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October 25, 2006

JK and Danny to set Zambians in USA on Fire

By Jabbes Mvula, USA - Zambia's music wonderboys Jordan Katembula and Danny Siulapwa are this weekend expected to entertain hundreds of Zambians based in the United States of America as Zambia celebrates its 42nd Independence annivesary this week. Zambia celebrated its independence day on Tuesday 24th October, but for most American based Zambian organisations, celebrations to mark this special day have been set for this weekend. Among the functions lined-up for this weekend, is the Association for Zambians in Arizona (AZA) Independence party set for Saturday night, while the '2006 Miss Zambia International Pageant' will be held on the same day in Atlanta Georgia. Zambia's music sensations JK and Danny are expected to grace the '2006 Miss Zambia International Pageant'.

The 2006 Miss Zambia International Pageant, in its first year running, is being organized by three Antlanta based ladies, Aretha Sisa, Margaret Phiri, and Mutinta Mazoka, daughter to late Zambian politician Anderson Kambela Mazoka. The 2006 Miss Zambia International Pageant will be held at the Georgia International Convention Center with charges pegged at $25 advance purchase and $30 at the entrance. One of the organisers Aretha, explained that part of the proceeds for the function will be donated to two orphanages in Zambia, 'The Nyumba Yanga Home of Joy' and 'Ubumu Orphanage'. Aretha went on to say that it is the desire of the organizers to ensure that Zambians in priviledged positions contribute to 'Girl Child' education. This event which is expected to be an annual event, is expected to support orphaned girls at the two orphanages achieve their dreams.

Jordan Katembula, commonly known as JK by his many local fans, has already arrived in Atlanta ahead of Danny. He told me earlier that he is in the country only briefly as he has other engangements. Jk, who is as 'trend' as America's P Diddy, was the first Zambian musician among the new blood to hit stardom when his first album outsold all other musicians of his time. Jk also provided vocals on Danny's song 'Masiku Onse' which introduced Danny to the Zambian music industry. The combination of the two is an explosion that may just leave their audience as entertainment casualties.

Loverboy 'Danny' is expected in the country any time. Danny is one of the stars in Bad Timing in which he both acted as well as composing sound tracks. Watching Danny on stage will just give you a feel of what you will expect in the film 'Bad Timing' as well as the documentary 'Voice of an African Nation'.

As for the Arizona Independence Party, it will be held on Saturday 28th October 2006. It is being organised by Fred Mwale, Kwame Musonda, Samuel Sakala and Prisca Okafor. 42 Years Zambia, Land of Peace and Joy.

October 24, 2006


By Jabbes Mvula - Today is Zambia's 42nd Independence Day. It just feels good to celebrate my country's polotical independence and remember the heroes who died during the fight for my freedom. Uhuru is a word from East Africa meaning 'Freedom'. Zambia is now 42 years old, not bad anyway.

For Zambians reading this page, its time to ask ourselves what our contribution has been or is going to be for our country. It should not be what the country can do for us but what we can do for our country. By the way, the most exciting news during this year's independence is that 'Oil deposits have been found in Zambia'.


October 23, 2006

One Bright Summer Morning

By Jabbes Mvula - I was still in bed when I felt a gentle hand touching my head, and as I woke up, I saw him with a broad smile standing next to the bed. He was always smiling, that is why sometimes we used to call him Smiler. I looked at the window as the streams of the sun beamed onto my face through the curtains. I looked at the watch, it was only a minute or so after 07:00 hours in the morning and yet the sun was already bright. What a bright summer morning. The day was 23rd October 2001, on the eve of Zambia's independence day.

He pointed to the food on the bedside table, "You did not eat your food last night," he told me as if I did not know. I knew that he wanted the food, and I told him to take it to his Mum to warm it first. He had gotten used to eating with me such that it seemed like he never enjoyed his food alone. I envied his great appetite, no wonder he was a big boy, the opposite of his skinny father. He dashed out of the bedroom to the kitchen like lightening, and then I switched on the radio to listen to the morning main news at 07:00 hours.

I was off from work, and after the news, I sat to plan my day. I had only three appointments on this day, one at the National Arts Council (NAC) where I served as a Board Member, another one with Actors and Actresses who had featured in the play entitled 'Banjo' that I had just finished producing the previous weekend, then later in the evening, there was an "Independence Cultural Night and Dinner" at State House to be hosted by the Republican President. As a board member of NAC, I had the privilege of attending high profile cultural and artistic functions.

I was still in the bedroom when I heard noise coming from the kitchen as if there was a party. I was very upset because it was early, and besides, my late Dad was visiting us and he was still sleeping. When I went into the kitchen, I found the whole family surrounding a three-year-old boy, Jabbes Junior who was singing and performing. He was singing the songs he learnt from the Theatre Club when the family went to watch my play the previous week. The song was not in very good taste, but as a kid, he was singing it very innocently, and I should admit that he was a spectacle to watch anyway. However, I breathed fire on everyone for watching a kid sing a naughty song, and I screamed at the three-year-old-one-man-performer (I regret screaming at him - will explain later).

There was an immediate silence in the room, then I enquired as to why the boy was not yet in school uniform. The Mum explained to me that he woke up with some blood clot in the nose, and she thought it wise that he be taken to the Doctor. I had no money at that time, so I promised to take him to the Doctor after coming back from the bank. I started walking out of the kitchen when Jabbes made a very silly remark behind my back, he said “TOLILO VOVO”, a local slang meaning “CRAZY”. Everyone in the room laughed at me especially that I used to defend him, and today I had received a dosage of my own prescription. He ran out of the room laughing after calling his dad ‘crazy’. He was the kind of kid who liked making silly comments when the mood in the house was tense, and somehow, we always laughed.

He came back in the living room after a while to inform me that the driver had come to pick me. By the time I got to the car, I found him seated in the back seat talking with the driver. I had to play some tricks to get him out of the car, leaving him crying. Am told he really cried very much (another big regret-will explain later).

I was in the meeting with the Deputy Director at NAC when I got a call on my cell phone. It was Dad with a shaking voice, “Your son is very sick and he has been taken to the clinic, please can you rush back home”. I was completely shocked because I left the boy playing. I called the mother to assure her not to panic, as I would move him to a private Doctor. Somehow, my mind kept on thinking ‘I hope my son will not die’. I tried to get this thought out of my mind, but it kept coming back. I was walking back towards the main road when the cell phone rang again, this time it was my younger brother Simeon. Immediately I answered the phone, he broke down, then after a while, in between sobs, he said, “Jabbe is dead”. I was devastated and I do not remember what happened next, but I just remember struggling to stand up. I think I got confused because I ran until I found myself in my office because I was somehow near the office when I got the message. My friend Joseph Zulu escorted me to the road to get a taxi.

When I got home, I was told that they had gone to the clinic with him. I gave myself some hope, thinking that may be he had only collapsed. At the clinic, I was greeted with shock, entering the Junior Doctor’s examination room, just to find my son lying on the bed as if he was only sleeping. I carried him in my arms and knelt down praying for a miracle. My workmate Ireen Nthani came into the room and asked me to put him on the bed and thank God for everything. She prayed with me for sometime.

The clinic had no mortuary, and as such, we were advised to take the body to the University Teaching Hospital where there was a mortuary. Since he was taken to the hospital already dead, it was classified as a B.I.D case (Brought In Dead). The pathologist Doctor had to first examine the body and certify that he was truly dead before he could be taken to the mortuary. Again I hoped that the pathologist would find him to be alive, but it was not to be. I remember the pathologist telling me that ‘Am sorry sir, you had a very health son’. All hope was gone now.

This now was the most painful moment. I asked to carry my son into the mortuary because I did not want the mortuary attendants to just throw him like any other dead body. When we entered the mortuary, it was a sorry sight. Earlier in the month, there was a road traffic accident in which some people died and most of the bodies were kept in one big refrigerated room of the B.I.D section. Most of the bodies could not easily be identified because of the blood which had dried up with dirty, with some of them being completely disfigured. There was just no space, and I told the mortuary attendants that I could not put my son on top of dead bodies. Out of understanding, they moved some bodies aside and created space for me to lay the child on.

I was reluctant to let go of the child, but after some persuasion, I just had to, and they had to almost drag me out of the refrigerated room. As they closed the door to the room, I remembered my last encounter with him – I screamed at him. I never had chance to make up with him again, just how is his spirit looking at me? I wished I had been given chance to make up with him. I also remembered that I ran away from him leaving him crying. I imagined him crying, “Is that the way you can ran away from me dad?” I could hear his voice saying “Are you leaving me alone here in the mortuary dad?” I used to tell him that I would always be there for him no matter what. I imagined that if he is to wake up, the first person he will call will be “Dad!” and I will not be there for him. I WEPT.

October 20, 2006


By Jabbes Mvula - I have spent the last few weeks reflecting on my life, my relationship with others and generally re-defining my goals in life. Since we wrapped up the filming of Bad T!ming on Saturday 02nd September 2006, I happenned to be the most unfortunate one to have been hit by a bout of malaria and stomach complications. I spent just over one month in bed, and I felt like life had just come to a stand-still.

As I lay down looking at the ceiling, feeling lost and praying for healing from God, I kept thinking about what I want to do in life. I remembered words from my former Director General at Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, Dr. Steven Moyo;

Ask yourself 'What haven't I done that I should have done, or what have I done that I shouldn't have done, or indeed, what have I done that I should have done better?'

Jabs-Pic-3.jpgI should admit that these questions, coupled with the illness, made me feel even more lonely at times, especially being far away from home. Just when I was recovering from the illness, I got a call that my youngest girl, Thokozani, was suffering from 'Chicken Pox'. Oh my God! Thinking of your child suffering when you can not even be there for her, is an experience that just leaves you helpless. You just think hard about nothing, constantly walk around aimlessly, and get emotional at the whiz of a fly. Thank God she is now fine.

Just when I start settling down, the family sends me another message, this time asking me to prepare a memorial message for the newspaper publication on the memorial day for the late Jabbes Jr on 23rd October. Its now five years since he departed. This time, it was interesting to me, because instead of remembering the pain of losing him, I have only been thinking of the motivation he gives to my life and ambitions. I realized that sometimes we go through a painful moment in order for us to sober up and think about tomorrow. The most unfortunate thing is that when a door closes, we always spend all the time crying such that our eyes become full with tears and we fail to see the other door that is opening.

I thank God for giving me the ti
me to reflect.

October 11, 2006


BY SOTIRIS CHRONIS, ZAMBIA - Hello to all of you! Firstly, I wish you all the luck for the documentary and film and really hope that you can make it stand out at the Sundance Film Festival. Just by watching how you were working, gave me the confidence that a good movie & (especially) documentary is in the making. Whatever the result, Zambia will be recognised at such a high level and I feel so proud to be part of it and anxious for the 2007 awards day. I just have a funny feeling that something is going to come out of one of them and I know what that'll mean to all of you... I know for sure what it will do for us Zambians.

I wish you could come back to Zambia soon, to work with other people and support them in their dreams to reach that level which is needed so much and to encourage them not to give up. Just know that you are always welcome and you can count on me. Missing you guys.

October 03, 2006

Galen Yeo Comes Through!

movingVisuals.jpgBY CYNDI GREENING, PHOENIX, USA – Great news today! The folks at Moving Visuals have located TWO CAMERAS that will be donated to the National Arts Council for use by Zambian filmmakers, artists and students. When the FilmZambia crew left, we donated a dolly, steadicam, light set, gel set and sandbags to the Council. With the addition of the cameras from Moving Visuals, we're hoping to encourage the growth of independent film in the country.

It's been four weeks since we returned from our Zambian film shoot. Since then, we've been working on editing BOTH the documentary and the feature. We made our own little KRAALETTE (a smaller version of the Kwazulu Kraal in a hotel in Tempe ... we've rented adjoining suites so we can work from 8 a.m. until 2 a.m. every day. A few of us sleep here to protect the equipment. There's something familiar and comforting about continuing to work together.

For a while, there were challenges editing the feature. We were feeling frustrated because we'd worked so hard to get it done. Then, we started working on the documentary and we got very inspired again because we were reliving all we'd been through together. I now understand why people who work on film crews together get so close and keep working together over time. You really come to know who you can trust, who will watch your back and who will come through at the end of the day. I think with us being half way around the world, we became especially close because we knew we only had each other. I'd love to go back to Zambia and make another film. I think it would be so different this time because we are so different now. We'll have to see what the future will bring.