Unless you have made a vow to stay off of social media and the news, you’ve surely come across of the hashtag #LintonLies. #LintonLies trended for a few days last month after actress and producer Louise Linton wrote her “How My Dream Gap Year in Africa Turned Into a Nightmare” piece. It was a recent addition to the White Savior trope and was filled with so much inaccuracies about Zambia that African twitter had to say something. The hashtag #LintonLies was created in response and forced Linton to remove her book from Amazon.
While Louise was clawing her way through the jungle and chasing off humongous spiders in her mind, she could have simply picked up her cell phone and asked Zambian women to help her tell the real story. Write it, film it, market it. The reality though is that Zambian women aren’t waiting for their stories to be told for them to be deemed worthy. They have charge and are doing a darn good job of it. Even though more can be done to improve the lives of women in Zambia ( that’s another discussion for another day) those who stand up and make a change should be applauded.
Here is a list of Zambian women that are engaging in entrepreneurial bombassery that likes of Linton could learn from. Zambian women aren’t known to simply sit and let things happen, they are the women that are running businesses and changing the entrepreneurial landscape of the country.
Founder of communications powerhouse Kuatenga media, Samba is a media communications specialist whose work has showcased Zambia to the world on various platforms, local and international.
Kuatenga’s latest work is The Tikambe Natulande TV show , a youth-led program focusing on issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Zambia. The Tikambe Natulande show focuses on educating young Zambians without losing them, showcasing stories they can relate to and answering even the most embarrassing questions. Questions like:
“What would you do if your religious leader asked you to sleep with him to solve a problem?”
Known for her great style and her deep laugh, Samba is passionate about unearthing authentic Zambian stories. She does not shy away from stories no matter how uncomfortable. Samba also challenges challenging harmful beliefs and narratives respectfully while delving into preserving our languages and cultures. Quite a feat!
If you are ever in Lusaka and hear of a cool cultural event, Samba has probably worked tirelessly behind the scenes. Yet she may also just be the lady at the market next to you buying finkubala.
Queen of entrepreneurship bombassery. This woman is revolutionizing the way young Zambians eat (cue the satisfied rumble of the stomachs of university students). She is the founder of Java foods whose main goal is to provide convenient, affordable and nutritious foods made from local products. This successful commercial lawyer set up the food processing company in Zambia in 2012. Since then, Monica has been pretty transparent about what it takes to be an entrepreneur on the Zambian scene. She is also open about leadership issues and often hands out solid advice.
Monica and Java foods are all about churning out nutritional foods that tackle the problem of malnutrition in countries like Zambia (by producing a nutritious porridge consisting of sorghum, millet and soya, for example). Java foods engages with small-scale farmers to provide them with grains through a self-sustainable system.
Monica encourages young women entrepreneurs to not be afraid of starting their journey. Do you have an idea? Get started, and don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way.
Sekayi and Tukiya are two stylish entrepreneurs from Zambia, styling and profiling with their blog MaFashio. The sisters are very popular and are good at putting together great outfits, interestingly enough via thrifting. Instead of making style out of reach by only wearing designer things that a young Zambian girl may likely not be able to afford, MaFashio show that thrifting is a great source of pieces waiting to be handpicked.
They began with simple street style, but these two have fast become the go to for styling, makeup artistry and photography. They have also being a part of great social initiatives and looked good while doing it.
From styling the techie guys at Tech Hub Bongo Hive, to sitting in at Zambia Fashion week, the MaFashio brand is growing. MaFashio showcases great Zambian talent but staying true to the reality of living in Lusaka. Now, Sekayi and Tukiya are not fashion airheads who only live and breath fashion. They are young women who are working on various projects behind the scenes (like finishing uni amongst other things. Congratulations!)
If you scrambled to get the newest issue of Trendsetters when you were in high school in Zambia, then you probably know who Cathy Phiri is (especially if you also wore that sky blue and navy blue skirt daily to school, you know which one, Roma stand up!). Cathy Phiri has been in the Zambian media game for a long time, starting in 1995 when she and her sisters started up a non-governmental organization in Zambia called Youth Media which led to to the development of the award-winning newspaper (later magazine), Trendsetters.
After years in the business, winning awards and working as Media 365 (the company at which she is managing director) Cathy has a new show called HerStory. HerStory helps Zambians look at various issues from different angles. Media 365 is a dynamic creative and communications agency that focuses on communication strategies, audio-visual campaigns, marketing, and research services for social change and development.
Cathy has focused on educating the masses on HIV/AIDS but with HerStory she is diversifying. Now she’s diving into discussing the political situation in Zambia, the Blesser/Blessee phenomenon amongst other stories. The premise is that Zambian women can and will weigh in on what is happening in their society fearlessly.
Having been a part of popular shows like the MTV show Shuga (remember when Lupita was on Shuga?) where she was executive producer, Cathy’s evolution can be traced from each project she has worked on. She just keeps getting better! Cathy has long had a passion for this kind of work and gone at it silently. She usually pleasantly surprises us with her highly enjoyable work, which is always above par in Africa.
Now, Chisenga is not playing around with IT. Mmhhmm, no sir she is not. Founder of Asikana Network (cue song, sisters doing it for themselves), Chisenga works hard on to teach young women the power of technology. Asikana Network also aims to increase interest in and to enhance the active participation of women in the ICT sector. They want to change mindsets and eliminate negative stereotypes attached to girls and women in ICT. Imagine a virtual reality game made by an African girl with an amazing story? I can!
Amongst other important things, like being a global shaper and consulting at the leading Zambian tech hub called Bongo Hive, Chisenga is on the ground teaching and equipping young entrepreneurs on the ins and outs of technology. By doing so, she ensures that young Zambians aren’t left behind.
Chisenga just keeps on learning and growing. She is open about her education, courses she is taking and workshops she has facilitated. She inspires young Zambian women to enter and be a part of the technological changes happening the world over.
Now, these women I have mentioned are only a sprinkling of the women entrepreneurs making waves in Zambia. From Towani Clarke, Chizo, Zed Girl, NouKoncept, Cathy Funda Funda, Joanna Hickey, Mukuka Mayuka, Lulu Wood…the list goes on.
Its unfortunate about #LintonLies, but lets not dwell on the web of lies that she weaved (hope you do better Louise!). Instead, lets celebrate the work Zambian women are doing, the work many before them have done, and those yet to join the race.
Zambian women, we salute you!