Over the years I’ve learnt so much from your kind and generous life—legendary musician Ray Harawa on Soldier Lucius Banda when he was alive

Ray Harawa (2nd right) with Lucius in rare pictures seen of each other

* I’ve learnt so much from your wisdom, knowledge and overstanding — I’ve learnt so much from so much of yours!

* Upon his passing on, Ray Harawa just wrote: “I’m speechless! My Brother Lucius Banda, nditani?”

By Duncan Mlanjira

As the eulogies pour in over the death of Soldier Lucius Banda, with all being in deep esteem of what the celebrated music icon stood for, one that comes of prominence by Maravi Express is a special vote of admiration made by legendary musician Ray Harawa — expressed while the revered Soldier was still alive.


Many people contend that one should always pay tribute to those who have made special contributions to ones life and that of the society whilst still alive and Harawa did just that on his Facebook page on January 22, 2023.

He wrote: “Much as I wanted to thank you in private for what you have been doing to me and what you have done now by giving me a gift of a show in Salima this Saturday (the 24th of June, 2023) so that I could raise some funds which would help in my battle with Polycythaemia, I found it hard to keep calm — hence my decision to come out in the open and show my appreciation.

“Over the years I’ve learnt so much from your kind and generous life; I’ve learnt so much from your leadership skills; I’ve learnt so much from your loving and kind life; I’ve learnt so much from your philosophical life; I’ve learnt so much from your wisdom, knowledge and overstanding — I’ve learnt so much from so much of yours!”

Harawa then made a special request that at one point he had asked Lucius that in the album he was working, which he had declared as his last, he should include the previous track ‘Mzimu wa Soldier’, which he described as “descriptional song of [Lucius’] real life and what [he had] always stood for in life”.

But Lucius did not honour that request and Harawa pledged further that he was to keep his fingers crossed because he knew that Lucius had heard his request and was going to honour it.

Unfortunately, Malawi’s great music icon has passed on and one wonders what is in Harawa’s mind now as he mourns him, and in his conclusion of his past last year, he had said: “Thanks for your divine love, Hon. Soldier Lucius Banda!”

Upon his passing on, Ray Harawa just wrote: “I’m speechless! My Brother Lucius Banda, nditani?”

The tributes are pouring in that include from President Lazarus Chakwera, his Presidential Advisor on Youth & Arts as well as from Vice-President Michael Usi.

On his part, another great musician, Billy Kaunda, who is also Member of Parliament for Mzimba West, describes Lucius as a person who gave a good part of his life to the service of humanity through music and politics.

Billy Kaunda got his first music exposure through Lucius Banda as Zembani music industry and he says: “I cannot begin to explain how far back I come with Soldier Lucius Banda. What first connected us in mid-1990s were my music ambitions.

“After recording ‘Mwapindulanji?’ album in 1997, we worked together when I joined Zembani Band. As they say, the rest is history.

“Soldier was a man, who for the last 27 years, I shared the musical and also the political stage. To those of us who closely knew him, Soldier was the soldier he claimed to be — not only for the poor in this country, but also for the values he held and believed.

“This guided both his music and politics. His music was a huge political platform that spoke for many. In this, he inspired many musicians in Malawi, including me.

“We should not mourn such a man, but celebrate him. He gave a good part of his life to the service of humanity through music and politics. A man of the people who laughed and joked with everyone.


“He took care of many without saying it. A colossal presence amidst us, both physically and figuratively. I believe he will look down from the other world and feel that his spirit, as he sang in ‘Mzimu Wa Soldier’, is resting in peace.

“He sang: ‘When the poor will get justice, when the widows will be helped, and when the rich and the poor get the same social services’; that is when his spirit will rest. In his memory, let us continue fighting for these values.

“Soldier, thank you for giving your life to us. May God comfort the Banda family, the Malawi nation and his fans beyond our borders.”

Wikipedia chronicles that born on August 17, 1970 in Sosola Village in Group Village headman Kapalamula and Traditional Authority Nsamala in Balaka District, Lucius Chicco Banda’s music career started in 1983 when he was 13 years old when he started singing with his brother Paul Banda, the leader of Alleluya Band.

He first appeared on stage in 1985 with Alleluya Band having started his music career while in elementary school at Mponda Primary School. To further his music career, Lucius decided to go to music school in South Africa.

This dream was fulfilled in 1993 when he joined Dorkey house in Johannesburg, where he spent one full year studying music where he recorded his first album titled ‘Son of a Poor Man’ at shandel music studio with the help of producer George Arigone (an Argentinian) on backing vocals.

He had Nomhlanlha Nkhize and the now famous gospel singer Debora Freser in the album, which became popular because of hits like ‘Mabala’, ‘Get up Stand Up’, ‘Linda’ and ‘Life on Earth’.

From there he launched his long career of music and in 1997, he formed his own band, Zembani after recording his fourth album, ‘Take Over’ with the intention to help local and up-comingmusicians in Malawi.

Many artists in Malawi have been promoted through the auspices of his Zembani Music Band, which has grown into one of the most celebrated music groups across Africa, whose music is loved by millions in Africa.

He is well known as the voice of the poor and those who cannot be heard. His music depicts the social, economic and cultural constraints faced by ordinary Malawians.

He has also been a voice against social injustices and inequalities prevalent among African leaders and politicians. He was controversial to former Malawi President, Dr. Hasting Kamuzu Banda’s regime and being the first Malawian musician to sing openly against political oppression in Malawi during the decades of one-party rule.

Lucius has been host to many popular musicians, helping to begin the careers of Mlaka Maliro, Paul Chaphuka, Billy Kaunda, Coss Chiwalo, Wendy Harawa, Emma Masauko, Enort Mbandambanda, Charles Nsaku and many others.

Mlaka Maliro

Wendy Harawa

He has experienced the hardest of times as a musician as his music has either been banned, censored and sometimes denied venues and segregated against by government.

In 2010, he released another album, ‘15-15- my song’, which was banned by the state broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).

In June 2010, Banda and other musicians from Malawi were invited to play in Germany and their venue in Cologne was the key point for an upcoming 2011 Lucius Banda Europe tour.

His travelling to Germany attracted a lot of public and political interest in Malawi. He released ‘Thank You’ album in 2015 and he leaves behind 19 albums to his credit.

Until August 2006, Lucius was Member of Parliament for Balaka North, but lost his seat because he was convicted of having fake academic qualifications. He was sentenced to 21 months of hard labour in Zomba prison but got released in November 2006 — three months and two appeals after his arrest. This experience inspired one of his albums, ‘Cell 51 Maximum’.

In the 2014 tripartite elections, Lucius reclaimed his Balaka Central Constituency as in which he won with a wide margin of 16,303 votes against his competitor who came second with 8,147.

Popular albums to his name include ‘Son of a Poor man’, ‘Down Babylon’, ‘Cease Fire’, ‘Takeover’, ‘Yahweh’, ‘Unity’, ‘How Long’, ‘Not Easy Road’, ‘Money and Power’ and ‘Love and Hate’ — his 20th and last album.