Sunday, 27 November 2016

Dope G: Zambia’s Rising Superstar

Rapunzel Rapunzel please let down your hair...
Rapunzel Rapunzel you should not let them judge you by your...
By now most of you or at least some of you may have heard the song My Hair, an exciting fusion of Rap and RnB about the confidence a woman should take in the style of her mane. But what you may not have heard of are the little titbits of the man himself behind the jam. So from his new album to what inspires him, Dope G had this to say...

I hear you have a new album coming soon, what inspired your work on the album?
For my album, being my first solo one, I made a conscious decision to unplug from my own little world and tried my best to look around to see what I felt was missing from the music that is already out there. I wanted every song to either feel like a one-on-one conversation with the listener or create a theatre of the mind where I tell a story which involves the listener in a way that it might not be their story that I am telling but they most certainly feel a part of it and it evokes real emotions as they listen.

What genres can we expect to hear in the album?
In as much as the core genre is hip hop in the way that I wrote and arranged the songs, I tried to be diverse where genres are concerned. I always say I am not a slave to genre so I tried to embody every genre that has influenced my 27 and a half year journey in this life. So from the eighties disco that my mother would blast from the x-bass stereo we had even before our first black and white TV to the episodes of 'Zilile Ngoma' that I watched later in life and all the mixes we would get with R n B, dancehall and hip hop on cassette tapes to the music I see my teenage nephew dabbing to now, I just picked all of them and created this colourful picture with them all.

The video for my hair was smoking hot, what does it take to make a video like that?
Thank you, MT productions really outdid themselves on that one. In terms of requirements, creativity is always key. I have learnt from acting that keeping the reaction of the audience in mind as you create is extremely vital hence you throw things that will shock the viewer. Other than that, the basics are necessary:  a good production team, confident extras, good grooming and make up and the outfits have to be on point too.

I am curious as to what the title of the new album will be?
The Album is titled 'Flowers'. It will be made available on So many symbolic meanings behind it but overall I just wanted to appreciate my people and give them Flowers while they live as opposed to putting them on their graves. The title track and video are worth checking out.

Some fun facts About Dope:
Favourite Colour
Favourites vary seasonally to be honest. Current favourite is yellow.

Favourite food
Any white meat dishes really. Grilled fish/ chicken are always a winner.

First thing you do every morning
Learning to pray before grabbing my phone to peep social media to see what is trending. Twitter and Facebook are my main news sources.

Do you have a creative mantra before you write any songs?
"Do not think, think is the enemy of creativity". Just basically emphasising that creativity is not as programmed as physics/ mathematics. You need to feel more than you think.

Favourite local Musician
There's a tie between Chef 187 and Pompi. They always challenge me to always go in avenues where most artists are scared to step foot in.

Favourite international act
Definitely Jay Z. He only had his first album at 26 but has somehow become the face of longevity. I aspire.

Which international or local act would you love to do a duet with?
My mind has been on perfecting my solo sound lately but now that the album is done, I am looking at options. I would love to do a collaboration album with a Copperbelt artist. I think they would bring something to the table, I love the kopala sound.

If you could choose just one famous person, dead or alive, to have dinner with, who would that be and why?
The late Dr. Myles Munroe. He sure had things figured out and I know a one-on-one with him would open my eyes to a lot. The beauty is he wasn't stingy with his knowledge so his words live on through his books and videos.

If you could be a cartoon character, which one would you choose to be?
Lol. Wow. Tough one. I guess the Brain from 'The Pinky and the Brain.’ I am always on a plan to take over the world. Lol.

If you were invisible for a day, what is the one thing you would love to do or one place you would love to go?
Crazy because I saw a movie titled 'Hollow Man' once based on the same concept. Sadly, I would have been on a Robin Hood type of thing, just trying to even out the gap between the rich and the poor. So some politicians would get a visit from me if you catch my drift. Lol.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Elias Chipimo Jr: Zambia’s President in 2021?

Elias Chipimo Jr. is undoubtedly one of Zambia’s brightest people. By the age of thirty, he had attained an advanced law degree from Oxford University on the Rhodes Trust scholarship and founded Corpus Globe, a highly successful legal firm offering corporate and commercial legal services to both local and multinational clients. But in 2010, despite a legal career that was at its peak and still rising, Chipimo left it all behind for a life in the lane of Zambian politics. Unsurprisingly, the question that many people asked was why?

In his book, Unequal to the Task; Awakening a New Generation of Leaders in Africa, Chipimo explained the sad occurrences of 2008 that were the seed of his decision to actively join politics. His parents, Elias Chipimo Sr, a former official in UNIP and MMD governments and Anne Chipimo were travelling to their hometown Mporokoso to cast their votes in the October, 30th presidential by election when they were involved in a car accident. His mother tragically passed away on the spot but his father survived yet terribly injured. In the next hours, what followed were frantic efforts to save his father’s life, efforts that made Chipimo reflect deeply about the differences between the rich and the poor in Zambia. He asked himself how many families had the means to care for a critically injured parent, to provide access to healthcare that would mean the difference between life and death and as he and his family tried to navigate through the Zambian healthcare system to provide his father with the best care possible, Chipimo also realised that Zambia as a nation had grown accustomed to mediocrity and gradually accepted it as normal. It was then that he realised that something needed to change.

But it was two weeks later when he finally decided to actively get involved in the country’s politics. Rupiah Banda had been newly elected as Zambia’s Republican President amid claims of vote rigging. As he announced his new cabinet at State House, each name was met with celebration on the part of appointees. Following the proceedings keenly, Chipimo wondered why anyone would celebrate to receive an appointment in the government and run an already terribly battered economy. It defied logic and he knew then that he could no longer sit by the terraces and watch the governance of the country from afar.
Two years later, in 2010, the National Restoration Party was founded with Chipimo as President. Although many people agreed that Chipimo had promising leadership qualities, they doubted that he had the claws necessary to survive and win in the game of Zambian politics. Given the party’s poor performance in the 2011 presidential elections and low numbers of active members in the following years, Chipimo’s detractors felt they had been proven right. Narep was a party largely confined to infancy.

Fast forward to 2015, Chipimo announced that his party would not be contesting the 2016 Republican presidential elections. This was something that that some members of the electorate read as a form of Chipimo’s retirement from active politics, that somehow he had come to realise  that even though he had noble intentions of joining politics, good leadership qualities and a good following on social media, winning elections and getting to state house was a different and difficult feat.

But was Chipimo retiring so soon from active politics after only five years on the political scene?
Apparently not.

On this decision to not contest the presidential elections and other issues, I spoke to Elias Chipimo Jr.  at the Narep offices in Lusaka. As soon as I entered his office, he walked over to me, energetically with a youthful demeanour. We shook hands and took our sits. I asked my first question.

What made you decide to not contest the 2016 presidential elections?

“We made a strategic decision not to stand in the general election because we want to consolidate the work we have been doing on the ground by converting the work into tangible results by having several councillors and MPs in parliament. I will be standing as a Member of Parliament instead for Mporokoso constituency. We want our constituencies to be model constituencies to illustrate how a constituency should be run.”

What is your take on people’s perception that you practise tea room politics?
“It is normal and I understand for people to conclude that I practice tea room politics because they don’t get to see the work that I do on the ground, hence, that is part of the reason Narep has made a strategic choice not to stand in the presidential election.”
If Narep was in power now what would they do differently?

“It is amazing how much opportunity exists in the current state of the economy to completely restructure what has been a very badly arranged framework for our economy. There is constant talk about diversification, not depending on copper and building home grown capacity but nothing ever gets done. All these things can be easily done. It all starts with a vision of what you want to see and asking yourself, what can you do really well that the world needs. We can be the world’s largest exporter of organic honey. The world has a demand for honey and an even bigger demand for organic honey. So focusing on honey, Narep would in one stroke address the problem of the exchange rate, diversification and empowerment of communities in rural areas as they are the best areas for bee keeping. In the same way we have a Copperbelt, we will have a honeybelt.”

We have seen many people get to power with big ideas like yours but they never implement them, what could be the reason?

“It is because they never had a vision in the first place. Also, the moral foundation is so badly eroded and people are not held accountable. There is no effective challenge to the leadership.”

Corruption prevents many governments from implementing their plans, how will you keep it out of your government?
“We will establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission where immunity can be granted to perpetrators of corruption in exchange for information on how the corruption was committed and all those involved, we can then get the corruption right at the source.”

Finally, do you see the National Restoration Party ever forming the government of the Republic of Zambia?
“Yes,” Chipimo says, gently nodding, “this is what I have been explaining to you. We aim to form the next government in 2021.”

Friday, 9 September 2016

ThE eCoNoMiC lIfEcYcLe Of An OrDiNaRy ZaMbIaN

It all starts from here, you see. 

For twelve years - more if you are that kind who repeated grades - you go to school.  There, you are told that you have to work hard so that you can one day make it to University. Never mind that you might actually just need to know what you learn in school, that maybe it is in these school years that you discover another form of gravity, if there ever was such a thing. They never tell you too that the country’s two prominent universities, Copperbelt and University of Zambia, built initially for two thousand or so students, are too over crowded to likely give you a fair chance. Woe betide you if you have no connections to help you find a place or if you are just plain unlucky.


You do as you as you are told. You work hard and make it to University.  You just need to have this thing called degree; your life depends on it, so you have been told and so you have come to believe. Never mind that people like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg and Apple’s Steve Jobs built empires which have revolutionized our way of life after they had dropped out of University. You see, for all the knowledge you receive the years you’ve spent learning, the Zambian education system teaches you one thing; to one day be employed by someone else.  


At University, they begin to tell you a story that picks up from where the one at secondary school ended. While at school they told you to work hard to make it to University, at University they tell you to work hard so you can find a  job. ‘If you do well here, you will be managers in multinational organizations,’ Lecturers tell you as you sit goggle - eyed behind desks, pen in hand, ready to write down the notes the Lecturer writes on the board, plus every word that he speaks. This, you know by experience is what will help you pass the exams. Never mind reading widely even books that might have a flicker of connection to your course because maybe there could be something in them that could trigger a deeper understanding of your course. Never mind that. Besides, such reading was not something they encouraged you to do while in school. In fact, it was something your teachers considered a waste of time because the only books you needed to read were text books.


The four years or so you spend at University feel like a lifetime but on the day the Chancellor confers you with the degree and you raise your mortarboards up in a victorious celebration, you are convinced that this was not only the right thing to do but the only thing to do. You feel like this is the day your life begins. Soon (you think) you will be employed.


The first days after University go by smoothly. You are newly free from your studies and revelling in your new freedom while submitting applications for employment here and there. You are sure they will call you. After all, you have a degree. Plus isn’t this what you have been told all along? That you should go to school, do well, get into University and then find a job?


Days turn into months and months into years without a response on any of your applications. It slowly begins to dawn on you that you may not get employed. Frustration creeps in and you begin to spend your days unproductively, drinking beer, smoking weed or slouching on the sofa while moaning, ‘I have no money, jobs are hard to find,’ to anyone with enough time to listen. Sympathetic ones comfort you, ‘It’s just a matter of time, you will find a job, it took me ten years to find this job.’ Their words soothe you a little but you still feel the pinch of your empty pockets.


After sometime, you find a job. It’s a cause for celebration and people say, ‘See, we told you it would eventually happen.’ ‘Thank you,’ you say and count your lucky stars. When pay day comes, you feel like the richest person on earth. But by the time its mid month, reality begins to sink in. You discover that even with a salary, your broke days are not entirely behind you and you realise how expensive electricity is and how unaffordable the basic food has become. Even butter begins to feel like a luxury.  


However, for years you work diligently and efficiently and with the same cycle persisting of money running out by mid month after every payday. Each year you hope you will earn enough to live a life that resembles the one you imagined while at University. But with each year things seem to get worse. Your pay can hardly suffice because things keep getting more and more expensive.  The country imports almost every item you use for your daily sustenance and any negative fluctuation in the currency causes a further increase in prices of goods.


 Soon, you come to realise that it’s impossible to survive on your salary alone and you decide to start a business for extra income and turn a corner of your sitting room at home into your office. But the odds are not in your favour. In addition to the economic problems the country is facing, problems that have led you to seek extra income to survive, the country begins to experience eight hours of load shedding, sometimes even more. This, the government says is necessary due to the low water levels. They hint that if the country experiences good rainfall, load shedding will reduce but once the rainy season starts, they say it will take at least three rainy seasons to generate enough hydroelectricity.  You cringe at load shedding although you are yet to understand just how this affects you.


In time, you develop a full appreciation of what load shedding brings to your life. You are unable to conduct the business you thought could earn you extra income because there is a pitch black darkness that greets you every night when you get home. You think about buying a generator, inventor or a solar system but these, because of the exchange rate, have become more expensive for you to afford. This business is now something that you are unable to do. But you can’t afford to wait for the day when the Kariba dam fills up to supply you with adequate electricity. So you think of another business to do and since your first business failed and swallowed all your capital, you get a small loan to start the business. It isn’t long before you come to realise that whatever business you do, loadshedding and the weak kwacha negatively affect production and profitability. You make a loss and the business goes under. The consequences are dire. The financial institution you borrowed money from wants its money back otherwise they will get all the items you put up as collateral. So to repay the loan you get numerous salary advances from work and other small loans from Shylocks. Soon the actual money you take home from your pay reduces to zero because everything else goes to the people you owe.


Now, you have hit rock bottom and you begin to wonder just how you got to this place. Didn’t you do everything right? Go to school as you were told? Kept away from stealing and tried at business? As you reflect on all this you begin to wonder whether there was ever any chance of you making it in life. Somehow, you feel like the odds were stuck against you from the very beginning.  At this point, a feeling of doom looms over you.  Just how did you become a prisoner of the very things you thought would give you economic and financial freedom; school, a job and steady income?


This feeling however wears away once the human quest to survive begins to set in.

 And that willpower is a good thing.

The unfortunate thing is that if you were asked to do all this again, you will choose to do it all the same way. This time, just hoping for different results.




Thursday, 4 August 2016

GUY SCOTT: The Man Who Helped Sail The Boat of The Patriotic Front

Perhaps this was the highlight of his political career or maybe there is still more to see but in October 2014 Guy Scott made history by becoming the first white man post colonialism to lead an African nation. His stint at the helm of the Zambian government was short but eventful.

Guy Scott had ascended to the Zambian presidency after the demise of President Michael Sata who had died in a London hospital after an illness. Scott’s appointment to the presidency won the country praise from the international community but this soon frazzled as the wrangles in the Patriotic Front and the government deepened. The praise was soon replaced by a fear in the international community that Zambia’s democracy was not stable and leaning on the verge of a meltdown. Was this man now in charge of the country trustworthy enough to keep it from gliding into political turmoil characteristic of African nations? This was something the whole world was watching closely.


For decades Guy Scott had been a popular figure on the Zambian political scene. He had served in the MMD government as Minister of Agriculture and saw the country through the worst drought experienced in the Southern African region, ‘the whole of southern Africa was going hungry but not Zambia, we brought in maize from everywhere and had enough to eat and feed our neighbouring countries’ he later says. Years later Scott joined Michael Sata in the Patriotic front which later ousted the MMD from power in 2011. All things being equal, Scott was the rightful person to carry on after Sata’s death as he had served as the Vice President of the country for the years the Patriotic Front had been in power under President Sata. But article 34 of the Zambian constitution would not have it that way, it stated clearly, ‘A Zambian presidential candidate must have both parents who are Zambian by birth or decent.’ The clause, widely believed to have been included in the constitution by the then President Chiluba to prevent Kenneth Kaunda from contesting the 1996 elections was the main argument for those who opposed Scott’s appointment as Acting President, this and the fact that President Sata had left Edgar Lungu in charge of the nation’s affairs on his final trip abroad for medical attention. (It is also interesting to note that if this clause had existed in the American constitution, Barack Obama would never have become the president of the United States of America.)

However, Article 34 was challenged by another in the constitution, Article 39 which states, ‘Whenever the President is absent from Zambia or considers it desirable to do so by reason of illness or any other cause, he may by direction in writing, authorize the Vice President or where the Vice President is absent from Zambia or incapable of discharging the functions of the office of the president, any other person to discharge such functions of the office of the office of the President as he may specify...’

After a brief scuffle on which article of the constitution rightly applied to Scott, Article 39 of the constitution won the tug of war and Guy Scott was appointed Acting President of the Republic of Zambia.  


Ninety days after on January twentieth, the nation went to the polls. Peacefully Zambians cast their votes and after a tightly contested election between the Patriotic Front’s candidate Edgar Lungu and the UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema, Edgar Lungu emerged victorious and was sworn in five days later. After Lungu’s inauguration, Scott but all faded into the background of the nation’s politics. Will we see him again on the political scene? That is something we have to wait and see.

I speak to him now on a Saturday morning. Scott sits relaxed on a sofa, comfortable in a maroon golf shirt and a pair of shorts despite the stinging cold weather. Behind him is a painting of a crowd gathered, lifting their hands in praise and affirmation of whatever is being said and facing a podium where a few men stand. No doubt this is a political rally.

I ask my first question and he takes a sip of his coffee before he responds. He begins with a little history.

When the Patriotic front was still in infancy, people wondered why an educated man like you was joining Michael Sata in the Patriotic Front. What made you decide to join Sata in the PF?

In 1990 Kaunda agreed to install multiparty democracy. I was in oxford teaching and somebody phoned me in the middle of the night and told me there was going to be a multiparty state. My feeling is that Zambia is ruined by bad governance. Multiparty democracy was a chance to get literate governance in Zambia. I thought that with my technical knowledge and entire education levels, I could do something. So I came back. We went to the convention in April 1991. There were a lot of people, academicians and politicians like Mr. Sata who had crossed from UNIP and we formed a committee. I became Chairman of Agriculture and Sata became Chairman of Local Government. It was the first time to meet Michael and we got on very well. We campaigned for Chiluba, for the MMD in 1991. We won. Chiluba made me Minister of Agriculture and Michael Minister of Local Government. Michael remained and I was fired. Then we got to the third term. People started leaving and forming parties. Michael by this time was National Secretary of the party and his job was to organize the convention at which the matter of the third term would be discussed. He didn’t want to leave because he thought that if these other people have left, then its better I stay put here and take the job myself when Chiluba eventually realises that the people of Zambia were not going to accept him for a third term. Michael realized that his best chance was staying in the MMD so he organized the Mulungushi convention. Then Chiluba dribbled Michael and had chosen Mwanawasa. Michael meanwhile had started forming the P.F and he called me up and said, ‘come here,’ and we were in the P.F.

In the early years of the P.F, how did other members respond to you being the Vice President of the party?

No problem. The general population has never even provided any journalist with a vox pop. You can go and stand in the street with your microphone and say, ‘what do you think of having a white Vice President?’ They will say, ‘who cares what colour the Vice President is? We know him, we like him, he has fought for that position.’ They used to come (alot of foreign journalists) and say let us go and do a vox pop and get negative opinions. They were very little negative opinions from the general population. This is different. Politics is different. You will use anything you can find on the ground. So if you are going to discredit the Vice President for any reason, you will say he is the son of colonialists. That is how politics is and even then it didn’t work. People said we love you, carry on with what you are doing.

When the P.F finally won the elections, you never acted as President when President Sata left the country, was there an initial agreement for that?

Yes. It was agreed right at the beginning and Michael took all the advice. As you know, there was a lot of Kafwafwa with people going to court and asking for injunctions when it finally happened. Michael knew some opposition parties had a case prepared against the government the first time I was put in as Acting President. I acted a few times without anybody knowing because he didn’t even bother to do the paper work. This is a very litigious society and UPND I understand had a whole dossier that if I became Acting President they would run to court. That would have been a nuisance because Michael would have been in Japan or New York and would have found himself having to fly back and we didn’t want an unstable situation and Michael maybe didn’t want to give ammunition to the opposition. But of course he couldn’t remove me as Vice President when people advised him. When people tried to tell him that he should remove Guy as Vice President otherwise he will become President, he would say, ‘what’s wrong with that? He has a high hand, he is just like me.’

When you were first informed that you had been appointed as the Acting President, what were your first thoughts?

My first thoughts were that it’s going to be a fight because people fear I am going to try and interfere with their choice. When it comes to doing things properly, you have to consult the constitution. That meeting we had in Kabwe whether you say it was properly conducted or not was demanded by the constitution. There was no option, there was no choice. There was some nastiness, some attempts to threaten but I didn’t pay them any ear.

During the 90 days you acted as President, it was a volatile period in Zambia, how did you manage to keep the country stable and functioning during that time?

The credit is due to the Zambian people but I had to speak to them. I was on television nearly every day saying we have reached this stage and it’s going to be okay. The hot air was coming from the social media. There were a lot of attempts to disrupt the process but I think we did okay. We did the common sense thing. I don’t want a war, who wants a war.

Looking back at one of your first actions as Acting President of relieving the current President of his Duties in government and as Secretary General of the P.F and later reinstating him, how do you think it affected your image as a leader? Do you think it somehow reflected you were indecisive as a leader?

A credible leader is more than one event. It was an attempt to neutral the situation because I knew he (Lungu) wanted to stand and I was of the view that if someone wants to stand, you have to give up your post and that was a difference of opinion. The question was if you are going to stand as we have heard from everybody, then how can you actually be allowed to run the administration of the same election you are participating in? I was persuaded to withdraw that, we hadn’t even buried Michael yet. So that was what I did. There is no point sticking to opposition if you know it is going to lead to unrest. There were people saying the constitution should be different but that’s completely irrelevant. What the constitution says is you go and have a big election conducted properly and choose the party’s candidate. My only defence was this is the constitution of the party and the country.

After your very public reconciliation with the current President, how would you describe your relationship with him now?

The relations I wouldn’t say are very warm but aren’t at a point where there is any conflict. He is the President and he has the choice if he doesn’t want me as anything in his government. That’s fine. If he has to offer me a job, I have to be convinced I can do it freely, responsibly. I have a lot of work to do. All I am doing is working with my constituency at the moment. Like other people that have put everything they have in the P.F, I am interested to see where it goes.

Being the first white President of an African country, did you have support from other African Presidents during your time in office?

Yes. I talked to all sorts of people and told them everything was under control. Mugabe knows me and I was a member of his party in the early 1960’s. A lot of people sent me best wishes. People I had never even talked to sent me telegrams saying keep going. It was historic.

What is your opinion on article 34 of the Zambian constitution which bars anyone from contesting the presidency whose parents are not Zambian by origin?

 I think it is a stupid provision. Zambians decide who they trust and who they don’t trust. I mean of course if you are not even a Zambia citizen it’s a problematic issue. Why should you want to stand if you are not a citizen? If you have taken your choice that I am now a citizen, why should you now create two classes of citizens, ones who can take the job and ones who can’t take the job?

 What would you say was your greatest achievement in government under the P.F as Vice President and Acting President?

 I can say we did what we set out to do in a short period of time. My greatest achievement is to try and get these systems working again. The office of the Vice President is the only office that has the authority, the clout to bring together and say, what is our policy on this? If you take any problem in Zambia like the small problem we had with yellow fever policy, there was a lot of nonsense from the technical point of view and to get that fixed we had to hold a number of meetings. You need to bring people together and manage everything. A lot of the serious hard work was to bring back in the Zambian administration properly convened cross party groups.

I hear you are writing a book, is that true?


Finally, what would you like your legacy to be?

My legacy is that Zambia moved ahead and not in a circle and of course like Barack Obama said, ‘the problem is I can’t help it, I will be remembered by the first thing I did and the first thing I did was that I was the first black to become President of the USA and there is nothing I can do now that can top that,’ and I have the same issue, I was the first white Acting President, how can I top that? Everyone in the world was reading that story.

Photo Credit: Lyandu Photography

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Once Upon a Time..

Once upon a time, there was us...  

Young and free. Carefree and safe from the worlds harm and its all grief. Engrossed with children’s things and children’s play. Happy feet and full bellies.

We could have been anything we dared to imagine, even that beyond the scope of our dreams. But now, after years that were unkind to us both, you are gone.

We chose different paths you and I, although to be fair there were only two paths to choose; one of self inflicted pain and the other of Godly healing and self discovery.

And now I am now left wondering where along the way we left you behind? At which point exactly could we have picked you up, if ever we had such a chance.

I wishes and what could have been have slipped from me, in the very same way water slips through one’s fingers. What is left is the cold harsh reality that six feet below the earth, your body lies stiff and cold together with all your hopes and dreams and everything else you could have been.

But the promise of eternal life ignites comfort in my heart; that though your body lies in darkness, your soul rests in God’s arms, a better place than what you left behind.

And when all is said and done or there is little much left to say, the only thing that makes sense to be said is rest in peace and  until we meet again at those glorious pearly gates.