Witch


Band members                          Related acts

- Emanyeo 'Jagari' Chanda -- vocals, percussion (1971-77)

- Chris Mbewe (RIP) -- vocals, lead guitar (1971-)

- John Muma -- vocals, rhythm guitar (1971-)

- Gedeon Mulenga (aka Geddoen Mlenga)-- bass (1971-)

- Boidi Sinkala -- drums, percussion (1971-)

 

 

 

- Afro-Sunshine (Chris Mbewe)

- Chris Mbewe (solo efforts)

- The Peace (Emanyeo 'Jagari' Chanda)

- Revolutions (Chris Mbewe)

- Zambezi (Gedgeo Mulenga)

 

 

 

 


 

Genre: psych

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Lazy Bones !!

Company: Shadoks

Catalog: 081
Year: 2007 

Country/State: Zambia

Grade (cover/record): NM / NM

Comments: still in shrink wrap

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5483

Price: $60.00

 

Don't even start ... who in their right mind would pay that price for a reissue?  Beats me, but I like the LP quite a bit so I won't be hurt if it doesn't sell right away and finding a copy has become exceptionally rare over the last year or so ...

 

This one was a complete surprise to me ...  Call me prejudiced, ignorant, and/or just stupid but I expected a Zambian band to be playing juju, or something along the lines of King Sunny Ade's catalog (yes I know he's Nigerian).  This was about as far from those genres as you could get !

 

So here's what the liner notes have to say about the LP:  "If you're feeling depressed, low, disturbed, irritable, out-of-sorts, sad, frustrated or wildly demented, then folks, we suggest you seek out a quiet place, indulge in some soothing meditation and cut away that headache by listening to this inspirational album (we've even included a copy of our lyrics to assist those who have difficulty in understanding the messages we transmit, in the hope that this will help them dig the LP in total). We would also like to extend out thanks to all those who have supported us in the past - we wish you well, brothers and sisters. To those of you who have been unkind and deliberately troublesome, we suggest you go jump in the lake specially featured for you on our cover. In closing, a special tribute to out collaborator Shaddick Bwalya for his tremendous contribution to this album. Right on, Witch!"

 

  

(taken from back cover of the LP - top to bottom: 

Chris Mbewe - John Muma - Gedeon Mulenga - Boidi Sinkala - 

Emanyeo Jagari Chanda

 

Singer Emanyeo 'Jagari' Chanda, lead guitarist Chris Mbewe, rhythm guitarist John Muma, bass player Gedeon Mulenga, and drummer Boidi Sinkala came together out of a series of local bands including The Boyfriends, Kingston Market and The Red Balloons. By the early 1970s they'd morpthed into The Great Witch Band, which became 'Witch' (the name was an acronym standing for We Intend To Cause Havoc).  The quintet made their debut with 1975's "Lazy Bones !!".  Released by the small local Zambezi label the collection seems to have instantly vanished though it's hard to image there was a large local record buying community in mid-1970s Zambia.  Powered by Mbewe's screaming lead guitar (plenty of fuzz and wah-wah pedal effects) and Sinkala's pounding drums these ten original tracks were heavily influenced by American and European hard rock and blues-rock outfits. That's kind of funny since at that point in time scores of Western bands were turning to Africa for inspiration (think Ginger Baker, or Paul McCartney ...).  Exemplified by material like the bluesy opener 'Black Tears', 'Tooth Factory' and 'Havoc' the results were tuneful, driving, and thoroughly memorable rock.  Even isolated ballads like the fantastic acoustic guitar powered 'Strange Dream' rocked out.  All ten tracks featured English lyrics with Changda, Mbewe, and Muma all proving surprisingly accomplished singers - their deliveries were heavily accented, but that didn't distract from the performances one bit.  As to the highlights, every one of these songs was worth hearing though 'October Night' featured a killer jazzy/rock Mbewe solo, while 'Off Ma Boots' sounded like they were channeling a mid-1960s American garage band. Sonically the set was a little raw (I imagine recording facilities in Zambia were a bit limited), though that didn't hurt their garage/hard rock attack one bit.  Kudos to Shadoks for the nice reissue package, though a bit of biographical information would have been nice. 

 

"Lazy Bones" track listing:

(side 2)

1.) Black Tears   (Emanyeo Jagari Chanda - Chri's Mbewe - Shaddick Bwalya) - 5:22

2.) Motherless Child   (Gedeon Mulenga - Shaddick Bwalya - Emanyeo Jagari Chanda) - 3:55

3.) Tooth Factory   (Chris Mbewe - Shaddick Bwalya - Emanyeo Jagari Chanda) - 4:33

4.) Strange Dream   (Gedeon Mulenga - Emanyeo Jagari Chanda) - 3:14

5.) Look Out   (John Muma - Shaddick Bwalya) - 4:02

 

(side 2)
1.) Havoc   (
Emanyeo Jagari Chanda - Chris Mbewe - Shaddick Bwalya) - 5:19

2.) October Night   (Emanyeo Jagari Chanda - Chris Mbewe - Shaddick Bwalya) - 4:40

3.) Off Ma Boots   (Emanyeo Jagari Chanda - Boidi Sinkala) - 2:57

4.) Lazy Bones   (Emanyeo Jagari Chanda - Shaddick Bwalya) - 4:01

5.) Little Clown   (Emanyeo Jagari Chanda - Chris Mbewe) - 3:30

 

The band apparently recorded a couple of additional LPs ("Introduction" and "Living in the Past"), though I've never been able to track down any information on them.  Anyone got a clue?

 

Damn !!!  I was so impressed with this LP that I started poking around the web trying to track down some of band members.  I found scattered references to guitarist Mbewe (who is apparently dead).  Sinkala apparently made some money in business.  I also stumbled onto a November 2007 interview by Patrick Kayukwawith of  the Zambia Post newspaper with Chanda.  The interview was a little fractured and occasionally hard to follow.  I thought about editing it, but ultimately didn't.  If I get hit with a copyright issue I'll delete the material.  

 

 

The Great Witch were a definitive band playing Zamrock during the renaissance of Zambian music in the 70’s.

Comprising versatile and talented musicians, the band which metarmophosised from a rather bubble gum music band called Kingston Market sent waves through the country with hits like Lazy Bones, Motherless Child, Living in the Past and Kangalaitoito. The W.I.T.C.H, which was an acronym for We Intend To Cause Havoc, really caused music havoc.

Band leader and lead vocalist Emmanuel Chanda popularly known as ‘Jagari’- a corruption of his hero’s name - Mick Jagger of the famous Rolling Stones, remembers the good old days when the band and the individual members were household names. Jagari was born on 21 November 1951 in Kasama though his official documents show 1953 because he was late in getting his registration card, so he had to ‘reduce age’ by two years. He is the fifth born in a family of seven, and has two sisters and four brothers. His uncle brought him up.

He started school in 1959 at Chamboli Primary School.  “Somehow that was the first time I left home away from my parents. I moved in with my elder brother but I was trying to go back to my parents so I ran away from school and I was caught in Mufulira and brought back to Kitwe. In the meantime I had lost my chance of continuing in that grade sub A but I restarted in 1961 in the same area in Chamboli but not at the same school,” he says.

He did all his secondary education at Chamboli Secondary School being in the second stream of the students who opened the school. At Chamboli, he was already involved in music at a casual level but he never dreamt of being a musician.

“I used to mime in class. I wrote words for songs I liked those days from Melody Maker magazine and records that I bought from Piano House in Kitwe and Teal Records. We listened and I just wrote what I thought I heard,” he says.

Jagari jammed with the Boyfriends, a popular local band comprising the likes of Ted Makombe, Gideon Mlenga before the band became the Peace. He also jammed with a band called the Red Balloons, a Kitwe outfit. Jagari is a father of six.

He lost two children Paul and Makasa in a space of two years. His other children are a set of twins, Monique and Anique, and Kangwa.


How was the concept of the WITCH born? One would ask.  "When I was in form four in 1971, I think, there was a guy called groovy Joe, George Kunda. He spotted me at one of my school jams during one of our social evenings. I was a member of the ballroom club. Sometimes I mimed during these events and he also saw me jam with the Boyfriends and the Red balloons at Coffeehouse and Mindolo in Kitwe.

They had a band called Kingston Market under a businessman called Mr. Christopher Kaluba in Chamboli township. Mr Kaluba’s family ran grocery stores in Garneton and Chimwemwe townships and had a shop in Chamboli,” he says.

Kingston Market was looking for a vocalist. They used to stick adverts outside his classroom advertising for the job of vocalist but they never approached the upcoming musician personally.  His classmates saw the posters and told him that since he liked singing and miming he could grab this opportunity.

“I was torn between soccer and music. I used to play soccer for the school team and didn’t know whether to continue with football or join the band. One day George Kunda gathered courage and came and asked me if I was interested in joining the band. I hesitated a bit but within a fortnight the manager Mr. Christopher Kaluba himself came over to talk to me during my lunch break about joining the band. I was invited for rehearsals in Garneton that same afternoon.

I attended that first rehearsal. First on the way to rehearsals he took me to his shop and ‘bribed’ me with some groceries. He asked me to pick anything I wanted in the shop. That’s when I realised that I must have had something good to offer and I agreed to go and rehearse with the Kingston Market. There I met a guy called Wingo, who is still around in Kabwata. He was the lead guitarist. There was another guy called Richard. I can’t remember the third one.

Then there was George Kunda of course and I was the fifth one when we started rehearsing. The first rehearsal was on a Friday or Saturday. If I can remember well, on our way home he gave me K16 (sixteen kwacha). That was a lot of money. I bought my classmates sweets, a big sixteen (big bottle of Coca-Cola), Tingling, Sunkist, and scones. Of course we used to get free milk and cheese at school. I also bought clothes for my social evening stints. That really was the turning point though I didn’t realise even then that I was getting hooked,” he explains.

Now on the ladder of the turbulent music career, Jagari first jammed with the Black Souls at YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) once or twice then Charcoal Pillar in Kitwe before the band could put up their own show.
“At one of those jams when we were allowed to play during the break - ooooh we displaced the group. People did not want the main band back on stage and were yelling out for us,” he says.  The band played as Kingston Market for about two or three shows and then changed to The Witch. In fact it was Wingo who suggested the name Witch.

“At first the name did not mean anything. We were in a practice room one day and he was playing the wah - wah pedal, which had the name foot switch. There was a guy known by that name so we decided to call ourselves Switch but during the discussion we said why don’t we call ourselves Witch instead,” he says.  Later the bandsmen asked somebody to paint the van they used for gigs with the magic name W.I.T.C.H. The members were bent on causing havoc-music havoc of course.  “It made so much sense it became an acronym for as long as the band existed. We sometimes called ourselves Witch Undead or Witch on a Broomstick. After the acronym we just called ourselves ‘We Intend To Cause Havoc’ which we did,” he says. At the peak of the band’s success, it started to dismantle because of personality clashes and failure to agree on the direction they should take musically.

“We didn’t agree on the direction of music and I had to go to college because I thought that if I was to be an international artist I needed to go to school and learn how to read and write music. Little did I know that I was drifting away from the band,” he says. Jagari has fond memories the times the band visited other countries and when it performed at the trade fair to large audiences.
However, he also remembers bad times during the curfew and blackouts which were common during the UNIP days when the band could not play shows at night.

Despite the fame the band received, Jagari left in 1977 and joined the Evelyn Hone College of Arts as it was known then.  “My idea was to just go and study music but there were conditions attached to the course. The course was for secondary school music teachers. I majored in music and English. English was my second subject, which I taught in secondary schools. It was a three-year course. I graduated in 1980,” he says.

Upon graduation, he taught at Kabulonga Boys’ Secondary School and later at St Mary’s in Woodlands Lusaka. He then taught at Libala Boys Secondary School before being promoted to become a lecturer at Evelyn Hone College.

His music somehow suffered because of his teaching career. The full-time teaching meant he could not actively be in a band. “Yes it was a different angle of music. Now it was for teaching and not performing per se. I think the digression had an impact because I could not be with the band. The band travelled a lot locally and to the neighbouring countries. When I was with the band we toured Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Botswana,” he says.

When Jagari graduated in March 1980 and started teaching, the band was in Swaziland and later it moved to Botswana.  It was at this time that the W.I.T.C.H was dealt with a blow when most band members left, though Alex Kunda, Peter Lungu and Chris Mbewe stayed on in Botswana.  The rest of the members came back to Zambia to join other bands.  Gideon joined Zambezi, Ackim Simukonda went solo, Patrick Chisembele also left, leaving a gap for other musicians to fill the vacuum. Several lead singers tried to fill the void that Jagari Chanda left. There were musicians like Shaddick Bwalya, Patrick Chisembele, Ackim Simukonda, Stanford Tembo and Masauko Mwale.

The W.I.T.C.H as a band had passed many phases. When the music changed we were drifting away from our usual Zamrock and ethnic rock if I may call it. The people who joined had a different feel of music. Maybe they were better musicians because they were seasoned musicians whereas I was training on the job. I had to finish my secondary school but it was music through and through for them, so they were better and more skilled musicians than I was,” he says.


Jagari has a lot of respect for modern musicians saying many are addressing their generation with success. “Every generation has its own biases. If you ask our parents today they will tell you that their times were better than today. If you ask musicians today they will tell you their music is better than our music. The only difference today is that there are fewer live bands and they’re not concentrating on the quality of music but better late than never. They have started something. Situations will teach them to look at quality as well and improve their acts,” he says.

The veteran musician advised young musicians that music is not an easy job but needs concentration and dedication for one to make it. “They should go to work at 08:00, break for lunch at 1300, rehearse as much as they can and listen to as many different artists as possible. And they should improve their acts by listening to constructive criticism,” he says.  He says the other area of concern was the obsession for all musicians to go solo.

As a result there are not many bands that are sticking together. “We stayed together for a long time. We had our own bank account. We paid ourselves even when we parted company with Mr. Christopher Kaluba and Mr. Phillip Musonda. We still managed our affairs very well. Mr. Phillip Musonda the man I was singing about in the song Introduction took over from Mr. Christopher Kaluba as our manager. He promoted the band. He bought a new set of musical instruments but later again we parted company and signed up with Teal Record Company. Teal Record Company gave us a loan of K15,000 which we used to buy our own set of musical instruments,” he says.

The band sold their first album Introduction and the second album Living in the Past to Mr Edward Khuzwayo’s (Zambia Music Parlour proprietor) for K6000.
They gave their former manager K2000 because he sponsored the recording.

The band then paid Duly Motors K2000 down payment for transportation and the rest of the money was banked. “We managed our own affairs; I was bandleader for about six or so years then we rotated giving the leadership to Gideon and later to Chris. It was only Boyd Sinkala and John Muma who never became leaders,” he says.

Jagari still misses the live performances and the applause the band used to get. He was really a lively man on stage. “Every artist should miss live performances except when you grow up you lessen the performances. It is a job I would have loved to keep forever but I think I’m in a wrong country,” he says indignantly. He said there were many limitations musically in Zambia. This he noted had to do with resources and the small population. “What population would you like Zambia to have? Maybe like South Africa if an artist can sell half a million to a million copies of an album, that is good enough. He should be able to live on that until he records another one then maybe after that he can cross borders,” he says.  He sadly noted that the Zambian population was not only small but poor and many would think twice whether to buy a CD or buy a bag of mealie meal. He said his life after leaving the band has been full of ups and downs.

“After leaving the W.I.T.C.H, I went to work. I worked very well until something very bad happened which as a believer I think was the beginning of living a life in the wilderness. I understand and believe that every person at one time in their life will have a downward in their graph. I had mine and it unsettled me for some time. It almost disintegrated my family but I have very strong faith in God. He is picking me up. I hope to live and achieve my vision - to own a very big internationally acceptable standard recording studio.

I would also probably establish a school of music with a bias towards Christian listenership because I feel Christians sometimes have a less than fair attitude towards music. They fail to correct other musicians because it is a voluntary thing and it is in church. The quality sometimes of gospel music tends to be lower than that of the rest of the world. Maybe the Lord will allow me to contribute to the music world to share my experiences with the younger ones right now. I am on a project with the British Council called Power in the Voice. We are mentoring school going children in poetry, rap, story telling and creative writing,” he says.


Jagari Chanda’s career was dented when he was accused of having imported illegal drugs from India, an accusation he hotly denies.

“I have never been to India in my life. I was just in the company of people who were clearing goods at Lusaka international Airport but in the end I lost my job. To cut a long story short I lost my benefits and a house. It was really rough especially if you haven’t committed the crime, you just become a sacrificial lamb. The musician has written a song about the experience that nearly destroyed his life.  Jagari is now fully involved in gemstone mining and has hope that he will be able to raise money to establish a studio and school of music.

Jagari is one of the few Zambian musicians who have potential of making it internationally. He has offered all he was worth musically. He still cherishes memories of the good old days of the Great W.I.T.C.H when his songs were as popular as a portrait of the first Republican president Kenneth Kaunda. pkayukwa@yahoo.co.uk

 

credit Patrick Kayukwa
Zambian Post

 

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