Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Malawian music video debut

Malawi has a very special brand of music video that I haven't seen anywhere else in the world.

It is quite common for churches to raise funds through producing their own music video DVDs featuring Malawian gospel music with chitenje-clad women dancing and singing.

I had the privilege of accidentally winding up in one such video.

Driving through Nkhotakota boma (trading centre), I saw a row full of women singing and dancing beside the petrol station. Curious as to what was happening, I got out of the car to go check it out.

I stood with the crowd of spectators and asked them what is happening. They point to a man holding a video camera akin to the one my Dad used 20 years ago when filming our birthday parties. They explain that the Anglican church is putting together a music video DVD as a fundraiser.

The women finish up their song and the videographer spots me and waves hello. I greet him in the Malawian tradition, shaking his hand and asking him if he has woken up well. He then asks me if I care to join the women for the next song. I admit that I am a bad dancer and decline.

As I watch the women practice their moves for the next song I have two thoughts:

  1. This dance does not look too difficult
  2. How often does a mzungu get chance to be in a Malawian music video?! This is once in a lifetime stuff.
I tell the videographer that I can give it a try after all and he ushers me to join the row of women. True to Malawian reputation, the women are warm and welcoming and show me the moves, tie a matching chitenje around my waist and give me a handkerchief which is used to emphasize arm movements in the dancing.

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We start filming and I try to keep up with the dance moves and look serious. The randomness of ending up in a Malawian gospel music video in Nkhotakota really tickles my sense of humour and I find myself smiling broadly as I stumble through the moves. I must have looked incredibly silly, but after the filming the women embrace me and tell me their names anyways.

I promise to buy their video when it is released and am happy for the adventure.

You never know what a day in Malawi will hold!

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