I am that bowl of fresh chillies in your life of bland,
I am that pop of color in your world of grey
It’s been a hot minute since I said anything to you lot so here I am. I am a campaigner, as the title suggest I’m here to tell you that your dreams are valid. If you know me you know that I am more than just a motivational meme poster, (I do love my memes and most of the ones I post are hilarious, yes even my shit posts) but that’s not what this post is about.
I’m here to tell you that your dreams are valid and that if you stick with me long enough I will cheer you on so hard that you will believe in yourself and your dreams again. Why? Because the are valid of course. The graveyard is the biggest gallery of unrealised dreams and I believe that before you go to rest you might as well scratch a few things off your bucket list.
I am a writer. Above everything else that I do (and I do quite a lot) I would say that this is my major identifier. If you have listened to a few interviews that I have done you’d have heard me say that if you cut me open what you will find is not blood but words. I love words. In every shape, way and form and stringing the 26 letters of the alphabet in different combinations is my passion.
Whether I’m writing poetry, or and article, or a blog post or a whatsapp Tedx talk on my status, I find immense joy in the intricacies of word equations. That’s basically what sentences are.
I fell in love with words at a young age. All my friends now will tell you that I love reading. I used to hate it at first but that was only because I didn’t know how. In year two of my schooling, I was about 6-7, reading felt like a punishment. By age 8, it was all i wanted to do. I cannot recount just how many times I got into trouble for reading and hoarding library books.
I read so much that I wanted to learn how to write. And so I did. In high school I would write short stories, and by the time I was 13 I knew that I wanted to be a journalist, (mostly because I spent a lot of time watching business correspondent and news presenter Dharshini David on BBC).
To achieve my dream of being a journalist my brother had advised that I needed to study Mass Communication at the University of Zambia. (UNZA) So that’s what I did. That was my driving force.
Now, in high school I had an issue with stage fright. Just reading in front of the class would leave my hands shaking so bad I hand to put the paper down on the desk. That had to be fixed. During assembly two girls would read interesting news items of the week in front of the whole school and at the end of Grade 11, I decided to be one of those girls (I went to an all girls’ high school but that’s a story for another day). It helped a little, with the stage fright that is.
When I went to UNZA I specialised in print media and eventually became the Deputy Editor of the University paper the Lusaka Star. Here I realised I wasn’t a big fan of writing hard news stories, and my internship at Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS) cemented that. I wanted to write features, to have the creative leeway to pen stories how I wanted to, and to tell other’s stories from a perspective that not many did. So I stationed myself at the features desk and got to work.
Throughout my writing career, profiles have been and still are my favourite thing to write. There’s a different kind of joy that comes with being able to get to know someone by telling their story. So even when a few years after graduation, I started contributing for Nkwazi Magazine, most of my articles in there are profiles. I’m a curious soul and thankfully most of my interview subjects don’t have a problem with my out of the box questions, so yay! I have since written for Okay Africa, Zambia Travel Magazine, African Feminism, Agri Pro, the online platform Zanj and Zambia Mining Magazine and had m,y articles featured on http://www.thebestofafrica.org (yes, I know, I’m pretty well rounded lol).
I penned my first poem in November of 2008. Well my first decent poem anyway and I have called myself a poet since. I would go on move around with a giant bag full of notebooks through out university and those poems have made a huge part of my award winning published anthology Sketches of Paranoia (but more on that later).
Some of you know me as a spoken word poet. Question is how does someone with crazy stage fright overcome that to become a stage performer? Well, to start with I never wanted to be a spoken word poet in the first place. Sure I, like many other romanticised poetry reading as looking like a black turtleneck and beret in a coffee house, but that was never a dream I had seriously thought about actualising.
I started our sharing my poetry after Mwape, co founder of Bittersweet Poetry Zambia) hounded me for months on end because he thought my work was worth sharing. In 2011, Nala the stage poet was born and thankfully I haven’t looked back. Sharing on stage led me to meet some of my closest friends and introduced me to vast network of creatives that have helped shape me into the artist I am today.
What’s the point of this blogpost? Well first of all, I need you to realise that everyone has a backstory. This is a highly condensed version of mine but you will notice that all the side journeys and side stories have gotten me to where I am today. Some of the side quests do matter, and if you’re determined enough those side quests will provide the network to help you achieve your overarching goal and so much more.
I can proudly say that I have achieved quite a number of my dreams and have the track record to show it. I am a journalist, just ask google and my articles will pop up. I am a published author. Ok fine, an award winning published author. My book Sketches of Paranoia won the Gwendoline Konie award for Most Oustanding Poetry in the 2019 Ngoma Awards, and was nominated for Most Creative Female Writer. Yhup! Two nominations and one win.
For those that don’t know the Ngoma Awards are basically like the Oscars of Zambia for us creatives. A whole National award, like wow guys. I’m still wrapping my head around it because it’s been quite a journey to get here. I place a lot of value in my work and therefore the words I write so yes this is is a huge validation for all the work I have put in over the last 10 years. But please don’t ask me what my 10 year plan is because I have no idea. I’m still trying to get my head around what the last decade has brought me. And the biggest lesson it has given me is that my dreams are valid. No matter what it took to get here, it happened because I continued to pursue what loved.
This is only a part of my story but I hope this helps you, or at the very least shows a beacon of light into that creative darkness out there because Lord knows the creative journey isn’t easy, but I can definitely say it is worth it.