Get to know award-winning Zambian musician Pompi ahead of WEDF (en)
Music is attached to emotion, and I think when I share experiences or thoughts through music, people can relate to it. I sing songs about the African story and identity. My albums are themed on people identifying what they are created for and being confident in who they are. Allowing someone to be themselves is always something that liberates them.
Q: What’s your biggest accomplishment so far?
What I would consider one of my greatest achievements is when I went to Uganda and performed in front of an audience of 6,000 people who don’t speak my language. There was unity despite our differences. That’s the power of music, to create that unity. I found it unbelievable. They didn’t understand a word of what I was saying. It was a very spiritual moment for me. What was prompting these people to sing along? I still don’t understand.
Q: What are major challenges you’ve faced?
In the arts, protection of people’s gifts or assets is a major challenge. As a musician, one of the challenges is intellectual property protection. I can release an album today and tomorrow, I can be sold my own CD on the streets. Clearly one that we had not printed! It’s very difficult to maintain an industry that way. So within and across country borders, protection of the assets of local communities is key.
Q: In addition to your music career, you pursue social activism.
That’s what is taking most of my attention now. What we are doing through a foundation in the Eastern Province of Zambia is building schools and clinics. The entire value chain is built by locals: They’re making bricks, tables, benches themselves. We don’t want to impose our message and resources on them, or our way of doing things. It’s about encouraging locals to find their own solutions, using talent in the communities.
Q: Your fuse different languages and styles in your music, singing in English, Nyanja, Bemba and Lozi. Who or what are your influences?
I lived two different lifestyles: one at a secondary school that used the British curriculum and one at home. I was fortunate enough to go to this school because the company my dad worked for sponsored me. But I wasn’t necessarily in the same class as the other students. Most of them were from very rich backgrounds. So I had that experience in which I learned literature, design, tech, all of that, but when I came home, my friends at home were not necessarily from that background. I knew how to communicate, I still knew how to communicate. Coming back home, going to a place called Nombe, a compound, and having conversations, is what created that mix. I respect my identity in my local language and respect the exposure that I’ve managed to have with my education.