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Zambian students thrill packed audience

Nkole and David perform 'Kalebalika'
Photo: Nkole Chisanga and David Mtonga perform 'Kalebalika'. In the Bemba language it means "may it [the sun] shine on you". (Photo: Jonathan Williams)

Justin tells a story
Photo: Justin Mushitu weaves a fable about the poor man whose wives were fat in all the right places, and the king whose queen would not grow fat no matter how much she ate. (Photo: Jonathan Williams)

Zambian High Commission representative
Photo (L-R): Pestalozzi Chairman Paul Evans, Economic Counsellor from the Zambian High Commission Ikayi Mushinge, Pestalozzi CEO Susan Walton, Pestalozzi student David Mtonga, members of the party from the Zambian High Commission. (Photo: Jonathan Williams)

Zambian doughnuts
Photo: Zambian doughnuts, courtesy of the Zambian High Commission. (Photo: Shuvechchha Ghimire)

Q&A with Zambian students
Photo: Pestalozzi's Zambian students answer questions. L-R: Bwalya Kasanda, Theresa Ng'andu, David Mtonga, Justin Mushitu, Nkole Chisanga.

14 April 2014

Sedlescombe was buzzing with the sound of laughter and cheering after a wonderful Zambian Cultural Evening at Pestalozzi last week. With over 120 people in the audience, the venue was packed to capacity, and the night made over £650 for the charity. University of Brighton student Anthony Musker reports.

Pestalozzi’s five Zambian students put on an energetic display of dancing, singing and story-telling, while guests enjoyed delicious home-made Zambian cuisine from the Pestalozzi kitchens and the Zambian High Commission in London.

The show opened with the sound of the Zambian national anthem flooding the hall, as the audience joined in unison with the five Zambian students, singing, "Stand and sing for Zambia, proud and free!"

MC Nkole Chisanga introduced some beautifully choreographed Zambian dancing from Bwalya Kasanda and Theresa Ng’andu, and Justin Mushitu dazzled the audience by joining in with some extravagant moves. Dancing soon became the theme of the evening. "Zambians are natural at dancing, we love to dance all of the time,” said student David Mtonga. The ‘break your waist’ fwenkula dancing left its mark on the audience members, too. "The dancing was just so exciting to watch. My foot was tapping all night long. I wanted to join in myself!” said one guest.

Justin wove an amusing fable about the wives of a king and a poor man, who grew happy and fat on meagre food and ample conversation and laughter. David’s turn to entertain the crowd came as he performed the song ‘Kalebalika’ with Nkole. "The song is a representation of my life and my journey,” he said. "Much has changed in me since coming to England. I am not so shy now. If you look at me on day one and today, I would not have been up here singing back then.”

The audience had the chance to ask their own questions, and gained an insight to the differences between the UK and the students’ homeland. "It is easy to be happy here at Pestalozzi,” Nkole explained. "We find that here in England it is a lot more organised. Back home, we must travel about ten miles to get basic necessities. There is a lot of economic disparity compared to England. In Zambia, there are only two main Universities and education is very restricted. The main industry is copper mining, otherwise you will be working with your families on the farms.”

Pestalozzi currently funds the education of 43 students from eight countries across the world. The students, who are working towards achieving the highly regarded International Baccalaureate Diploma at Sussex Coast College Hastings, often aim to return home and do great things with the knowledge and skills they have obtained. The students explained what they hope to take from their experience. "We miss our families but it is great to meet and share time with people from other countries similar to our own. Hearing their stories makes us believe that something can be done and although it is a far standard to reach, we want to go back home and use every accolade of ourselves to help as much as we can." Theresa Ng’andu also encouraged the audience to visit Zambia, mentioning Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Pestalozzi students and staff were honoured to welcome the Economic Counsellor from the Zambian High Commission to the event. "It was our privilege to have Mrs Ikayi Mushinge in attendance," said Pestalozzi’s CEO, Susan Walton. "We were delighted she was able to make time to travel all the way from London for the evening. We are also grateful to the High Commission for their generosity in providing several trays of Zambian delicacies for the guests."

The event was attended by young and old alike, and everybody left having learnt something new and interesting – as well as revelling in the vibrant atmosphere. "I had a great time!” one audience member said. "The students were all so funny and it was a pleasure to hear their stories.”

The night concluded with a teaser of Pestalozzi’s next cultural event, a Bhutanese Cultural Evening, which will be held on Thursday 29 May at 6:30pm. Please RSVP to 01424 870444 or