By Marcfarlane Mbewe
Working under South Africa’s Muthaland Entertainment, Onesimus is arguably one of the most successful musicians to have come of Malawi in recent years. Having started off in 2013 as Armstrong, the award-winning Christian singer-songwriter is still going from strength to strength as he is led by God’s strong arm. From collaborating with Tekno to becoming the first Malawian act, of any genre, to be hosted by DJ Edu on the BBC World Service’s ‘This Is Africa’ music show, there can only be one Onesimus. This comes as lovers and loathers of his work are taking a dosage of ‘Panado’ his new single which is building on the success of the inspiring ‘Here With Me’ and ‘Miracle Money’, a celebration of the ministry of his compatriot, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, who doubles as founder of the ECG Church and Major 1 Records. Days after prescribing ‘Panado’, Onesimus (O), who rarely speaks to the media in his native Malawi, spoke with zambuye.com’s Marcfarlane Mbewe (MM) in this exclusive interview.
MM: How would Onesimus describe his journey to international stardom?
O: Well, I was always very ambitious as a kid. It all started with a dream, a passion for music, and watching my favourite artists delivering their gift and message to the world. Growing up in the church instilled in me a sense of purpose, which has always helped to keep me centred. Fortunately, my talent was recognized from a young age and I have acquired many accolades throughout my journey. My most recent accolade was for an AfriMA award in 2019 where I won the award for Best Inspirational African Artist, as well as my deal with SONY and the opportunity to participate in the 2019 International Mandela Day United Nations chamber choir experience which really resonated with my purposes as I’ve always admired Tata Mandela. Despite all the favour that was upon my journey there, is always a need for the balance of perseverance, determination, practice and a good understanding and relationships within the industry.
MM: Tell zambuye.com of your experience working with players on the international music scene like record producers, record labels, managers, promoters, DJs etc. Please include fun-filled/adventurous, historic and most challenging moments;
O: One such great moment was when I was nominated for AfriMA together with African giants such as Moroccan artist Harmonize, as well as other artists from other parts of the continent. It was competitive, knowing that I was up against artists I even admired for so long.
MM: Lessons that musicians and other key stakeholders in Malawi’s music industry and across the continent can draw from your journey to success.
O: Patience, dedication, perseverance, hardwork, right channels and good relationships and most of all having fun while doing it.
MM: Are you considering touring your native Malawi anytime soon?
O: Well, depending on how travel restrictions continue globally, and should the opportunity avail itself, I always have that space in my heart for my people. Malawi is a place that holds a very special place in my heart from the sun-kissed sons and daughters of the soil to the artists and stages we are graced with to share our God-given messages with God’s children.
MM: Despite Covid-19 posing a huge challenge on the entertainment industry, both local and international, it has been hit after hit from you. What gives Onesimus the strength to keep going on, and considering your upward trajectory, how far do you think you are going to go in the next five years?
O: Well, collaborating has really assisted to keep the sound travelling, the use of digital technology and obviously having the right systems in place for the digital age have assisted to keep the hits coming to my fans. In the next five years, I hope my intentions align in changing the world to be a happier, more beautiful and prosperous place for humanity with my music. I want to be the voice to the voiceless. I want to lift up souls and walk into my divine calling alongside those who I have shared this journey with.