Wednesday 20 September 2017

On Stage: W.I.T.C.H.

Personally I never heard of the band W.I.T.C.H. (short for "We Intend To Cause Havoc"), the Zambian rock band that especially was popular in the seventies. Things went downhill late seventies because of economic turmoil in Zambia at that time. Singer Jagari, the alias for Emanuel Chanda, started performing again a few years back and a documentary about his life is being filmed. He came into contact with Dutch musician Jacco Gardner and they are now performing together with a few of Gardner's friends and remaining members of the original W.I.T.C.H.

W.I.T.C.H. at Tolhuistuin, September 18 2017

I listened to a few songs that I liked a lot, still I really don't know what to expect tonight. Since I like music from many African countries and rock music, this mix sounds like something I could appreciate. I don't know how many people here tonight knew about this band, but the venue has filled up quite nicely. Of course it is a free concert for anyone that owns the Indiestad pass and the name "Jacco Gardner" probably raised the attention of a few in here as well. Still it comes as a nice surprise to me that so many hopped on the ferry over here.

Mysteriously looking figures appear on the scarcely lit stage, wearing giant witch hats. It is not a real mystery since this is Jacco Gardner with drummer Nic Mauskovic, who work on several projects together, with guitarists J.J. Whitefield and Stefan Lilov. On keyboards is the only other original member Patrick Mwondela, who played with the band in the early eighties until the group disbanded. They start a catchy song with a fantastic rhythm to warm us up.

After that Jagari completes the group and leads us into 'Introduction' from their first record with the same title. Jagari is a cheerful man who is really excited to be playing here with this reincarnation of his band. He's eager to introduce us to "zamrock" and to make us dance. Sometimes when the band is playing hypnotic and groovy jams, he sits down, eats an apple and simply enjoys himself. His vocals aren't always great, maybe he's still a bit rusty, but he makes up for it with a lot of energy and it actually suits the music. The band moves from James Brown funk-like music to sixties Jimi Hendrix style rock. But it's always mixed with the original Zambian rhythms.

The band isn't always very tight either and at some points even a bit messy. But this is part of the charm of this music, that is a lot more free than what we're used to over here. Zamrock is all about sounds, rhythm and improvisation, and not so much about music with strict boundaries. The intention is to make people dance, which is exactly what everyone is doing tonight. I really hope they can continue this project and hopefully new music can come out of it. Or at least a regular visit to one of the festivals and clubs over here in the low lands.

All Pictures



  1. My Dad Patrick Mwondela who was an influential part of the WITCH in the 80s (I was 4) when the band took a break and my Dad moved to England to gain a Degree in Computer Science, he still continued to write and compose music. The spirit and essence of Zamrock did not die, it lives on resounding in my every being. At th weekends I have memories of waking up to the distinct and unforgettable chords of Zamrock. As a child I could only describe it has a warm blanket of my fathers love. As an adult I would describe it as a safe blanket of my fathers love, protection and my identity as a Zambian to the world. What a gift!

    1. Thank you for this wonderful story. A gift indeed! It was great seeing your dad with Jagari on stage with these young musicians and to see that Zamrick is still alive.