Canada through the eyes of an immigrant
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
This a comment by an outraged fan of Evison Matafale, the African reggae King who died in Lilongwe, Malawi:
“Evison Matafale died because of the truth. This is my warning to all you killers: One day it will be your judgment day.Tidzakumana pamtengo wa kachere, ngati si inu ndi mwana wanu, Koma tidzakumana (We will meet, if not with with you, it will be with your children for your well deserved punishment)”
In November 2001, the Malawian reggae King, Evison Matafale passed away. He died in police custody. Many consider him as one of the best Malawian musicians of all times. When arrested, Matafale was in poor health and many believe that he died of natural causes, while others blame the use of force by the police and yet others do believe that the singer died as a result of Police negligence. We investigate.
Theory 1 Matafale’s music.
His music was not very political in his first album; “Kuyimba 1” Songs like Malawi,Watsetseleka, Chauta Wamphavu,Poison is Sweet covered the themes of love, freedom and power to his fellow Africans. The same themes were emphasized again in his sophomore album; Kuyimba 2 which contained songs like Freedom, Timba, Yangana Nkhope. The Album also contained the hit Time Mark which was about the 2001 September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. In Matafale’s songs, no names of political parties or politicians were mentioned like other African reggae artists would do. (Tiken Jah Fakoly,Alpha Blondy and even the late Lucky Dube). Anyone listening to the albums finds NO apparent reason to use violence against him and his convictions.
Theory 2: Matafale’s ‘Violence’
Evison Matafale was not very happy with the piracy that existed (and still exists) in Malawi so he had a quarrel with the music distributors and the Copyright Society Of Malawi(COSOMA). Days before his imprisonment, Matafale went and broke a table at a music shop owned by OG ISSA a Malawian of East Indian decent as a demonstration that he was not happy for the distributors turned a blind eye on piracy.This incident that happened in Blantyre might have been the reason why he was imprisoned. Though there are still some skeptics.
Theory 3: The Letters to the President
It is believed that Evison Matafale wrote letters to the Malawian president Bakili Muluzi to express his anger and unhappiness at the way things were run by the government. Among other things, the artist openly talked about the President’s alleged favoritism of foreigners over Malawians in business dealings. This is for many the real reason behind Matafale’s imprisonment at Maula in Lilongwe.
Evison Matafale died at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe with Tuberculosis and some do believe that he died from complications related to the disease while others simply think that he was killed by the Malawi Police. Either way, Evison Matafale died in police custody.
Matafale’s death caused a great uproar in the Malawian music community. Matafale’s backing band, the Black Missionaries took over from where he left with the album Kuyimba 3. The album contained direct hits to the Malawi Government for its alleged negligence on Evison Matafale’s case. Many Malawian musicians mentioned Matafale in their songs and talked about the alleged injustice and corruption affecting the Malawian political system. Billy Kaunda, a musician turned politician sung about the death in a one of his song saying: “Chondigwere, chindigwere nditsatile Matafale” (I’m going to sing very openly and fearlessly so I don’t care what happens to me, even if it will be Matafale’s fate).
Watch a Video by Matafale's Backing Band; The Black Missionaries. The Song Mwana Wa Munthu (Ndilibe Naye Chifukwa) accuses the negligence of the Malawi Government(Matafale footage appears in the video:
After getting pressure from the international community, the Malawian president, Bakili Muluzi ordered an inquiry. The inquiry was very controversial especially to the Rasta community because no Rasta was represented in the panel. The controversy even grew when Malawian musician Lucius Banda was also called to take part in the commission as allegedly had been at loggerheads with Evison Matafale. The results of the inquiry were released with the death attributed mainly to Tuberculosis.
Finally, what or who killed Matafale? The question remains unanswered for some and answered for others.
Matafale was a nephew to Malawi music maestro Robert Fumulani (founder of Likhubula River Dance Band). The Black Missionaries were Evison Matafale’s cousins.The Black Missionaries are: Musamude Fumulani(RIP), Anjilu Fumulani, Chizondi Fumulani and Peter Amidu. The Black Missionaries are Malawi's most successful Band in terms of sales and popularity. Their video "Mwana Wa Munthu" was voted as the Best Video in the 2008 Malawi Web Awards. Matafale was a cousin to Malawian renowned musician Anthony Makondetsa who also comes from Chileka, a small town in Southern Malawi. He was also a childhood friend to Esau Mwamwaya, the London based Malawian musician singing with the duo Radioclit. Blantyre reggae artists Sally Nyundo and San B of the Pelemende and producers Ralph Chigamba, Chuma Soko and Ruben Chongwe have also collaborated with Evison.
Evison Matafale was Born in 1969 and grew up in Malawi and Zimbawe.He died on November 27th, 2001 in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Research and Interviews for this article were compiled and written for Mmalawi Blog