You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘young people’ category.

I’ve been reading a lot across social media platforms around Zambians (specifically) talking about not doing work for free.   I read it with keen interest.

As a person who has had to pay for services of another person, and have also had to charge out my services, I hasten to caution that the not working for free does not apply across the board. I’m a strong believer in knowing your worth, therefore you know when and how much to charge out your time to, but don’t have an exaggerated belief in your worth.   This blog is more for people coming up in the industry, still wet behind the ears, as opposed to those established as I feel the ones coming up are feeling they are established out of the gate.

will-work-for-free-e1331732919700

So before you refuse any zero paying jobs, consider these points:

Is It Really Not Paying?

Money is not the only currency for success. Sometimes you do things in order to get exposure, network or add to the portfolio. All of which will make you make more money, or gain more skills, which will make you earn more money. So it still comes back to money.

I’m always eager to learn and try new things. Sometimes this means that I don’t get paid for it, but then I have it under my belt and next time round I can charge for it. So I look for the ‘what’s in it for me’ before I say no, and equally before I say yes.

Sometimes I take on projects that don’t pay me because I want an opportunity to work with a key person, a cool creative collaboration with like minded people, or to network, or it’s a charity I believe in, or because it just seems like an awesome project! But I ensure I’m still working with people who appreciate the value I’m bringing and not just exploiting me.

Know Your Worth

The great thing about living in a global world is that anyone can hire anyone regardless of location. The problem with that is that you’re no longer competing with just people in your locale, or your borders only but people everywhere in the world.

So when you’ve taught yourself how to use photoshop, or how to shoot videos via youtube masterclasses (not hating, there are some good tutorials out there), your skillset will still not be as great as those who went to school for three years to learn.   But yet you’ll want to charge the same rates? True story, I have encountered this a couple of times in Zambia – I remember a Zambian DOP asking for the same daily rate as the guy who shoots with Spike Lee! I couldn’t believe it, ‘You’re having a laugh mate!’ Of course flying him in and paying his accommodation and per diem adds up, but the result of the product would still be night and day.

Before you demand your fee, make sure you’re worth it – and not just in your head, but from your body of work and your skillset. In the same regard, don’t underprice yourself, just know what you’re bringing to the table – what is your value add? You might be expensive in one area but your knowledge, or skill might save the client money in other areas, and not because you’re just greedy.  And always remember to be professional.

Know Why You Do What You Do

We hear it all the time: you need to love what you do so you’ll never work a day in your life. And we also hear ‘ultimately you have to pay the bills’.

I think you need balance. I believe when you love what you do, you seek out opportunities to be better, to grow. When you are better, ideally the best, the money comes. How will you ever be the best without practice, without seeking out new ways of doing things, without exposure? And trust me, just because your five friends tell you you’re the best, that doesn’t mean ish. Awards too are great – definitely a move in the right direction, but again, doesn’t mean much, unless it’s from a super respected and noted body. Being on lists is also a move in the right direction, again note who is the author of the list.   And they all add up.

You know you’re the best when not only do people seek you our, but actually you’re in the position where you can control doing things for ‘free’ because you make enough money to choose to do what you love, and to give back to those who need you to do it for free, or reduced cost.

However, what is paramount to all of this, is clients who can afford to pay you, must pay you, regardless of what your thinking around doing work for free is.   There is a difference between being exploited and someone genuinely not able to afford you and needing your help. And don’t sour a relationship just for a few Kwachas, there’s always give and take, who knows where you’ll be tomorrow, who will be willing to help you, and who will be waiting to push you down. Though people who know your worth, will also understand your position – ultimately free doesn’t pay bills.

Advertisements

I feel I’m constantly behind in updating my blog. Every time there is an issue I feel passionate about, I get bogged down in work – that thing that helps pay my bills.

Bright_red_tomato_and_cross_section02

So I might be late on the tomato issue – even though I did share thoughts on social media – I still want to talk about it in more detail, because it is something I felt very strongly about when the issue first came up.

Unless you’re not Zambia, or you have been living under a rock, you would have heard about Stella Sata’s tomato comment. In case of the above exception, let me recount it for you. University of Zambia graduates were protesting against the government’s failure to create jobs for educated Zambias – basically the premise of the students got educated, graduated and now can’t find employment and this is the government’s fault.

UNZA-Students job protest

Stella Sata, daughter of the late President Michael Sata took to her social media profile to condemn the protests and suggested that the students could create their own employment by selling tomatoes (I’m sure I’m paraphrasing).

This of course enraged students (not only the protesting ones), saying that Stella was entitled and what did she know of unemployment as the privilege of her name could open many doors and get her a job if she wanted. And other assertions to do with her perceived wealth etc. Soon after Stella bowed to the pressure and apologized.

Personally I didn’t see why she apologized. If anyone is entitled in this scenario, it’s the UNZA graduates. I won’t generalize all UNZA graduates but a lot of them believe they should be given a job simply on the merit of being the cream of the crop because they were fortunate enough to surpass all their classmates to gain enough points to get into UNZA. But that’s about it.

Some UNZA graduates who I have interviewed or who have even worked with us don’t do much to justify them having a long-term position with us. They might know the theory but they can’t do the work and find that the work is not as easy as they thought. Or because they are UNZA graduates they don’t believe they should intern or work their way up but instead should be given a managerial position simply because they have a degree from UNZA but nothing else.  Besides, it’s a very narrow minded person (and I would hope not the educated ones) that believe that going to university is about getting a job.  The very essence of education is to help you in life, develop you as a person, so why should you be bitter if you got educated but didn’t get a job, acting like your time at university was a waste?

Anyway, I’m digressing and don’t want to focus on the entitled attitude but rather on the tomatoes. I didn’t see why people were offended at being told to sell tomatoes but realized that it’s because of our myopic view of the world, and the fact that we still look to the government to solve our problems.

For me what Stella was talking about was about being an entrepreneur and creating jobs and wealth for yourself. Selling tomatoes didn’t necessarily mean at Soweto market (though why not? Elias Chimipo Jnr in his book talks about selling tomatoes at Soweto and later on eggs and cakes – he is now a presidential candidate after starting and running a very successful legal practice), but in fact, if you thought about it, why not sell tomatoes?

Everybody buys tomatoes so it’s a guaranteed market – albeit a crowded market. But I know people who grow acres and acres of tomatoes and make a killing. And then diversify – from ordinary tomatoes, to tomato juice, tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes – all sorts!

tomato field

The fact of the matter is while governments role to create jobs should be to create an enabling environment for private sector to create jobs, government itself can not create jobs – we already have a bloated public sector that the small tax base can not afford.

But more than this, it is time for us to look past government being the solution to our problems, but us solving our own problems. We have to move past the stage of relying on government because they have proved, time and time again, that they aren’t the public servants that we hoped for, but really are here to serve themselves. So as citizens we need to empower ourselves and then demand better from our government.

This is one of the reasons I’m supporting the Nyamuka business plan competition because it’s using the concept of entrepreneurship to take people out of poverty. For many years we have had donor agencies pour money into government programmes or NGO programmes to alleviate poverty and that hasn’t done much. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some achievements but not enough for the amount of money put in (yes I am in the anti-aid as it’s been done in the past camp).

logo-bpc

But if you can empower people with their own businesses, give them skills to ensure their businesses are sustainable and can grow, then you are taking that person, their family and their employees out of poverty. It’s a no-brainer.

I argue with some of my family members on what type of entrepreneur we should be supporting – the ones who just want to own one corner shop that supports them and their family or the one that wants to grow from one corner shop to a chain of stores and manufacturing/agriculture business that employs 100s to 1000s of people and supplies their shops and others. Obviously I’m a go big or go home kind of girl, but I do see their point of also empowering the one person who can look after themselves and their family and not need to hire loads of people and there’s no shame in that.

But I do think that if us Zambians can go to the model of the employer of 100s then we can take ourselves out of poverty. So we need more of these business plan competitions because getting money from banks is almost impossible. We then need to be our own angel investors too – disrupt the banking system and their crazy interest rates.

In order for these competitions to work though, the donor agency can’t operate like a donor and give the money to who they think are the most needy, or who looks good for PR photos. But to bankable businesses that we can go back to in 5 years time and see them ready for growth. Only then will the business plan competition be taken seriously.

It’s like a certain fellowship programme (yeah I was going to let it go but I can’t), or even award show, they don’t choose people based on merit but on popularity, losing all credibility for it. I remember someone saying, ‘if I was offered that, I would refuse it because it celebrates mediocrity, or given for effort as opposed to achievement”. We need to move past that and not settle for ‘ok’ but let’s strive for excellence and celebrate success. But not success at the cost of mediocrity. OK I went off on a tangent there, again.

For now, I say, all hail the tomato!

For now, I say, all hail the tomato!

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.

 

Paul Da Prince, Slim, Kangwa Chileshe, Cactus Agony

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!

I absolutely love the theme song for Shuga: Love, Sex, Money by some of Africa’s biggest talent – Banky W, Wiz Kid, L-Tido and Bon-eye – a great collaboration from West, South, and East Africa (sweet! – and i never say that!). And directed by supremo music video director of the moment, Clarence Peters.

I was on the set for the last few scenes so I’m so excited to see the end product that finally premiered on MTV – super excited! Watch it and let me know what you think!

Shuga: Love, Sex, Money Official Music Video from mtv staying alive on Vimeo.

The last couple of weeks have been in crazy. First I took more or less a 24 hour journey to Seattle to attend a one and a half day meeting and now I’m wide awake at 5am in a Nairobi hotel (though I’ve been awake since 2am willing myself to go to asleep, alas at 4.30am I gave up on that).

In between I’ve been working like crazy at my own company, about to launch a new TV show that I’m really excited about, while also managing new aspects of the Shuga project in Kenya. Crazy, stressed and hectic is how my life has been recently. Needless to say I’m exhausted. But my brain won’t quit, probably the reason I’m wide awake now, as I think about the multitude of things that need to be done – rolling out the media buy for the Brothers for Life campaign in Zambia, developing the new timeline for Shuga’s new components, writing reports to clients, casting for our show, oh and did I mention we’re about to sign on two new clients in Zambia – one to be the biggest that we’ve ever had. Not to mention when I find time in my spare time, I co-manage (marketing only) one of Zambia’s hottest artists. It’s exciting stuff but not for the lazy that’s for sure.

Last weekend we were doing our first open auditions for presenters we were looking for, for a new young and hip show we’re doing. I was less than happy with the results. It made me question what is going on with ‘our youth’ of today. I remember when I was 17 I had already launched an organisation with my sister and we were planning our first edition of Trendsetters. I researched everything I needed to do before going down that path – knowing that print journalism wasn’t something I knew about, but I read magazines to find a style that worked for me and for what we were looking for for the magazine. This seemed to be a foreign concept to the people that came to the auditions.

But I don’t entirely blame them, as my friend wrote in his blog, mediocrity has long been accepted as a way of life in Zambia. While I agreed with his post, I also thought it was a cop out. As an individual you can choice not to fall into that category and certainly not to accept it – which is what I strive to do in my life. These kids that came to audition should not have looked at our national broadcasting channel and thought that was all there was to presenting. Knowing that this is a show for young people, and that we were looking for young, dynamic, full of energy type of people, they should have looked for references to imitate. At one point in the interviews, the judges, including myself, got fed up and literally told people to leave if they were going to come in with low energy and no confidence. Yeah I know that’s mean considering I can be low energy, but hey, I wasn’t auditioning!

The truth that a lot of them spoke about was the lack of opportunities for them, opportunities to nurture their talent, and while presenting might not have been their strong point, some of them could kill it with their singing! But we weren’t doing Zambia’s Got Talent. Though some did have access to DSTV to see international shows like Oprah and Tyra (not really the style we were looking for), the majority of them watch local shows, which frankly, are still in the 80s. This was their only reference point. This was a clear indication that the media in Zambia needs to switch it up, provide new ideas and inspiration to young people. Not to toot our own horns, but nothing is around to do this the way Trendsetters did.

In Kenya, I met a group of young people taking part in our Shuga Rising Stars mentorship programme. They basically get the opportunity to work with the some of the core people across the Shuga initiative from the award-winning director, to the marketing people, through to the public health partners. As I’m a strong believer in mentorships, myself being mentored by Aaqil Ahmed and having my own mentee, I thought this was an amazing opportunity for anyone on this project to be a part of. In a hard to break into industry like the media/creative field, this was an opportunity these young people couldn’t pay to be a part of it.

But after sitting with them, and I did think they were lovely, I just didn’t get the sense they understood the magnitude of what they were a part of. Sure, they recognized they got some great contacts and learnt some new skills, but I wasn’t sure if they could see how it could fit into the big picture of where they were trying to go. OK, me and my I’ll give you my advice even if you didn’t ask for it self did share my thoughts on how they could really own this opportunity and make it work for them. Though, after our one hour talk and I asked them if they had any questions – again, not to be more than who I am, but I’ve also been in the game awhile, not everyone has access to my knowledge (did that really come out as conceited as I think? Insert smiley face) – I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have any questions. I’m not one to give up on young people who are determined to make it in their careers, so shared my contacts for them to reach out to me whenever they wanted to. I don’t see why everyone has to go through the hard work unnecessarily, if someone can help you out, that’s why I believe in giving back, each generation has to do better than the one before right? I do believe that, but I’m not getting much hope of that with the young people I’ve met in my six odd months in Africa so far.

I won’t give up on them, without seeing what role I can play – like everyone else – to continue to develop Africa and nurture great talent coming out of the continent. I hope the work I do in Kenya and Zambia will impact them and see new directors, writers, marketers and more coming out of the continent, along with our more traditional career options of educators, doctors, lawyers etc.

I’ve been up for more hours than I’d like to think of and my alarm just went off, so I may as well get up, hit the gym and watch the sun rise over the city of Nairobi.

Until next time.

The last week has been really exciting for me because we’ve been working on a new exciting project. It brought up old memories of working on Trendsetters, and those good, old days! But it also brought up discussions about the state of young people in Zambia today. Something I see in my own nieces and nephews that worries me.

I remember when I was a young person (well, obviously I mean when I was younger) living in Lusaka, I saw things around me that moved me. Things that I thought weren’t fair or right and that I could do something about it. I remember when we marched for peace – there was a handful of us, maybe 20 odd people, if that, but we marched anyway, can’t remember the circumstances but I remember marching to what is now Memorial Park, with our little banner and our blue ribbons for peace!

Soon after, at the young age of 17, my sisters and I (through our then non-governmental organisation Youth Media), with some other people (slightly older) started Zambia’s first magazine for young people – Trendsetters. We dubbed Trendsetters as the definitive guide for being young in Zambia. The premise of the magazine was to address the issues that was critical for the development of us young people, to be healthy, responsible and contribute to the development of our nation. The core theme was on HIV and AIDS, as the country, indeed the whole continent, at the time was ‘burning’ as it were, with the spread of HIV, the silence around it and the high levels of infections, and little or no treatment available for those infected.

Six month after it was launched it won an award from the Population Council, for Best Team Reporting Effort – an award previously won by CNN. Chuffed we were indeed. Trendsetters went on to have spin off products such as Trendsetters School, for a younger in-school audience, and Trendsetters Radio. Youth Media also launched another initiative called Children’s Press Bureau – an initiative that trained children to be journalists and got them working alongside trained journalists in the national media, it was an adaptation of an initiative already being done by Save the Children. After 10 years in existence Youth Media shut down – there are rumours abound about what happened, and soon we shall reveal the truth but until then…

Five siblings in total worked at Youth Media at one time or another. I guess our love of media, behaviour change, social change (if you will), was firmly cemented and that’s how four of us went on to set up Media 365.

And now I look around at the young people I know, including my nieces and nephews, and not only do they not really care about what is going on around them, but they all aspire to be models, actors, rappers, or something else that they think will get them rich quick. When will someone tell kids that those successful people in the entertainment industry really are the minority?

At the same time, I wouldn’t mind them wanting to be all this and more, if I thought they were truly passionate about it. But they never read – it’s escaped my nephew that one thing that stands out about the great rappers is their skills with words – they don’t watch classics, my other niece thinks watching Nollywood will hone her craft. Sigh. The other day my other niece decided she wanted to be a gospel rapper, ‘oh like Kirk Franklin?’ I questioned her. Her response, ‘Who?’. Oh my.

We live on a farm, off a long dusty road, and the current temperature in Lusaka is about 37 degrees, while the kids were on holiday, I tried to spark an entrepenuerial spirit in them – well they weren’t reading so I figured they could do a side hustle. I suggested they make flavoured ice lollies to sell to people on the road. Nope, they weren’t having it, the profit margins were too small they said.

Two of my nephews are amazingly talented when it comes to drawing, so I suggested they create the label for my parent’s (their grandparents) diary business. Nope, they can’t be arsed to do that either.

After dinner, dad has recently being sharing early independence day stories – this is really stuff that insiders know, dad served in some pretty high positions during those days – you can’t get the kids to get away from the table any faster. They’d rather watch the latest videos on MTV.

I use my family as an example, but I tend to find a lot of young people here to be like that. It’s amazing that it was young people that forced a change of government in Zambia – hmmm wonder if the song Donchi Kubeba really was the driving force. Kids just wanted to party!

Ok, it was probably more my generation of young people than the 18-25 (I think I have the generation definition right) who led that ‘revolution’ but those 23 and under, sheesh! I don’t know. So I really hope this new project we’re working on will help to inspire these kids and show them that they can be anything they want to be but it requires hardwork and education – not necessarily the formal kind. I’m really excited about it and give the Creative Director – my brother – a tight timeline to deliver on! Well time waits for no man!

In the meantime, do Like the Trendsetters page on facebook. Thank you! Oh yeah and my title of this post is slightly misleading isn’t it?

I don’t think that anyone can ever doubt that I was ever a PF supporter, Michael Sata as a president didn’t really speak to me, and less so when I found out that he wanted to build underground trains (in a country with a questionable road network). It’s not personal, in fact Joel Sata, his son, is someone I’ve known for a long time and who I thought of as a friend.

The last two days have been really tense, marked with some violence, as the election results had been trickling through. Sata was in the lead from the start, but people remembered all too well this same lead from 2008, when things drastically changed to give MMD a win. But not this time. Sata remained in the lead until the early hours of yesterday morning when he was declared the winner by more than 200,000 lead over incumbent MMD president Rupiah Banda.

Today, well actually since about 1am, there has been celebrations on the street, with people hooting and honking their car horns, waving flags, dancing in the streets and joyous shouts. It really looked like a country that had just been liberated.

I’m still not sure about PF as a party or President Sata to really take this country forward and develop the nation in a way that benefits all the people, but I’m willing to give him a chance – though the next 90 days will be crucial for him as he did campaign that change would happen in 90 days.

Change. That was what this election boiled down to. People wanted change. However, despite there being 10 presidential candidates, the fight for the presidential crown was fought between two candidates – PF’s Michael Sata and MMD’s Rupiah Banda. But what exactly was the change that people wanted? I asked a few PF supporters and all they could say to answer my question was change.

Turns out that they (and I’m being specific about the ones I spoke to, not all PF supporters) were more concerned with getting MMD out at all costs, and that was change. Not necessarily better education, better healthcare, increase employment opportunities, decreased tax and other issues that elections should be concerned with. In fact when further pressed it turned out that they hadn’t even read PF’s manifesto, so not even sure they know what they’re getting themselves into.

To be fair, I haven’t read PF’s manifesto, so it could be really great. I did hear – and I must verify it – that they want to build underground trains, I know I keep going on about this, but it really does bother me that that should be in a party’s manifesto with only one five-year term to prove themselves!

But three things in this election have really stood out for me that I’m really proud of:

1) The amazing amount of people that turned out to vote. We had 80% of all eligible voters registered to vote, making it around 5 million people that were registered to vote (there are about a total of 6.5million eligible voters in Zambia). Unfortunately, it ended up being only about 35 or 40% of those that actually voted. But still a huge number compared to previous years – let’s not forget RB came in to power with over 800,000 votes. Sata received over 1.5million votes! And that only represents 43% of the votes cast, counted and verified. (later found out that actually more people came out to vote in 2006 then in this year, despite increased registration of eligible voters)

2) The new comer, Elias Chipimo and his NAREP party, first time in the race came in 5th among all the 10 contenders. Huge feat for someone so young and relatively unknown.

3) RB conceded defeat and even showed up for President Sata’s inauguration. This is a marked change from many other leaders in Africa, look at our neighbours in Zimbabwe, and more recently what happened in Cote D’voire. It really showed RB’s leadership qualities – despite the many faults he’s had in office, as well as how democracy can work in Africa (ok I have my reservations on that one, maybe I should qualify a type of democracy!)

So I might not be on the streets dancing with jubilation, and I still stand by the fact that President Sata is yet again in power with the minority vote (not sure why people can’t see that actually more people voted against him than for him, so we should not be saying the masses have spoken – maybe the organised masses!), but he is in power and we want our country to develop so it’s for all of us to step up and hold him accountable. And he too shall be judged in five years, so he needs to make these next five years count!

But since peace in the country is back (not that it was really gone, but it was on the edge), that’s really the most important thing.

Finally! Well more like finally it’s been announced, it feels like i’ve been working on this project for 2 years – oh wait, i have been! But finally, today Shuga II: Love, Sex, Money was announced at a press conference in Nairobi – gutted I wasn’t there, but I imagine it’s been well received as everyone has been waiting for the second series of the award winning drama series.

I obviously can’t say what’s in this season’s storyline – though the scripts are still being developed, but I can say it will be more explosive than Shuga 1! And it will also be six episodes this year – I can hardly contain my excitement.

Working on Shuga is great because it’s such a needed product. Sure there have been other tv series on HIV, but very few (bar Club Risky Business) have done what Shuga does, which is paint the realistic picture of HIV as it relates to young people, and some of the freaky ish young people are getting up to today. It would be nice to think that young people aren’t having sex – and according to UNAIDS, there really are a quite who aren’t, as they are choosing to wait longer for their sexual debut (yay!!) but there are also a lot who are having sex. And if Kenya’s stats are anything like Zambia’s where only 7% of young people reported using a condom the last time they had sex (shock,horror), then there is clearly still a need for programmes that educate people on HIV.

But I don’t think education is enough, and a colleague (who also happens to be – i would say Pedagogist, but there is no such word – so studies pedagogy?) Dr Jim Lees and I agree on the need to look at the human and/or emotional factors that make people take risks, even in their own lives (this is also the study of my sister’s Phd). And that’s one of the things that i like about Shuga, it gets into the emotions and psyche of the characters and maybe even help us understand why we do certain things. Ok maybe not completely in six episodes but it’s a start.

Keep up to date with all things Shuga on the site and of course you can search for MTV Shuga on Facebook. I’ll keep you updated, when I can. Bring on the premiere on February 14th 2012!

I was so excited to be asked to come and volunteer my time at a TeenSpirit event tonight. TeenSpirit is the youth service of Boyd and Soul, which is a charity that works with people and families living with or affected by HIV. TeenSpirit is specifically for 13-19 year olds and tonight is a career skills evening, which allows these teenages to get career advice, explore career interests and engage with professional in a networking format. The idea is to inspire these kids to explore different professions and motivate them to reach their full potential.

I was absolutely thrilled to participate in this for many reasons: 1) it’s for young people affected by HIV, 2) it’s about mentoring/motivating young people in their careers, 3) it’s an opportunity to give young people of colour professional and positive role models. Three things I care about.

Last night I started thinking about what I should wear. I thought about wearing a nice power-suit type outfit, but then I’d feel too corporate and stuffy and maybe not in line with the MTV image, same thing if it was my high waisted pants, or shift dress, or pencil skirt. Then I thought about my leggings and over-the knee boots with a cute top, but then that might be too hoochie-fied and everyone who knows me knows I’m very big on how your appearance conveys a message, and dressing for the job you want etc.

It reminded me of a time, when I was younger and bought way too much into the MTV image and met one of T-Pain’s management team poolside in a swanky Miami hotel, in a bikini and sarong. At the time, I thouhgt it made sense, it was a saturday, it was freakin hot and it was an informal meet and greet. Now that I’m older and wiser, I shudder to think what impression I made on him. He is on my facebook friend’s list but we don’t really talk…

So I decided to do somewhere in between, fitted jeans, nice top and heels. It’s important to put across a good image of yourself and be respectful of the people you’re meeting with. They might be kids but doesn’t mean I need to disrespect them by not bothering with my appearance. I mean if they speak to me, that’s one of the things I’ll stress.

I’m definitely looking forward to tonight. Maybe it will be something I can take back to Zambia to implement as well. Kids need role models, period.

I’m taking a moment out to plug a Zambian collective whose music is really coming up. I’ve know of these guys for a while now and have been impressed with their growth. I am one of those people who has an opinion on everything so was amused when the director of the video asked me my opinion of the video. He’s another one to watch.

I’m just happy that Zambian music is finally getting the recognition it deserves, but do think we still need to find our ‘own’ place on the map, so you know it’s a Zed track instantly. In the meantime, I’m happy for Zone Fam and will continue sitting on the sidelines watching them blow up.