Charles Muyamwa: End of multi talented veteran’s era… (Obituary)

25 January 2014

PICTURE: Charles Muyanwa with wife Patricia and son

WHO will play the saxophone and guitar? And who will read the news? In both his careers, he is considered among the best.

His death, confirmed yesterday, 24th January, 2014, by the Zambian Mission in Pretoria, South Africa, shocked many people.

He’s dead? When did he die? Where did he die from? These were the common responses when news of his death filtered through.

Charles Muyamwa, 69, who had also suffered blindness, died on Thursday night at Little Company of Mary in Pretoria, where his wife Patricia is First Secretary (Tourism) at the Zambia Mission.

He leaves behind Patricia and seven children, five boys and two girls. The other girl, Brenda Nalishebo, died in 2007.

Cephas “Summer Time” Maseko, who pioneered the Sweet Soul Show on Zambian television in the 80s and worked with Mr Muyamwa at the Zambia Broadcasting Services (ZBS), the forerunner to the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), describes the deceased, as a man who appreciated quality both as a broadcaster and as a musician.

“Charles was true value, a true journalist and musician, he loved quality and perfection despite being modest in appearance. As a musician, he loved was his food,” Summer Time, considered one of this country’s best vocalists, says.

In terms of his voice, former ZBS director-general Steven Moyo ranks Mr Muyumwa alongside Joseph Kuluneta and Cosmo Mulongoti.

“He was a great broadcaster, one of the best the country has produced. In terms of the voice, he is in the rank of Cosmo Mulongoti and Joseph Kuluneta, on the music side, Alick Nkhata,” Dr Moyo says.

Mateo Phiri, the 5fm proprietor who worked with Mr Muyamwa remembers him as a thorough person both in his preparation as well as his presentation.

“He had a passion for his job and his music, all in all a dedicated person. A great loss, my thoughts go to his wife and children,” he said.

Mr Muyamwa, who was born in Mongu in 1945, joined ZBS in 1965 as an announcer on the General Service, now Radio One, but was later inducted to become a television presenter and introduced a programme called Sunday Interview which had a good following.

In 1966, he was sent to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the United Kingdom to pursue a course and practical experience in TV production for nine months.

He left ZBS in 1972 to join the Nchanga Consolidated Copper Mines (NCCM), where he rose to the rank of director-programmes, and later public relations manager in what later became the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) Limited.

A founder member of the National Arts Council of Zambia (NAC), Mr Muyamwa acquired literacy skills through a course with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) and made several audio and video recordings, including MATANGU-Lozi Fireside Stories with English subtitles, and authored two books on Zambian music that have been recommended textbooks by the Curriculum Development Centre.

But his time at ZBS remains an indelible mark!

“If there is one person that I owe my life to is the late Charles Muyamwa. My broadcasting journey started in 1970, thanks to Charles Muyamwa who was head of operations and programmes then.

“I had just completed my secondary school when I answered an advert to employ announcers. When I went for interviews, I was directed to Charles and when I met him for the first time, I was in total awe with the man who was my hero,” renowned broadcaster and Zambia’s ambassador to Italy Frank Mutubila says.

He adds: “I had been watching him for a couple of times and here I was face to face with the best broadcaster of my time-undoubtedly the best news caster, producer, interviewer famous for Sunday Interview. When we finished what turned out to be a short interview, I was given the job immediately and the following day I started the job and the rest is history.”

Mr Mutubila, whose programme Frank Talk was one of the most popular television programmes in the 90s, says he modelled his presentation on Mr Muyamwa but one thing he remembers which stood him in good stead is when he told him that he had noticed that he was trying to speak like him.

He said: “Frank, if you want to be good, be yourself-there can only be one original.”

“The man who employed me later became my best friend and our best times were when we sat in the evenings as he played the guitar- his favourite songs were by Chet Atkins for those from the old times! I can only describe him as the broadcasters’ broadcaster,” Mr Mutubila says.

When ZBS was transforming into ZNBC, Mr Muyamwa was asked to help in turning it into a real corporation.

ZBNC director general Chibamba Kanyama says as a corporation, they are highly indebted to Mr Muyamwa as he played an effective role in transformation of the public broadcaster.

“These were working as civil servants. So, so much was needed to be done in the transformation, they needed new thinking. But even afterwards, he remained available to give guidance where necessary. Even when I was appointed, as there was no board in place, he was always there, either through a phone call or in person whenever it was possible to see him.

“ZNBC was known for its entertainment on radio, but he played a key in ensuring that entertainment was brought to the television through music and drama. From their generation, we can learn discipline and professionalism.

“They valued quality; these are the people who made their names through their works. They were not in the job to make names, but the work they did made names for them unlike the situation where everyone wants their names known.”

What is Mr Muyamwa’s name in music?

Known for his skill with the saxophone, his roots in music can be traced to Mongu where he was born. An uncle is said to have influenced him to take up the guitar or more appropriately, the banjo before he graduated to the dry guitars.

His early influence was the African jazz which dominated the cities of the then Northern and Southern Rhodesia.

His debut album, which came at the time he had left ZBS for NCCM, was A Zambian Guitar, which he recorded at DB Studios in Lusaka in the 1970s, is considered one of the best instrumentals to ever be released in Zambia.

An all-instrumental with an explicit saxophone, it had songs like Mama Rosa, Loving You (is my way of Living), Chiyeye, Windi La’ngani and Ikosole.

Mr Muyamwa also released Yester Year, also recorded at DB Studios and engineered by the renowned sound technician Peter Musungilo. This album had songs like Maoma Alila, Mulisana, I am going to the River (Am going, going, going) which the then ZBS adopted for its Children’s Radio programme. His other song memory lane, was also adopted by ZBS and came on as an interlude before news.

After going relatively quiet in terms of albums, he came back in 1999 to release Dance Zambia Dance on which he was backed by Sista D (Daputsa Nkhata) and Sister Beauty (Beauty Matandalizwa).

The title-track of the album Dance Zambia Dance (Kuna Ku Keng’a ku Unda, eng’aa), is a Lunda song which was equally popular on both radio and television.

Otherwise, it had other songs like Tilailane, Tutine, Nahaye Ya Zambia and Zambian Dance.

When he left ZBS in 1972, Mr Muyamwa also had a stint at Malachite Studios in Chingola which was then being run by the mines where he linked up with late veteran folk singer Emmanuel Mulemena, of the Mulemena Boys, which produced hits such as Mbokoshi Ya Lufu.

When he was transferred to Kitwe in 1976 to work at Mutondo House as divisional secretary, Mr Muyamwa formed a band called Conga Connection which had in its ranks Victor Kasoma, a former oscillation guitarist who took the lead guitar.

Mr Muyamwa took the second guitar while Peter Shiliba was on drums and Burton Mugala on bass.

The multi-instrumentalist, who used to run a shop on Lusaka’s Cairo Road called Art Mart, also played cabaret at Hotel Edinburgh in Kitwe alongside Thelma Holland with whom he recorded a single titled Feeling Happy.

Who will now sing?

Source - Zambia Daily Mail

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