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Zahara returns to Lilongwe with a bang

When South African songstress walked on stage at 11.07pm to instrumentals of the classic ‘Weeping’, patrons who filled Sapitwa Hall of Crossroads Hotel to capacity were assured of only good things to come.

The impatience of a prolonged sound check forgotten, people rushed to the dance floor to welcome Zahara who on this warm Lilongwe night was clad in a yellow boobtube dress with a short front.

After tantalizing the audience, Zahara got down to business with the up-tempo ‘XaBendingena Mama’ to which people jived the ingoma as if it was her first and last song that evening.

It was during the much softer and haunting ‘Ndiza’ that more cellphones and other electronic gadgets came out in large numbers to record her second visit to Lilongwe, this time courtesy of Mango Entertainment and Mercantile International.

One after another, Zahara dished out hits from her debut best-selling album Loliwe but she did not forget to take Malawians down memory lane with Brenda Fassie’s ‘Leave Me Alone.’

In between her songs, the songstress played a song she learnt to play the guitar with as a little girl growing up in the Eastern Cape Province. Never has ‘Storm is Over’ sounded so good as Zahara’s version.

With a voice akin to studio quality, Zahara moved to ‘Lengoma’ which had lovers dancing in each other’s arms.

As she strummed her guitar, Zahara did not forget to engage her fans.

Perhaps to test their knowledge of her songs, she was left satisfied when they ably chorused when she held out the mic, whether to a little girl or a male patron.

The guitars, including Zahara’s came out to play immediately after the love song dedicated to her main instrument ‘My Guitar’.

But people were still not satisfied, as calls for ‘Loliwe’ rang out across Sapitwa but Zahara left them in suspense for another two songs.

Just over an hour after she sauntered on stage, Zahara finally played ‘Loliwe’ and it was clear from the performance she gave out that she would be bowing out.

The wild response she received from the patrons of Sapitwa prompted Zahara to implore Malawians to support local artists as they have supported her during her second sojourn to Malawi.

Zahara’s performance this time around was spiced by well-known local artists such as Lulu and Black Missionaries who did not disappoint even though they knew they were simply a side dish.

Accompanied by his Mathumela Band and an ensemble of men and women in red, Lulu sang his heart out as usual as people continued to fill up Sapitwa.

The combination of Zahara’s soulful pop and Black Missionaries’ reggae seemed strange but it worked well to draw diehard fans of the band in Lilongwe to sample Zahara.

In between performances by curtain-raisers Lulu and Black Missionaries then the main act Zahara, fashion designer Lily Alfonso showcased new designs as a sneak preview to Malawi Fashion Week scheduled for May this year.

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