By Jack Banda
Let’s talk about Queen Sheba, her Chiwanda Chovulavula song, featuring Wikise and the whole story about the use of Chitungwi Church in Lirangwe, Blantyre for video shoot and the subsequent closure of the church.
Sorry, let me come again, we are not going to talk about Queen Sheba. Those that frequent this page know that, unless you are a politician living on Taxpayers’ money, we don’t analyse the person of a person here.
However, with Queen Sheba, the song, Chiwanda Chovulavula and especially the video is what is of interest to this page, thus earmarked for analysis.
The best way to look at the motif of this analysis would be, (Chiwanda Chovulavula) Artistic Expression Versus Catholicism in Malawi.
It is well known that the interpretation of Art is a subjective matter. Different people interpret art in different ways. It therefore makes sense that the Roman Catholic Church bishops interpreted the video shoot as sacrilegious.
Their interpretation shows that the filming of the video in the church is a very serious offence. They have categorized it as a cardinal sin hence it has resulted in the closing of the church to cleanse and rededicate it before reopening.
For the benefit of those that have not listened to the song or don’t understand Chichewa, basically the song has a woman who is asking a Church Pastor to exorcise her of demonic spirits that occasionally cause her to walk almost naked.
Actually, “Kuvula” means to literally undress or nudity, and when you say, “kuvulavula” it means, to regularly undress.
To that effect, like the Nation Newspaper said, “In the video, the artist is seen wearing a skimpy dress and a revealing pair of trousers.”
One doesn’t have to be Catholic to know that the video would put the church under a big moral dilemma on what and what not to allow in the church from outsiders. The reaction of the bishops is understandable, expected and to some extent, gracious.
That video shoot couldn’t be done in a mosque and expect similar understanding and grace. So far, reports are that Queen Sheba has written a letter to the bishops to apologize for her actions and she hopes that the Bishops will forgive and the church will be reopened.
Another person whom the Nation Newspaper described as an Arts commentator, known as Wonderful Mkhutche said that he understood the choice of the church for the video because most Malawians are religious.
He bemoaned the reaction of the bishops to close the church, arguing that the song is merely ‘an expression of art.’ He went further to accuse the church of overreacting and undermining art by being selective about which art expressions to allow in the church.
On the outset, it is clear to this page that there are two different conflicting worldviews at play in this face-off. The church has its moral standards that Mr. Mkhutche either is unaware of because of his worldview or he has chosen to be indifferent about.
Looking squarely at the realm of art and creative, this page sees Queen Sheba and her song as a marvel. She is a necessary phenomenon and a maverick in the music industry. She is different. The industry needs unique artists with the knack of defiance to tradition and normality like she has shown us.
In recent days we have seen music artists digging from our cultural reserves to bring traditional tunes into pop culture to the satisfaction of Malawians. In addition to that, a Queen Sheba was needed to reinvigorate and extend the Music Art discourse.
The only problem in this process is the apparent failure of people like Mkhutche to understand and respect the church’s worldview.
Queen Sheba must be applauded for reaching out to the bishops and apologizing. That is a very good gesture but there are lessons to be learnt. Much as the song is artistically brilliant, the video should not have been filmed in the church.
I stand to be corrected but listening to the song, you get the impression that the intention is to celebrate the revealing and suggestive way of dressing for a woman, sung in defiance to the conservative mindsets and church teaching.
Mlaka Maliro has just done a video, “Vinyo Watha” in a church carrying what could be a political message. Not a single soul thought it was wrong because the message is projected from a Christian worldview and not from a contrary worldview.
Thinking conversely, making that video in a church is like the pastor that got in trouble with Nyau people in Lilongwe filming a church service in a Nyau camp. It wouldn’t end up pretty.
In conclusion, it must be emphasized here that this page has not and would not analyse Queen Sheba as a person. In fact we are her number one fan. We marvel at her free spirit and creative mind.
This page is there to challenge any form of oppression that would hinder such freedom, creativity and entrepreneurial expression.
This page would also encourage artists in Queen Sheba’s situation to increase their budget for making videos to enable them to create their own temporary filming facilities.
They could have made a makeshift church building or use video effects to create the church atmosphere