Banji Chona: An Interview by Creative Hustle ZM

Salutations to you all,

A couple of months ago I was approached by Creative Hustle,  for a behind the creative interview. Creative Hustle is an initiative curated by Tangu Msimuko. It was founded in 2016, to help grow and publicise the local creative scene. Their work is focused on & dedicated to showcasing and platforming emerging Zambian creatives doing amazing work. They do this through hosting bi-monthly events and by conducting one-on-one interviews and online visual showcases. Check out my interview with Tangu below:

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1.Your site is flooded with proclamations of self love, respect, acceptance, black power and its beauty. And it spells boldness and fearlessness through out.

 

 

Please tell me; how and when did this blunt awareness of self come about?

 

You see, nothing comes pre-programmed or perfectly organised in a little pocket handbook. Awareness of self is anything but blunt. It all stemmed from intricate and intertwined processes of growth. I see the awareness of self as a continuum, we souls are constantly and continuously evolving. Im still learning and becoming more aware. Learning how to love every facet of myself and how to accept certain things. So, my awareness of self has by no means come about in full circle. Though Ive definitely grown to be more bold and exhibit fearlessness, having been moulded by the actions of my choices (which I always try to make harnessing positive energy and thus manifesting positive choices/changes). Though not to say I dont sometimes experience daunting or negative emotions, those do crop up and its totally normal. At the end of the day, the way I see it, it all boils down to taking everything as it comes, step by step, but maintaining a positive mindset whichll somehow inevitably lead to expanding the awareness of self.

 

2. I noticed a number of rad and “lit” pictures on your site. I can tell lots of time and thought carefully goes into curating them.

On a daily basis, what are your references go-to for inspiration? 

What is your creative process like? 

 

How do you make sure you say just exactly what you’re trying to say through a picture without letting any of it get lost in translation? 

 

My go-to references for inspiration are dotted everywhere and are laced in everyone. Though, it really is a process that starts within. As much as this is going to sound like space-monkey gobbledygook to some people, the way I see it is, in order to see the boundless and beautiful sources of inspiration that casually flit about, one has to allow themselves to see it. I actively open myself up to inspiration, in the sense that I try to see the beauty in things as they are, no matter how simpleor unconventionally beautifulthey may be. And by thinking and viewing everything in a positive light I allow myself to find the core beauty and thus the inspiration in mundane things. My creative process is pretty simple. It really boils down to starting. I mean yeah it seems like a pretty obvious point. But Im serious. When I start making a piece of jewellery or start writing a poem I never know completely what the jewellery will look like when its done or the poem when its complete. But through experimenting with words or exploring new ways to make things the end product starts to take shape. So I guess one could say Im an advocate of going with the flow- but still challenging yourself. The wonderful thing about art, in all its forms is its flexibility and fluidity. I feel one of the many beauties of art manifests itself in the way that poetry, photographs, sculptures and music can be left completely open to the interpretation of their digesters. There is no correct answerwhen it comes to art. So nothing really gets lost in translation– just interpreted differently and thats okay.

3. What forms of creativity do you embody and have you always considered yourself a creative?

 

Thinking back to as long as I can remember, Ive always been lucky to have had creativity constantly bubbling in my sphere. So, Ive always had creative inspiration in close proximity. My aunt, Shimbs served as my burning beacon of inspiration- shes an artist, a designer and an all round creator, and a good one at that! Through her I learned about my love for creating. There was a point at which we used to have all kinds of artistic sessionsand I absolutely loved them! From sitting on the floor on layers and layers of newspaper, painting in watercolour to making little outfits for my dolls from all the scrap fabric we could find in the house. Since then my drawing skills have tapered off quite a bit, ha. I can barely draw a decent stick man. But, on the flip side of the coin, the lesson from those sessions remained. It was a lesson that taught me to have a go at everything, because creativity is boundless. Im constantly trying new things, discovering parts of myself in those things and loving it. For this reason, putting a label on what kind of forms of creativity I embody is pretty difficult, but I know for sure its not some kind of super stickman artist.

4. No doubt, you’re one for collaborations. The “Trilogy” project featuring Kenzo Onwuka and Mutumbi Lungu is proof enough.

Why do you think the idea of creatives coming together regardless of their different artistic flair is so important? 

 

Working with other artists who embody different forms of creativity and have different aesthetics and artistic flair is important because it diversifies the creative sphere. A creative sphere that has a number of different styles is a better than a creative sphere that has one main stream running through it. Imagine only having one flavour of crisps to choose from or the rainbow having only one colour, not cool. Pretty colourless and boring, really. Creatives coming together also opens up the floor to floods of inspiration and opportunities to learn and grow from fellow creators. Growth is important.

5. We spoke earlier about how you feel there aren’t enough platforms facilitating the nurturing of creativity and sharing the wonderful innovations of Zambian Creatives. Why do you think that is?

Artists in their nature are expressive beings-  and this expressiveness manifests itself in different forms, whether it be through the art itself or through the way they choose to dress. And we know creatives can definitely be nothing short of a bit whacky. Re: my array of different coloured lipsticks. Unfortunately, Zambia doesnt do well with people who dont conform or are in the least bit different- soul rattling stares will blatantly and casually be hurled your way by people in the street. Honestly, speaking from experience. So people often shrink themselves and stifle their creative energy to avoid being made to feel like an oddball. Another reason for the lack of creative platforms in the motherland would be because of the cultural orientation (African values/expectations) and the predominant social structure of the country. Creativity is often shunned in favour of more serious or left-brained paths and careers. I know many people whose parents would not even consider letting their children take creative subjects such as Music or Art because they didn’t think it was as valuable a contribution to the education of their child in comparison to something like Maths (ew) for example

6. What do you see your site evolving into the years to come? Any projects we should know about? 

I see my site growing into a mega safe collective space that not only provides a platform for young and old creatives, alike to share in their work but also to serve as a place where people all over the world can connect with each other, learn from each other and grow with each other. There are many exciting projects that are currently on the go and in process. So keep your peepers peeled!

7.What is Creativity to you? 

 

Freedom of expression that knows no bounds.

 

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Love and Light,

B

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