Aku and Alia Djedidi

Meet Aku (left) and Alia Djedidi (above) from Finland. Those are hardly Finnish names, I can hear you thinking! Quite right too! They are brother and sister and they are Finnish but they have a Moroccan father, hence the names – they were both born in Casablanca. “So you’re African!” Exclaimed Milli Jam at the start of the latest edition of the Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring George da Soulchild Kaufela, when Aku and Alia appeared as Guests. “Yes” they replied “but now we live in Helsinki, Finland”. The Experience is the weekly radio show sponsored by Chanters Lodge, and airing between 20.30 and 21.30 hrs every Sunday night on Livingstone local radio’s Zambezi 107.7 fm. The show is popular locally as it offers a chance for listeners to win a dinner for two at the lodge with drinks – we play an ‘oldie of the week’ and ask listeners to text us the name of the artist singing the track, the first correct answer wins the prize. On this particular occasion the answer was Chris Brown singing ‘Excuse Me Miss’ and the prize was quickly won!

Aku and Alia told listeners that they’d been in Livingstone for about four days and had thoroughly enjoyed their stay at Chanters Lodge, as well as the various activities they had undertaken during their visit. They had of course got soaking wet when they went to see Victoria Falls – stunning at this time of year – and had also been on the one day safari to Chobe. They were delighted to have seen both lion and hyena during that safari, as well as scores of elephant, giraffe and hippo, common in Chobe National Park. They had, that morning, been on the rhino walk with Bwaato Adventures and had come very close to four of the rhino in the Mosi-o-Tunya National Park in Livingstone, including one of the babies. “Were you scared?” We wondered. “Just a bit” they replied. Rhino are pretty scary close up when you’re not in a vehicle!
The music on the show was hot – as usual! We featured The Wanted’s ‘Chasing The Sun’ and Faith Paloma’s ‘Picking Up The Pieces’ both high in the UK charts as we went on air. George featured one of his own tracks with Ty2 – ‘Spotlight’ – a great Zambian dance track, back to back with Mampi’s ‘Wali Lowelela’ (‘you are beyond sweetness’). Mampi, famous Zambian singing star was beyond the Big Brother Africa House on TV as we went on air – in the process of being evicted! George (her friend) shed a small tear. Milli Jam featured Zahara’s ‘Lengoma’ back to back with Craig David ft Calvin Harris ‘Good Time’. As a tribute to the late Robin Gibb we closed the show with ‘How Deep Is Your Love’.
Aku told listeners that he was an entrepreneur and had a retail shop in Helsinki selling clothes, as well artist’s materials such as brushes, paints and so forth. He had been in business for about six years. Alia is a nurse, specializing in care for the elderly and she explained that for the past 15 years she’s worked at an old peoples’ home caring for about 76 people. “Where are you going when you leave Zambia?” Milli Jam asked. “Malawi” they replied. “Why are you going there?” Asked Milli Jam. “Nature” replied Aku. I ‘snorted’ before saying “nature!” Milli Jam, “he’s going to see his girlfriend”! We laughed. Aku admitted that it was true that he and Alia were travelling to Malawi to see his girlfriend Mintu who, by coincidence, had recently appeared on our radio show herself, and who has, since then, been working in Malawi.

Asked where they would like to be and what they would like to be doing in ten years’ time, they both said they would still like to be travelling and meeting new people. I guess they will be. It was a lovely show.


The Finnish Experience

I don’t remember having Finnish guests on the Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring George da Soulchild Kaufela until last week’s show, so it was a pleasure to welcome Minttu Markannen (front left) and Susanna Mustonen (front right) who featured on the latest edition of our regular Sunday night radio programme on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s leading local radio station. The girls were accompanied to the studio by Minttu’s mum Pivy (back right) and her friend Marita, all of whom were Guests at Chanters Lodge. It was a lovely happy Easter Sunday show with lively chat, great music, and of course the prize of a dinner for two at Chanters Lodge for the first person to text us telling us who was singing our ‘oldie of the week’. Milli Jam’s selection was Ne-Yo’s ‘So Sick’ and there was an immediate deluge of messages most of whom had the right answer, but no-one was faster than Felistus who won!

The girls told listeners that they came from Helsinki, the capital of Finland, and were both student nurses. They were currently working in Lilongwe, Malawi for a few months as part of a student exchange programme between Kamuzu Hospital in Lilongwe and the University of Helsinki, where they were both studying, in the final year of a three year degree course in nursing. The girls were very much enjoying their experience and told us there were huge differences between health care in Finland and Malawi, for example in Finnish hospitals roughly 6 nurses to less than 30 patients, in Malawi 5 nurses for 200+ patients!
The music on the show was great – we opened with Carly Jae Repson’s ‘Call Me Maybe’ a former number 1 in Canada, debuting at number 1 in the UK charts that very day. The guys dropped this track back to back with Nicki Minaj’s ‘Va Va Voom’ from her latest Roman Reloaded album – number 1 in the UK album charts – we are nothing if not right up to date on ‘The Experience’!  George played Judy’s ‘Chikawama’ and Roberto’s ‘Osayenda’ for his Zambian tracks. Other tracks were by Micasa, a South African, with a number called ‘Heavenly Streets’, Sean Paul, and Labrinth featuring Emeli Sande.
Milli Jam wanted to know how the group had travelled from Malawi to Livingstone and the girls explained that Kenya Airways had cancelled their flights, consequently they’d been obliged to travel the whole way by coach but they’d been determined to come and see Victoria Falls! They told us the effort had been totally worthwhile as they had now seen the magnificent sight of the Falls in full flood – and gotten very wet in the process! They had a one day safari planned to Chobe in Botswana the next day. They were not sure how many other activities they would be able to fit in as they had to be back in Lilongwe by the following Thursday, and once again would have to travel the whole way back to Malawi by coach.

Asked where they would like to be and what they would like to be doing in 10 years time, the girls who are both single, had different replies. They said they wanted to be ‘excellent nurses’ but Minttu gave the impression she would still like to be studying, while Susanna said she hoped she would be nursing, married and have children.

We thought their African experience would stand them in good stead for the future!


Seya Kitenge Fundafunda

I found this on the African Women In Cinema blog and thought it great to see a Zambia woman making a name for herself in cinema. Seya is in interview with Beti Ellerson. I have shortened it but if you would like to read the whole interview go to the link. We wish Seya the very best of luck!
Seya, you are an emerging filmmaker from Zambia, what were your experiences in cinema while growing up?

Well I come from a family that watched a lot of classic movies like My Fair Lady, A Sound of Music (my favorite film of all time), Fiddler on the Roof, Scrooge, and lots of classic Disney movies like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Bambi, etc. But these were viewed at home, and not at an actual cinema because at the time the state of cinema theatres in this country had deteriorated and we weren’t allowed to go anywhere near them. Despite all this, my interest in performing arts emerged.

You have had diverse international experiences in media production, starting in high school in fact at the International School of Geneva, what role have they played in the evolution of your career at present?

My international background has played a huge role in my life and my career; it has exposed me to so many cultures. At this moment in history, I think it’s critical to learn and understand how to live and work with people of different cultures. And it’s the same in the media industry. Looking at the high school productions, such as the German play The Visit, we had students from different ethnic backgrounds taking up German roles. For my role, I played a painter and recited some of my lines in German, which was tough during rehearsals but when it was show time, I have to say we all did a remarkable job. My work ethic today is what it is because of my past experiences; it has made me a perfectionist.

You attended a film internship program in Helsinki, Finland in 2010. What did the internship entail, how did you become involved with it and what were your experiences?

The film internship in Helsinki, Finland came about after the 2008 production of the feature film Suwi by Musola Cathrine Kaseketi. It was the first co-production between Zambia and Finland. We had half of the crew come from Finland. And upon completion of the production, the Finnish crew wanted to do more for the young Zambian crew in terms of training since Zambia has no film school. When they returned to Helsinki, they presented a proposal to the Finnish Government to do a 3-month film internship in Helsinki. Due to budget constraints, they couldn’t take the whole Zambian crew, so only three could go in 2009, which was the first year. There was an application process and selection, so I applied for the 2010 group and got selected. I had an amazing experience during the internship and learnt a lot, including: the history of film and filmmaking, exercises in making short amateur silent films, attending the 2010 Helsinki International Film Festival, scripting and directing a short film called Kayemba.

Your final project, Kayemba, is about the traumatic experience of a young Finnish-African woman by the same name. Why did you choose this subject, what were your experiences with the actors and crew, and what has been the reception of the film?

The idea for Kayemba came about while still in Zambia, before I leaving for the internship. As part of the application for the internship, one had to send a synopsis of a film one would like to make at the end of the internship and so that is how Kayemba came about. I am a human rights advocate at heart and I wanted to do something that had to do with women’s rights. The subject matter for Kayemba is so important and relevant and needs to be talked about and addressed with urgency throughout Africa and the world at large. There are a lot of women, young women in fact, whose rights are infringed upon, due solely to the fact that they are women. And if this film helps even one woman, then I will be satisfied.

The cast and crew of Kayemba were a great group to work with. Everyone was very dedicated to this project before, during and after the shoot. I am so grateful to them. They made my directorial debut stress free. Kayemba is screening at the 2011 Kenya International Film Festival (21-31 October), which is really exciting. This is the first major film fest at which it is being screened. Some viewers expressed feeling depressed, maybe because of its inconclusive ending. There is no happy ending. I wanted it to be as realistic as possible. Some did not like it. For instance one YouTube viewer commented “I don’t believe that showing violence prevents violence. That is why I don’t like this film. It is not a good idea to show a rape.” But overall, the responses have been encouraging.


Jorma Vuorio & Manu Kitinoja

Meet Jorma and Manu (surnames as above) from Finland who guested on the most recent edition of The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring George Soulchild, our Sunday night radio show going out weekly at 20.30 hrs on Zambezi Radio 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s best loved local radio station.

Yes, the names were very difficult to pronounce! (You were going to ask, weren’t you?) But we struggled through. We never realised that Finns had such a dry and wry sense of humour either, and we were rocking with laughter at some of the succinct answers we got to our interrogation! Jorma and Manu have known each other since they were at University together in Finland 30 odd years ago, studying Special Education. Jorma is now retired but Manu is still working as Director, Residential School, Limingan Koulutuskeskus. It’s a reform school for ‘bad boys and girls’ Manu told us. “Do they have bad boys and girls in Finland”? I asked, surprised. Apparently they do. Manu is divorced but about to re-marry, and Jorma has been married for a long time and has two daughters, but no grandchildren yet.

Manu had been to Chobe in Botswana for the one day safari on Sunday, and Milli Jam wanted to know if he’d enjoyed the trip. (Manu and Jorma didn’t go together on this outing, as Jorma’s sister was coming to join him at Chanters in Livingstone later in the week, and they planned to go together.) Manu told listeners he’d had a great time even though the weather was windy and wet. The highlight of the trip had come in the afternoon, during the game drive when he and the group had seen a leopard in a tree lunching on impala! That was very lucky!

What other activities had the guys done in Livingstone? Bungee? Milli Jam wanted to know. “No” was the one word answer. “Why not”? “We don’t”. We understood.

Manu and Jorma have both travelled widely – Jorma more than 40 countries. They’d been to Africa before – mostly North Africa though, as well as South Africa itself. They’d spent a week or so in Zimbabwe before arriving in Zambia – in Bulawayo and at Victoria Falls – and had had a good time. This gave us the chance to greet our listeners in Victoria Falls. “Is it cold in Finland at the moment”? We wanted to know. -3C apparently, but in winter it goes down as far as -40C. That’s cold, we agreed.

The music on the show was good. We opened as usual with Aggro Santos ‘Candy’ and the first two tracks were Nelly ‘Just A Dream’ back to back with Jay Sean & Nicki Minaj ‘2012’. George’s tracks were Runnel ‘Why Ninvela So’? and Dandy Crazy ‘Osayenda’. ‘Why do I feel this way’ and ‘Don’t go’ translated respectively. Milli Jam chose TLC ‘Creep’ and Foxy Brown ‘Gotta Get You Home’. Taylor Swift ‘Back In December’ is one of my favourite tracks at the moment and Pink ‘Raise Your Glass’ is thoroughly latest. George also took the chance to tell listeners of the significance of ONE8 as per his recent blog.

“How did you come to choose Chanters Lodge”? Milli Jam asked our Guests. “I take a lot of notice of reviews on TripAdvisor” Jorma replied “and the lodge has very good reviews on that site”. “Happy with your choice”? “Yes”! Another one word answer. At least it wasn’t “no”! “And Jorma added, I’ve been following Richard on Facebook ever since we made our reservation”.

Where would these gentlemen like to be and what would they like to be doing 10 years from now? In good health and still travelling.


Escaping The Finnish Winter!

We have some lovely Guests, in particular I’m referring to Juha and Mrs Keisa who leave us today. They’re in Africa escaping the Finnish winter, and when you see those photos it’s not hard to see why! On Wednesday they spent the day in Chobe National Park in Botswana and on Friday in Namibia, anxious to see as much and as many countries as they can. We hope they’ve had a lovely time and that they enjoy the rest of their trip to Africa!

At Chanters Lodge we love receiving Guests from all over the world!