Oftentimes, it is the golden voice of poster boy Anjiru Fumulani that many relate the successful journey of Malawi’s most popular reggae band, The Black Missionaries.
Anjiru took over the mantle of leading the Chileka based reggae outfit from his elder brother Musamude in 2006 after his demise.
Still, some associate the Black Missionaries’ rise to the magical fingers of the band’s lead bass guitarist Peter Amidu who mesmerizes fans during live shows.
Of late, in the last two episodes of the Black Missionaries Kuimba 10 and 11, reggae music fans have also been made to enjoy the unusual voice of keyboardist Chizondi Fumulani.
He first came in the limelight years after the death of Musamude after mimicking the fallen reggae maestro’s voice in the song “Mwala okanidwa”.
Chizondi fitted well in Musamude’s shoes courtesy of his deep voice and enviable command of the English language.
But to prove that this was not a fluke, Chizondi later controlled Kuimba 10’s English hit song “Mr Bossman.
Without reservations, the trio (Anjiru, Peter and Musamude) have undoubtedly steered the Black Missionaries ship to enviable local and international heights.
With all the respects given to the two Fumulani brothers (Anjiru and Chizondi) and Peter Amidu for their distinguished roles in spurring the Black Missionaries to where they are now, there is a ‘hidden loud voice’.
The ‘hidden loud voice’ has often not been heard leading the Singano Village based reggae Band.
It is the voice of Ras Ray Harawa.
Harawa has been involved in the Black Missionaries Band affairs from as early as 2001 when its founding figure Evison Matafale mulled the idea of having a reputable reggae band with international appeal.
“After Evison Matafale released his second album Kuimba 2 in 2001, we started working together on a new project in which he planned to record the next album in South Africa.
“He engaged me as his manager but just before this project came into fruition, Matafale died on 27 November, 2001. Our project ended there,” Ras Harawa explains.
He says after the sudden demise of Matafale, he left the country for the United Kingdom to pursue personal endeavors and after some time he returned home in 2006.
“While in the UK, I still kept track of the Black Missionaries progress back home in which under the tutelage of Musamude Fumulani, the band had released four albums (Kuimba 3,4,and 5).
“Upon my return back home, the then Black Missionaries Band Manager Foster Mijiga had just died during that period.
“It is at this moment that the band decided to incorporate me into the fold as their new manager,” Ras Harawa explains.
He says being someone who already had started the same project with Matafale, he easily joined in.
Keeping ma Blacks bond strong
Being the most successful reggae outfit in Malawi, the temptation that easily comes is the possibility of the band members separating ways usually because of money, fame or launching solo careers.
Some book makers wrote off Ma Blacks when some members (The Chokani brothers, Takudziwani and Paul and Moda Fumulani) decided to leave the band and rejuvenate the Wailing Brothers.
They were written off basing on Paul and Takudziwani’s drum and guitar prowess.
However, as a band manager, Ras Ray Harawa has managed to keep the band tight. The band kept on soaring high and later, Moda Fumulani announced his return to the Blacks.
Even the Wailing Brothers and the Black Missionaries started performing joint shows. This is excellent management under Ras Harawa.
As a Band Manager, Ras Harawa’s projects with the Black Missionaries started with the release of Kuimba 6, in which Musamude Fumulani was a band leader.
“Since then, I have been involved in all the band’s backdoor activities ranging from arranging local and international gigs, private or public partnerships, personal and interpersonal management as well as general management of the band.
“I can proudly say that throughout all the long period I have been with the Black Missionaries, it has been a journey that I keep on celebrating whenever I look back,” Ras Harawa says.
“It does not sound as if it’s been a long time really,” he adds.
Ras Harawa explains that the secret behind Ma Blacks strong bond is the “spiritual attachment” that exists within the band.
“When I say “spiritual attachment, I do not mean necessarily being in one religion, but rather that as individuals, we have differed at times, but then we quickly get united for we know our common mission.
“We understand one another so much in that, as their band manager, I am given total freedom to do anything within my mandate as a manager.
“That aspect lacks in many bands and associations and I personally thank God for that,” Ras Harawa says.
Ras Ray Harawa’s highs with Ma Blacks
Ras Ray Harawa, who is a member of the Nyabhingi Movement in Malawi as well as an International Consultant of the Nyabhingi House of Jamaica responsible for Southern and Eastern Africa, says he cannot single out any moment as his best in his life with Ma Blacks.
“There are just many moments I have had happy times with the band. The Black Missionaries is like a family to me; so to say this is the best moment I have enjoyed with my family is an understatement.
“I have always regarded my best moments as the time I came across people who appreciated all the efforts that the Black Missionaries Band has done in promoting reggae as well as music in general,” he explains.
He says it is not easy for a musical group to be on top for over a decade.
“That makes me happy as a Manager,” says Harawa, who is married to Dr Asher Sefanit from the United Kingdom.
Ras Ray Harawa’s lows with Ma Blacks
Ras Ray Harawa says one of his saddest moments is when the band lost its key members like Musamude Fumulani in 2006.
who is one of the few pioneers of Rastafarianism in Malawi and became the First Elder of the Nyabhingi Bureaucracy in the country, was when the band lost its key members like Musamude Fumulani in 2006.
“It was really sad for the band losing a person of Musamude’s calibre. You know coming from the shocking loss of Evison Matafale, Musamude was like a brother figure to the band members.
“A band works like a football team whereby when one player goes away, it emotionally lets down the whole team,” says Ras Harawa who is one of the few pioneers of Rastafarianism in Malawi.
Harawa, who is also first elder of the Nyabhingi Bureaucracy in the country, says Ras Musamude and other fallen band members were inspirational figures.
“I consider their loss as sad moments in the Blacks,” he says.
The devoted Rastafarian also says negative criticism towards the Black Missionaries by some quarters is another low moment in his journey with the band.
“It’s not that I hate to be criticised, but rather I am talking about that desire to always discredit anything that the band does.
“We have had incidents where when the band releases albums, some people rush to discredit the quality of compositions in the album,” he explains.
He says the band may not have achieved 100 percent quality but it feels sad to see or hear someone totally discrediting the whole project.
“We feel it is unfair for such kind of critiquing.
But still, as a band, we welcome all kinds of criticisms in our fold for we know we cannot satisfy everyone,” Ras Harawa says.
The Blacks 2020 project
The band manager, who is also in the Public Relations team of veteran musician Lucius Banda’s Impact Events, says 2020 is the year the Black Missionaries Band is celebrating 20 years of its existence.
“To cap it all, the band has lined up a lot of activities. We intend to record new songs and release audio and DVDs so that we celebrate 20 years of the band’s existence.
“We are also planning to have national and international tours so that many people across the globe celebrate with us for we know this band is theirs,” Ras Ray Harawa concludes.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :