By CHILUFYA CHISENSE
IN the late 1990s, there was a refreshing moment on the Zambian music scene when the Lumbani Madoda, translated as ‘rejoicing elders’ emerged doing some very interesting gospel the Kalindula/ Rhumba way.
Committed to spreading the gospel through music, the nine member band came up with the most disciplined, most compact and most mature musical arrangements in the entire music industry at the time.
They became renowned on the local music scene with their initial albums, ‘Naluntutwe’ and ‘Mulibakatami’— with the former setting up a debate among the faithful as it carried a lyrical rework of PK Chishala’s hit track ‘Chimbayambaya.’ Also on the same album was a hit titled as ‘Kalimwitobo’— a piece that heavily criticized Christian hypocrisy.
This band which at one time underwent a major reformation has since released 8 albums and has become a household name.
Initially started with members such Rev Robbie Chishimba, Mr Benson Miti, Mr Elvis Zola, Mr Oswald Mulenga, Mr Richard Mulanda, Mr Zakeyo Nguni and Mr Jack Sakala, the Lumbani Madoda is led by Pastor Dickson Chinyanga.
This past week, I caught up with Pastor Chinyanga who took some time to share his life story.
Pastor Chinyanga was born in 1975— on November 30 to be precise. He was born in a family of four boys and he happens to be the third born. His mother is Elizabeth and the father who passed away in 1997 was called Dominic Chinyanga.
He started his grade one at Nim Tree Primary School in Kabwe in 1984 and he did his higher education in the Eastern Province at Mambwe Secondary School.
He recalls that singing was always his thing as he started singing right when he was a child. He said he also used to sing in the school choir.
And that is why when he completed his twelfth grade in 1995, he started singing in the church praise team at Family of God Church where he still sings.
He said the church choir (Family singers) had favorable media coverage through the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). And it was through such media exposures that the talent in Pastor Chinyangi was identified by scouts from the Lumbani Madoda band.
“We were exposed more to the Zambian people through TBN. We used to appear so much on TBN and through that, Lumbani Madoda discovered me and said there is a talent in me. They approached me to join the band in 2000.”
Through Lumbani Madoda, he said, he was exposed to ‘real music.’
“I was used to music from choir having come from the choir background. In Lumbani Madoda, I found people who had vast experience and have been in music for a very long time,” he recalled adding that most of the people he found in the band used to sing in different secular bands like P.K Chishala’s band, Masasu band, and Green Label’s band.
Pastor Chinyanga has been part of the band since then and managed to rise through the ranks to become the band leader today.
In 2011, he went to Bible School to study School Ministry. He got ordained as a pastor last year in February. He said he rarely uses the title of ‘pastor’ because the title has been abused by a lot of people to threaten and corn people.
Pastor Chinyanga describes himself as one of those people who— though not perfect— has been living a quite upright life since childhood.
“I do not have any testimony like fwaka nalepepa (I used to smoke), ubwalywa nalenwa (I use to drink alcohol), women and so forth. Twakula fye abashishita ( I grew up shy and on a low profile). I have always been a church person,” he recalled, chuckling from time to time.
And Pastor Chinyanga is not one of those people who depends on one source of income— he is a jack of trades.
Apart from music, he also runs a business within the Lusaka central business district where he deals in a variety of electronic items ranging from laptops, television sets and DVD players.
In my chat with Pastor Chinyanga, he also took time to explain some of the factors that have led the Lumbani Madoda to being a successful band.
“As ministers of the gospel, we understand that the text is more important than music and the messages should be based on the word of God. It is the word of God which ministers, converts, teaches and blesses people,” he said.
He went on: “The factor that determines the way people react or respond to music are culture and language. And the musical elements are very important. Culture and language play a very important role to make people accept the music and love it. Apart from language we pick the typical beat of a particular beat.”
He also revealed some of the projects Lumbani Madoda will be embarking on in the near future.
“We would like to come up with a praise team to just worship. It will be a worship group. And this year we would like to translate some of our songs into Swahili so that we can reach out to the people in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda,” he said adding that the release of an album comprising the old and forgotten church hymns is also on the cards.
When asked what kind of advice he would offer to upcoming singers, Pastor Chinyanga was quick to point to the issue of culture preservation.
He encouraged upcoming gospel artistes to embrace the Zambian culture and preserve it even as they minister through music. He said everything should not be copied from the western world.
“I am not saying all the musicians should be singing akalindula or akalela but it is also important to preserve our culture. Let’s not throw away akalindula, amanchancha and go for R ‘n’ B. It is not our music,” he said.
He also called on gospel artistes to get born again and understand their faith. He said the faith that they have must be based on love. He also advised them to involve God in their music as it was impossible to succeed in the industry without God on their side.
“Musicians should let their music have anointing so that even without being marketed it will sell and touch many lives,” he said.
On the production of gospel music videos, Pastor Chinyanga is of the view that gospel singers should not overdo the dancing in their videos. He said that when played back even without sound, a gospel video must be easily identified as gospel and not mistaken for secular because of the dance moves.