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September 2008

 

First of all, it was with deep sadness that we heard of the passing of Professor Mapopa Mtonga in May this year. The Prof, or "Mapops" as some fondly called him was a bottomless well of knowledge, always willing to share. He had been on Seka’s board since its inception in 2001 and contributed greatly to our success.

 

Anyone who had the pleasure of soaking up his stories and insights for hours on end will understand that Malian proverb - when an elder dies, a library is destroyed. He was an academic as well as an oral historian in the old tradition and he was an invaluable member of Seka.

 

“Prof Mtonga was born in 1945 at Chingala Village within the Mwase Royal family of Chief Mwase in Lundazi. He began his studies at the University of Zambia in 1968 and after graduation went to Ghana for his MA studies before embarking on his Phd studies in the Republic of Ireland. Prof Mtonga returned to Zambia to teach at the University of Zambia (UNZA) and later became a professor in his specialist field.At the time of his death, the late professor had left UNZA and joined the Zambian Open University as Dean of the new School of Media, Performing and Fine Arts. Prof Mtonga was well known for having had vast knowledge on the history of Zambia’s chiefdoms and Africa as a whole. He wrote and published his works, which were extensively complemented by film.” Kelvin Kachingwe and Noel Sichalwe

 

Endani bwino, Prof. We shall miss you here.

 

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At present Seka is working on a project under the Zambia Wildlife Authority on Human Wildlife Conflict and conservation in South Luangwa. They finish their last week of action research and awareness performances at the end of the month. This process has been extremely effective and powerful. The actors have been living in the selected villages for weeks on end, finding out what the issues are on the ground and creating plays that channel Zawa’s point of view to the community, the community’s point of view to Zawa and everything in between.  Human Wildlife conflict is a notoriously political and hot issue to tackle and this methodology is the perfect way to deal it; to create dialogue and discuss solutions.

It has, so far, been a huge success. Once the action research and awareness performances are over we shall be creating a ‘message dissemination play’ as well as a radio drama series. We’ll keep you updated and put up pictures soon.

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This month the actors will also make a short trip to the Lower Zambezi to perform their HIV/AIDS play for Conservation Lower Zambezi , which is very exciting.

 

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The LION KING! In February this year, Zambian Airways made it possible for six actors from Seka to travel to Johannesburg to see a performance of The Lion King – the awards winning Disney musical that was showing at a major theatre there. We, as Seka, feel it is very important for actors and artists to be exposed to the work of other theatre makers. We rely on simple clever tricks to create images and it was a fantastic opportunity to see another production with similar style to ours – although on a much grander scale. We watched the production and performed at some schools in Johannesburg. The actors came back feeling fresh and inspired. Thank you to Zambian Airways for sponsoring the tickets.

 

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And of course, as you can see on our home page the book Ceremony! Celebrating Zambia’s Cultural Heritage is now available.  The book contains a wealth of information about traditional ceremonies on the Zambia calendar. The photographs are spectacular, evoking the dignity and beauty of events such as the Ku-omboka, the Likumbi lya Mize or the Gule Wamkulu masquerades. It also captures some of the less well-known ceremonies, from far-flung parts of the country. Each section depicts a different province and some of the cultural highlights of the area.

Seka was commissioned by Celtel Zambia, to produce this book and it is truly a celebration of what it means to be Zambian, but even if you are not familiar with this beautiful country, you will enjoy what the book has to offer. People from neighbouring countries may find echoes and similarities between their own traditional practices and those depicted here. People wishing to do business in Zambia will find it valuable. And those with a love of ritual, ancient wisdom and storytelling, traditional African beer or great photography must own this book!

The book was launched in Lusaka in January, and soon an event will take place in Johannesburg as well.
For more information contact
sekapublishing@gmail.com
Watch this space.

 

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