Part of the fans who graced the celebrations
Andiamo ground in Balaka on Saturday filled to capacity when people braved the sweltering heat that hovered around 35 degrees Celsius, to celebrate 35th anniversary of the country’s only oldest and surviving music group, Alleluya Band.
Very few music groups in any genre of popular music remain as stable over such a period of time. But, founded in 1978, by a Catholic missionary priest, Fr. Mario Pacifici, the band through its music, has evangelized both nationally and internationally while singing life with joy for over three decades without a break.
The celebration lived up to its billing. It pulled together both old and new members. Old members included Sir Paul Banda, Foster Chimangafisi, Mattias ‘Amjiba’ Kalima, Noel Makadali, Vincent Kachingwe, Pat ‘Abig’ Tung’ande, Peter Phiri, Ronald Sanena and Samson Chikoti.
Only Lucius Banda and Charles Sinetre, who also served the band for some time, did not attend as they had other engagements.
Paul Banda and Samson Chikoti
With Paul and Chikoti on both vocals and guitars, Makadali on bass guitar, Phiri and Kachingwe on keyboards and Tung’ande on drums, the veterans reminded people of their good old days when they performed songs such as ‘Malilime’, ‘Chimwemwe’, ‘Tizamtamanda Ambuye’ among others.
Mirella Nkhoma on stage
Forgotten Mirella Nkhoma, who took the music fraternity by storm in the early 2000’s by being one of the youngest stage performers, did ‘Ndiinuyo Makolo’ which was greeted by applause.
Ben Michael Mankhamba spiced up the celebration with a disciplined performance. Backed by the Zigzaggers Band alongside Jenala Sisters, Mankhamba lit up the show by dishing out ‘Baobab Tree’, N’chimodzimodzi’ and ‘Msampha’.
Maskal steals the show
However, it was Maskal who stole the show. Although he came last on the menu as he arrived late due to other commitments, the ‘Udalire’ star kept the audience, that comprised a majority of youths, dancing all through and singing along songs like ‘Usatope’, ‘Zili Ndiiwe’ and ‘Ukamasekelera’.
“Every Malawian should be proud of Alleluya Band. We can’t talk about music in the country without mentioning this band,” said Mankhamba.
Maskal said it was an honour for him to be invited to perform at the occasion.
“This is a band I respect. It has remained intact for the past 35 years which is very good,” said Maskal.
Cos Chiwalo, Don Cesare and Paul Banda
During the event, Paul Banda was honoured with a trophy for serving the band with unreserved dedication.
By Bartholomew Kawina