By Hastings Ndebvu:
First written on Hessie’s Two Cents
Legendary musician Phungu Joseph Nkasa walked Malawians down the memory lane with a spirited performance at Mikozi Studio that only reinforced the argument that, despite polarizing opinion with his political controversies, the Wayenda Wapenga hitmaker is in a class of his own.
There are many stories of men who rose from mockery. You can add musician Joseph Nkasas’ acclaimed Mikozi Studio performance to that list.
Mikozi, a Facebook entertainment and gossip page this week listed names of popular Malawian musicians and asked fans to vote for the artist they would love to watch perform at their studios.
From the comments, some fans suggested Nkasa did not deserve to be on the list as he, according to them, has only one hit, Mose Wa Lero, to his name.
This did not please a horde of Nkasa’s fans who quickly started pledging money that reportedly accumulated to K700,00 to have Nkasa appear in the studios and appear in the studios Nkasa did. And boy, oh boy.
He appeared on set with a youthful band and three female backing vocalists, led by reggae artist Queen Faya and Nkasa dished out a 12 minute 48 seconds long medley comprising Mphwayi Ndi Tsoka, Zolembalemba, Kapolo Sakwiya, Tsoka Samasimba, Mphuno Salota, Mose Walero, Njala and the lively high tempo Anamva with which he wrapped up the set in style.
By 21:45hrs, the video of the recorded performance, which was posted on Mikozis’ Facebook page at 20:00hrs had 15K views, 279 shares and 2.3K comments. In the comment section, viewers were unanimous in their verdict; Nkasa is a rare gem.
That verdict is not something they did not know already.
It was however scary to trust that Nkasa, not known for best stage performances even in heydays, would adapt to the Mikozi Studio long play style of performance, dominated mostly by new school musicians. Phungu was probably set to make history as one of the first artists of his generation to make a cameo appearance in the studios.
For the new school music fanatics, they probably waited to see why the older generation makes a fuss of the man they deem overrated and for the old school music fan, they were afraid Nkasa might disappoint. So the set was more of a fight between two generations, in the end, the older one seems to have won it.
Nkasa started his set on a low and slow note when he introduced the famous Mphwayi ndi Tsoka and for once, the blending of his voice with the backing vocalists gave a somewhat bad premonition as they somewhat seemed out of sync.
But when the band stepped it up soon after with the trademark piano that proceeds the intro in the original, the viewer must have known the show had indeed started.
One verse later, Nkasa was calm enough to seamlessly transcend into his next piece, Zolembalemba which he, like the first one, signaled with vocals only before allowing the instruments to give the song its real identity for all to recognize it. After that, the confidence fully crept in for the viewer and when he did the other 6 songs, which came in quick succession to each other than the first two, the legend must have known he was in his best element.
Apart from reminding the public of his witty lyricism and composition, it is the energy that Nkasa exuded during the performance which assured the public was still in love with his art, his songs. It felt like watching an old couple renewing wedding vows with the exuberance of a newlywed couple. You need to watch the Mphuno Salota and the censored Mose Wa lero sections to see this.
So, Nkasa the legend, amidst the doubts, came to Mikozi studios, saw and conquered. Those that wrote epitaphs of his musical career -and there are many – have been challenged. They will need to wait a little longer to bury the man and his microphone. Because that Mikozi performance just shown he can be silent but cannot be silenced.