Malawi Music Awards: Past, Present and the Future

During one of my recent flights to South Africa via Malawian Airlines, I was advantaged to be on same seat with a Nigerian entertainment journalist. He came to Malawi to follow up on Davido’s mischiefs in the Warm Heart of Africa. Well, unlike Malawi media houses, Nigeria institutions can afford sending reporters to other countries to make follow ups on such good for nothing issues, but hey, Davido is a news maker wherever he goes.

During the first edition of  music awards

During the first edition of music awards

We discussed a number of issues and I was glad how he explained to me in detail the impact that Nigeria Entertainment industry has had for the past years on the development of the country. I also learnt from this gentleman how Nigerian celebrities are able to acquire great mansions and posh cars within a very short period of a career success in their respective fields.

He also explained that in Nigeria, a hit single is enough to change an artist’s status and make him/her to swim in Naira grandeur.

Anyways, that’s Nigeria. Buy a mansion in Malawi after one album, government will probably form a committee of enquiry to investigate your source of funds. If not, be prepared to be labeled as “Satanist” or “Illuminate” as termed in entertainment circles.

Through our conversation, as the plane began to descend, this friend asked me what I thought about Malawi Music Awards. I dint answer much, but after that, I kept on building my views and finally, here is my take on Malawi Music Awards, buoyantly, he liked my page as he promised:

The Past

For starters, the awards were seriously introduced in 2014 with hefty funding from Mota Engil and other companies. That’s when we saw musicians being awarded for their talents at the glorious Bingu International Conference. This was a good inductee and most Malawians applauded the idea.

Nominations of the first awards were highly disparaged by Malawians. Accurately, it dint make sense for Symon Kamlaka and Kendall Kamwando to be nominated in the Best Dance-Hall category. A lot of people expressed their frustration with the said nominations and I remember writing about the awards in one of my articles published on Nyasa Times titled: “My Take on Malawi Music Awards Nominations”

According to president of Music Association of Malawi Chimwemwe Mhango, this was just a starting point and promised a lot of changes and improvements for future awards. Well, that’s Malawi we know. No one wants to make a perfect thing at first trial. A country with people who have confidence in second and third chances when doing things. No wonder, it’s just so typical to fail MSCE first seating and write “again twice for the second time” to achieve two certificates in one, or should we say one in two?

Nevertheless, winners were announced, artists CV’s were updated and photo selfies with trophies were taken, filtered and posted on social networks. Days of Malawian artists were indeed beautified. Artists who don’t ask for more, always satisfied with the little they get.

Fast forward to the present

Nominations for second Malawi Music Awards were pronounced. Guess what was on paper? More like introducing new artists to the country and not essentially endowing existing talents. Please accept as true the fact that I never knew Dan Kalima until I saw his name on the award nomination list.

Every so often, I force myself to believe and hold with high esteem the winners of this year’s music awards, but the more I do, the lesser respect I have for them.

Did we experience such promised changes and improvements in this year’s awards? (Blakjak’s tone) Yes or No.

Truth be told, an improvement was there and we indeed noticed that there was a definite order and sanity in the nomination categories. Dance-Hall artists were indeed in their group and the list goes on.

Unfortunately, I questioned the voting process. It was simply a “devil’s nirvana”. The system only allowed Airtel users and completely detested TNM and Access users.

I know for sure that Airtel is in business just like the rest of the mobile operators and had to impose such an exclusivity deal in which they stopped organizers from engaging other operators who are competitors to them.

MUMA is a nation event that has the interest of Malawians at heart, whether TNM, Access or Airtel users. Can’t business be compromised in such cases? And wouldn’t it work to the benefit of organizers to engage more mobile operators in the voting system? In the end, we had what I can call “Airtel Malawi Music Awards” a thing that doesn’t really reflect the views of Malawians.

Again, people were allowed and ENOURAGED to vote as many times their budget could permit them. This was nothing but business for Airtel and the organizers in name of promoting talent in Malawi. Let’s take the category of Best Hip Hop for instance which had Tay Grin and K2B Block among others.

Am not throwing stones of sarcasm at K2B Block. Not at all, but let’s face it, I have met Tay Grin once on some of my frequent travels outside the country and the last time I met him was in November last year aboard South African Airways on his way to South Africa just for a “weekend of fun” in Sandton, Johannesburg. Mind you, he flies Business Class. Where does K2B Block go for a holiday? Your guess is as good as mine.

My point is that, a rich musician like Tay Grin has money to spend for no reason. Therefore, following that voting system and financial welfare of nominees, it’s easy for a person like him to set aside a very good budget to buy airtime and vote for himself as many times as he can. Not just that, his friends, who are also definitely financially stable individuals, can also contribute massively to this type of voting of “as many times as possible.”

An artist such as Tay Grin apprehends the significance of winning such trophies and it is in fact so right for him to invest about a million kwacha to vote for himself as many times as he can, a move likely to put him at an advantage side than the ghetto K2B Block crew.

Why not having a vote per each number?

At the same time, if there are people who listen to Malawi music a lot then it’s those living abroad. These people buy and download local music like nobody’s business from Malawi Music selling and downloading sites. This is music that reminds them of Mother Malawi and love every moment they play it.

Don’t you think these people should also take part voting for their favorite artists by means of “Online Voting?” After all, we are living in technologically inspired times. Malawi can afford that.

Few days ago, I was watching Nollywood Film Awards. What got my interest was that the Awards included categories such as Make Up, Lighting, Sound, Costume and other categories that would not have been considered in Malawi.

My point is, in order to have good music, there are a lot of things involved. An artist goes to the studio and meets a music producer who works on the production. Then a promoter promotes the music by working hand in hand with radio Deejays and event organizers. Now that the country is going digital, we see artists shooting videos and giving us the visual aspect of their talents.

If we are to develop the music industry, don’t you think that all people involved should also be remembered during such annual music Awards? That means to say categories include Best Producer, Best Promoter, Best Event Manager, Best Deejay, Best Artwork Designer, Best Music Video, Best Music Video Producer, Best Music Video Concept Writer, Best Music Video Editor, Best Entertainment Reporter (Online, Print and Radio) and so on.

We can’t keep ignoring music promotors and artists’ managers such as Eduardo Kankhomba, Kimpho Loka and many others and we can’t ignore music event organizers such as Jai Banda, Mphatso Chauluka, Deejay Scarper, Q Malewezi and others.

I should say artwork designers such as Ben “Sukez” Sukali and Sean “BataFly” Mkomadzija should be remembered because they are as important as the song itself. Radio and TV Programs such as Gowero Beats, Born & Bred and Urban Trend all do a great job for the industry.

Music websites such as Malawi-Music, Mdub Vibes, Urban Malawi, 265 Vibes , Mverani and others do a great job in promoting the industry and should equally be rewarded for the job well done.

Every aspect of the process is part of the whole. Every step depends on the one before it. Neglect one function and the whole process does not work as well as it should.

Everything connects with everything else, nothing stands entirely alone. All things are related to one another in an inseparable and unified way. If we want to develop Malawi Music Industry, then it’s high time we reward every function just the way our friends are doing in other countries.

Lastly, in as far as 2014 is concerned, let me remember the following urban artists for their great work that deserved recognition, but for reasons known to Malawi Music Awards, they never made it on the list. Stich Fray (Minibus Driver and Ndinalota), Martse (Mwapindulanji), Viceroy, Excess, Ga Cypha, Classic, Malinga Mafia, Tech Dali (Paochepa Omwewo), Kell Kay (Ndilore Ndipite) and many others who deserved nomination.

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5 thoughts on “Malawi Music Awards: Past, Present and the Future”

  1. Nelson says:

    All I can say z dat May God continue blessing u!

  2. Steave Brown Kapile says:

    Jup dis sounds cul Matchitah pera am in R.S.A but to say da’ truth according to Music industry here jxt hv a look of Cassper Nyovest Iz kiling it to the fullest

  3. Afrique says:

    Nice

  4. wewe says:

    The problem we have in Malawi is lack of participation in the voting process. I would bet with you not many would participate in the process even if the voting was for free. Our Wait and see attitude is a very big problem no wonder we always get a raw deal when it comes to results.

  5. Ghetto Rep says:

    Good piece. Let MAMA take in some of your suggestions on categories and the voting system.

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