Megan and Catherine Bloemker

“How come you two are sisters?” MJ (Milli Jam) asked Megan Bloemker when she and her sister Catherine appeared as guests on the latest edition of The Chanters Lodge Experience with the MJ Ingredient ft Soulchild last Sunday, the weekly radio show sponsored by Chanters Lodge on Zambezi Radio 107.5 fm, Livingstone’s popular local radio station. When you see Megan and Catherine in the cute photo above, you can understand why MJ was intrigued by the relationship! Megan explained to listeners that Catherine, a little Lozi orphan girl was adopted by Megan’s parents Betty and Bob in Zambia and taken home to Dixon, Illinois USA in 2004. She’s now turned 7 and has come back to Zambia for a visit with friends and relatives, and to see the mighty Victoria Falls. The family and friends Lyla, Cindy and Lianne Tjoelker were staying in accommodation reserved at Chanters Lodge (of course).

Megan works for Action Zambia as a missionary in Lusaka, although she holds a degree in opera studies from Roosevelt University in Chicago and studied further at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. She’s been in Lusaka for 3 years training teachers and organizing feeding programmes at Streams of Living Waters School in Mtendere and Emmanuel Christian School in Kanyama both high density housing areas in Lusaka. “Why missionary work and not acting or singing?” We asked and Megan explained that she’d first visited Africa when she was 16, involved in building a church in Zimbabwe. Africa had called her back – as it does – people say it ‘gets in your blood’! Megan’s also involved in an adoption programme in Lusaka.

“We hear you went to Chobe National Park on a 1 day safari today” MJ said to little Catherine “did you have a nice time and what animals did you see?” Catherine answered shyly that she’d seen Lulu The Giraffe, lions and elephants. “Why Lulu?” we asked and Megan explained that Catherine had a book by Carol Harvey called Lulu the Friendly Giraffe. “What’s you favourite animal in the whole world?” We asked Catherine. “A baby elephant” she answered. “And who’s your best friend back in America?” “Amanda” Catherine answered.

The play list was hot this week. “You Are Not Alone” by the other MJ was a natural choice and so too was “Better On The Other Side” The Game’s new song featuring Chris Brown, P.Diddy, Polow Da Don, Mario Winans, Usher & Boyz II Men – a tribute to the late Michael Jackson. Drake’s sizzling right now and we featured “A Night Off” something the assembled company were all looking forward to soon! Ne-Yo’s “Round and Round” and Ciara’s “Never Never” are two of my favourite tracks and we also featured two K’Millian numbers (he’d been our guest on last week’s show) “Give You My Love” and “Mukati Kamutima”. Lady Gaga and Asa topped off the list.

“Have prize winners been taking up their prizes?” MJ asked, and I replied that for some reason they had not in the past two weeks, perhaps because I’d stopped texting them that they’d won. So we asked listeners what public holiday Zambia was celebrating this weekend and the messages started streaming on to my phone. Winnie won a dinner for two and I sent her an sms right away telling her so!


#followfriday or #traveltuesday

I take myself to be pretty dull on Twitter, and it’s taken me ages to understand #FollowFriday. So for those of you like me, read this from Mashable.

“What is #followfriday? Every Friday, you’ll see thousands of people on Twitter using this phrase, so we thought we’d take a moment to explain what Follow Friday is, and how you can join in with this Twitter game.

Here is a quick guide to the FollowFriday phenomenon:

1. #followfriday is a game in which people suggest who to follow on Twitter. It helps everyone find interesting Twitter users. You list the users you recommend following and add “#followfriday” anywhere in the Tweet so others can find it. The “#” is very important – don’t forget it!

Example Tweet (feel free to copy this and replace the Twitter names with your friends’ Twitter names and reasons to follow): #followfriday Team Mash: @mashable @adamostrow @sharonfeder @jbruin @adamhirsch @benparr @brett @tamar

2. You can find everyone’s #followfriday suggestions on Twitter search.

Then there’s this from Retnev
“When I started using Twitter one of the first uses of hashtags that I saw was #followfriday. What a wonderful idea! It was started by @micah and it is so easy: every Friday you use #followfriday to suggest people to follow. Simple, easy, and fun. An excellent idea!

But why do I say don’t do #followfriday? I started doing #followfriday and sent out my first #followfriday tweets just like some of the examples I saw: After doing a few #followfriday’s I realized that it is not really working. You write a tweet with the #followfriday hashtag and add people you think should be followed and you feel good because you did #followfriday and even better when you receive a recommendation.

But take a good look at the tweet. Why would you follow any of the people mentioned? Because I said so? Or because you like their usernames? And if you receive a lot of tweets like that, who do you follow? A tweet like that does not give you any reason to follow the people recommended.

@SharonHayes started doing #followfriday in a completely different way. She writes a post on her blog with her #followfriday recommendations and tweet about it. She is doing it this way because “I think that a simple 140 character recommendation isn’t enough. Like many others that use Twitter, I believe in quality over quantity” If you see one of her #followfriday posts you will understand what she means by quality!

There you are! I’m not so much into #followfriday yet, or#traveltuesday for that matter, but I’m certainly learning!


Boom Time For Gary, Indiana?

This piece from Caryn Eve Murray in HotelInteractive will interest all Michael Jackson fans:

Gary, Indiana counts its Majestic Star Casino & Hotel, its SouthShore RailCats baseball team and even the nearby Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore among the biggest drawing cards in this struggling former steel town. But nothing, perhaps, could be bigger in Gary these days than one modest house in the heart of the city: The childhood home of Michael Jackson, whose sudden death last week after cardiac arrest turned the small frame structure, within hours, into a towering magnet for a gathering of the grief-stricken Jackson faithful. They arrived there mostly from homes only a short traveling distance away – far removed by hundreds of miles from the California mansion where their idol had fallen.

But if local officials have their way, many more hundreds, if not thousands, may soon want to go the distance to get to Gary. They see Jackson’s family home, and the two nearby schools the Jackson siblings attended – Garnett Elementary School and Roosevelt High School – as the epicenter of a collection of Jackson attractions paying homage to a beloved native son. The idea is nothing new, but this sudden and sad turn of events may give it a new impetus to grow. “Gary is the hometown where it all started,” said Curt Brantingham, public relations manager of the Indiana Office of Tourism. “Any tourism there would have to be something compelling to draw people, not just once but multiple times, something of such interest that it would have a wide appeal.”

But with Gary lacking the glamour and notoriety of Jackson’s high-profile Neverland Ranch in California, Brantingham said, “it is hard to speculate.” It is, however, not so hard for Gary’s Mayor Rudy Clay and members of the Gary Indiana Chamber of Commerce, who have lived for quite some time with the as-yet unrealized possibilities of honoring Jackson through a variety of appropriate attractions, even years before the pop star’s untimely death at the age of 50. Over the years, there has been talk of a museum, a monument – and a performing arts center, with the Jackson family involved in these discussions, even with previous administrations, said Lalosa Burns, Clay’s press secretary.

“We have thousands of hotel rooms in the immediate vicinity,” she said, most notably in Merrillville. “If people do make this an attraction and come and stay we can accommodate them and we would be happy to help.” The city’s location just southeast of Chicago makes it easy enough to get to, with access to Chicago’s airports and its proximity to Interstate 80 and 94. “This is the most traveled highway in the country, so we get a bit of traffic through here anyway,” said Chuck Hughes, executive director of Gary’s Chamber of Commerce.

Other than a beautiful lakefront, “we don’t have the greatest tourist attractions for people,” said Hughes. Still, there is potential, he said. “Invariably when people come, for whatever reason they come, they all ask and want to see Michael Jackson’s boyhood home. “Everybody is still in shock,” said Hughes. “We want to pay tribute. We know that he is gone. I would imagine in Gary and all over the world the wheels are turning in people’s heads, public officials, everyone wants to do something.”

Certainly the idea of a museum, incorporating Jackson’s personal and musical history, remains strong, as does a performing arts center, he said. But whether it gets off the drawing board in Gary, or elsewhere, is still unknown. Hughes, who served Gary as a councilman-at-large for many years, remembers when it almost seemed a brick-and-mortar possibility, even 10 or 15 years ago. “The project would have been so huge. But that was prior to all his problems,” he said. Had those troubles never surfaced, he said, “who knows what would have transpired?


Zambia Tourism Awards 2009

I originally heard about these awards from Best of Zambia, rapidly becoming my source of all worthwhile information about the tourism business in this country via Twitter. But this post is from John Chola:

“An initiative designed to promote and reward excellence in tourism operations has been launched in Zambia. The initiative was also aimed at being recognised as a prestigious event hence attracting both public and industry-wide support and extensive media coverage.

Launching the initiative on Tuesday at Lusaka’s Southern Sun Ridgeway, the hotel’s general manager Adrian Penny said the initiative presented a high profile opportunity to showcase the best tourism operators in Zambia. Mr Penny said the Zambia Tourism Awards would motivate stakeholders to continue upgrading services in order to become globally competitive, inspire stakeholders to contribute to the development of the tourism industry in Zambia and help promote Zambian tourism to domestic and international markets.

He said that the initiative would recognise and ward categories such as best safari accommodation, best hotel, best guesthouse, best lodge and best back packer facilities. Operators offering camping site and Caravan Park, heritage and culture tourism sports, clean and green as well as community tourism would be awarded accordingly. “Other award categories included the best travel and tour operator, the best restaurant or catering service, the best tourism transport award, the best in tourism promotion and the guide of the year Award,” said Penny adding: “we also have awards for the best in adventure tourism, best entrepreneur award, tourism facilitation and the Zambia tourism special”.

The awards would be open to all Zambia-based tourism operators and application had been restricted to online participants. Mr Penny encouraged businesses and the public to take part through a website “Just visit and click the Tourism Awards button on the top of the page between 1st July 2009 and 15th August 2009 to participate,” Mr Penny said.

There would be site visits commence in September and October 2009 while winners would be announced at the high profile awards night slated for November 2009 in Livingstone. Mr Penny said that the 2009 Zambia Tourism Awards were a public-private sector partnership initiated by the public sector through the SEED Project under the Ministry of Tourism, Environment & Natural Resources and co-organised with the Tourism Council of Zambia.

He said that the initiative was also supported by private sector agencies such as The Best of Zambia, Capacity Building for Private Sector Development, Southern Sun Ridgeway and Radio Phoenix. The initiators of the Zambia Tourism Awards encouraged more support from the private sector towards sponsorship of different awards, marketing and promotion of the event.

Meanwhile, one of the initiators Joseph Brown said that in order to encourage Zambians to sample the country’s tourism most operators had introduced special rates. Mr Brown said Zambians visiting tourist resorts around the country would be charged a special rate different from those paid by foreign tourists.”

And would I have a strong objection if you went straight from reading this to nominating Chanters Lodge in the best Guest House category? Um, no! No objection at all!

Nice to see my old hotel The Ridgeway in Lusaka right up there as a sponsor too! The picture? Victoria Falls, an automatic winner in every category!


More From Mustapha’s Place

The latest from this awesome tropical paradise. Talk about mouth watering!

“We have a new chef now at Mustapha’s Place, and we are going to be doing Thai dishes such as crab and coconut cakes, hot and sour crispy squid and lime salad, steamed fish with lemongrass and fried fish with chilli and tamarind as well as classics such as jumbo prawns in red curry paste and massaman chicken curry. We will still be serving an array of Swahili classics as well.

We are also going to be launching our new Casuarina treetop spa shortly (mid-July) and also check out our hotel blog for travel pieces on undiscovered Zanzibar, such as the new Kiwengwa-Pongwe forest reserve, the old village of Unguja Ukuu and the Jambiani cultural village tour.”

How nice is that?!I seriously want to spend time there, sleep and eat!


Round And Round

When I was about 12 or 13 years old my dear late mother, who loved classical music and indeed sang in choirs for such, asked me ‘when do you think you’ll grow out of pop music darling?’. The truth is that I never have and I’m very happy about that! I love this sensational, sizzling new Ne-Yo track! Great ring tone too! Here, we think, are some of the lyrics:

“Baby when we first met
It was kind of fly that I couldn’t predict your mood
Said I could never guess (so) and it was the best (so)
Not like any other dude
But I don’t know man, I don’t know man, I don’t know man
I don’t really really know

But before my eyes I saw the good you leave
And the bad you start to show
And I just can’t take it (can’t take it)
No I just can’t take it (No)
So we ain’t gon make it (ain’t gon mae it)
This is relationship and gon make it (no)

I’m tired of all this Round and Round we go
You can’t decide if you wanna be trite or treat me right
So round & round we go
While I decided don’t wanna ride anymore
I’m sick and tired of you taking me Round & Round
Round & Round we go
I’m sick and tired of you taking me Round & around and around
Round & Round we go, round and round we go

round and round we go
Don’t get excited anymore when you’re sweet to me
Because I know one, two, three minutes later
You’ll be right back to being mean
It’s flowers on a Monday, Tuesday you’re hating me
Wednesday’s makeup sex is so amazing
What will it be Thursday, will it be friendly
??? like you’ve been sleeping with the enemy
Thought So


Look at me, look at me, so damn dizzy
Tryina keep, tryina keep, trying to keep up with you
Baby you’re Doctor ???, Mister ???
Slowly ruining my life for me
Baby I don’t need you
Round and Round we go, Round & Round we go


So there you are then! Round and Round we go!



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?


‘Monkey Business’ at Bristol Zoo!

From the Bristol Evening Post:

Outside Bristol Zoo in the west of England, is the car park, with spaces for 150 cars and 8 coaches. It has been manned 6 days a week for 23 years by the same charming and very polite car park attendant with the ticket machine. The charges are £1 per car and £5 per coach.

On Monday 1 June, he did not turn up for work. Bristol Zoo management phoned Bristol City Council to ask them to send a replacement parking attendant. The Council said “That car park is your responsibility.” The Zoo said “The attendant was employed by the City Council… wasn’t he?” The Council said “What attendant?”

Gone missing from his home is a man who has been taking daily the car park fees amounting to about £400 per day for the last 23 years…!

Total sum just short £2.9 million.

Don’t you just love their slogan – ‘see it, sense it, save it’. The money, of course!


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!

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