By Andrew Mulenga
On July 31 this year the city of Lusaka turns 100 years old and preparations for the centenary celebration are already underway.
In a press briefing at the Southern Sun hotel in Lusaka on Thursday, the celebration organisers, a team called Lusaka 100 committee headed by Tourism Board chairperson Timothy Mushibwe announced that while the event will involve various activities, the visual arts will take centre stage with numerous arts activities at several venues.
|A house thought to be on Cairo Road in Lusaka|
in the early 1900s (Courtesy ZIS)
The committee announced an art competition for primary schools where children will be challenged to paint an interpretation of present day life in Lusaka, this will culminate into an art exhibition, whereas a mural competition is being planned for secondary schools. This particular project is expected to leave a lasting image that will beautify the city as well as commemorate the centenary for years to come.
Street children will not be left out and their competition will be organised by the Start Foundation, the winning pieces in this competition will also be shown in an exhibition at a venue yet to be arranged.
Two photography competitions are also planned. One is open to the general public with the theme “A Day In The Life Of Lusaka” where all the city’s photographers are challenged to capture images of Lusaka in her complexity on a single day. This will end in both an exhibition and a book. The second competition, Lusaka Centenary Press Photographer of the Year will target media photographers. The theme again remains Lusaka but with more of a political, socio-economic, arts and sports emphasis. This competition will have winners and prizes in various categories; it too will result in a book as well as an exhibition at the Alliance Francaise in Lusaka.
A fashion show is also being planned, showcasing the work of Lusaka’s top designers as well as the elegance of the city’s top models. This is expected to result in a beauty pageant with a Miss and Mr Lusaka 100 being crowned.
One of the interesting highlights of the celebration will be a display of historical images and memorabilia at the Lusaka National Museum. However, here, one hopes some of the artefacts and memorabilia will find its way out of the museums vaults and that others can be provided by members of society who have some in their care as the current display at the museum is not much to write home about.
Theatre too will be featured in the celebrations although the committee is still working on the concept as well as seeking out collaborating partners and theatre groups.
All these arts activities will be held in various venues across the city but Cairo Road will be the stage for a momentous celebration.
The celebrations will start at dawn with a running and walking marathon which will begin and end at the Kafue Roundabout. This will be followed by what the committee is calling the Malasha Bike Race. Competitors will race from South End Roundabout to Church Road Junction and back again, each bike will carry three bags of charcoal. Again here one feels charcoal might not be the best ingredient for a race in this era of environmental advocacy where although alternative fuel sources are yet to be saught, there is a lot of talk against the chopping down trees for charcoal. So imagine 100 bicycles with 300 bags of charcoal in one space, would that not be a spectacle indeed. However, The Wildlife and Environmental Conservation Society, with their school-based Chongololo Clubs and in association with Toyota Zambia, will embark on a tree-planting campaign in the ten days running up to the July 31.
Nevertheless, the Malasha Bike Race will be followed by an exciting vehicle parade led by a procession of vintage cars, rally cars, off-roaders and motorcycles.
The car show will be followed by a float procession, giving the event a carnival feel. The committee is calling on everyone from schools, sports associations, voluntary organisations, business houses and government departments to come out in numbers and take part in this event.
The event is expected to incorporate a food festival as well with wine and cheese tasting with the city’s top hotels and restaurants working with food producers.
Also on the schedule are a number of sporting activities across various disciplines from equestrian to football.
The event is expected to end with a live music concert which is likely to feature an international musician that will be open to all, although a venue is yet to be decided, this will be concluded with a fireworks display.
The committee also sees the celebrations as an opportunity to mend a few broken and run down aspects of the city. In conjunction with the National Heritage Conservation Commission, a project involving highlighting Lusaka’s heritage sites and the rehabilitation of the access road to the former home of Dr Kenneth Kaunda in Chilenje as well as refurbish his old Land Rover. The front of the Post Office too is earmarked for rehabilitation and Lafarge Cement has committed to assist in this regard.Present day Lusaka sits on the site of a village named after its Soli headman Mwa Lusaka, the area was expanded by British settlers in the 1900s with the building of the railway by the British South Africa Company, scores of the Soli people were displaced moving them further into the countryside. Their current traditional leader Senior Chieftainess Nkomesha Mukamambo II was present at the launch of Lusaka 100 and spoke very passionately against the lack of respect for traditional heritage in the name of urbanization, she also hinted towards seeking reparations for the displacement.