Zambians in british Columbia

Committed to helping Zambians and Friends living in Beautiful British
Columbia our home away from home!!​

Personalities - Thandiwe Mutinta Mweetwa

This intelligent and passionate woman recently featured in National Geographic’s article titled “National Geographic Society Unveils 2016 Class of Emerging Explorers”. Thandiwe was selected as one of the 13 Pioneers to represent the next generation of Scientists and Visionaries pushing the boundaries of discovery and global exploration; according to National Geographic.

Congratulations on your success thus far. How did it feel being contacted and being celebrated by such a well-known scientific and educational institution?

It was no doubt one of the best surprises of my life! Growing up, never would I have dreamt that I would one day be connected to such a great institution that has done so much to educate and entertain millions worldwide.

You got to spend some time here in BC furthering your studies. For those that got to know you, we understood on a basic level the type of work you do with wildlife. How would you explain to someone you met what it is that you do?

I work as a wildlife researcher and community educator in Zambia. My work focuses on promoting the protection of our country’s diverse species of wildlife particularly large carnivores such as lions, wild dogs, leopards and hyenas. In terms of community education, I work with secondary school students to raise awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation and environmental protection. The other goal is provide academic support and promote interest in wildlife based careers among youths.

From what we see in the media, work with wildlife seems to mostly be men. Did you ever worry that you would not be taken seriously as a female in this field? Did you have any challenges breaking into this work place?

Given the nature of the work and the odd hours that are part of the job, the field is widely seen as fit for men only. But that is not true; anyone can do this job. All that is required is passion and high tolerance for dust and tsetse flies. I am currently one of only two female field-based researchers in our organisation so I would definitely like to see better representation of women in. Luckily, I have been blessed with wonderful co-workers such that I don’t have to worry about not being taken seriously. When out in the field we work as a team and we share all duties equally. If I have been driving the whole day, my workmate Gibson prepares the food and vice versa. Changing flat tires is also a team effort.

Is there a specific animal you enjoy working with the most and why?

It’s hard to choose but wild dogs are always a pleasure to watch. Each animal has a role in the group and how they take care of each other is just amazing.

What would you like people to understand about our own wildlife in Zambia?

We have really high diversity of beautiful plants, birds and animals in the country that unfortunately many Zambians do not get to enjoy or connect with nature. In addition to being ecologically and economically important, our wildlife has high cultural significance. Many of our names, totems and traditional teachings are derived from and inspired by our amazing flora and fauna. This part of our heritage deserves to be protected.

What message would you like to share with our youth here in BC?

Work hard and persevere whatever field you are in. Always remember that one of the most important resources available to you is other people. Ask questions and share ideas because ‘Two heads are better than one’.

Please follow link below to check out the article in National Geographic

Profile picture is property and  copyright of Edward Selfe.

Wildlife pictures are property and copyright of Thandiwe Mutinta Mweetwa unless noted.

Personalities - Maria Hayford-Fynn

A wonderful and talented mutual friend connected us. She told me you were a lady worth getting to know. Who is Maria Hayford-Fynn?

Maria Hayford-Fynn was born in 1982 in Lusaka, and moved to Zimbabwe at a very young age; where I lived with my late grandmother who taught me Shona. I later moved to Zambia to Chitmemalesa near Chongwe where I learnt Nyanja. In 1990 I continued my primary and secondary education in Mufulira (Copperbelt) were I continued to expand on my repertoire of Zambian languages and learnt Bemba.

With the support of my family, I moved to UK and graduated from Middlesex University with a Bachelor of Art in Business & Management.

I am also a wife, a mother to a beautiful baby boy, business woman (owner) of Zamfood, Maria Cosmetics, Maria Clothing, Maria Wholesale Supply & World Connect Education Services UK and charity ambassador for Zambia Catholic Community and Friends in UK.

In 2007, I was the first Zambian in UK to win a “Community Award”, which was awarded to me by our very own African Woman of the year",  Justina Mutale & UK Zambian Publisher, Daniel Mwamba.

As an entrepreneur, you are CEO to so many businesses. How do you manage to keep each venture on track?

Being a business owner of so many ventures is not easy, as they all comes with its ups and downs, and having faith in God is vital. As when you have faith in God, you don’t worry about what “if”, you just get on with things knowing he is in control. In additional to that, time management, being organised and planning helps to manage all my ventures and to stay on track. This is gives me the opportunity to have the time to chill and relax with my family and friends.

What was the motivation and inspiration to start the “Zambian Profession Women Network” blog?

The motivation to start the Zambia Profession Women Network came about when friends kept asking me how I managed to do what I do & where do I get the inspiration. 

So I thought, why can't I start a blog, which can act as a network to share with the world how our own people (Zambians) are doing well and people are able to relate & eventually inspire them.

Did getting an education facilitate any of your accomplishments?

Yes, education has played a part in so many ways, as not only has it given me the knowledge to read and to understand, but discipline as well.

But growing up and raised in Zambia was a great learning curve and made me appreciate life and the importance of family support. I grew up with lots of different people in my community (extended families). I learnt how to cook, clean, stand on my own two feet; whilst looking after my family. All these experiences have molded me to become the strong, confident woman I am today.

How do you give back to others?

As a believer in community service and giving to back to the community, I have been a committee member for the Zambia Catholic Community and Friends in UK since it was formed in 2004, which I attend monthly. 

The non-profit organisation was formed to help terminally ill patients at Chipata hospice, but now we assist other organisations in need of our aid.

In future, I also plan to go to Zambia and teach various communities how to run a successful business, so that they can accomplish their dreams and build a better living standard for themselves and my community.

What do you look forward to when you travel to Zambia?

Spending quality time with my family, catching up with old friends and having a laugh just makes me happy to be home. Saying that, I love my Zambian food too, so this is the only opportunity I get to eat what I like.

What motivational message would you like to share with our youth?

“Believe in your vision, have faith in God and your possibilities in life are endless.”

“Never let anyone define who you are, be yourself”

“Anything is possible as long as you have passion”

“With God on your side, you can conquer the world”

If you would like to get to know more about Maria please check out:

Maria Cosmetics -

Maria Clothing -

Zamfood…eat the Zambian way -

Zambian Profession Women Network -

World Connect Education Services -

Website -

Beautiful Zambia -

Picture provided is property and copyright of Maria Hayford-Fynn

Personalities - Justina Mutale

I first ran across your name through a link you e-mailed to our association. I was amazed to read about your many accomplishments. In your own words who is Justina Mutale? 

Hello Linda, I must begin by thanking you for affording me the privilege to be interviewed on your prestigious platform. I can also confidently say that I am overtly and abundantly blessed. I have been brought up to be modest in describing my personal attributes to other people, and as a rule I normally do not describe myself to people and leave it to people to discover me, because I can be many different things to many different people depending on who the person is. While I have been a blessing to others, to some I have been a total thorn! So to answer your question, Justina Mutale is simply Justina Mutale.

If, however, your question is aimed at knowing what I do, I can start by saying that I am the African Woman of the Year 2012, a prestigious honour bestowed upon me on the same platform as the President of Malawi, the Rt. Hon. Joyce Banda and female Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, the Hon. Thokozani Khupe. I have also been featured as a CFI Hero in the Capital Finance International (CFI) Journal, which brings coverage and analysis of the drivers behind change by combining the views of leading multilateral and national organizations with thought and leadership from some of the world’s top minds.

As a Philanthropist, Humanitarian, HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Advocate, I am the Founder & CEO of POSITIVE RUNWAY: Global Catwalk to Stop the Spread, a worldwide HIV/AIDS response campaign aimed at bridging the gap in the global efforts to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and other scourges affecting 21st century youth and society at large. I am also the founder of Miss Zambia UK Beauty Pageant, which is based on the principle of “Beauty with a Purpose” and is dedicated to the memory of all Zambian women who have died from HIV/AIDS with winners raising funds to support children orphaned by AIDS.

In addition, I serve as Patron, Ambassador, Trustee and Board Member of several humanitarian, community and charitable organizations in the UK and overseas. I sit on the Advisory Board of the World Leaders Forum and serve as Honorary Ambassador for Gender Equality and Spokesperson for the International Women’s Think Tank (IWTT), which promotes intellectual research, critical thinking and innovative solutions on issues related to women and girls. I am also a member of the Civil Society delegation to the United Nations General Assembly on the High Level Dialogue with UN member governments on International Migration and Development.

I also serve as Diaspora Ambassador and Spokesperson for the ENOUGH FOOD FOR EVERYONE IF Campaign, a coalition of over 200 UK development organisations working to end world hunger, supported and endorsed by world personalities and celebrities including Bill Gates, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, David Beckham and many others. I have further been blessed to be one of only 13 women to be featured in the Television Series on “Eminent African Women” and in a book on “Women who are Contributing to Sustainable Development of the World” published in Paris; and another titled: “Women who Changed Africa”, published in New York.

You get to talk at many important organizations, how do you prepare?

As an International Speaker, I am regularly invited around the world to speak at various fora that discuss social, economic, political and gender issues; as well as the fate of the African continent and Africans in the Diaspora. I am scheduled to address my Zambian brothers and sisters during the Mwape Peer Awards, which will be held in New York in October 2013. I have recently addressed the U.S. National Congress of Black Women (NCBW-LAC) in Los Angeles and also delivered the Keynote Address at the Anakazi African Women’s Business Conference in California in the USA. I am further scheduled to be a Keynote Speaker at the Opening Ceremony of the International Women’s Center (IWC) in the USA this October; and also at the Wome4Africa Business & Leadership Summit in London in November 2013, among many other outstanding Speaking invitations and engagements across the globe.

I have studied international relations and politics, which touches upon most of the topics that I am asked to speak upon. I am also a student of practical philosophy, which teaches consciousness and focus on the issue at hand. In addition, I have worked in the Commonwealth Secretariat, an international organisation based in London. Working in an international organisation like the Commonwealth Secretariat which encompasses 54 different member countries, with varying cultures and ethnicities and multiple religious beliefs, one instantly meets and experiences the world by working in the Commonwealth Secretariat. And this simultaneously acquaints one with international protocols, etiquette and sensitivities. 

To prepare for my speeches I normally have to familiarise myself with the kind of audience that I am going to be Speaking to and to work out the most essential and important aspects of the topic that I know would send a relevant and positive message, which would be beneficial to my audience.

Do you remember the first speech you ever gave? Where was this and were your nervous? 

Uhmmm.... I can say that my first speech, like everybody else was when I first uttered my first words as a baby or child. Nevertheless, the first public speech that comes to mind was when I was about 13-14 years old and I decided to stage a Talent Show at my secondary school in Kabwe, Zambia. As the organiser of the show, I had to deliver the Opening Speech to welcome the teachers, the students and parents who had come to see the show. I cannot remember if I was nervous when I made this particular speech. 

However, there have been instances when I have been very nervous to give speeches, more so as organiser of the Miss Zambia UK Beauty Pageant. I do not understand why speaking at the Miss Zambia UK Pageant always made me nervous! 

There was also the time when I turned up with a prepared speech at an event that was featuring several speakers, only to sit there and hear one speaker talk about everything that was in my speech before it was my turn to speak. I then decided it was not such a wise idea to have a prepared or written speech when there are other speakers on the schedule! 

Growing up, was education and learning something emphasized in your family home?

I must say that I am very blessed to have been part of the lucky generation that benefited from the fruits of Zambian independence when President Kenneth Kaunda and his government embarked on free education for all Zambian children who had attained school-going age. This was done in preparation for Zambianisation of Zambian industries as well as management teams and other top jobs in Zambia. Yes, there was a great emphasis on education in my family and in most families in Zambia in the aftermath of independence as most of our parents had not had the privilege of a good education under colonial rule. Therefore, educating one’s children was part of the legacy of a free and politically independent Zambia. 

My parents and other parents knew that, or perhaps where of the hope that well educated children would have a better chance in life than they did, and would also deliver a better future for Zambia and the world at large. There is no truer saying than that of one of America’s Founding Fathers, Franklin Benjamin who said “If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take away from him" . And I believe investing in education was the best thing that Dr Kaunda and his government, together with our parents ever did! We live in a fast changing world. To keep apace with the ongoing social, economic, political and technological changes, it is fundamental for one to go to school and to get a good education, so that one can learn and understand life and the necessary aspects of a chosen career in a competitive globalized world. Whatever career one may choose to follow, an investment in education and knowledge always pays the best interest.

What inspired to you to start-up the "Miss Zambia" pageant?

It has always been my belief that although we have High Commissions and Embassies that formally represent our countries abroad, Zambian citizens in the Diaspora should at the same time be agents of cultural and citizen diplomacy to market Zambia overseas. When I arrived in the UK I found that the Zambian community was very docile and did not participate adequately in the entertainment industry and social scene in the UK. I therefore initiated the community celebrations of Zambian Independence in the UK and also invented the Miss Zambia UK Beauty Pageant, as a creative PR campaign to profile Zambia and its people, and also to highlight the plight of HIV/AIDS orphans in Zambia, who are the beneficiaries of the Pageant.

The Miss Zambia UK Beauty Pageant, which celebrates the beauty of every Zambian woman is dedicated to Zambian women who have died of HIV/AIDS. In so doing and through the Pageant, we are reminded of our responsibility to the children that our dearly departed sisters have left behind. Our winners and title holders use their position and influence to raise funds for the welfare of HIV/AIDS orphans. We also utilise the Miss Zambia UK Pageant as a platform to educate the world about Zambia’s history, traditions and rich cultural heritage, as well as the country’s tourism and investment potentials.

The Miss Zambia UK Beauty Pageant also provided an opportunity to give international exposure to Zambian music artistes, which in turn has made a huge contribution to Zambian music through exposure of local Zambian artistes abroad. Miss Zambia UK has become one of the most recognized brand names in the UK and worldwide. I have also travelled across the globe proudly carrying the Zambian flag with contestants from Miss Zambia UK representing Zambia at numerous international pageants and model competitions held in different parts of the world. Our contestants from the Miss Zambia UK Beauty Pageant have become cultural and goodwill ambassadors for Zambia. Most of our title holders and contestants have gone on to start their own HIV/AIDS charities.

It is therefore very heartening for me to see that over the years, my activities have inspired many Zambians as well as other Africans in the UK and the rest of the Diaspora, who have since been emulating me and have followed in my footsteps by starting their own Beauty Pageants, community Independence Day celebrations and bringing music artistes from their home countries to perform at Diaspora events abroad, in addition to forming charitable organizations to benefit the less privileged in their home countries.

What is the first thing you like to do when you travel to Zambia? 

Like everybody else, the first thing I like to do when I travel to Zambia is to see all my friends and family. I also love Zambian food and always love to have some good milile upon arrival. There is so much to do in Zambia that it is hard to pin it down to one thing, even as the first thing to do! Zambia is such a vibrant country bustling with development, social activities and full of happy friendly people. I like to look around and see what new development has occurred since my last visit. I also like to observe what is going on in the community in the political, social and economic arena. It is interesting to observe that there has been a lot of development with an ever increasing rise in economic growth in Zambia, and yet at the same time the majority of indigenous Zambians are wallowing in deep poverty and are not part of the new developed Zambia. All in all, Zambia is my country and I love every bit of it!

What motivational message would you like to share with our youth? 

I truly believe that the time of one’s life as a youth is the time of endless possibilities. We live in a world of abundance and a borderless world of possibilities. I also believe that the 21st century presents incredible opportunities for young people to rise up and shine, to stand up and be counted, and to make your mark on the world. To young people, I would say please remember that every individual is blessed with different talents and no-one should try to be someone else, as that person is already taken. You need to find your own special talent and to utilise that talent to find your own individual place among the Stars. Always remember that in a world of billions, remember to be heard. Remember to make your mark; remember to leave your positive imprint on the world because you are the youth of today and the future of tomorrow.


Personalities - Rosemary Chileshe

In one paragraph, please introduce yourself?

Hi all, as most of you know, my name is Rosemary Chileshe, former Miss Zambia UK (2003 – 2006) and Zambia’s representative at Miss World 2004 and Miss Universe 2007. Also a former Face of Sleek Cosmetics. By profession, I am a Property Surveyor and current founder and MD of my brand Swanilenga Group Ltd, home to various projects in Property, Charity, Fashion, Beauty and Media.

In high school, what did you want to be?

I say I am truly blessed and highly favoured as I have always been goal orientated and I always wanted to own my business, a vision I am fulfilling now more than ever where I am excited to run projects and fulfilling roles in all areas of my blessed talents; Property, Charity, Fashion, Beauty and Media


What would you regard as your greatest achievement thus far?

I have had many great and blessed achievements which have fallen in all areas of my branded interests such as going to Miss World (where I met, talked and danced with Lionel Richie)and Miss Universe (where I officially met Donald Trump) as Zambia’s representative in that order after being Zambia’s representative in the UK. In line with painting Africa in a positive light as a result of my work in charity etc, I was also honoured to have had a Royal invitation to Buckingham Palace where I met the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Michael of Kent and other Princesses. In Beauty, I was honoured to front the Face of Sleek Cosmetics campaign etc.


Was getting an education important to you?

Yes it was, simply because I work with goals and I always said to myself, you cannot go wrong with an education under your belt. In my view, once an education has been secured, you have the foundation to do anything thereafter knowing that whatever you build, whether it changes along the way, you will always have a firm and set foundation in your education. I ensured I covered my GSCEs, A Levels and a Degree, in that order.

When I travel to Zambia, I look forward to…

Seeing my family first and foremost then the neighbours, to see how they are

How do you give back to others?

I play a role where I can by offering my presentation skills in highlighting / speaking at events on behalf of several charities such as Manchester Action for Children, where I am an appointed Ambassador. The charity does a lot of work in Zambia. I was also an appointed Ambassador of All Star Kids Charity which also has projects running in Zambia. Under my brand, I now run Swanilenga Foundation which supports existing charities in meeting their fundraising goals and future wise, I plan to do joint and sole events in putting together actual resources (not just giving money but actual materials to build what is required, such as schools, training for teachers etc) required to progress several projects in Zambia and the UK, more so in line with HIV/AIDS.

message do you want to share with our youth?

What motivational messsage do you have for the youth?

Everyone one of us was born to prosper. The only person who can ever deny you the opportunity to grow, progress and be who you want to be in line with God’s will is you. You must recognise from earlier on that nothing worth having comes easy, hard work and real passion in what you do is the key to progressing in your chosen and God approved path. Work with goals and go out there and start making them happen, better to start on a smaller scale than to just sit there waiting for someone to make it happen for you. You need to take ownership of your dream and vision and mold it into what you want it to be by God’s grace.

If you would like to get to know more about Rosemary please check out:

Pictures provided are property and copyright of Rosemary Chileshe

ZamBC  2012 Independence Party Photos

ZamBC 2012 Cultus Lake Picnic Photos