Conservation Music Calls for Change in Zambia
At the start of November, Conservation Music (CM) landed in Lusaka, Zambia, to continue Expedition #K2K. On the trek over from Harare, Zimbabwe, we stopped in Kafue, a small town outside of Lusaka, to spend time at the Amos Youth Centre (AYC) for several days. We were linked here through Director Julie-Anne, whom we met while in Livingstone in August, to learn about her work and educate the students about CM’s mission. Before we left for Lusaka, we met with our good friend and talented singer, Shaps Mutambo, who would be helping us with this month’s eco-song and connecting us with local artists to work with. Together, we created an impactful and moving song that uses poignant storytelling to tackle local environmental issues such as tree cutting, charcoal burning, and water management, along with humanity’s neglect of such problems. Global Platform Zambia (GPZ), a hub for social, health, and environmentally-based organizations, also welcomed our arrival and provided us with dorms for the entire stay. Throughout the month, our plans were set to produce the new eco-song “Samalilani”, film it’s music video, and attend a local conference where Alex would present CM’s mission while networking for potential collaborations in Lusaka. Tune into more of CM’s stories and videos on National Geographic’s OpenExplorer platform. If you would like to contribute to Expedition #K2K, please visit our Patreon page, where you can schedule monthly donations of any amount.
Amos Youth Centre
Our visit to Kafue was short, but we had a memorable time thanks to our friend Julie-Anne, who runs the AYC. She invited our crew to run a miniature workshop with the students, where we showed CM videos and then created a simple eco-song. It was a delight to see their excitement and engagement, while they questioned and discovered all aspects of the CM mission. Brighton was moved to share how he is “encouraged because, on our way, most of us end up in a situation of giving up. You know, life is a journey and then we face a lot of things and there are so many challenges that we face in life. But looking at you, I was asking myself questions: How is it possible that these people, they started this. And, now you’re working and I can tell that it is not easy. That conservation to prevent climate change, that I really appreciate. I’ve learned a lot from you.” This micro-workshop was a great success and we can’t wait to hold more in schools along our journeys.
CM Connects with Local Musicians to Create Eco-song “Samalilani”
After just a few hours of meeting with Shaps Mutambo, he introduced us to music producer Mr. Champs, singer/songwriters James Sakala and Theresa N’gambi. With this group of musicians, we held our first meeting, including a proper introduction of CM and discussion on the type of song that we desired for this month. Theresa gave us a head start by presenting one of her own songs, a composition already themed around the environment. Our first meeting was extremely productive as we set a melody, rhythm, chorus and track title.
With the eco-song moving along nicely, we met with a group of young locals who had contacted CM last year with desires to start a local CM chapter. We invited them to join our second artist meeting, where they were brought up to speed on the project and shadowed the production work. A lot was learned through the immersive experience as we recorded first runs of Theresa and James’s guitar parts, while Mr. Champs composed a modern beat to match the folky, down-tempo acoustic guitars. Next, our field crew headed over to Tyme Lyne Entertainments (TLE) to begin the tracking process. Thanks to James, we connected with Nyno, the producer and sound engineer at TLE. The studio was spacious and ambient, fully decked out with vocal and drum booths. We began with Theresa on guitar and then recorded a few surprise contributions from Chanda on guitar, Elvie on bass, and Brian on drums. During the following studio sessions, we recorded the remaining parts from Theresa, James, and Shaps. Soon enough, we made our way back to Kafue to record the children at the AYC. The group sang along to the chorus to create a climatic finale filled with many local voices.
To build out the song a bit more, we met with locally renowned artists, Maureen Lilanda and Pompi. Maureen listened in on a session and returned home to develop lyrics in her own time. Later, we met at her home and recorded her bits with our mobile studio set-up. We fleshed out the track out a bit more by recording Pompi’s additions. Luckily, GPZ provided us with a studio space, which typically is used as a radio studio. Pompi contributed a powerful call to action for humanity to take the issue of climate change seriously. As we wrapped up recording, we tracked “Samalilani” and began spreading it to the masses.
With “Samalilani” airing on ZNBC national network, Maureen Lilanda continued to spread the song’s message and CM’s mission during an interview with Zambia’s NationLifestyle newspaper. “CLIMATE change is real hence the need to promote behavioral change in terms of how we use nature and its connection to Climate change, says Zambian veteran songbird Maureen Lilanda. The music artist said she has been featured in a music video on conservation aimed at educating people on the importance of conservation of natural resources into the impact of climate change. She revealed that the concept of the song “Samalilani” was written originally by Theresa Ng’ambi with support by an organisation called Conservation Music that are on a mission to warn mankind on issues of climate change. “So they invited me to be part of the project. I’m also just featured in the song, the project is called Conservation Music.” She explained. Maureen Lupo Lilanda is a household name in Zambia. She is an afro-jazz singer and songwriter with over twenty-five years in the music industry. She has also named international recognition especially in Europe and Asia. To my fans may God bless you all with good health and long lives, so that you may continue to support me. That’s the reason I still exist. I thank them for the love they have and continue to give me. As long as they’re there, I’ll be here,” she concluded (Noel Iyombwa, NationLifestyle).
The track, entitled “Samalilani”, is the culmination of multiple award-winning Zambian artists and the Conservation Music movement, coming together for the greater good, and is a prime example of what can be accomplished when people from all over the world put their heads together to create music for change in Zambia.
CM Shoots for the “Samalilani” Music Video
While our eco-song “Samalilani” continued to make an impact in Zambia, the field crew geared up for location shooting. We connected with Mr. Chipamoonga, a local Kafue elder, who allowed CM to use his land for the first location shoot. Here, we filmed the chorus with Theresa, James, Maureen, and Shaps walking together by a beautiful stream. Mr. Chipamoonga also graced us with a poetry reading, which we laid over the intro. Soon enough, Maureen lent her voice and profound lyrics, as she sang of a past time of fellowship and regard for the earth. We continued the location shoots as Pompi jumped in on the bridge with a heightened call to action, taking to the streets and rooftops, megaphone in hand, to awaken our Zambian brothers and sisters. Then we filmed Theresa’s verse in front of a large stack of charcoal, to highlight the harmful effects of charcoal burning. The crew wrapped up the location shooting at the AYC with all of the children chanting the chorus behind Shaps. The footage that we filmed throughout this eco-production is extremely powerful, matching the energy of the song.
CM’s Final Week in Lusaka
As the crew finalized the eco-production, we attended a local conference alongside Self Help Africa, where Alex presented CM’s mission and discussed potential collaborations with several organizations in Lusaka.
Next, we headed to Kafue National Park, which was a long, beautiful drive out into the bush, far away from civilization. We stayed at McBride’s Camp and were warmly welcomed by the park owners, Charlotte and Chris. Charlotte was warm and accommodating, while Chris was witty and very knowledgeable about the local animal and plant life. Our campsite was settled on the Kafue river, which we shared with pods of hippos, crocodiles, and many species of birds. At night, we were greeted by a small, cat-like mammal known as a genet. We were informed that despite its cat-like appearance, it is actually in the mongoose family, which is noted by its long, slender frame and tail. The field crew captured amazing wildlife footage and enjoyed time spent in the park. With just a few nights left, we headed back to the town to say goodbye to all of our new friends and prepare for the next phase of Expedition #K2K.
Our plans were set to move on to Lilongwe, Malawi, and the crew is excited for what is to come. Tune into more of CM’s stories and videos on National Geographic’s OpenExplorer platform. If you would like to contribute to Expedition #K2K, please visit our Patreon page, where you can schedule monthly donations of any amount.
This post was written by Charles Ross for Conservation Music.
About Conservation Music
Our Musical Nonprofit For Conservation
Conservation Music is on a mission to produce and promote musical media that educates listeners and viewers in conservation and sustainability, with an emphasis on rural developing communities, and to serve as a platform for similar efforts. Currently, the organization primarily collaborates with musicians throughout Southern Africa, catalyzing songs in local genres and local languages regarding local conservation issues in countries like Lesotho, Botswana, Angola, and more.
About the Editor
After years of soul-searching and months in the African wilderness with the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project, musician and geographer Alex Paullin combined his foremost passions and founded Conservation Music, a non-profit aiming to foster a global culture of sustainability using music as the messenger. Throughout his life, he aims to expand the Conservation Music movement globally, in hopes that his lifetime will see and hear songs of conservation being sung throughout the world.