After taking some time we came to conclude that these Southern African big artists had different perspectives regarding how it is to make it internationally and getting big collaborations outside their circles
Here is what NAMADINGO said
“Note: This post is made for those who love to read and think. Especially those from Malawi and Zambia.
When i looked at the numbers. I began to think deep on why and how. Tag your favourite Musicians after reading this. Maybe it might help them too. For the good of my beloved NAMAFANS
and fellow country-men in 🇿🇲|🇲🇼
THE POPULATION AND THE ECONOMY.
Malawi and Zambia are two harmonious neighbors separated by a border, but united and similar in many aspects.While Malawi has 19.1 million citizens, Zambia is said to have 18.7 million according to recent statistics. Though our economies are also not the same,with Zambia’s economy being better than Malawi’s economy, our problems and struggles are the same.
The two countries are blessed with gifted musicians, unfortunately that knowledge mostly only remains within the borders of each of the two countries. Making it onto the international scene remains only just a dream, and not a reality that most of these gifted musicians ever walk in. Once in a blue moon though, a song goes a bit further than most and we rejoice knowing that our flag goes with it. Such success and the fame that comes with it are, however, short-lived. There is a question of sustainability of the artists supplying more international-worthy material. I’m sure many of you have at one point or the other advised your local artists directly – through social media and other platforms – and the rest of you never being able to air out such thoughts.
“Our artist don’t make videos of international standard and quality. That’s why they can never get to compete on the international market,” some of you would say.
“Just listen to this music. The production is substandard. It is not worthy of international recognition,” the rest would remark.
Today, my beloved Namafans, I tell you that elsewhere in the world music is a multi-million dollar industry. Not in Malawi or Zambia.Nigeria alone has a population of 206 million individuals. Lagos alone has over 21 million people in just one city, Imagine it being Lusaka or Lilongwe having over 21 million people. A strong economy and the number of people who consume music as a product. This allows the artist in that country to go gather enough resources (money, management and creative teams) to invest in his/her music and music videos, running on budgets of over $35,000 at times. Such an artist willingly spend that much knowing that when it comes to local support, he/she already has an audience in the millions, not just at home but, widely spread across the world. almost every country on the surface of the Earth has a Nigerian. they say one in every 5 African is a Nigerian. Sales are not an issue in such a setup. A 200 million-strong population competing on a global scale with a 19 or 18 million population, a population that does not even match the population of the West African nation’s Capital city.
Then comes the issue of language.The language we speak and sing in is only used in these two countries and not even by everyone. If I sing in our tongue Ican only rest assured that my message will mostly only be understood within the borders of these two nations, who happen to be sister nations. Whether one likes it or not, be assured that language is a barrier.
People say music is a universal language. Well, you are right. Music is a universal language, but not the message that music carries. Music is the art of arranging “sounds” in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the cultural universal aspects of all human societies. Language is a system of communication used by a “particular country or community” in particular.
The great Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, it goes to his heart.”
Diamond Platinum has made it on a global scale singing his language and just a few spicy lines in English. His language,Swahili, is the second most spoken language in the whole of Africa. When he sings, his messages goes to the hearts of those whose language Swahili is, for they can fully grasp the meaning of each word. As for the rest of us, we just like the music not the message. That makes us consume just 50% of the product, with the actual message lost in translation. Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda DRC and some parts of Sudan and God knows where else Swahili is spoken and understood, is a population that is behind such African stars, and supports them dearly just as I am supported both here at home and in Zambia. The only challenge is that our population is low.
When Nigerians sing they, for instance, make sure that almost 40% of a particular song is in English, which is an International language. Call it Nigerian language for it sounds like their own language that they have managed to create, well fused with their own. For the sake of the international audience. that’s why you will constantly hear words like I will marry you, I love you, I will buy you a Lamborghini and other expensive materials. They make sure they make you understand their language using English as a substitute. French almost comes second to English on a global scale but do you ever wonder why you don’t know much about French music? It’s because you don’t speak French so you have spent your life listening to music made by Boys 2 Men, Westlife, Celine Dion and not Stromae or Vanessa Paradis or my favorite from Norway Emilie Nicolas. Indeed Language is a barrier. What we are able to understand has advantage over what we can not understand regardless the beauty in the art.
Back home in Malawi and Zambia, we will usually urge one to sing Chewa or Nyanja or Bemba. This is something we have done for generations. Do we have musical legends in our countries? The answer to that question is that we do have them. But why is our impact only felt within our borders? NUMBERS DON’T LIE.
It’s time we get out of our comfort zone. If we added our numbers together and formed one musical nation, that givens an individual artist an audience of over 37 million already. Malawi and Zambia forming one community.
As of Sunday the 24th of March, 2021, the population of South Africa, the largest of any nation in the SADC region, sat at 59,828,966. (Fifty nine million eight hundred and twenty eight thousand nine hundred and sixty six thousand) That nation also happens to have the strongest economy in the region. That explains why we consume their music as much as we do, and they don’t consume our own.
It is time to turn the tables. The languages we speak in the SADC regions are Bantu languages. I really don’t find it tough for me to pronounce the words. I just need help with translation.That’s why I am coming to your country in your language. We are one, competing against the world.
Again, Numbers don’t lie.
It’s time to unite and export our music on a global scale or continue singing and making products just for our friends and family. Talents we have, but it’s the numbers that we don’t have.The only way to achieve our global ambitions is to work together (collaborations) in the SADC bloc or speak in a language that speaks to one’s heart, if collaboration seems to prove difficult.
On 26th of March help me speak to South Africans. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. Let us add the numbers together and break the boundaries.
History teaches us that our ancestors were one people but broke away in groups. It is the colonial masters who put the dividing lines between us, but those lines are only imaginary. The truth is we are stronger together.
Namadingo from Malawi.