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Empowering Zambians in the New England Area

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ZANE periodically interviews inspiring Zambians living in the New England region, and features them in the organization’s quarterly newsletter…

Below, are full versions of the interviews featured in the ZANE Newsletter.

Natasha and Natalie Kudakwashe

Posted Summer 2010

This summer, ZANE’s Education Department grabbed at the chance to interview talented music sister act duo; Natasha and Natalie Kudakwashe, gifted Zambian youth who have played concerts in over 40 places in states such as Texas, New York, & the New England region. The talented duo share their creative flair with the world by playing instruments in their Father’s church band….

Who are Natasha & Natalie Kudakwashe?

Natasha: We were both born in Zambia. Our parents; Pastor Pezzy & Maria Kudakwashe, moved to Maine, USA when I was 8 years old and Natalie was 5 years old. I am in the 10th Grade at High School. I play drums and I am learning to play keyboards.

Natalie: I am in Middle School in the 8th Grade and I play bass, guitar and keyboards.

What is it that has driven you and made you successful in your music experiences?

Natasha: I like how everything sounds. Even though the learning process is hard, it does get easier.

Natalie: Having fun with it. I like to do it and I have found my passion.

Who inspires you/has had the greatest influence on you?

Natasha: My family inspires me. Musically, I like Dove Award Nominee, Jamaal Pollard, who goes by the name ‘Mali Music.’ I do like most music such as hip hop soul; music that has a beat to it.

Natalie: My dad, mum & sister are my inspirations. Musically, I am influenced by Christian artists.

What activities do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Natasha: listening to music, shopping, watching movies, hanging out with friends, and playing my musical instruments.

Natalie: playing guitar, playing basketball and field hockey. I like the balance of music and athletics.

Who are your best friends?

Natasha: I don’t have a best friend, I have close friends…

Natalie: Sepiso. We are the same age and a lot alike.

What is your favorite Zambian food?

Natasha: My favorite Zambian food is probably beans and rice.

Natalie: I like nshima and kale (rape).

Which tv shows do you like watching and why?

Natasha: My favorite shows are by tyler perry, meet the browns and house of payne, I loved all his movies especially the madea ones, which made me want to check out his tv shows, and they are really funny too.

Natalie: ‘If you really knew me,’ a show on MTV. It is a show that focuses on breaking down cliques & stereotypes in high school. Students share their true lives and identities with their peers.

How did you guys get into playing music?

Natasha: Our dad plays music instruments and he would teach a music class. He told us to join the class and eventually we ended up being the only kids remaining in the class.

Natalie: And we also wanted to learn how to play.

Do you have/had concerts in which you play, and if so where?

Natasha: We play at concerts all around, they are usually pretty random.

What do you think of ZANE?

Natasha: It is a fun group. Since we came to America, we didn’t have a group of Zambians. Now we have a group and we can meet together. The gatherings are fun!

Natalie: It is fun and interesting. It is cool to have and go to the functions and be a part of it!

What advice do you have for your fellow youth?

Natasha: “Don’t get robbed of your dreams.” Because your dreams give you hope and are a stay on task. You ruin your future if you don’t have any dreams.

Natalie: If you are interested in something, don’t wait till you are older to do it, “Just do it now. Have courage!”

Mrs. Grace Mwanza Boykai

Posted Spring 2010

ZANE’s Education Department recently sat down with one of the most influential women in our community; Aunty Grace Mwanza Boykai , a woman of many hats that include being a proud mother, loving wife, nurse, farmer, renowned cook and much more…

Who is Aunty Grace?

I am a proud mother of 4 children. I attended Mukinge Girls Secondary School (a boarding school) in Kasempa, which is located in the North-Western Province of Zambia. My late parents both hailed from Eastern Province in Zambia; my father was Nsenga by tribe while my mother was Tumbuka. I came to the USA about 13 years ago and entered the Nursing profession. I currently use my nursing expertise at Edgewood RC in North Andover, MA. I graduated from Shawsheen LPN Program in Billerica, MA and  I plan to further my studies in the immediate future. I  also grow traditional Zambian vegetables at my farm in Dracut, MA and sell them to the community. Some of the vegetables I grow are Chibwabwa (pumpkin leaves), Lumanda, Tomatoes, Cabbage, Eggplants, Rape, Impwa (african eggplants) and Kandolo (sweet potatoes).

How did you diversify into farming?

The reason why I diversified into farming was because I love vegetables and follow a healthy eating regimen. I had a friend in nursing school who had a small plot of land and we would talk about how much I loved vegetables and she encouraged me to start farming my own vegetables. So I like to try new things and jumped at the chance, and I have been farming ever since.

What has made you successful in your life experiences?

My children and family have made me what I am. This is because I have had to strive for the best for them as well as set an example; showing them that it takes hard work to get what you want. I became a mother at a younger age and I had to step up when I lost both my parents as I am the oldest in my family. As a result, all my family members look up to me.

Who inspires you?

My very close friend Martha is my inspiration. I have known her for over 12 years and she is a hardworking parent. Martha does not sugarcoat her words, is never discouraging and advises me appropriately. My parents also greatly inspired me.

A lot of people in the ZANE community look up to you for various situations, why do you think that is?

Let me first say I am very flattered and I appreciate all those wonderful people who look up to me.  I also have a very wonderful husband who is so supportive of me and all that I do.

What do you think of ZANE?

ZANE is such a wonderful organization and I am so amazed that it is young people that run it. These young people never say no if they are able to do something. It is the young generation that is doing things. It’s leaders don’t allow negative criticism to get them down. They never give up even though some people may condemn them. These kids want the best for this organization and community, and they have such a big heart for this community.

What are your hobbies?

I am a very active woman so I enjoy dancing, cooking, playing badminton and swimming.

Describe your typical day?

I am usually up at 5:30am and don’t get back home till 1:00am, depending on my work schedule . If I am not working I am in church. I don’t visit much as I am usually working as is everybody else.

What advice can you give young Zambians out there?

They need to go to school and get an education. There are opportunities here to work but what if you end up going home; no one can take an education away from you.  So please think of the future and invest in your future by getting an education.

Any last words?

My family truly appreciates what ZANE is doing for us and for the community as a whole, and I urge ZANE to continue doing what it does and we promise to stand by your side and give ZANE the support that it needs. I encourage everyone in the community to stand united.

Dr. Joseph Nkolola

Posted Fall 2009

ZANE’s Education Department recently sat down to talk with an inspiring young Zambian; Dr. Joseph Nkolola, an Immunologist, who is doing great things in the field of HIV Vaccine development...

Who is Joseph Nkolola?

I was born in Lusaka, in 1969. I am a scientist whose interest is in Immunology, specifically HIV vaccine development. My beautiful wife Maria is a psychologist and we have two wonderful kids; my daughter Chipego will be turning 4 and my son Matama is one. I have lived in the USA for about 5 years now.

Could you tell me about your educational background?

My late parents were Zambia diplomats, and as a result most of my schooling was done overseas. The countries where I did my early education were United Kingdom, Tanzania and Sweden. I returned back home in the 9th grade and attended a Catholic boarding school, St Edmunds Secondary School in Mazabuka. However, I completed my secondary education at St. George’s in Harare. I attended UNZA and got my Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry. After I graduated, I worked in a biochemistry lab at UTH for a couple of years. I then returned to UNZA to work as a trainee lecturer, where I was fortunate enough to win a scholarship to do my Masters in Molecular Biology in Belgium. After completing my Masters degree, I returned to UNZA as a lecturer for 2 years. It was during this time that I developed an interest in HIV research, as I could see the devastating effects the disease had caused in the Zambian society. So when I won a Commonwealth Scholarship to attend Oxford University in the UK, I pursued a PhD in Immunology.

How did you find yourself here at Harvard University?

I was looking around to see where I wanted to do my Post-doctoral research, and a number of things drew me to the USA; I had never been to the USA, and I came across a leading Harvard professor’s work on HIV/AIDS ; Dr. Max Essex, and I was drawn to the fact that he has built an entire HIV/AIDS research facility in Botswana.

What has made you successful in your life experiences?

Success is a relative thing. I am motivated to make a difference in peoples’ lives. I am trying my best to help humanity as a scientist, doing it transitionally.

Who inspires you?

Positive experiences and people I meet along the way. In addition, inspiring people I read about.

Describe your typical day?

It’s usually a 9-5 day, being in the research lab running experiments.

What are your hobbies?

I like listening to r’n’b music, watching home theater movies, and soccer. I am a huge English Premiership League Soccer fan, and I support the team Chelsea.

What do you think of ZANE?

ZANE is a fantastic organization and it is nice to see the Zambian community sharing experiences and knowledge. Keep up the great work!

What advice do you have for an upcoming scientist?

Work hard and stay focused. You should also be humble, approachable and always stay true to yourself; Never take your eyes away from the prize and never give up, even when faced with disappointing results.

Any last words?

I would like to wish all Zambians well in their endeavors and that they should be proud of their Zambian heritage, and fly the Zambian flag high!

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