Nkhatabay — Abale Ndikumbukeni, a video by a little known Nkhata Bay musician Gasper Nali, has hit over 9 million views on a Latinos Post on Facebook.
A video of the folk artist has received worldwide acclaim and has seen about nine million views on Facebook and over one million views on YouTube despite that many of the people cannot understand the Chichewa language he uses.
Nali is a talented self-taught traditional musician from Nkhata Bay whose unique sound stems from the babatone, his self-made, one-stringed instrument played with a metal baton and a glass bottle used as a slide. He combines the babatoni with a floor bass drum (also self-made) and a crisp, clear voice to produce a rich blend.
The three-minute video shows Nkhata Bay native playing a home-made babatoni against a backdrop of the lake. He is playing a small drum with his foot and one of his large string guitars that he makes of recycled materials, including wire from burnt tyres.
In the comments section, several viewers laud the musician for the originality of his music.
Nali was previously featured in the documentary, ‘Deep Roots Malawi’, where he explains the origin of his instrument.
According to the 35-year-old Nali, he started playing the babatoni with his young brother way back in time: “Back in Zingwangwa, my younger brother first made a guitar with three strings. I told him it was a good idea to make that kind of instrument. We started practicing and the sound was good, really good. So we decided to make a one-stringed guitar, which is called a babatoni. We cut a cow skin and fixed it on a mortar well. When we played people loved the music.”
A two minute, 57 seconds clip of him playing Abale Ndikumbukeni was initially recorded in 2007 but it went viral last month after Latin website Latinos Post reposted it, where it has so far garnered close to nine million views and 150 000 shares.
And since then, the video has been reposted by websites, with even reputable sites such as Huffington Post, Daily Motion and Heavy Metal picking up the clip and reposting it with commentaries.
An in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times, the soft spoken musician says he has not started benefitting from all the publicity, but he looks forward to using his new-found fame to reach out to a wider audience.
And in an exclusive interview from Nkhata Bay, the Standard 7 dropout said he has been surprised by the sudden interest in his music.
“I am honestly surprised by this interest because the video was recorded many years ago,” said the soft-spoken musician who is a resident musician at Mayoka Village Lodge in Nkhata Bay.
Since 2002, Nali has been engaged by Mayoka Village Lodge, a tourist haven in Nkhata Bay.
Aside that, Nali says he is looking forward to performing at this year’s Lake of Stars Festival in Mangochi.