For a long time in Malawi, the existence of “celebrities” popularly referred to as “celebs” has been making rounds in the showbiz industry. Some say there are no celebrities in the showbiz industry while others say they are.
Well, to begin with let’s understand the concept of “celebrity status”. A celebrity in simple language and explanation is an individual who is known whose appearance cause a stand still.
With no further do, let’s go back to the year 2004 when “Phungu” Joseph Nkasa was the man of the moment with his “Tigwirane Manja” album. Nkasa broke sell records by selling 210,000 copies of the album then and having the Copyright Society of Malawi give him a sum of K1 million for royalties.
Nkasa conquered the airwaves to the point that he caused a stand still along the Chipembere Highway when he was making his way to the 101 Power FM radio station studios for an interview.
Everybody wanted to see the “man of the moment” and people lined along the road just to have a glimpse of the man behind the “Wayenda Wapenga” hit. There were reports that some people would force minibus drivers to go to OG Issa to buy a Nkasa album if they didn’t have it playing in the bus.
The time Flames striker, Frank Gabadinho Mhango, was playing for Big Bullets; he used to cause havoc in our streets with his appearance. When he was doing his school at Chichiri Secondary School, the striker had a person who was specifically responsible for taking his personal mobile phone and picking up calls since it had a lot of calls coming through.
We might go on and on about history in search for a “celeb” but for sure you have an idea what it means to be one. The word “Celebrity” is often misinterpreted with the word “famous” which is an issue to do with being known or rather recognized. Most urban music artists are not celebrities as we might have thought rather they are famous people who get recognized with their deeds.
Have you ever wondered how people just point at an artist they have seen probably at a mall but still continuing to attend to whatever they were doing? Remember when the P-Square brothers were in the country and everybody wanted to touch them? Or When Cassper Nyovest was making his entry to the stage at College of Medicine show? Let’s pause there for a second.
When Bob Marley and The Wailers travelled to Europe around the 1970’s, decided to swim in a pool that had whites in it. Once Bob and friends went into the pool, every white person went out of the pool until someone said “Hey, that’s Bob Marley” and everyone went back and closer the artists.
Back to Malawi, most urban music artists fail to reach celebrity status because their music has a catchment area; recognized by a certain grouping of people. Nkasa was the celeb of the time due the reach of his music; across the country. Furthermore, many fail to keep up with the artistry image. Bob Marley and friends were not recognized in Europe then because they preceded their reputation. Most Malawian urban artists are famous but are never taken serious because of how they present themselves to the masses.
Show organizers have always hinted that payments of an artist are based on the impact and relevance to the audience, the more reach you have on people the more they earn and most importantly how you present themselves to the audience.
There are many people in the urban music industry who are talented and have impact on the societies but they fail to keep up their image that’s why they are only famous not celebs. Having a celebrity status demands a lot; be able to preserve your image, stay relevant and be different. Being famous is a step closer of being a celebrity.
Some people say that Malawian artists or famous people are everywhere; they are not “scarce” as they are ought to be. They are found in same minibuses, streets, drinking joints and many other regular places as their fans which remove the status quo. As much an artist needs to socialize and connect with his or her fan-base there ought to be a limited interaction between the two. With these social networks every fan wants to be close to their favorite artist but once a fan is a friend of an artist, business is down; no one freaks out when they see their friend.
It is hard for Malawian urban artists to be celebs as we call artists like P-Square or Cassper Nyovest because of how our industry is set up. Many run without record labels that can preserve and groom them. Either way, those who are famous need to take serious attention on how they present themselves to the masses as they are responsible for a wide audience.
You do not need to have money to be a celebrity but when you are one, you need money.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :