Jun 30, 2010

NCC Response

In the spirit of fairness, I wanted to share the email I received today from the NCC secretariat. This was sent in response to my query as to why Zambia’s draft constitution was not posted online when it was released last week. 

Not only did he attach the document to the email, but he also provided links to four websites where the document can be downloaded. It's good to know I wasn't the only person asking the question because there were several other recipients on the email list. The turnaround took about a week, and I am impressed. Bravo!

Dear all,
May I sincerely apologise on behalf of NCC Executive and the Secretariat and indeed on my own behalf for the problems that you have encountered In accessing the two documents from the various websites where they have been uploaded. 
I would like to assure you that the intention of the NCC is to ensure that as many stakeholders as possible gain access to the documents and make their views known. This is good for the country and there will be no attempt by the NCC to restrict access. All the problems you and others may be encountering in accessing these documents are purely technical and we are working on resolving them. It is for this reason that we have uploaded the documents on four websites, namely:
(1) www.parliament.gov.zm,
(2) www.governance.gov.zm,
(3) www.ncczambia.org, and
(4) www.znbc.co.zm.
 Let me end by thanking you for the interest you have shown in ensuring that your views on the Constitution of your nation are expressed. It is in the interest of all the stakeholders to ensure that we give ourselves a Constitution we desire by reflecting fully how we want to govern ourselves.
Once again, we are very sorry for the inconvenience that you have been subjected to in accessing the documents.
Newton I. Ng'uni
Deputy Secretary 

Jun 29, 2010

The Great Ones

I really love the work Camfed does in rural communities in Africa. They currently work in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana and Malawi and use a community-based approach to support young and vulnerable children.

What they do:
  • Provide school supplies, fees and uniforms from primary school through secondary school, technical college, and university
  • Offer business training and small grants to help women launch small businesses
  • Through their alumni association (Cama) help young women become young leaders and agents of change in their communities.
Please take 10 minutes out of your day to watch this video. You'll be moved!  

Where is the line?

Paul Kagame has been a darling of the international community since he took office in Rwanda almost 7 years ago. He and his troops have been credited for putting an end to the brutal killings that marred this little nation during the 100 bloody days in 1994.

As President he has been touted as a progressive through his appointments of women cabinet members (which I’ve personally cheered on this blog), and his efforts to promote Rwanda as a fertile territory for investment. Foreign aid pours in, and the country may well be one of the few African countries to reach the millennium development goals.

However, disturbing information continues to seep out about Kagame’s grip on power. These include the suppression of media, arrests of opposition leaders, and the country’s role in the current conflict(s) in the DRC. There has to be some truth in the allegations, yet very people are willing to talk about it openly let alone criticise Kagame.

So, is restricting the press and opposition parties acceptable, if the country is progressing? Where do we draw line and say, “Sir, you have indeed crossed the line, and we cannot let you continue down that path because you are a threat to our wellbeing”. Also, are these freedoms germane to development? 

Jun 28, 2010

Don't you love irony?

• noun (pl. ironies) Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs

In the ongoing verbal spat between government officials and the donor community:

In Vice-President George Kunda’s words - “We have been independent since 1964 and we’ve been looking after our own affairs. Zambia is a sovereign state that has been taking care of its own affairs and the government will not allow the donor community to interfere in the country’s internal matters”. Read more…

Alright congratulations to us; here’s a pat on the shoulder. But if we’re oh-so-independent why then is this another news story on the same day?

“The British government has pledged to honour the 54 million pounds annual budgetary support to Zambia”.  Read more…

Textile and Clothing Industry

When talking about the decline of the textile and clothing industry in Zambia and other parts of the developing world the common culprit blamed is salaula (second-hand clothes). Zambia is indeed one of the few countries in the world that does not limit the amount of salaula imported.  No prizes for guessing the other culprit - cheap imports from China. This argument has gained much political mileage and is quite worn out, but that didn’t stop Sakwiba Sikota (United Liberal Party president) from regurgitating the age old adage and calling for the government to place restrictions on these imports to revitalise the local textile industry.

The reason I say the argument is worn out is because the solution as proposed by Sikota and others only answers part of the problem. The crowding out of local industry was indeed facilitated by the government’s inability to provide import protection but also because insufficient attention was paid to export promotion during the era of market liberalisation.

So, if the government were to limit imports what work would accompany it to stimulate local production? Idle capacity exists in Kafue Textiles and the Zambia-China Mulungushi Textiles (ZCMT) and would need to be brought online to increase fabric production. I haven’t heard of anyone looking to start production at these shuttered plants, though the Chinese government still owns a 66 percent stake in ZCMT and would probably have a large say in what happens to the facility.

Zambia produces high quality cotton, and could become more competitive if yarn and fabric are made within the country. This local production would effectively decrease raw-material and transportation costs. It sad to note that Zambia currently under-utilises opportunities within the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and is missing out on being a major supplier of yarn and fabric regionally and internationally.

Investment in the area of textiles and clothing needs to be spurred, and it will not be enough to wait for the government to do so. The opportunities exist and simply eliminating import of second hand clothes will not get us where we need to get – meeting the demand for clothes. 

Rural Solar Engineers

I’ve been reading up on solar energy and came across this Youtube video. It showcases the rural women who have brought solar electricity to rural villages in various African countries.  It is also challenges our ideas about formal education and technical training. Now, how do we make this more widespread? 

Jun 24, 2010

Where is God in Poverty?

"Can overfed, comfortably clothed, and luxuriously housed persons understand poverty? Can we truly feel what it is like to be a nine-year old boy playing outside a village school he can not attend because his father is unable to afford the books? Can we comprehend what it means for poverty- stricken parents to watch with helpless grief as their baby daughter dies of common childhood disease because they, like at least one-quarter of our global neighbors today, lack access to elementary health services? Can we grasp the awful truth that thirty-four thousand children die every day of hunger and preventable diseases?"

Jun 22, 2010

Superiority Complex

I will be the first to admit that I am football mad. In my mind there’s no better way to spend my weekend than watching a live game of football, preferably in a stadium but mostly in the comfort of my home or local sports bar. 

Understandably when the Africa Cup and World Cup come along I go a little rabid. However, with respect to my co-workers and others around me that do not watch the sport I do try to tone it down until I am in an environment that is conducive for my euphoria. I do not get into arguments with people about the merits of football especially living in a country where it is considered a sport for primary school going children. I am not an apostle of football here to convert people, and I would rather not have my blood pressure rise due to insipid arguments with the lost.

So, keeping this mind it’s been my determination to just watch the games, read the news from my trusted sources and follow the blogs from commentators that love the game like I do. I have made no time to listen to the age old gripes:
“What’s so special about watching 11 men chasing a round ball for 90 minutes?”
“Why can’t games always end with a winner and a loser, as opposed to sometimes ending in a draw?”
You have a quip? I’ve probably already heard it in various versions. Move on.

Needless to say, I was a little irritated when I came across an article by Peter King of Sports Illustrated in my mailbox. In it he’s bemoaning the US national team’s draw with Slovenia and in particular the disallowed goal. Sorry mate, but the whistle was blown before Edu got the ball – therefore the goal was invalid. 

But what really annoys me about King’s article is how he describes the referee, Koman Coulibaly, as being unfit and over his head because his “highest previous assignment was the African Cup,” which according to him is “the equivalent of a Mid-American Conference ref being assigned the Super Bowl”.  W.O.W.

It wasn’t enough for the ESPN commentators to call Coulibaly a disgrace but insults had to be heaped on about his nationality and qualifications? I wonder if this type of language would have been used if Koman wasn’t from a “little landlocked country” called Mali but instead hailed from England or Germany? 

Is it little wonder that black children are taught they will have to work twice as hard as someone with lighter skin to prove that they’re capable of doing the job? When you mess up it won’t just be, “Koman, you may have made a mistake” but rather “Koman, you black idiot, you cost US the game”. 

So, to you Mr King and your lynch mob (those that have set up facebook pages calling for Coulibaly’s head and defaced his wikipedia page) quit your whining and grow up. Your behaviour is insufferable and leaves the rest of us with brains in awe of your stupidity and unbridled bigotry.

To FIFA, shame on you for being spineless and calling for an expedited review. Where was that review when Thierry Henry’s handball was allowed to stand and France qualified for the World Cup at the expense of the Republic of Ireland? If you want to reform the game, don’t start by leading a referee to the slaughter without cause to placate U.S. fans and big mouthed pundits with no understanding of the game.  

Jun 21, 2010

Righteous Indignation

If I’ve learned anything living in the U.S. it is righteous indignation. I have observed how Americans are not always willing to sit back and wait for government (local, state and federal) to take care of things especially in areas where a perceived or real injustice is happening. Case in point – the gulf oil spill; I’ve been following this quite closely and it’s fair to say the American people are outraged. This outrage has been directed all the way from BP to the President and in bowing to the pressure BP has set up a $20 billion compensation fund for the victims. And this is doesn’t even cover what they are expected to pay out in liability.

So, where am I going with this? Well, as I look inwards I have to ask myself and my fellow Zambians - where is our moral outrage? While we do not carry the burden of oil borne by the West Africans we do have copper, cobalt, fertile land, and other resources whose riches are out reach for most of us. We’ve heard the complaints from miners working to extract copper about unsafe conditions coupled with low wages, and what are we doing? Waiting for the government to step in and correct things?

Pardon me my scepticism but when was the last time our government and its leaders had the backbone to stand up to a multi-national corporation accused of wrong doing? Was it after 49 people were killed in Chambishi at the BGRIMM Explosives Plant? That would be NO. At last check the findings from the 2005 explosion were still nowhere to be seen, and once again we’re left scratching our heads making small whimpers that are drowned out by large earth moving vehicles extracting minerals from our land and taking the wealth elsewhere.   

I am not going to get into a philosophical discussion about the role of government that can wait another day but I will say this – to achieve any meaningful change we, as Zambians and Africans as a whole, have to take a more visible role in matters. The challenges are great but can be overcome one battle at a time. And, no, this is not a call for anarchy but for us to become active citizens.

So, instead of just importing the worst of American culture in the form of trashy reality shows and misogynistic music let us embrace the best they have to offer, righteous indignation channelled through activism.

Putting words into action:

I have finished drafting my letter to former Zambian finance minister and current Chilanga MP, Ng’andu Magande, asking about his plans (if any exist) to re-introduce the mining windfall tax through parliament. I touched on this in an earlier post.

I am also following the example set by Chola Mukanga (Zambian Economist blogger) in demanding that government release information about the valuation of our national telecom company, Zamtel, which was recently sold to the Libyan government for $257 million. See here and here for more information. 

Jun 17, 2010

Esther Phiri

If you’re in the mood for another narrative that will leave you a little choked up and believing in people’s ability to rise from improbable beginnings take a walk with me, and read about the story of Esther Phiri.

Esther, a Zambian boxer, has amassed 7 titles in just 13 matches. She has survived life as an orphan, being a single mother at 15, selling vegetables in a market to become Zambia’s most popular athlete with a world title nonetheless!

Check out the following:

An in-depth ESPN Article and 5 minute Video

And pictures from a recent photo shoot taken by Gareth Bentley

Jun 16, 2010

50/50 Campaign

Much has been said about Rwanda’s gender balanced parliament – it recently superseded Sweden as number one in the world in terms of women’s parliamentary representation with 56.3 percent against Sweden’s 47.3 percent. President Kagame also appointed women to nine of 28 ministerial positions.

Malawi also looks to be making strides in this direction to meet the SADC protocol on Gender and Development target of 50 percent women in political and decision-making positions by 2015. A 50/50 campaign  launched to “ensure that more women than ever before sit in local government seats before the November election” is gaining steam. This campaign comes on the heels of an increase in the number of women representatives elected into parliament. Women now constitute 22 percent of the parliament up from 14 percent.

The numbers are obviously impressive and cannot be easily overlooked. However, what I think is even more impressive is the work happening behind the scenes. In Rwanda, UNDP and the Netherlands funded a project to train women in decision making, strengthen women’s civil society organisations and establish structures for women at all government levels.

In Malawi, the strategy employed has been to take women through community mobilisation meetings to introduce the candidates and push the message for why they would be suitable candidates for office. Support has also been provided to gain air time on radio, production of campaign materials and providing transportation.

Women are currently very active in civil organisations and grassroots movements, and it’s quite logical that many are taking the next step into public policy and legislative positions. These are the people with experience in mobilising communities, and that experience is beneficial.
So, if we look at the Rwanda experience, since they have been leading the way in Africa since 1994 are there tangible benefits to having a more gender balanced parliament and cabinet? And if there are can these be replicated in other parts of the continent such as Zambia?

Yes, there have been benefits!        

With the continued presence of women in parliament and their increased number, there has been a normalisation in the discussion of topics that are of great significance to women - these would include gender-based violence, inheritance and property rights.  This has indeed translated into the passage of legislation friendly to women.

Of course these laws have been passed with the help of the male members of parliament and that cannot be understated. With that said, I believe it is important to recognise that without a significance presence of women willing to tackle the issues they know face millions of the country women this would have taken longer to accomplish if at all.

A lot of good work is done in civil organisations because they tend to draw attention to the issues that would otherwise be overlooked or ignored all together and with partners in key government positions and decision-making positions more can be accomplished. And I hope other countries will learn from the Rwandese to help make our societies more equitable for both men and women.

Numbers in politics do matter! 

Jun 14, 2010

Mandatory Testing

A Livingstone High court declared mandatory HIV testing illegal and unconstitutional. The ruling stemmed from a case brought by two former soldiers who complained that that they were subjected to testing without their consent by the Zambia Air Force (ZAF), and as a result of their positive testing were dismissed.

This ruling is quite unprecedented and adds another interesting layer in the ongoing discussion about whether or not HIV testing should be made mandatory especially in areas such as Zambia where the prevalence of the disease stands at 14 percent.

There is still stigma attached to HIV/AIDS that makes life difficult for the people that test positive, as well as their families and this acts as a deterrent for getting testing. There are obvious benefits for getting tested – it allows one to start treatment sooner if the results are positive and thus prolonging life.

An effective system needs to have the critical components of fully informed consent, confidentiality, and counselling. Until those elements co-exist testing levels will remain low, and implementing mandatory/compulsory standards will not reverse the trend.

Focus needs to be placed on education. Not everyone understands the benefits of being tested, and this ignorance kills.

-     Prenatal health care provides a unique opportunity to provide life-saving information about HIV to many people. For expectant mothers if found positive there is need to adopt better diets and treatment to minimise the risk of mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

The role of the father in this situation cannot be over emphasised, and there should be counselling for both before and after testing. The burden is often borne by the mother and unfairly places blame on her for infecting her child and sometimes her partner, as well.

-     If informed consent is not sought or given, and the understanding is that people get tested against their will, there may be a backlash. People will not seek medical attention for simple ailments for fear of being tested and this may prove detrimental for public health. We already have a culture of poor health service utilisation resulting from poverty and limited access, and it could possibly worsen with people dying from cases of untreated malaria, botched unattended home births and the like.

-     We need to get back to the messaging from the 1980s and 1990s – “Stop Grazing”. This called for behaviour modification – moving away from the practice of multiple partners. Unfortunately this was sacrificed at the altar of more condoms for Africa. This was a flawed decision on the part of donors and government officials.

And to round this out, access to ARVs also needs to be improved as a means of providing hope and treatment.  If we educate people fully of the benefits of being tested and behaviour modification to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the HIV but do not have adequate treatment, it undermines the message.

We have come a long way in the last 5-7 years, and more is yet to be done. Having HIV does not have to be death sentence anymore. People can remain productive longer – working, raising families, etc and this aids a country in the short and long term. We’ve seen anecdotal and research findings about the loss of time and productivity experienced by employers when employees are constantly sick; it hampers progress. With effective treatment, this is minimised and we are able to keep the most productive longer! 

A Good Narrative

I absolutely love a good narrative, and the last four days has found me immersed in many. With South Africa hosting the World Cup, the television networks and organisers have worked to provide a narrative about the country, its people, and the tournament. The fan culture in Africa and in this case South Africa is most impressive, and I for one am glad it’s being beamed across the globe.

Most it shouldn’t be new, but it never hurts to be reminded of where this country has come from, where it is now, and where it is headed. Last night I was particularly struck by the story of the young political prisoners housed on Robben Island during the 60s, 70s and 80s who were not only united in their opposition to apartheid, but in their love for the game. They set up their own league of 27 teams with set of rules, a constitution, and an association of leaders. In the words of one, this was preparation for the government they were to set up when they left the Island.

It is humbling to see the faces of those who sacrificed so much not their personal glory but for their fellow man in the hope for better future. I wonder if I would be that brave to fight the things I believe in.

Check out the featured video on the ESPN website – the Robben Island Feature.

Jun 8, 2010

All eyes on the motherland!

A few years ago, a song titled Kayaby Danny became very popular. The basic premise of the song is about how many of us will be around to see the future (tomorrow, next week, next year) given the fragility of life – from the births of grandchildren to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. We have lost many along the way. In my case I lost my father in 2006 and a very dear friend in 2009. But along the way I have welcomed nieces and nephews and it is with them that I’ll be sharing memories of what 2010 means.

I can hardly believe we’re just days away from kick-off at the World Cup. I am not only looking forward to the tournament because of the football but because on this rare occasion all eyes will be on Africa, and the reason is not a negative one.

We won’t be hearing about Zuma and his harem or about Mugabe sipping on Mo├ęt and eating caviar while Zimbabweans barely have enough sadza or about Rupiah Banda being urinated on by a monkey at a press conference.

Instead, we’ll have football and the wonderful faces of a continent reinvigorated on display. Pardon me the incorrect grammar, but “we love us some football!”

As I count down the days and hours, I’ll also be spending time in prayer asking that this event be not usurped by the lunatics that have already made international travel for the brown man a tedious and harassing affair.

Who knows when another 2010 will come to the motherland? Let us make the most of this occasion and make memories to last a lifetime. The spotlight is burning with a fierce intensity.

Jun 7, 2010

Is it fear?

Why is it that in the year 2010, I still have to read about women denied education, the right to hold a job, the right to choose how many children they want and the even the right to move freely in their communities?

What is it about women being empowered to make economic, social, and personal decisions that frighten men so?
  • Is it the natural order of things that someone must always be subordinate and in humankind that (dis)honour falls to women?
  • Is it a fear that if we have enough power and influence we’ll turn around and subjugate men, treating them as unfairly as many of us have been treated?
Men, gird your loins! We have no desire to be men or be like men; so rest easy your masculinity is not risk. We want for ourselves, and for our children the opportunities to be successful. Life is hard enough as it is without the additional shackles that keep many women chained to the kitchen or maternity bed.

Women in the economy should be seen as partners and not usurpers.

Science doesn’t support earlier notions that women aren’t as clever as men. So, there goes the argument that women can’t think or fend for themselves.

And if you want to go back further using the religious argument, I am pretty sure it’s written woman is a companion and partner to man, not simply his brood mare. See Genesis 2:20.

So, what’s the fear that drives a general disenfranchisement of women? Or is there no fear at all, just an unwillingness to do away with the status quo? This is definitely not just typical of the developing world so we can’t say this is a poor man’s problem. Men, what scares you so? 

photo credit: Afrochic Photography

Jun 6, 2010


The Economist just published an interesting article about The International Criminal Court (ICC) trying to “demystify itself in Africa”. Uganda played host in a series of events last week that were intended to review the work of the ICC since its inception in 2002, and to demonstrate support for the court. “Thirty of Africa’s 53 countries have signed up to the ICC, the largest continental block among 111 signatory countries”. Read the full article.

I appreciate the purpose of the court – acting as the court of last resort to prosecute individuals responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. This is an important role given the reality that some countries are unwilling or genuinely unable to investigate or prosecute such crimes.

So, I would contend that it’s a good thing for the ICC to send people into the field and explain their work, as the article suggests.

But what’s being done internally to strengthen national judicial systems in countries such as Zambia where we haven’t had to deal with war crimes that often result from war and disorder? I am sure Zambians are more concerned with local/national courts and the “justice” meted out. How do we restore confidence in our systems whereby people have the assurance that crimes reported to the police force will be handled in an impartial and professional manner, and if the cases proceed to court the same can be said for the lawyers and judges? 

All too often the neediest in our society have little chance of having a fair hearing in court in matters such as domestic violence, property inheritance, "defaming" the president, to mention but a few. This is where more work is needed.  

Jun 4, 2010

Continued Madness

This wasn’t my intended post for today but I believe this issue takes greater precedence. Fred M’membe, The Post’s Editor-in-chief, has been sentenced to four months imprisonment with hard labour for contempt of court. The contempt case arose from an opinion piece authored by Prof Muna Ndulo titled: The Chansa Kabwela case: A Comedy of Errors, and published in the paper last August.

In this article, Ndulo suggests that the prosecution of Chansa Kabwela was unnecessary and damaging to Zambia’s image and standing “as a tolerant and democratic country”. His criticism was directed at the political motivations behind the prosecution, driven primarily by President Banda and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Ndulo and M’membe were brought up on contempt of court charges on the grounds that they were attempting to influence the court. Exactly which article was the prosecution reading? If it’s the same article that I and many others have read, at no point does Ndulo try to influence the thinking or decision making of the court in the case against Kabwela. He specifically points out errors of judgment made initially by the police at the direction of the President, and subsequently by the prosecution.

The case against Kabwela was flimsy and should not have been pursued. It blatantly displayed the weaknesses of our state institutions that are supposed to provide checks and balances. It also further confirmed the executive dominance that still exists in Zambia.

Ndulo’s article was not neither heretical nor inaccurate. His sentiments were echoed by many others but unfortunately the loudest voices heard weren’t the voices of reason and this case cropped up and barreled through the courts.

Personal opinions about M’membe aside, this contempt case and the subsequent ruling mark a sad day for those of an independent mind. Who is next?  

Jun 3, 2010

Bitter Friend

I have known you all my life
As a child I barely knew your name
But of your existence I was keenly aware
You’ve touched my life in ways seen and unseen
And, I fear you bitter friend

My life is changed because of you
In my thoughts, my actions, and my awareness
You strip, you humiliate, you denigrate
You know no mercy
And, I fear you bitter friend

Lost loved ones to you
Lives laid to waste
Broken, defeated, ravaged
Orphans made ruthlessly
More lives changed because of you
And, I fear you bitter friend

I have known you all my life
Your name is known to me
I know your work, I know your face
My life is forever changed because of you
I fear you bitter friend. 

Jun 2, 2010

Zed Crew

Zed Crew is a 45 minute film, set and shot on location in Zambia. It tells the story of three young men with the dream of making it big as hip hop artists. Their destination in mind is New York City, but when one of them is denied a visa they make the desperate decision to be smuggled in containers across the ocean. 

The film was directed by Canadian director, Noah Pink and was shown at the Cannes Film Festival a few weeks ago. It stars local actors, including rapper Alvin Fungo aka The Lyricist

I've been on the hunt for the full length video with no success, so we'll have to make do with the trailer. If and when I find the film I'll share the information so others can purchase it or download it (depending on how it's made available). 

Jun 1, 2010

Henry VIII v. Nzinga Mbemba

One thing I love about three day weekends aside from an extra day to sleep in (theoretically) is the chance to catch up on TV shows I have been recording. I unfortunately didn’t get to the series finale of 24 but I did watch episodes of The Tudors

The Tudors is an excellent show on Showtime® depicting the life and times of Henry VIII, England’s infamous philanderer and chief architect of the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church. I really like the show because it’s very well done, and I am a closet history buff who takes keen interest in dramatic interpretations of history.

As I was decompressing from my marathon session I got to thinking about other history mini-series I like, and a bulb in my head went on.

When is the last time I watched a show or mini-series depicting African history/civilization, outside of Egypt?

I initially drew a blank, until I remembered an episode of Modern Warfare on the History Channel that showed weaponry used by Shaka Zulu’s as compared to William Wallace’s. However, that was a small drop in the ocean as the episode only ran about 30 minutes.

Back to the drawing board! If memory serves me correct the last mini-series that I watched depicting pre-colonial African history (of the non-Egyptian fare) was Shaka on TV Zambia. Furthermore, this is quite possibly the only one I have ever watched too, granted I’ve seen it a dozens of times. It’s pathetic, I know!

So, why is that the case? I know more than I ever needed to about Henry VIII and his insatiable greed and the same goes for Cleopatra and her motley crew. And yet the supply and demand for more movies and shows on these subjects doesn’t seem to ebb.

Is there no room in the market from depictions of the Wene wa Mutapa or the Wene wa Kongo?

- The Wene wa Mutapa (Mutapa Empire) was the first major civilisation established in modern day Zimbabwe. It was ruled by a line of kings known as the Mwene Matapa. The empire encompassed the territory between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers, in what is now Zimbabwe and Mozambique, from the 14th to the 17th century. "The wealth of this empire was based on small-scale industries such as iron smelting, textiles, gold and copper, and agriculture. At its height this empire was part of a gold trade network that extended as far as China". It is associated with the historical site known as Great Zimbabwe.

- The Wene wa Kongo (Kingdom of Kongo) existed from roughly the late 1300s to the 1900s and was located in West Central Africa roughly at the mouth of the great Congo River. The ruler was known as the Mwene Kongo, or “Lord of the Kongo.” A once powerful and influential kingdom, its territories included parts of modern Angola, the Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

These are just two examples, there are many others. Africa has such as a rich and diverse cultural history, and I am just dying to see more of it make the leap from secondary school textbooks to the television screen. I want more people to know African civilisations existed before the Portuguese came onto our shores.

My ancestors weren’t cannibalistic, misogynistic, half-witted idolaters waiting for David Livingstone and his fellow missionaries to redeem their souls. They were skilled traders, scholars, warriors and hunters, etc and they deserve more than just a footnote in history.

So, are there any film makers out there willing to take on a new story? 

p.s.. Before you hit up Wikipedia - Nzinga Mbemba was the ruler of the Wene wa Kongo from 1509 – 1542 at the same time as Henry VIII of England.