Nkhani Zanga’s mission informally began in 2016 when co-founder James Banda, also known as ‘Red Linso’, a well respected Zambian artist and producer, began recording his album, Love Is All We Need, which features over 14 local artists as well as several children from the surrounding communities. The goal of the album was to shed light on the ongoing social issue of children living on the streets and to promote a sense of unity and love within communities, irrespective of one’s social status, tribe, or education level.
“At the end of the day, we are all responsible for looking out for one another and caring for our community just as we care for our own families. If we treated every child as if they were our own then there would be no children living on the streets, there would be understanding, acceptance, love and compassion. We need to recognize that children’s rights are human rights too and that it takes a whole village to raise one child. We need to look out for one another and have a sense of collective responsibility.” – James Banda, ‘Red Linso’
James met co-founder Gemma Bonfiglioli while she was doing an internship at one of the shelters for children in Lusaka. During Gemma’s internship, she was exposed to the raw talent and thirst for an outlet to express that was so prominent with the population she was working with. She started listening to the kids spit their lyrics, freestyle, and dance. There was so much energy but no platform, no outlet.
She and James decided to team up and organize a concert and open mic event for the kids from three different shelters, which also featured several performers and singers. This was the beginning of our story.
Gemma and James were inspired to set up an official platform to encourage youth to express their own unique and personal stories. At the end of October 2017, James and Gemma formed Nkhani Zanga and officially partnered with Vision of Hope, a shelter for vulnerable girls, and began their very first storytelling project.