The Wassinks!

Meet The Wassinks! Left to right (above) Rosie, Lauren, Emma and Henri, our guests on the most recent edition of the Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring Jay Hillz. ‘The Experience’ is a weekly radio show airing every Sunday night from 20.30-21.30 hrs on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s leading local radio station. The show is sponsored by Chanters Lodge and features latest international and Zambian pop music together with animated conversation with our guests of the week!

The Wassinks told us that they had only recently moved to Lusaka, Zambia after a ten year stint working in Ghana. They were in Livingstone for the long holiday weekend to get some rest and to recuperate after a hectic move from one country to another, a stay in temporary accommodation in Lusaka, as well as finding places for and settling Rosie (9) and Emma (8) into school. The girls told us that they were now learning at the International School in Lusaka but that they were missing their friends from school in Ghana. It was most of the family’s first visit to see Victoria Falls though Lauren said she herself had seen the natural wonder from the Zimbabwe side some 18 years ago. Henri had moved to Lusaka to establish his company Liebherr, Zambia having worked for the same organization Liebherr in Ghana.

Henri explained that Liebherr, a German family business was established in 1949 by Hans Liebherr. The great success of his first mobile, easy-to-assemble and affordable tower crane was the foundation on which the company flourished. In Zambia the company sells and provides spares for excavation equipment used mostly in the country’s flourishing copper mines some 500 kms north of Lusaka, as well as in Solwezi, north west of the capital.

The music on the show was great. We opened with tracks from Avicii as well as Sam Smith and Fuse ODG featuring Sean Paul. Milli Jam and Jay chose numbers from Usher, Dandy Crazy, and Olly Murs as well as Jay Rox’s latest hit ‘Khmutima’ – ‘I’ll fix her broken heart’ translated Jay “I bet you would!” Said I. Our pick of the week was Nicki Minaj’s ‘Pills N’Potions’ and the oldie Drake ft Rihanna with ‘Take Care’. Felistus won dinner for two with drinks at the lodge for knowing the artist on the oldie and quickly texting.

The family told us that as well as relaxing at the lodge they had much enjoyed their visit to the Falls – they had got very wet from the spray and Emma thought it was all quite scary! They had loved their sunset cruise on the Lady Livingstone they had taken that very afternoon, and a visit to the reptile park had also gone down well. “Did you hold the snakes?” I asked the girls. “Noooooo!” they laughed. We wondered whether Lauren had also found a job in Lusaka but she replied she had had no time to do so up to now, though being a primary school teacher she hoped for that chance in the future. Both Lauren and Henri were looking forward to welcoming family members for visits to Zambia once they themselves had settled down.

Henri is Dutch from Twente, Lauren English from North London (born in Tottenham and supporting their team – we brushed past this), they had met in Nigeria when Lauren was working for Shell and Henri for a dredging company. Henri’s specialist area is financial management. Henri’s favourite footballer is a chap called Robin van Persie. The girls told us that they loved the music of Katy Perry as well as a particular track called ‘The Fox’. They also loved their iPads!

Asked where they would like to be and what they would like to be doing ten years from now, Henri said he would like to be retired and living near the beach in Thailand. Lauren hoped to be healthy, happy and settled. We wished them all the best for their time in Zambia.


Proflight & Kenya Airways

Lusaka-based regional airline Proflight Zambia has signed an interline agreement with Kenya Airways that will enable passengers to travel across the networks of both airlines with a single booking.

Under the agreement, customers will be able to purchase joint Proflight Zambia-Kenya Airways itineraries and will be issued with a single combined ticket. This will enable seamless connections to and from Proflight’s ten domestic destinations: Lusaka, Ndola, Livingstone, Mfuwe, Solwezi, Chipata, Mansa, Kasama, Lower Zambezi and Mongu, as well as its two international routes, Lilongwe in Malawi and Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania.

It will also enable Proflight customers to book flights to over 60 destinations within the Kenya Airways network from its hub in Nairobi, Kenya. The move should draw more leisure and business travels to Zambia, and facilitate wider travel options for passengers from Zambia looking to travel internationally.

“We welcome Kenya Airways passengers to the Proflight network in Zambia, and look forward to a long and happy partnership between the two airlines,” said Captain Philip Lemba, Proflight Director of Government and Industry Affairs.

Customers will enjoy a range of added benefits, including special fares on itineraries across the two airlines.


The Swimming Experience!

We were delighted to welcome Ian Newell (above), international swimming coach and Chief Coach at Shiverers Swimming Club in Brighton (“Hove actually!” Ian corrected us) as Guest on the most recent edition of the Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring Jay-Hillz, our regular weekly Sunday night radio show airing from 20.30 to 21.30 hrs on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s leading local radio station.

Ian explained to listeners that he was in Livingstone for the weekend, on a break from helping Lusaka Dolphins Swimming Club coach swimmers likely to be in the Zambian team taking part in the Africa Games in Uganda next April. It was Ian’s first time in Zambia, first time in Africa and of course his first time to see the magnificent Victoria Falls. He told us that he would be in the country for a total of about two weeks. He had been comfortable staying at Chanters Lodge and had thoroughly enjoyed the Lady Livingstone sunset cruise on his first afternoon, as well as a microlight flight over the falls during his stay. He had eaten a fantastic high tea at the Royal Livingstone Hotel that very afternoon, and had loved the view from their deck, of the spray from the Falls spreading right across the mighty Zambezi.

Milli Jam wanted to know how the connection had been made between Shiverers Swimming Club in UK and Lusaka Dolphins thousands of miles away in Lusaka. Ian said that it had come about due to a Zambian family visiting UK being allowed to temporarily join Shiverers and train during their stay, and subsequently issuing an invitation to Ian to come to Zambia. Ian told us that he had been a swimming coach for a total of about 45 years having been a good swimmer in his youth before turning to coaching as a career. Jay and Milli Jam wanted to know why generally white people seemed to be better at swimming than black people, and Ian explained that it came down to their different muscle length and bone structure required to become top class swimmers. Ian mentioned that he now had several up and coming black swimmers under his wing at Shiverers.

The music on the show was good, featuring tracks from Enrique Iglesias, Duke Dumont, T-Pain, Roberto and Kanji (both Zambian artists) as well as Tyga. Our oldie of the week was a track from JK and the prize we give to the first person to text us the name of the performing artist was quickly snapped up! My pick of the week was Sia’s ‘Chandelier’.

Ian told listeners that he had never been married and did not have children, he blamed these facts on the intensity of his career – his features only slightly tinged with regret. He clearly regards his swimmers as his ‘children’ and delights in their success all the way up to Olympic standard. He has several youngster whom he thinks may well go all the way to the top of the sport in future. Ian loves football as well as swimming and said he supports his local club Brighton and Hove Albion, as well as Manchester United. We moved quickly on. His musical tastes go mostly back to the 60’s. He’s a fan of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Asked where he would like to be and what he would like to be doing in ten years’ time, Ian told listeners that as 2024 would be an Olympic year, he would like to be wherever the games would be held with two or three swimmers from Shiverers and some Zambian swimmers competing in the Games!



DJ Obby Sims

Meet DJ Obby Sims, (above) leading DJ and supervisor at Livingstone’s hottest night club East Point, and guest on the most recent edition of our weekly Sunday night radio show, the Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring Jay Hillz. Obby’s real name? Obrien Simbwalanga, Tonga by tribe! ‘The Experience’ is sponsored weekly by Chanters Lodge and airs for a hour every Sunday at 20.30 hrs on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s best loved local radio station. The show is popular with local residents, partly because it offers the chance to win dinner for two at the lodge, to the first person to text us the name of the artist on our regular ‘oldie of the week’ spot. The prize on this show was quickly snapped up when we dropped Tina Turner’s classic ‘I Don’t Wanna Lose You’.

Obby told listeners that he had been DJ at East Point for about two years since the hot spot opened, prior to which he had been at Fairmount Hotel in Livingstone as entertainment manager. He still regarded the Fairmount disco as East Point’s major competition especially since their recent renovations. He recounted to listeners how he had started in the entertainment business in Lusaka at Moon City night club in the 80’s with the help of the late Eddy Groove who had taught him how to DJ with vinyl – “nothing like CD decks in those days!” He said. (This stirred some of your writer’s memories!) Later Obby had worked at Lusaka’s huge Black Velvet night club. This was a controversial place in the end, but in its’ heyday it had held more than 1200 revelers at one time! After working for Hanif Adams and Clouds in Lusaka, later Obby had come back to Livingstone and, as mentioned, started work with the Fairmount Hotel.

The music on this show was good. We opened with latest hits from Tinie Tempah and the Chainsmokers. Milli Jam and Jay chose tracks from Stevo, Shaggy featuring Ne-Yo, Lorde and Karasa with Cleo Ice featuring Zone Fam. Our pick of the week was ‘Dangerous Love’ from Fuse OGD featuring Sean Paul, and we closed with a hit from Enrique Iglesias’s latest album.

Obby sadly revealed that his fiancee had passed away the previous month and that he was still enduring the grieving process. He did not have any children. He also told us proudly that he had done the bungee jump and that he was a regular on sunset cruises on the Zambezi. His football team is Arsenal (as shown by the above photo!) and his favourite all time player Thierry Henry. He was really hoping his team would win the FA Cup this year. His favourite music is tracks from the 80’s and 90’s – his favourite international artist the late Michael Jackson, Petersen his Zambian pick. We were surprised at the latter choice as his first cousin is B1 – also a famous Zambian musician.

Asked where he would like to be and what he would like to be doing in ten years’ time (Milli Jam’s favourite question to our weekly guest) Obby said he would like to be in Livingstone, running his own club with his own workers, married to a beautiful woman and to have lovely children. We wished him the best of luck and told him to keep on rocking his patrons!


Scarlet – An Interview

George Mukwita, former co-presenter of the Chanters Lodge Experience and now Lusaka student and socialite recently caught up with the beautiful and talented 26 year old Zambian born and bred singer, songwriter, performing artist, radio presenter, blogger, poet and goodwill ambassador for the Kayula Childhood Cancer Foundation, known simply as Scarlet.

The first time George met her was about four years ago in 2010 at So Good Studio, she had just recorded her first song – hearing her voice for the first time he knew there and then she was destined for greatness! Here’s their recent conversation:

George: Congratulations on all your success, what are the things you know now that you wish you’d known before you released your debut album?
Scarlet: The difference good mixing and mastering makes when you’re creating a project, and that rushing to finish makes the end result not uniform. I also wish I’d known how hard I would need to work to promote myself outside my comfort zone!

George: What do you miss most about being less famous than you were?
Scarlet: I used to have a lot more privacy without trying or hiding. I miss that privacy – now I have to be careful about everything I do and say, where I go, what I wear, and with whom I associate.

George: Since you came into public consciousness as a singer/songwriter how different has life been for you?
Scarlet : Life has changed a lot. I have met so many amazing people and been exposed to so much that is new. I’ve also had to do a lot of growing up. I’ve been inspired by so many things and I’ve really learned the meaning of humility. I’ve had to give up stuff too, but I’m not complaining – I love what I do.

George: Talk me through the experience of writing, recording and finally releasing your first album.
Scarlet: We put together what we thought was a clear representation of my full body of work from 2010 to 2012. There were a lot of songs to choose from. I worked with Mutamula Mwale to choose the best tracks. Kangwa from Mfumu Designs and Dominic from Yoka did my album art and sent everything off to South Africa. We had to organize the album launches and listening parties and to do all the radio and TV promotion work. It was a fun journey. I can’t wait to do it all again, especially now that I’ve learned so much!

George: What was the most difficult song to write and record?
Scarlet:  “Nulundilila” because it’s in Nsenga and it has a lot of words as well as a complicated rhythm pattern.

George: Any personal songs on the album? Did you dedicate any song to anyone?
Scarlet: “Remember Me” was for Luchi from Radio Phoneix because he is the one person who has been with me on this journey from the day he discovered me until today, one of my biggest supporters and great friends.

You’re beautiful, with a great voice, you’re a great songwriter and performer – in short you possess all the qualities of a pop idol – what makes Scarlet tick?
Scarlet: I love to read and write, I cook and spend time with loved ones. I like to visit interesting places and listen to a lot of music as well as eating out and watching movies. So that’s what I do when I’m not working or researching for work.

George: What’s your take on the current music scene in Zambia?
Scarlet: The current music scene in Zambia is growing, developing and showing so much positive change. I’m glad to be a part of it at this moment.

George: What are you working on right now?
Scarlet: I’m a full time musician and a part time radio presenter and writer. I work on my music more than anything else. I’m also in the process of launching a career in catering and event management.

George: What radio show do you host?
Scarlet: My show is called ‘The Mahogany Soul Cafe’ and airs every Wednesday and Monday nights on Power FM.

George: What can fans expect from you this year?
Scarlet : This year there will be a couple of singles and videos. Also live shows country wide. I’m also changing my sound a little bit. Right now I’m working on more lifestyle things and my second album.

George: Which Zambian artists do you listen to? With whom would you like to work?
Scarlet : I listen to a lot of artists. I would like to work with Mumba Yachi, ZoneFam, Pompi and Mampi.

George: What are five things people don’t know about Scarlet
Scarlet: I’m horribly short sighted and suffer from terrible stage fright as well as claustrophobia. I’m a really good cook, I’m the oldest of seven girls and I love fresh cream! Is that five?

: (Laughing) Yes! Now we know! Thanks for your time – any last words to fans and readers?
Scarlet: There’s a lot I’m working on and a lot I want to do. I’m grateful to everyone that believes in me and supports what I do. I’ll keep singing and getting better and better for them.

George: We wish you every success!
Scarlet: Thanks!


The Last Kaufela Experience!

The latest edition of the Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring George da Soulchild Kaufela (the two guys featured in the photograph above, George is on the left), was rather sad – and not just because Liverpool had thrashed Arsenal 5-1 the day before – something that made Milli Jam and I sad but George ecstatic! No, it was sad because it was in fact George Mukwita’s (aka Soulchild aka Kaufela) last show, for the time being anyway.

George was therefore the Guest on, as well as the co-host of, the programme. Fired because of his Liverpool affiliations? Not a bit of it! As he explained to listeners he has been accepted on a three year course at the Co-operative College in Lusaka to study for a diploma in Agric-Business Management. “So you’re going to be a farmer?” I speculated, but George replied that he was more interested in the business management aspect of the course which would include accounting, marketing and economics amongst other subjects.

“What’s brought this on?” Asked a glum Milli Jam who has co-hosted our show with George since 2009. George replied that he felt it was time for him to further his education, seeing that it was not really safe for a young Zambian man to rely on radio presentation and music to make a good living in years ahead – he wanted more strings to his bow. George told us that initially he was being helped through college by his aunt, but that he hoped to secure part time work, possibly on radio in Lusaka, to help with the substantial college expense. He also hoped to be able to play some shows to raise funds – George is an accomplished musician amongst his many other talents. He would be a boarder at the mixed gender college.

We played one of George’s tracks on the show – ‘Took You’ by Roberto featuring Kaufela, back to back with Chiko Wise ft B1 with ‘Kumwanda’. We opened the show with ‘Dibby Dibby Sound’ by DJ Fresh vs Jay Fay featuring Ms Dynamite back to back with the latest from The 1975. Tracks from Beyonce featuring Jay Z, and Toni Braxton with Babyface also graced the show. The prize of a dinner for two with drinks that we offer to the first person to text us telling us the artist on our oldie of the week, went unwon for the second week running, prompting someone to text asking us to play another track so that there could be a winner. We declined. They didn’t know Paolo Nutini sang Candy, so that was that!

George told listeners that he would be leaving Livingstone the following day and that he had already co-hosted his last breakfast show on 107.7 fm. He said there was so much he would miss about Livingstone including friends and colleagues and of course co-hosting the Chanters Lodge Experience. We said we would only reveal George’s replacement on the programme the following Sunday. George thanked all the listeners as well as the owner of the station Swithin Haangala for ‘helping him grow’ as a broadcaster and presenter. He had been in Livingstone for nine years and had loved it!

Asked where he would like to be and what he would like to be doing ten years from now, George said he wanted to be alive and breathing, opening doors for himself and others. We thanked him for his inspiration and hard work on our show and wished him all the best for the future. Then we sat down and cried because Arsenal had lost 5-1 to Liverpool!!


‘Fellowship’ – Uncle Rex

Thanks to George Mukwita for this breaking news!

Veteran guitarist, Rex Mukubonda, fondly known as Uncle Rex has released his fourth guitar album titled Fellowship. Best known for contemporary jazz and reggae fusion, Mukubonda has this time composed an all-gospel collection with Sadra Kapapa on vocals. Fellowship was recorded live in Lusaka and was mastered in California by Ken Lee.

Among tracks on the album are Jerusalem, What a friend, Hosanna, Tulemitotela, I surrender, Halleluya and Rock of ages. The album was sound engineered by Andrew Diamond and Sebstian Mutale, and features Mutamula Mwale on drums, Jones Samalama on keyboards, with Ken Schick and John Makasa on saxophone.

Uncle Rex is arguably one of the best guitarists in Zambia.The 14 track project is available in all Sounds outlets and on I-tunes. Every Thursday, Uncle Rex and his band entertain a largely mature but responsive audience to a selection of cover versions at O’Hagan’s Pub and R
estaurant in Lusaka.


1983 And All That…..

I’m grateful to Edem Djokotoe for his memories of the Ridgeway (now Southern Sun Ridgeway Hotel) in Lusaka, of which I was General Manager from March 1979 to May 1992. I have edited parts of the piece – if you’d like to read the whole story go to Soul To Soul on Facebook. The photo? Taken around that time ‘at home’ in Tiverton, Devon with my late mum and second born Jan-Martyn – washing up and not singing!!

“I first saw the man who’d be President in a hotel bar in 1983. The hotel: Ridgeway. The bar: the Copper Horse. He sat alone at a table in a corner, nursing a solitary Mosi in a noisy, smoky bar bustling with animated punters. He stuck out like a sore thumb. Like a man in a place against his will. To be honest, I didn’t notice his discomfiture until Oscar, the fellow who’d invited me to The Copper Horse for a few pints, asked me if I knew who the man was.

I shrugged because I really didn’t. “Should I know him?”
“You should. I’m sure you must have heard of him or read about him. His name is Frederick Chiluba. He’s a trade unionist and a big thorn in Kenneth Kaunda’s side as well as his harshest critic.” I looked at Lonely Man again with a mixture of surprise and disappointment because in all fairness, he seemed too pint sized a David to take on KK’s intimidating Goliath.

“So if he’s such a hotshot, how come he’s sitting by himself?” I asked.

Oscar looked at me like I’d said something really stupid. When he spoke, his tone was hushed: “Edem, that’s because nobody wants to be seen talking to him, even though they know him. You see, Copper Horse is a popular hangout for government spies watching to see who is talking to who. When you are here, you better watch what you say because someone could be listening…”

My friend, Oscar, an Economics student at UNZA, was one for conspiracy theories. He believed that half the students at university were government spies who vanished once their cover was blown, only to surface at another tertiary institution in another town. I knew the regime had a generous sprinkling of agents everywhere, but I found many of Oscar’s theories absurd and far-fetched. However, something about the lonely man drinking a beer in a crowded hotel bar convinced me that this was one yarn that contained a nugget of truth.

But the Ridgeway was more than the hotbed of intrigue and eavesdropping government agents he made it out to be. It was by far the most accessible and most happening hotels in the city. Anything that was anything in Lusaka happened there.

For instance, when boxing was alive and well in Zambia and Lusaka hosted many international bouts, courtesy of the Nigerian promoter Gibson Nwosu, Ridgeway was the closest thing to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Of course, the fights didn’t take place there, but practically all the boxers who came through stayed there. The weigh-ins, the stare downs and all the pre-fight hype took place there—in the Natwange Room.

These are only some of the memories that the old Ridgeway Hotel evokes whenever I drive past or walk into its newer reincarnation. Lusaka diminished in many ways when the old Ridgeway died.

The old Ridgeway owed much of its reputation as the most happening hotel in town to its General Manager: Richard Chanter. Well, that’s what his job description must have been on paper, but I remember on many a New Year’s Eve, he’d be performing with the house band, The Cool Nights, in the Musuku Restaurant. Before the night was over, you could bet he’d be singing Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon and his favourite, the theme from The Greatest American Hero, “Believe It Or Not”.

Many a musical career was launched on the Musuku Restaurant stage and on a vehicle Chanter created called Folk Night. Not exactly Show Time At the Apollo, but it played a big role in helping hopefuls hone their skills performing with a live band in front of a live, discerning audience. It was where Maureen Lilanda, now a doyenne of the local scene, then a high school student at St. Mary’s cut her teeth and learned how to evolve into a cabaret artiste. Back in the day, her older brother, Douglas, one of my closest friends, would mobilize his friends to go sit in front of the stage to cheer her on. Name them, they all graced that stage, backed by the Cool Nights. Percy Phiri…Dozy Musakanya…Lazarus Tembo…Ackim Simukonda…Muriel Mwamba…Simwinji Zeko…

On New Year’s Eve 1983, Richard Chanter unveiled a band that was virtually unknown in Zambia—the Lubumbashi Stars. The guys took the stage just before midnight and brought the house down with its brand of soukous and tightly choreographed dancing. By the time the night was over, they had succeeded in upstaging the versatile house band in a big way.

The Lubumbashi Stars became an instant hit and were a major attraction to the Ridgeway until the band relocated to Botswana where the grass was greener a few years later. They were not the only herd of humans to head south in search of rich grass. By 1990, more university lecturers, college tutors and high school teachers were leaving Zambia to seek their fortunes in Botswana than ever before. Apparently, word had filtered across the Zambezi River that even high school teachers in Botswana could afford to buy Toyota Cressidas from their salaries and booze every day of the week without getting broke.”


Connect Africa

Thanks to Gill Langmead from Langmead and Baker for this good article!

Zambia’s pioneering rural telecommunications equipment and solutions company, Connect Africa, officially opened its Lusaka office on July 26th paving the way for a roll-out of services across the region. The company has chosen Zambia as its hub, which it plans to use as the springboard from which to launch its low cost, entrepreneur driven, information and communications technology (ICT) services to rural communities across southern Africa.

“Connect Africa is pioneering a new model of service delivery that puts rural people in control of their communications needs,” explained Connect Africa Special Projects Director Dion Jerling. “We see Zambia as the leading example of how state-of-the art technology can be harnessed to connect remote communities to the mobile phone network, empowering them to develop their livelihoods as a result.”

Mr Jerling was speaking at the formal opening ceremony for the company’s new office in Leopard’s Hill, Lusaka attended by senior government officials, industry executives and other dignitaries. The company is aiming to connect rural communities to existing mobile networks through the deployment of innovative low cost base stations that enable rural communities to share in the mobile boom sweeping through Africa.

Connect Africa harnesses Africa’s entrepreneurial spirit and recent technology innovations and infrastructure to enable rural people and rural communities across Africa to improve their quality of life and economic well-being. Delivery of education, agriculture and health services, along with other public and private sector services to rural communities, will be enhanced by the new connectivity, which uses pioneering “low tower, low power” technology. This, combined with the Connect Africa Service Centre concept, will create jobs and enhance rural communities, as well as providing a tool for government to gather feedback on the effectiveness of its services.

The strategy is part of Connect Africa’s “impact enterprise” model that aims to leverage innovative communication technologies for socio-economic development across Africa and beyond. Key to the model are service centres at each base station, run by local entrepreneurs who are able to provide services such as internet access, phone charging and business services to the community.

The low-cost base stations also keep capital costs to a minimum, enabling construction to be funded through a revenue-sharing model based on income generation.


Ridgeway Hotel – 60 And Still Going Strong!

Southern Sun Ridgeway Hotel turns 60 years old this year – as one of the longest serving general managers in the hotel’s history I was asked to write a short piece for Lusaka Lowdown. Out of many memories this is what I mustered!

“Well it’s happy 60th birthday to the ‘old lady’ of Lusaka hotels, Southern Sun Ridgeway Hotel, formerly Holiday Inn, formerly Ridgeway Hotel – like many rich old ladies she’s had plenty of face lifts over the years! My time as general manager of the hotel stretched from March 1979 to May 1992. The hotel faced intense competition in 1979 with the opening of the Taj Pamodzi Hotel across the road (initially managed by British Caledonian – remember them?) and The Ridgeway had to re-invent itself to survive the inevitable exodus of Guests to the new project next door. I was appointed just in time for last minute preparations for the famous 1979 Commonwealth Conference, the one that heralded independence for Zimbabwe, and just before the opening of the Pamodzi! Tough times!

We managed to achieve our market share in the face of this competition by concentrating on our Zambian market, providing the best entertainment in the city with a succession of great bands, including the Cool Knights and the Lubumbashi Stars. Zambians love to dance and they flocked to the hotel. In the mid 80’s you had to book well in advance for a seat in Musuku Restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights with top Zambian cabaret stars like Akim Simukonda, Muriel Mwamba and Lazarous Tembo wowing their audiences, while Guests tucked into famous Ridgeway buffets – or, of course, ‘chicken-in-the-basket’.

We were known for hosting great functions and many were memorable – the ‘stand out’ was, perhaps, the Show Society Annual Dinner of 1982 for 250 of Lusaka’s great and good, with KK and Prince Phillip in attendance. In the mid 80’s we also had a regular weekly radio show, a highly successful football team on the verge of a place in the Zambian super league and regular TV shows at Christmas and Easter.

We put crocodiles back in the central area of the hotel when we redeveloped the restaurant on the other side of the pond, renaming it ‘Rancho’ and making it famous for great whole Zambezi Bream as well as for the chicken-in-the-basket and wonderful huge T Bone steaks. The beautiful weaver birds inhabiting the pond formed the logo for the hotel in those days, drawn for our letterheads and stationery by Gabriel Ellison.

Initially I managed the hotel for Hallway Hotels but for most of the period of my management I worked directly for Anglo American the owners. John Phillips and Sharon van Reenen formed the rest of the management team and we were proudly responsible for training many Zambians in catering and hotel management with sponsorships and scholarships to both Kenya and UK.

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