The Story of // RICKY BANDA - Niwanji Walwa Amwishyo

One of the most esteemed and sought after bassists of the Zamrock era, Ricky Banda was involved in a broad array of collaborations and associations over the course of the 1970s. He started his career in a band called the Vendors with childhood friend Rikki Ililonga and both went on to support He-She Mambo (who later rose to fame as a Zambian soul, funk and disco figure). Alongside Keith Mlevhu in a band called The End, Banda toured the Democratic Republic of Congo and allegedly caught the attention of rumba legend Tabu Ley Rochereau. Banda also backed Teddy Khuluzwu of Dr. Footswitch fame and is prominently featured on the 1975 album Liquid Iron.

Providing almost half of the songwriting duties on the album, Liquid Iron was a pathway to Ricky Banda's first solo release entitled Niwanji Walwa Amwishyo in 1976. With both Rikki Ililonga and Keith Mlevhu inaugurating Zamrock's rise of the solo artist, Banda got in on the action with a sturdy offering of his own. Emulating his contemporaries, he performed all of the instruments on the album with the exception of the drums, for which he enlisted a handful of session musicians including Peter Lungu of Born Free. The result is a laid-back and well-balanced singer-songwriter outing that had the honour of following WITCH’s acclaimed Lazy Bones!! as the second release on Teal's Zambezi imprint. Like Amanaz, the album cover photo juxtaposes the modern and the traditional with Banda in hip garb waving a ceremonial African fly swatter in one hand while raising the other in a peace symbol.

The album opener is the standout track and a unique piece of songwriting in the Zamrock canon. Foreshadowing the eery perspective of "Every Breath You Take" by the Police, "Who’s That Guy?" casts Banda as a creepy voyeur obsessing over a wealthy man courting the woman of his affections. Responding to President Kaunda's call for Zambian music to explore nation-building themes, the album’s title track criticises alcoholism and its effect on families and community. Ricky Banda went on to record a second album for Teal, using a backing band this time and turning his moral radar to the vice of gambling. Decades later, Ricky's brother Rupiah Banda would serve as the President of the Republic of Zambia from 2008 and 2011.

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