By Patience Lunda Ngulube.
Malawi music, rather Malawian musicians, and Malawian soccer players have so much in common. These are some of the ‘paths’ most parents would swear either by the bible or by the gun, not to allow their wards to pursue.
It is a factory truth that Malawian music has been synonymous with begging, delinquency, and a sorry miserable retirement package. Assuming that term exist.
Thomas Chibade, Collins Bandawe of the Tchekera Maluzi fame, Joe Gwaladi….you name them!!! The list is endless! These are convincing examples of why Malawian music should never be taken as a serious career.
Music aside, Malawian soccer is just another shambolic path no sane parent would aspire their dependent to travel.
Once they hang up their boots, local celebrated football kingpins have on numerous occasions, been reduced to ‘efulefus’; beggars and perpetual slaves of the traditionally brewed liquor in the likes of the Kachasos and her relations.
Noel Mkandawire, Joseph Gatros, and Charles Sukweya are among the league of dishonorable entertainers who have been living miserable lives the moment their bodies could push no more.
Most Malawian entertainers live a hand-to-mouth lifestyle and to them, tomorrow, is thrown to the dogs.
Flip-flopping on the other side, not all hope is lost though. Some entertainers have lived and are living a meaningful life out of their talents and are a model to many ambitious Malawian youths.
Celebrated evergreen music icon, Lucius Banda, and one of the finest defenders to have graced the land, Peter Mponda are some of the level-headed worthy-to-emulate entertainers who have made fortunes and invested whilst their hey days were still shining.
Unlike other career paths that require academic and professional competence, the free for all soccer and the music industry mostly do call for a sheer sense of in-born skills and a perfection of the naturally provided talent.
Once these are mixed with some brilliant entrepreneurial skills, one could easily be guaranteed a blissful life ever after. What it required is having a vision. A vision for a better tomorrow. A vision of utilizing your in-born talent to invest in other equally meaningful endeavors.
Unfortunately, by Malawian standards, only a selected up-coming artists could fall into this category.
One of those upcoming artists who have dared into such a utilization of their naturally given talents is Lilongwe based reggae artist, Roy View Banda, popularly called Roy View.
Him is an artist who has married his natural born talent with fashion designing; a feat that has worked to his advantage.
According to this youthful artist, his appetite for venturing into fashion designing dates back to his primary school days back then. Little did he know that he was going to eke a living out of that in his later years.
It was just a matter of time. And there was no right time as in 2014 when Roy View became a household name. When Roy View became the name on almost every M-Dubz music die hard’s lips. That was the turning point.
But when he had made a name out of his music antics, when Roy View had become a household name, that was when he decided to venture into a serious fashion designing enterprise.
“I was inspired by my friends who used to admire my tailor-made clothes and so I decided to try and sell if people would be interested and to my surprise, the response was positive” he recalls.
“I realized that music, at least by Malawian standards, could not manage to bring bread and butter on my table, I needed to cast my net wider,” he reveals.
He takes being an artist as being an added advantage to his designing business because he is able to advertise his clothes through his music videos and most of his customers are his fans.
It is not only Roy View who is calling the shots, as far as music and fashion designing is concerned. KBG (Kelvin Before Gumbi) is also one successful youthful artist who is also into designing business.
The multi-skilled artist, says his music complements the design and most of his lyrical compositions are courtesy of his clothing line.
Kelvin says he has benefited a lot from music because it has opened most of his closed doors.
“Now people want to buy music while back in the days it wasn’t so because everything we do as humans has music in it but you just need to be wise on how you go about it” He added.
KBG invested in his designing business using music shortly after his uncle failed to sponsor him with some money.
“We do have inspirations from an unlikely sources. To me, it was out of a sad situation but I capitalized on that and turned the situation into some positivity. I think that is what most Malawian youths lack,” he observed.
But why is it that most urban musicians are failing to cultivate from their talents?
According to Roy View, lack of support from different stakeholders including government affects musicians because in Malawi urban music is taken as something for fun not as one way of generating forex.
Roy View observed that most urban musicians in Malawi do not go further with their careers because they lack financial muscle and lack of musical facilities that help in the development of talents.
“Good music is very expensive because it involves high quality input, as a result, artists spend more than they earn and in the long run they all give up because they fail to stand the pressure of providing good music to their fans.” He said.
On his part, KBG believes lack of originality and identity is what is killing most Malawian urban artists.
“Most urban artists in the country are copy cats. They just imitate everything form the west. They lack identity. Nobody would want to buy something that is not original.” He observes.
Perhaps, it is high time Malawian artists, borrow a leaf from their colleagues elsewhere who are utilizing their natural talents to make meaningful enterprises. Kanye West, J-Lo, Fifty Cent, and many other artists globally are venturing into fashion designing via their fame elsewhere.
Even our very own, soccer ace, Frank Gabadinho Mhango has realized from such exploits and has just introduced his fashion label, GABA!
So, perhaps, not all is lost. And perhaps, music could be a career worthy venturing so long as one throws their dice carefully.