Malawi festivals prioritize Jamaican Reggae, but audiences crave variety in music genres

Reggae Music

Over the past decade, event organizers in Malawi have frequently booked Jamaican reggae artists as headline acts for their major festivals and celebrations. 

While this approach highlights the exceptional talents of reggae musicians and the vibrant energy of their live performances, it often fails to strike a balance among the diverse musical preferences of the audience.

Reggae music, originating from Jamaica, is undoubtedly distinguished by its lively live bands and coordinated musical efforts. However, this does not necessarily mean that audiences across the world are equally enthusiastic about the reggae genre.

Countries in Africa, such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Kenya, among others, have seen success in engaging artists from the United States of America, where genres like R&B, Hip-Hop, and Rock music are prominent.

Ras Ray Harawa, a senior executive member of Impakt Events, has brought in Jamaican artists such as Busy Signal (twice), Morgan Heritage, and Kenyatta Hill to perform at their annual Sand Music Festival.

 He commented that American performers generally demand higher compensation compared to Jamaican artists, which has led them to gravitate towards the latter within their tight budgetary constraints.

“Given the unsteady state of our economy, it has been challenging to secure artists from various Western countries, but we are confident that our wish to bring them here will eventually come to pass,” he explained.

On the other hand, Upendo Chitedze, the spokesperson of LiFest, who brought in Jamaican artist Chris Martin in 2022, noted that Jamaican performers have remarkable talents that can entice large and enthusiastic crowds when they take the stage.

He further observed that American music performances sometimes cater to more niche or selective audiences, which can limit broader public engagement.

The organizers, despite their failure to engage prominent American artists, deserve praise for their efforts in bringing together African artists from Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and other nations.

In conclusion, Ndirande-based Rex Liyaya popularly known as DJ King Size stated that this diversity of music preferences in African countries demonstrates that event organizers should consider a more balanced approach when booking headline acts for major festivals and celebrations. 

“By catering to a wider range of musical tastes, they can better engage and satisfy the diverse audience, achieving a more comprehensive and successful event,” he concluded.


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