JUST the name ‘Charles Mando’ evokes profound memories of one man ranked among Zambia’s finest broadcasters who inimitably defined hard eyeball to eyeball interviews.
Who would miss the then Zambia Broadcasting Services’ Charles Mando’s Sunday Interview with those hard-hitting, probing, provoking and tasking questions to eminent persons like the Head of State?
This is a man who highly popularised the Sunday Interview a must-watch programme by almost every television owning household, thereby creating that rare signature.
Secrets unearthed, whispered realities told aloud and hidden facts brought to light. That was the power of Charles Mando!
Many would vividly remember Charles Mando as a prolific broadcaster who captivated the attention of viewers such that one was compelled to sit on the edge of the seat, following the interview.
Not only could he keep viewers glued to the television, but he also forced his guests shift to the fringes of their seat with those provoking questions, surprisingly not referring to a written set of questions.
The question paper would be on the table as he maintained that courageous direct eye contact with the interviewee. Courage and knowing what you are doing.
His daughter, Kaunda Mando remembers one particular interview that scared the entire Mando household when former Republican president Kenneth Kaunda as President then was asked a very daring question and he told Mando: “Do you realise that I can have you fired”?
While Mando’s household experienced fear that the bread winner might be shown the exit door, he (Mando) remained firm as he shockingly challenged the Head of State: “Mr President, you have not answered my question.”
Mando would never allow an interviewee regardless the status to take over the interview as he stood firm in-charge of the procession.
That extraordinary courage of probing high profile personalities like late president Michael Sata then Governor of Lusaka among others is what made the Sunday interview a cradle of Zambian viewership as one Ndubi Mvula would say:
“I remember in my uncle’s house, every Sunday we used to have supper by 19:30hrs and then everyone would be seated waiting for the famous Sunday Interview,” Mvula would go on to say:
“Charles Mando whom I rarely refer to as “the late”, was the best broadcaster that ever lived and this country is yet to produce one like him who carried the viewers alongside as the interview progressed,” Charles Botha agrees with Mvula because according to him, his namesake set a bar which no broadcaster has managed to attain in many years.
He says it was even more difficult in a one party state to ask government officials probing questions the way he used to for fear of the obvious.
Shockingly though, today when restrictions are less with more freedom of speech and expression, broadcasters still seem jittery thereby failing to ask real questions.
“You may wish to know that Charles’s interviews were also humorous in as much as he would ask those tough questions.
He would leave room for hilarity as he asked his well-researched questions; an element I see lacking in most of the current interviewers,” Botha says.
Today, eyes are on ZNBC’s Grevazio Zulu and Muvi TV’s Costa Mwansa who apparently was named MISA Zambia Charles Mando best interviewer.
This platform feels ZNBC should have been in the best place to scoop the award as they have very good reference materials well stocked in their library and yet not utilised.
The winning of Costa Mwansa from Muvi TV validates the reason why this platform has not criticised his Assignment programme as it is close to perfect.
In as much as Costa can never be like Charles, he has created his own brand which has impact on the viewership. He is good!
On the other hand, ZNBC has received enough censure from the time it was reintroduced and anchored by veteran broadcaster Kenneth Maduma.
This platform didn’t rest after seeing shortcomings in Mr Maduma until he was replaced by Franklin Tembo Jr who was apparently coming up well but for reasons unknown, he was again replaced by Grevazio Zulu.
Looking at how Grevazio is handling the Sunday Interview, especially when he is hosting government officials, one would easily retire to bed or change channels.
It is as if there is something he fears or following certain stealthy instructions from the institution’s corridors of power.
The selection of guests is another depressing issue with ZNBC. I wonder who they are hosting tonight.
This takes me to an imagination of the courage Mando had because he would have gone for a guest topical as the former Lusaka Province Minister Mulenga Sata even the most dreaded Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM). Who would miss such an interview?
In like manner that management at ZNBC took a bold step on Wednesday to invite all political party representatives to their premises to share views on how best the two could interact during the forthcoming general elections, a viewer expects the same to occur when it comes to the handling of programmes like the Sunday Interview.
By so doing, this will enable the viewer have adequate knowledge of both sides of the coin and make sound judgement on the country’s leadership as well as the national broadcaster’s ability to sincerely convey information so much needed.
This platform is indeed elated for the initiative taken by MISA Zambia to name the award after this great man who undisputedly left an indelible mark in the country.
Mando’s family, is equally happy and humbled by the gesture given by MISA Zambia and has pledged to sponsor the annual Charles Mando MISA award.
It is great to note that his name comes up during the MISA Zambia so as to keep the flame burning for the young Broadcaster to learn from.
Charles Mando – a hero gone too soon leaving huge imaginations on how he would have handled the likes of Information and Broadcasting Minister Chishimba Kambwili.
Please send your comments of memories of this great man to 0962215687
or email firstname.lastname@example.org