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AMASHIWI

"Culture is the heritage of us all. some may be more interested than others in the treasures of the past, but no one can fail to take a pride in his country's participation in the story of mankind, as represented in carvings, sculpture, music, paintings and the other arts. And there is a personal commitment to this, for no man can really say he is alone: we are all joined through our identity, with the cultures which are part of the mainstream of life"
- Simon Kapwepwe, Zambian Independence Freedom Fighter

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud" - Maya Angelou

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinion drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition" - Steve Jobs








Monday, 25 August 2014

A Rebel's Guide to the Barefeet Revolution #BarefeetRev

Follow me @whoops_c for
live tweeting during the
Revolution
The Revolution is upon us so it's time to get revvvvvvvved up and excited for the week of mischievious entertainment ahead. So gentlemen (and women), start your engines...but unlike RuPaul's Drag Race, everyone wins, not just the best woman ha ha ha ha ha! Yes I have gotten hooked on that reality show but I digress. Back to the important things...

As a self appointed Rebel of the Revolution (I came up with the name for all press and social media gurus helping to promote and document the Festival he he he), I thought it important to follow up my manifesto, aka my previous post, with a guide to help you visionaries out there (the public who will be in Lusaka this week and have cash to spend) navigate through the programme of activities.


First, turn up to a recruitment centre  - any Computicket situated at all Shoprite Stores in Zambia and buy either a Big Foot all-access pass for K250 (you can also call comrades Kazembe: 0973923651 or Charmaine 0978948372), or tickets to the events of your choice.  Please consult the Revolution schedule below to figure out whether it would be more cost-effective to buy the all-access pass.  You can also purchase the Big Foot or buy a ticket for events at the door. 



Once you have enlisted to be a soldier of the Revolution, plan out your schedule to enjoy the various performances our comrades from Barefeet and their friends from Italy, the UK, Zimbabwe and South Africa have in store. Be all 21st Century about it and download the ZHappening app on your phone so you can set reminders so you don't forget when and where to revolt :)



If you can't make to some of the events have no fear, there are a whole band of rebels out there who will be spreading the word and documenting activities all through the week.  I can vouch for quality tweeting from:

Mwanabibi Sikamo @mwanabibi 
Mr. Blow @Benny_blow
Samba Yonga @Kuwaha
George Mutale @LupMqr

and of course our comrades at Barefeet - @BarefeetTheatre and @BarefeetAdam

Here is a video to get your body to find its revolutionary spirit:


Highlights of the Revolution include:











For more information about the Festival: tickets, performances, venues, directions and anything else pertaining to the Revolution, visit Barefeet's website or Facebook Page. VIVA!






Monday, 11 August 2014

e18hteam: Using the Power of Film to Speak

Zambian Theatre release: October 2014
True to my word, I have enjoyed the World Cup, and just as football gave me voice to start blogging four years ago, it continues to inspire me. So I am officiallly back, ready to communicate and to indulge my love of words with ease.  I am proud that the essence of who I am as a writer and what created this blog for still rings true as I professed and promised in my inaugural post.  Let me just say how I am even prouder of never letting the standard of posts go down just to keep the blog current, and that I continue to take the time I need to regenerate when necessary, and that whenever I come back, I come back with a vengeance he he he.  This sleeping lioness has once again awakened, and she is out for blood.  No mucking about, straight for the jugular.  We do things royal here, no mediocre, only the regal will do for me, and for you :)...

 © Football Association of Zambia
So what causes me to break my silence?  I already have alluded to what I am about to reveal before.  On February 12, 2012, the Zambian National Team: the Chipolopolo achieved the dreams of a nation.  They not only won AFCON 2012 for the first time, but also honoured the dead: the Chipolopolo who died in a tragic plane crash off the coast of the Gabon, the very country in which we then triumphed.  When they won in 2012, the first thing I thought of was documenting their momentous win, after screaming like a banshee and shedding emotional and proud tears.  It was more than just Zambia's first raising of the Africa Cup of Nations:

Their efforts embodied 50 years of the Zambian National Team carrying the hopes and dreams of a nation.  50 years of potential almost realised, but never quite producing at the highest level, until AFCON 2012.  Most of all, this was facing our loss and allowing it to heal by soldiering on in the very place where we had suffered an inconsolable pain, despite the odds stacked against us:  we had to defeat more well-known and higher ranked African teams that had played at the World Cup, and the weight of sorrow could have burdened us and hindered us.  Instead the Chipolopolo found a way to soar like the nkwazis (eagles) we Zambians all have the power to be, and raised our flag proudly in honor of those we lost, preserving their place in history by winning on their behalf.  

As my beloved country turns 50, I am honoured to be able to give this gift to the people.  I may have a turbulent relationship with the place of my birth, but the best relationships ebb and flow - there will always be that tug-of-war to remind you to be present and to make sure to give as much as you take.  I thrive in the conflict that my Afropolitan identity creates as it clashes with some of the more static and stagnant elements in the Zambian environment.  It allows my creativity to thrive by causing me to turn inward to figure out new ways to express myself in ways authentic to my soul and freeing to my spirit in order contribute to the communities I engage and/ or identify with.  The moment it happened I knew I  too could achieve some of my dreams through their success. I could finally become a filmmaker by documenting this seminal moment in history, and could go one step further by preserving this story for future generations.  One of the recurring themes on this blog is legacy, the other is capturing an African experience in the 21st century and populating the internet with more content produced by the continent, so we can tell our own stories now and in perpetuity.  As a media professional, and a passionate Afropolitan, I am taking advantage of the multiple ways afforded to me. Film is another way to do that.  I formed my production company Purple Tembo Media because of how inspired I was watching the Chipolopolo continue to triumph despite being written off as the underdog.  Triumphing when underestimated is one of my favourite things to achieve and to see unfold in others.

I can now also freely share this journey with you on the blog and on social media.  There will be a series of blogposts about this that will be curated in the e18hteam tag.  In the meantime please like the following on Facebook and follow on Twitter to follow my journey through this film:

MbA on Facebook and Twitter

The documentary film about the Chipolopolo: e18hteam on Facebook and Twitter

Friday, 8 August 2014

Y Zed: It's a Revolution...

@Barefeet Theatre #Revolution
Before you panic, remember though TIA (This is Africa), we are talking about Zambia. We pride ourselves on being a peaceful nation, so the likelihood of you needing a gas mask, as the forces of liberty battle those of enslavement, are slim to none.  No you shouldn't have built that bunker and shopped for supplies to go underground for months for the apocalypse either.  Seeing a makishi dancer in a mask however is no cause for alarm though.  If you are already in conniptions, sorry for the angina, we were going for the dramatic, not histrionics, with this beautiful poster.  Plus it does actually indicate what it is for so really...


It's that time of year again, and this time I am blogging in realtime about the Barefeet Festival, not months after the fact he he he.  This year the theme is #Revolution!



I am so excited to be helping out this group of mischievious performance artists again.  I continue to be inspired by the fact that these young men and women turn their lives around by turning their backs on the street and put their youthful energy to good work in their communities and around the world, utilising the inherent power of art to transcend boundaries and limitations, so their spirits and souls are free to connect with others.


I will blog more about the Festival over the coming weeks and of course, follow me on Facebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date with live tweeting and photo posting.  In the meantime here is a sneak peek at what Barefeet have in store for you:


Yes that's South Africa's Freshly Ground :)!


Excited coz they are making an elephant puppet too!

To find out about tickets and the full schedule of festivities, like Barefeet Theatre on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

For more on the blog about Barefeet, read about last year's Festival: ROAR in these posts: Part I and Part II.

Are you a young person looking to do something during the holidays, a student looking for social media and web experience, or are you a professional with time to spare to help Barefeet with their online activities?  Contact Communications Manager Andrew at andrew@barefeettheatre.com or drop by their premises in Thorne Park to lend a hand.

Directions to Barefeet Theatre: 
At the Great East-Makishi Road traffic lights turn onto the Wimpy side of Makishi Road.  
After the Petroda Station on your left and the hump take the next left onto a dirt road.  
Take the first left indicated by an Airtel credit hut.  
As the road bends to the right you will see a tree in front of you: take the turn into the small lane behind the tree to your left and follow the lane over the bridge.  
You will see a yellow wall fence with Barefeet in huge letters in front of you to your right.

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.