Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Ready 4 Marriage Amplified Misses the Mark

There are things in my blogging life that I have to tolerate. One of which is sitting through some shows that typically in my old life I would not bother to give an ounce of my sacred time. However, knowing that I do have readers who would love to know about some of these matters, I am forced to discuss them from an experience point of view. The particular programme in point is Muvi TV's Ready 4 Marriage. The show, this time around has lost its shine and the guys are to blame for it.

The brain child of the late Augustine Lungu, originally allowed women to compete against each other for a fully sponsored wedding to the ultimate winner and it has developed a very loyal following.  It must be a highly rated show for Muvi TV and this has prompted the need to modify it, in order to keep it relevant. This year they decided to call it Ready 4 Marriage Amplified which was another attempt to shake things up. Instead of just the ladies competing alone their fiancĂ©s have also been allowed to tag along. Big blunder. The show is boring, just hand me sleeping pill.

This time around last year when the former sex workers were on the show there was already enough drama happening to fill an entire season of Isidingo. Former lovers wanting their exes back, accusations of an already married contestant, revelations of HIV statuses, drama just kept on coming. It is all these, that make up a good show. However, so far on this current season we have been denied any of the juicy indiscretions of the contestants.  Anyway what would I expect from a sweets loving couple to a couple who are just leaving their teens.

The major reason though for such a lacklustre performance is that the ladies are not as free to air their views maybe because they have their would-be husbands next to them. You can always count on some women to have a slip of the tongue, reveal some secret, say something ridiculous or even have a cat fight on national television. Kidding about the last one, but my point is this bunch of contestants are just too boooring and predictable!!! We men do not like to discuss our issues. We barely do that with our friends, why on earth would we do so on national television. The host Master Chimbala's desperate attempts to squeeze out whatever additional information he can, has been met with one word responses or an embarrassed smile. Take for instance when they are asked what challenges they have faced in their relationships. All the responses hide the truth, like "We have communication problems." Duh don't all relationships have these at some point? What we really what to hear is this, "My fiancé was once upon a time a cheating bastard and it took some panel beating to keep him faithful." Or "Can you imagine the pain I felt when I discovered that I am not the father of her daughter." The moon would have to drop before we hear that from these contestants.

I bet if the men were taken out of the equation this might have been a good show.  I have duly performed my duty in informing you on what to expect from this seasons Ready 4 Marriage Amplified. I will no longer be tuning in to watch couples give each other lollipops which warrant them to be called Sweetie for your sake. I might as well go to Arcades and watch couples holding that might be more entertaining. Let me know when a couple split-up, an ex-girlfriend rudely interrupts at the studio or nasty habits begin to be revealed. I wonder how many of my readers who are fans of the show agree with me.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Sorry Clive You Could Be Too Expensive

When I look at my payslip this month and realise how much Pay As You Earn is deducted, I think I am going to shed a tear. Because while I am staying in a cottage some Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and of course the CEO of Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL), Prof. Clive Chirwa are staying at the luxurious Fallsways Villas. Paying according to the dissolved ZRL board wait for it ... KR 72, 000 jaw drop per month or as Prof. Clive Chirwa says it’s KR 38, 000, he was able to negotiate. Olo ni negotiating sure almost 50% drop. I choose to believe the boards figure for now. What was supposed to be an internal affair among the dissolved board which comprises Prof. Oliver Saasa and Mark Chona among other notables, the government and Prof. Clive Chirwa, has opened up a Pandora’s Box.
Prof. Clive Chirwa
The dirty laundry of ZRL is being aired in public and we now smell the stink. It is no top secret that ZRL was a collapsed parastatal with hardly any trains to boast of and the rail tracks hardly traceable. A number of people had tried to resuscitate the dying railways but had succumbed to the enormity of the task. Then in what came as a shock in November 2012, Prof. Clive Chirwa was announced as the next candidate to take the reins of the parastatal. A shocker it was indeed. It will either be one of his greatest achievements or one of the biggest dents in his glowing resume. A lot has clouded Clive in the past few days and the tussle between the dissolved board and him is being played out in the media. Why not just enter a boxing ring and settle this once and for all? Maybe and this is a small maybe, Clive is being unfairly judged and some choose to believe this is why?
Black vs White
Many people are saying that because Prof. Clive Chirwa is black that is why so much dust is being raised. Had he been a white man then we would have all shut up and said it is fine. The point in case Herve Renard, a coach who just won a simple Africa Cup for a country that had been craving to be champions for decades. Why on earth does he deserve to be paid KR 500, 000 per month and the muntu Prof. Clive Chirwa should not.
PhD Syndrome
Is this just a case of the Pull Him Down Syndrome? Are we Zambians that jealous of each other that each time someone tries to have a taste of success we want to drag them down? Prof. Clive Chirwa could merely be a victim of the PhD Syndrome and we want him to live in poverty like the rest of us. We are happy if we are at par with each other that way no one can boast to be ahead of the other. And based on this gentleman’s resume he clearly is miles ahead.
Too Bad if You Can’t Bargain
You have to give it to the man; he knows how to strike a good bargain. Next time I am bargaining for a salary I want his lawyers. He put his terms on the table and the government had a choice whether to accept them or not. Lo and behold, they accepted. Perhaps it should not be Clive that we should be lynching but the person that agreed to his terms. About KR 250, 000 per month salary with allowances, six air tickets for his wife to Europe, an annual bonus of KR 2, 600, 000 annual bonus and if he had his way 25% stake in ZRL after five years.  Now which honest soul among you would refuse such an offer?
Become a Professor
Do not blame the man for being highly educated. He must be able to reap the benefits of all his sleepless nights. It includes are the perks he negotiated for and stay in KR 72, 000 per month accommodation. I would like to see what the toilet stool looks like for KR 72, 000 it better be made of gold. If Ministers and Permanent Secretaries can rest their feet on sofas of the plush accommodation, Clive is equally special to do the same. Besides he needs to rest that special brain in arguably the most expensive real estate in this country.
A Bitter Board Maybe?
Could it be that the dissolved board are just bitter that they were not able to eat such a huge pie too? I mean how long has Prof. Chirwa being in that position for, close to four months plus. They cannot claim that they did not know what his package was, why did they have to wait to be dissolved before telling the nation all this. And according to the professor they are vexed because he refused to sign cheques for their sitting allowances, according to the professor there were 28 sittings in a space of three months. If this is true what on earth was the board discussing for 28 sittings, where to spend the next vacation maybe?
Frustrated Brotha’s Verdict
At this moment there are so many versions to this story that is hard to tell who is telling the truth and who is not. The board will tell you one thing and the professor will tell his own version of events. Therefore, it is very difficult to come to a conclusion on this matter. I have taken some time to internalise this and I have come to this. Prof. Clive Chirwa is a good man perhaps with good intentions for ZRL but his biggest Achilles heel was to think that he could live the life he led in the United Kingdom in Zambia. It is almost criminal to expect what someone earns in the UK to be earned in a developing country like Zambia. They are two different standards of living in almost all aspects. Arguably, the most ridiculous thing was the request for 25% stake in ZRL after five years. So based on his thinking he wanted 25% for him and his family while the rest of the 13 million Zambians should share the remainder of 75%, thats absurd. When it comes to the pay package, I think he does deserve it and if he negotiated for it good for him. The person we should be seeking clarification and justification from is the person who signed his contract. They should have had very good reasons to accept such a salary request. As for the accommodation part, hmmmm give me a moment while I wipe away this tear. Prof. Clive Chirwa probably told us one of the most guarded secrets, some Ministers and Permanent Secretaries are staying at Fallsway Villas. Thank You Clive for the info. Now I know where my PAYE goes. In all this mess, all I wish for is that some of the wrongs that are there would be made right. Parastatal information such as appointments, finances need to be open to the public. I also pray that the $120 million Eurobond will not be used to send someone on vacation to the Bahamas.

Oh by the way Prof. Clive in case you read this, I need to borrow your lawyers to negotiate my next pay.

Monday, 15 April 2013

When Coins Became a 'Nuisance'

Is it just me or ever since the coins were reintroduced in this country, they have for lack of a better word become a ‘nuisance’? The last time I recall using coins in Zambia we were proudly brandishing the MMD sign. How times have changed. When the Bank of Zambia announced last year that they were rebasing the kwacha, I welcomed the gesture of dropping the three zeroes from the currency. I also thought that resurrecting the once extinct coins would add that bling to the kwacha. I even began to prepare myself to start saying the word ngwee once again. One thing I was not prepared for is what an inconvenience coins would become.
How to carry all these in a pocket?
There was once a time (about three months ago) when I treasured a K500 and K1, 000. My wallet used to be stacked to the bream with those plastic notes no matter how faded they were. It was what I used to pay the conductor for my bus fare, buy groundnuts by the road side or even give it away to someone in need. Now with these coins I can hardly find a K1 or 50 ngwee on me, what’s the sign for ngwee anyway? Each time I put them in my pocket they somehow find themselves slipping out. I have just eventually resorted to tossing them in my laptop bag and scouring for them when I am down to my last dime.

Each time I pay for my groceries at the supermarket I pray that the cashier will not give me those coins but then she goes ahead and pulls out a bunch of them as change. Just great. What am I supposed to do with K5 worth of coins? I am aware that they are the same value and can buy the same things that they could buy before the rebasing but I guess I just do not know how to handle them. Frankly, speaking the K1 and 50 ngwee, has now become what a K100 and K50 was then. I just don’t care much for them. The only currency that can now be found on me begins from K2. This is simply because it can fit in my wallet perfectly. I have tried squeezing coins in there and suddenly sitting down becomes a difficult affair because of the over bulged wallet. Maybe it high time that I bought a piggy bank.

Bank of Zambia had spent a lot of time in helping us understand the rebasing process and the value of the old currency into the new rebased one. However, the handling of the coins is one thing they overlooked. Therefore, was enough time taken to determine how the re-introduction of the coins would be received. If I was given the option of the paper K1 and the coin, I would most definitely go for the paper. I am yet to come across someone who is comfortable with the use of coins, most people I have talked to are simply saying that they just collecting them and stashing them away in a bottle jar. I am slowly considering doing the same. I even have an evil plan for what I will do when I have collected my jar of coins. I will go to the supermarket with a trolley full of groceries and after the cashier tells me my bill; I will gleefully remove my jar of coins to pay. Forgive me in advance, to the cashier I will find on that day.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Are Zambian Gospel Musicians Too Clean for Nightclubs?

Talking about religion and in my context Christianity is a sensitive topic which requires one to tread very carefully. The danger is that you may either rub people the right way or the wrong way. I intend to do neither in this blog. The issue under microscope is Gospel musicians and their interaction with what are known as “Secular” events. We have had Ephraim and Kings 'Malembe Malembe' refusing to have any part to do with the Mosi Awards because it is a brewery. Then recently there has been the talk of Mag44’s performance at Nigerian musician Ice Prince Concert. These two incidents have polarised opinions. This begs the question, what can and cannot a Gospel musician do?
Ephraim and Kings had their reasons for not being part of the Zambian Music Awards aka Mosi Awards because they did not want to be associated with the brewery. They did not want their names attached to anything alcohol related. Ephraim went even further by asking the public not to vote for him for any of the awards. Other Gospel musicians nonetheless, went ahead and participated in the Mosi Awards and the winners accepted the awards. Both Ephraim and Kings’ decisions need to be respected and it was a personal decision. However, it appears that those Gospel musicians who attended are being crucified by some in the Christian community for what is being perceived as ungodly behaviour and mixing with the devil’s work.

The Mosi Awards also had their own drama with many considering the winner of the Gospel award winner Pompi as not being a Gospel musician. What is the definition of a Gospel musician? Does the name of Jesus or God have to be mentioned in every song, or does the song have to have Hallelujah and Amen for it to be considered Gospel music? Then perhaps it could be zeroing in down to preference. There are those who do not want Hip Hop to be affiliated to Gospel music and some also do not want the Rhumba style of singing either. People who have done this have been accused of compromising with the “world”.

Then recently, the incident that has been causing uproar in the Christian community is the performance of Gospel artist, Mag44 at Ice Prince Concert during the Easter weekend at LIV nightclub. Some people have condemned his performance there as being unchristian and doubting whether he really is a Gospel artist. He has even been rebuked publicly on Facebook by radio presenter and Gospel artist Jimmy Kumwenda.

Is Mag44 performing at the Ice Prince Concert being blown out of proportion? Are people considering whether he was entertaining or ministering? The flack that Mag44 is receiving is that he shared the stage with non-gospel artists and he performed at a nightclub where alcohol and all manner of immorality are perceived to take place. It appears that the Christian community is choosing to be selective on what it deems acceptable and “Christian”. Let us assume that Mag44 was ministering there and he actually led some people to Christ, would he be condemned for doing that? (I did offer Mag44 an opportunity on this blog to offer a statement but at the time of writing this none had been received)

Why would people consider a pastor going to preach to prostitutes on Addis Ababa road okay but a Gospel musician to go and sing in a nightclub wrong? Should we now be asking Gospel musicians to account for their motives and give a full length report each time they perform outside church? Perhaps this entire debate is being too subjective and people are not looking at the bigger picture? Or sorry to say this, maybe it could be a case of simple jealousy. One faction is quite adamant that Mag44 should not have dared to step foot at LIV nightclub and another faction is supporting his move claiming he was witnessing to lost souls. This is a debate that will go on for a long time.

I find it strange how some Christians nowadays choose to pick and select parts of Christianity that they will stand by and what they will not. People say that they will not listen to “secular” music, fair enough. But how are you going to watch a movie where there is adultery, fornication, cohabiting, swearing and actors who are non-Christians in it? In a way by watching such movies aren’t we supporting them? Take for example Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg is a known atheist and yet many Christians are on it. Aren’t we just being hypocrites by deciding to look at others with having bigger logs in their eyes and yet forget our own? All in all should we be worrying about what platform we choose to share the Gospel at or should our real concern be actually sharing the Gospel?