KELVIN KACHINGWE, Monze
AS they have done since the year 2000, thousands of lovers of Tonga traditional music descended on Radio Chikuni grounds in Monze last weekend for the All Tonga Music Festival, a two-day event which by its sheer numbers, is one of the biggest in the country.
For a first-time visitor, well, maybe even for those who are regulars, they will be amused and confused by some of the musical instruments and styles on display.
But that is not to worry, if you love good music, you will love the concert.
Of course some names have become household â€“ names like Mashombe Blue Jeans, Tusole Band, X Band and Green Mamba, and so, while you may not see them competing, you will certainly see them on stage performing during breaks. And when you watch them do their stuff, you will certainly trust them to hold their own anywhere.
The standards at the festival keep improving almost every year and the competition is becoming stiff. For instance, for a long time, Rhodrick Mungala has dominated in a category called Kuyabila. But this year, he found the going tough and could only manage second place.
â€œA number of regular performers were missing this year, but the standards keep improving every year and the competing is getting stiff. Weâ€™ve been doing some training workshops with most of them, and you can see that their performances are improving,â€ said chief adjudicator Brian Shakarongo, who together with master guitarist â€œSirâ€ Jones, has been conducting the training workshops.
Well, it seems Rhodrick will have to indeed work hard if he has to reclaim his place as the king of Kuyabila.
He lost his number one position this year to Stephen Kanyanga, who polled 211 points, two better than him. Robert Habeenzu was third with 192 points.
In the cilimba category, Bruno Habwele was the winner with a score of 213 against Solon Nanguluâ€™s 145 while Bbala Mwana Tweende won the Masabe category after polling 194 points against 164 recorded by Ngoma Ya Mwami Ufwenuka and 155 by Sikamunika Band.
In the Chikaambe Kaambe category, Lasesa Culture won after scoring 2011 against the 181 that Kennedy Mutinta posted.
Yes, there was Hungry Lion as the winner in the Seesa category, scoring 183 points against the 166 recorded by Namangoma Culture.
In the Kalindula category, Jabalando brothers won after scoring 177 points, beating Kalijamine Sola Band and Bulanda Reverse Gear who recorded 176 and 174 points. Bina Lilly won the Kutwa category with a runaway 205 votes against the 155 registered by Florence Himpyali.
Other winners were Mangoma Kulila (Mantyantya), Junior Haampongo (Ndikiti), Oscar Mazila (Lemba), Tubuke band (Kweema) Tucebe Band (Chiyayaale) and Michelo School (Ngoma â€“ Masabe), Tuyandane Band (Bukonkoolo), Mulundu band (Kukambilwa), Enock Mbongwe (Kalumbu), Katuya Band (Twist), Bana Haampongo )Kalyaba), Namalizyi (Chigome) and Savity Tumbuchanji (Maguitor).
KELVIN KACHINGWE, Monze