10 November 2012

Zambia: Nicky Mwanza - Passing of a Legend


The cold hand of death has struck again tightening its noose on one of the music fraternity's best artiste this country has ever produced.

This is the sad story of a veteran musician Nicky Mwanza who passed on at UTH in Lusaka on the evening of Tuesday, November 6, 2012. He was diabetic.

It was indeed a dark day for scores of surviving Zambian legends who received shocking news of this music virtuoso as he answered God's call, quashing their hopes like the diminishing sun setting on the western horizon.

He joins the long queue of those others who had gone before him in the likes of Alick Nkhata, Spokes Chola, Isaac Mapiki, Alfred Chisala Kalusha of the Itumba fame, Paul Ngozi, Keith Mlevhu, Emmanuel Mulemena, Teddy Chilambe, Smokey Haangala, PK Chishala, Morris Mwape of the Five Revolutions, Teddy Makombe of the Peace, Agudu Chimenya (Mr big stuff) of the Afro Mods, Chali Musenge of the Distro Kuomboka, Champion Banda and the rest of the Big Gold Six Band members and well, the list is endless.

Born in Malova Towhship now called Chibolya in 1943, Mwanza is one character never to be over shadowed for having stirred up the dawn of some of the country's best Zamrock bands.

This is the man who has witnessed the rise and fall of Zamrock and learnt how to survive this tough musical terrain which has seen scores fall on the sides.

He etched his name on the local music scene when while playing in the Cross Bones, did a song Mwebalume Bandi, in a duet with song bird Violet Kafula in 1975.

With the Cross Bones, he followed it up with songs like Lizzie and Real before settling on an album called Wiseman which was also a hit on the local scene.

Mwanza was instrumental in the formation of the Cross Town Traffic, and then the Cross Bones Band now called Amayenge with the late Chris Chali in 1973.

His illustrious career has seen him involve himself in various music projects and had a hand in the formation of almost all the bands starting from the Afro Dynamite, Born Free, Green Buffaloes Combo, Directions, Two-some, Tokoza, Just Fusion and lately, he was performing at Pamodzi Hotel with Cephas Maseko and Zacks Mazumbo.

He is also credited for releasing hit songs like Mukazi Wanga, Ako Ukwete Ni ako kene, Aka Koni and a solo album in which he was backed by the now defunct Amba 04 called Kambembile.

On this album which had songs like Mukazi Wanga, Chikashana, Chilumemdo, Chimutima Paku, Malwa, and Kamukowa which were all done at Lusaka's DB Studios?

Jones Kabangwe played lead and while he played rhythm, Aggrey Ndopu (Bass) and Daniel Banda was on Keyboard.

Many fans will miss him because of his stage gimmicks and originality; he was always jovial and eager to move forward musically.

He had a number of music projects and wanted to wrap it up with a Gospel album which he was about to release had it not been for his untimely death.

His colleague Mazumbo describes his death as a great loss to the music fraternity.

"Nicky was a very understanding man and good to work with. I personally had no problems with him," Mazumbo said.

Big Gold Six Band band leader Agrippa Kalela described Mwanza's death as shocking.

"I can't believe that he is gone, it is very shocking to me," he says.

Violet Kafula, who worked closely with the late musician, especially on the Mwe balume Bandi hit song, says she will greatly miss him because he was her pillar.

"I will really Miss Nicky for he is the one who introduced me to rock music, he was my pillar. Cross Bones were quite a closely knit family. Now the only original members left are George Mlauzi and I," she moaned.

Kafula insisted that legends be honoured while alive but sadly enough, the old school of musicians are not recognised until they pass on.

Talking to this soft spoken musician while he was alive was a great pleasure and revealed a lot about his character and commitment towards music.

At the time of his demise, Mwanza was a member of the English church choir at St. Joseph Parish in Chilenje where his spouse is member of the St Anna Catholic lay group.

Eight children and eleven grand children survive him.

Nicky Joe Mwanza will be greatly missed among his contemporaries who will ever remember him for one of his songs; Ako Ukwete Ni ako kene.- May his soul rest in eternal peace.

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