Rastaman spared singing agony

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 08:57:39 +0000

RASTA Thomas Lyozhi of Lusaka was an upcoming young musician and composer with a peculiar problem: once a popular vocalist with a local reggae outfit, he could now only use his beautiful voice to sing within the confines of his home but not at public functions!

The reason?  Since 1987, he had been having strange experiences in which, while rehearsing at home, there would be nothing apparently wrong with his voice. But let him enter a recording studio or go for rehearsals with some band, and then his voice would “disappear”!

“I would stand there like a fool and simply fail to sing. At times, I would develop a hiccup or something would choke my throat so that I couldn’t utter even a word. Then I would stop right there,” Lyozhi narrated in an interview with this writer way back in November, 1990.

The peculiar nature of these experiences was that as soon as Lyozhi returned home, he would recover his voice and be able to practise his songs again!

For example, a few weeks before, Lyozhi had gone to the Ridgeway Hotel (since renamed Southern Sun Ridgeway Hotel) to see Ackim Simukonda (now late) over the possibility of his playing with the resident band there. He was not able to see his would-be host and this is how he explained it:

“As I approached the entrance to the hotel, I suddenly developed a splitting headache which made me somewhat dizzy. In the meantime, I also developed some excruciating stomach pains. As you can imagine, I was in big trouble.

“A kind motorist gave me a lift into town where I was to get a minibus to my township. I know you won’t believe it, but as soon as the motorist had dropped me at the bus stop, both headache and the stomach pains disappeared just  like that,” he recalled.

According to him, it appeared as if whoever was responsible for these mysterious happenings had some “magic mirror” through which he monitored all his movements.

“I found it rather strange that if my trip to a place had something to do with music, then I would be sure that something was likely to crop up to stop me accomplishing my mission,” he said.

“But if, on the other hand, I visited a place for any other reason apart from music, I was able to accomplish whatever I intended to do.”

Lyozhi was thus convinced that the headache and stomach pains he had developed at the Ridgeway Hotel had been deliberately caused through witchcraft so that he would not be able to see Ackim Simukonda and discuss music with him.

Following the Ridgeway Hotel incident, Lyozhi decided to consult a witch-doctor to shed some light on his mysterious experiences. He was particularly anxious to know which person had placed a curse on him in order to prevent him from succeeding in his music career.

In his case, Lyozhi had two possible suspects: Kangaroo Kachepa, a fellow musician, and a former girlfriend called Middah Shantumbo. He suspected Kachepa because of a quarrel he had with him over a girl who was a member of a band they were both playing with.

It so happened that Lyozhi and  Kachepa fell in love with the same girl, Elita Binzi, a 20-year-old pretty face who had been recruited by the band as a female vocalist. Being a vocalist also, Lyozhi  easily won the young beauty to his side.

Kachepa, who played the rhythm guitar, felt so bad losing the girl he adored so much that he quit the band altogether, describing his reasons for quitting as “personal.” He left Lusaka to join another band on the Copperbelt.

Lyozhi had been going out with Midda Shantumbo for nearly a year when he dropped her after falling in love with the young and attractive songress, Elita Binzi. In accepting the “divorce”, Midda had written to Lyozhi: “Thanks for the divorce. But you will remember me.”

It was clear to Lyozhi that both Kachepa and Midda could have a reason for wishing him bad luck. Thus, when he approached the witch-doctor, he had no doubt that either of the two was bound to be implicated. But then, he was gravely mistaken…..

According to the witch-doctor, it was one of Lyozhi’s maternal uncles back in the village who was responsible for his plight.

“Your maternal uncle is angry that after educating you up to Form Five, you should choose music as a career. As far as he is concerned, there is no future in music and he will not allow any of his children or nephews, especially those he educated himself, to have anything to do with it,” he said.

The uncle was even angrier, the witch-doctor continued, that Lyozhi had become a “rasta” wearing dreadlocks.

“To him, rastas are mad people who spend their time smoking dagga and doing all kinds of crazy things, so when he heard about you, he decided to do something  about it so that it would be impossible for you to make it as a musician.”

The uncle had applied some juju on Lyozhi when the latter went to visit him at the village. Lyozhi was therefore advised that if he still desired to make music his lifelong career, he should go back to the village and convince his uncle that there was nothing wrong with the career he had chosen.

“If you manage to convince him, he will remove the curse and you will freely do your music business once again,” the witch-doctor told Lyozhi. “The juju applied on you is harmless as long as what you do has nothing to do with music.”

At the time of the interview, Lyozhi had just come back from the uncle’s village where he pleaded with the old man to allow him to take up music as a career. After he had expressed his personal feelings about music, the uncle had said finally,“Okey, I don’t want to stand in your way. Go back and let’s see what you can do.”

By then, Lyozhi had attended two musical rehearsals and on each occasion, he had not experienced any headaches, hiccups, choking of the throat or stomach pains………….


The author is a Lusaka-based media consultant who also worked in the Foreign Service as a diplomat in South Africa and Botswana. For comments, sms 0977425827/0967146485 or email: pchirwa2009@yahoo.com.

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