BY PETER MAKOSSAH
In 1994, the Malawian omni-decorated music kingpin and most celebrated songwriter, composer and singing sensation, Lucius Banda released his maiden album, Son of a poor man, which had in it, chart-topping and dancefloor-filler hit-single, Mabala.
His name immediately became an instant and regular feature on people’s lips while his music quickly captured every Jack and Jill’s heart’s ears and souls.
In that same year, I finished my secondary school. One day, Lucius Banda and his newly formed music group, Zembani Band were playing was playing an afternoon shows at Lilongwe Community Ground – I think this was his very first gig as a solo artist in Lilongwe.
As a school leaver, with no job yet, I had all the time in the world to attend that show. So I left home in Area 25 to go and watch the now famous Lucius Banda live. When I got to town, I met some friends we decided to go to Lilongwe Central Tavern to imbibe some Chibuku to garner some morale for the big show.I ended up spending the money which was meant to be my entry fees to Lucius Banda’s show.
Lilongwe Central Tavern was a bad place – anthu ankadyera fees ukuku.So, with the intoxication, I gathered some Dutch Courage and told myself that I will gatecrash. “Ndikaventcha basi!” I assured myself. I think this was the opaque beer talking on my behalf having crippled my medulla oblangata.I got to Lilongwe Community Ground just as the show was about to start and I joined a group of many other boys who were on the same mission as I was – yoventcha.
I started climbing the fence and as I jumped into the stadium, a blinged up Lucius Banda brandishing neck gold chains and bangles on his arms and wearing a table-cut otherwise known as phanke, and his security guys were waiting and so I was caught. Someone must have tipped them that some people were jumping into the show on that corner where there was no barbed wire – waya wa sing’enge.
Lucius Banda looked all gangsterish and somewhat rough-and-tough to me. He was not what I expected – some sweet gentleman. Lucius Banda authoritatively gave me two hard choices. To either pay or climb back out. Both choices were bad for me. But I’d to go for the lesser evil. But now the problem was that I didn’t have the money to pay as I had used it for Chibuku at Lilongwe Central Tavern, which at that time was fondly called Central TV and the only money I had was for my bus fair.
The second problem was if i had to back out, i would have to climb through the barbed wire. I paid with my only and last money, my transport money, but after some negotiations, as it was not enough.
Remember the biblical story of a woman who gave little but all of her money?That was my situation. The price I paid was little but the value tied to it was priceless.The show was great. I enjoyed to the brim. It was, to say the least, one of the best times of my boyish life. The Chibuku in my head gave me the oomph to boogie the gig away, song after song.
After the show, I walked up to Lucius and told him that it was a great show and that I really enjoyed but that I now would have to walk home. Lucius Banda who at that time, talking to so many people just smiled but seemed not to pay any attention. As I left with the pain that I now have no transport money I said to Lucius Banda as a parting shot;”Tsiku lina ndalama yanga udzandibwezera. Ndipo tsiku lina ndidzakhala maneja wako ine.”
This time Lucius appeared to have heard what I had said but seemed not to be bothered and with a here we go again attitude he sarcastically replied: “OK aise. Yenda bhoo!”And someone who was with Lucius Banda blurted: ” Koma kunjaku kuli anthu fodya madala. Mwamumva akuti tsiku lina adzakhala maneja wanu.” They laughed. I left.
To be honest, to this day, I don’t know why I said what I said to Lucius Banda and didn’t even had a clue of what it entailed at that point of my life to be a musician’s manager.After some years I and Lucius Banda became friends and later brothers. Twelve years later, without putting any effort to it, I became Lucius Banda’s manager. Of course, I was not being paid for it, I was just helping a brother and for the love of everything music.I was happy the prophecy had come to pass.
Well, I did not just become his local manager, I became his international manager.I reminded him about the incident and told him refund me my transport money, which he hasn’t, to this date.And we all laugh about it. Always.
Lucius Banda is very artistic. The way he write and composes his songs is out of this world. His passion for music and the arts in general is quite impressive.He can sing a song from anything. From the Bible to a mere calendar. The man has sang songs on everything and anything. He is gifted.If there is one person who knows Lucius Banda, then I am that one person. I know his strengths and weaknesses. His biggest strength is music and his greatest weakness is music.
In 2004, when Bingu ascended to power on UDF ticket, with the tough shift he had put on the campaign trail, everyone was upbeat that Lucius Banda deserved to be Minister (or deputy) of Youth, Sports and Culture. When he was left out, he was frustrated and disappointed. He didn’t say it but I knew he was hurting.
I told Lucius Banda that he could not make a good minister because he is too blunt and direct. I told him one day he could make a very good advisor to the president on such matters.I joked to him that to be a minister is a hard but unpredictable and undependable job for you can be reshuffled while you are abroad on tour of duty.
Now, almost 15 years later it has come to pass, Lucius Banda has become an advisor to the President of the Republic of Malawi, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera just as I saw it fit some eons ago.I am no prophet but I think I have knack for knowing the obvious.All I can say is Congratulations to Lucius Banda.
I believe the president chose the right man for the job and I doubt not that the country’s music stalwart will deliver. However, I implore Lucius Banda to closely work with many others in the game and in particular, Ben Mankhamba and Waliko Makhala, on all matters arts and culture. These two guys are so passionate about Lucius Banda’s new line of work.
Once again, congratulations M’bele wanga. What a birthday gift. May you live long.You still owe me my transport money, Sir.