By GETHSEMANE MWIZABI –
THERE are few people in life who defy odds to do extraordinary things.
As a matter of fact, people who do extraordinary things are just plain ordinary people who dare to dream and venture into unchartered waters.
Catherine Musola Kaseketi happens to be one of them.
Her life is pretty much of an adventure; always wanting to empower either through film or the spoken word. She has been and still goes around the world; seeing lots of places and faces.
Despite her physical disability, she has shattered a dozen of glass ceilings, which ordinarily, could have weighed her down. She is a woman leader of extreme talent and aggression.
Without any flattery or lavish praise, her attention to detail is second to none, which is why she is very influential in the film industry. By the way, she is a human rights activist, who has been using arts and film to advocate women and children’s rights and empowerment.
She was recently appointed as coordinator for Artwatch Africa for Zambia and Southern Africa.
Born in Solwezi, North-Western Province of Zambia on 10th October 1968, (but grew up in Kabwe, Central Province of Zambia) Ms Kaseketi is a determined, focused, hardworking, passionate and dynamic international award-winning first Zambian Woman filmmaker and a Human Rights advocate with managerial and leadership skills. After completing her high school, Musola trained in designing and tailoring in Livingstone.
She further studied theatre art management and acting in Zimbabwe.
In 2000, she graduated from the Newtown Film and Television School in South Africa with honours (cum laude). Musola went and studied Human Rights and Cinema from European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation in Venice, Italy in 2007 and in she went and studied Events and Festival management skills from Duetsche Welle Akademie, Berlin in Germany.
Musola, in 2009 was trained as one few disability equality training facilitators in Africa by International Labour Organization. To enhance her leadership skills she did a course in developing community leaders with School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Columbia University in 2012 and in 2013 Musola took time to go and study human rights and advocacy from the Institute of Human Rights Study, Columbia University.
Musola’s first feature film as producer/writer/director, “Suwi” that was released in 2009 has received international and local awards.
She is highly recognised and celebrated as an international award winning Zambian/African woman filmmaker outside Zambia.
Musola has worked on television productions that include ‘Streaks II – a studio based sitcom, children’s educational programme and ’Takalani Sesame Street for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). She also worked on a feature film “Viking Sage Berserkers”, produced by 10th Peak Viewing Transatlantic UK.
Other films that she has Co-produced which were shot in Zambia include “Unreal Forest” -2010 by Jakrawal Nilthamrong from Thailand and “Hope Eternal” 2008 by Karl Francis from Welsh.
Closer to home, Musola is the first woman film director and also first female director of the first Zambian TV soap Kabanana. Musola has also directed and script written documentaries for various international organisations. She has been facilitating human rights and video trainings workshops to enhance skills and encourage upcoming filmmakers from 2001 to date.
This has seen a number of young Zambian filmmakers employed locally and internationally or set up their own production houses.
Her first student Bernard Mulenga, is the former director for the Zambian first Soap Kabanana and he is currently director for a Zambia TV series Choice and Chances.
Some filmmakers Musola has trained and gloomed include founders of Amaka Film Festival, employed by ZNBC, Muvi TV or independent productions houses.
She has also attended a variety of national and international short courses to enhance her skills that include legal rights trainer, good governance, train the trainer in film/video productions, festival management, human rights and cinema, media, film and gender advocacy just to mention a few.
Her achievement include Suwi feature in 2013 being shortlisted for the UN women deliver Cinema Corner screening and in 2012 added to Library of Congress in Washington DC, USA.
Suwi was nominee for Best African Language feature film (AMA awards in Nigeria 2011), 2011 Recognition Media Award for contribution towards the Zambian Film Industry (National Association of Media Arts).
In 2010 Suwi’s got the honourable mention award in the drama category & Dodie Spittal 3 award at Picture this…international Film Festival in Calgary, Canada for exemplifying universal and spiritual values that enhance human dignity, justice and tolerance through the artistic application of cinematic expression in the movie.
In 2009 the film received the East African Region Talent and Signis East African Awards at the Zanzibar International Film Festival. The same 2009, the film got the ILO@90 Decent Work award for the Human Rights and labour law issues addressed in the movie.
Musola received the Recognition Award for her contribution in the progress and development of the film industry in Zambia and Truebony Achievement award for her contribution to the Arts and Culture in Zambia in 2009.
She was nominated for the Women of the Year 2008.
Musola in 2007 at the International Images Film Festival in Zimbabwe was award winner of “Distinguished Woman of African Cinema” for her contribution in the development of African Cinema and in 2007 Appreciation Award from ZAFAA (London African Film Festival) for contributing IMMENSELY to the development and progress of the African Film Industry.
She also received the “Immeasurable Contributions” award for her contribution to the arts & media world in 2006 by Zambian women musicians. In 2005 she was awardes the “Women Entrepreneur 2005” by ILO.
Her first feature script ‘Black Desire’ (KAMUKOLA) was one the two African Scripts in Rotterdam in 2004. It was also awarded “Best Pitch and Most Promising feature” 2002 and 2003 by Göteborg film festival. In 2001 her student Film, Making a Difference in Life’ was awarded “Best film” at the 5th Students Festival in Ghana.
On graduation, she received the Most Promising Producer and Best Student of the year 2000 awards. Musola also was Best Speaker-debate club 1993/94, 1986/87 and Best Actress 1987.
Musola is the founder of Vilole Images Productions (2003), Shungu Namutitima (Smoke that thunders) International Film Festival of Zambia (SHUNAFFoZ-2006, the first Zambian film festival) and Pachibwanse (Women’s meeting place) Corner-2011
She is the Southern Africa representative on the African Arts Festivals Network, Trustee for the Cardiac of Zambia, Committee Member for Community Based Rehabilitation Database and Research Zambia and Trustee for International Video Fair/Lusaka International Film Festival.
Ms Kaseketi served as Committee member for the National Film Policy and ZAMCOM Film School Project 2011/2012, from 2008-2011 Counsellor for Medicine Transparency Alliance, Advisory committee Chairperson (small grant from Norway for grassroot persons with disabilities) for Opportunity Zambia from 2009-2011, Trustee for The Community Library Development Network and Matron for Koseni Disabled women club 2008-2011.
Musola was Jury member for Documentary Category at the International Image Film Festival (IIFF) for women in 2009 in Zimbabwe, from 2006-2009 chairperson of the National Association of Media Arts and Council member of the National Arts Council of Zambia, Jury member for the feature film Category at the Zimbabwe International Film Festival in 2004 and 2005. She was also chairperson of the Zambia Society for Cinematographers.
Kaseketi who is passionate on gaining skills, continues to embraces people from every background and share whatever she learns with those who cross with her path.
One interesting part is that she has never dreamt of herself with a disability.
Thus, she does not see physical disability in her, but a person with abilities that can contribute and change the world around through incredible gifts and talents.
“I have a very important duty as Musola on this earth to touch one or two lives with my disability.
I am proud to be me, my disability is my motivation to achieving set objectives in my life,” she says.
Her desire is to leave a legacy when she is out of this world.
“I have a heart for women and especially women and girls with disability issues and artists especially filmmakers.
My heart’s desire is to contribute even in a small way to an individual and sector of the above mention categories,” she says.
Her number one model is Jesus Christ followed by her 89 year-old mother Kiltah Muchenella Chellah, who would be turning 90 in November.
“I am who I am because I have learnt so much from my mother and also what my stepmother allowed me to experience.
For years I did not understand why when I lived with my stepmother, despite my experience, when I tried to complain to my mother hoping she would side with me,” she recalls.
Being a gifted writer and poet was never an accident.
She started using poetry, writing and music to express myself.
The use of poetry has been a way of expressing her deepest joys and fears.
She is single and happy, is quick to say she has host of “children” to look after.
“I am not married and have no kid. I am not married by choice and circumstances,” says Ms Kaseketi.
Further, being an African, independent, woman filmmaker, first woman director with a disability it is indeed an interesting situation.
With her experience, it not easy to find a genuine partner, saying she has come across men who think they should marry her so she could gain her respect in society or because they feel sorry because her disability.
“I am a very happy single woman, but a proud mother of many children and grand-child most of them from the art and disability world found in different parts of the world,” she says.
Her word to the women and the girl child, is “ Appreciate who you are despite any situations, know your basic rights, pursue your dreams, be focused, be determined to achieve their objectives, work-hard and be keen to pursue education.
She believes everyone has talents and abilities, women and girls included.
“I am always saddened by women, especially young women of today (Educated women too) who think marriage is the greatest achievement.
We do respect and appreciate marriage, but not being married if not the end of the world,” she says.
Ultimately, Catherine Musola Kaseketi is a determined, focused, hardworking and passionate Filmmaker, Women with a disabilities rights advocate with an organised administrative background and a strong belief on quality work.
She finds joy in achieving set objectives and brings hope to the helpless. Able to work under pressure to enable meet deadlines. Capacity building oriented person to enable enhancement of various skills.
Her achievements are plain to see. She is fluent in Mambwe, Bemba, Nyanja and English, but as a proud Zambian, she can speak few other languages. Her hobbies include; listening to music, watching movies, writing, poetry, traveling and reading.