The Flash of the month : Afia MalaOctober 22, 2016 51 Comments
It all started with two royal families from Togo and Benin. A princess was born on the banks of the river Mono, her name was Afiwavi Mawaulana Missohou, who later became to be known as Afia Mala. When she was small she often accompanied her mother to the traditional singing lessons of the Habobo women. Following this early influence, she soon started singing at village functions where the young Afia stunned elders with her fantastic voice. This was during the time of the great Bella Bellow, the Togolese Lady of the blues, who sadly died at the height of her fame. Bella Bellow was an inspiration to an entire generation of African singers, including the young Afia Mala.
In 1974 Afia Mala’s music career was launched thanks to her winning the Best Togolese singer of the year. However, this promising career was nearly cut short following a near fatal traffic accident. After spending over six months in hospital, her Father decided that music was not to be young Afia’s future… but destiny decided otherwise. In 1984 ‘Ten Homte’ (Black Earth) was selected by Radio France International listeners as their favorite song during their talent competition ‘Discovery’.
So far a repertoire of a dozen albums of success has firmly placed, the Princess from Vogan amongst the great African Divas.
When you first meet Afia, you have the impression that she is a bit delicate, in fact almost fragile… don’t be fooled! Behind this beautiful, smiling alluring face hides a dedicated professional driven to perfection, whilst still being able to enjoy life to the full! After being nominated ‘Best African Female Vocalist’ in 1992, Afia took some time off to spend with her family and refocus her career. She believes strongly that music and politics make bad bedmates. Despite this fact her song titled ‘Tout le monde est coupable’ (Everybody is guilty) led to much criticism against her person and her art, because during the hot struggling period of freedom in Africa in the 90s it was implied as a political statement aimed to clear some, while accusing everyone. Phlegm and charm of her character prevailed, and she succeed to cool down even her worst critics.
Afia believes ‘a song must always carry a message, that’s important, and cannot be faked’. The album ‘Prophetie’ won her the Nelson Mandela Prize in Nairobi, Kenya, where she was also honored with the role of Ambassador for Cultural Affairs for URTNA (Union des Radios et Television Nationales Africaines).
The latest installments of Afia Mala are: "Plaisir " released in 2010 in Milan and "Afia in Cuba" an album that results from a mix of African and Caribbean rhythms. This Album was recorded in Cuba with the famous Aragon orchestra. Afia Mala sings in several languages: Lingala, Ewe, French, Adja, English, Spanish, Swahili and Douala.