For decades, Malawian musician’s dream was to visit US, now at 86, he’s doing it

Decades ago, in Malawi, he sang the line: “If I had enough money, I would go to America.”

Giddes Chalamanda on a street corner in Washington. Credit Isabel Liabunya

Giddes Chalamanda on a street corner in Washington. Credit Isabel Liabunya

Now, finally, it’s happening.

At 86, a superstar at home has set foot in the US capital — and made a big impression.

Fans back in Malawi got together earlier this year to raise money so that Giddes Chalamanda, who has had a musical career for nearly half a century, could realize his long-held dream.

And with help from the Malawi Washington Association in DC, Chalamanda was able to get to the States with a supporting band.

His country “rallied together” for Chalamanda, says one backer, Davis Njobvu, a lawyer and part-time musician in Malawi.

“This dream,” Njobvu says, “is something that everybody has known about for a long time. We’re trying to honor him while he’s alive and able to appreciate it.”

Njobvu, who was on the plane with Chalamanda, said the trip to the US was emotional and historic.

Chalamanda doesn’t speak English very well, but when asked his first impressions of America, he said simply: “It’s a very nice country. The people received me well … and I’m very glad.”

On Tuesday, he played “Buffalo Soldier” on a new stage — the Library of Congress.

The reception was fantastic, Njobvu says.

“A lot of Malawians flew in from different states just to come and see Mr. Giddes Chalamanda because he’s like an icon.”

 Thoko Kachipande,   PRI’s The World listener, tipped PRI N this story.

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6 thoughts on “For decades, Malawian musician’s dream was to visit US, now at 86, he’s doing it”

  1. Wiseman says:

    The dream was to go and sit in America if he had much money. A visit is partial realisation of the dream

  2. Maria says:

    The Analyst apa ndiye mwapala. There is nothing of sence you are talking about. The problem with you is that you think you are very smart & you can comment on every issue coz you have the authority & responsibility to educate us the lesser beings. This has come about coz there are some individuals amene amakupopa & I guess this has gone to your head. Try to take a leaf from the wise one of the east- he didn’t comment on everything coz we can never be an expert on everything. Wishing you good luck.

    1. You Hater says:

      Its obvious you hate “The Analyst”.
      But such hatred is not good for you, or your health. Coz people dont feel any pain when you hate them; you are the one who bears the pain. It takes a lot to hate someone, in terms of energy and time. Sadly, time is too precious to be wasted hating someone. Know that there is more to life than just hating someone else.

  3. The Analyst says:


    Lessons; are all we can draw from the Giddes story.
    . . . Be very careful what you say or wish for; it may come true.
    . . . Always speak good; and avoid such words as “Ine ndi watsoka, waminyama etc.
    If Giddes had known the power of the tongue, he could only wish to hav more money; without indicating what he wud do with the money.
    . . . Otherwise, he cud have had the money in his pocket by now.
    . . . And it’s quite strange that learned as David Njovu is seen to be; he literally translated Giddes’ song in letters. Worse still; the media has joined the chorus.
    . . . Giddes never meant what he said. It was only a song.
    . . . If you think am lying, ask and answer yourself – given a choice to either pocket the money OR use it for going to America; could Giddes go to America? Never!
    A person’s dream is what they would do if given a choice; and going to America is obviously not Giddes’ dream but having money and living a better life in the remainder of his days.

    1. KOMA KUMENEKO says:

      Great well said. Giddes wanted enough money

  4. The Commentator formerly known as Obanda Joyce Nti says:


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