ONE cannot talk of the power of Zambian music in questioning governance without mentioning PK Chishala’s ‘Common Man’.
Yes, so powerful was this anthem about the need to reduce the price of the staple food in Zambia that it earned itself a ban from airplay on state-owned media.
Of course, PK was more than a one song wonder that is all too common today; in his illustrious career, he belted out hit upon hit of Kalindula tunes which upto this day still earn decent airplay.
The self-proclaimed ‘Professor’ was such a darling of the low suffering masses that he truly would have earned the title of ‘Disgruntled Musician’ had he lived in today’s Zambian political climate.
Born Peter Kalumba Chishala in 1957, PK’s music never missed the ghetto flavour of mining townships such as Buchi Township from where he horned his early skills; just take a listen to ‘NaMusonda and other great tunes!
Whilst many people remember PK as a blind musician, he was actually born sighted but in his early years, he struggled with smallpox which later left him blind.
However, the deficiency in sight did not stop him and his PeKeSa band from leading the mid-1980’s fight in defending the Zambian music scene from invasion by Zairian rhumba and disco from Western World; his social commentary, kept the Kalindula flame high at home and abroad.
As a performing artiste, urban legend has it that from the curtains of his famous dark sunglasses; he would pose a famous question; “Nacidiba” which loosely translates to ‘is my audience full’ before strumming out his many critically acclaimed social commentary music whose victims ranged from hypocritical churchmen, corrupt policemen, immoral and materialistic husbands and even corrupt politicians.
A husband and father of five children, PK is truly a legend of Zambian music.
In today’s falling Zambian economy and indebtedness of the country to all manner of foreign shylocks, the question is, ‘what would have PK sang…a praise at a rally or a rebuke at a ghetto pub? Predict the answer!
By Melony Chisanga
©Kalemba October 25, 2020