Authors Posts by Jackie Mwanza

Jackie Mwanza

I am a visual artist. In my current work, I utilise recycled drinks cans (coke, Fanta and beer cans) to create images that highlight parallel perspectives to social, political and existential norms. I also make sculptures from found objects and revel in the countless possibilities, beyond the mediums of paint and canvas with which art can be created. Read my interview with UKZAMBIANS

Nouveau Blonde
Jackie Mwanza

By Jackie Mwanza

I absolutely adore fashion and because I am still a wannabe successful, rich artist I curb my fashion appetite by indulging in an item of clothing from Primarni (Primark), once in a while, or failing to stretch my budget to a fiver I buy a fashion magazine. Magazines!! All the clothes you could own – to watch but not to wear. Asides from the fashion, I also enjoy features on artists, movies stars, prominent politicians, musicians and destinations that are to be found in glossy journals such as Vogue, Glamour and Grazia.

So, in February 2009 when I spotted a magazine on the news stands entitled ARISE, with a gorgeous black models’ face gracing a very chic looking cover, I stopped in my tracks to have a closer look. I am one of those people who stand in front of the magazine racks in supermarkets long enough for my frozen shopping to start defrosting – so I knew I hadn’t seen the title ARISE before. I immediately leant forward to read the sub heading “Africa’s Global Style and Culture Magazine”. Simultaneously grabbing the only copy and reaching for my purse I hurriedly shuffled to the counter and handed the news agent a £5 note for the £4.95 magazine.

Now on its 14th issue and 4th year ARISE retails for a more modest £3.50. This first copy I purchased, which was to my disappointment the second issue (I had missed the first one) was a 186 page high-end, large-format magazine highlighting African achievement in fashion, music, culture and politics. At last a journal that provides a positive portrayal of Africa and its contribution to contemporary global society. It is filled with all things African and related to Africa and like any respectable fashion led glossy magazine it features international as well as African fashion designers. In case of the latter both known and up-and-coming designers get an airing ie Ozwald Boateng’s next to the likes of Buki Akib (who is also a menswear designer, but with a very African attitude and designs inspired by the legendary Fela Kuti.)

The news section of ARISE is certainly one to write home about with one of my favourite stories to date featuring a former Abidjan car-body welder turned fashion mannequin maker. Allassane Kouama, also known as Tiker, is in the business of making bespoke fashion mannequins for the display of ladies clothes for women with small waists and fuller hips. His clients mainly from Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Gabon, Senegal and Burkino Faso are prepared to pay US$150 more for his mannequins compared to the US$50 price tag for a factory-made import from Thailand claiming that Tiker’s own are a sound investment as they do not break like their Thai counterparts that only last weeks. According to Massandje (a client of Tiker’s, who swears by his product) “The clothes don’t need pinning so look nicer than on European dummies.”

Other exciting news stories and features have included the various ARISE fashion weeks; emerging cultural trends that begat “The Rock-Loving Cowboys of Botswana”; profiles of extraordinary lifestyles of Hyena and Baboon tamers; The new South African Space Agency (SANSA) and it’s predecessors in Nigeria, Egypt and Algeria; in-depth interviews with Denzel Washington, David Adjaye and Jay-Z, and so much more.


ARISEs’ editor Helen Jennings firmly states that, “ARISE breaks cultural and editorial boundaries with its mix of upfront news, exclusive interviews, reportage and luxury fashion stories.”

I am in total agreement ARISE does inform, incite and delight in equal measure.

Another fabulous African Magazines worth a browse is the appropriately named FAB (Fabulous, African, Black). Its unique selling point is that it is one magazine with 2 sections: one section and cover for the girls – turn the magazine upside down and you get the boys section with a masculine themed cover.

ARISE ye all to a FAB African read!



By Jackie Mwanza

Jackie Mwanza

I spent the first couple of years in the early 1990’s visiting my family who lived in Brussels at the time, at least 3 times a year. It was there that I dated a Belgian guy who lavished me with quirky gifts that I would receive whilst at school in England, (when we would be parted until my school holidays). Actually his gifts were more like packages with supplies. On one occasion he sent me some funky neon striped pop socks, Belgian Chocolate and most impressive of all – Zambian Honey, which he had stumbled upon at a deli in Brussels.

I had been a little surprised at how elated I was at receiving the honey, because whilst I was living back home, I had always felt that foreign products were somewhat more superior to our own – whether it be the British made Oxford stationery sets as opposed to our Zambian NEDCOZ (National Educational Distribution Company of Zambia) products; or Kellogg’s cornflakes as opposed to ‘Samp porridge’.

My synopsis is that the mixture of home sickness and the want to reconnect to home had started to change the way I felt about all things Zambian once I was so far away from it all.

It was most certainly the novelty factor of:

  1. seeing a packaged Zambian product outside the country
  2. the vision of the Zambian honey sitting on a deli self, in a European country, next to the likes of Dutch Gold Honey and Tate and Lyle Syrup, that made me realise the importance of taking pride in what our country is capable of offering up to the world.

It’s fair to say I have become bolder at championing all good things Zambian, especially packaged and branded products which clearly state or ooze ‘Made in Zambia’. And on occasions when I have been mistakenly referred to as  Zimbabwean, I never forget to note that ‘we have the better view of theVictoria Falls’, after correcting my offender.

Although Zambia is no where near China in the “Made in …” stakes, (let alone the same page nor book), here are a couple of Zambian brands that make me want to fly the flag.

Sylva Professional Catering Service’s for dried Zambian food. This brand was introduced to me by my aunt in Birmingham. My aunt and her Midland’s posse had come together about 5 years ago to order in bulk from this Lusaka based company. Sylva Catering operates from UNZA (University of Zambia campus) and their core business is the promotion of indigenous Zambian foods. Their products are professionally packaged, with logo and product description and it’s just so wonderful to be snuggled up indoors, on a cold British winter’s afternoon eating kalembula and tu Siavonga (kapenta) with a good portion of nshima iya tute.

In March 2011 this very company (owned by Sylvia & Hector Banda), clinched a contract to supply 15,000 kilogram’s of Zambian vegetable soup to the United States.

The second brand I would like to highlight is some what also home grown in Zambia.  Zambikes are famed worldwide for their bamboo bikes, (for those in the know) which at £800 a pop can be delivered to your door step through Zambikes’ International online store.  Zambikes has sales reps and demonstration outlets in 6 United States locations and a dealership in Cape Town.

They also cater for the Zambian market. On the local arena prices are more modest with the ‘Zambike Mukango’ only setting you back K650 000 (the equivalent of £80).  Other products made for the local market are the ‘Original Amaka Sana Zambike’ (a 6-speed mountain bike), the ‘Zamcart’ (a trailer attachable to a motorbike or bicycle for the transportation of farm produce) and finally the ‘Zambulance’ (also attachable to a motorbike or bicycle for the transportation of patients from home to clinic).

Although I won’t be purchasing a ‘Zambike’ any time soon (not with the crazy London traffic cyclists have to contend with), I find it a comfort to know that I can have a little piece of  Zambia anywhere I go in the world, and with the advent of online shopping I don’t even need to be dating a Belgian man. He was a honey though!


I am Superwoman


By Jackie Mwanza

Nouveau Blonde
Jackie Mwanza

The 25th of March 2007 marked 200 years – to the day – that a Parliamentary Bill was passed to abolish the slave trade in the then British Empire. This marked the beginning of the end for the transatlantic traffic in human beings and in most of 2007 media attention on the subject was wide spread in the UK with the televising of numerous documentaries and movies; the republishing of novels such as “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” by the former slave and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano; and there were also a lot of exhibitions and talks around the country to mark this milestone in human history.

At the time I had been doing some art work loosely related to the Scramble for Africa, (a process of invasion, occupation, colonization and annexation of African territory by European powers between 1881 and 1914.) and thus felt a natural pull towards the subject of slavery. I started reading up on slavery and very quickly got emotionally affected by my research. I had been taught about the Transatlantic or Triangular Slave Trade in our Social Studies classes back home, and I couldn’t remember feeling this level of hurt and revulsion years back. I suppose there were one or two new things that I had learnt, that shocked me, but nevertheless we had learnt about the slave trade at home and I had also seen ‘Roots’ (A TV dramatization of author Alex Haley’s family line from ancestor Kunta Kinte’s enslavement to his descendants’ liberation) as a child.   

As a result of my new emotional response to slavery I created a series of artworks to go alongside my work on colonialism and in May 2007 exhibited in a solo art show I entitled “Imperial Child”. In my own words “Imperial Child” is an exhibition on Colonialism and Black Slavery and the realisation and acknowledgement of these legacies by one born and raised in a former British Colony. Subsequent to this exhibition I received invitations to forums on Black History in Britain: I got invited to run workshops at The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) – based on my artwork; and was invited to the launch of the book “Towards Bicultural Competence: beyond black and white” by Gloria Gordon (my former university lecturer).

Imperial Child Promo poster

I had an exceptionally busy year as regards to “black history” and the more I attended meetings and delivered workshops and spoke to people about this body of work (Imperial Child), the more important highlighting injustices and racism in the world became important to me. Not to disregard the fact that racism and human slavery do still occur but, I am happier now that I have moved away from my self imposed label of “Imperial Child” and for finally exorcising the demons that came with feeling that I was born into a wronged race. I spent a lot of 2007 and subsequent years feeling angry about the suffering our black ancestors experienced during colonisation and slavery and clung to ideas of negative legacies that may be deemed evidence of any plight befalling black people today.

But in late 2009 I started making a conscious effort to change my mind set. I had already run a few workshops at the V&A museum, but this time the African and Caribbean Officer at the museum wanted my workshop (still based on my own artwork) to feature 5 inspirational black people who are current. I chose Barrack Obama (the first black President of the US, Michael Jackson (King of Pop, Singer, Song writer, Musician, Choreographer, Philanthropist, Child prodigy), Chinua Achebe (Author of Things Fall Apart and one of Nigeria’s most respected and read literary masters), Dr Mae C. Jemison (fifth black astronaut and the first black female astronaut in NASA history) and Wangari Maathai (Kenyan Scientist, Politician and Environmental Activist and the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize). Running the workshop with the focus on what black people have achieved was truly enlightening – these five people had decided to apply their lives to their passions and not to the limitations that may have existed in their environment because of the colour of their skin or gender. As Dr Mae C Jamison so nicely put it, “I had to learn very early not to limit myself due to others limited imaginations. I have learned these days never to limit anyone else due to my limited imagination.”

This workshop was a turning point for me and I decided to start celebrating more what our black ancestors and peers have and are achieving now as opposed to moaning about injustices that occurred yesterday.

My soul searching and healing also reminded me of how my parents, teachers and most people old enough to remember the struggle for Zambia’s independence had narrated the apartheid days to me in my formative years back home – there was rarely any bitterness or malice towards our colonisers or that time in history. I had a conversation with a Zambian peer just last month, on this very subject and he also recalls his parents’ apartheid stories being very matter-of-factly. It would be interested though, to know how other Zambians have experienced our history.

As a consequence to my new outlook on being black my artwork has gradually veered away from entombment and more into the celebration of existence. I thrive to express the funny and positive elements of our heritage and also of my own life.

I am currently in the process of applying for funding to show case a body of work entitled “Imperial Child to Superwoman”.

Jackie Mwanza

By Jackie Mwanza

For as long as I can remember there had been a running family joke about my auntie who married a Kaluvale man – my father revelled in professing how impressed he had been that his in-law had survived so many Junes.

My now late uncle was actually Kaonde and the reference my dad had been making to the Luvales was of an exceptionally cold 1950’s June (Zambia’s coldest month) that had claimed the lives of a number of people of the Luvale tribe. (I am not quite sure how many exactly).

As a child I hadn’t quite understood the underlying significance of this tragedy but I think my fathers point was that a tribe which was not hardy enough to survive a cold spell was probably not worthy marriage stock.

The boundaries of tribal intermarriage maybe a thing of a Zambia past (in which Bemba’s would only marry into cousin tribes or groups they felt they shared similar values with) but the very definition of the word tribe, which is reference to a group of people united by common ancestry, customs or belief systems, suggests that members of the catholic church are as much a tribe as are fans of an international superstar – all sharing core beliefs on a common cause.

So what are the new tribes of Zambia? I think it’s fair to say, that at this moment the biggest, baddest and all round awe inspiring tribe of Zambiais Chipolopolo. United in the common purpose to take home the Africacup, our boys showed what power is held in Umoja (working together).

Even when Rainford Kalaba missed the penalty he said he knew the guys would encourage him to forget what happened. “We are like a unit,” Kalaba was quoted saying. That is solidarity. From all the heartfelt comments made by fans of Chipolopolo online it is clear to see that the majority of us subscribe to the values that have made this team/ tribe reach the top of the beautiful game with such flair, determination and spirit. We all want a part of that and certainly back in the day Chipolopolo would be the tribe of choice to marry one’s daughters into. (Start lining up your cattle.)


Another tribe very worthy of mention is our leaders. (Yes presidents and ministers). Long have they been labelled corrupt and incompetent by the masses on a national and global scale that I think the tribe of “African leader bashers” should be officiated by the United Nations?

Our leaders are a tribe of people who first and foremost believe in our nation and then in their own ability to make a difference. From Kenneth Kaunda through to Michael Sata each and every leader and government that has had a vision for our country; is part of an elite tribe of men and women that have ensured the series of events that have led us to win the Africa cup for the very first time. From our victory for independence which has ensured a Zambian team, our TV network, from which players watched their first International teams and dared to dream, The Football association of Zambia that provided coaching for talented aspiring players, an international airport that facilitates the transportation of our players and fans to destinations – all these elements have been key to us being at the games and clenching this victory.

So let us show gratitude like our boys did with a song, dance and prayer after their historical win.

As Rhonda Byrne so fervently proclaims in The Secret, “Gratitude is a powerful process for bringing more of what you want into your life. Be grateful for what you already have, and you will attract more good things.”

Hello World Cup!!

By Jackie Mwanza

I have just spent the last two hours watching ‘Dorika and the Big Dudes’ on You tube and can safely say I have executed my daily exercise through laughter. The likes of Bob Nkosha, Joseph Simukonda, Isaac Chamba et al are truly funny individuals. I watch quite a bit of ‘Night at the Apollo’ on British TV and I think our Zambian counterparts are even funnier, with the added bonus of listening to jokes in ones own mother tongue.


Next time I visit home, I shall definitely be booking a seat at the Lusaka Play House to see them in action. For those of you who are jetting home in the coming weeks, Dorika and the Big Dudes a.k.a. The Kings of Comedy will be at Lusaka Play House on the 16th, 17th and 18th of February, (18hours till 22hours) – I’m not jealous, you go on ahead without me!!

Oh yes, [without over doing it in blowingZambia’s horn] will you be flying Emirates or will you be travelling in May when you will also have a choice the of KLM? I say – we are back on the map! Well Saeed Al-Maktoum of the Emirates seems to think so. The chairman and CEO of the Emirates group was quoted saying that, “Emirates has long understood the enormous potential of Africa, which today is one of the fastest-expanding economic regions of the world, benefiting from a combined market of over one billion people, rising consumer demand and an abundance of natural resources”

And as for KLM, their host nation (Holland) is keen to be part of the action that is our nations flourishing flower industry. As the Netherlands is the largest junction in the worldwide flower industry, potential for partnership is an obvious incentive.

So it looks like Zambia may have a lot to laugh about this year.

Back to the subject of comedy, some of the best Zambian comedy I have witnessed was at school, when I joined the Zambia Combined Cadet Forces (ZCCF). I attended two camping trips as a cadet, the first one was 2 weeks long and the second only lasted a weekend. Days at the camp were spent doing basic military training and in the evening after a hefty army dinner the entertainments by the camp fire would begin. We all attended the camp as part of school groups and were encouraged by our instructors and Commanding Officer to present sketches, songs and dance performances (individual or group acts) to pass away the evenings. At the end of each night we would all dance and sing together around the fire, up to about 300 strong at the 2 week camp. It was during these camping trips I experienced the funniest comedy acts of my life. In hind site I can not believe that teenagers could be so funny and sophisticated in humour. We were also taught equally hilarious songs during these sessions (with some pretty explicit lyrics, but always very funny). Some cheeky boys performed their act as a church choir and replaced all the lyrics of well known Christian hymns with the unspeakable. (God forgive them, but they were funny – we always went to bed with stomach cramps from laughter). This was also the era of the comedy greats on TV, such as Maximo (Play circle) and Ba Kapotwe on Zambian radio.

I also recently stumbled across a Zambian cartoon comedy sketch online that is reminiscent of Family Guy and SouthPark. I cannot remember what it’s called but I would definitely like to see that again.

Also another established institution of comedians, although unauthorized are the kaponya’s in Zambia’s city streets. I don’t think you can walk down the streets of Lusaka, Ndola, Kitwe, etc without hearing at some point a very clever remark from a kaponya, towards mostly innocent by passers. Kaponya’s have a way of simultaneously insulting you and crippling you with laughter. It’s almost a privilege to be at the receiving end of their insults – bala sapa bwino.

Now that I have rediscovered Zambian comedy I shall be found on You tube at least one evening a week getting my fix of home grown humour. It’s so good to be able to laugh in more than one language, especially that the majority of jokes don’t translate.

So, until I am able to fly back home on either Emirates or KLM I shall rely on the good old internet for my weekly dose of Zambia’s kings of comedy.

By Jackie Mwanza

Nouveau Blonde
Jackie Mwanza

I moved to England as a young teenager. I was already a woman, technically and had had a small scale initiation ceremony back home to acknowledge my coming of age. I felt rather special – my mum prepared some grown up clothes and high heals for me to wear. Two of mothers’ auntie’s were at hand to give advice and impart some wisdom on my transition into womanhood. To round up the day I was presented to my father who made a speech in acknowledgement of my coming of age. He then put a monetary offering into a bowl that was laid at my feet, and that concluded the proceedings of my initiation ceremony.

“Initiation is a rite of passage ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components. In an extended sense it can also signify a transformation in which the initiate is ‘reborn’ into a new role”, Wikipedia definition.

Luvale Initiates

I’m not sure how many people have had a coming of age ceremony in this country, but very soon after I arrived in England I noticed that there was a common consensus in the British culture that adolescence equaled moody, difficult and defensive. And a consequence to this label, I couldn’t help thinking that a large proportion of pubescent teenagers at my school somewhat lived up to this expectation. It seemed to be cool to be moody, difficult and defensive. A prime example of the proverbial teenager at that time took shape in the TV character Kevin, played by British comedian Harry Enfield

“…..Kevin is rude to his despairing parents, frequently shouting “I hate you, I wish I’d never been born!” at them, and insisting that everything is “so unfair!”
The sketch showed his parents watching in horror as Kevin lost his sense of dress, courtesy and posture as the clock struck midnight on the day of his thirteenth birthday, thus becoming Kevin the Teenager.

….the term “Kevin the Teenager” (often shortened to simply a “Kevin”), has entered British vernacular to describe any adolescent who is bad-tempered or rebellious (“He’s a right Kevin!”). It can even be applied to female adolescents”, Wikipedia source.

Because of Zambia numerous tribes with varying customs and initiation practices, I somehow assumed similar traditions existed in UK. I had also been studying at a girl’s boarding school back home – where there was endless sharing in ‘what was done to me or us (in the case of group initiations) at my initiation ceremony’, so I assumed I would be sharing similar stories with the girls at my English school. To some in the latter case, Christian confirmation was an equivalent to a coming of age ceremonies. This major cultural difference also manifested in the fact that ‘girl talk’ at school here was very conservative. The girl’s in England didn’t share very much as regards to issues of becoming a woman.

I quickly discovered that growing up was a very private issue amongst the British. This didn’t stop me sharing my stories of how things were done back home – my favorite anecdote being the one about my Lozi neighbour who was paraded along Independence Avenue in Lusaka on the final day and 7th day of her initiation ceremony.
I have now started to hear that most Zambian’s in the Diaspora and even back home are not having initiation ceremonies. Whether this is good or bad that’s not for me to judge although I have always believed that some sort of commemoration of ones transition into adulthood can contribute to a teenage life of less angst, moodiness and the possibility of being ‘a right Kevin.

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