Mwape Unplugged: the man behind the face for radio

Right now I’m unplugged, as Luke stole my opening paragraph and then went on to profile me so fabulously, I’m in conniptions trying to create a worthy follow up.  That, coupled with the fact that I have never used WordPress, as my blog Mwana Ba Afrika is on Blogger, have procrastinated and now need to post this in the next few hours, has me completely unravelled.  But that is when I am at my best, rising to the challenge when the stakes are high.  That, or I am a masochistic writer.  Which is why I don’t do this professionally. I’m completely useless at discipline and deadlines really give me a headache. I feel like this one just crept up on me even though I knew four months in advance it was coming. Deranged and confused I continue to be. Oh dear…

I decided to experiment with a format I use to help me post more on my blog, particularly when I have profiled people.  It has kind of worked in the sense it provides structure.  Seeing as I only managed 8 posts last year proves otherwise perhaps.  Anyhoo, maybe this creative tweaking will continue to help ignite my passion for writing again.  I believe it has.

Mwape C

The Mad Scientist in me wanted to encapsulate the 52 Bloggers Project in a post as best I could.  It is all about capturing the essence of who the writers are in this moment, right now in 2016.  It is a documentation of who they have grown to be, a representation of the diverse voices coming out of Zambia right now and a reference to see what paths they will take in the future, who they could evolve to be and the country in turn.  And most importantly, a way for anyone to connect with Zambia on the most basic, yet profound level by simply communicating humanity. Luckily I have been assigned the most willing and interesting guinea pig to carry out my experiment.  Mwape was not harmed and professed he quite enjoyed the experience so I don’t want to hear cries of cruelty. So without further ado, I give you Mwape Unplugged!

3 THINGS PEOPLE HAVE SAID ABOUT MWAPE

So when I sent this Mwape, I told him he’d have to wait and see when I post what people said.  You know what he did, he answered anyway with:

  1. He’s a charming guy!
  2. He’s got a face for radio!
  3. He’s got a personality.

The cheek of it! Love it though, as I will concede that he is indeed a charming guy and he’s got a personality, but I contest his facial claims.  He doesn’t have the face for radio, which I will explain in a minute.  I think he also forgot that he is the interviewee and not the interviewer by trying to commandeer control of the narrative. He wrote after answering “it’s been a really interesting interview. I’m so used to being on the other side of the interview, I forget the thrill in sharing your own story”.   I am glad that he got that I wanted this to be one of my favourite things: profound nonsense, but methinks he got a little carried away.  I do like to pepper the deep with wit and playfulness, and I do admire bold moves.  So he got away with it. Just…

I have summarised what people I asked said by bringing everything together under 3 main themes:

He’s optimistic. Everyone said he is such a breath of fresh air, that his passion for life, Zambia, his work, your endeavours when you share them, was infectious.  I asked if this was blind faith and was told that it wasn’t – that it is measured yet abundant. If he is a part of your project,he will believe that it will succeed and put in his all to ensure that.  He truly believes that good will prevail, that the best will rise up above the rest and that if we put our mind to things we can achieve our dreams.  Awwwww!

He is incredibly well read.  A walking encyclopedia. An ecletic mind. You can talk to him about anything and he will at least have a basic knowledge of the topi.  If he has a deep understanding, he is happy to direct you to books and articles to expand your knowledge.  If you want to pick someone’s brain, he’s a great guy to do that to.

He has the sunniest disposition. He is always smiling.  No one has ever seen him down in the dumps. Not in a saccharine, icky way. Nor is his demeanour maudlin.  It feels truly earnest and genuine.  He chooses to find that good and allows that to emanate from his being.  It’s awesome to be around. Though he believes that he has a face for radio, he would actually do well on TV. If you have ever met him, you’d know he has a cherubic face, that just makes you think all is well when he smiles.  Armed with that and his charm, any audience would be putty in his hands. I’m sure he already had groupies from radio already!

4 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MWAPE 

According to Mwape this is what you should know. Completely ignored my questions to put forth his thoughts first. This dude!

  1. He loves Nshima.
    Can this dude be any more Zambian. Typical! 
  2. He’s a closet Chef…yet to come out!
    Emmm, so does he cook in a closet? How does that work? Or does he dream up things but doesn’t actually cook them.  He must be very hungry then…
  3. He’s proud to be Zambian.
    If he wasn’t, profiling him would not be the best idea as this is a part of a year-long celebration of Zambia and Zambians, so I’m glad we cleared that up.
  4. He smiles a lot when he’s angry.
    Ahhhh, so that is the secret to his sunny disposition!  We never know what state he’s actually in and are tricked into choosing to always look on the bright side of Mwape. Genius! So people, pay attention more when you are interacting with him, he is an onion with many layers and he won’t peel them off for you, you’ve got to do the work.

Here is what I asked him.  At least he gave answers to my questions to I suppose…

What is the most vivid past experience you can remember that has shaped who you are today?

When I lived in Kitwe, my first job was as a volunteer trainer for an ICT NGO called Camara. At the time I never understood the value of working for the benefit of others. I worked as a volunteer for 3 years of my life. Today I’m able to balance being ambitious, but yet staying content with what I have, (still learning though). And most importantly I see value in volunteering, which I still do today.

Mostly I volunteer my social media skills and knowledge to other Startups in the Zambian community. I still teach basic ICT to friends in my hood for free.

What are you doing right now and why should people be excited about your current activities professionally and/ or personally?

Hmmm…Professionally my presentation skills are being sharpened in the dungeons of Zambian Radio…I’m a talk show host on the StartUp Hour show on Power FM. I have the privilege to learn from and share Zambian success stories. I interview the Industry titans in the country.  I also blog about these inspiring individuals on Manic Zambia.  

I also have the privilege of being paid to listen to  Zambian music, watch Zambian shows and review it all on The Kalimba Radio Blog. It’s been a super-exciting experience.

Like the typical Zambian tamanga (go-getter, hustler, entrepreneur), I’m freelancing my blogging and social media skills to various people and companies.

Personally I’ve been growing – trying to tap into some of that higher consciousness that Carl Jung talks about. But I’m also discovering that I can take a hit and still keep moving. But I think most importantly I’ve learned to be patient and take things a step at a time.

What are most proud of in your life to date?

The fact that I can take a chance and learn from not only my peers, but from everyone I meet.

Tell us something interesting that we don’t know about you? Please tell us something strange/ crazy/ unexpected 🙂

I have lived in a convent with Catholic nuns.(I’m not Catholic).

You can’t leave it at that, tell us more! 

During my time at Camara Zambia, (the ICT NGO), I got to travel around Zambia spreading the ICT gospel. One of these trips led me to a girls Catholic boarding school in Kabwe. I personally wanted to stay in a guest house. But the Sisters wouldn’t have it. Worst part  is that they had a pitbull trained to attack men and not women. Let’s just say I had a very rare and interesting  glimpse into the lives of Catholic nuns.

I shouldn’t be laughing and you shouldn’t either.  Zambians running from dogs is hilarious though I won’t lie.

P.S. I have also lived with Catholic priests. But that’s a story for another interview.

As they say, always leave the audience begging for more.  He’s a slippery fish this one.

10 THINGS THAT COME IN TWOS TO GIVE US CLUES TO KNOW MWAPE THROUGH AND THROUGH

What’s your favourite word/ phrase in vernacular and why?

Akashimi – a Bemba phrase for story. Mostly because I love stories so much, I can waste hours away on a good one.

What is your favourite word/ phrase in English and why?

Amazing. Because each and every day the world keeps amazing me.

I can’t. This guy! You can’t be mad with him long, he’s just too lovely. At least he didn’t abuse the 10 with his own first, otherwise this post would be the post that never ends, thank you for not making it go on and on my friend…

Name a Zambian person that has inspired you and tell us how?

Too many to mention!  It would have to be my Mom (late). Growing up my dad traveled a lot, I got to spend a lot of time with her. By day she worked as a secretary for the Zambian Army. At night she  would work on her Chitenge (African print material) business. Meanwhile running an entire household filled with dodgy teens. She always made sure we visited our grandparents. Family visits to her sisters and cousins were mandatory.

I would look at her and think: she does all the work and she never even looks tired. Also she had a twin sister which was super-cool and confusing most of the time.

She made me believe  you can have whatever you want. It’s possible if you really want it.

Name an international personality that has inspired you and tell us how?

So many to choose from! Maya Angelou. She followed her passion and heart. It took her through so many careers and lifestyles. And she documented it all…respect.

Maya Angelou is the original Ndhlovukhazi Storyteller.  It is clear with his words about his Mum and his picks in the last two questions that Mwape is inspired by and loves strong women. Can I get am Amen?!

What are you most proud about being Zambian and why?

Most times when I look in the mirror, I don’t see a half Bemba, half Lala hybrid, I see a country with so many tribes it should be at war (but isn’t thankfully). Zambians have to be the most accommodating people in the region. Anywhere you go, you’re welcomed with a smile.

It has also given me linguistic versatility. I talk to people on the streets, in buses, at events and I’m able to switch languages in a jiffy. Mostly because I moved a lot when I was young. So I had a chance to live and interact with people from different tribes. Zambia is amazing!

What is the one thing you think we need to improve on as a nation and how do you think we could go about working towards a better tomorrow?

For me it comes down to believing in ourselves and each other as Zambians. We need appreciate our blessings. I mean Zambia has produced some top shelf individuals…e.g. the likes of the Interviewer (Ngosa Chungu), Dambisa Moyo, Kennedy Mwene, Jacob Mulenga….etc

I had asked Mwape to clarify what he meant by the Interviewer.  Thought it was some personality I may not know about as I have spent much of my life in and out of Zambia. I had no idea he was talking about me till he clarified.  Awwww schucks, backatcha mate! I love that there are so many youth out there, taking up the mantle, fighting to continue to make Zambia great! 

Also, youth have latent talents and abilities that are drowned in bars. They really need a light in these dark times. I look forward to a Zambia where I can drive a Zambian car, use a Zambian cellphone, wear Zambian clothes, eat Zambian food and watch Zambian movies. We can do more to sell not only our natural resources, but our cultural resources as well.

Hear, hear! With continually increasing ritual killings, riots and looting as a manifestation of xenophobia this week, and the ongoing socioeconomic issues that are undermining these sentiments, Mwape’s thoughts about Zambian could not have come at a better time. 

What film have you watched recently that has made you think and what conclusions did you come to?

I couldn’t do an interview without some sort of film reference he he he.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny. In the movie the martial world comes under threat. The very values that made the world great are threatened. And now the people must volunteer their lives to preserve the threatened values.

For me this served as a metaphor for how we sometimes make commitments out of personal gain. The when we realize what type of struggles and problems come with the commitment we run away. When it is clearly our job to understand that as contributors to the world, we protect more than our own personal wants and needs.

What book have you read recently with a story that has touched you and changed the way you think about something?

The Fortunes of Africa by Martin Meredith. The book is super thick, about 700 pages, (I’m 200 pages in) . It looks at  the 5000 year history of Africa. It traces the rise and fall of ancient kingdoms and empires. It examines the fate of modern African states and concludes with a glimpse of the future.

When I learnt History back in high school, Africa was always the birthplace of Slavery. And for a long time I kept this world view of my motherland. But after I read this book and learnt of wonderful meccas of knowledge and innovation: like Alexandria in Egypt, great Kings like Mwansa Musa, and the Sahara desert highways – there are actual highways in the desert used by camel travellers to navigate their way, my mind was blown away.

There is so much history of this continent that only a few ever have access to.

If you were an animal what would you be (and is it the same as your favourite animal). Explain your choice and if the animals differ tell us why?

My love of elephants  being an Ndhlovukhazi Storyteller and my proclaiming to be a pellie: a purple elephant is well known. I love to find out why people love the animals that they do.  It really does give insight into the visceral essence of a person.

Wolf. For me a wolf is the ultimate animal. It can survive in a pack and on its own. It can travel for miles in unbelievable conditions. It’s the only animal that appreciates a full moon. And they take a single mate for life.

See what I mean. Mwape is awesome!

Which cartoon character would best represent you and why?

Huey Freeman, from the Boondocks. A modern day revolutionist aged 10. Why? He’s  smart plus he’s a badass.

Love it! Like a boss, yaaaaaasssssssss…

I thought, as a digital native, the best way to end this would be for Mwape to have the last word would be with the language of the times so I asked him to:

Describe life right now in a Meme/ GIF:

This one:

//giphy.com/embed/nNcXcWhRetlcI?html5=true<p><a href=”http://giphy.com/gifs/mom-q-maya-angelou-nNcXcWhRetlcI”>via GIPHY</a></p>

On that note… 

//giphy.com/embed/R3FSRO8Z9D0lO?html5=true<p><a href=”http://giphy.com/gifs/minions-drop-the-mic-R3FSRO8Z9D0lO”>via GIPHY</a></p>

Links to Mwape’s current endeavours:

Mwape on Twitter

Startup Hour Radio Show

Manic Zambia

Kalimba Radio Blog

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Author: Ndhlovukhazi Storyteller

Ndhlovukhazi Storyteller at Purple Tembo Media and on Mwana Ba Afrika blog. Producer of e18hteam (eighteam), the documentary chronicling the Zambian National Football Teams's epic journey from tragedy to triumph and creator of the African Cultural Exchange project aka the A.C.E. Project: a multimedia experiment reimagining African storytelling with ZeDream Team. Interact with me on Facebook: Ngosa Chungu, Twitter: @whoops_c and Instagram: @whoops.c

4 thoughts on “Mwape Unplugged: the man behind the face for radio”

  1. I’m a fun of experimental writing when it is executed with tact. The “Interviewer” aka Ngosa does a phenomenal job of sapping the subject’s nectar, hence giving us some magic serum. I quiet like the use of vocabulary but even more her use of Ebonics and slang or modern expression. The structure of the piece also makes it less verbose and in turn allows the interview to flow better.
    The subject is a slippery bar of soap, fluid as the piece goes. No pressure on me now *laughs* still got until November tho when my head hits the guillotine.
    “A refreshing read.” – Kempson of jesuislecritique.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

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