HUNDREDS of residents yesterday thronged the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka to pay their final respects to veteran musician Brian Chilala, who died in a car accident on Sunday.
And acting tourism and arts minister Moses Mawere has described Chilala as a person who gave his all to share his artistic gift with the rest of the country.
In a send-off ceremony characterised by musical performances, poetry and comedy, tributes flowed for the guitarist, whom Zambia Association of Musicians president Tivo Shikapwasha described as a pioneer and torchbearer of Zambian music.
“… for most of us that grew up on his music he shall forever be our hero. Though he has answered God’s call today, the talent that God gave him remains with us and shall continue to inspire us for many years to come….to fellow musicians, let us learn from Brian Chilala’s long commitment to improving the arts. He gave through his talent in a selfless manner and proudly carried the indigenous Zambian sound everywhere that he went,” Shikapwasha said.
National Arts Council director Patrick Samwimbila called Chilala as a mentor and guru in the local music industry.
“He has kept to his genre of music – kalindula – that is our own style of music in Zambia. Today our hearts are broken but we want to celebrate his life together with you the family. What he planted in many of us shall remain active and shall remain remembered every year,” he said.
Former ZAM president Maiko Zulu said Chilala was a passionate performer who enjoyed his live performances.
“Brian called himself rebel. It was not by mistake or coincidence. Brian was a successful musician. Brian was not a beggar,” Zulu said.
Zulu further claimed that musicians had not received their “fair share” of the national cake.
And responding to Zulu’s remarks, lands minister Jean Kapata pledged to provide land for the musicians’ body to construct an auditorium.
“I’ll ask the president of ZAM to write an application letter so that you can build your auditorium because we believe that music is very important and we treasure the music…and therefore it will be good for us to offer you a piece of land, and the earlier you bring it, the earlier the government will put it on the table,” said Kapata, to the cheers of mourners.
And in a moving tribute during a service, Chilala’s first wife Chileshe Mirriam Chilala described her late husband as “one in a million.”
“It has been 32 years since we exchanged our wedding vows. I remember vividly by then I was at a tender age of 19 in 1987. I took you as a musician by then with the Youth Inspiration…you were … my pillar, fighter and protector… I will always cherish you for the rest of my life,” she said.
Chilala’s second wife Dr Velepi Mtonga Chilala said he was a great man, the heart and soul of authentic Zambian music, and a source of love, comfort and joy.
“To lose you has really been devastating to me,” she said in a tribute read for her by Kapata. “… it is impossible to understand the depths of the pain I feel and it will take aeons to heal for it is so deep that the human mind only comes to accept the harsh reality gradually.”
And Mawere hailed Chilala for choosing to stick with Zambian music even when it was hard to do so.
“We thank Brian for inspiring and encouraging others. … there is no better life than that lived in the service of others. To the nation, Brian was a creative entrepreneur, a job creator and businessman,” said Mawere.
“At the point of his death, Brian was supporting young people through regular engagements. His death has surely robbed the country of a citizen who was making a difference.”
Chilala, 55 was the front man of the Youth Inspiration Band in the mid-eighties. He later joined the Amayenge Cultural Ensemble as a road manager. In the mid-nineties he started recording kalindula, producing a string of hits incuding ‘Nsanje’ and ‘Jombo’. He also served as a member of the 2010 ZAM executive committee and had recently revived his live performances.
Chilala is survived by two wives and eight children.