Never before have I arrived from a journey with the eager and will to make things happen as after last weeks journey. Travelling through Malawi can be hot and take time, but the inspiration that come with it is unlike any other.
After only one week of playing together the freshly formed band The Nsima Experience was ready to launch. (Nsima = Malawian maize porridge. We’ve all had our individual experiences with this food…) Catrine, Lars, Karstein, former MOVE-participant from Malawi Rebecca Mwalwenje and I set off on a trip to Malawi’s third largest city, Mzuzu. Music Crossroads’ minibus was packed with equipment, drums, tents, mattresses, guitars, people and good spirits. We knew where we were going, but could never have guessed what an adventure we were going to be part of.
We reached Mzuzu Wednesday evening, spent the night there before driving the loaded bus to the venue, Jacaranda, the next day. There we met with the owners, Daku (a well-known drummer from the Wailing Brothers) and Chigo (an artist and poet), and did our soundcheck. The sun was setting as the local musician David Luhanga, also known as Street Rat, entered the place. He played a beautiful concert together with his friend Marco, a great percussionist that also sing beautifully. Then, it was our turn.
We felt privileged and a bit nervous when entering the stage. The room was slowly filling up as we started out with Rebeccas song “Wisubile”. The crowd got quieter and we were ready to present som nice tunes and enjoy the music. The set consisted of both African and Norwegian songs; “Mbube” in Angelique Kidjos version, Valkyrien Allstars/Finn Bjerkes “Himmel og hav” and the Norwegian nineties hit “Forelska i lærern” by The Kids among other. We also performed a traditional Ngoni song called “Tsala” which we are in the middle of here:
Chigo was so happy with what she had heard that she asked us to play “Wisubile” one more time. So up on stage we went again. After finishing Rebeccas song for the second time this evening, we heard something I never thought I ever would hear in the middle of Malawi… The slightly extra enthusiastic men in the middle of the room wer shouting “I lære, I lære, I lære!”. They wanted “Forelska i lærern” one more time!
We owe a great thanks to Chigo and Dako at Jacaranda in Mzuzu for welcoming us and letting us play. What a great venue and great vibe they’re creating there. It was so inspiring to see how they opened up the stage for musicians and poets to perform freely. An unforgettable night.
Before coming to Malawi we heard a lot about how things take time and that we must prepare to wait, to be patient. People and systems will be slow. But, we’ve realized there is another side to the Malawian vibe as well; when something happens, it really happens. I’ve never before met the as many professional, welcoming, skilled and energized people working with music as I have last weeks journey.
The day after the concert we moved on to spend the rest of the weekend at the international music festival Lake of Stars, situated in wonderful Nkhatabay. There we met new Norwegian and Malawian friends and partners. Together we shared a wonderful time with music, dance, and nice baths in the clear blue water of Lake Malawi to cool off from the boiling heat.
In Mzuzu, at Lake of Stars and everyday in Lilongwe we get to meet great and friendly musicians, organizers and technicians that all make things happen everyday. After this small journey I am inspired to make things happen around me. I hope to bring this feeling with me when I go home as well. One phone call, one new friend, one small new idea – the next day it can be reality.