28 June 2012

Zambia: Liks Banda's Last Drum Beat

DARK days are here again in the world of music and many hearts are broken.

Liketso Banda, who died Friday June 22, was a gifted human being who loved his drums to death.

He was 31. Justifiably, many would contend that he was too young to die.

But as Myles Munroe once put it, is not the number of years one has that counts, but the life in those years.

A marvellous drummer he was, he had a better sense of rhythm and could pull off stuff others would not.

He made drumming seem so effortless and attractive.

Liks as he was known to friends and in the music circles has indeed left a huge gap in the industry of music.

Usually when a band is performing, much of the credit goes to those behind the micro-phone.

As for Liketso a people person, he could not be ignored.

He has died in the prime of his life, and lots of people are having a hard time getting over his death from cardiac arrest.

Well, the moments he picked up drums sticks you knew you will be in for a music treat.

He beat his drums with such amazing grace and sometimes violently with burning passion.

You could say he hit drums quite the way Keith Green obsessively plucked the Piano.

Outpouring messages of grief and tributes flooded his Facebook page throughout the week.

Why else in the world would someone be recognised for playing drums (an aspect of band thats hardily recognised?

Well, it means someone must be really good.

As Shakespeare asked in centuries past "What is in a name?"

Liketso's name in Sesotho meant 'acts" or "deeds" and yes there is no question his life spoke for itself.

'It is hard to believe he is no more.

Gospel music has lost a talented young man so early," says Able Kaoma, a Hillsong trained music teacher.

True, the gospel music fraternity has lost a general who would be definitely so hard to replace.

Saxophonist Nathan Nyirenda wrote on his page "Sometimes there are no words to express what is felt on the inside".

His older Brother,Valentine was lost for words.

"I thought I knew him; I can to him fully his funeral.

I thought he was just a drummer but never knew to what extent his skills hard impact on people," he said.

He talked of a cultured young man who grew off his childhood pretty early in life.

At the time of his death, he was looking after two dependants that he was sponsoring.

"It's hard to imagine the boy I used to take to school is no more," he said.

Just as his bulky stature, he was larger than life.

Many people never knew he was a twin. His twin brother, died in infancy.

In speech, he would stammer, but he never was a habitual stammer.

It only came on intervals. Ironically, he was a good debater, which he excelled to a point of wining debate competition in high school.

He was a modest footballer too, when he was growing up.

He was close to his mother and was the last born of her three children.

Since he was close to his mother, some people believe her death two years ago could have sent him into depression.

If she was alive during his death, she could have collapsed to death.

Anyhow, his love for music was huge.

From his days at Northmead Assemblies of God Church to the time he became a member of Mount Zion, the baby-faced drummer remained true to his call.

It is no wonder his passion became apparent to lots of people even beyond the Christian circles.

He featured on various projects for Zambian artistes.

This author interacted with him, when a member of the Common Ground, a Ndola based band (now defunct), that used to comprise seasoned guitarist Victor Kasoma (Uncle Victor), Bassist Sheba Chintu and Oral Roberts schooled and contemporary pianist Blessingtone Malenga.

Common Ground was a brain child of Ndola Business executive Steven Chikopa,who treated Liketso as his own son.

"He was a jovial young man.

Sometimes, I feel bad that I let him go toLusaka.

He was a talented young man," he said.

As Americans would say folks like him don't come easily.

They come once in a life time.

They leave such huge impact both in life and death.

Many are still grappling his death, wondering if it was too early for him to cross over to the other side of eternity.

His taste for music was vast and that somehow contributed to his growth as a seasoned drummer.

He collaborated on various projects with various artistes in the industry.

Sidique Gondwe, now based in Atlanta United States of America (USA), described Liketso as a legend in his own right.

Sidque and Liketso linked up in a once influential youth ministry gospel outreach back in the mid-1990s.

He was 14, when he crossed paths with Sidque, a former worship leader at Dunamis in Lusaka.

Right away, the outgoing Sidque became sort of a mentor to the budding drummer.

Two years later the Tribe was formed.

He joined shortly afterwards.

"He was extremely teachable, humble and I guarantee you I have never seen him angry or upset," he recalls.

As tribe member of the Tribe Called Christians, they travelled for ministry in Zimbabwe and Kitwe where he played drums on almost all the songs.

Each singing group in the tribe would pick on which drummer they wanted on their songs.

He was always their first pick."In our formative years, the tribe became arguable the most influential youth ministry and Liks' drumming skills were at the centre of where our clout lay," he recalls.

When he briefly travelled to America for a year or more the group felt the void.

However, his return took the Tribe Called Christians back to where it left off.

Long before his death, he planned of someday establishing a drumming school to train youths wishing to learn drums.

That was his dream.Uncle Victor a veteran guitarist who happened to have played with in Common Ground, described the drummer, as great.

"I remember travelling as a band to Burundi back in 2008 where we performed at some resort by the shores of Lake Victoria.

The memories are still fresh.

'We have lost a gifted young man," said Kasoma, a former member of a 1970s band Oscillations.

With Liketso on the drums, Blessingstone Malenga on the keyboards, Uncle Victor on the Gibson guitar and Sheba Chintu on bass, Common Ground was a band to beat in terms of live performance.

Perhaps, the most memorable performance was during the 2008, Mukuba Awards, which featured Zimbabwean great Oliver Mtukudzi.

Memories are still fresh about how they charmed the crowd with their Afro-American centric tunes, before Mtukudzi took the stage.

When former WITCH frontman Jagari Chanda took the stage, Liketso and band members too took the crown by storm.

Cox Phiri from Kabwe took the lead guitar in a Jimmy Hendrix style, while Uncle Victor withdrew to the rhythm guitar.

Sheba remained on bass while Blessingtone took control of the keybords. It was Zamcrok, and he hit the drums as though it were for the last time.

There is no question, if Common Ground had lived, it would have been the best contep live band in Zambia, and could have raised the country's profile in the sub-region and beyond.

It is no wonder a wealthy Arab, who witnessed Common Ground's performance at a Burundi resort hotel, wanted to take the band to Dubai for good.

True combinations like that are quite hard to come by and paradoxically, they do not last.

"We couldn't sign the deal with the man because we were in a foreign country and only had a day to leave for Zambia.

The man was so fascinated with our performance and approach to music," said Mr Kasoma.

Somehow, people were disappointed with the demise of the band that was growing in popularity in Ndola.

But that is dead history. The issue now is Liketso is gone and quite frankly he would be terribly missed.

Munda Palale, the manager of Organology, a band he last played with comprising Sheba Chintu, Jones Kabanga, Laston Hamonga, was devastated about the drummer's death.

"The moment he stopped showing up for rehearsals, I knew the situation had become serious.

I was running up and down trying to get things done for him," he said.

His friend and former band,, Blessingtone simply put it "He was a man who wanted to enjoy life, love, and friends.

He advanced in his music but I always told him eal is ability to relate withAs

everyone at any level."

As Blessingstone puts it, many people think, he would be remembered for his drumming but it is really the art of diplomacy he had at all levels, burning bridges with no one making and maintainingfriendships.

The drums and talent simply placed a spotlight on him and gave a great personality and platform to impact many on a deep personal level.

One of his favourite artistes, American gospel musician Kirk Franklin's summed it up in one of the lines of his

Help Me Believe

song when he sang; "I wanna believe.

When I close my eyes on this side I'll wake up with you.

More in love with you and finally you will say my race it is over.

And my work is through, because I believed in you". Paradoxically, Leketso, ran his race at 31.

He has crossed over to the other side mingle of eternity. It was a privilege to mingle with him this side of life.He will be greatly missed!

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