Gillan Chishimba: Guitarist, drummer, songwriter, singer, extraordinaire

Untold Profile with FELIX NYAMBE
WHEN he is strumming his most prized possession – an acoustic guitar, or is singing some free-flowing Kalindula songs, the likes of Jonathan Chibesa and PK Chishala must be turning in their graves.
Give him any Kalindula classic song, on any stage, Gillan Chishimba, arguably one of the finest guitarists and songwriters to have emerged in recent times, is simply a phenomenon.
He may have gone through a rough path in his early life after his parents divorced in 1995 when he was only two years old, but the young prodigy is slowly picking up his broken “bones”.
The first born in a family of three (one has since passed on), Gillan began his amazing music career at a tender age of five and by the time he was 10, he was already turning heads.
“I was born and bred in Samfya, at Chief Mwewa’s Chapo Village of Luapula Province, where I learnt all the tricks of the guitar and drums,” revealed an enthusiastic Gillan, 23.
By the time the recording and performing youngster was celebrating his 10th birthday, he was miles ahead of his peers at Masanta Primary School, music wise.
His absence at most school and village “sundowns” was often felt as his name would always pop up to make the whole extravaganza worth the party.
Each time he moved around the village with his home made banjo (made out of an old cooking oil tin), Gillan would be stopped for a miniature “gig”, which often left his fans surprised.
“Before I began performing my own songs, I largely entertained my fans with songs made popular by Kalindula music greats such as PK Chishala, the Glorious Band, Eagles Band of the Bamutoba Amayanda fame, as well as Nashil Pichen Kazembe,” Gillan stated.
But it was evidently the folks on the streets who relished the youngster’s guitar wizardry because even congregants at is local Catholic Church where he played the guitar, were dump-founded by his talent.
In 2007, as fate would have it, after writing his grade seven examinations, Gillan constantly suffered from feats, the disease which made him to discontinue his education.
“Despite attaining some good results at grade seven,” Gillan said, “I could not further my education due to constant feats, and this left me with one option, music.”
And because his father who is a fisherman back in the village in Samfya and his mother who has since relocated to Monze, could not help matters, Gillan moved to Kitwe to stay with his uncle. And then his woos continued.
Seemingly abandoned and left to fend for his livelihood, Gillan decided to relocate to Lusaka on a job hunting spree that would eventually put a roof on his head and food on the table.
His unknown destination landed him a K100 per month one room in the sprawling Garden Township and quickly “settled” down, but not without the challenges which go with life.
Fortunately for Gillan, gospel artiste Hezron Ngosa, gifted him with, probably, one item he never dreamed of in is life time – an acoustic guitar.
For Gillan, this marked a milestone in his blossoming career and sooner than later, the refined guitarist, who plays the bass, rhythm and lead guitars, was all over the stages.
“I have featured on Smooth Talk show many times and when time permits, I find myself on the streets where I occasionally perform at a fee,” Gillan said.
But even then, the little he makes on the streets cannot sustain him and so, two weeks ago, Gillan landed himself a casual job with Seba’s Foods.
With his eyes fixed on making his own world a better place to live in and completing his education hot on his “menu”, Gillan has since embarked on recording his live music, but not without hurdles.
With such intriguing social commentary songs as Kwangala Takupwa, Umweo Tabashita, Life Yaku Sungwa, Wilaibika Epo Tawaba and Ichalo Ifi Tefyo Chali in his books, Gillan is geared to set new trends.
And that is not all! When he looks back from where the Lord brought him, Gillan reckons there is need to worship and praise the Lord in good and bad times.
And he does this in his own gospel ditties titled Tawakapusukile Muli Pastor and Lesa Wandi, which are quite comforting and healing songs.
“With sponsors and promoters permitting, I would really love to record my music…. and who knows, maybe I will sell my music and go back to school,” Gillan comforted himself.

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