Zed Thingz

A Luta Continua…

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How many people know this writing, where it’s located but still won’t bother to enter the premises? I’m pretty sure there’s many more who don’t know the existence of this place and wouldn’t care less, after all such things are for tourists right?

In two days we turn 52 and we’ll enjoy the public holiday and the long weekend. We’ll get some much needed rest from work and regular routine. We’ll meet up with friends, catch up on stories and as we do with every other holiday in Zambia, we’ll eat and drink.

As we celebrate let’s remember that some on the plans and strategies to ensure we attained the freedom of speech, assembly and association we’ll enjoy this weekend were formulated here and many other places across nation by ordinary Zambians. Places and faces that have faded with time.

Every shade of paper money ever used in Zambia since independence can be found here. Some of the furniture, kitchen utensils used by the Kaunda family, his children’s primary school uniform, family photos, his letter from exile and his famed Land Rover are all here and serve as a reminder of a time when our future, our rights, our hopes and aspirations were but a dream.

Even as you fight on in today’s tough times, keenly follow Zambia’s freedom trail and remember what great odds we’ve faced but still managed to rise above them. Remind yourself just how far we’ve come and how much further we have to go on this journey.

The Hate U Give Little Infants F***s Everybody

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After all the mudslinging and lying, after the TV networks have turned off the cameras and the international observers have returned to their respective countries, we’re slowly awaking to the harsh reality of the collateral damage left in the wake of this election. And it’s not loss of ties, property or lives I’m talking about, its THUG LIFE i.e. The Hate U Give Little Infants F***s Everybody as Tupac Shakur would put it.

The seeds of hate sown into our kids in this election is more alarming than ever. On so many occasions in the past few weeks and months I’ve witnessed grown-ups in the presence of their children saying things like, “my child and I can never be ruled by Tonga” or “I can never vote for Patriotic Front because it’s a Bemba party”. What precedence are we setting for our kids? If you don’t like a certain candidate or political party for whatever reason it may be at least tell your kids it’s because of unsound policies, don’t go the tribal route.

Children minds are malleable, whatever we expose them to and teach them at that age is what becomes the norm as they grow. I won’t get into the Dundumwezi-Chitulika argument and play the blame game coz we the adults have chosen not to be reasonable, we seem to be already set in our ways but please just keep the kids out of this. And for those who say tribalism has always been part of our culture, political or otherwise, well, some traditions are not worth continuing. This has to come to a stop, if not with us then our children.

We’ve been independent for 50 years yet through our voting pattern in this election we’ve basically recreated map of North Eastern and Barotseland-North Western Rhodesia map, back to where we were at the turn of the last century. We’re wondering why we not going forward when we’re still stuck in the past, facing off against each other instead of fighting poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment. As Lincoln said, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

If you really believe that children are the future then for their sake keep the hate and poisonous talk to yourself. If people of other tribal groupings are good enough to be your friends, workmates and even your seniors at your place of work and all is well, it’s very hypocritical of you to tell the young ones that a Bemba, Tonga, Chewa or Lozi is unfit to make decisions at national level purely because they belong to a tribe you seemingly have a problem with. If you know in your heart of hearts that the hate you’re speaking isn’t true,  if you can’t back up your claims with empirical evidence, why teach your kids otherwise? Set them on the right path and let them experience the world on their own terms. Don’t poison their future.

I don’t know about you but I fear for my unborn kids. I don’t want them growing up in a country divided along tribal lines a 100 years after independence.

*Picture courtesy of thebestofzambia.com

Flowers For Larry

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Just weeks ago I was watching Muhammad Ali’s memorial and was amazed by how everyone had their own Ali story, a once upon a time personal encounter with the greatest. It was happy and sad. Happy coz he was my hero too and received even more praise while he lived. Sad coz I never got to have a one on one with him.

Every single day we cross paths, eat and live with people whom we may not necessarily term our heroes but inspire us again and again yet we don’t take the time to acknowledge them. The worst thing that could happen is that person could fade out coz we didn’t pat them on the back when they needed it. But that’s beside the point, the noble thing to do would be to give them bouquets of praise and appreciation now while they can still smell them.

Meet my friend Larry, a soft spoken guy who oozes coolness even on a hottest summer day hehe. He’s so cool he doesn’t even know he inspires me, unless he’s reading this. If you’ve watched some of the more popular Zambian music videos in recent times ie Glory – Jay Rox ft Thugga (2016),Will You Marry Me – T-Sean Ft Bombshell (2016), Unbeatable – Chefy 187 ft S-Roxxy (2016), Somone – Slap Dee ft Mumba Yachi and Muzo (2015), Toliwe – Willz ft Wezi (2015) you’ll would’ve probably seen directed by Qbick and Lawdak at the beginning. Well Lawdak = Lawrence Daka = Larry.

I’ll try not to make this long or solemn as though it were an obituary, coz it’s not. Without any formal training in video production or directing, it’s amazing to see how far passion, raw talent and discipline can drive a person. Growing up, Larry fell in love with music watching his sister and nephew singing. He first lent vocals and later engineered an album for his nephew Mathew Tembo, a musician and traditional music enthusiast before shooting videos for yet another nephew. I wouldn’t be shocked if Larry has music for blood in his veins

What Makes Us Zambian?

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What is it that makes us Zambian?
Is it the friendliness and warmth that visitors from abroad always talk about
Or maybe it’s our beautiful smiles
The same smiles we tucked away last week when we raided Rwandan owned shops
What images come to your mind when you think Zambia
Nsima, Victoria Falls , street kids, Mosi Lager, petty politics
Are we Zambian cause we bear names like Mundia, Bwalya, Phiri, Hamooga
Can’t you be a Scott or Patel and just be as Zambian
Do you have to belong to a ‘big tribe’ to really be a Zambian
How about the lesser known Goba, Unga and Mbowe
Aren’t they Zambians too
What distinguishes us from others
Is it the descriptive particles we add before a noun when we speak our version of English
As in: a ka little girl or a chi nice ride
Or is it because every toothpaste is Colgate and cooking oil is Saladi
Is it our ability to emulate the bold eagle meticulously sewn into our flag
Rising above and resolving our problems without talk of blood
Or maybe it’s the realization that we’re a jewel of the Zambezi
Singular and rare, belonging to all
Regardless of stripe or belief
A jewel bigger than any politician, political party or agenda
Hence the maxim One Zambia, One Nation
And so I reiterate my opening statement
What is it that makes us Zambian?

Kabwata’s Not So Ordinary Village

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Take a right at the end of my street, cross Dr. Aggrey Road on to the adjoining street, walk on and take the second left and there lies a little village. But this is no ordinary village, it’s somewhat peculiar as it sits middle of a vibrant neighbourhood. Enclosed by a wire fence and wooden poles, it’s surrounded by high rise flats, plenty houses and a dual carriage way. There’s also a filling station, several car washes and a church close by so you can imagine the energy.

Like any other village, Kabwata Cultural Village has round huts with thatched roofs, over forty of them. But this is no ordinary village,the huts here are not made of mortar and sticks but burnt bricks and instead of clay floors the floors are concrete. Most of the huts are coloured white and a few others orange, the huts sport an elevated doorstep decorated with red oxide.You can also spot a satellite dish here and a light bulb there, thanks to some unorthodox cabling.

The inhabitants in this village are not huntsmen,farmers or food gatherers and they’re definitely not pastoralists.They’re are all craftsmen, manual artists and everything in between.Any day of the week you’ll find the men seated on stools they themselves have made hacking, chopping, cutting and hammering wood and ivory into different shapes. A wide range of well-polished carvings and figurines of birds, animals or people are the end result.

Using disposable materials the ladies make colourful baskets, fabrics and handbags.Fancy jewellery can be made from copper wire, cloth or bottle tops. Other items made include elaborate masks, drums, kitchen utensils and paintings. Besides doing their chores and going to school outside the little village, the kids also try their hand at craftsmanship.

This village was created somewhere in the 1930’s and 40’s to serve as temporary housing for an increasing labour force of servants in colonial times. In 1974, government decided to preserve the village as areas all around were being restructured. Artists from all over the country were brought to settle here in a bid to conserve the country’s traditional culture. You guessed it, no ordinary village.

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From its peculiar location, history and impressive merchandise, Kabwata Cultural Village is a hotspot for both international and local tourist. Many visitors walk through the tiny village every day but numbers tend to swell quite amazingly on public holidays and on Sundays when there is a display of traditional dances in the central arena. I remember going to watch the dancers as a kid of several occasions.

The extraordinary thing about this experience is that there is no entry charge. You’re free to look around and admire the elaborate pieces on display and when you find what you like, it’s time to put your bargaining skills to use.But don’t be alarmed, the artefacts here are quite affordable. You’ll get a better deal here than on the street for the same products. Once you’ve thrown your items in the bag and your wallet consents you can visit Tigwilizane restaurant, a much larger open air hut that serves a selection of traditional Zambian dishes over some lively Zambian tunes.

But the single most interesting thing about this place, the one thing I don’t hear enough when people market this place as a must see tourist attraction is the shared sense of goodwill. I could feel the togetherness as I speak to the craftsmen working on wood sharing a tin of traditional brew. I’m offered a taste but humbly decline, saying I’m on duty hehe. As I talk to the women, several of them look at each other and laugh uproariously when I ask if they ever consider leaving the village. “Our lives are bound to this place, we’re right where we should be”, one of the elderly women responds.

Speaking to the village chairperson Mubita Lubasi, he informs me that the village people try their best to reconcile modern customs with tradition. He explains to me how the sense of community manifests itself when village folk support each other on an emotional and financial level whenever there’s a bereavement or marriage ceremony. He adds, “we share each other’s pain and joy the best we can.”

With those words, I say my goodbyes and walk back home sinking in my thoughts, thinking to myself how there’s a whole different world right in my backyard. A world I’ve been aware of since I was a kid but never dared to venture into. Five minutes later, I’m home. I throw my bag on the bed, get my PC and start putting my thoughts in words.

*Images courtesy of tripadvisor.com and greatmirror.com

Zed Delights

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I love my nsima thick and hot, abundant in calories

Breakfast, roller meal or right off the chigayo, nsima ni nsima

I love the sting kapenta leaves on my tongue

 Hate the rash that comes with it though

I prefer my rape deep green, leafy, cut up into long strings

Mama knows that nothing can separate me from my beans

I’m talking kablangeti, lusaka, solwezi… I love em all

I like my bondwe steaming with its infectious aroma, quite appetising

I like the smooth feel of kalembula as it slips and slithers all over my tongue…ummh

I enjoy chibwabwa lightly simmered and without the broth

The most delicious vinkubala are the fat and juicy ones

Too bad I won’t be having em again coz they get my face puffed up like Will Smith in Hitch

I favour lumanda’s edgy taste over adding soda to it

And you gotta love roasted tute and groundnuts, best snack ever

Stand And Sing of ???

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That right there is pretty good illustration of how well/unwell we know our national anthem. Besides the ever popular happy birthday, it’s arguably the most celebrated song in the land so it wasn’t such a stretch to think that every Zambian above the age of five could sing the Stand and Sing of Zambia, Proud and Free in its entirety. Boy was I wrong!

Last week, I watched a local news magazine and was utterly amazed at how many people can’t sing all the three verses of the anthem. In fact not one person managed to sing them all or at least not correctly. Most did okay with the first verse and the chorus but the second and third were disastrous to say the least. Ironic coz the opening words (which everyone knows of course) are as follows: Stand and sing of Zambia, proud and free…Proud you say? Unless one is of the thinking that ignorance is bliss there is no pride in not knowing our own song.

After being disappointed by my proud countrymen I thought maybe the participants on TV had been cherry-picked for the very reason that they dint know the anthem. I decided to do an experiment: asking random people on their knowledge of the national anthem and I don’t mean history or trivia questions…the simple task of sing the national anthem. Having witnessed it on TV already, the results were not so shocking. From the 14 people I asked none, zero, nought, zilch, jack could sing the national anthem from beginning to end.

I tried to console myself by saying my sample size was small but the spread convinced me otherwise -primary school kids to middle aged folks. The anthem is printed on the back of primary school exercise books, surely there must be some kids who’ve mastered it. The 50 to 60 year olds were 10 or younger when the country gained political independence (1964), you’d think the song meant something to them and those born into freedom when it was adopted in 1973. Maybe its meaning died with the patriotism of the freedom fighters. Perhaps the fervour of 1964, the bald fish eagle and the indomitable human spirit sung of have simply been diluted by decades of corruption and moral coarsening.

And I guess my generation is either not interested to know and live that song or we just feel the elders have failed us coz the song has clearly lost its reverence. I can’t remember the last time I sung the national anthem. Maybe it’s the youth, the leaders of tomorrow who have lost touch with their roots. It was all different from when I was a kid, I song that song so proudly at school parade every Monday morning with my hand on my heart. In my younger years I’d stumble through the first verse and would try my best to complete it without hurting my tongue…hold on! That’s it! We only sing the first verse, at school, soccer matches, presidential inaugurations and swearing in ceremonies, that’s how come we don’t know the other verses…come on, that’s a lame excuse. We’ve mastered all the verses of Hills by The Weeknd, even the outro which he sings in his native Amharic – it’s all about interest.

I know there’s thousands, hopefully millions of people out there who know the national anthem word for word but it would’ve been cool to come across one person with the words on the tip of the tongue ready to vindicate the rest. With each passing sentence I feel like this article is rather a fuss coz I know the anthem start to end but it seems something of a charade to me, a necessary lie coz I have a hard time recognising and relating to most of what the song says. It would appear as though the hopes of our fore fathers and the times we live in are as far from each other as the east is from the west. Like the pic above, it’s all hazy. Suddenly The Weeknd’s lyrics are more relatable. As mentioned above, our anthem is more ceremonial than anything. Perhaps a remnant of a once glorious but fleeting past handed from one generation to another. Yet a simple fact remains: most of us do not know our own song, all the more reason to learn it and rediscover ourselves.