Someone just asked me what the rest of my siblings did and as I remarked that I always thought that I was the dumbest one in my family she looked completely shocked, after all, I am pretty damn smart!
‘Seriously’, I said. And it’s true, the Phiri family are a bunch of over-achievers!
We have Mwawi, the oldest of us male who with a BA in Business Admin from Boston University (nice) he has worked for the biggest companies in Zambia and keeps winning internal recognition as most valuable employer – he’s up for a regional award from MTN now! (and he’s daughter looks set to grow up to be the Beyonce of her generation!)
Anna was one of the producers for what was one of Zambia’s first films – it’s not so much that the film was pretty kak, but it was driven by these female film-makers willing to take a risk to do something to break the mould. She’s off to Burkino Faso to pursue her dreams in the African film industry. Anna’s offspring is extremely talented and don’t be surprised if in 10 years time you’ll be driving cars designed by him.
Aaron is an award winning musician – hip hop artist based in Sweden and ‘world’ famous in Japan. He’s collaborated with some of Sweden’s best artist and won a Swedish grammy – he’s also a music teacher for excluded kids and a father of three boys (aaah sweet)
Mary – well she really was the brains behind Trendsetters (and the editor in chief – i just followed her lead really!). Trendsetters was Zambia’s first publication for young people, after just 6 months of production, Trendsetters won a global Media Award from the Population Institute – CNN had won the previous year. Trendsetters print then spurned a radio show – which won an award for development media from OneWorld Radio and then Youth Media – the organisation behind Trendsetters, founded by Mary, myself and Anna – then went onto produce other IEC materials for people trying to reach young people. Last year Mary was instrumental in setting up media 365 in zambia and is the CEO of the company. I read somewhere that Mary, who’s also a PEAK Fellow, is dubbed the Southern Africa youth media guru – it is no lie. She’s well on her way to being the Oprah of Zambia – when we get her her own TV show – watch this space! *She has to juggle all this being a mother of three tiny terrors.
Freddy (Fred to those who don’t know him so well, though i smile when i hear people call him Mr Phiri! he’s my kid brother!!), is a talented writer from his blogs – which i’m upset he’s stopped writing – to writing the script for the award-winning Club Risky Business – Zambia’s first drama series around HIV/AIDS. He was also a representative for Zambia at the UN Pan-African Youth Leadership Summit. Definitely watch out for him!
Then there’s Tasha – she’s a Rhodes Scholar – need i say anymore? She will be Dr Phiri in two years (because she wants to be) Oh yeah she also drove the SMS business of one of Zambia’s leading companies for sustainable IT Solutions – turned it into their most profitable division in less than a year! (and she was only like 26!)
See – over-achievers. And yes, we are a big family. I didn’t even include a couple of others!
The thing we have in common though is that we care – we care about our communities and our family. We’re a big family and close, so each person’s success is all our successes. And I am proud of all of them. But there’s definitely a lot to live up to. My parents must wonder what they do to produce this lot! We’ve got our little wall of fame at our family farm for all our various awards and achievements – it wouldn’t be so little if we included our press clippings I suppose!
I like this quote that i heard Dr Cornel West say – You are great before you are successful. He was saying that greatness is in you and success is the accolades you get as a result of being great. And I think that my siblings are great, and one day all their greatness will be rewarded with success. For now, we’re just family.

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