Tuesday, 28 May 2013

ZESCO Loadshedding Welcomes Zahara in Style

It was a Friday night that was sold out weeks before the doors to the Zahara concert opened at Government Complex. The tradition of selling tickets at the door is slowly fading away and Zambians are beginning to appreciate the essence of getting tickets well in advance. After all this was a show for the cream of South African music Zahara. Zahara in Zambia is popularly known for the house hit she featured on ‘Lengoma’ by DJ Sbu and the mellower ‘Loliwe’. This is a show that would have been perfect except for a tiny, little inconvenience called ZESCO.
Sensational Zahara
This was another organisation by the now well known The Straight UP Company, having brought comedian Trevor Noah last year can now proudly boast of adding Zahara to their resume.  The ticket prices of K160 ordinary and K250 VIP were slightly higher than the average in Zambia, but then a little sacrifice could be made for good music. Oh no I am not talking about bedroom studio junk here. Music that is sang with real instruments if you know what I mean.

Even though the tickets stated that the show would begin at 19 hours but as is the custom in Zambia rarely do shows begin on time and this one was no exception. So I had to pass time on Facebook and Twitter. It took almost another hour before any form of musical activity could be seen on stage when acapella group Chord 14 took to the stage, they were then followed by a rap act, and unfortunately I have no idea who they are, sorry. Other acts to follow were poet Magnifire and afrosoul upcoming singer Wezi. Scarlet who was one of the two main opening acts came on stage accompanied by a dance troop. She sang her usual ‘Munisungile Banja’ and “My Kinda Cute’. She did do two other songs but I have a short memory and cannot remember them. If I am to be honest Scarlet’s voice was drowned by the band and it was hardly an inspiring set. I think she is best suited for more intimate settings with smaller crowds. On the other hand Pompi whose album has been a massive hit was the final musical appetiser. You know that you are doing something right when the audience knows every word of the songs you sing. His band was great, the stage presence too and of course it was so befitting of an opening act that when he left the audience chanted his name.

Gesh who was the host then introduced the lady of night Zahara. She soulfully sang her way onto the stage and immediately got into her stride belting out a song that apparently was not on her current album. She began to deliver her more well-known tunes from her album and her performances were just awe inspiring. Especially when she sang the song ‘Umthwalo’, I felt like getting on my knees, raising my arms in the air and speaking in tongues. Then in the process of singing the first song she learned to play on the guitar, BOOM! LIGHTS OUT! ZESCO just had to gate crash the party and loadshed the complex. I felt like sinking in my seat. It was an embarrassing moment that I wish never happened, and the generator too took ages to kick in. Welcome to Zambia Zahara. Poor Zahara had to resort to greeting some VIP guests just to pass time. After a five minute wait the show continued.
Zahara at Government Complex

Government Complex Loadshedded

The audience sang along to every Zahara track, people were singing along to the Xhosa tunes as if they were singing along to a Nyanja track. Special mention must be made to Zahara’s backup singers who not only had the voices to match but their dances where both smooth and entertaining that they were like a side show on their own. ZESCO reeled its ugly hand one more time and the hall went black once again. Groans and murmurs of frustration filled the hall. Zahara too appeared unimpressed this whole game ZESCO was playing was clearly messing with her vibe. Luckily this time the blackout lasted for about three minutes.

Zahara sealed off the night with Loliwe. She proved she had the voice to affirm all the awards she has garnered and her stage presence over flowed from the stage. I spotted a few Zambian musicians in the audience and I hope they were taking notes. It was a show worth every ngwee, despite the unwelcome invitation of the loadshedding that took place. As for ZESCO stop those bad manners when people are having fun, sha!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Is Bufi the Next Donchi Kubeba?

It is not every day that you listen to a song and wonder, “Did he really sing that?” You have to play it a couple of times to convince yourself that yes indeed the singer actually did say that. Then you do not know whether to get excited because you relate to the song or fear for the singer’s blunt statements. In case you are wondering what on earth I am talking about, you clearly haven’t heard ‘Bufi by Pilato and Petersen. I would suggest listening to it on Youtube not before you finish reading my blog of course.
Pilato & Petersen
Bufi whose literal meaning is, ‘It’s a lie’, began gaining momentum last week barely days after fuel prices were hiked. That’s the way to go, if fuel goes up why not just go make a song about it, the boss doesn’t increase your salary make a song too. Before I go into what the song talks about I just have to take a moment to admire both Pilato and Petersen, it takes a lot of ummmmm toes to actually release a song such as Bufi. Let us not beat about the bush and pretend that we don’t know what the song is talking about. It is clear that the song is highlighting the broken promises that were made during the 2011 presidential campaigns.

The song talks of fuel prices being hiked, jobs that cannot be seen, roads that have not been constructed, lost hope, aging appointments, street children who sleep in trenches and above all, broken promises. The song goes further to claim that all that was said before were simply lies and none of it true. It was all one big fat lie. Pilato actually said it’s a lie 11 times towards the end of the song, try that for emphasis.

They brilliantly used the analogy of a mother and a step-father. It described the relationship between the step-father and mother, step-father and step-children. If I could deduce something from this, the step-father represented the president, the mother- Zambia and step-children- the Zambians. If by using the family it was meant to be satirical, it did not really serve its intended purpose for it is as open as a public toilet. The close analogy was perhaps a deliberate attempt to make the song understandable to the layman and not make it sound like a parable.

I reckon that the opposition leaders must be rubbing their palms in glee, and thanking the heavens for Pilato and Petersen. Bufi could be to the PF the pain that Dandy Krazy’s  Donchi Kubeba was to the MMD. I really do not see Bufi being played on any of the national radio stations just like Donchi Kubeba was out of favour. Bufi has already become a hit and at last check it already had 5000+ views on Youtube. It also ticks all the boxes that ‘Donchi Kubeba’ had. Catchy title-check, Social commentary- check, Danceable- check, Popular singers- check, and Truth factor- check. The only thing that is left is for this song to be publicly rubbished and banned by someone in government then it will gather the momentum to skyrocket.

However, there is just one problem that I have with all these social commentary songs such as ‘Donchi Kubeba’ and now ‘Bufi’, in as much as there is some degree of truth in them, they are not entirely accurate. For instance, in Bufi where it claims that the construction of roads and the creation of jobs were a lie doesn’t reflect the whole truth. One can argue that roads have been constructed i.e. Link Zambia 8000 project and there have been recruitment of teachers. The excuse would be, the song would not sound as great with using the words like some and most or majority of promises. Therefore, how should such songs be taken? Well that depends on the person who is hearing them. The issues talked about in the song hit people harder when they are going through what is being sang about and they are the ones who will probably sing this song louder. How far Bufi will go will truly depend on how strongly people are able to relate to song’s message. For now I am also going to the studio to sing about the traffic jams on our roads, look out for my single coming out soon.

What do you think of Bufi?

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Effective Midnight Random Declarations

There I was minding my business while desperately looking forward to the public holiday the next day. I had a little bit of money in my pocket to spend the next day and my life was just normal. It was until I heard the rumour that fuel had been increased. My first question, is that rumour on Zambia Watchdog? When the confirmation came through that it was on Watchdog I breathed a sigh of relief. You have to read that site with a pinch of scepticism. Unfortunately, it was not a rumour fuel prices were increasing with effect midnight. How? Why? What the hell! And with that random pronouncement my friends, is how my life just became more expensive.

I do understand that prices will eventually rise and they cannot stay the same forever, but even my pockets were traumatised at the “with effect midnight” price increase. Some pronouncements should just not be made anyhow, such statements have far reaching consequences. I had to scrounge for every ngwee that I could find just to fill up my fuel tank. The first time I had ever done that. You can imagine it had to take the drastic rise in the price of fuel to fill up my tank; I was not impressed at all.

The removal of the subsidy maybe right or not, I do not wish to dwell into the details of it. My personal opinion is that we should have been prepared well in advance that an increase was coming and not just making midnight declarations. Maybe people haven’t noticed but I aint Bill Gates and some of us make budgets. It is not like I have tonnes of money piled up somewhere waiting to be spent. It is already hard enough to live in Lusaka with rising expenses and then to add unplanned fuel increases which is unwelcome. The only way such an increase would make sense is if I too could walk into my boss’s office and say, “With effect at midnight you are going to give me a salary increment.”Oh no but I like many other employees we have to be civil, we need to negotiate and consult. Wish someone consulted me about the fuel increase.

This week when I open the Games Stores leaflet, I will be looking at the prices for bicycles just in case, I am caught unaware with another effective midnight declaration. I guess I just have to suck it up and brace myself for the general price increases. In the meantime, fingers crossed nothing random comes up anytime soon. In the event that it does, shall we consult each other please?