The setting is a makeshift restaurant around Ginery Corner in Blantyre. We had agreed to meet and converse over lunch (of course he is footing the bill) and quickly place our orders upon arrival.
Surprisingly for a person with a ‘Hugey Straktcha’ (pun intended) he overlooks the “chicken braai” on the menu and opts for rice and fried meat with vegetables while I (being a bachelor who rarely cooks) order the Nsima, Nthumbwana and beans I have been craving for weeks.
Once the food is served, we take our sits ready to eat and of course talk business. I am about to initiate conversation when Huji abruptly dips his hand into a bowl of Kambuzi chili pepper before taking a handful and placing it inside his shirt pocket with minimal fuss like a seasoned thief.
My mouth is instantly agape at the sight of a working-class artist in thieving mode, but my fears are quickly eased when he quickly returns the chili pepper into the bowl. We both burst into laughter and I am left shaking my head, lost for words at his audacious prank.
They say you have to be crazy to be creative and Huji (real name Bongani Kalambo) is part of a rare breed that embodies that phrase with his new song Musi Ndi Ntondo the latest illustration of the depth of the artist’s creative juices.
“Kodi Nambe umatha bwa / kukongola koma suunyada / koma dona ya ine adha / ndimpaka kumanda,” he sings on the first verse of the Steve Spesho-produced track.
After we had had our lunch, we headed to my office where he explained what inspired the club banger during a one-on-one interview.
“I thought about relationships, the way relationships are nowadays especially the relationships that I’ve been through,” he said.
“To say they truth, most of my ex-girlfriends were amazing. So I was in the bathroom singing about women with the whole package, in Malawi we say nkhwangwa ndi mpini.
“But it’s been used for so long, everybody talks about and it has become a cliché so I was like let me switch it up a little bit, let me bring in something new.
“I like my songs to have a title that grabs people’s attention. I don’t like to have songs with a title such as Chikondi or something obvious. It’s good but you need to work hard on that.
“I don’t like working hard, I like working smart so basically I just found a good theme for the song and then Musi Ndi Ntondo was what I really really really fell in love with.”
Throughout the song, Huji lavishes praise on his imaginary girl: “Ah my shining star (uli thwani thwani) / you love me for who I am (unabadwa bwanji) / ka ngelo aka agelo / she makes me wanna settle.”
When quizzed about the song’s theme, the artist said: “It’s talking about the good side of women. You look at some women and see an exo-skeleton, hard outside but soft on the inside. Those are the type of ladies I was talking about.
“So this song is a dedication to my mum, it’s about strong women. I feel like the way I felt when I was writing this song is the same way my dad felt when he found my mum.”
The heavily-built versatile artist said fans should expect the music video to Musi Ndi Ntondo to come out soon.
“It’s in the works. I’ve been talking to my videographer. He was busy with another project but now he’s done,” he said.
“So now we’re shooting the video. We’ve already chosen the location and the models to appear in the video so everything including the concept is done. We’re ready with all that.”
Musi Ndi Ntondo was released on 13 June and is currently enjoying heavy rotation on several radio stations in the country.