CAREER OF THE WEEK
Guest: Shola Kaonga
Firm: Radio Dinosaur (Karonga)
By Constance Pindikani
It has been said countless times that disability is not inability. This is why in our today’s world, we see a lot of organisations, the government, and many sectors who are tirelessly making various initiatives aimed at improving the livelihood of people with disabilities.
While some look down on them, some feel they are able to do anything without being limited despite the challenges they might have to pass through to achieve their goals and aspirations.
Shola Kaonga is one of the energetic youths who saw to it that their dreams come into fruition no matter how harsh the ‘weather’ was going to be.
Kaonga is visually impaired, but he is super talented; in him is a radio producer, musician, reporter, and presenter. So, how did all these come into fruition?
Profile by Constance Pindikani
Name: Shola Kaonga
Firm: Radio Dinosaur FM ( Karonga)
Position: Producer, Reporter, Presenter.
- Garden City College of Music (South Africa)
- St Mary’s Boys Secondary School (Karonga),
- Chamenadi Secondary School (Karonga)
Places of work (before current employer):
- Blantyre Baptist Studios
- Rise and Shine Studios
- Step ahead college (music studios)
CP (Constance Pindikani) Why did you opt for music as a career?
SHOLA KAONGA (SK) At first, I did not like music as a career. I only did it to please my sponsor then, the late Michael Cochran. I initially wanted to study law, but the law education system then did not offer education for visually impaired people so that discouraged me too. I still went to musical school, after being encouraged by my family.
CP What made you start fall in love with your career, finally?
SK Even after my studies at Garden City College of Music, I still did not like music, it was only when I had listen to a band, called Katawa Singers (from Mzuzu back then), that I started to like music.
As a matter of fact, I even attended their concert they hosted here in Karonga. I do not even know how they came to know about me, but they somehow learnt that I could play the keyboard, and that’s how I started to play the key board for the band, and people loved my work. That motivated me.
CP: Minus the keyboard, what other instruments can you play?
SK: To be honest, I feel that I can play almost any kind of instrument on earth if I put my mind to it, no limitations, but for now I play the key board, flute, trumpet, violin, and auto hub.
CP: How many albums have you produced?
SK: So far, I have produced three albums, but I did not sell the first one because i did not like the recording itself, and because it was the first time, i did not put much effort in it. However, the second one had hit the market, and people loved it. I have just launched my first album this year on the 1st of July, as a CD. I’m now pondering on producing a DVD now.
CP: What challenges have you encountered so far, over the years?
SK: Instruments are not written brail, hence I do face difficulties, and some people that once came to my studio for production would see my disability as an obstacle and said some insulting words.
Ironically, some people also came to appreciate my talent for the very same condition.
Lack of resources is also another challenge, not only to me but to every visually impaired, and any disabled person. I dream of coming up with a music school that will best suit the visually impaired people, but this will need a lot of effort and money too.
CP What is your favourite song in your three albums?
SK: I love all my songs, but Chikondi Chopambana is my favourite, since it reflects my true life experience. I had once fallen very ill, and the doctors were sure I was going to die, but I made it through by the Grace of the Almighty. I’m a Christian by the way; I believe that miracles are everywhere.
CP: Who is your favourite musical artist in Malawi?
SK: Lawi is my favourite, and his song, The Whistling Song is my favourite. I believe that Lawi fulfils the intentions of music to its listeners. He is very good at reflecting on the events that happen in our society.
CP What advice do you have to the youths that look down on themselves?
SK: Whether disabled or not, we all encounter difficulties in life, therefore, we should not see our disabilities as obstacles, we should know that if everything was easy we would not work hard, and end up misusing the things we accumulate. Let’s never back down; Let’s pick ourselves up when we fall, better things await us ahead.