Kaiche: Engineer turned musician
He is proud of his early life in a village in Samfya where among his pastimes was fishing and hunting using dogs. He has little time for Zambians with phoney accents or those who pretend to know English better than the Queen of England herself or those who claim to have no villages other than the city.
His name is Pontiano Kaiche - the latest sensation on the local music front who early this year gave up an engineering career to devote his time to music. Kaiche, who describes his music as country-folk, is determined to prove that a career in music is not a dead end in Zambia and is so far happy with his achievements since turning professional last February.
By July he had become the first local musician to record a CD master and an audio cassette, "Katyetye", which have both generated so much public interest that he plans to produce 2,000 additional tapes next month. He is sure of making it as a professional musician in Zambia because he is out to change the perception held by most Zambians that musicians should play for free.
To demonstrate his resolve, Kaiche charges no less than $100 (net) for a four-hour performance when he is hired at weddings and dinners. "You may think $100 is a lot of money for a four-hour performance but you have got to realise that music is an expensive venture".
He blames fellow musicians for failing to bargain for better deals, saying many preferred to be paid beer and a little cash which they would again spend on the drink. The entertainer says: "The problem is a lot of musicians are not serious. They are willing to play for peanuts as long as they are promised beer. They hold themselves to blame because they send wrong signals to clients".
But does he drink himself? "No, I don't and I don't smoke. I do not want to say I have never drunk beer in my life. Whether or not I used to I have now stopped on religious grounds". In 1993 he was converted to the Bahai Faith religion after he was attracted by its message of seeking global peace, unity in diversity and the promotion of equal rights for men and women.
Born on November 29, 1958, Kaiche's interest in music dates back to the late 60s when as a primary school boy he played the banjo at evening camp fires to entertain members of visiting school teams. At that time he was playing "Katontola" brand of music which has evolved into modern day Kalindula. In 1973 he left Samfya for boarding school at Lusaka's Kamwala Secondary School after passing his grade seven examinations. While there he learnt to play the six-string guitar.
"It didn't take me long to master the guitar because my fingers were already used to playing the banjo". In 1977 while doing form five, Kaiche formed a band called 'Sounds of Jupiter' which specialised in zamrock, jazz and hardrock. The same year he went for National Service at Katete where after completing the military training he joined the Drama and Cultural club. After completing the 20 months compulsory national service training, Kaiche went to then Zambia Institute of Technology (ZIT) and now Copperbelt University (CBU) to study Civil Engineering.
While there he continued to play music and participate in drama. In 1983 after graduating he joined ZCCM's Mufulira division where he teamed up with Teddy Chilambe, another renowned folk musician. He recorded six singles with Chilambe but the two split two years later for what Kaiche prefers to call 'technical reasons'.
The same year in September he was seconded to Zambia Engineering Services, a subsidiary of ZCCM, in Ashford, England for two years. While there he studied for a higher national certificate in civil engineering and a diploma in engineering management. During his spare time he played in pubs in and around Ashford and curtain raising for a band called Winstone and the Churchills. After returning from England in 1987 he quit the mines and joined Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) as a civil and refractory engineer before leaving two years later to become chief building superintendent at National Airports Corporation (NAC).
He then joined Rankin Consultants as a senior engineer before going on an indefinite leave to pursue music. For Kaiche, who can be reached at Contact Bureau, Anchor House, the sky is the limit because unlike other Zambian musicians he gives the people what they want. He says: "The problem is most Zambian musicians want to play foreign music while the Zambians now want to listen to local music these days". On that score he would do well to diversify into as many local languages as possible to capture a wider audience. Marital status? He is a divorcee with one daughter who because nostalgic memories of his disastrous first marriage prefers to bid his time before the real 'Miss Right' comes along. Any takers?
©Copyright 1997, Times of Zambia