ONLY a few weeks ago this platform took its hats off to Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) for airing a documentary ‘Man from Lubwa (Kaunda early years)’ on April 28 that marked the 92nd birthday for the founding father Kenneth Kaunda.
The high-profile documentary was aired twice deservedly so since it brought out aspects on the nonagenarian politician from his birth in Chinsali up to the time he ascended to presidency after wrestling power from the British.
The documentary done by our own staff Austin Kaluba left viewers craving for more of such qualitative and well-researched items.
The answer came on Wednesday that marked Africa Freedom day when the producers of Man From Lubwa Hills under the Talking Drum Documentary makers series came up with another gem Zamrock Guru-Rikki Ililonga that was shown on ZNBC from 14 to 14: 45 hours.
It is time to again commend and thank the corporation for heeding to our advice on bringing such rich historical documentaries.
The documentary which is aptly titled chronicled the life of Likezo Makuyu Ililonga popularly known by his stage name Rikki Ililonga.
The documentary tracked the life of Zambian musician based in Denmark from his birth in Balovale (Zambezi) in colonial Zambia, his sponsorship by UNIP to Syracuse University in the United States, his abandonment of social work for music, his forming of the Mosi Oa Tunya Band and his relocation to Denmark.
The documentary filled up so many missing links about the man like the influence of the Flower Power period on his music career, rivalry with Mosi Oa Tunya front man Derek Ndara Mbao, rivalry with another music luminary Keith Mlevu, marriage to his first wife, the recent rediscovery of Zamrock and the anti-HIV/AIDS music project he did with Kenneth Kaunda.
The documentary does not allow any dull moment since it is padded with supportive shots (movie and stills) that make interesting viewing.
These include old shots of Franco playing, James Brown singing Sex Machine, Jimi Hendrix playing Star Spangled Banner, shots of Old Lusaka and still photos that highlight the interview and narration.
The director also did justice to thematic background music that helps to drive the narration and interviews.
These include the opening song of Wings of Africa with its catchy phrase of Kwela kwela, Kwela kwela, Kwela tione kwela-climb up, lets see you climbing up which are accompanied by a Likishi dancing on a pole and a Zambia Airways plane in flight.
The break up of Rikki from the band is driven by his early song Destiny which talks about the future of the artiste.
The part where the subject talks about his colleagues succumbing to HIV/AIDS is accompanied by the song Muzi Wa Kangwanda, an appropriate mournful song for such a narration.
The narration by ZNBC staffer Chitalu Mulenga is crystal clear and relaxed helping to explain the visuals that flash before a viewer.
Mr Kaluba who wrote the script, did research, produced and directed the documentary which meets the requirements of a good documentary and is a must see piece that we are imploring ZNBC to repeat.
The essential element of a good documentary is simply, the story that should make the viewers have an intellectual and emotional tie to the documentary.
The audience must have a ‘pull’ to get to the end of the film, not an excuse to get away from it.
The story must be found and that is not always easy. It’s the single component that Zamrock Guru-Rikki Ililonga hinges upon.
However, this platform feels that ZNBC has not yet come to fully understand the importance of promoting such programmes inside the prime plus time though for the documentary in question this was addressed since it was shown on Africa Freedom Day.
However, we feel the station can do justice to viewers by repeating the programme.