LINDA SOKO TEMBO writes
IT hurts me to hear a man has burnt a woman to death, I wish people could see me and understand the pain and shame it brought to me, says Malcolm Lwamba, who is serving 25 years at Zambia’s Mwembeshi Correctional Facility for killing his girlfriend.
Mr Lwamba said he was sentenced to prison in 2009 after fighting with his girlfriend who later died and that seeking forgiveness from the victim’s family was not an easy process because they had lost.
He narrated to the Sun how the murder case unfolded and how it changed his life for good. Mr Lwamba is now a committed anti-Gender Based Violence (GBV).
THE SUN: What are your full names?
MALCOLM: My name is Malcolm Lwamba. I am serving 25 years for murder, and it is not something that I am proud to mention but it is there, I have already served 10 years and some months.
THE SUN: How did you find yourself in prison?
MALCOLM: I fought with my girlfriend, and later that night she died and I ended up behind bars and was sentenced to 25 years like I said. You know when there is loss of life involved, everybody calls you the bad guy. You are a bad guy because you remain to tell the story and the other person is not there to help you explain what exactly transpired.
THE SUN: How did you start music?
MALCOLM: I was taken to Mukobeko Correctional Facility and my mind was very congested. I felt my story needed to be heard away from the courts and that is how I started singing.
Music gave me an opportunity to express my thoughts and to be heard. `Mama’ in particular, one of my songs, gave me an opportunity to be heard, she understood I know l could not explain to other people and they were hurting and whatever l said at that time I don’t think they would have picked anything from that.
I met music and it was able to help me express my thoughts.
THE SUN: When did you start doing your GBV Project?
MALCOLM: I startedworking on the GBV Project in 2012. What happened is, I went to the prison administration and told them that l wanted to be part of the Gender Based Violence (GBV) fight and at that time there was no equipment but they allowed me to bring in a guitar. l could not play a guitar at that time the only thing l could play was Key board.
So l began to learn to play the guitar. At that time we had an inmate who was a producer. He had his own record label outside, so he taught me one or two things before he was acquitted in 2014. Which meant he went away with his own record label and l needed to find something that was mine.
I started thinking about what to call my record label, and what people could identify me by. So, I came up with a label called ‘Aushi Entertainment’. But someone would ask, why Aushi Entertainment? Well, I am Aushi by tribe and l looked at the values of the Aushi people. “Aushi” means loyalty. That has been their way of life ever since they were led into Zambia, from the Congo, by Kalasa, a gallant warrior. They always work as a community.
There is what they call enchima which means if you have a farm they would all come and work on your farm. The next day they would work on another person’s farm until you have cultivated all your farms. And after a day’s work, they would sit as a community and after the women have prepared food and alcohol then they would sit to enjoy and have the drinks and a meal together.
I looked at that and said since I want to speak to people I decided to adopt the values of the Aushi people but only in the music sense. I wanted to create music that would speak to people. When you listen to my music, you should be able to relate, be entertained and dance.
My motto is “Entertain, educate and make my fans dance”, so my music cuts across all age groups and I wanted music that was friendly that could cut cross all ages and which everyone could listen too.
I then recruited other inmates that had stories to tell and so they began to ride on my Aushi label I changed my whole idea that instead of producing myself l created a platform on which inmates could buy in and also be heard.
So my first caution with each onewho comes I tell them that I am not going to produce songs that are insulting or bad. I produce music that is educational. My music has been categorized educational and it cuts across all ages and talks about real life.
I read a lot of newspapers and watch a lot of TV just to keep myself updated with issues as l write my songs. Based on my own story and what I hear from fellow inmates, I am able to create a rich lyrical content that is able to teach something to someone out there.
The Zambia Correctional Service has brought many programmes, such as poetry and I thought I could use literature to speak to people. It is not only me but there are also other inmates who would like to use literature to produce music, as more stakeholders come on board. The platform has begun to grow.
THE SUN: When are you likely to release your album?
MALCOLM: As we speak, my first promo EP titled “Hold hands and heal the world” is ready and if you want a copy, the authorities would give you the CD when it is done. It consists of five tracks. I cannot go ahead and do an album before people get to know what I am talking about it as it would be difficult for them to walk into the shop and buy the CD.
What we are doing is to give it to people free so they could listen to it. They can decide if it’s good or bad.
I must mention that it is difficult to get people to trust you and understand that you can do a good job if you have been accused of murder.
But if am judged 10 years ago and not ten years later it becomes very difficult l would love it more if people begun to judge us 10 years later. Yes, maybe when my case was committed they were many factors that lead to that
Now after undergoing this period of correctional process, I do not think I will be the same person again, and it would be nice to have people look at me as 10 years later.
THE SUN: What have you learnt and who is this person that he has become?
I think that will add a lot more value sometimes you find that when you are a long term inmate people will say “aba balishuba sana” they are hardcore but there is a lot of transformation and change that goes on there.
We are being corrected especially with correctional programs that they are bringing to the facilities.
THE SUN: Do you have musical equipment in prison?
MALCOLM: I do not have full equipment but my parents leave me a bit of money every time they visit me and I have been saving that to supplement what government gives us. I was able to save about K6, 000 and I bought myself a musical kit, and by God’s grace, the administration allowed me to bring it inside prison so that l could do my own production.
THE SUN: How has music helped you?
MALCOLM: Being at a correctional facility opens up your mind and changes the way you look at things. But that can only happen if you decide to change for the better. Only then will people look at you and say you are doing a good job.
I connect with people as I do my music. They tell me how the music is changing them and make suggestions on what I else I need to do. I keep imagining how as a young man, working outside prison, I could through music help prevent the next person from going to jail.
Music has been a companion and has had a huge effect on me on my correctional journey.
I do not channel my energies to reacting badly whenever I am upset but instead I listen to a nice melody and the anger subsides. I have learnt to channel my emotions into something more positive using music.
THE SUN: What’s your message as you fight GBV?
MALCOLM: One of the things l really thank God for is that while in the correctional facility, I have leant to discover who l really am and what I like. I think one of the things that is really killing us is that we do not know what we really want.
If you say you want a woman, what kind of a woman do you want? What type of attitude would you want her to have? No human is perfect and certain things you have to work on them together, and in every relationship, one has to be patient.
A relationship is not all roses throughout. There are ups and downs and before you do anything, think about it. What is going to happen if I slap this person? For certain people, it just takes a push and they are dead. Am really asking my brothers, my sisters, my aunties and my uncles to think twice before they do anything.
Otherwise you are going to have a scared life like I have and probably one day I will have to tell my kids grandchildren that this is the scar. You look at it as a painful scar because it defines you everywhere you go. People talk about you and point fingers at you because of what you did. It is always better to end the relationship or find a person you feel you can connect with and start your life again if you feel you are not compatible.
For anyone listening to my interview, think twice before you can slap her, call her ugly names or do something you may later live to regret before you end up like me.