Ma Blacks melt hearts in UK on first show

They came, played for the first time in the UK, captured many a heart and impressed their fans to the very core. Absolutely breath-taking and electrifying. It was a performance that melted many. Everybody enjoyed and went home satisfied.

Simply put, they’re probably the best music act of a generation. When they perform, they mean business and know exactly what their music ‘aficionados’ want and they’ve a knack and a technical know-how in letting loose what they’re good at doing – playing music – and are so discern on how to give their fans a run for their money. They’re on a mission to entertain and they give it all, no half measures.

Ma Blacks on UK tour.-Photo by Dave Sazuze

Ma Blacks on UK tour.-Photo by Dave Sazuze

Fans enjoying themselves

Fans enjoying themselves

We had fun! Fan seekers at Ma Blacks

We had fun! Fan seekers at Ma Blacks

Malawi’s live music connoisseurs, The Black Missionaries Band popularly known as Ma Blacks currently in the UK on a tour of duty Saturday night made a statement of intent by staging an impressive showdown at Iqbal Banquet Centre in Birmingham.

The Black Missionaries accompanied by Anthony ‘Mr Cool’ Makondetsa on UK maiden tour, kick-started their music foray with a bang in UK’s second largest city, Birmingham at a venue where scores of Malawians braved the chilly weather to watch the Chileka based band in action – and they were not disappointed – as the show which took off at 9:00 pm prompt was based on music consistency, essential stamina, zest and the buzzword; unpolluted entertainment.

After all, this was the Singano Village based afro-reggae band’s time to prove to UK based Diaspora Malawians what stuff they’re made of and why they’re so sacrosanct and much loved back home, the warm heart of Africa, Malawi, a place historically steeped in the stuff of little or no appreciation to anything Malawian.

But after a fired-up performance the patrons were left dazed and amazed but completely contented with the concert after ‘jamming’ nonstop for over 8 hours to Malawi’s crowd-pleasing band.

“It was a hell of a show. I don’t regret coming here with my wife. The guys have impressed everybody and lived to their billing as Malawi’s best band. I will surely attend their other shows. Their performance is worth every penny that I paid,” a visibly ecstatic patron Kingtone Makhuli of Nottingham told Nyasa Times after the show.

Makhuli known as ‘Mfumu Laiti’ said Black Missionaries made him feel proud as a Malawian describing the show as euphoric.

“The equipment was so good and so was the sound. The organisers of the show must be commended for the quality equipment that was used. The sound was so pure and undefiled. It was like listening to a CD,” said Makhuli.

Gift Zulu a London based philanthropist  said the Black Missionaries visit to the UK during this time when Malawi is commemorating her 50 years of independence is a gift to diaspora Malawians in the UK.

“There could be no better to celebrate our 50 years of independence that to dance to the music of Malawi’s best best live band. The party has began. Thumbs up to the two Malawian ladies (well and their husbands, for support) for bringing Mablacks to the UK for the first time,” quipped Zulu.

 ‘Sizzling’

Scores of people came from far and wide in the UK for the show and notable faces in the audience included London-based fêted economist Watipaso Mkandawire, currently working for Commonwealth headquarters Secretariat, former Chiradzulu and Thyolo District Commissioner but now based in Birmingham, Sipho Moyo, former Silver Strikers and national team goalkeeper Chite Malemia who is based in Nottingham and lawyer and University of Malawi lecturer Sunduzwayo Madise currently studying for his PhD at Warwick University in Coventry , Colonel Gift Njete of Malawi Defence Force among others.

It was a sizeable crowd but the fun was beyond measure and thrillingly sizzling.

Black Missionaries is a broad music royalty gang that dips into the past for its departed music kingpins Evison Matafale and Musamude

Fumulani and of course their music forefathers Robert and Silas Fumulani and the current music yard-birds and the new look ‘Ma Blacks’ comprising of festering young talents who include frontman and lead singer Anjiru Fumulani, Chizondi Fumulani, Peter Amidu, Takudziwani Chokani, Paul chokani, Yanjanani Chumbu and Moda Fumulani.

At its heart, the UK tour is an exercise for the band in familiarity and trust to conquer the world and international audience with their music as the quality of their live music performances is a given.

The show started with new kid on the block Yanjanani Chumbu taking to the stage and he dished out some of Black Missionaries golden oldies including the late Robert and Gift Fumulani’ hit songs sending the patrons into a crazy whirl.

Then, Anthony Makondetsa took to the stage with his sizzling music at exactly 10:30 pm. The hall went up in flames as people as he dished out his popular songs which ranged from kambelembele, Zimandiwawa, Muyuda to Alipompano among the several others.

Makondetsa did not disappoint. He performed as expected and gave the patron a good run as he belted his songs one after another.

It was pure magic.

 ‘Explosive’

At midnight, Black Missionaries’ headliner, silky-voiced Anjiru Fumulani ascended to the stage and everybody in the hall went berserk as the crowd-pleasing Afro reggae outfit featuring bassist Ras Peter Amidu, Takudziwani Chokani the mellifluous lead guitarist, , fussy and detailed drummer Paul Chokani and the meticulous keyboardist, Chizondi Fumulani.

Anjlu Fumulani brought with him smooth showmanship and eloquent phrasing to a capacity centre stage crowd, with a well-paced set that featured a speeded up Afro reggae fusioned with roots and lovers’ rock as he sang with correctness songs from Kuyimba 1 through to Kuyimba 9 with the band was aptly stuttering tunes with  precision Mablacks’  Malawian beats progressions.

As Anjiru sang each and every one song, among them Mulomowu, Ndamusowa, Malawi, Timba and Dalo to mention a few, the patrons sang along and as expected, Anjiru was more matched by pyrotechnic, speed and precision and gave a perfect exposition of sophisticated harp as Peter Amidu, Taku and Paul Chokani, Chizondi Fumulani and Yanjanani Chumbu added polish and charisma to the sounds.

“The show was an explosive. I don’t regret to have come here. The guys know exactly what are doing. I am so impressed with their performance. Actually, we the patrons were outdone by Mablacks. They played music nonstop without taking a break for close to six hours. I am so happy with their time keeping as well,” Noriega Bee of internet base Radio 247 Malawi after the gig.

Anjiru Fumulani in an interview told Nyasa Times that he was so happy with the response to their UK tour describing the support they have received in the UK since they arrived as massive and overwhelming.

Said Fumulani: “We’re so humbled by the support and love our given to us from our fans and Malawians at large in the UK.”

“We would like to ask those who did not make it to the first show in Birmingham to come to Manchester to support us. The first show was great and guarantees that the next one will be even better,” added Anthony Makondetsa.

 ‘Historical’

Black Missionaries band manager Ras Ray Harawa said he was happy with the way things are going at the moment adding that the equipment the band are using for the shows are of good quality and that Mablacks will thrill the music lovers with nothing but the best.

“We’re a live band and we always make sure that our shows are lively. We will rock the UK to the maximum. We are only asking our fans to come to our remaining shows in large numbers and be part of history. We salute the organisers for everything,” said Ras Harawa.

One of the organisers of Mablacks tour to the UK, Grace Mtolera-Mujungu of Grajo entertainment promotions promised Malawians and music fans in the UK more explosive shows ahead saying; “The next shows will be more exciting and entertaining.  We encourage people to come and enjoy themselves as our country mark a landmark 50 years of independence.”

On her part, Norah Chiwaula-McLintock, Mtolera-Mujungu’s partner in the Mablacks UK maiden tour said she is happy with how Malawians are responding to the shows.

“We knew Mablacks would not disappoint and we are so proud to be involved in this history making achievement. Those that will attend the shows will forever etch fond memories on their minds and to think we are involved in this, feels great.”

One of the music lovers George Mlanga who travelled with his wife Jasinta from Wales for the show told Nyasa Times that at first he thought the show was  being overcharged at £35 for a cover charge but after experienced what he described as a ‘musical extravaganza of a lifetime’  said it was worth every dime because Mablacks rocked it big time.

Said Mlanga: “At first I thought the cover charge to the Mablacks show was too much, but to be honest with you, with what I have just witnessed tonight, I don’t regret one bit. I wouldn’t mind paying more. The guys can perform and the sound was good. It was nothing but perfect. I can’t wait to go to Manchester for the next show.”

Mablacks will perform their second show in Manchester on the eve of Malawi’s Independence Day.

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