Exclusive interview with Wakhumbachi: Malawi E-Wallet Talent Show winner

Wakhumbachi Kalua was on January 26 crowned winner of the E-Wallet Talent Show, Malawi’s own version of the Pop Music Idols. The Blantyre-based teen won the grand prize of K0.5 million and a recording deal against Tawonga Kanthungo and Guise Pemba by a margin of 0.3 percent. She got 42.5 percent of the votes while her closest contender Tawonga had 42.2 percent and Guise got 15.3 percent.

In this exclusive interview, Nyasa Times’ Kimpho Loka talks to the singer who a day after her 18th birthday, two days after she won the competition, started getting death threats from people who said she did not deserve to triumph.  Excerpts:

Kimpho: First of all, congrats for winning E-Wallet and happy belated birthday, just heard you were celebrating your 18th birthday last week, is the birthday cake still available?

Wakhu: Well, thank you very much. My birthday was on 28th January yes, I turned 18. Of course the cake is still available, but if you want to have a bite you must bring a present first… [Laughs]

Kimpho: [Laughing] …what do you like to be called? Or what do your friends, family call you?

Wakhu: Most of them call me Wakhu.

Wakhu recording _I will be there_ at Pro Pee Records

Wakhu recording _I will be there_ at Pro Pee Records

Tawonga (L) and Wakhu (R)

Tawonga (L) and Wakhu (R)

Wakhu, Malawian R&B star in the making

Wakhu, Malawian R&B star in the making

Kimpho: So we can as well call you Wakhu, right?

Wakhu: Of course… [Smiles]

Kimpho: So Wakhu, winning such competition, what does it mean to you?

Wakhu: It means the world to me! I’ve always dreamed of something like this and I’m extremely happy.

Kimpho: Did you see yourself winning, looking at the competition you had from Guise and Tawonga?

Wakhu: Honestly I didn’t because the competition was intense and each one of us deserved it.

Kimpho: If you were given a chance to choose a winner, who would you choose between the two other finalists?

Wakhu: That’s a hard one. I think all three of us were on the same level.

Kimpho: Winning E-Wallet should be the beginning of a new era, what are your plans?

Wakhu: Well I’m planning to continue making music and I’ll strive for perfection to be the best of the best. The sky is the limit, so I believe God will open more doors for me.

 

Kimpho: Your first song I will be there, which was recorded by Pro Pee Records courtesy of E-Wallet and MultiChoice Malawi came out last week, should Malawians expect to hear your own song/songs anytime soon?

Wakhu: Yes they should… [Smiles]

Kimpho: How soon will this be?

Wakhu: This year of course, I can’t say precisely when.

Kimpho: What will it take for you to start releasing your own songs?

Wakhu: I need a lot of support and hard work, as well as someone to produce my music and to push me.

Kimpho: What support? And by saying someone ‘to push’ you, why do you have to be pushed to do music?

Wakhu: The support I’ve had throughout, I mean someone like a manager. And not forgetting guidance from [God] above.

Kimpho: Well I am sure the record companies out there will get this. Now, looking at your journey during the competition, we saw you performing different genres of music ranging from R&B, Pop, R&B-Rap and Afro-Pop; mostly they were love and gospel songs, what path are you going to take as a solo singer?

Wakhu: I will be an R&B and Soul artist. If I get the chance I’d like to try different Genres.

Kimpho: Where do you see yourself in the next two years?

Wakhu: I see myself being a star, a shining star!

Kimpho: Let’s talk a bit about your personal life, who is Wakhumbachi Kalua?

Wakhu: Well, I am a student who just turned 18, as I said. I come from Nsusa Village in Blantyre, along the Chikhwawa Road. I am friendly, loud, fun, very emotional and a lover, of all things, music.

Kimpho: Briefly tell us about your family and education background

Wakhu: Well I come from a family of all girls, and all together we are eight girls. I went to Junior Academy for nursery, South End for primary and for my secondary I went to Kamuzu Academy. Having completed and passed my IGCSEs, I am currently waiting to go to University in Namibia very soon to study Business Administration.

Kimpho: What’s your ultimate dream?

Wakhu: Well as ridiculous as it sounds, I’d love to run my own music company.

Kimpho: That’s very interesting. What inspires you?

 

Wakhu: Well, I’m inspired by all the successful musicians out there.

Kimpho: Who is your idol?

Wakhu: I have so many.

Kimpho: I am sure there are a few you can mention

Wakhu: There’s Leona Lewis, Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson and Mariah Carey, among them.

Kimpho: Back to E-Wallet, how would you describe the journey from the beginning to the end?

Wakhu: It has been really incredible and I loved every bit of it. I learnt a lot and I also made some good friends. This is surely something to remember for the rest of my life.

Kimpho: Who is the contestant you will remember the most?

Wakhu: There are a number of them.

Kimpho: Who was your close friend?

Wakhu: Hannah, Dorothy and Asante.

Kimpho: And of all the judges; Marvin Hanke, Q. Malewezi, Dumisani Mfune, Tigris, Mercy Simbi and Tailosi Bakili, whose judgements did please you the most?

Wakhu: The judges who were on the panel during the grand finale.

Kimpho: Any reasons as to why the three – Marvin Hanke, Q. Malewezi and Dumisani were the best to you?

Wakhu: It’s because they helped me grow, they corrected me where I was wrong and they gave good comments where necessary. In other words their judgement was always true.

Kimpho: On the night of the finale, throughout the show and just after you were announced as winner, people chanted “Tawonga yemweyo, Tawonga yemweyo” because to them Tawonga was the winner not you nor Guise, and there have been comments on the E-Wallet Talent Show Fabebook page, people saying the judges and organisers ‘favoured’ you to win the contest, what’s your take on such sentiments?

Wakhu: Well I must say I respect their opinion and that to them Tao was the winner, but at the same time I don’t care about what they say. I’ve learnt that people will always talk whether you do bad or good, so I choose to close my ears and focus on my happiness. I don’t know them and they don’t know me so whatever they do or say I won’t let it phase me. When God says yes no one can say no and it’s nothing surprising.

Kimpho: Last week, few days after you won E-Wallet, Nyasa Times learnt that you were getting threats from unknown people, are you still getting threatened?

Wakhu: No ever since it had been published I haven’t received any threats.

Kimpho: What was your reaction when you got the first text message? Was it an SMS or a phone call?

Wakhu: It was an SMS, and I was just really annoyed.

Kimpho: Were you afraid?

Wakhu: When I got the second text yes, I was a bit intimidated.

Kimpho: Did you reply?

Wakhu: Yes I replied asking “who is this?” and the person replied saying “Ashley (KIA)”

Kimpho: The messages came from two mobile numbers, do you think it was the same person or two?

Wakhu: I think it was the same person because the language seemed the same and both numbers asked “what did you do to the judges?”

Kimpho: How many messages did you receive in total?

Wakhu: They were seven.

Kimpho: Do you still feel intimidated?

Wakhu: Not at all because I know God is on my side and He will fight for me.

Kimpho: Earlier you said you’d soon be leaving for Namibia for studies, are you going to pursue your music career there or just education?

Wakhu: I will be coming back for holidays at least twice a year, so during those holidays is when I will concentrate on music and when I’m in school I will concentrate more on school.

Kimpho: What do you have to say in conclusion?

Wakhu: I want to thank my family, my friends and God for helping me through this journey. I’d also like to thank the E-wallet people for giving me this opportunity. This is a dream come true.

Kimpho: Well, it’s been wonderful talking to you Wakhu, and on behalf of Nyasa Times, I wish you all the best in your music career and your studies.

Wakhu: Pleasure is all mine… [Smiles]

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