Zambia is not particularly amongst the most popular countries in Africa, so when you tell a friend that’s where you’re headed, they pause and reply as though perplexed by your destination choice “ZAMBIA ?!” – Yes Zambia, I reply, the 2022 Afrilabs Annual Gathering in Lusaka, Zambia – a country I didn’t know much of until arrival.
After an 11 hours flight I arrived with great excitement. This is after all, an Afrilabs Gathering, lives and the future of African tech Ecosystem has been positively impacted overtime as result of unique resources it offers its members.
AfriLabs is a network organization supporting Innovation Centers across African countries since 2011, founded upon the mission of building a community around the rapidly emerging technology hubs in Africa.
With that said, my first interactions with zambians just as i checked out of the airport proved awe inspiring.
How? You may ask.
Reason is, I forgot my phone on a chair at the airport for over half an hour and just as i was about to board a vehicle to my hotel, I realized I had misplaced my phone.
Imagine the first act you pull off in a foreign land is to lose your phone. Ah!
All your contacts and info gone. I panicked and ran back into the airport, and to my shock, the airport security had recovered my phone and handed it back to me.
In the following hours, I was helped by different Zambians i had never met who used their money, phones and wifi to help find and settle me in a reserved hotel after a bit of a reservation debacle.
I came off a couple of observations about Zambians’ and the nation “Zambia” just off my first day in the country;
i: Zambians are a nice and honest people, who like to help without asking for anything in return,
ii: Zambia’s love the the ‘Right Wheel Drive’ cars, and traveling in these vehicles can get quite disorienting for a West African…….
In my opinion and from the gestures of fellow colleagues present at the gatherings, talks and innovations classes; COMFORT, FUN and most importantly INSPIRING, are the adjectives i will use to contextualize the feelings free flowing at each of them.
Well because the organizers, The Jacaranda Hub, led by a powerful inspiring woman, Mara Zhanet Michelo, simply were spot on and amazing with the visual theme of the event as a whole. The locations that hosted the various gatherings, including that yummy colorful “GALA”, the Presenters; Amina Kaunda and Mark Dodsworth, the Food, and the speakers; I reserved the speakers for last because here are people giving real examples of difficulties they faced and their creative solutions to overcoming their problems.
The Presenters Get An A1
In my time in the media industry here in West Africa, I have done my fair share of hosting of events in Benin Republic and Nigeria, and i can tell you hosting a show in front of a live crowd isn’t the same as hosting a radio program.
It takes a lot of guts, passion and skill and these guys were phenomenal!
It’s not the easiest of jobs to indulge, granted no job is easy but not all jobs have you constantly relating and interacting LIVE with a group of people from diverse origins, this is a group of people from over 50 nations, and these presenters handled them well, moving through gears of introducing guest speakers and entertainers expertly and my personal favorite “STRESS EASING” the audience with sequential breathing techniques and exercises that stimulate body and soul, truly enjoyable to witness.
After two days in Zambia, i made two further observations;
i: Mosquitoes are alarming.
ii: The Sun rises by 5am, I mean nothing prepared me for that.
As the Annual Gathering racked up sitting hours, the organizers made sure to slip in some very entertaining inbetweeners, by that i mean; POEMS, one of such was presented by Dreams Hub´s Co-founder, Oscar Nchaso, reciting a Poem on Africa, there was also WORD PLAY, and even an exercise session, all to delight of the audience.
In summary, Jacaranda Hub did themselves and their country, Zambia, proud by hosting the 2022 Afrilabs. They achieved an atmosphere where Intra-Africa connectivity could indeed thrive, because participants felt comfortable enough to discuss and relate with strangers and within hours make a best friend out of a person who hours ago you considered a stranger.
The theme of the 2022 edition, “Intra-Africa Connectivity, Collaboration and Innovation” in my opinion has bore seed in the minds of Africans from over 50 countries and returning to their respective nations, they take memories of this gathering, memories of new business partners, and friends, back with them and inject these experiences learnt there in Zambia in the Spirit of “UBUNTU.”
I feel content, satisfied and thrilled to have flown a total of 22 hours – to and fro – met all these beautiful Zambians and fellow Africans. I know more now than I did when I arrived there on 26th of october.
That is success in my books. Bring on Kigali 2023!!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of Africanian News.