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B Flow: 10 Things I Love About Zambia

Musician & gender rights activist Brian Bwembya, better known as B Flow, tells us his 10 favorite things about Zambia.

In our '10 Things I Love' series we ask our favorite musicians, artists & personalities to tell us what they like the most about their home country.


For this new installment, musician and gender rights activist Brian Bwembya, better known as B Flow, tells us his favorite things about his home, Zambia.

ZAMBIA — Two years ago, OkayAfrica got to know B Flow closely when he joined our editorial team for a few months as part of President Obama‘s 'Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative.'

He's now continuing his music career and using his songs to advocate against gender-based violence and educate youth on HIV/AIDS.

B Flow will be playing NYC, D.C., Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh this month, check out all information and tickets for the concerts here, and read Brian's 10 Things I Love About Zambia below.

It's a haven for peace

I'm proud to have been born in a country that has no history of war and genocide. Zambia is known as "Africa’s haven of peace." We believe in resolving our misunderstandings amicably without resorting to violence and turmoil. When Zambian citizens are unhappy about something, they never react in a violent manner. If they have to, they will stage peaceful protests without breaking any property. On the political front, we're one of the few African countries that have had the most peaceful transitions of power from one leader to another.

Our female leadership

Since 2015, Zambia has had a female Vice President, Inonge Wina. This is good because it gives more women inspiration to take up leadership roles. It’s also great to note that Zambia is recording an increase in the number of women leading various civil society organizations, government departments and corporate entities. The nation is beginning to appreciate the fact that women are equally capable of driving its development process, and more women are now pursuing male dominated careers.

Our 73 united tribes

Zambia has 73 tribes, yet we are very united. We're not the richest nation but we can at least afford a smile compared to many rich countries that have everything, but their people are sad, stressed and divided. The game of football is one of the things that unite us. When we meet at the stadium, one would think we're all from one family. Our bond is further strengthened by what we refer to as "tribal cousinship." Traditional cousinship entails that a person from one particular tribe can joke about a person from another without expecting them to get offended. Since 1964, our motto remains "One Zambia, One Nation,’’ which was coined by our founding father and freedom fighter Dr. Kenneth Kaunda.

Talented young musicians

Gone are the days when young people waited for the government to create jobs for them. Many of us have discovered our talents and employed ourselves and others. Zambian musicians are now getting international recognition. Roberto and Mampi have toured most parts of Africa. The group Zone Fam recently won a Channel O award, Ruff Kid won a BEFFTA award, and Slap Dee has represented Zambia at the MAMA Awards. The growth of the industry has benefitted me too. Zambia has given me my shine, I can proudly brag that I am the first and only African artist to receive an award from a sitting U.S. President and to headline at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, yet I come from a country that a lot of people in the world don’t even know exists.

Traditions remain strong

The world has become a global village, and Zambia appreciates the changing global trends, but we have proudly preserved the most important elements of our culture. Zambian women and men still wear Chitenge, the traditional Zambian dress. With the growing fashion industry, Zambian fashion designers such as Kamanga Wear, Fay Designs, Kutowa Designs and many more are now designing clothes made out of the local Chitenge material.

Since time immemorial, we have continued to celebrate our traditional ceremonies. Young people’s respect for elders is still an important part of our culture. We've been taught to regard every elderly person as our mother or father, so we respect them and they respect us. At every state function, there's always a traditional dance group comprising dancers dressed in indigenous Zambian outfits, singing traditional music and playing the traditional Zambian drum, Ing’oma. While we appreciate Western instruments such as electric guitars and pianos, we still play our own marimba, which produces rich sounds that come out like a blend of piano and drums.

Nshima

Some countries call it pap, others call it fufu, we call it Nshima. It is our staple food prepared by mixing corn meal and hot water to form a thick porridge that can be eaten with relish such as beef, chicken, sausage, fish and vegetables. Like football, Nshima unites us. You need to visit a Zambian family or restaurant to see how we eat Nshima like we are in fellowship.

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Tourism

With good publicity, the Zambian tourism industry will become one of the biggest sources of foreign exchange. We are blessed with various waterfalls countrywide. One of the Seven Wonders of the World is the Victoria Falls which is situated in Livingstone, the tourist capital of Zambia. We're also blessed with copper, a mineral known as the pride of Zambia.

Music For Change

The birth of the #MusicForChange movement in Zambia has made me love this country more because it's given me hope and confidence that our children and future generations will not grow up watching and listening to stuff that can influence them negatively. I love the fact that the nation is gradually embracing a movement whose ultimate goal is to ensure that our society is liberated from immorality and social injustices. I love the movement because, for a long time, the music industry has been characterized by the production of music that promotes feuds or ‘beef’ among artists, lack of proper artist management, dominance of songs that objectify women and lack of professionalism among artists.

Vibrant festivals

In Zambia, there are many traditional ceremonies which celebrate the vibrant and colorful culture and history of a diverse nation. One such festival is the Kuomboka, which means “to get out of water,” celebrated by the Lozi people of Western Zambia. It marks the ceremonial journey of the Litunga (the Lozi king) from his summer home in the flood plains to his winter residence on higher ground. The king travels on a large wooden ceremonial barge and the spectacle involves massive war drums and around 100 or so paddlers wearing headdresses, sometimes featuring a piece of lion’s mane and skirts made from animals skins.

Warm Welcomes

After touring across four continents in the last seven years, I've never seen a country as hospitable as Zambia. Zambians don't look at visitors as enemies but as global neighbors. It’s unbelievably amazing how Zambians offer greetings to strangers that they meet on the streets of our lovely cities. I've seen the friendliest people in Zambia.

Arts + Culture

This Stunning Series of Self-Portraits Explores Love And The Concept of Letting Go

Cape Town photographer Meet The Internet shares a few images from her exhibition.

Cape Town photographer Siziphiwe Ngqoyiyana, who is known online as "Meet The Internet," does not take the topic of love lightly. "Most of us rushed into it," she says, "and we started dating without understanding what love is."

Her latest photography series, Love Through My Eyes is, is a reflection on how people around her deal with love, from staying in toxic relationships because they fear being alone, to those who build walls around themselves in fear of heartbreak and are hence unlovable.

"We come from broken families," says Ngqoyiyana. "Some with no fathers at all, so we go out yearning to be loved by a man and pray for better experiences than what we see our mothers go through. We get our fair share of hurt, we watch people come to our lives, we share our bodies with them and when it's enough for them they leave. We even start understanding and forgiving the cycle."

This cycle is reflected in the photos. In most of them, the color red is prevalent, symbolic for love. And the main subject, which is the photographer herself, is elusive, hiding her face either with a mask or red ropes, which could symbolize the blinding effect of love and how it can suffocate you.

Ngqoyiyana wants the images to focus on both sides of love. "I like the concept of balloons," she says, "because from a young age it kinda teaches us the concept of holding on to something and letting go. Obviously letting go is never fun, hence we cried when we would see our balloons fly away."

Ngqoyiyana got into photography by taking behind the scenes photos in music video sets. Her first gig as a photographer was a matric ball, and she recently started directing music videos.

The photos for Love Through My Eyes took "roughly three weeks" to make, and are all self-portraits. A confessed shy person, for a long time Ngqoyiyana wasn't happy with her appearance. "I can be whoever I want to be with self-portraits, and I am not so conscious about the way I look," she says.

"When I started taking pictures I was at a stage in my life where I was depressed and anxious, because I didn't have a career, and with no tertiary education," says Ngqoyiyana. "I felt I was "wasting away," she says. "Self-portraits were more of an escape, or a 'pretend like I am doing more than I actually am.' But after seeing the reception on the Internet, I did more."

Love Through My Eyes ran for a day on the 10th of November in Observatory, Cape Town. As a result of the amazing reception, says Ngqoyiyana, more prints of her work are on the way.

Photo courtesy of Siziphiwe Ngqoyiyana


Photo courtesy of Siziphiwe Ngqoyiyana

Photo courtesy of Siziphiwe Ngqoyiyana

Photo courtesy of Siziphiwe Ngqoyiyana

Follow Meet The Internet on Instagram and Facebook.

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