Reliving the legend

THE Alick Nkhata Band leader David Nkhata interacts with the audience during the show. PICTURE: COLLINS PHIRI

HIS music career began in the 1950s and he became influential as a musician not only in Zambia but in Malawi and Zimbabwe with a career lasting into the 80s.

So influential was he that there is even a road named after him in Lusaka.
The late Alick Nkhata was considered the most popular African musician of his time in Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
The Alick Nkhata memorial concert held last Saturday at Lusaka’s Alliance Francaise was meant to revive the late artist’s music and replay some of his greatest hits.
It was organised by his family which also plans to establish a foundation in his memory.
The concert consisted of the New Age Alick Nkhata quartet as well as the Alick Nkhata band which featured his son, David Nkhata as lead vocalist.
The Alick Nkhata Choir was also a key highlight on the programme.
Many of Nkhata’s popular songs were performed on the night including hits such as Ifilamba done by the Alick Nkhata Quartet and Imbote by the Alick Nkhata Choir.
Others were Station Ya Mweo and Maggie.
Station Ya Mweo is a song Nkhata uses to encourage a person who is struggling not to give up hope while waiting for the “transport to take him to heaven.”
Imbote looks at how people have become lovers of alcohol and don’t care how they are spending their time anymore. He warns that if people don’t take care, they will lose their minds because of alcohol.
The late Alick Nkhata was also a teacher and Second World War soldier and farmer as well as an announcer with the Central African Broadcasting Service (CBS) before and after it relocated from Lusaka to the then Salisbury (Harare) where he met and teamed up with the likes of Sam Matambo and Elias Banda.
Nkhata was also once the Zambian Broadcasting Services (ZBS) director and formed a band called the Lusaka Radio Band which was later called the Big Gold Six Band.
Nkhata is said to have devoted his life to the preservation of traditional Zambian music and his late-’40s quartet, which evolved into the larger Lusaka Radio Band, performed regularly on Zambian radio during the 1950s.
Last month, on October 19 marked 40 years since his death after he was caught in crossfire during a cross border raid against Zimbabwean freedom fighters.
An album of Nkhata’s best known songs, Shalapo and Other Love Songs: Original Zambian Hits from the 1950s, was released in 1991.

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