By Richard Chirombo:
Sometimes, poet-cum-musician Mashallo Samilo gets it tickled over his back. He simply seems to find a way where there is none.
This is because, after making a foray into poetry, the Mzuzu-based Malawi Writers Union Northern Chapter General Secretary has taken his creativity a step further: taking his music to Botswana, Namibia and Ghana.
It must, surely, take a little effort, sometimes without effort, for the fire of Samilo’s creativity to catch the imagination of people beyond the borders.
“I can confirm that I am selling DVDs for my songs through well-known outlets in Botswana, Namibia, Ghana and even Morocco, where my songs are sometimes played in radio stations. The song is is played often is ‘Welcome to Malawi’.
“As I have said before, I created that song with the outside world in mind. I wanted to sell my country Malawi to the outside world. We are really the Warm Heart of Africa; not just that, we are also the heart of creativity. There are a lot of things that make it special,” he said.
He said he was confident that he would reap the fruits of his creativity as he was working with people and organisations that monitor the performance of his creative products, hence he is assured of getting royalties.
The development comes two years after the artist secured a deal with French music label, The Orchard, giving him a chance to reach audiences from far and wide.
“It is true that I have secured a deal with a French music label which has a heart for promoting African music,” he told The Daily Times when he just clinched the deal.
The first album of Samilo to ride the fame of The Orchard is Welcome to Malawi and the development came at a time the music distribution system in Malawi had almost collapsed. This fact has not escaped the knowledge of the soft-spoken Samilo.
“Due to challenges Malawian artists face when distributing their products, only those who are exceptional sign deals with international organisations.
“You know the situation in Malawi; we do not have a distributor after OG Issa stopped doing the job. Therefore, it is not easy to reach out to all corners of the country, specifically, and the world at large. I am happy that I have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially because the label is known for promoting unique music. It promotes music which defines Africa,” he said.
The short of it is that the French company will distribute Welcome to Malawi album on legal online platforms throughout the world, stemming the tide of those who pirate music and other creative products.
“The Orchard has offered me a contract to distribute my tracks on all legal online distribution platform around the world, which will help me to sell Malawi outside with a big impact; hence putting our nation on the global map,” he said.
To put an icing on the cake, Welcome to Malawi was released on a Friday— because it is customary for European promoters to release albums on Friday.
The Orchard works hand-in-hand with Le Reve Africain, which is an active communication network for arts in Africa. Of late, it has been promoting The African Dream, promoting music shows for artists from West Africa, North Africa, Sahara Africa, Southern Africa, Central Africa and Eastern Africa.
It has also been promoting fashion industry players, story-tellers, poets, actors, dancers, photos, paintings, short films, sculptures, as well as cultures from the Caribbean, Jamaica, Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Venezuela and Cuba.
Welcome to Malawi has tracks such as ‘Mother Malawi’, which touts precious features unique to Malawi, among them mountains, rivers, streams, hills, forests and lakes.
The other track is ‘Samalani Malawi’, which calls on Malawians to desist from practices such as rape, defilement, littering. It advocates good practices such as tree-planting and wildlife preservation.
There is also ‘Dzuwa pa Phiri la Zomba’, a track in which the persona implores people to get into the habit of setting for work in the morning.
‘Tikakumane’ is a love song that encourages women to maintain natural beauty. Of course, it promotes chauvinism because it preaches against the use of chemicals that aid in skin bleaching.
It is such songs that have acted as the horse that takes Samilo’s music places.