Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Mwelwa was our translator who worked for Camfed. Even though most people in Zambia speak English those from the poorer villages without education only speak thier tribal language, which in this case was Bemba. There is also Tongo, Losi, Nianja and even one called Lala - I wandered what the Teletubbies would make of that.

From the Samfya Women Film makers the women came from different parts of the village. Some were teenagers with young babies like Christine above, others were from the fishing village, others were older mothers with several children.

Doreen (above) was from the fishing village, and we had to film her at her hut by the lake. Word got around quickly that two white people were in the village with a camera, and a crowd rapidly gathered around us, following and watching us wherever we went. I didn't realise at one point there were more than forty people, mostly men and children, crowding around me. I only found out about the boy leisurely lying down behind me when I saw this photo.

I think I got an authentic taste of what it's like to be famous. Everywhere we went in the town we would get stared at. By everyone at the same time. So I would just get used to it. If someone stared at me straight in the eye, I'd say hello. Or as they say, 'mulishani' which means 'how are you?'. I think I said mulishani about a hundred times a day. When I rarely saw other white people I'd get jealous and think 'but I am the unique white man here, go away!'.

My name is Muamba Phiri

I find it quite hard to process everything I have experienced in the last ten days to write down here in short. I have realised my strength in integration, and felt like I bonded with people of a totally different culture rather successfully. I learnt a lot of their language in a short amount of time, and they even gave me a Bemba name!
Zambia is a country of 72 languages, due to so many tribes. I was staying in a region called Samfya where they speak Ichi Bemba. I was making a series of short films for a charity called Camfed. Founded in 1993, it is the only charity of its kind to raise funding to educate girls in most need of an education when the ratio is 1 girl for every 10 boys that manage to go to school. Camfed was designed to help those girls who were most in need. A year ago a group of girls from a rural village were randomly selected to be trained to make documentaries about their community within their community, and I was there to monitor their progress. Their reconstruction of the life of Penelop was filmed and edited a year ago and they have been showing it to villages in the region, where most people are far too poor to even have televisions. It fundamentally raises AIDS awareness and the many social problems that stem from it. One advert read 'If you are not infected with AIDS, you are effected. Do not live in ignorance.'

I met some incredible women, and girls, who on first meeting were a kind and happy people. But what I found so hard to digest was the unbelievable amount of suffering most had gone through, and survived due to amazing strength of character. And to know that their experiences were commonly found not just around Samfya, or soley Zambia, but many African countries.

In the picture above I am with Penelop (middle) and Cindy. Cindy is 13yrs old. She is an attractive, intelligent and gregarious young lady. Her parents died when she was 3. Her uncle as is tradition took care of her and her brother, but did not care for them like he did his own children. He did not buy them school books, nor supply them with decent school uniforms. He would often beat them. When they arrived home they would have to eat the left overs his children had left on the table. By the time she reached the age of 11 she decided to leave with her brother and walk 15 miles to the nearest town where her aunty lived. Her uncle found her there and asked why she had left. She was not afraid of him, and said she would never return to his house again. Camfed found out about her and has been funding her secondary school education since. The producer I filmed with has already edited a short story of Cindy's experience that you can find if you click here. If you listen you'll notice she doesn't mention her uncle, she goes straight to her aunty and skips the first 8 years of her life. I didn't film it, but it's very similar to the stuff I did out there.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


One Two Three Four
Tell me that you love me more
Sleepless long nights
That is what my youth was for

Old teenage hopes are alive at your door
Left you with nothing but they want some more

Oh, you're changing your heart
Oh, You know who you are

Sweetheart bitterheart now I can tell you apart
Cosy and cold, put the horse before the cart

Those teenage hopes who have tears in their eyes
Too scared to own up to one little lie

One, two, three, four, five, six, nine, or ten
Money can't buy you back the love that you had then
One, two, three, four, five, six, nine, or ten
Money can't buy you back the love that you had then


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Mounted Branch

I'm filming a series at the moment called Mounted Branch which is more about the horses than the police who ride them. I got on so well with the team that they promoted me to the rank of Sergeant. As you can see I've already started getting the uniform. But the horse comes last, no one will trust me with one of those for some reason.