Armstrong Kalua is the birth name to a man whose talents are so mind blowing and multifaceted it can give a healthy man in his twenties a heart attack. Onesimus can sing, dance, rap and if given the opportunity he could even be a comedian because his sense of humor precedes him. Born in Blantyre Malawi on the 29th of April 1989 with a clenched fist full of talents the first he explored was dance, coming together with a group of friends to form God’s Soldiers a dance group that won the Sprite dancing competition in 2006 as if in a rush to move to the next thing he started rapping in 2008 with the BBM Clique releasing popular songs such as “By my side” and “Random thoughts” and until today we still haven’t had the privilege of listening to his solo rap mixtape ‘Beyond Limits” wherever that tape is I bet its ageing like fine wine and will destroy the industry if ever put out.
He began singing in 2010 taking a year to perfect his vocal abilities then releasing his breakout single “Beautiful” with the award-winning rapper Young Kay and “without your love”.
Nde’feyo Entertainment couldn’t stay away so they signed him in 2012 and released his first ever RnB mixtape titled BrB with tracks such as “In love with a DJ“ and “hey shawty” making him popular among the ladies, the follow up was his Afro-R&B album titled “Ndele” in the same year, making Armstrong the pioneer of Chichewa Rnb in Malawi or rather the first to do it that well, his hits “Sinditha Kumvetsa” and “Ndamusowa” made him the most sought after artist in Malawi and other parts of Africa topping the charts and featuring in some of the biggest songs from African artists, and touring all corners of Malawi, Johannesburg and Cape Town South Africa.
Armstrong was growing fast, headlining major shows and festivals all around Malawi such as
Lake of Stars, Sand Music Festival, Blantyre Arts Festival, the UMP Festival and Mwezi Wawala Arts Festival sharing the stage with the continent’s legendary artists among them Zimbabwe’s Oliver Mtukudzi, Mali’s Salif Keita, South Africa’s Freshly Ground,Professor,AKA, Nigeria’s Naeto C , He also did a song “Musiye Ayende” with Zambia’s Dalisoul and Afunika, and did more songs with Organised Family and Mampi.
In Malawi he got to work with, Lucius Banda, Black Missionaries, Skeffa Chimoto, Maskal, Piksy, Lulu, Maskal, Tigris, Barry One, Cyclone and Rina to name a few, pasting his name on the top ten Malawian musicians list by the City of Stars Music Festival.
The transition from Armstrong to Onesimus is an ascension, from somebody who had achieved so much to a man of the people and a man of God, after two nominations at the 2014 Inaugural Malawi Music awards and having the best ringtones between 2012 and 2013
We can say Armstrong found God and took the bold decision of using his musical talent to worship and send praises to God and changed his stage name from Armstrong to the Hebrew name ONESIMUS (OH-NE-SEE-MIS) which means Profitable or useful, taken from the biblical Onesimus a servant of Philemon who later became a bishop, he began doing Gospel music under the guidance of Malawi’s most renowned prophet Shepherd Bushiri releasing Chichewa gospel hits “Wayankha”, “higher higher” and “Ndilandireni” following it up on the 11th of January 2016 with his first Gospel album Epikaizo which carried the hit song “miracle money” serving as an anthem for The Enlightened Christian Gathering church and Christians all over Africa, racking in almost half a million views on YouTube to date and the album achieved mainstream success with radio spins in most African countries.
His performances are even more iconic some say he could bring heaven down to earth whenever he performed his gospel hits be it at events or in church, he toured all over Africa with this album even moving with the prophet from time to time leading praise and worship crusades across the continent. Onesimus became an artist that even your mother new and loved because of his amazing gospel music.
In preparation for the follow up to Epikaizo, changes had to be made the next album had to be global, the “messenger” had to reach more people so he moved from Malawi to South Africa and signed to Muthaland Entertainment in 2018 and released the iconic gospel album Messenger on the 25th of June 2018 with radio hits such as “Don’t pass me by”,
“ messenger”, ”Hosanna” and “Easy Baby” the video for Easy baby ,a heartfelt portrayal of a young woman’s journey through life, alcohol abuse and unplanned pregnancy, sends a message of love and care, good advice to any young woman growing up and facing life’s temptations, letting them know to take care of themselves and that their body is the temple of the living God and should be treated as such, shedding light on the consequences of a reckless life specifically for a young woman. The video has gone up to 619k views on YouTube and growing, with comments showering praise and adoration, young women attesting to its impact on their lives and some of the hardships the lyrics got them through, it reached a wide spectrum of people since its both a religious song and an Afro-soul hit it’s safe to say that Onesimus was slowly drifting into afrobeat and afro-soul.
His sound has been developing with each song and slowly adopting new genres through working with South African artists in 2019 he released a gospel hit “Baba God” with the South African afro-popstar Vusi Nova making it an iconic collaboration in languages English and isiXhosa , relatable to the South African audience and beyond.
In the same year he released two more amazing singles “Anelisa” and “Foyu” featuring the Nigerian afrobeat sensation Tekno proving again Onesimus’ limitless continental reach, and his ability to spread Afrocentric music, in his Chichewa language and a few chants from Tekno in his own language.
He remained consistent with the singles into the new year giving us “Serious matter” ,Here with me a song which was remixed twice in two different genres an Amapiano version by Dr Moruti and an Afro-electro version by DJ Vitoto and did very well on radio and on continental playlists also heard banging and controlling dance floors all over South Africa and beyond.
“Panado” was even a bigger online hit racking in insane streams on Spotify and other platforms with the music video going as far as 179k views comments flying in from all countries in Africa and beyond with Malawian nationals emphasising their pride for the African butter.
In 2021 he gave us Solomoni a song that addresses gender based violence, doing very well on the chats and enjoying airplay on major radio stations such as BBC xtra1, Metro FM, Radio 2 FM, Power 101 FM to name a few ,the music video was an insane success almost reaching a million views on YouTube and on many a TV station in the continent. In the same year he did another collaboration with label mate Vusi Nova a song titled ‘Maria”, telling young women to not put their lives at risk for petty things like fashion and money coming from men, as they can die from so many diseases ,this is another song that portrays Onesimus’ concern and soft spot for young women. “Mr Nobody” is such a heartfelt inspirational song entailing his life journey showing that your roots are not your destination and that life can change for the better, the video to the song is still doing well on YouTube and TV stations across the continent.
2022 has been an exciting year for Onesimus still maintaining his relevance with singles not releasing a body of work since Messenger in 2018 ,he opened up the year with Gimme Luv with DJ Vitoto, following up with Open your heart, “Ex-Lover” with Janta MW all leading to his current banger “Shuga” , a song that broke the internet and had TikTok going crazy, with a music video so iconic you would think you were watching Rambo, racking in insane views in the first day, number one song on iTunes and a trending topic on twitter Shuga is still growing, enjoying airplay TV spins and fans are going crazy over the song.
Talk of an EP is in the air and fans have been waiting long, Onesimus has come a long way with this music he has defied all odds and is exploring many other genres he is limitless he has worked with so many artists across Africa and may even be going overseas soon his music is internationally marketable and he’s raising the flag of Malawi and Africa as a whole with pride and finesse. The African Butter takeover is real and it is here!!!