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AMASHIWI

"The day will come when history will speak...Africa will write its own history, it will be a history of glory and dignity" - Patrice Lumumba

"They can because they think they can" - Virgil (Inspirational quote in Zambian newspaper The Daily Mail, 13th February 2012 to describe the Chipolopolo AFCON win)

"Be yourself, everyone else is taken" - Oscar Wilde

"The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever seen" - Albert Einstein








Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Finding Peace in the Profound: The Power of Silence

Sometimes to find the light, you have
to be brave enough to wander into
the darkness.  Embrace the unknown!
© Chosa Mweemba of Fiahlink Photography
I have been thinking a lot recently about much of what I have posted this year and realised that I am in another transitional phase in my life.  I am continuing to evolve into the human I am on this earth to be, and with that comes times of change.  The happier I become with being the Zed Afropolitan woman my life experience has created,  the more I have had to adjust my idea of how to allow that to manifest freely in a way that not only honours me, but has me being a useful member of the communities I chose to identify with.  Part of the way I like to do that is through social media in various ways.


I  have to the conclusion, four years after starting this blog, that I have said all I have to say for the moment.  One thing I hate is to repeat myself.  In order to say something new, I need to take a step back, process my experiences and my words to then move forward from there. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same results really is madness.  Why keep banging your head on a door that refuses to open, when you could discover a new door for which you find you have the key to open?

I love to communicate, I believe it is what we as humans were designed to do.  It is our greatest gift.  It is the key to our greatest advancements. I have absorbed a lot of other people's communication: their points of view and their speech though their modi operandi in the last few years, most notably the diverse range of people I have been fortunate to meet after repatriating to Zambia.  I could have done without some of what has come my way, but ultimately letting in the good and the bad has been positive.  It has inspired a new approach to fulfilling my dreams personally and professionally.  It has allowed me to understand my country and its people, and to appreciate what the continent means to me a lot better.  It has led me to the profound in silence as this is the best way to articulate what I have experienced for the time being.  I have said all I need to say with words through this blog until I have something new and pertinent to say.  I am not driven by the fear to post to keep my blog current or to stay relevant in any way.  I write for the love of expressing myself and the way that it has allowed me to experience life.  I feel the best way for me to communicate is through the power of saying nothing at all, and letting the words that I have already released into the universe marinate.  Who I am and what I stand for lives on forever thanks to the power of the internet.  Anyone can discover something new through what I have proudly created here.  And when I am overwhelmed by the need to use this channel to say something then I will, whenever that may be, sporadically or regularly in the future.

I created this blog four years ago just before the World Cup in South Africa, wrapped up in the fever and pride of the continent hosting the world's favourite game.  It helped me to find a way to shape the four years I have lived mainly in Zambia.  This year's World Cup once again has inspired me.  With all the trouble Brazil has had reconciling hosting with the money spent and how it could have better benefitted its people, seeing teams so desperate to win like Honduras who played their opener against France like hooligans and my favourite infraction so far, Portugal's Pepe head butting Germany's Mueller after pulling him down, I realised that doing anything to make something happen is not always wise.  Sometimes you have to take a step back, or tear down and rebuild.  And sometimes it's just not your time, like Ghana showed with their unexpected loss to the USA.  Yes they may still be able to make it through the group stage but sometimes you need to be realistic.  The best kind of optimism is not forcing something to happen now, but knowing when to step back in order to make it happen later.  I have no idea what the World Cup has in store over the next three weeks.  With surprises continuously the teams participating continue to produce and with the beauty and riches in goals such as Van Persie's magnificent header that contributed to the Dutch beating Spain 5-1, I am happy to experience the uncertainty that will ultimately produce a winner.

So just as the stadiums in Brazil provide an arena for the globe's dreams to be realised through the beautiful game, I am creating the space for new possibilities to do the things I want to do on the continent and in the world through silence.  And I am enjoying the uncertainty that comes with starting over.

Till my words have purpose and meaning again, I am finding peace in the profound power of silence...;} xo

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Twit Tuesday: #BringBackOurGirls


Thought this picture of Muslim women that I took in Zanzibar in 2011 was
appropriate as many of the mothers asking for the world's assistance are
just as colourfully dressed and  I hope the girls are found and are
able to grow to become happy, educated women too.

Last week one of my Stanford little ones sent me an email imploring me to support the #BringBackOurGirls campaign through a Change.org petition.  This cause is particularly close to her heart as like the girls abducted from Chibok Secondary School, she too is not only Nigerian, but also from the Northern region and Muslim.  She has benefitted from the power of education with it taking her to boarding school in England and to one of the best universities in the world.  She is able to be whoever she wants to be and has never been restricted by her faith or her gender.  She has blossomed uninhibited to be an accomplished independent young woman, in large part due to the support of her family in her endeavours. To witness what has happened at the hands of Boko Haram must be a pain that  is particularly acute for her to bear.  I immediately obliged and then thought what more can I do.

I had already been thirsting to know more, and was wondering why the world had not already covered it the way they had instantly reported on the recent MH370 plane crash, the South Korean Ferry disaster or the on-going political and ethnic unrest in Ukraine.  I think that this issue of human rights and terrorism affects the world as it brings to the fore the issue of human trafficking which has been plaguing world for centuries (albeit in different forms over time) and deserves the same coverage, if not more.   These heinous actions have now gone completely underground, yet millions of adults and children are plucked from their homes all over the world every year and sold and/or forced into some sort of servitude unbeknownst to the average world citizen.  Boko Haram knew this and completely exploited this opportunity to pluck girls so brazenly from the safety of their boarding school, and are proudly talking about this diabolical act and how they seem to have gotten away with it.

Pop culture has taken a stab at bringing this issue to light.  In Taken, a cult mainstream film, Liam Neeson's daughter is abducted in Paris and is drugged and sold for a rich man's entertainment aboard his yacht. He turns over every stone to find her in a manaical rampage.  I recently watched an indie, I am Slave, about a Sudanese girl who is stolen as a child and taken all the way to England with the family who own her.  They give the impression she is employed as a maid, but really has been taken against her will, and has grown up unpaid and worked like a horse.  Both movies rocked me to my core.  The thought of things like this happening as we go about life is extremely troubling and scary.  There are so many layers to our world, many unseen, sinister, and dangerous. 

None of the girls are so lucky as to have a CIA trained father to use his contacts and experience to free them, and luckily some of the girls were able to escape like the girl in I am Slave was eventually able to do. Fortunately, they have parents who love them, who are outraged that the Nigerian government and military did nothing to protect them even though there are reports that they were forewarned.  They started a social media campaign on Twitter through the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.  It has taken weeks for the world at large to respond.  Now the news is filled with colourful images of mothers in mourning.  I wonder whether they may have found comfort sooner, if Nigerian and global support had come earlier.

I have just heard about an event here in Lusaka to be held this Saturday, 17th May, from 09:30 to 12:00 at the Civic Centre.  The hope is to get Zambians more involved in helping and being more informed about the current situation and the larger issues the Chibok girls have brought to light.  There will be children marching in support and various knowledgeable people speaking about the issues at hand.

I will write more about this after the event and once I know more about what we are doing here in Zambia.  In the meantime, you can keep abreast with all information, social media and petitions to do with the Chibok girls at BringBackOurGirls.com and about the Zambia Cares campaign here.

#ZambiaCares #BringBackOurGirls event will be held on SATURDAY 17TH MAY, 09:00 - 12:00, CIVIC CENTRE, CHURCH ROAD, LUSAKA. All are welcome to attend and lend their support :)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Woolgather Wednesday: Kindness Ate The Quail

Kafue Bridge,  Kafue, Zambia
©
 George Mutale

I hear you say what ate the what? And what has that got to do with this very eeriely arresting and beautiful image of a bridge?! What drugs am I smoking right?  Have no fear, this is Woolgather Wednesday: hallucination, rumination and seriously profound excogitation from interesting angles, not LSD trips and caterpillar hookah smoking Alice in Wonderland style high-ness, is the order of the day.  All will be revealed - trust me and skip (yes skip like a little girl in afropuffs) with me down head trippy lane.  I promise I will take you out of Kansas and all the way to Oz safely and responsibly without the need for sparkly red pumps or hallucinogens he he he.

So let me start at the beginning.  I was having a conversation with my Mummy about what it takes to do the right thing, to be a good person,  to live life with purpose, to affect the world positively and to interact with people personally and professionally without getting burned.  One thing led to another and she uttered a Bemba proverb to comfort me: 

Uluse lwalile inkwale: Kindness ate the quail.

I, like I am assuming you, was like what does that mean??!!! Niceness or kindness ate what? I didn't even know inkwale meant to add to my already discombobulated mind. I really did not need to be confused, I do that quite well on my own. My mother then let me know what it meant and I was like Mummy what drugs have you been smoking?! She hushed me and proceed to tell me that the proverb stems from the story of insoka yalile inkwale: the snake that ate the quail.  I shall now enlighten you, and yes you will feel I should have prefaced the proverb with story, but it is the Zambian and African way to do things backwards and in circles to deliver sage words and concepts for growth and learning - the old confuse to enlighten jedi mind trick:

There was a snake that was in distress and a quail walked by and seeing another in need, decided to be a Good Samaritan and helped the snake out.  Once the snake was out of danger, instead of thanking the quail, it proceeded to have the bird for dinner. Yah, the snake ate the quail! 

The moral of the story is that you can be kind, but that doesn't mean you will be rewarded for your benevolence.  In fact, you can be taken advantage of and end up worse for wear. So in the end you can feel like you have been eaten like the quail after you direct your kindness to snake-like people and/ or situations.

I know, DEEEEEEEEP man!  And if I ever meet that snake I have some choice words for it and will not hold back with the expletives...

Okay, so what has this got to do with bridges? Well I thought about this and I realised that lately I have repeatedly allowed myself to be eaten like the quail that was eaten by the snake.  Good thing is that I have recognised the situations and people that have contributed to the feasting, taken responsibility for my part, learnt from my actions and thankfully also am determined to rise like the phoenix a better person and wiser for it and so have come to this conclusion:

The important thing is to be kind to yourself and that is not selfish, it is paramount to survival. And also be kind for kindness sake and don't expect anything in return which, is also being kind to you as being a good person is never bad.  Expecting things that are not guaranteed however is not being good to yourself, that's just setting yourself up to be unnecessarily hurt.   If you are kind to yourself and for kindness' sake, you are less likely to become the quail and be eaten by the snakes out there.  And sometimes that means letting bridges burn: letting people fall out of your life and cutting off avenues for negativity and problems from elsewhere to bleed into your life.  

Sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind because being nice allows the snakes to crawl in with malice, to writhe and wreak havoc in your life. And you don't want to be nice: nice people are too concerned with people liking them and not with whether they are doing good or are good.  Be a troll sometimes: if people do not measure up to pay the toll and/ or if the situation you are faced with will cost you more, under no circumstances should you allow passage for any of that to play a part in your life.  Being kind to yourself means you will be kind to others because you will be happier, and wont want to hiss and lash out with the venom that comes with being bitter from what you let into your life.  When kindness eats you, you become a snake too.  

So don't be a quail, or a snake - be a troll and guard your life's bridges with kindness.

I have vowed to only write about things if I can put a positive spin on them, especially if there is negativity or criticism involved.  And when I write motivational posts, many times it is to hold myself to being better as once out there, I can shame myself when I do not honour my convictions and take my own advice.  And if there is anything that anyone else can gather from it, that's an added bonus.

I hope that this post is as kind to you as the woolgathering sojourn from my mind, to transforming my thoughts into the 1s and 0s I have written and you have just read, has been kind to me ;}

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Woolgather Wednesday: Are You the Last One Standing?

Sipho Phiri is a proudly Zambian businessman.  He pursued a career in
banking and finance , with experience from the UK and Zambia.  After
two decades in the industry, he decided to take the plunge and explore
 his entrepreneurial side.  His current ventures include Leopards Hill
Memorial Park, Mukamunya Estate, and a hydroelectric
plant in Western Province.
© BongoHive 

Last Tuesday I attended BongoHive's Insaka featuring Sipho Phiri, a respected businessman renowned for his financial acumen and his shrewd understanding of how to navigate and profit in the Zambia's bureaucratic and at times frustratingly and unnecessarily hostile business environment. 

There were three main points that stood out to me in his talk:

1. Zambia is THE land of opportunity.

We are constantly hearing about how Zambia is one of the top 10 investment destinations on the continent.  We have a desireable political climate, great incentives for FDI and have an abundance of land and resources to be exploited.  For some reason we Zambians do not care to take advantage of this and gripe and complain when we see others come in and make their fortune.  Granted, the government does not have favourable policies and laws for local businesses to exploit, but the fact that there are so many gaps in the market to easily take advantage of and create opportunity far outweighs the hell you need to go through to make it happen.  This leads to the second point...

2. Do you have what it takes to be the last one standing?

Many of us start businesses or have an idea of what to do, but when we actually set forth to create and achieve our goals we fall short and then give up all together.  Either we do not want to partner and collaborate because we are afraid that our fellow Zambians will do the stereotypical thing and steal our ideas and set up something else on their own and take demand with them, or we get so tired of all the hoops we have to jump through to make our businesses viable that we remain moribund and ineffective for years, or we just close up shop altogether without really assessing what could be done different to be profitable and useful in the market.  We aren't willing to put in the work to formulate ideas or make them a reality either :(.
People just aren't willing to put in the time and work required for the kudos, respect and riches they have decided they are entitled to.  Half the time they neither have the experience, education, work ethic, product or service quality, and/ or the right to think they should have what they want and are willing to do insidiously clandestine things to get ahead because of their deficiencies.  So self motivation is really important to not lose hope and to continue to find the right people to collaborate with and the right entities to partner with.  

© BongoHive 
Sipho pointed out that you need to be the last one standing.  So many people will come and go in the arena you decide to play in, but in all likelihood they will not have the stamina, the mettle, the drive, the passion, the determination, the skill, the experience, the innovation, the creativity, and most importantly the overwhelming need to succeed.  So stick it out.  It will be hard.  You will be broke often.  You will not always know what to do.  But if you really want it, help will come just when you need it.  That breakthrough will happen when you least expect it.  Believe. Work hard.  Stay focused.  Remain steadfast.  It will come to pass.  Although painful to hear that it will probably not get any easier, it was comforting to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

3.. There is nothing wrong with staying small.

A lot of the times, when people create businesses they believe that we all have to be moguls.  We want to be billionaires so bleeping bad. Not everyone is meant to be a ridiculously wealthy.  Not everyone has to be as you don't necessarily need to be that loaded to accomplish your professional goals and live the lifestyle you desire. Economies of scale do not necessarily follow with upscaling.  There is an opportunity cost to artificially stalling growth as well as to swiftly expanding operations.  There should be a reason for being an SME or to becoming a huge corporate entity.  You need to ask yourself what works best for you, what works with your style of management, with the vision you have for your company and your employees and how you want to serve your clients.  You size determines the quality of what you want to achieve.  Big does not always mean better: you can lose a lot by expanding: your profit margins may shrink, and your personal rapport with employees and clients can be lost.  At the same time, you may not be able to serve without bringing in more people and to produce greater profits to keep innovating and creating you may have to attract more business.

Check in for an update of this post with the video of Sipho's entire talk.  For more information about upcoming talks follow BongoHive on Facebook and Twitter.


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Twit Tuesday: Inspire Abantu

© Chosa Mweemba of Fiahlink Photography
This photo was taken during #BeautifulLusaka Photowalk
around Lusaka's CBD in December 2013.  To find out more
check out Beautiful Lusaka campaign  Facebook and Twitter
and tfind out more about upcoming photowalks with
photographer Dan Hartwright

Inspire Abantu (abantu in Bemba means people) is a new Zed tumblr focused on putting out inspirational words, pictures, videos and art from Zambia to affect the world.  I was asked to write some uplifting words for the blog and happily obliged.  I am all for putting out positivity into the world.  Maya Angelou believes you should pick your words carefully as when you unleash them, they affect in ways we still do not fully understand, so be mindful of the damage they can do.  I write to soothe my soul and to quieten my spirit in the hopes that they may offer solace, healing and inspiration to others too.  Hopefully every now and again my amashiwi (words) have a positive effect :).

For my attempt to Inspire Abantu, click on the link below:




For more MbA inspiration check out the The MbA Way and  Inspirational/ Insightful Quotes tags on the blog. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Siavonga Music Festival

Sundown, Siavonga aboard the
Southern Belle, Easter 2013
I spent last Easter on the Southern Belle, Protea's Hotel Boat on Lake Kariba in Siavonga.  I enjoyed a coupla sunsets on the water downing some rather tasty rainbow coloured sundowner cocktails.  This year,  to tempt me to make the trip down again on Easter weekend is the Siavonga Music Festival.

On Saturday, the Festival organisers gave us a taste of what is in store with a preview of some of their acts at Arcades Mall in Lusaka, including the classic Zed sound of recent Zambian Music Award winner Mumba Yachi, and Cactus Agony, an artist whom I have featured on the blog before.  The only disappointment was not getting a taste of what Pompi has in store, another artist already featured on the blog.  

Enjoy a song each from each of these artists and for more information about the Siavonga Music Festival in April, visit their website and for more Zed Music check out the music and African music and tag on MbA:






Monday, 24 March 2014

Mama Monday: Ghanaian Food and Drink Photo Journal

When I was in Ghana in January, to my friends' pseudo-chagrin, I decided to awaken the Asian in me and take copious photos of the food and drink I ingested and imbibed.  I ate a lot and I ate well.  In another life I was a Gold Coast native, I am sure of it! Enjoy :)

HOME COOKING AND DRINKING
Akpeteshie cocktail with Campari and Tonic Water
Akpeteshie is a Ghanaian alcoholic spirit made from sugar cane.  

Clockiwse from fork: shito, jollof rice, stir-fried veggies, corn
bread pudding, gari foto, potatoes au gratin, bbq chicken
Shito is a Ghanaian condiment that literally translated means pepper.  It is made with ginger, pepper, smoked powdered herring and shrimp, onion, garlic and spices.  Jollof rice is the grain cooked in a tomato based sauce with onion, garlic, ginger, chilies and spices. It is a staple in many West African countries.  Gari is made from mashed, dried and fermented cassava that turns into granules.  Gari foto has egg, and corned beef mixed in with the cassava.

STREET FOOD
Roasted grounuts: peanuts and roasted plantain

One of the main reasons I had been wanting to go to Ghana, apart from visiting my uni friends, is PLANTAIN!! Plantian is eaten all over West Africa. How I love me some plantain.  Had never had it roasted before.  Bought this off the street a lot during my trip.  A yuick and easy snack and soooo satisfying.  As they say it's the simple things in life that have the most profound effect: in this case on my belly :) 

FOOD IN THE RAW

This is a yam out the ground.  This one was about metre long.  It
was ridiculously heavy!
Yam is a tuber that is common in West Africa.  95% of all yam grown in the world comes from this region and can grow to 1.5 metres and can weigh as much as 70kg!  

DRINK

A  malt non-alcoholic beverage not found in
 East and Southern Africa

This stuff is brown liquid crack man! Soooooo yummy.  Made from the same formula used for the beer Guinness but tastes so much better and doesn't get you drunk so you can indulge as much as you want :)

DINING OUT: TANTE MARIE RESTAURANT, ACCRA

Tante Marie is an Accra restaurant situated in a converted DC 10

Another non-alcoholic malt beverage
Castle's version is not as good as Guinness'.  This was not as full-bodied and as punchy.  Felt a little watery and did not have the same syrupy feel and rich taste.  Try this one first so things can only get better.

For starters L-R: Fried Plantain and
fried chicken wings with shito
The plantain was spiced with chilli and ginger.  

Entree R-L: Grilled Tilapia with Acheke
Tilapia is eaten all over Africa and tastes just as good in Ghana.  Acheke is like couscous and originally eaten in Cote D'Ivoire and Senegal. It is made from cassava, a root that can grow in the harshest conditions and is common in the tropics: mainly Africa, Asia and South America.

Entree L-R: Fried Plantain and Red Red
Plantain was fried plain.  Red Red is a bean stew fried in palm oil and this version used cassava fish as the protein.

Entree L-R: Boiled Yam, Egusi soup
Egusi soup is made with seeds from squashes, melons or gourds such as pumpkin or watermelon, mixed with water, palm oil, spices and vegetables and/ or meat.  This was made with spinach.  It is famously a Nigerian dish but has spread to other West African countries.

STREET FOOD

Plaintain chips L-R: unripe (savory), ripe (sweet)
As you can see I really overdosed on plantain.  How could I not when it is so versatile.  There are so many ways to prepare it.  When in traffic how can you resist buying a coupla packets?!  I prefer the sweet to the savoury but they are both tasty :)

Roasted maize
I do have to say that Ghanaian grown maize does not hold a candle to Zambian maize.  Tasty but the grain is smaller, harder and not as sweet in my opinion.

COCKTAILS:

HILLBURI RESORT, ABURRI

I was instructed to...


Cocktail with ginger, cucumber and apple

...but I am not a beer drinker so I substituted a cocktail instead to accompany my enjoyment of the view he he he.  This drink had  a local name that has escaped me sorry :(.

REPUBLIC BAR AND GRILL, ACCRA

Bisap Cocktail
Cocktails at Republic are ridiculously cheap.  I got this gargantuan cocktail for about 10 cedis! Can't remember its colourful local name but it has bisap: hibiscus juice, mint, and rum in it and it was so lovely I had to have another but I got a smaller one.   Everything in moderation he he he.

DINING OUT: TSARLEY KORPEY RESORT, ADA

L-R: salad, grilled barracuda, shito, yam chips
Love me some seafood, especially the meaty fish kind.  Dorado is still my fav, but barracuda is tasty too :)

SHOPPING IN OSU, ACCRA

Coconut water on the roadside
Can't stand coconut - its taste and texture are an abomination.  However it has redeeming factors: it's water is a tasty, healthy and restorative drink, the milk taste nice in curries and its oil makes my hair lovely and soft he he he ;}

Pistacio and malaga gelato

Cashew nut gelato
Love this twist on gelato.  Cashew nuts are common crop in West Africa so when in Accra do as the Romans do I guess he he.  I really enjoyed this, it tasted so sweet and creamy with great texture from the crushed nuts.

HOME COOKING

Okro soup with banku
Okro soup is made with okra, palm oil and contains meat, fish and veggies.  This version had crab, fish, beef chunks and salted cow skin.  Never had salted cow skin - it is gelatinous in texture and is very tasty.  Banku is made from pounded corn and cassava dough that is first fermented then  mixed with hot water.  This tastes like a fermented version of Zambian nshima: maize (and cassava) flour staple dish in East and Southern Africa.

L- R: Goat Stew and Eba
Eba is made with Garri added to hot water and mixed with a wooden spoon and is a harder form of accompaniments like banku and nshima.

Pounded palm kernels




L-R: palm nut stew and fufu
Palm stew is made from the liquid extracted from pounding palm tree kernels mixed with onion, tomato, ginger, onion, garlic, chilli and spices.  This recipe used chicken but can also be made with meat.  Fufu is a common carbohydrate accompaniment in Ghana and Nigeria that is made from boiled cassava that is then pounded into a dough.  It is eaten with soup and is swallowed whole (I tried chewing it just so I could understand why you are told to swallow it.  I agree with the traditional, tried and tested way it has been eaten for centuries he he)

Palm nut stew served with Banku, accompanied by a
semi-sweet white wine
Back in the day at school RFL had taught me how to make light soup which is a tomato based soup made with stock, onion, bay leaves, chilli, garlic, ginger and potatoes and I loved it. I can say out of all the soups and stews I have had, including groundnut, palm nut stew has now eclipsed light soup as my favourite Ghanaian dish.  It was the last thing I ate before I left so I ended on a high note :)

For more on Ghana, check out the country's tag right here in MbA.