Thomas Chibade who stormed Malawi music industry by storm in 2005 has died. The prince of Mayaka in Zomba Chibade died at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe after illness. For more about Thomas Chibade, below is a tribute by Wonderful Mkutche.
AS WE BURY THOMAS CHIBADE, THE PRINCE OF MAYAKA REGGAE…
THOMAS CHIBADE is gone. But of all the people who were there for him, only for today, let us appreciate these three: Joseph Nkasa, Mr. Chikwatu and Ralph Ching’amba. These gave us the Thomas Chibade we have loved for the past 18 years.
The year was 2005, and Joseph Nkasa’s songs from his seventh album, ‘Tigwirane Manja’ in 2003, was still raging like a wildfire. Nkasa defied a disappointing start to his career and delivered what has gone to be, probably, the most popular album in the history of music in Malawi. Nkasa was not just a musician in Malawi, but a moment. Coming from Mayaka, Zomba, Nkasa inspired a type of music popularly known as Mayaka reggae. His music exploits moved mountains and even inspired a then unknown Thomas Chibade from Mayaka, Zomba who found strength to gather his scattered music talent into something of meaning.
But the Nkasa inspiration was not enough. This is where Mr. Chikwatu comes in. Mr. Chikwatu was a Zomba based business person who saw something special in Chibade and sponsored his music dreams, telling him, “Mphawi satopa. Limba mtima” as heard from Chibade’s ‘Pemphero’ song. Coming from a poor background in Mayaka, Chibade was headed to Blantyre to try his luck, tossing his life in the air, attempting to make a name in a music industry full of giants and gatekeepers.
And this is where Ralph Ching’amba comes in. In 2005, Ching’amba’s Pro-Sounds studio in Bangwe, Blantyre was the most popular music studios in Malawi hosting big names like Billy Kaunda and the Black Missionaries. But when it came to Chibade, Ching’amba did not approach him as a business opportunity, but as a talent that had to be nourished and promoted. He took an effort to offer Chibade a place to stay at his home during the recording of the debut album (a relationship that later turned ugly with allegations that Chibade defiled Ching’amba’s daughter).
Everything boiled down to the release of Chibade’s debut work, ‘Zatukusila’ in 2005, inarguably the most popular album of that year. The work rubbed shoulders with Nkasa’s ever-green ‘Tigwirane Manja’ album, not forgetting Collins Bandawe’s ‘Tchekera Maluzi’ single, another musician who emerged from Mayaka after Nkasa. Then Lucius Banda quickly noticed Chibade’s prospects and featured him in the song ‘Kalata Ya Chitatu’ off ‘Enemy of the State’ album, a song where Chibade sounded effortlessly perfect. Just to accommodate Chibade, Lucius Banda momentarily abandoned his Balaka reggae beat for a Mayaka reggae beat, and Chibade felt home and delivered one of Soldier’s career highlights.
A lot can and will be written about Chibade. Today, we are told that he is gone after a long fight with several career distractions. We mourn the loss with deepest feelings of a talent gone too soon. But for the little time we had with this genius from Mayaka, we are thankful for sharing his talent with us.