Dube or something like that) back on stage as part of his Zembani force.
Now, he brings Awilo Longomba under a label of a legend. Whom next will he excavate, tag a legend, and dismiss us as broke youngsters when we question his choice?
People might still find themselves at this festival, but it will hardly be because of Awilo Longomba. It will just be to escape our sad reality.
Even if he had invited Kijitonyama Lutheran Church Choir (of the Hakuna Mungu kama wewe fame) or Mr. Nice (of the Kikulacho fame) or even Ja Rule we would have gone.
We have nothing to do, nowhere to smoke so openly and nowhere to get photos for our Instagram and Facebook.