Is Drake the next sensation in hip-hop music? Some people certainly think so! Here’s about him from Wikipedia:

“Aubrey Drake Graham (born October 24, 1986) is a Canadian actor and recording artist. He originally became known for playing Jimmy Brooks, the basketball star that became physically disabled after he was shot by a classmate on Degrassi: The Next Generation.

As a rapper, he performs under the mononym Drake, and is often billed as the new version of The Fresh Prince. Drake continued to recognize a close affiliation with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment, before officially signing with the record label in June, 2009.

His first studio album, Thank Me Later is expected to be released later this year on Young Money Entertainment.”

I have a couple of tracks, ‘Take You Down’ and ‘A Night Off’. The latter we’ll play on Sunday’s Chanters Lodge Experience radio show on Zambezi Radio 107.5 fm and we’ll see what the Livingstone public in general and the Chanters Girls in particular think about Drake!


K’Millian & Masi

Meet Leo Moyo and Masiyaleti Nyambe, (pictured above), better known to Zambians, and followers of Zambian music outside the country as K’Millian and Masi. K’Millian is a big star and has so far released 5 albums. Masi is up and coming and his first album is due out soon. They work together. K’Millian’s ‘Triumph’ is currently number 2 in the Zambian album charts.

These two bright young musicians featured on the latest edition of The Chanters Lodge Experience with the MJ Ingredient ft Soulchild, the popular radio show we sponsor on Zambezi Radio 107.5 fm, every Sunday night. “How did you end up with the name K’Millian?” We wanted to know, and Leo explained that when he first started in music he played and sang a variety of styles – soul, blues, reggae, jazz etc, so they thought of ‘Chameleon’ only to find there was already a band somewhere else with that name, so they changed the spelling to ‘K’Millian’. “It wasn’t about money!” He said. “Of course not!” We replied…

We played ‘Alema’ by K’Millian and for once I had an accurate translation (seeing he wrote the song!) It means ‘she’s tired of asking the same question and she needs a proper answer’! We also played ‘Waona Nawama’ from K’Millian’s ‘True Colors’ album meaning ‘now I make sense to you when before, you thought I was a waste of time!’ Both very well produced tracks and guaranteed to make you get up and dance! (And laugh at the words, I guess!). K’Millian has a great voice!

We were lucky to get these two on the show – we were scheduled to have Ty2 and Haamoba as well but their show at Taonga’s River Shack had a time overrun (surprise surprise!) As it was K’Millian and Masi arrived after MJ (Milli Jam in this case) and I had already been on air for half an hour. Of course apart from the blog, Twitter, Facebook etc we discussed the other MJ’s death, and Milimo explained to listeners that if it hadn’t been for the late Michael Jackson he’d never have ended up in the entertainment business. I’m reliably informed (by Brad Chingobe) that Milimo used to do an amazing take off of the late MJ on stage, with all the moves. (Still can’t picture Milli Jam as a dancer but they say he was great when he was a bit younger – and thinner I guess!) Talking of which, a lot of people on Facebook commented on how much weight K’Millian, Ty2 and Haamoba had put on in recent years, after I’d featured their photo on my Facebook status. ‘Suga Daddies’ said Bronah down in Perth, Australia. One bright spark wondered if they were going to make a ‘gangster movie’!

K’Millian explained to listeners that he holds a degree in computer engineering from the University of Port Elizabeth in South Africa. That was a surprise to the assembled company, who wanted to know what he was doing singing when he had that kind of training. He said he could always fall back on IT if the music industry no longer sustained his career. “Not much worry about that right now”, I commented, “seeing you’re one of Zambia’s most popular musicians and so much in demand.”

“Are you guys married” MJ wanted to know. Hoots of laughter all round, and George Soulchild on technical actually fell off his chair! K’Millian professed his undying love for his fiancee Angela Chipalo. “When will you be married?” I wanted to know. K’Millian replied that he was “busy with traditional issues with the family”. “How many cows?” I asked. “A jackal” he replied laughing “now where do I find one of those?” We couldn’t help on that one. “What about you Masi?” We asked. Well, Masi couldn’t actually find words with which to answer us. All I can tell you is that the tall, well built girl who got in the car with these two after the show was very pretty……

Music? Well apart from the K’Millian tracks mentioned above, we featured ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson. While we were waiting for the stars, we played ‘Missing You’ and ‘Boom Boom Pow’ from the new Black Eyed Peas album currently topping the charts, though I guess Michael Jackson’s recordings will top most charts next week. We also played ‘Paparazzi’ by Lady Gaga. Love that one! Papa Papa – razzi! “Your music was funky last night on radio” someone nice said to me the next morning. “Respect!”

How about that then?


Down Memory Lane

Check Uncle Jumbo from Zambezi Radio 107.5 fm ‘in the zone’ when he hosted ‘Down Memory Lane’ last Tuesday night! He’d kindly asked me to produce the play list and appear as the guest. It was great fun! I chose tracks that Jumbo hadn’t heard for a long time. My problem was getting a decent photo. He had his eyes closed most of the time as he swayed and rocked to the music of his youth. That pic was the best I could manage!

Jumbo opened and closed his nice show with ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon. There were some Charley Pride numbers in there too, those that I’d swapped for a Zain sim card not so long ago with an unknown friend in USA! ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’ caused some controversy (as it had when it was first released in the late 50’s) as listeners phoned in trying to name the artist. ‘Route 66’ is one of the best early Rolling Stones tracks. The Bellamy Brothers and the Supremes contributed to a great oldies play list. ‘She Loves You’ by the Fab 4 had Uncle singing!

‘Down Memory Lane’ goes out on 107.5 fm every Tuesday night and is one of the stations’s most popular shows, especially amongst the oldies. Jumbo gives some timely advice to the youngsters too! On this show he said ‘you see, in our day, songs had words, and you should listen to them!’

Rock on Jumbo!


Tourism & Zambia’s Economy

Here’s something possibly more interesting than your normal Monday morning inbox – it’s my Thursday by the way, as my half day will be on Wednesday this week…

This from AFP.

“Zambia’s dependence on copper has tethered its economy to every swing in the metal’s price for decades, but President Rupiah Banda told AFP heavy new government spending will help break that cycle. Zambia’s troubles mirror those of many African countries whose economies depend heavily on exports of a handful of raw materials, leaving them vulnerable to swings in commodities prices, like the dramatic drops seen last year.

Zambia’s case is particularly severe, with 80 percent of its exports earnings coming from copper. The 65 percent drop in the metal’s price last year sparked thousands of layoffs and a 73 percent fall in the value of its kwacha currency. The country’s leaders have long promised to diversify the economy away from copper, but in an interview with AFP, Banda said he is confident his government will make progress by pouring money into long-term investments in manufacturing, tourism and agriculture.

“What we have done at least, we have put a lot of emphasis and a lot of money in our budget on those sectors we want to concentrate on in addition to mining,” Banda told AFP on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Cape Town. “We want to keep the mines that are open open, but we also want to start factories, we want to start more agricultural projects.”

When Zambia won independence from Britain in 1964, it was considered a middle-income country. But a fall in copper prices in the 1970s and failed exercises in socialism left it among the world’s poorest today. Banda was elected president in October 2008, in the middle of a new downturn that saw copper prices fall from 8,000 US dollars per metric tonne to 2,800 dollars in about six months. But he inherited a better situation than the country has seen in past downturns. Zambia’s economy grew at an average of 6.2 percent in the last three years, and is forecast to slow to four percent growth in 2009.

The government used the good times to build up more than one billion dollars in foreign reserves, giving Banda a cushion to spend even during a downturn. He is putting a major emphasis on agriculture, increasing spending by 37 percent this year in hopes of improving food production and creating new export crops. Zambia, which is among the few African countries that has never experienced major civil strife, boasts large tracts of land with potential for game ranching and adventure holiday tours.

The country is also looking to new markets for its goods. Mining minister Maxwell Mwale told AFP that resurgent demand in China and India has helped stabilise copper prices around 4,500 dollars, with output up more than 13 percent in the first four months of the year. Energy minister Kenneth Konga said the country had the capacity to produce an additional 8,000 megawatts of power and export it to its neighbours such as South Africa, which suffers steep energy deficiencies.”

Make of this what you will – in my opinion Zambia talks tourism but doesn’t ‘do’ tourism! Some examples? Immigration, infrastructure, tax, and foreign investment. That bit about increased electricity exports? That’s a bit of a joke with Zesco in the state it’s in….

The picture? Fishing for ‘yellow bellies’ on Lake Tanganyika, Northern Zambia.
I wish…………


Setting Out

Finally, we’re setting out the foundations for the new 2 rooomed poolside extension at
Chanters Lodge, Livingstone, and now fully intend to go ahead with the project to increase our accomodation capacity as quickly as possible. The picture shows Mr Albert Chikuta and his team undertaking the expert work. Mr Chikuta is a full time Livingstone City Council worker kindly helping us on his day off. “Is there enough space Mr Chikuta” I asked. “Touch and go…” the answer!

As you’ll see, the weather is bright, sunny and warm even though tomorrow is our shortest day June 21st and technically ‘mid-winter’.

Q. How long will the project take and how much will it cost?
A. How long’s a piece of string, and probably more than I’ve estimated!

Have a nice weekend!


Jeff Papps & Tiffany Homeshaw play 107.5 fm

“What does your husband say about you visiting Zambia and doing activities with another man?” Milli Jam cheekily asked Tiffany at the start of the latest edition of the Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient last Sunday, when Tiffany Homeshaw and Jeff Papps – the other man in question (pictured above) – guested on the latest edition of the show, which airs every Sunday at 20.00 hrs on Zambezi Radio 107.5 fm, Livingstone’s best loved local radio station. “He’s still working out how much ‘lobola’ to charge Jeff!” Replied Tiffany with a chuckle. Jeff being an Oxford University graduate, a high flying project accountant in Sydney Australia, and about 6′ 4″ tall and big with it, didn’t really look worried. He supports Chelsea though which bothered us!

Jeff and Tiffany’s friendship goes back some time. They met when Tiffany was sharing a flat with one of Jeff’s workmates at Pricewaterhouse Coopers in Sydney. Both have their roots in England. They’ve kept in touch since that time despite Tiffany’s subsequent marriage and move away from Australia to South Africa. She now lives in Pretoria, Jeff still in Sydney. When she heard Jeff was going to finish a trip to South Africa (mostly to watch rugby) with a trip to Zambia to see Victoria Falls and to undertake some of the great activities available in the Livingstone area, she asked if she could ‘tag along’ too! The answer? A resounding ‘yes’. It’s the first time Tiffany’s been seperated from her baby son Fin, age one and a half, and the first time her husband’s been left in sole charge of the baby too! “Great stuff!” We said. “Worried?” We asked. “Only slightly!” She replied.

“What activities have you been doing then, since you arrived in Livingstone?” Milli Jam wanted to know (with a smile). “You mean apart from being poached to appear on this show” Tiffany quickly retorted. Touché! This happy couple went on to tell listeners about their wonderful sunset cruise on Lady Livingstone the previous day, and of their dramatic 30 minute microlight flight that afternoon with Batoka Sky. They’d flown across Victoria Falls, then the Mosi-o-Tunya National Park as well as the river below the Falls, where the huge, wide Zambezi transforms into a narrow gorge containing some of the world’s wildest white water rapids! Wow! Jeff and Tiffany spoke too of their lion encounter scheduled for the next day, and of their two day/one night trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana, with accommodation at Chobe Safari Lodge, with river safaris and game drives scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

How had they chosen accommodation at Chanters Lodge in Livingstone? “Mostly from reviews on the internet.” Jeff revealed. “Pleased with your choice?” Asked Milli Jam. “We’ll let you know later in the week!” Said Tiffany quickly. “Maybe it is time she was back with her husband and baby son in Pretoria” thought I!

The music was Milli Jam’s own choice, beautiful and softer than I’d expected when I gave him the mission. Taylor Swift, Dido, Brandy ft Ne-Yo, Faith Hill and Shania Twain. ‘Cotton Eyed Jo’ by Rednex for Ireen at home, who loves that track. The local numbers were K’Millian’s ‘Alema’ (‘you’ve got one more chance to get in line before I leave you’ – she says to him) and Roberto ft Gen Ozzy with Nikutshe (‘thanks for everything‘ – he says to her). A nice contrast and both great numbers. No hip-hop anywhere, though Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’ was a beefed up remix, good too!

“You’ve got nice voices” said George Soulchild (on technical) smoothly to our guests, “can you come in tomorrow and record some voice-overs for our 107.5 fm jingles?” Talk about poaching! They kindly agreed – assuming they said, that they survived their early morning lion encounter! “Do you work?” Milli Jam asked Tiffany, changing the subject. She told listeners she’d worked in advertising before her baby was born, but that she’d been studying social sciences while nursing Fin. After this holiday she’d start practical welfare training. “Where would you like to be, and what would you like to be doing ten years from now?” Milli Jam asked our guests. Jeff wanted to be thinner, healthy and married with a family, and Tiffany with at least one more addition to her family living near Bondai Beach in Australia. Don’t bet against it!

Lovely couple, fun show! Thanks and greetings were aired all round. We offered a dinner for two at Chanters Lodge as a prize to the first person to text me the name of the British Prime Ministe,r and we had the worst response ever! Now there’s a thing Gordon! Eventually and after a long delay we got a winner – Joyce by name!


The Best Of Zambia

After months of dithering I’ve decided Chanters Lodge should appear on the Best of Zambia site. They have a good idea, energy and skills and although it will cost I’d rather be in than out.
Here’s what they say about themselves:

“The Best of Zambia presents a rich resource of everything you need for a great Zambian experience. It showcases Zambia and the finest services available in Zambia against a backdrop of enlightening gems of information. It’s for visitors and residents. It’s for individuals, for those in business and for those in development.

Considered to be one of the safest places on earth, Zambia is beautiful, friendly and an increasingly popular choice for an African holiday and adventure travel. Home of the Victoria Falls, locally known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, acknowledged as one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world.

But what you’ll discover in Zambia is more than the mighty Victoria Falls. “If you’re out to experience the ‘real’ Africa, Zambia is that diamond in the rough. The country boasts some of the continent’s best wildlife parks, and shares (with Zimbabwe) some of the region’s major highlights …. if you enjoy a raw edge and an Africa with few tourists, Zambia is the place you’re looking for.” (The Lonely Planet website) Zambia is the dream location for the Africa safari and adventure travel.

There is a lot of information about Zambia on the internet but it is scattered and tends to come from travel agents promoting regular Africa holiday packages and adventure travel. The Best of Zambia is different, giving you the tools to create a tailor made experience for yourself whether you’re a resident, diplomat, Africa holiday maker or business person.

Not just for those looking for an Africa safari.There are four main sections to the site. There’s everything the discerning tourist needs to begin their Africa safari journey. Many also come to Zambia as country representatives and international development workers and the Best of Zambia accommodates their needs too. It also caters for residents (local and from overseas) and local and international investors and businesses.

We believe the internet is a great leveller and Zambia can now compete globally. Our vision is to put Zambia on the map by creating a strong internet presence, successfully promoting Zambia and those operating in Zambia. Our mission is to create the best resource for entrepreneurs and organisations to effectively showcase their services to visitors and residents alike.”

With costs rapidly rising and competition in Livingstone in the lodging industry as robust as ever, the only answer is increased occupancy. Anything that gives us a better chance of achieving this has value – I strongly anticipate that Best of Zambia, though a relatively new project will. Let’s hope I’m right!


Food & Beverage

This (shortened piece) from Beth Kormanik at HotelInteractive.com interested me, click the link for the whole article. I’ve commented below each paragraph in bold italics on how I think the piece reflects our situation at Chanters Lodge, Livingstone.

“During a recession, as the truism goes, bar sales go up. But could a properly priced beer, drive room sales at full-service hotels, too? That’s the belief of Michael George, president and CEO Crescent Hotels & Resorts, which owns, operates and manages hotels for institutional investors. In his experience, bar business is up “substantially,” especially at full-service hotels that also have a nice atmosphere and an attractive staff.”

We have a nice atmosphere, reasonably priced beer and attractive staff but our bar sales are static. Would we be more profitable if we just offered bed and breakfast? I often ask myself, and how would that effect our Guests.

“One of the simplest things we did to drive cash flow was to properly set our beer prices,” he said. “Properly priced Bud moves rooms.”

We are about to ‘adjust’ all our food and beverage prices in view of increased costs. What constitutes ‘properly priced’? I wonder.

Thomas Edward Middleton, Jr., a senior vice president at Hilton Hotels Corporation, said guests are eating more meals outside their hotels and that the F&B spend across the Hilton brand is down as much as 50 percent. Hilton’s ideas to recapture guest F&B spend include bringing in celebrity chefs, well-known concepts and menus that feature fresh, simple and healthy foods. They also are outsourcing. “It’s always amazed me, in the hotel business all companies struggle with F&B,” he said. “The best thing we’ve come up with is third-party leases. It’s very difficult to lose with third-party leases.”

Now where would we find celebrity chefs and/or a third party lease in Livingstone….? We do offer fresh, simple and fairly healthy foods but have to accept that lots of tourists want to experience the restaurants that Livingstone has to offer. Attracting outsiders to eat here seems more and more difficult.

But George argued that food and beverage outlets should not be considered an “evil necessity” to outsource. He said Crescent operates all of its own F&B outlets and they add a crucial edge over select-service hotels. “From a food component, the point of being full service is to be convenient at a good price,” he said. “Put the focus on it. The guests are looking for it.”

Sometimes our bar and restaurant seem to be an ‘evil necessity’ at other times great fun and good earners! It largely depends on the Guests we have staying.

“Wyndham Hotels and Resorts President Jeff Wagoner said the key is to be flexible and match the right food concept for every hotel. One hotel recently was asked to implement a “grab and go” feature, which normally is the hallmark of select-service properties. This particular hotel was not in a commercial area that would attract walk-by traffic from the neighborhood and its restaurant was suffering. “You don’t want to force it and have restaurant where you’re not going to have profit,” Wagoner said.”

Our menu evolves to reflect local cuisine and the most popular of our dishes on offer with timely innovation too.

“The old full service generic hotel direction is a wave of the past, like Top 40 radio,” she said. “We’re in the iPod generation. Everything is customized and focused on the future. We have to be in tune with our consumer and how they’re changing. The chains that understand that and innovate as times change are the ones that will succeed.”

Radio’s still popular in these parts (thank goodness), but in my car? Mp3!
The picture’s of part of our restaurant at Chanters Lodge.


Rafting’s Back!

High water white water rafting has returned to the Zambezi below Victoria Falls. Check this e mail we received from Safpar:

“We’re very excited to be able to announce that the river levels have dropped sufficiently for us to reopen white water rafting from this Saturday, 6th June. The trips will be running on “high water”, initially from rapids 14 – 25 and shortly after that (once the water levels have dropped further) from rapids 10 – 25.

At rapid 25, all clients will get the lift out of the gorge where our truck will be waiting for them with soft drinks and beers, they will then be driven back to Zambezi Waterfront for a well deserved meal and to watch the video of their day’s trip before being transferred back to their accommodation.”

So there you are, if you’ve reserved accommodation at Chanters Lodge and would like to make a rafting reservation, let me know!

The picture? My son Jan and wife Jo doing it in 2006!

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