From South Africa to the Philippines, his acoustic and catchy title "Linny Hoo", recorded at the end of 2020 and in which he tells his daughter Linny all his pride, has been reinterpreted and remixed at will, becoming a phenomenon.

The young people "come to show me the videos on their phones but I have no idea how it works", admits the artist met by AFP in his house on the edge of a macadamia plantation, about twenty kilometers from Blantyre, the economic capital of Malawi.

The thin, white-haired, slightly stooped old man maintained a youthful cheerfulness: "I like people having fun and listening to what I'm doing."

His 16-year-old grandson Stepson Austin, who wants to get into hip-hop himself, is amazed by the longevity of the musician with his 70-year career: "It's amazing that he lived long enough to see that", this planetary success.

Born in Chiradzulu, a small town in the south of the country, Giddes Chalamanda and his guitar are legendary in Malawi.

His song "Buffalo soldier", in which he dreams of going to the United States, is known to everyone.

Giddes Chalamanda, 92, and his wife Margalita Alfred, 71, at their home in southern Malawi on January 13, 2022 Amos Gumulira AFP

He still performs in concert today and over the past ten years he has played regularly with new generations of musicians.

"Speak to the Soul"

In 2021, with a local musician in her thirties, Patience Namadingo, he decided to record a reggae version of some of his hits.

The video goes viral, with nearly 7 million views on YouTube.

At the end of 2021, the video lands on TikTok and goes around the world.

"When the song is launched in a box or a festival, everyone starts dancing, it's a real hit", describes the musician and longtime collaborator Davis Njobvu.

The lyrics are in Chewa, the local language, but you don't need to understand them to be won over: "The old man sings with such passion that he touches anyone who listens to him", says Joe Machingura, producer and owner of a label based in South Africa.

This song "speaks to your soul".

“Songs from the past were sometimes written with such depth, they still resonate today,” adds Tammy Mbendera of the Malawi Festivals Institute, for whom TikTok creates incredible opportunities for artists.

Giddes Chalamanda is still waiting for the reward of his popular success Amos Gumulira AFP

But to date, Giddes Chalamanda, who has had 14 children, seven of whom are still alive, is still waiting for this opportunity to pay off.

"I'm surprised that despite the popularity of the song, there is nothing for me," he admits.

"I am happy to make people dance all over the world but there should be a benefit for me. I need this money", he insists.

According to his manager, Pemphero Mphande, the process to get royalties for his song released on TikTok is ongoing and the Malawi copyright society has said it is ready to help him.

© 2022 AFP

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