You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Life’ category.
These days it’s hard to blog about work because I can’t breach confidentiality and pretty much everything I’m working on is confidential – or by discussing it I might seem to be disrespecting someone or an organisation (I had a meeting with ZNBC yesterday that shocked me so much, but can’t talk about it, cos I need to work with them, so don’t want to feel offended).
So I decided to blog about relationship issues that I’ve been observing here – and to be fair, I’ve been a party to it too, but thinking about my friends, watching Think Like A Man, I wanted to get this off my chest.
I’ve gone to several kitchen parties, baby showers, weddings etc since I’ve been back in Zambia, but what I’m hard pressed to find are truly happy couples. In fact I was slightly taken aback when at my last all women’s event, the mainly married women were talking about how they didn’t have passwords to their husbands phones, but the kids did, so they were using the kids as spies to find out if their husbands were sending or receiving inappropriate messages! What?!
They talked about it like it was so normal. Why on earth would I want to be with a partner I didn’t trust? Perhaps in other ways the man is making her a happy woman (in her soul, not physically).
Each relationship is different so I don’t judge when people stay in bad or unhealthy relationships, because we’ve all been there. But it does make me wonder, why would you do that to yourself?
Well I guess it’s like what Steve Harvey says, you have to have standards and you have to have self-respect.
Some of these women seem like proper Type A women – they have senior positions in their companies, real position of power, and they make their own money. Professionally they have self-respect and standards – they must have or they wouldn’t have got as far as they did. But something falls apart when it comes to relationships.
I blame it on the societal pressure. We’re women in Zambia, a country that looks down on you as a woman, let alone a single woman. I’ve walked into countless meetings where I have been blatantly ignored and disrespected because of being a woman, and more so a woman without a ring on her finger. Yet I might be the more senior figure in that room.
It’s a constant battle to walk that fine line of being strong enough as a woman without coming out like an aggressive wannabe male figure. So I can understand the urge to want to come home and be a woman, a woman who has a strong man by her side to take care of her – not because she needs to be taken care of, but because she wants to be.
But we put up with a lot just to have that man in our life. And is it really worth it? This morning my ipod decided to play Ciara’s Like A Boy and I was really listening to the lyrics.
‘What if I had a thing on the side, made you cry
Would the rules change up or would they still apply
If I played you like a toy?
Sometimes I wish I could act like a boy’
Or my personal favourite ‘Tell you I love you but when you call, I never get back’
Sadly despite what Ciara sings, I just don’t think a man can comprehend the pain women go through caring for someone who simply doesn’t care about them. In fact switch up the roles as suggested in Ciara’s song and the labels attached to the woman are anything but flattering.
But yet we still stay in relationships that do nothing for our soul. Sometimes it does seem hard to identify bad relationships – i.e. he doesn’t beat me, he doesn’t cheat on me etc – but it’s the little things isn’t it? That’s what having standards is about, standards and self-respect.
Why do we think it’s ok that a man can make you cry, not value your time, just because he says those three words us women love to hear? If you’re not important enough to have a call returned, your time respected, your commitment valued, what are you saying about yourself?
Sometimes being alone does not mean being lonely, it means having enough standards and self-respect to wait for the person that will value you and treat you like the queen you are to come into your life.
We all know this, one day we’ll listen and do it – then maybe you’ll have Kings stepping to you, to make you his Queen.
I was thinking about hate and this pull him down syndrome we have in Zambia. When I refer to hate I generally mean the act of being jealous of someone’s talent or success.
Now that I’ve cleared that up let me get back to my thoughts on this. I understand hate. Today was a real eye opener for me, after I got so upset about someone who I’ve known for a really long time, tell me that our show Love Games isn’t having an impact because no one is talking about it or watching it. I was really hurt because I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not the best product, but it’s definitely a lot better than what is currently on TV. Now that isn’t a reason for us to rest on our laurels, as I’ve said time and time again, we must always be doing better than our last work, so that’s why I appreciate the feedback good and bad. But sometimes the bad is just hater speech.
Anyway, back to my point. After I calmed down I thought about this some more and I thought abut the people I surround myself with and the people I’ve come up with. Imagine you all start out together. But a few years later, someone in your group – maybe more than one – is much more successful than you – maybe not financially, maybe through reputation, or education attainment, or happy family, whatever it might be that you find lacking in your own life. You can either be happy for their success or be bitter with hate.
Too often people choose bitter with hate. And when you explore the reasons it is because of something they are lacking in their own life. I’ve been there so I understand. I have these great friends, who are really successful in their lives, one recently was in Forbes Most Powerful African Women under 40 – I mean, what an achievement! Another started a new website that has made waves and headlines – another trendsetter to watch! And here I am in my lil corner in small Zambia. It would be easy for me to hate on their success – maybe they know a writer at Forbes, or she’s not that clever she ripped an idea or she slept with someone, or whatever other lame excuse haters find to bring someone down. But instead, these women inspire me. They inspire me to keep on doing what I do because we all have to start somewhere (and I have a few more years in me before I hit the big Four O).
But more importantly I’m proud of my achievements – they might not mean anything to anyone else, or deserve recognition from the public and the media – but I worked really hard, and still see the distance I still have to go to achieve the success that I want. And even more so I’m proud of these amazing friends of mine, who I surround myself with, who are doing incredible things in their lives, paving the way for other little brown girls to say, I can do it too! Why would I want to hate on that?
After having this thought on haters, I decided that I’m no longer going to give any thought or mind to them – I mean I rarely did but occasionally one managed to break into my thoughts – like today. The more we focus or even pay mind to them the more it perpetuates the cycle. If each one of us would focus on the positive, surely we could end this talk of haters – we’re just giving life to them. So that’s my conscious decision is to focus on the positive, surround myself with my supporters, and cheerleaders (they really help), and keep doing me. I hope you choose to do the same today, because it’s time to let our light shine.
I’m always excited when it comes to the new year, it’s a new opportunity to grow and renew and more importantly learn from the past. Like the dawn of a new day, we use the new year as a starting point for greater things to come.
This year however, I’ve not felt that renewed energy so much, probably because I’ve taken so much from 2012 into this new year. Not all by choice, some is work related. But it has made me think, if I don’t feel that sense of renewal, excitement and to some extent accomplishment then something is wrong, and it’s something I have to address, and hopefully rectify.
2012 was a hard year for me, mentally, physically, professionally and financially. In short 2012 kicked my ass. My focus over the last few days has been to figure out how to make 2013 work for me. One of the things I know I need to do this year is appreciate myself and the team more. Though clients don’t usually say thank you, good work, or anything else to show they value your work, I need to lay down my driving ambitious way to smell the roses – in this case the good work we produce (if you don’t toot your horn, who will?). And while I’d like to stop rolling my eyes when I see the comments from clients when they watch an offline, I know that will still try my patience. I understand their concerns but I wish sometimes people would trust the consultant – why hire us if you don’t think we can do it?
But I’m going to try not to let that raise my blood pressure this year. Instead I’m going to look at other avenues to do what I love, but I also have to be a bit more ruthless, I’m trying to run a business!
Some of the things that do motivate me are my friends. It’s definitely true what they say about surrounding yourself with people that inspire you, and lift you up. I feel so blessed to have met the women in my life who continue to inspire me and act as mentor and friend when needed.
Having those positive influences in your life are important as we battle through life trying to fulfill our purpose, our destiny even. When the stormy weather comes, as it invariably will, it’s good to have your anchors. I’ve learnt those anchors come in different forms, from family, to friends, to colleagues, to mentors, to that special person in your life. When they believe in you, you know you can achieve anything, and ride out that storm.
So while I haven’t come into the new year with the excitement of the promise for a new, successful year, I know that my storm will pass and that light and sunshine that comes after the rain is guaranteed.
So yeah, bring on 2013!
Maybe one of my strengths is that I’m not that precious. I mean the type of person who is a diva about everything. I can take criticism, I might not like, I might go to the toilets and cry (not really), but I won’t throw a strop and need my employers or anyone else (except maybe my boyfriend) to come and throw a pity party for me or coddle me to get what they hired me to do.
Sadly, I’m coming to the reality that maybe in Zambia this is what we need to do for employees here. I don’t know whether it’s because in the west – certainly the US and the UK is becoming like this too – there is such a huge push for excellence, and being the best of the best. Slacking isn’t an option, well it is, but it’s looked down on.
In Zambia, maybe because we weren’t a capitalist society and we were on the everyone is equal tip etc we don’t really encourage people to aspire for greatness and more importantly, to actually work hard to make it happen.
That’s the struggle I’ve been having. Media 365 have recently been commissioned to conceive and produce a 26 part drama series around women and AIDS. I’m so excited about it. We needed to put together the team to work on the production, as we don’t have all those internal resources. Our plan was that the team was going to be the best of the best, people we could work with on a long term basis and they would understand how we work. I have to be honest, it’s a year later but the current team we have at Media 365 are among the hardest working you can find in Lusaka. But it wasn’t always like this. As the leaders, as managers, you set the example for how you want to work and how you want work to be done. And now they are a pretty reliable, professional and efficient team. I trust them to get the work done.
This new team… well it’s been a challenge. Simple things like showing up to work on time, adhering to their confidentiality agreements and presenting their work as their best quality work. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth.
And the demands! I laugh when I think about what production companies in the UK used to go through, working in TV is not a glamourous thing, certainly not behind the camera, yet here people want to be treated with kid gloves and like they are the stars.
I have spent long hours in the office, here as early as 7am and leaving past midnight, yet some of the hired crew rock up at 9am (their contracted hours are 7.30-6) and stress about leaving at 8pm. But I realised that the more I shouted, pulled my hair out, cried (for real this time), and lectured about attitude (ok that was Jeff Sitali the director, but I agreed with it), and my own (stolen from Freddy) verses on the power of greatness within all of us, the pride of delivering a high quality show like never before seen on Zambian TV, I realised as it continued to fall on deaf ears that I was the only one who was stressing. To be fair not everyone is like this but you know what they say about a few rotten apples.
I have come to realise that in Zambia it’s the exception rather than the rule that provides those people that do want to be better than good, that do stuff for the passion and recognition rather than the money, but I’m still hopeful that we’ll bring up generations after us that will be the rule rather than the exception. Our country can’t possibly develop until that happens. I’m learning to exercise patience – if you know me, you’ll know that’s really hard for me – and I’m making a note of who will be people I’ll continue to work with, bring them into the Media 365 family, and who won’t step foot on any of my productions again. In life there aren’t second chances so why should I do that in business?
Maybe it’s also because we’ve chosen to work largely with a production team of young people. I am passionate about giving young people an opportunity, partly because I am still a young person, but partly because I have faith in young people. As a young person who was given an opportunity to live out my dreams, and been a success (if I must say so myself), I’m a firm believer in bringing up those behind you – specifically young people. But sometimes young people think they know it all, or can’t see an opportunity when it’s right in front of them. But you can’t get mad at them, at the end of the day it’s their career, they need to decide where they want to go in life.
It could also be an issue we have with long term planning and long term goals – for whatever reason we seem to be a short sighted bunch of people. I don’t know if that’s just young people, or people in Zambia as a whole. When we got the contract to do this drama series – and like Shuga, it’s been about two years in the making, we didn’t jump for joy thinking let me do a cheap job on this, do a one man shoot and pocket enough money for me to buy a new car. Nope, we did jump for joy, but because we realised that this was the opportunity for us to make the production we’ve all wanted to make for years. One that was going to be of high production value but also tell the kind of story we’d want to watch on TV (ok don’t buy into that myth, unless you pay for it yourself, it will never be the story you really want to tell!). But it was also an opportunity for us to improve our product offering by reinvesting into the company.
I love everything about TV, I live, sleep and breath it. Other than having my own shoe store, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else but TV… ok maybe I could consider designing clothes and handbags, oh and running my own restaurant/cocktail bar…Ok, so maybe I could do other things. But I truly love TV. I love how you can create something that can impact millions of people, I like the power of TV to change your way of thinking. Really TV can do a lot more good if harnessed correctly. So while Media 365 doesn’t only do TV production, we do print, radio, digital, research etc, my passion has and will always be TV. And all us co-founding directors knew one thing, we did not want to be a here today, gone tomorrow business. But to ensure longevity you have to have the right systems in place, and the equipment and technology to do it. In Zambia it’s all about chasing the money, even at the detriment of repeat business – people don’t understand that it’s cheaper to retain clients than get new ones.
The last couple of weeks have been a real challenge for me and been a rollercoaster of emotions, but at least I know for sure that playtime is over. Doing business in Zambia is by no means easy, the rewards are there, but to reap them, you need tenacity, resilience and faith. And be prepared to work damn hard. Bring it on I say.
And watch out for our new shows coming to local TV soon!
As you probably know by now – though maybe I haven’t mentioned this before – as much as I love producing TV programming, I actually hate being on set – it all takes so long, setting up, testing sound, sorting out lights, re-takes blah blah blah. And shooting with 5Ds means you can only shoot for 12 minutes before you reset … none of this is good for a person like me who needs to be constantly doing something (i only sit still when watching tv). So I’ve been less than thrilled that because of the two major projects we’re working on, I had to step in for Freddy, my brother and creative director, on the Brothers for Life Zambia shoot.
We’re shooting the mid-campaign review documentary that tells the story of the issues the campaign addresses from the perspective of every day Zambians living these issues. So I’ve sat through an interview with Owas Mwape – a local celebrity who gained notoriety for his domestic violence saga with his wife, that the BBC made public soon after the Chris Brown-RiRi bust up. I went with the crew when Cactus interviewed Chibamba Kanyama, now DG of ZNBC and author and motivational speaker, who is passionate about the abuse of alcohol and raising young people, especially men, as productive being ins society. Then I sat in on the breakfast with the brothers – Cactus Agony, Paul Da Prince, Kangwa Chileshe and Chibamba Kanyama as they met as a group about 11 months after they were brought together as the inaugural ambassadors. It was all well and good, and somewhat interesting, but I would have preferred to be at my desk responding to emails, looking at the scripts for the drama series were working, looking at the style profiles for the cast and even editing the blogs for the Safe Love site.
Today when I was asked if I’d go to the Slim interview, I said no. I had a thousand other things to do. But I had to approve the questions before they could go. Reading the questions and seeing that Slim was going to talk about prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV, I realised it could get a bit hairy and it was such a sensitive topic that I reluctantly said I’d go.
By far this was the most powerful and emotionally charged interview I’d done or seen. To be honest, I’ve been doing this HIV work for so long, it wouldn’t be untrue to say that I’m a little jaded. It all seemed the same type of story was told, and there were only two: the poor person living with HIV in the third world (sorry developing country), who has overcome so much – by being HIV+, or the person living with hiv who has no story to their name other than they live with HIV. Ok I’m being cynical, I do think that a lot of the stuff you see about people living with HIV has no depth to it, it’s almost like their whole life revolves around being HIV+, we de-humanise them in a way. But Slim, Slim was different.
If you don’t know Slim, you might have seen him on MTV’s Me, Myself and HIV – a programme I conceived with my colleague at the Staying Alive campaign, though it didn’t turn out the way I’d envisioned, it did introduce Slim to the world. And was the first time Slim came out as being HIV+, six years after he’d found out he was positive. As much as I appreciate the work that documentary did, it didn’t do justice to Slim as a person – which sometimes the visual product can do, when you can’t interact or engage with the subject. But I digress, the show told the story of a young man who was born HIV+, that would be Slim. It also told the story of Slim, the music producer and singer. The one correction I’d add to that story was Slim was not an upcoming producer, but actually was the producer behind Slap Dee’s first big hit – Gold digger. I thought that was important to mention, but then again, I’m Zambian, so I know the value of that.
Anyway, I digress! The reason we did the interview was to go more in-depth into the story of Slim being a child living with HIV, I obviously can’t give too much detail on the interview – so you can watch the show! – but Slim did bring across the pain of being so young – 15 to be exact – and diagnosed with HIV. And knowing the kind of stigma that was still around then, the loneliness of a secret of that magnitude. It touched me so deep, yes me, the jaded one. I guess because he made all of us in the room feel that emotion – I swear you could hear a pin drop in that moment (and I was with a bunch of guys too!).
Again because of my years of doing this, and realising how easy it is to exploit a person living with HIV, to get that story that you want, the ‘human angle’ etc, how we can make the virus be more than the person, I asked him if it bothered him that this is the story people keep asking him about, about his HIV status and how it is to live with the virus. ’No’, he said. ’I believe this happened to me for a reason, and I know that by sharing my story I’m giving hope and encouragement to someone, someone who might be in that dark, lonely place that I once was in.’ Ok, it might not have been quite as profound as I re-phrased it, but it was his ability to think about the good he could be doing by sharing his story that touched me.
I don’t always think that people know the power their life stories – and we all have them – can do for other people, and when someone as young (he’s 23) could be so honest and so visionary about the impact they could have on someone else, well that’s just admirable. For a lot of people it’s scary to open up and talk about something so life-changing like that, scary, embarrassing, humiliating, you name it – because most people put themselves first, instead of looking at the value in their story and it’s impact on others. Slim comes from a humble background, he’s still pushing his music career, but he’s taking his role as an HIV+ activist seriously to help other people, and simply by using his voice. That’s powerful too. You’re not going to see Slim starting an NGO, or giving up his music career to focus on telling his story, but you ask him about his life and he’ll tell you. And that’s the other thing that I admire about him. He’s doing what he loves the most – music – but he’s also willing to do his part in building our community by spreading the word about HIV.
My words can’t do justice to how I felt today, and what Slim sparked in me – which I can’t talk about yet – and I hope that we captured it on tape for you to see in the interview, but one thing is for sure, Paul Slim Banda is one of those people God sent to earth to inspire us. (Now you know how moved I was because I’m not usually that corny or sappy!)
When the show is out, I’ll let you know!
Last week we buried my uncle (for the purpose of our Zambian tradition where everyone is an uncle, I mean my mother’s brother). At the same time, my sister buried her husband’s sister. Yesterday, we found out a close family friend’s brother had died.
Death, they say, is a natural progression of life. But we like to think that death comes at the end, when you’ve lived your life, when you’ve enjoyed your life. Looking at the people I know who have died in the last week, that isn’t always the case.
When people die, we feel sad, we mourn their life, we ask God why He had to take them away, we try to accept that it was their time and we need to move on with our lives. We feel for those who have lost a life partner – a husband or a wife, those who have lost a child, a parent, a sibling, shake our head, say a prayer, and move on with our life. Unless it’s an immediate loved one, we easily move on with our lives, and hope for the best for those who have been left behind.
From my experience, those who have been left behind, focus on the death, sometimes unable to move on, hoping to find an answer as to why the person died. In my own life, I’ve lost (why do we say that, like they’ve been misplaced?) two brothers, now two uncles, a nephew, a best friend, and numerous aquaintance. My reaction to their deaths is based on my relationship with them. One brother, I felt like I lost a part of me, but I was also riddled with guilt – had I done enough for him while he was alive, sadly I always knew the answer was no. And even in his death, I’m failing to honor his memory properly – but that’s another blog.
Now, as I’m older, I look at death in a different way, a reminder to live life – every day. With my uncle’s passing, which was truly tragic, because it didn’t have to be, he died alone – none of us as his family there, all getting on with our lives, always thinking there was tomorrow to see him, tomorrow to check on him, tomorrow to pay him attention, tomorrow for anything he might need. Yet we all forgot the fundamental words – that the present, is a gift.
We do this all the time, take the present for granted. Always thinking about tomorrow. There are definitely times when you need to think about tomorrow, if it’s about finances, or education, or a career, but when it comes to relationships, tomorrow is definitely not something we should worry about. Relationships are very much in the present, and that’s all relationships you value be it a boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, parent, or child, or sibling. Those you can’t get back tomorrow.
Even as I write this, I struggle questioning my own relationship, looking at the flaws and wondering if I can deal with them, as opposed to looking at the positives and recognising the fact that this might not be the ideal relationship I always dreamt of, but that it is the perfect relationship I’ve been in my whole life. Should I keep looking at tomorrow for the answer or enjoy the present I have in my life today?
We always question the meaning of life, asking what our purpose on life is, but we can go through all of life only to die without knowing our purpose. Perhaps our purpose is in death, to remind those who live to truly live life and know what we value in life before we die and are returned to the earth.
The reality of working and living in Zambia is finally hitting home – big time. When I first moved back, just over a year ago, I loved the fact that I had a work-life balance – well, that I had a life altogether!
But now I realise that I might have more of a life and less of a career. Welcome to Africa they say, or my personal favourite TIA (This Is Africa). Time is anything but of the essence. You can spend days on end waiting for feedback, approvals, quotes, suppliers showing you their work, and anything else you need to actually make anything happen.
We signed a contract with a new client in January, which was supposed to end at the end of July, out of the four deliveries, we have just delivered on one thing, while we wait in vain for feedback to allow us to move forward – the downside of being consultants or an agency, you can’t move ahead without an approval to do so!
This waiting game means that you lose the momentum, and in some cases the drive to do it. My boyfriend laughed at my two hour gym sessions – saying it would be hard for me to find the time to do it during the week – but the joke’s on him. I can take 2 hours off – say lunch time to be on the safe side (as if), and still come back to find myself still waiting.
Yesterday someone remarked that working in Zambia is like being on holiday. Yes that it is. But the frustrating thing is that once they give their approval, they expect the product/service to be delivered the next day! Really?
And this is why I think it is important to run a business with products or services you control – because you’ll have the time to!
But seriously if this behaviour of slow moving work-place environments continues is it no wonder we’re lagging behind in development (when we used to be ahead)? Or that employees are unmotivated to function productively?
I am glad I can go spend hours in the gym, or wander the mall at lunch time, or not work on weekends etc but you know what they say about an idle mind (and idle hands!). Plus it breeds frustration on my part. I’m not used to not doing stuff, not using my brain, not… functioning. But now that I’m getting used to this sad reality, I’m working on using the time constructively – not just seeing what’s going on online (besides I keep finding stuff on Kim-Ye, which is just boring), or catching up on twitter and facebook, I’m using it as an opportunity to develop my own stuff – stuff that is time-dependent only on me.
No point in sitting around complaining is it? The world is our oyster and only we can determine our future and our legacy – go out and take it!