Growing up in a family of eight siblings is not the best thing to happen to somebody but to me it has proven the best experience ever, of course excluding the fights, the scramble for food and the competition for attention for attention from our parents.
Very few people would lie that they grew up in the 1990's and never felt the effect of reggae music, well I did in fact something happen ed with the advent of democracy that saw an influx of reggae cassettes into Malawi: Culture, Israel Vibration, UB40-there were times when discos refused to end until some reggae numbers were played tunes like UB40 'stick by me' or 'dub of injustice' by Israel Vibration.
My sibling adopted different names of Jamaican artists one called himself 'Grandson' mimicking Peter Tot and I was among them all the time but not knowing which name to use as a nickname and for some reason I ended up being called Cocoa-Tea in my secondary schools days but deep in my heart my best artists remained Mutabaruka and Culture's lead singer Joseph Hill.
In 2004 I could not wait any longer, I started terming myself Mutabaruka and my form four at St. Peters secondary school cemented the name as people never knew what it meant and yet liked it.
Fast-forward to 2010 am doing my internships with Blantyre Newspaper Limited in Mzuzu and being in Mzuzu where the paper delays to come I gets a call in the morning from my sister asking me if I was going to grace the Mutabaruka show. I jump from the chair and my fear is confirmed via twitter what would I do as penniless as I was then?
By 5pm that day I had got 14 calls some who had just realised that the name Mutabaruka was not mine after all and some who said I should not miss the show, my Facebook chat also saw pop ups like "mutaba! You coming to see your friend?"
I am not the spending type especially with my sober habits and I had no will to go but I was starting to feel obliged to attend the show at French cultural Centre and it was priced just at K500 but still I had stories to write and I had not made a decision yet.
It was Thursday and the show was the next day as I sat writing a story I told myself that I heard Mutabaruka chanting and when I opened the day's paper the man had arrived in the country, I panicked. I talked to my boss and he granted me leave especially after I lied that there was a wedding…but the money?
It was around 3pm and if I were to attend the show I had to leave in the next three hours because it's a good 12 hours to Blantyre, as I sat wondering where the transport money would come from I remembered that I kept my sisters ATM since she lives in a very rural area, suddenly I was good to go.
Equipped with a K5000 fished from my sisters account and a K1000 I had put together in the morning I wore a confident face and when a pickup with a Blantyre address caught my eyes I knew I was a step from Mutabaruka-despite an inscription not to get passenger, I paid the driver of this other company a K1500 and by four in the morning I was in Blantyre.
Skip the details where I wait for dawn to buy the ticket and where I slept but just fast-forward to dusk where I go to the French cultural Centre and there was the man without security around him and when I inched closer I saw who he was arguing with and I nearly cried; it was my blood brother, 'Grandson!'
I had to talk to the man to, so I fished out my dig cam and came to him as a journalist I said excuse me but no one seemed to care and my brother came and whispered to me, "if you waan fi talk fi de man just chip in," I did and soon I was arguing with my namesake, my model and hero over the role of Hemp in Rastafarianism.
Before I could pass the five minute mark, the show was declared start and as guest of honour Mutabaruka was ushered towards one of the front seats, I felt a loss but something tingled and my stomach felt light I had seen a man I have idolised for over 14 years.
When I sat down I was surprised to see some friends who I am sure had come on my insistence of course some had dates but who cares there I was and I knew that if there was anyone in within a hundred meters that can talk about Mutabaruka, I was only second to my brother because it was him we competed on downloading the poets speeches on his cutting edge radio show, lyrics and songs.
When Muta took to the stage, I knew exactly what to expect, I recited after him verbatim and when he touched on sensitive issues in his interludes that saw some people walk out of the show and some flinch uncomfortably, I just smiled and across the yard I saw my brother-also reciting every word.
I had no money to buy Muta's CD's or books with his autograph but I just walk up to him and gave out my hand which he took in enearst and I said "Muta, this was bigger than your encounter with Ian Boyne," he opened his eyes wider and refused to let go of my hand and said, "you saw that on the web? Thanks." I know he knew that I was not an ordinary fan and I hope he will remember the meeting like I do.
Before I could start my journey back to Mzuzu I had one more Mutabaruka fanatic to meet,BBC's Raphael Tenthani. I was in the back of his car and despite Chachacha Munthali barking to him to start the car, Raphael was fumbling over a Mutabaruka disc he had just bought and he wanted it played right there before he could start the car.
"I wonder if his autograph is clear, the signature is on a dark spot…I am meeting him at Shire Highland Hotel tomorrow," said Tenthani
I just smiled at Tenthani's acts and the next day I was on the bus and despite it being a really old machine breaking down and delaying us in Chikangawa and a phone call that some people had been drinking in my house fighting and toppling over things, I knew they were peripherals, I had my memories.