You cannot wake up overnight and say ‘I want to be a nasheed artist’ because singing is a blessing – it needs talent. Other people were born with the talent while others look for it. But this is different with Ismael Katawala (IK), Malawi’s celebrated local artist. Marshall Dyton (MD) met him in Limbe after Dhuhr Salaah and he was blessed to have a three minutes chat with him.
MD: Welcome to Malawi Muslims Official Website
IK: Thank you
MD: first of all, who is Ismael Katawala?
IK: I am a young Muslim artist from Mangochi district doing Advanced Diploma in Business Management at ICB Business College in Limbe. Born on 30 January 1987 and living with my parents in Limbe.
MD: When did you start singing and how long have you been singing?
IK: OK. Actually, I started back in 1990s when I was at primary and secondary school level. By that time, I was composing Nasheeds during my free time and performing at get together gatherings and other Islamic activities. In 2010, it is when I released my first album….
MD: What influenced you to get into singing?
IK: It is a born-with talent. But Zain Bikha has also played part by becoming my inspiration. I listen to his Nasheeds frequently in order to get some new ideas. And it is my dream to meet him one day if God allows.
MD: So, what professional ambitions do you have and projects you might have lined-up for the future?
IK: Well. My ambition is to become an internationally acclaimed nasheed singer just like Dawud Wharnsby Ali, Yusuf Islam, Zain Bikha and Maher Zain. Apart from that, I also want to open up my own studio (to promote other young artists), but that will depend on my financial status in the future Insha Allah.
MD: Where can people find your nasheed CDs?
IK: Thanks for that important question. I sell the CDs myself. But let me also take this opportunity to say that I haven’t entered into any sales agreement with anybody anywhere. And if you find someone selling my CDs in the streets or in shops, just know that those are pirated products and he is doing so illegally. He should have to explain where he got them. It is only Radio Islam production department that has my master copy.
MD: Are you touring now? Tell us where we can see you perform next.
IK: On July 3rd that is on Saturday, I will be at Lilongwe Town Hall in an on-going National Zakaat Fund theatre competition.
MD: Any message to your fans or to all those who listen to your Nasheeds?
IK: Yes. I would like to ask my fellow Malawians and Muslims across the globe that let us promote each other and say no to jealousy because this is what pulls us down. I painfully remember that my first album has suffered massive piracy, instead of people buying the original; they were just burning which is very unfair. People are getting rich at the expense of our sweat while we, the owners are still struggling to make ends meet despite our huge talents.
I should also take this opportunity to thank Radio Islam for making me to be where I am because without them nobody would have appreciated my talent. They showed love by featuring and playing some of my Nasheeds on their Radio station.