By John Chinode II
The community of Zambians in the UK last weekend celebrated their 55th independence anniversary in various locations across the country.
Since 2003, Zambia based musicians and other public figures have flown to the UK for live performances that have exposed them to an international audience. This year among the event organisers was Maria Sakala, owner of Maria’s Boutique promoting an event in London at the Golden Palace Banqueting Venue which hosted musicians Rich Bizzy, Jae Cash and Drimz.
Maria said, “With the last event, we had started planning early so the marketing helped to reach a lot of Zambians within the UK and the rest of Europe”. She further added that this year’s event ‘’had a lot of sponsors getting involved, and finding the right venue was a challenge but thankfully we were able to find a suitable venue”.
But whilst all the musicians gave a great performance on the night, it was artist Rich Bizzy who stole the show with the new Kopala dance moves that left husbands and boyfriends struck with amazement as their wives and girlfriends rushed to the stage to get a closer look at his astonishing dance skills that can only be compared to one of those brand new propeller shafts that keep our copper mines moving.
The event was well attended with Zambians travelling from as far away as Germany and towns within the UK itself. And not surprisingly for the first time, the event appeared to have more British born Zambians in attendance than before.
Notable absence where veteran Mc’s Chela Katwishi and Chinode Chisengalumbwe who on this occasion were nowhere to be seen although the event was well hosted by siblings Mc’s Tio and Charmaine of Zednet who delivered to the expectations of the crowd. DJ Enomatix and DJ Kauzy were behind the decks and kept the audience dancing all night.
When Zambians emigrate abroad, it has been said that some lose their patriotism due to western influence. Cynthia Nyale Mulayatanda aka Miss Zambitious a qualified Pharmacy technician and Specialist Chemotherapy Nurse in Cancer Services & Sickle Cell and proudly patriotic said, “Today I have enjoyed watching each artist because they are extremely talented in a unique style and all have an individual flair but are all Zambitious in their own style”.
It was also noted that organisation is key when it comes to organising an event of such importance. Hamusonde Maambo a Mental Health Nurse who never misses an independence event said, “These celebrations are all the same but this year’s event in terms of the organisation is great, the tables have been arranged professionally.” He was however critical on one element. He added “The stage was too small. Perhaps next time the organisers should get a higher stage as not everyone like me could get close enough to the stage”.
Unity is what makes a good community. And Zambian community in York not wanting to be outdone by London organised an independence celebration held at Melodie Park which attracted people from most towns in the North West of England, including Guest of Honour, the Lady Mayoress of York.
UK based Zambian DJ sensation, Blair Kami who was hired for the event drove the three-hour journey from London with his wife and kids, said, “It’s been a well-organised event and what makes it special is the Zulu dancers. They brought something different as you can see the event is packed to capacity, the dance floor is full, the bar area is full. I have really enjoyed myself Pobo”.
Faith Menso a nurse living in Sheffield danced to every song played. She said, “In terms of venue it’s a bit too small and next time we should have more entertainment activities like we had today from the Zulu dancers. The DJ from London was amazing Ala Na Chi Lila Lelo”.
Brenda Nkhata chairperson said, “The celebrations in York was organised by the Zambian community who funded the event. Suffice to say, it was not without its challenges, particularly financially. as the Zulu dancers in attendance came with a fee of approximately £1000. The coordination of members was also a challenge as others appeared to be more proactive than others. That said, the night was a huge success and likely to be repeated next year.
When Zambians come to the UK the one thing, they appear to miss is a traditional cooked Zambian meal.
Aunty Loveness, who is well known to cook the best traditional Zambian food for Zambian events in the UK, organised an event at Newham Leisure centre where her excellent culinary skills were on display.
Veteran DJ Shimpundu Bulasho was hired for this event said, “We had a few who turned up. I suppose the key issue is lack of coordination and the demographic has changed. On the other hand, the economy is biting people who are not spending as they used to a while ago, we need to revisit the rationale for celebrating our independence the dichotomy of commercial/ community has to be coherent in the approach.”
It was Parte after Parte after Parte for Zambians in the UK. What is next for Zambians? Christmas and New Year celebrations!