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"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, 24 October 2016

A Reflection on Identity, Growth, Evolution and Freedom on Independence Day

I have been exploring freedom in my life through another Instagram mini-project which ends today with this blog post.

Decided to start a new #ngosa34 #purplereign mini project over the next 24 days leading up to my country's Independence day. Freedom is a hot topic right now as youth in Zambia feel disenfranchised, disempowered and hopeless. Can we liberate ourselves in order to actualise the people we are champing at the bit to be? I choose to look around me for the inspiration, the hope and the tools to make a better future. I believe we have the will to achieve our goals. When I look up in my backyard this is what I see. How can my heart not be warmed, my spirit invigorated and the passionate fire that fuels my soul's purpose not be stoked? Wishing you all a restful and rejuvenating weekend filled with simple joys like this. #lusaka #zambia #suburbs #backyard #palmtrees #blue #sky #sunshine #happiness #love #life #selfcare
A photo posted by Ngosa Whoopi Chungu (@whoops.c) on

I wanted my second project to have a Zambian
production team.  These amazing people inspire
me, challenge me to be and do better and are ballers!
Thank you for being you the Ladies of Mafashio,
Chosa Mweemba and Leelee Ngwenya xo
This post's eye candy is of ZeDream Team, the amazing young Zambians who have accepted the challenge of collaborating with me on my next project:  the African Cultural Exchange project, better known as the A.C.E. project.  A.C.E. is borne from the scary rise in the proliferation of ignorance as fact at home and abroad by the powers that be for their own profit, and not for the advancement for the people they are supposed to serve and protect, whom believe that they are fighting in their corner.  It is a positively direct response to the feeling of youth disenfranchisement that people have shared with me here in Zambia.  These intimate exchanges that I have been privileged to be a part of, due to the status e18hteam has brought in my life as a bi product of its success at home and abroad, deserve a respectful reply with action.  That response comes in the form of a multimedia project that aims to give voice to these issues in creative ways and hopes to be an organic and fluid conduit for people to use as a catalyst in their own lives for conversation, empowerment, growth and evolution.

While creating new culture and eventually traditions, it is important to acknowledge what has been: to understand the existing millieu and values to find a way to bridge the gap.  There is a vacuum in the future to be filled with the new, but in the present we have to contest and grapple with the old, which is not all necessarily bad.  There must be reconciliation to progress - I hope with this project I am able to find a way for generations to see eye to eye so that our elders pass on the best of what was, and help and make way for us to build a better tomorrow on the foundations they have laid.  

At the moment I am going through a process of rediscovering Zambia's past and working my way through books to give me an idea of the present and the promise of tomorrow:

I cannot stress enough how eerily these books echo the famous adage history repeats itself.  Just as Colonel Stewart Gore-Brown thought that he was a good White Man who was a great ally to black people/ Africans, today we see well meaning Westerners come and make a mess of things and exercise their White privilege without thought and acknowledgement.  Worse they continue ignore the blatant racism that exists in the world today which leads to development bias and other perspective shortcomings that ultimately cripple and hinder efforts towards black empowerment and/ or African progress. The man used to beat the crap out of  his indigenous workers and there was a haughty tone of superiority and need for his approval to deem Blacks/ Africans worthy of being the masters of their own fate that muddied his good intentions, which still exists today.  Even though Kaunda was all for non violence during our Independence struggle and was all for universal enfranchisement, it is clear with that situation in Zambia today is a sad legacy of the unfulfilled dream that began to be realised officially 52 years ago.  Our quest for democracy was in direct response to the failure of our freedom fighters to implement the dream and in the two and a half decades since, we have been running around like headless chickens because we have not fully processed our past, so the present is always tenuous and uncertain. Our future is fraught with problems to solve, unforeseen and clear pitfalls we inevitably get lost in and no clear path to salvation. And those in power and who aspire to power may start out with pure intentions, but seem to end up corrupted: taking advantage of our situation with broken promises, misinformation and constant looking out for themselves and not the people.

I have struggled this year to reclaim my identity and to find ways to grow and evolve from my experiences.  Thankfully I have redisovered my liberty to express myself, which was encroached upon surreptitiously.  I have found a way to break free and rise like a true Nkwazi (eagle and symbol of freedom on the Zambian flag). I am inspired by the increasing crack down on freedom of speech and self-expression to speak up. I understand that when you live in such an environment, knowingly or unknowingly, people act in nefarious ways to survive in order to not be crippled by fear or conquered by the crazy themselves. So you just have to forgive but not forget, so you don't make the same mistakes and are on the look out to protect yourself in the future. I choose to be optimistic. I choose to be proactive.  I choose to be the protagonist in my life. I choose to be a harbinger of good in the world.  So I am now in the process of building on the foundations that seemed lost but still are where they have always lain, to move forward whole and unabashedly me both personally and professionally. Hopefully in a way that is of service and is useful in my own small way ;}. I choose to claim the past, warts and all to be able to figure out where I as an individual am now, and where we are as a people to move forward.  I want to learn from our mistakes and crowd source information, experiences and ideas from other Zambians, Africans and global citizens to figure out how to create the future that I want.  To be able to collaborate to manifest the tomorrow that we all believe in that is better, friendlier and equitable.  This endeavour is unclear, and its fuzziness could be a deterrent but the life is a journey.  You never really know when you have arrived till you are no more.  So just go with it.  And that is what I am doing.   

Below you can find my documentary about the Zambian National Football Team: the Chipolopolo's epic and inspirational story of tragedy and ultimate triumph on Video on Demand.  For $3 you get 2 day access to the film.  I now use e18hteam (eighteam) to give motivational, cultural exchange and customised conceptual talks.  If you are interested in how I can help you put forward your idea using the film or if you want to know more about A.C.E. and/ or want to see how we can collaborate, please contact me.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Dios Mio! - How my Deo Became my Salvation

This tweet reminded me of an profoundly nonsensical incident that sent me into a tail spin a couple of months ago:

So in August I started using the male version of my antiperspirant.  Not by choice, but because my body is very finicky and this particular brand is the only one it doesn't react to. Problem is I'm also extremely sensitive to smell.  When I put it on I had the most visceral and adverse reaction to it.  The smell clobbered my senses and sent me into a man-hating stupor.  Seriously!  My sister found it hilarious, but at the time it was traumatic. I can only laugh at myself in retrospect.  The smell is that typical alpha male scent that deodorants tend to have.  That  puerile odor that is supposed to capture the quintessentially male essence.  The one teenagers spray all over their bodies like in that famous brand, that rhymes with fax and was formally known by the name of a type of cat, ads. I felt physically, emotionally and mentally assaulted.  It was nuts! Yes my deodorant had me in conniptions and discombobulated smh...

Eventually the horrendous ordeal made me think about why I had had such a strong and unpleasant reaction to it.  At this point the Zambian election was imminent.  I was on a social media detox because I just couldn't take all the crazy - mostly discourse informed and led by initiatives, speeches and comments of male origin, conjured up to maintain power and oppress in every way, shape and form.  I realised I am done with entertaining that in the slightest. I do not need that in my life, let alone emanating from my armpit! The scent was a trigger to direct me to something much larger. Paradoxically the oppression led to my salvation and enfranchisement.
I choose me! For more visual empowerment
follow me on Instagram. I have been creating
a serious of mini projects using images to grow,
inspire and work through things.

After realising that it was the deodorant but wasn't really about deodorant, I got to thinking about how I could change how I viewed the situation.  Instead of man-bashing, I should continue to empower myself and find a new way of dealing with such assaults for my health.  My new project A.C.E. is all about that so instead of just working it, I needed to keep living it too.  I cannot be baited into a less productive way of dealing with the current gender situation in my country and the world.  For my project to be honest I need to continually and actively do things in my own life to empower myself, and to not let patriarchy and the asinine acts of men affect me so. I cannot allow myself to be sucked into hate because of my environment.  Love must prevail! I must keep the peace and maintain well-being in my life too.

I had already started with things like this:

And plan to continue, as I did after I recovered from this trippy incident, with things like this:

😤😤😤 #mondaymotivation #zambia people it's hot. Stepped out today in shorts and relatives afraid of me being lynched. I only went to @BongoHive, not like I was prancing about town where I know regardless of what is rational I'd be stoned. One thing I do know is I am not asking for it and in no way carry myself so. I'm just regulating my temperature as our weather climbs the 30Cs. I refuse for small minds to cage me into overheating. Why should I have to be correcting for your backwardness and patriarchal oppression? I have said this would be a mission for years. It definitely is now. Started inadvertently last week and what are considered short and disrespectful wardrobe choices (any dress, skirt or shorts above the knee and/or tight) are going to be a mainstay this hot season.  For more start following @aceprojectzed as we are about to launch our first mini project and start conversations about nuance, freedom of expression and respect. #proudlyzambian #africa #mafashio #fashionista #style #activism #thestruggleisreal #aceproject #purplereign #ngosa34 #melanin #thighsforjeaux
A photo posted by Ngosa Whoopi Chungu (@whoops.c) on

I. JUST. CAN'T. ANYMORE! Life is too short to let other people's issues throw you off so. So I choose me. I choose my sanity.  I choose self care.  I choose to fight. I choose to have my frustration ignite a new passion for change.  And together we will win. There is space enough for us to all to be, and do, with respect to one another.  That tweet reminded me that even though the bloviated rhetoric of lesser men tends to be amplified, there are lots of beautiful men out there, and in my life, who prove that there is a way to equality, equity and equanimity without oppression.

To all the real men out there I salute you, and to all the women out there fighting for our right to be, I'm with you sisters xo! I forgive my deodorant, it's not its fault it smells like an idiot. If you want to talk more about this or anything else, tweet me!