Malawi has one of the youngest populations in Africa with approximately 60% of the population under the age of 35 and they face a host of serious challenges – yet they remain marginalized and excluded with very limited access to public platforms where they can come together to express these challenges and explore creative solutions. Through our partnership with community radio and working with local artists, the project aims to boost the capabilities of our story tellers so that we can quench the thirst for African generated content and make sure the continent is inspired to create music and radio in our own way – not just following in the footsteps of the rest of the world.
Wired for Sound traveled across Malawi at the end of 2015 from the South of the country starting with Monkey Bay to Mchinji, Nkhotakota and all the way up North to the border town, Karonga offering local musicians a chance to professionally record their music for free. We also installed recording studios at each partner community radio station. In most of the areas visited by the project, community radio serves as one of the very few creative hubs accessible to people and each station works hard to promote local artists however, due to limited resources and equipment recording local musicians is often a just pipe dream. The training and studios installed by Wired for Sound ensure that musicians can continue to record at little or no cost and that the radio station can expand their offering and capacity.
Wired for Sound has seen the key role community radio plays – local music heard on radio is often adopted and adapted by other choirs or musicians, important and urgent announcements are disseminated through community radio and journalists play a vital investigative and protective part of their community. Wired for Sound has witnessed first hand the hugely negative impact power cuts, surges and low voltage has on the ability of each community radio station to continue serving their listeners. The project records purely off solar power and thanks to the partnership with Music in Africa, was able to install two solar recordings stations at Dzimwe and Mudziwathu community radio stations. Equipping each station with a solar recording studio and solar solution that supports transmission is one of Wired for Sound’s major visions that we hope to expand and incorporate this on future trips.
As a team we believe that music is a fine way to probe and illuminate people’s perceptions, start conversations and unravel stories. Each musician recorded on the trip receives a copy of his/her song to use as they please. During the project’s stay the musicians’ songs are played on air and they are interviewed on the local station. Wired for Sound then makes a selection of tracks which are further produced and collaborated on with more established artists back in South Africa. These tracks are made into an album which is available for download – the album serves as a way to showcase the music and artists and any revenue generated from sales goes towards equipping the partner radio stations with solar powered recording studios.