My First Live Reggae Experience – Malawi

It was pandemonium at Mzuzu Squirrel’s Park as Malawi’s reggae legends took to the stage to entertain their fans who had been waiting for months to see them live. Since the Malawian government enforced Covid-19 restrictions, artists haven’t been able to perform because of crowd control and live streaming concerts didn’t seem to catch on. As a result this was a very welcome return for maBlacks as they are fondly known. Although they have been performing in and around Blantyre, where they are based, Mzuzu fans were next in line and they were not disappointed.

The concert kicked off with the usual curtain raisers; Khonzie Masimbe, Yanjanani Chumbu and the energetic Anthony “Mr Cool” Makondetsa who had the fans on their feet from the first song, singing along to every lyric.

By the time Anjiru Fumulani, the beloved Black Missionaries lead singer started the main set, the stage was warm and ready. The band, playing a well-rehearsed medley of the Blacks’ biggest hits with Chizondi Fumulani on the keyboards and vocals.

I consider myself a music fanatic but reggae hasn’t been on my radar as much as jazz and other music, but Malawi has single-handedly introduced me to reggae music. I’m calling it my reggae baptism. I’ve heard more reggae here to last me a lifetime. To Malawians, however, reggae is not new. In fact wherever I go, if it’s not South African pop music then its reggae. Malawians have a versatile ear when it comes to music. They listen to music in many different languages, from Zulu to Swahili. It’s quite impressive actually.

This past weekend was incredibly special to my music education but more than anything I learned that you cannot simply attend a Black Missionaries concert, you should just allow yourself to be immersed in the experience. And bring comfortable shoes.

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