It all started I the Copperbelt Province, Kitwe. By then the band just comprised of Allan Tembo (Guitarist) and Jackie Tembo (Bassist), the brother. Later Michael Kumwenda came on board as a lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist. The starting was not easy at all. I remember when it was just started, we used to hold plain planks as guitars whilst Michael could hold a coca cola bottle pretending it was a microphone. We advanced from planks to picking empty cooking oil tins (salad gallons) and empty oil tins and make banjos. We could play from the backyards, open air spaces and in unfinished buildings for some time. Our fellow youths could come contribute some coins; 1 ngwee and 2 ngwees just to find themselves part of it.
Because of the love, determination, courage and passion that was in us, with a vision, we started moving and jamming wherever there was a live band until we bumped into one of the most popular and giant of kalindula music by the name of Alfred Chisala Kalusa Jnr. who saw great potential in us. We could jam alongside him, lift up and clean instruments, change guitar strings on his behalf until Allan Tembo’s great skill was spotted and taken up as the rhythm guitarist. The time Alfred was releasing his first ever album titled “What a gas”, brother Allan Tembo was one the one behind all these sweet rhythms of which upto now, they are still adding value to Zambian music. Among the hit songs were ‘Itumba lilelila’, Maggie, Akabeseni to mention but a few. We played along with Alfred for quite a long time (2-3years). We also played and became P.K. Chishala’s band. We toured with him all over Copperbelt, Northern, Luapula, Western provinces etc. We also played a role in the Sakala Brothers’ music until when we started thinking of what was in us and the vision that we had as a group.
We decide to move from Kitwe, Copper belt Province to Lusaka City, the capital city of Zambia. We had no relatives, no friends, we just had talent. The first place we arrived at was New Londe Motel in Matero and we found a live band which was performing every day. Michael went backstage and negotiated and when he came back, he said, “Jackie, we are game in 20 minutes time. We’ll be going on stage. We were just the three of us without drummer hence we asked for assistance from the other band and it worked. Though the guy was a full time kalindula drummer, he managed to follow our tune because our music was more of reggae afrobeat and at that time, no band was playing reggae in the city. It was very difficult for us to penetrate. We didn’t know that performance required money; to us it was more of fun even survivor, we were surviving by tips. We had no name. We were called band two. One day, I remember we sat looking at what we went through, the hardships, challenges and the life we were living. We thought of coming up with a name. After a long debate, Michael just said since our lives and our journey has been so rough; you know, brought up in the ghetto with no proper address, it wasn’t easy, then the name was suggested and it was Burning Youth. That was the birth of everything.
We recruited new members who included Sam Zulu (drums), Dan Mwenda (rhythm/vocals), Fred Banda (Keyboard), Michael Kumwenda (Lead Vocalist), Allan Tembo (Guitarist) and Jackie Tembo (Bassist)
After the last tour of central Africa, our leade4r Michael Kumwenda was hit by terrible malaria and later died in 1996. It was a beginning of setbacks to the band. Before his death, he had done 2 albums with him titled “Sadness” and “Chiuta (God)”. As time went by, the bad experienced tragedies where in 2 years after Michael’s death, the band lost another prominent member Fred Kazimete Banda (Keyboardist). Three years later, another member Dan Mwenda (Guitarist/Vocalist) died leaving Sam Zulu the drummer and Jackie Tembo, the Bassist. Later, Sam also left and left me with nothing.
In whichever situation, if God is with us, who can be against us?
Through his power and mercy, he gave me the courage and strength. I started to reorganise and rearrange myself since the rhythm and the name is already there. I started building up my own children and my late brother’s children from 2011 to date. We have so far recorded 2 album titled “Only the Strong Survive” and “Jackie Burning, The Reloaded”.
We are currently working on an album to be released before next year titled “Ngwenyama” meaning “King”.
Despite the odds, inspite of the demolition caused by death, regardless of the inferno and regardless of the challenges and obstacles, the Burning Youth has stood a test of time and come out of it bigger, better, stronger, more talented and even more vibrant. It is indeed the Burning Youth Reloaded! All this has been possible not because we are wiser, clever, or stronger; but it is indeed because of the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to whom we give all the glory and thanksgiving.
Burning Youth Reloaded; we eat music, breathe music, feel music and walk music!