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So this has been long coming!  Each year I try to sum up my year with some reflections, and thoughts for the new year.  This year I thought I’d do that while I was laying on the beach in Koh Samet, Thailand, sipping on a cocktail, counting my blessings.  Alas I was busy still doing work – but on the beach in Koh Samet, so I can’t be too mad!

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2016 was an interesting year for me – perhaps a year I entered into a different cycle of my life.  I ended the year completely burnt out but definitely worth it.  While 2016 was a ‘surviving’ year for most, it was a challenging year for me.

At the beginning of 2016, if you recall I blogged about this, I decided it was time to believe in myself more and push myself to do things that scared me.  At that point I had already been toying with the idea of launching a female led talkshow.   I wanted to give women a voice, I wanted to actively engage in dialogue that contributed to the development of the country and our lives, and I wanted to show that women can and do support each other.

There were many times in that process of developing the show that I wanted to quit – it was scary, not easy, not to mention costly.  But I told people about it, knowing they would hold me accountable to ensure it happened.  And it did!

The show was quoted in the Daily Mail, and now it’s airing on Zambezi Magic – across the region.  My heart literally stopped as I thought about that – people outside of Zambia are seeing my face and listening to what I have to say… it is surreal.

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But that was just the beginning of the year!

Loads of work in the middle of the year, and then my most challenging work fell squarely on my lap – Our Perfect Wedding Zambia.  The project that gave me sleepless nights and exhausted me (and had me looking like a homeless person).  Adapt the hugely popular South African show, how hard could it be?!

Hmmm.  Let me back track a bit.  The set-up of our company is usually myself and Mary write the proposal, secure the deals and client manage.  Tasha does the research and insights.  Freddy is the creative lead – he directs and produces.  We still work on the creative side inputting in character development, script, wardrobe, art direction etc.  But in a very basic way that’s the make-up.

So after writing the proposal, doing the pitch, we win the bid!  Great.  Just one small problem; Freddy is unable to direct or produce the show.  Probably the obvious decision would have been to hire someone to direct.

I like to think of myself as a business person, I looked at the numbers and realized it would be pointless for us to do this show if we hire a director.  I’d just produced and semi-directed (ha!) a talk show, how hard could a 4-day reality shoot be?

Famous last words.

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I like to surround myself with people who are good at what they do but also people I can work with.  There were a lot of people in the industry who I thought had bad attitudes and who I just couldn’t imagine doing a 52-day shoot with.  So I chose a crew I thought I could work with, mainly young up-and coming and hungry.

No one had shot a reality show before, or one of this nature.  In fact client expectations were to exceed even what the South Africa’s were doing, the pressure was immense.

I’m pretty sure I spent a lot of time crying and wishing I could quit!  But quitters don’t win and winners don’t quit.

When I wasn’t shooting, I was in editing mode.  It was non-stop.  And pleasing the client was even harder.  Some of our seasoned editors were also suffering, getting the format right was hard on everyone.

The season is coming to an end and while I can definitely agree there were some bad episodes, there were also some amazing stories and great couples – it almost made me believe in love again! LOL.

I did learn though that maybe hunger wasn’t enough, on certain projects you have no choice but to put personal differences aside and bring in the best people for the job, at least close enough to the best (though not sure they would have done it for the budget).   However, because of the attitude of some of the crew, I know I will be working with them for time to come, because at the end of the day, attitude is so important in getting ahead and moving past mediocrity.  The ones who chose to be unprofessional, well those are their career choices.

I was then fortunate to get away for 10 days to experience the sights and sounds of Thailand.  It was exactly what I needed.  I didn’t get to consciously do the reflections I needed but I think the downtime, the rest and recovery allowed my mind to settle, clear out the noise and focus.

There were things I wanted to do last year that I never got to do, my experience last year proved that anything is possible, so this year I plan on soaring, trusting in myself – in God – and taking that next step to greatness.  We can all achieve it if we believe!

Have a great 2017!  (I won’t even promise to blog more because… well life gets in the way, and I’m busy on my grind and living my life!)

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Next month we’ll be celebrating our 50th year of independence! Eeek! How exciting.

Media 365 decided to develop a project to honour this momentous occasion. I won’t bore you with the backstory – you can read it on the website, but we basically decided to develop a documentary and music project to tell our story of independence.

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When I say ‘our’ story, I mean one of the many versions that should matter to young people – the story of how to drive independence forward, how to get equitable wealth and development, how to determine our next 50 years. We’re doing this by talking to the people who lived through independence, the people who brought our nation to where it is today, and the ones who are here working for the next 50 years – the 64wders we’re dubbing them. I’ve had the pleasure of being present at some of the interviews and they have have been inspiring and led to other questions.

One such interview was with Kapumpe Musakanya, son of Valentine Musakanya, who did a lot for this country but was ultimately remembered by some as one of the key people in the 1980 coup attempt. Though the documentary doesn’t talk about any of that history, a pre and post interview chat with Kapumpe, and browsing through his dad’s book, The Musakanya Papers, led me to wonder more about this incidence in our history, and therefore others. Kapumpe did have a good point, we need to hear more of our STORIES of independence and not just ONE narrative.

I’m hardly an expert on our history, in fact I’d be hard pressed to remember anything I learnt in school about it, and the trip to national archives wasn’t that interesting – ok to be fair at the time we were only looking for photos – and so doing these interviews has been interesting. We have yet to interview the bulk of the freedom fighters and early politicians, but already it has been wondering…

Even when I was watching some of the Zamtel Road to Independence Day programming, I was worried about how much of it was fact checked, it seems all too easy to create and push the narrative you want.

The other day I was reading the Times of Zambia, where there was an article on the great friendship of KK and Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, it was written in a way that implied Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe was our first Vice President. To my shock, a young person in the office at the time asked me who it was if not Mr Kapwepwe! Poor Mr Kamanga.

In an interview with Mr Elias Chipimo Snr (and Jnr), he talked about early days of governing Zambia, and listening to him, and my father, it dawn on me just how innovative they had to be. These guys were about 40 years old running a country for the first time, still working with people who didn’t even want them to be independent and making it difficult for them when they could.

We spoke to Mrs Petronella Chisanga, who was one of the youngest women, in the UNIP Central Committee who spoke about running an entire secondary school, one of only two at the time, at the age of 25! I couldn’t even imagine such responsibility at 25. But to speak to her, she is an amazingly intelligent and talented woman – plus she later went on to be MD of ZECO. She was truly one powerful woman and a force to recon with!

Through our interviews and conversations with our parents – it’s always easy to forget the wealth of information parents have! – is how I learnt that UNZA was crowd funded. People actually gave money and whatever else they had to build the university because they understood or desired the education that would take them forward. Amazing.

So launching our crowd-funding campaign to put this documentary together is nothing new for Zambia! I’m excited by this documentary and even more excited about the legs it has, should we raise enough money and then some to keep producing content that speaks to our stories, all the stories of Zambia.

Look out for the launch of our Indiegogo campaign on Facebook and twitter and keep updated on the project at the project blog.

Watch the pitch video/teaser