What do you do when you find yourself face to face with an outspoken creative? I say befriend them. You always need a powerhouse in your corner and I’m privileged to call today’s highlighted creative a friend.
Meet Leelee Puthumile Ngwenya. Not only is she a freelance writer for various magazines such as Nkwazi Magazine and Zambia Travel Magazine, she also has experience editing the digital magazine ‘The Alchemist’ AND hosting Radio and Television shows.
She has worked as a Social Media Strategist & Content Manager as well as a Director on Drama series. Leelee enjoys the art of storytelling and promoting artists through her writing.
One thing you should know about Leelee is that she will always strive to start or open up conversations in our communities especially the difficult ones and she’s unapologetic about that.
Her passion for people and the arts shows through whether she’s writing a TV script, hosting a show, directing TV, creating an advertising campaign or presenting on radio.
I managed to catch up with her and poke her mind for a few gems:
Describe yourself in 5 words
Loud and Proud! (it’s a phrase okay), creative, go-getter, powerful.
What two films would you like to combine into one?
The Science of Sleep by Michel Gondry and Us by Jordan Peele… I love both films and they have these psychological elements that I really enjoy, one is surrealism and the other is horror. Why not combine them!
What product do you wish a company would make a “smart” version of?
Oh, this is tough one…I feel like I really need smart public transportation, like environmentally friendly trains through the city, the ones with the magnetic track…so its not that they don’t exist but Ulendo should transition into a train system to save our roads, environment and to give us an efficient way to travel. Oh no now, I’ve gone down a rabbit hole…I don’t know that it’s a ‘smart’ concept but DRAINAGE! Can we actually let water go somewhere if we are gonna pour concrete over soil and remove where water would flow through? I got stuck in a flood two weeks ago and thankfully I have a big car because otherwise I would be buying new car parts right now for a smaller car due to flooding. Smart solar would be nice…like lets power our homes people! I love a good solar panel.
What songs do you feel compelled to sing along with when you hear them, even if you don’t totally know all the words?
Baby shark…I have nieces and nephews so yeah I know the dance. I google lyrics so I’ll never not know the words, other songs include “living on a prayer” by Bon Jovi, anything by Minnie Ripperton and Marvin Gaye is a karaoke moment. I studied music so I love to sing.
When was the last time you were hopelessly lost?
Last year June 2019, about 15 years of trauma, ptsd and depression accumulated in a breakdown. I am in a better place now thanks to medication and therapy…so much therapy. If I could afford therapy twice a week I would go twice a week, I know it can be addictive but its so beneficial. You realise we are all walking around with our own trauma and we don’t know how to overcome it. We just try to put it away, shove it down and keep moving. Mental health is so important, you go to the dentist to check on your teeth, the doctor to check on your body, why wouldn’t you want to check on your brain and emotions?
In what situations, do you wish you could throw down a smoke bomb and disappear?
The greatest thing about therapy is that I learned that I don’t need to be invisible, I don’t want to be. So I wouldn’t throw down a smoke bomb, I am staying and fighting. I have learned to bask in the glory of confrontation and difficult conversation, its actually quite funny seeing others squirm.
Think of a brand, now what would an honest slogan for that brand be? Is Zambia a brand?
An honest slogan would be #OutrageNation because a lot of the time we tend to focus on and get affected by small things. Its actually annoying because we miss out on focusing on our actual problems, we get outraged by the word Vagina or by a Thigh on TV. Why doesn’t poverty and famine and rape culture outrage you? Instead you are focused on people’s bedrooms and what they are doing…but corruption and cholera don’t outrage you. The fact that you are living without healthcare doesn’t outrage you! Ooooh it gets me heated.
If you had a giraffe that you needed to hide, where would you hide it?
We don’t hide in 2020. Giraffe and I are gonna be out in the open living our best lives, travelling on boats and planes together.
If you wanted to slowly drive a roommate insane using only notes, what kind of notes would you leave around the house?
Chores, to do lists. I am that kind of person and I know that would drive someone to move out. I put post-its on food in the fridge and label things sometimes and I live alone…my dad and brother visit but yeah…I love a post-it.
What’s the weirdest thing about modern life that people just accept as normal?
Oppression. We have normalized oppression, our parents did, our great grandparents. So much so that when we are being oppressed, we just put it down to a regular day or something we have to deal with. You don’t have to deal with anything that is systemic abuse, I’m done with oppression and internalizing it. Expose it, highlight it, discuss it and fight it! That’s the only way things are going to get better for any of us.
What word do you always mispronounce?
It would have to be a Nyanja word…hence me never speaking it in public! I am pretty good at pronouncing English words. You can google pronunciations! Yeah so I probably mispronounce local words a lot. I speak Ndebele (I’m proudly Zimbabwean), French, Spanish and English.
What’s the silliest thing you’ve convinced someone of?
I don’t have time for that. I’m not a good liar, I tend to laugh.
What would be the most unsettling thing to keep occasionally finding around your house?
A dead anything; body, animal, insect. (I went dark with my answer, I know!)
If you were in charge renaming things so that their names would be more accurate, what names would you come up with?
I don’t want brands coming after me so let me just be quiet. Ummm I may rename anything named by colonialists to something representing our own. I love the Leading Ladies podcast by the women’s history museum because it has taught me so much about women throughout Zambian history, we all know women are written out of history as are black people. So I would name roads and monuments and buildings after these women.
What do you need help with most often?
Simple chores like sweeping and mopping. I do love to wash dishes its therapeutic but I tend to get lazy with house chores. I’ll take the trash out, but mopping…ugh I hate wet mops and the process!
Hats off to you Leelee! We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for you. To check out more of what she’s up to be sure to listen to her new podcast Conversations with Leelabee and be sure to follow her on the socials:
Twitter: @Convoswleelabee and IG: @conversationswithleelabee