LUSAKA WORPRESS MEETUP MARCH EDITION- Express Yourself

Howdy!

For our first meetup this year, we are hosting Ngosa Chungu; who is a Stanford, London School of Economics and University of Southern California alum who is committed to positively changing the face of the African continent, its people and its culture in the global media.

She uses blogging and social media to also personally contribute to the creation of African content for on and offline platforms.

We’ve posted the details for our Tuesday, 28 March meetup. Hope you can join us!

Introducing Lian

I believe it must have been as early as 2013 when I had the pleasure to meet Lian – my first impression of her being: “She seems cool, vibrant and original”. Besides that, she’s probably got one of the freshest profile pictures [as you can see]. Ever since, we haven’t spoken much – one of the many reasons why I welcome being the one to ask her a few questions this time around.

Please tell us… Who is Lian?

If I was applying for a job I would describe myself as a bubbly, self motivated person who works well under minimum supervision. lol

For how long have you been blogging and how did it all start?

Officially for about 3 years… on and off.

What inspires you to blog?

My blog is inspired by my obsessions and the happenings of my life. Really, it has no structure. If I am obsessing over food for that period, that’s what I will write about. If I am reading, I will write about that…

What do you love about the being online and blogging itself?

Just being able to get something out and share with anyone that stumbles upon it. Meeting like minded people out there. Knowing your Crazy thoughts are not that crazy after all. There are Many more bloggers out there like myself… in the world (:

Besides blogging how do you express yourself creatively?

I am a DIY junkie. My hands love to work ao I make and create house decor, I am a makeup artist, I pretend to draw, I collect toilet paper roll :,)

Lian, I noticed this cool post on your Instagram feed that reads: “If travelling was free… Bye!”, haha. I liked that one. So let’s put it this way…

You have one free ticket! – pick a destination and tell me why.

Definitely Jamaica. I am so curious about their culture. Besides attending all those basement parties I see in music videos, lol. The internet makes it look amazing…  

Wow, that’s cool. I’d love to throw in a couple of questions about your interest in Jamaican culture but I’ll save that for another time.

Name 3 people that have shaped the way you think and act.

I Really want to say Mandela or Ba Tata of the Nation Ba Kaunda… but really and truly;

  1. My First Boss in the corporate world: a perfect example of hard work also a perfect example of what not to be as a Boss *bittersweet*
  2. My Parents make one person: the constant encouragement and support outweighs pretty much everything else in the world.
  3. I will be spiritual and say God because truth be told…  My everyday philosophy still stands at “What would Jesus do?”

What’s your favourite movie, book and album?

  1. Movie / Cartoon: Sofia the First: she is such a great depiction of what a good person should be 🙂
  2. Book: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Never have I felt so many emotions in one book. I cried so much when I finished reading it, not knowing what to do with my life after that :/ still don’t know what to do with my life. lol
  3. Album: Pompi’s first.

Where can we find you online?

@lian_eM Twitter
@popcornandfrozenyogurt Instagram

Any final words?

Thank You for having me and thank you particularly for your patience (:

I thank you, Lian.

So those were my 10 quick questions and without much say, I’d like to encourage everyone to find her on Twitter, Instagram and Google+ – connect and follow the work of an outstanding Zambian Blogger @ lilianthanks.blogspot.de

MARKUS KOELLMANN – DESIGN GANGSTA IN PARADISE WITH CREATIVITY

 

2015-12-31-markusIn this interview I speak to Markus Koellman, a Zambian born – German raised creative –Zambian on moving back home to Zambia, the future of design and grabbing your dreams with no regrets.

With a massive love of hip hop and reggae, Markus has a distinct style that spans across illustration, graphic design, web design, photography and apparel. Having amassed a wide range of international and local Zambian clients under his belt, it’s a given that you have most likely walked past his work on a billboard somewhere, or even liked and shared his images online. It is my pleasure to introduce to you the Art Director of Markus Designs, the man behind the machine that is ran on efficiency and creativity, Markus Koellmann.

Describe the road that led you to where you are currently.

I was born in Luanshya and grew up in Zambia before shifting to Germany in the 80s. I studied all kinds of things, worked in a variety of fields and with talented people across the world who inspired & influenced me. I’m blessed with the coolest sister and two incredible brothers who taught me a lot of what I know now as well as irreplaceable parents and a lovely wife, who’s been my driving force since the day we met.

Looking back, has creativity always been a part of your upbringing? Were your parents creative?

Rather indirectly. My mom’s a woman of many styles, powerful, driven by emotion and one of my biggest supporters. My father is like Miles Dyson from Terminator II: a man of computers, concepts and great ideas that take shape in robotics and stuff I don’t even get. I do remember him teaching me how to draw and handing me my first DOS-based image editor [Dr Halo] just around the time I entered primary school.

Have you noticed an evolution in your creative style?  How have you evolved?

Yes. Experimenting with new mediums, styles and techniques allows you to grow creatively while practice & repetition help you progress successfully and perfect your work. I enjoy learning new skills constantly while following my heart and doing what I love.

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Did music influence your design evolution? How?

I grew up with the Hip-Hop Culture of the 90s and loved the form of creative expression through rap, breakdance, turntablism and graffiti – without necessarily going by the book. Their nonconformity definitely influenced my way of looking at things, which is partially reflected in my work.

Was there a specific moment that you knew that being a Creative Director had your name written all over it?

I like to give a credit to those who inspire me, the ones I work with and those who provide me with what I need to get the job done. In most cases I’m just a piece of the puzzle.

What would you say is your strongest skill?

To see the potential in others.

What are your thoughts on the specialization vs generalization in the industry?

I enjoy individualism which is one of the reasons why I admire Zambia’s emerging talents which are unique in skills, styles and looks. Specialization is a blessing when people are willing to work together towards a common goal. Generalization sounds like Clone Wars.

Given that most people here are self-taught photographers and designers, do you think there is still a need for formal training?

Yes. The theoretical part communicated by an experienced mentor exposes you to  techniques, rules and the roots/history of certain skills – once you’ve understood that part of the story you can flip things around and break the rules to create something new, something unique. Even though I admire self-taught talents, one can spot the missing links – that applies to me and my self-taught skills as well, of course.

How was the transition from Germany to Zambia, personally and design wise? Has living two completely different lives influenced your way of thinking?

Yes, travelling broadens your mind and coming home to Zambia has made me see things differently as well. I definitely learned to be patient, enjoy the simple things in life and met & worked with some of the nicest people I’ve come across. Zambia is full of energy and potential, most powerful in collaboration and unity.

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What is your favourite Zambian destination?

It’s almost impossible to pick one and there are still so many I’d love to see. I enjoyed going up North to Mpulungu along the shores of Lake Tanganyika and was stunned by the Mosi-Oa-Tunya way down South every time I even got close, but I’ll never forget sitting on my balcony in Siavonga, listening to the waves of the lake and gazing at the stars like diamonds.

Apart from design and photography, have you pursued any other creative outlets?

Graffiti has inspired me from way back and years after documenting the scene in my current town, I’ve finally picked up a couple of cans to spray. I’m still a beginner but I’ll definitely try and do more in the future. Besides that, it’s just cooking, a little bit of painting and creative writing.

What drives you to experiment with so many mediums?

I’m encouraged and motivated by the creative works of others – thankful for the inspiration they provide. Flipping through comics & art books, admiring modern and classic works of architecture, visiting the museum & urban art galleries makes me want to follow the footsteps of the great whenever the opportunity arises.

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What was the first big project that confirmed in your mind that you had what it takes to be a “professional” creative?

Designing the logo, promotional material, launch website and packaging for eye wear pioneer Willems Wonderglasses built on pretty neat quality frames, made in Japan – that was work! About the same time around it was great to be part of Silas Zephania’s “War Begins Where Reason Ends” album, designing the CD artwork, promotional material plus website – that was fun!

Did you have mentors when you started out? How did you learn to handle the business side of your freelancing?

Laughs – don’t ask me about the business side of things – that’s what spoils the art of our profession.

Have you ever felt pressure to change your style to make you more market friendly?

It’s more disappointment than pressure, I’d say. Sometimes the designer is right – sometimes the client, but it’s important to learn how to adapt to ensure a healthy relationship with your clients as well.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken for your career?

Quitting my job [a couple of times] to follow my dreams.

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Are you satisfied, creatively?

Yeah, I’m pretty happy with what I’m doing, but also always looking forward to creating more works in collaboration with creatives from all corners of the world in new and existing fields of work. I like to be spontaneous and am normally up for a lot of crazy stuff.

What recent projects have given you the most contentment?

I never thought I’d be working with DC on some of the Batman comics – so that’s a small dream come true. Another project that has keeps on surprising me since day one is “Monochrome in Zambia” and the way it is being received across the globe.

Talk us through the times you hit creative roadblocks and how you handle yourself when you have deadlines.

I believe creativity is fueled by inspiration – that helps me overcome certain obstacles. Tight deadlines can be a positive challenge to push one’s limits, but I do prefer realistic ones of course. If worst comes to worst, I throw in a couple of late nights plus espresso with lots of sugar while listening to The Roots and old-school rap. That and a team of those who think alike do the job.

Do you set aside time to draw?

I try to encourage others to #keepdrawingdaily but I don’t always practice what I preach. No creative work space is complete without and it’s important to always keep pencil & paper close in case ideas need to form quickly!

What are some of your favourite collaborations so far?

Street Art Stuttgart”, the above mentioned “War Begins Where Reason Ends” with Silas Zephania, the “Behind the Beats”-Series in close collaboration with the late Praverb the Wyse as well as Politiks’ “Symphony” Instrumental Beat tape-Trilogy.

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Are you ever intimidated by projects?

No. Bring it on!

How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance doing something you’re so passionate about?

Pick the right team to work with, don’t be too serious and try to enjoy work as much as you can. Know when to stop, listen to your body, follow your heart … quit if necessary. Yeah, that sounds like I’m speaking in bullet points.

What movies give you a creative kick?

Martial Arts movies directed by Tsui Hark, mind-twisting-stuff by Chris Nolan, Ren & Stimpy’s Animated Series, The original Star Wars Trilogy and the Godfather II.

What is the future of photography and graphic design in Zambia?

I would welcome a shift from wedding photography, creating more space for objective photojournalism, local landscape & wildlife photography, artistic & abstract forms of photography and a thriving Zambian Motion Picture industry – just don’t call it “Zambiwood”.

I’d love to see more institutions and resources in form of access to readily available learning material and books, teaching the above mentioned as well as graphic design, app and game development and the business side of things, giving the youth the chance to access practical and in-depth theoretical training locally that will allow them to grow independently, forming skill-routed and Zambian-owned businesses.

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Give us a peek through your design process and what parts you enjoy the most.

OK, I’ll try and simplify a complex process

  1. Inspiration: Yes, I definitely count this on into my design process as a constant element. I’m stunned by the works in art galleries, photography books and online. Life itself is inspiring and I love to keep my eyes open wherever I go, wherever I am – capturing those moments was one of the main reasons I ventured into photography with “Street Art Stuttgart” in 2012. My work wouldn’t be the same without inspiration.
  2. Research: It’s important to know what & why you design certain things before you even start – because if it doesn’t make sense, you might as well save yourself some stress and spare the world of further redundancies. I prefer to do enough research before going into my first concepts to know the client and his reasons, the target audience for and the aim of the job.
  3. Concept: The original concept starts on paper and this doesn’t mean you have to be skilled at drawing – if you skip point you might miss out on the the ideas that take shape when you’re able to put them down as quick as possible. Besides that you might spot errors only at a later stage when things become tricky.

 Be inspired – Research  – Conceptualize – Design – Refine – Execute – Chill

 

Besides work, what are you passionate about?

History with a focus on the Civil Rights Movement and the Shoah, DC Comic books, architecture, movies, sweets, coffee … the list is too long.

Do you have any rules that you try to live by?

I try to live by Mark 12:31 regardless of heritage, language and colour.

Talking about work, I’d tend to follow these words: “Be inspired, don’t rush to perfection and love what you do” and once you’re at it: “Create something of purpose, beauty and quality”.

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What type of legacy do you hope to leave?

A smile on someone’s face.

Markus currently resides in Stuttgart and works internationally.

You can find him here on Instagram, Google+, or his website – and visit Monochrome In Zambia  for inspiration.

Living, sleeping and dreaming journalism with Charles Mafa

You can’t speak of journalism in this country without shaking your head. In fact most professions in Zambia have gone to the dogs but we’ll leave that discussion for another day. This post is about multi-talented and multi-award winning journalist called Charles Mafa who is also an avid blogger on his website.

Before we get to the accolades, let’s talk about passion. My questions are in bold while Charles’responses are below:

What percentage would you say journalism constitutes your lifestyle?

Journalism for me is more than work, it is my way of life. I live, sleep and dream journalism. I dedicate about 60% of my time in a day to journalism. The other 40% is for my wife and three kids. I don’t like partying or being in a noisy place for too long, therefore, it works well for me to reflect and plot new ideas.

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During your incarceration (detailed story available on blog) what kind of thoughts were running through your mind while behind bars?

I was happy that it happened to me. It gave me an opportunity to understand the sort of injustice that the poor go through. Many of those I shared the cell with were innocent people but because they are powerless and poor, no one cares about them. My thoughts during that time were that such people need our help. We need to bring to light their suffering and pain. I believe that is what journalism is all about. It is about comforting the weak and afflicting the powerful, like the saying goes.

After Bulletin & Record (B&R) was closed, people would have thought that it was the end of you but you seem to have risen above the challenge. That says something about opportunity in this country. Did you go and find opportunity or did opportunity come looking for you?

I was saddened by the closure of the publication which I loved so much but I knew always that things can change. So, I am always ready for change. I have known struggle since childhood after losing my father in grade 2. That helped me to have a different outlook about life. The B & R gave me an opportunity to practice what I enjoy the most and when it was gone I had to look ahead. I am an ambitious and pragmatic person who is not afraid to look for new things to do. I was already working on plan B. It is always difficult to find new things to do but opportunities are there. What many need is a push to pursue what they want to do. I know it is difficult for school leavers and others because they have not been exposed. We need connections to succeed.

What do you think about the profession of journalism in Zambia?

Journalism is dead. What I see or read about cannot qualify to be journalism. It is something else. That, unfortunately is a sad state of our profession. We need to bring back professionalism to journalism.

What sets journalism from other forms of writing is its obsession with the truth and verification of that truth. I don’t see this in many publications.

When did the professionalism get diluted in your opinion? Is there a time in history that you can look back and admire what journalism was?

I am not that old to provide a fair judgment on this one but I have read about good and committed journalists we had in the past. I would say, we have not been following standards in the recent past but the PF came to completely kill journalism through appointments of key journalists into foreign service and government. The lack of media freedom and attacks on independent journalists has increased under the current administration. We must not forget that a free and responsible press is essential for any democratic society. You cannot talk about democracy without a free press.

No government can succeed in fighting corruption without an independent press. Killing freedom of the press is a recipe for corruption to flourish.

Access to information (ATI) is very limited in this country from top-down. Do you think it has something to do with Zambian culture of those in power (our elders) having the prerogative to share or not share information with others or was it colonial?

As they say, information is power. That is why government leaders try hard to hide everything from the people. With Access to Information (ATI), people would demand for what is rightly theirs. The culture of secrecy is basically a legacy which was carried over from the colonial masters. It is now being used by our own brothers and sisters in power. That brings me to another point. What freedom can we talk about or celebrate if our own people have become our oppressors? A word of caution to journalists and others, even if we had ATI in place, information will not drop like rain. We need the ATI but at the same time we need to work extra hard for it.

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What are your thoughts on the notion that blogging should be left to journalists and be regulated through membership and vetting et cetera.?

I don’t agree with that. We all have something to share – whether journalist or citizen. Blogging gives us that opportunity to be heard and to hear others. Stopping people from blogging is infringing on their right and freedom to be heard and communicate their ideas.

What kind of Zambia do you think that your children will inherit? A better one from the one you live in or worse off?

I want them to live in a better Zambia. We cannot go back or admire the past because technology has changed the world and making life very easy. Unfortunately, the way we look after our environment and natural resources will make life hard for our children and those who will come after us. Our politics is also not making things better. Violence and hooliganism belongs in the past. We should now be talking about smart things and smart ideas. That way we will make this country better for our children. I am however, hopeful that things will get better, especially when we have more young and educated people in politics.

 

Who is Charles Mafa in his own words?

Charles is a Zambian journalist who is committed to reporting African stories with dignity and fairness. I am passionate about journalism because I believe it is a powerful tool we can use to improve people’s lives, especially the poor.

Now let’s talk about the accolades!

I am Zambia’s best overall 2016 journalist who has experience of working in various forms of communication – print, radio and television. I have been shortlisted for the 2016 African Fact-Checking awards to be held in November this year.

Gifted with varied skills, I have won several awards for my work, among them the MISA Zambia overall best journalist award for 2016, best environment reporting, best aviation reporting, best energy reporting awards and best columnist. I am also a recipient of the MISA Zambia Award for the 2007 best HIV/AIDS radio reporting and the 2011 World Bank second best Zambian investigative reporting prize which earned me a 3-month internship at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism – South Africa. In 2007, I directed and produced a television documentary (Through my eyes) which won the 2007 CNN Multichoice Award for the best HIV/AIDS coverage in Africa.

Well well there you have it folks! Be sure to visit Charles’ Facebook page to find out more about his investigative work especially concerning his arrest with two Swedish journalists. Juicy, right?!

 

The Revolutionary Miss Martha

 

We’re baaaaack!

Did you miss the 52 bloggers? I hope so. We’re picking up from where we left off and jumping straight into the path of Revolution.

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The Revolutionary Miss Martha – as captured by JJ Arts Photography

Martha Chilongoshi is the powerhouse behind Revolt Media Solutions, where she regularly blogs about various development issues, especially focused on women and girls. Keep up to date with Revolt Media on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Continue reading “The Revolutionary Miss Martha”