Posted on Thursday, May 16, 2024 Return

Music started off as an outlet for John Chiti, who faced many trials and tribulations as a young child growing up in Zambia with albinism in the 1980s. Whilst home from boarding school for the holidays, a man visiting the neighbourhood heard John singing and told him that essentially told him to consider doing music.

However, teachers discouraged John from pursuing a career in music and instead advised that he should concentrate on academics but John continued to press on. He learned how to play the guitar, joined a band, and started attending gigs until he eventually recorded his first song at the age of 17. “Nga Uleya” was one of John’s earlier recordings which was posted onto YouTube in 2008. This is one of the examples which shows that the man visiting his neighborhood during his school holidays, had an excellent ear for music, as John’s velvety and pure vocals glide effortlessly on a slightly up-tempo beat.

The same can be said to another one of John’s classic tracks “Nga Ndi Naiwe”. However, the beginning of the music video appears to briefly show a glimpse of how John and/or people with albinism are treated as an outsider. In essence, a woman boarding a bus was about to sit next to John. However, her friend or relative shouts “sit the other side”, i.e. away from John. There are also two men sitting behind him, sniggering, whilst the two ladies are at the back of the bus laughing. Nevertheless, the video does end on a happier note, as John finds love and goes on to have a family, which would later become a reality.

“Yenze Yangu” was also posted onto YouTube in 2008, but this time, John is the featured artist as the song is by fellow Zambian musician, MC Wabwino. Yet, John’s effortless vocals on the track makes this a timeless piece. In the same year, started his journey on becoming an activist as he founded the Albinism Foundation of Zambia (AFZ), a non-government organization that works to promote the welfare of anyone with albinism in Zambia. Chiti also became a full-time police commissioner to help crack down attacks against people with albinism in 2022.

John’s life story was the inspiration behind the Netflix movie “Can You See Us?” which premiered in August/September 2023. The movie was so powerful that it led the President of Zambia to post a tweet, describing the movie as “a gripping tale of a little boy’s difficult childhood.”
“Can You See Us” went on to become a global success. In the same year, Mark Anthony (Record Label Executive) signed John to his UK record label, Digital Jukebox Records and in April 2024, he released his first single under the label entitled “Ni Colour Chabe” – a track which can only be described as gospelesque, due to Johns strong airy vocals and the compelling vocals from the choir and backing vocalist.

“Ni Colour Chabe” is taken from John upcoming album “Can You See Us (The Music of John Chiti)” and is available on all streaming platforms.

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