LILY BANDA PUSHING THE AFRICAN DREAM
I am an African, I believe in unity on the African continent, I celebrate our unique cultures , I long to learn more about this continent, its history, its beautiful people, I want to participate in building Africa the dream. I am proud to be African, and I am good with languages, so why not? – Lily Banda
Lily Banda is a Malawian singer and actress. The Malawian born creative artist has been dazzling audiences with her charismatic energy at numerous events where she’s headlined as a singer and poet since the release of her debut album in January 2014. The boldness of her poetry “step outside, us, say hello to the world. Black,focus,unblurred. So from your big black lips, blow them all a big black kiss….” flows through her music too, with her recently remixed single titled “Bad at Love”, which she hosted a listening session for the remixed Swahili version on the 18th of January at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa and released on the 20th. Lily is one to watch on the international scenes of music and film.
“Amongst the audience at Dzaleka, a select few Kenyan journalists, DJs and the producer of the song were among the first to hear and see it live,” she says. “I am releasing a Swahili version of the song as a celebration of the rich diversity of our continent. I worked with my Kenyan and Tanzanian brother-sister duo, Alfred Ochieng and Aliza Were, who did the translations and taught me the language, making sure I was on point.”
The story behind bad at love is based on situationships. A term used to describe a predicament where a partner gives you verbal cues of wanting to be with you but never follows it up with actions that are in line with commitment.
“Sometimes it can also be when a person toys with another’s emotion with no real intention of making anything official,” Lily adds. Talk about a relatable matter and current trend in relationship circles all over the world. Lily remembers hearing a lot of talk about situationships in female circles when she was writing the song at the time, noting that men are usually the instigator of the situationship. Halfway through writing the song which was focused on self-pity over a broken heart, Lily found herself tiring of the usual narrative and decided to trade places, making the woman the instigator of the situationship. A version which she loved so much and decided to release as her 2019 single, soon to be Swahili remix.
Lily’s acting career is equally bold and daring, busting through Hollywood from the warm heart of Africa, staring in Netflix: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019) and Fox: Deep State Season 2 series (2019), one wonders how she is able to juggle multiple projects at the same time while delivering each one with dedicated artistry.
“I am always up for an exciting new challenge. It is my nature to stay focused and accomplish my goals. I try to choose that for myself daily,” Lily says. Her perspective on art and all its forms is that it naturally comes out of her so it doesn’t really feel like juggling. She further adds, “It’s pretty much the same as just being myself of which I am always comfortable doing. It’s the way my life has always been whether people are watching or not.”
Working on The Boy who harnessed the Wind, she saw how William Kamkwamba brought so many people from different nationalities together; all of whom dedicated themselves and worked hard to bring that story to life on screen. Traces of what the African dream could be like and more when there are combined efforts.
“It showed me the effect one person following their path can have,” says Lily. She played Annie Kamkwamba in the film, depicting a character who could not go to school because her family did not prioritize her education as a girl child. Lily believes our culture needs to address the importance of empowering girls and women through education and equal opportunities so they are no longer in disadvantaged positions in society where they feel early marriage is the only option.
“Working Deep State was also wonderful,” she recalls. “There is civil unrest in most of Northern Africa where my character, Aicha Konate, is from. Deep State reminds us about how important it is to hold the people who represent us accountable for their actions. Both projects were topical which was a bonus for me.”
“We should all be activists,” Lily states. Adding that the human race is one whether we like it or not, we are all connected and affect each other. With an emphasis on being “our brother’s keeper”, she believes that it is a calling we all have to answer to regardless of being on huge platforms, multiple campaigns or being unknown; small daily acts of kindness make a difference.
When it comes to dealing with negativity and people who have an opinion about everything, Lily is undeterred. She believes it is the nature of negative people to be negative, they choose to be that way and that’s something she doesn’t try to control.
“The only person I can control is: myself, from my choices to my reactions. You have to know yourself. I still remember the day I understood my calling, which is everything I am doing now and working towards. It’s always been so clear to me even when no one believed it for me, I did,” Lily says firmly asserting her decision to stay on her path. s
Follow Lily Banda on her social media platforms @IamLilyBanda for latest updates on her performances and projects.