Zambia: Africa’s yardstick for peace.


I looked up the meaning of peace, there are many definitions, but i liked this one: “harmonious relations; freedom from disputes” –

So, just a background on what led to this search: I had a conversation with a super cool lady, who is my WomanCrushWednesday on a Tuesday, a few weeks ago: she talked about the state of Zambia, and how, at it’s core, it is not peaceful, it is in fact quite violent. She drew her statement from how people, that she has personally encountered, are afraid to say, or comment honestly and openly on political affairs if they are at all contrary to the ruling party’s. I am not talking about being blatantly disrespectful, but merely expressing frustrations, having conversations in general about public affairs or even questioning the state of affairs of Zambia. She said, and i paraphrase: by default of people having such fears, fears of what may or could happen should they be open about they’re frustrations, suggests that our nation, Zambia, is inherently violent.

On the contrary, in recent rankings, based off of the Global Peace Index’s definition of peace being, “not involved in violent conflicts with neighbouring states or suffering internal war” Zambia has been declared the most peaceful African country, with Botswana in 3rd place and Burundi in 5th, while Somalia, has been deemed the least peaceful –…/

My question then is, how distorted is our sense and idea of peace if a nation’s people of the most ‘peaceful’ nation in Africa, are fearful of expressing their honest thoughts and feelings concerning political affairs? Is this really peace? Silence is equated to peace… In this time of elections, one is throwing themselves in BIG doodoo by being open about such things, but I write on, to date there have been uncountable attacks and riots from cadres of two of the main opposing political parties in Zambia – The Patriotic Front (PF) which is the current ruling party and the United Party for National Development (UPND); tribalism being a root of some of these attacks i.e. Bemba’s vs Tonga’s…I had a little boy say to me once, “I hate Tonga’s”, where did he learn to hate an entire tribe, one of which, he just so happens to have relational ties to…? It is important to state that sweet as this little boy is, aside from this comment, which clearly was a regurgitation of what he has been taught or has heard, we must bare in mind that little boys grow up…

My thoughts, Zambia is far from peaceful, it’s lack of peace has just not been televised to the masses yet, giving an illusion of peace. We are silenced due to fear, not because there is peace. I am in no way advocating for one political party over the other, I merely use these as a strong foundation to which I draw my conclusions. If this is our measuring stick for what peace is, if Zambia is the measuring stick of peace, then perhaps we ought to start redefining what peace is…

…to all those living in constant fear, who’s lives are violently disrupted, from Somalia to Zambia, I’m sorry…may we find peace one day and may THAT be televised and documented by US!


My #knowyourAfricason series: Making Africa go around the world…everyday.

So a few days ago I commented on a comment in relation to the flooding situation in Ghana…one of the things I said is “we should all make a more concerted effort to know what is going on in our continent and to document it.” Soon after that, I made some space on my phone by deleting unnecessary things, downloaded Al Jazeera English news and decided to “make a concerted effort to know what is going on in MY continent and to document it.”

So here’s my challenge to you:


Read at least one story on Africa per day, and share it, it can be past or present; traditional or contemporary, art; economy; fashion; public affairs; opinion pieces; news reports; speeches; etc…Heck, if you feel inspired, write up your very own piece on Africa, make a video, write a song…just share your Africa.

NOTE: You need not share it on any particular page, like any page or anything like that, share it on your very own page. I only ask TWO things of you:

1. Keep the hashtag!!!
2. Copy and paste the ‘Challenge rules’ so that people catch on, and hopefully follow suit…

Share it with the hashtag ‪#‎knowyourAfricason‬

So to my very first #knowyourAfricason le go!!! & share share share 😉

Join me and let’s make Africa go around the world…everyday 😉

(Photo credit: Washburn University School of Law)

#Africanlivesmatter, yes, but…don’t become a fool about it now.

The following post is inspired by a series of conversations I had in response to a Facebook post by a Mr Shawn Phillips, who referred to the Orlando club shooting as “crap”, urging people to instead focus their attention on the lives lost in Ghana due to the floods.

I don’t usually post such sensitive images up, but I think this should be said and I would greatly appreciate your sentiments on the matter.


I think the floods are very sad, I heard about it from someone about a day or two ago. The loss of life can never be good, and that’s why I am against the tagline “crap” in reference to lives being lost: what happened in Orlando is very sad, what’s happening in Ghana is extremely sad.

But I think rather then being hypersensitive about the #Africanlivesmatter of which, don’t get me wrong, they ABSOLUTELY do, being African I stand  by this: we must make a more concerted effort to know what is going on in our continent and to document it better. But the result of our hypersensitivity is now leading to inhumane behaviour. At least that of the original poster of this article – Shawn Phillips.

Let’s also distinguish what “crap” we are referring to; what’s happening in Ghana is a result of natural causes, what happened in Orlando was a group of people, consciously walking into a place and murdering innocent people, it is a commentary of how rotten the human race has become and by referring to that as “crap” makes us just as good as those sick people, the only difference is we don’t have a gun. They’re both disasters, different causes, but both extremely sad, and should be recognized as such.

I’m very aware of the lack of coverage that surrounds a crime when the perpetrator is white and how corporate media makes every effort to dehumanize non-white races.

However, are we not perpetuating what the media indirectly does by supporting comments such as that of Shawn Phillips’ referral to the Orlando shootings as “crap”?

The premise of my argument is not about the sharing, or lack of sharing, of information. Instead, it is a response to this overwhelming intent of people, such as Shawn Phillips, who operate on a “our mess is messier than yours” tip and don’t consider the facts around how the mess was caused in the first place.

We SHOULD tell our own stories and not call foul when outside/western media houses don’t; their too busy telling their stories and carrying out whatever agendas they may have. So when we complain about our stories not be told, or what the media is doing, or not doing, who are we expecting to change it? Consider Janna Jihad, a 10 year old Palestinian journalist, actively taking charge and telling her story and the stories of HER people –

All in all, YES, African lives do matter, life matters! But don’t become a hooligan about it in the process.

See images below:

“While y’all worried about a bunch of crap in Orlando with all kinda untold facts swirling around our family in Ghana is struggling with a serious flood that is wiping out families. Not 1 major news network or red Cross boots on the ground assisting” – Shawn PhillipsFB_IMG_1466161178564

A note from the founder of Afropolitan Theatre Company

I need to make it clear that my approach, the companies approach and the whole Afropolitan approach, is one that celebrates cultural diversity and one that interrogates, what culture is TODAY.

A lot of the times when people hear African or Africa, African people included, they see huts, leather skins, wild animals and our traditional dances of which have become tourist porn basically. We are really known for nothing else. But my company and me, seek to show that culture is not stagnant, which unfortunately is what those people are suggesting by every time associating it with the typical symbols that we associate our culture with because this is a problem… And both myself and company want to avoid this…HECTICALLY! Yes…I just made up a word make a hashtag and let’s run with it.

Afropolitan Theatre Company seeks to show a juxtaposition between traditional African culture and contemporary Africa. It doesn’t want to forget it’s traditional roots but also wants to acknowledge where it is NOW, and not deny it’s Western influence, but begin to define, modify and imbibe it’s own influence, what it is today…I hope I make sense…

It is unfortunate that too many times people who are pro-African, panAfricans, in my view and from conversations had, totally deny any western influence or if acknowledging it, deem it as all doom and gloom…don’t get me wrong I don’t seek to rubbish the years of slavery, raping of our resources and violent ways in which our African-ness, our cultures were stripped and bleached from our very skins, and straightened and pulled form our very hair, measured soley by Western yardsticks. But as a result, we have, and end up popularizing African images of which we don’t even live by. And in this continually merging global community, we can’t: we can’t ignore influences that we have adopted and our influence on others of which they have adopted…We cannot continually associate Western influence with chains and whips…What we can do is work on wholly defining ourselves and not let those influences consume us and as a result, define us…‪#‎NEVERPAYFORAUDITIONS‬ ‪#‎RantsofaTheatreGraduate‬‪#‎AfropolitanTheatreCompany‬ ‪#‎ILovemymom‬ ‪#‎dropsmic‬ ‪#‎likeabows‬‪#‎withthisBLOKENENGLISH‬ ‪#‎ImaCreativeandImakewordsup‬

So, was in this artist group called ‘Inside/Out’ it’s a collection of different kinds of artists i.e. graphic artists, fine artists, performing artists, poets, dancers etc. And we had performances every month or every other month. Each performance was themed and we’d spend weeks prior to the performance meeting weekly to talk about our preparations and just to check in… It’s a great group of people and it was a chance to be very experimental with my performances and allowed me a lot of self discovering probed during the prep-stages, as we are sometimes assigned different tasks to work on, in order to aid us in our prep-work.  So, one of our assignments during the month of February a few years back was to write something concerning the heart, our group leader, Ava Avalos said, be brutally honest or sweetly honest, which ever, but, let’s get personal shall we. It was to be less than 2 pages, it could be in the form of a letter, i.e. “our heart writing a letter to us”… So, here’s what I wrote:


So, here we are, dealing with you on a daily basis was ‘awesome’ enough, now I have to friggin write about you, thanks Ava… Where to begin??? I draw a blank when it comes to you. I think to myself, write about what you think should be written about – love, hate, heartache, betrayal…

So let’s start off with betrayal shall we… Tears, real tears… No, let’s not… But, maybe we should, you and I friend, are the ones that truly know and if we don’t talk, no one else will really know… But, maybe next time, too painful, too… incriminating… Genuinely cannot find properly constructed words or sentences… So, let’s JUST not…

So, maybe let’s get back to love – I long for you to find a home dear Heart, my friend, because you have been so strong, for the both of us, there are times when you could have packed right up and kicked the bucket, like I did on you, but you didn’t, you haven’t… please don’t. For that, I am eternally grateful.

I have hope for you, but I fear sometimes my dear that no one truly sees you as one that deserves love, from a man in particular, yes; I said it, a man…because of this, we have settled for the dregs, believing that we were not worthy to be yearned for, desired and sought after. The thing is my dear, I do not want you to end up alone because of how you tend to be misread, or because you are too strong, intimidating – different… I know my dearest, that when you are truly found, you will give it your all. You are rare, beautiful and precious to myself and yes indeed, someone(s), and soon, you too, will know this, my friend. Therefore my dearest, do not settle, do not dim your shine, do not fear yourself, your strength, your beauty, shine my sweet-Heart. DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORT. Tears, real tears…

At the core my love, you beam with enthusiasm, like a child, fear like a new mother. You feel, you really feel, you are not numb like they think you are, you are NOT indifferent, you are caring, soft, sweet, squidgy and kind. You fear the death of your loved ones, but hope that they go before you, so that they do not have to feel the pain of losing you… you and I darling have felt that pain and do not wish it on another, so please my dear, start doing your press-ups again, because this might just need your utmost fitness…

…be strong, you know you are my love… I am weaker than you, I cannot do this alone. I try to be strong and tough, but only you truly know darling, that our strength is in allowing the world to see you. So I will try to show you off more my sweetness, but not too much. I am still very afraid of you, and of what people will do if they see you – my sleeves are too clean to have them stained with your blood, again. So for now, I won’t put you there… at least, not RIGHT now… the last time I put you there darling, it got a little messy for the both of us, and the stains remain…The funny thing is dear, you still have hope, how irritating you get, how naive you are, how friggin forgiving – nothing like me… nothing like me at all…and how they love you dear…

Oh my dear, thinking about you gets me so tired sometimes, because I guess, I don’t do it enough… and so, the safest, most energy-preserving thing to do, is to simply flat-line and draw a blank again, because there’s no tears in that… But, because I’m not feeling so ready to stop thinking about you, maybe, I’ll keep on thinking about you and even though I won’t keep you on my sleeve just YET, maybe I’ll keep you a little bit closer than usual, because darling, I’m not as afraid as I was before. I’m realising your absolute awesomeness every day, and yes there’s real tears in that, but tears are cleansing right – how else will I clean my eyes out? So, here, here to awesomeness, love, peace and joy sweet-Heart…

Ask me about…


So, the other day, I found myself questioning my abilities, because I felt I didn’t know enough of what I ‘should’ know, being Black, African; Afropolitan; Southern African, or ‘Mama SADC’ as someone said, and then even less as a Theatre Artist an (social) entrepreneur and worse as a human…I felt incompetent. But today I realised, that I don’t really care much for geography, I find no joy in reading and perhaps I should work on this one a little bit more, or maybe it’s a condition that I should read up on, and NO, I’ve never cared to know what the bloody altitude of my country or countries I have lived in are…So don’t ask me that, please, don’t. Don’t ask me about my tribe or the language because I can only really speak English, and I’m not too proud of this, but it’s the truth. I’m (un)fortunately not too conversant with the economic state in Zambia or Botswana and I barely know the different names of half of the political parties…

But if you ask me about Lesego Nswahu Nchunga, I’ll tell you about her crooked smile, her laughter and her Superwoman-mobeal. Ask me about life altering conversations I’ve had with Maleho Boxcutta Makgothiconcerning glitter, Stone Cold Steve Austin and songs that made our life. Ask me about the beauty in Kat Kai Kol-Kes‘s cloudy eyes and long limbs: I’ll fill up pages with multi-coloured ink for them…ask me about the Philippino lady who runs a Chinese restaurant, the fact that I’m not even sure I spelt Philippino correctly and how much that can sometimes be a mindfunk. Ask me about where you can get some of the best tasting lemonade, magwinya, ma fresh and a hunger-buster on the side. I’ll sing you hymns about some of the best evening twalks (Yes, it’s totally a word: talk and walk combined) I had, while blessed with the sight of pink clouds.

Ask me about Tshepo-Jamillah TJ Moyo, Hilary Moyo and Ivan Moyo and the fact that they’re not related. Ask me about the warmth in David Slaters house during the Gathering meetings and how beautiful everyone who spoke there was to me. Ask me about Ndi Aphrykah and her traveling man Kgotla Molefe, I can tell you a thing or 5 about Nicholas Ramogodiand the pool side smokes, drinks and hungover mornings I had with my best-friends: Dylan Viegas; Robin Eddie and Connie Makokha. Ask me about Mutsa Diana Shiripinda and her henna dyed hair and mindblasting poetry. Ask me about beatboxing and husky improvs with Karabo PoemtheAnsa Mos and Maya Roze, who changes her name so many times on Facebook that I can’t tag her because I can’t keep up.

Ask me about Aunty Doll and Uncle Toby who opened their home and hearts to me, prayed with me and loved me like I was their own. Ask me about Shakya Karunaratna and how we lit tables on fire when we had nothing better to do during PE. Ask me about the silent drives to beautiful playlists I’ve had with Jaime Eddie, the healing I’ve danced to with Ava Avalos and the entire Inside/Out: Tshedisa Artists in Residence. Ask me about the seemingly random tattoo I got from Samara Lubbe, the lessons I learnt through the life of Oné Barbie Tsogang and her untimely death (RIP)…

Ask me about how I learned to love a dog called Dexter and how I mourned when he died or how I fell in love in a park by an ant hill tree and how it soon snapped into two like the branches of the wild fig tree. Ask me about the whistle of combi conductors, bus ranks and the political arguments our weed-head neighbours had. Ask me about Babusi’s tuck shop and how I’d give him an entrepreneur of the year award. Ask me about the story behind the spray painted love heart, with our initials in it…ask me about the friends I’ve watched forced to say ” from dust to dust, ashes to ashes” for their loved ones taken too soon from them…

…ask me about human-beings…ask me about how they breathe, and how they learnt to keep breathing even when it seemed like the very life was gut punched out of them. Ask me about the colour of their eyes, the texture of their hair and the very scars that lace their skin…Ask me about life, and we might have something to talk about…other than that, I’m pretty oblivious ‪#‎selfacceptance‬ ‪#‎healing‬ ‪#‎love‬ ‪#‎brownrainbows‬ ‪#‎Afropolitan‬‪#‎rambling‬

To My niece Yanda Lewatle Phiri…and the douchbag who pinched your arm

To my niece Yanda Lewatle Phiri and the douchbag who pinched your arm…

Short stuff with the big booty, all they’re trying to do is get a taste of your brown coated spice, and because they can’t handle a mouthful, fearful that they just might choke, they take a pinch instead…people can be like that sometimes baby, this world hates and praises cute all at the same time…you’ve often complained about your skin: you wish you were lighter: but baby, don’t forget that you make up the rainbow and without you, it’d be a dull sky and may you never forget that your eyes are the moon, dipped in dark brown silk, and they shine, so sometimes people complain when they look into them because they’re too deep for fools who never learnt how to swim, or row boats the size of the Kalahari desert because they’re arms are just too weak, and so, don’t be surprised if when you’re older, these same fools struggle to hold a conversation with you, or a door out of sheer courtesy because all they learned to do is pinch your little arms baby and I’m sorry they stole your smile for a while…little boys are just mean sometimes and don’t you EVER, FOR A SECOND, think it’s got anything to do with you…never forget Short stuff, that you, you are spice, silk and a brown rainbow, your assets show themselves off and you just sit there being so damn cute, so smile baby girl, smile…

Aunty Bongi LOVES YOU

A letter to a professor about my goals

So it has been a while since my last blog…a while. But I really do want to get back into blogging as I feel, even though I am back on Facebook, where the status space is really not big enough… Plus, just as much I have no interest in reading long-winded verbose status updates, I figured it’d be the case for a few other people. And finally, I can share my blogs on Facebook, so, blog it is 🙂

“…I have a dream that the arts and all forms of cultural and creative arts industries will be a recognized component in the education system, in ALL African schools, starting from Nursery right through to Tertiary education, similar to the ways in which the sciences, mathematics and business studies are recognized., herein lies the option of doing a Masters in policy.

To add, I feel because our education system is largely based off of Westernized yardsticks of learning, rather than a more globalized yardstick (i.e. Incorporating both TRUE African culture/history and Western culture), which is what I believe we are, a globalized society, there is a great need to redefine our own education system, redefine our art, and our entire society which is largely influenced by the West; we need to interrogate our own states of being, for ourselves, by ourselves and among ourselves. And by encouraging a more self-aware individual, I hope that it will have a greater impact extrinsically; creating more environmentally aware individuals…this is all a GREAT HOPE of mine, because the high rates of pollution in Lusaka alone…I can’t deal!!!!
To add, having completed my first degree, I graduated with the sense that I have to find a job, and I believe it was largely based on the education system grooming me [us] into a job-seeker, rather than a job-creator. Therefore, partnering with my older sister who has training in Business Administration and International Development, we aim to have a strong entrepreneurial component to the school. And with the ridiculously high rates of [youth] unemployment, this is not only ideal, but a must.
And so, I aim to open an academy of sorts in order to encourage such forms of learning. I would like it to be a hub where, whether part of the school or not, one can come and do research, take short courses, attend workshops, focusing on Leadership, Entrepreneurship, History, Creative Industries and Culture.
Along with these, I would like to run two businesses in parallel to the academy: a multi-purpose studio or Theatre of which people can hire and use for rehearsals, performances, yoga, seminars, etc; and a Cafe that serves and promotes a ‘green’/environmentally aware lifestyle i.e. Health foods and beverages, promoting and serving locally made products. Also to use the Cafe as a platform for emerging and professional artists to showcase, perform their works and network with other artists, entrepreneurs and people within the Cultural and Creative Industries in a relaxed informal environment…”

Conversations With Sibongile Tasila Phiri

Woop Woop to local writers 😉

The Odyssey of Afro Artivism

Sibongile Tasila Phiri  is a versatile and multi-talented  writer  currently making waves in the Botswana writing landscape. She has a kind of stream of consciousness conversation with me on her love of poetry, the influence of Stanislavsky, and her future plans  in Peace Building and Conflict Resolution.

Gaamangwe: Sibongile you are an all-around amazing writer. How did your love for writing start and expand?

Sibongile: I dunno, I always loved English and Creative Writing when I was in Primary School. And then it developed into a love for Poetry in maybe somewhere around the 4th or 5th grade. From there I started writing a lot of poetry, but it was really more for myself and then in 2007 I think I was part of a programme called Power in The Voice (PIV). This is a British Council Initiative that works with youth in different schools mainly in the Southern African Region…

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“In the this life, from birth, we are provided with tools. Therefore, whatever path you do take, you will find the tools that have been laid out for you… Remember, that the tools you may have not used, will still remain, they may just need to be re-oiled 😉 We are NOT alone in the life.” – Sibongile T. Phiri