It is exactly 28 years today after the demise of one of Zambia’s music legends, Smokey Haangala, the man who on the day of his death, was also the day when his Black Eye Novel hit the book store shelves.
But it was his debut album, Aunka Ma Kwacha in 1976, that catapulted Smokey Haangala to fame though he never bragged about it.
Smokey, was quite reserved personally, but wild when in possession of a guitar, becoming an instant super star when he churned out hits such as Manadalena Kasama and Mandalena Mongu, Bo Lisabet Wa Matambula, Tulondoke, Kalyaunga , kavundula and Baala Ng’ombe among them.
There were also other songs like Mvelani Anyamata and Wilanshupa Maria.
Smokey had always wanted to come up with his own style of music and never looked up to material from Deep Purple, Grand Funk, Black Sabath and the likes.
He could best be remembered at the once famous Kalipinde Inn in Lusaka where his music with the Kalyaunga Band mesmerised patrons.
His emergence on the local scene, saw him win two awards in a row, the best Soloist in 1977 and 1978.
Smokey was one man who was possessed with music such that he spent all his monthly salary on musical instruments, booking cabs from Ndola to Chingola’s Malachite studios for recordings and back.
Smokey did contribute greatly to the development of local music in his own right in that, he wanted to explore a mixture of rythms that pointed to typical Zambian music.
His guitar wizzadly and style, earned him the name Smokey, named after his hero and international star Smokey Robinson.
Smokey is also a nephew of former UNIP vice president Mainza Chona.
Born Edwin Haakulipa Haangala on January 16, in Southern Province where his father was a headmaster, he enrolling to be a Catholic priest at Mpima major seminary in Kabwe after completing Standard Six.
This is where Smokey met the late famous broadcaster Charles Mando who was also trying to become a priest.
Just like Mando, priesthood was not in Smokey’s blood as he left two years later to find himself at Munali Secondary school in Lusaka.
Armed with a Cambridge Certificate three years later, he went to the University of Zambia(UNZA) to study English and Public Administration.
While at UNZA, he played in a band called the UNZAMITES before fronting another campus outfit called the ICECLES which had skilled guitarists like Captain Sakala, Cuthbert Chalabesa, Max Kachasu and was managed by Mumba Kapumpa, now a diplomat.
Smokey formed the X-Ray band upon graduation from UNZA and teamed up with the likes of Kinky Ndhlovu (young brother of the late Dylan Ndhlovu who played in the Tinkles) on drums and Bright Mfula who was on second guitar.
Those were the days they rocked The Pelican, Kilimanjaro and Lido Drive Inn all in Lusaka before touring Southern and western provinces.
Smokey was by then working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an executive officer.
He later landed a lucrative contract with Teal Rexord Company and linked up with his close friend, Happy Mulenga who played bass guitar on Aunka Ma Kwacha and most of his hit songs.
Mulenga, now working for INDENI in Ndola, describes Smokey as a genius and intellectual.
“That guy was a genius, he could do anyhing just for the sake of music, I still miss him,” Mulenga said.
When he quit his job at the Ministry of foreign affairs, Smokey joined the National Educational Company of Zambia(NECZAM) as an English editor.
He was also the author of a satirical column called Sikini Ma Bonzo in the Times of Zambia Newspaper and also worked for the Weekend World, a private newspaper which had seasoned journalists such as Arthur Yoyo, Enos Phiri, Joseph Mkandawire and Josh Mulenga.
Smokey,then proceeded to the Zambia Daily Mail in 1985, but later left to concentrate on music with his band.
He also performed with the New Cross Bones after Chris Chali took over from the original founders and an encounter with Larry Maluma and the Maoma Band as well as Agudu Chimenya a.k.a Mr Big Stuff of the Afro Mods, marketed him very well.
Smokey’s passing on which came as a shock, will always echo in the minds of his fans as his music still sounds as if he was still around somewhere.
It is the legacy of legends such as Smokey Haangala that will remain premamently inscripted in Zambian music history, long after they have gone and their names will never fade.
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