The Mafik, a Tanzanian boyband, saw a meteoric rise to stardom in the early stages of their music career. With hits such as Passenger, Carola, and collaborations with established artistes such as Ben Pol, theirs was a fairy-tale of hitting the music jackpot with a first slingshot.
However, the group that started out as a trio was hit with a tragedy in 2019 after one of its founding member, popularly known by his stage name Mbalamwezi, passed away.
After disappearing without a trace for a few days, the singer’s body was discovered abandoned in a ditch in a Dar es Salaam residential area.
The group’s surviving members, Hamadi Hassan a.k.a Hamadai and Salehe Husseni a.k.a Rhino were devastated by the heavy loss but somehow managed to weather the storm and kept The Mafik going and intact as a duo.
The Beat had a chat with the artistes to find out more about their future in the music business and how the tragic loss of one of their own has impacted their music careers.
Hamadai, 27, a founding member of The Mafik is optimistic about the future. The artiste, who possesses a distinct sound characterized with a high and low pitch says that for as long The Mafik still has members who are alive, the band will persist against all odds. “Our band hasn’t changed post the death of our beloved Mbalamwezi. The music will continue. We cannot remain dejected forever, because if God plans something, no one can change it,” he says.
And all the positive signs are visible. Just recently The Mafik released Sasambua. Their first song as a duo and not a trio. “Sasambua is an entertaining song. Its melodic vibe is meant for the dance floor. It is an upbeat song that aims to make the crowd get on their feet,” says Rhino, also a founding member of the group.
Rhino, 27, brings to the table a unique style where he blends a bit of French in his verses. “This is one of the ways The Mafik tries to remain different from the rest. “Our aim is to bring a different taste and style to the music industry,” the singer, who also raps says.
How they met
Turning back the pages to how it all started, Rhino and Hamadai say it was all God’s plan for them to connect. “We can’t tell exactly how each one of us connected, but it was the sheer will of God that we met, started doing music, and here we are today,” Rhino says.
One thing that the band members had in common prior to joining forces was the music factor. They all did music individually, so when it was decided that they form a group, it was just a matter of identifying the different roles to be played by each member of the group. From the get-go, the fans seemed to love what they saw and heard.
After their debut 2 years ago, The Mafik was touted to be the next big thing in Tanzania’s music industry. The young men have continued to keep up with the high pressure exerted on them by releasing songs that have been met with positive reviews from all corners.
Even now that they are one man short, they do not see the vacuum as an impediment to success. In fact, it motivates them, even more, to continue working hard to not only succeed as a group but also make the late Mbalamwezi proud.
It is such resolve that has also made them decide not to find someone to fill in the void left by Mbalamwezi. “I don’t think we will add another member to the group. We will continue as we are,” Hamadai says.
On Sauti za Busara 2020
Next year The Mafik will have a big gig lined up. Their name was listed among the performing acts in the next edition of Sauti za Busara that’s held annually in Zanzibar. “It’s a great honour to perform at such an iconic festival. We made sure to register ourselves for selection when calls for entry were made,”Hamadai explained.
Rhino, on his part, promises great performance. “They [fans] should expect to witness the best live music and a vibrant presentation of our creative work,” he says. Signed under Kwetu studios, The Mafik have a whole future ahead of them.
The success that they’ve recorded so far is only a precursor to more glorious moments to come. “We are determined and are ambitious. Music is what we do and so we give it our whole,” they both said in unison.
With their manager in tow as they visited The Beat magazine, the group certainly looked ready to conquer the music industry. They’ve assembled an arsenal of ammunition and are ready to fire away at a moment’s notice. “We have many songs in store that are awaiting the greenlight from our management for them to be released,” Hamadai boastfully said.
To further paint a clear picture, he says the songs that are in store can make more than two albums if combined. When it comes to crossing borders and hitting the East African market and beyond, The Mafik was quick to brush off such plans by reiterating their strategy to first focus on the local market before having sight on foreign fan-base.
“In any case, our music still makes it beyond Tanzania, ”Rhino quickly interjected. “Our songs and played in Kenya and beyond, but our plan at the moment is not to focus on the foreign market,” he adds.
Success as a group doesn’t mean that Hamadai and Rhino have blocked all roads leading to solo projects.
The duo does cave into the fact that solo projects don’t lessen the effort or time dedicated to working as a group. “We do have solo projects. In order to make The Mafik successful as a band we also need to grow as individuals,” explains Hamadai.
About the possibility of releasing an album in the future, the group is leaving the decision to their management, Kwetu Studios, of when the album should be dropped. A quick look at the songs they have in store a stellar album shouldn’t be hard to come by.