​Screenshot, 'Cruise 5.'
Screenshot, 'Cruise 5,' YouTube.

Malawi Mourns the Loss of Renowned Musician Thomas Chibade

Malawi mourns the loss of its reggae and Afro-pop icon, Thomas Chibade, who has passed away at 37.

Malawi is reeling from the untimely death of one of its musical icons, Thomas Chibade, whose distinctive voice and extraordinary musical talents have left an indelible mark on the industry. Chibade, affectionately known as "Chenkhumba," passed away at the age of 37, leaving a profound void in the country's vibrant music scene.

Known for his moving compositions in the reggae and Afro-pop genres, Chibade's music resonated deeply with the younger generation in Malawi. Fans lauded him as a "fine vocalist" with a "golden voice." He breathed his last in the capital city, Lilongwe, with the exact cause of his demise shrouded in uncertainty, though some local media reports suggest he succumbed to malaria.

Chibade's musical journey gained momentum in the early 2000s with the release of his album Zatukusira, a Chichewa term that loosely translates to It Has Come Out. The album featured one of his most iconic tracks, "Mawu anga," or "My Words."

"He had a gift for melodies that resonated with people of all ages. He was a true artist who could evoke emotions and memories through his music," one of his devoted fans expressed on Facebook. Renowned Malawian author Wondeŕful Mkhutche expressed his shock at the young singer's passing, lamenting a "talent gone too soon." Fellow musician Njaliwe Chalera, widely known as Xkesh, described it as a "sad moment" for the music industry. Chalera added, "Thomas Chibade's contribution to the music industry and his impact on the lives of many musicians in Malawi will always be remembered."

Chibade's demise follows closely on the heels of another beloved musician, Atoht Manje, who also passed away shortly after a performance.

Malaria, a preventable disease caused by parasites transmitted through mosquitoes, continues to plague global health. In 2019, the World Health Organization reported approximately 229 million malaria cases, resulting in 409,000 deaths, primarily in Africa. Preventing malaria is achievable through methods such as insecticide-treated nets, indoor residual spraying, and antimalarial drugs. Effective treatment and diagnosis are also available, but these interventions remain inaccessible to many due to poverty, conflict, or inadequate healthcare access.

In the wake of Chibade's tragic departure, fans and fellow musicians have joined together to offer their condolences and pay tribute to his enduring influence on the Malawian music landscape.

Thomas Chibade was a prominent musician celebrated for his emotionally charged compositions in reggae and Afro-pop. His music, including hits like "Mawu anga," "Zatukusira," "Batchala," and "Usanyoze Osauka," connected with audiences across generations. Hailing from Nasawa in the area of Senior Chief Chikowi, Zomba, Chibade had made Lilongwe his home until his untimely passing. He is survived by his wife and children, who cherished their moments with a husband and father deeply dedicated to his music.

Moreover, the late musician was not only an artist but an active participant in the Musicians Union of Malawi, illustrating his commitment to the industry and his fellow musicians. As a testament to his dedication to music, he had recently collaborated with the Mudz Band, a group of young musicians, providing mentorship and revealing his aspiration to nurture the upcoming generation of talent.