Malian afro-pop singer and songwriter Salif Keita was in Blantyre on Friday, perform¬ing at the French Cultural Centre but, sadly, the artist who is arguably one of Africa's stars of world music, left Malawi a frustrated soul as poor sound equipment spoiled what would other¬wise have been a completely dazzling concert.
It was not a gaffe of his own mak¬ing, so to say, but he was let down by the local technical team which failed to rectify the fault as they blamed it on cables that interfered with the equip¬ment's set-up.
Actually, the glitches prevailed even during the performances of acous¬tic artist Agorosso and the Chileka-based reggae outfit Black Missionaries before the Malian jumped on stage.
And the 1000-plus audience had to wait for close to an hour for Keita's band members to put together their act before finally staging their perfor¬mance.
Headlining the Blantyre Arts Festi¬val (Baf) which was officially opened on Thursday night, Keita would, sure¬ly, have wished for the best but the sound problem continuously tormented him when he dished out his first three songs.
The artist entered the stage in an impressive style as, to show his respect for the audience, he kneeled down be-fore them – and then went down to seri¬ous business.
Dubbed the 'Golden Voice of Af¬rica', Keita's 45-minute performance rekindled memories of the past exploits of several other key foreign artists who performed at the once mighty hub of entertainment. The audience went crazy when he finally performed the popular hit, Africa.
"Thank you so much. Zikomo," said Keita, marking the end of his act, which featured six songs in total.
Despite the sound woes, many pa¬trons expressed satisfaction at the per¬formance with one Andy Phiri saying "it has been good to watch this tal¬ented artist live. Of course, Iam sad¬dened that the sound equipment let him down big time but, all the same, Keita showed he is one of Africa's music greats."
The night cannot just go without mentioning the electric performance of US professional percus¬sionist Leon Mobley and other local artists like Ben Mankhamba alongside Bea¬trice Kamwendo who dis¬played, probably, the best of African drumming.
Lilongwe-based reggae artist Sally Nyundo and his Run Tingz Band as well as Fikisa also staged their per¬formances.
Poetry fans were treated to blazing performances by renowned vernacular poets Sylvester Kalizang'oma, Babangoni Chisale, Hudson Chamasowa and Michael Benjala, among others.