Zambia is widely claimed to have over 72 languages, although many of these might be better regarded as dialects. All of Zambia’s vernacular languages are members of the Bantu family and are closely related to one another. Seven vernacular languages have official status. Together these represent the major languages of each province: Bemba (Northern Province, Luapula, Muchinga and the Copperbelt), Nyanja (Eastern Province and Lusaka), Lozi (Western Province), Tonga (Southern Province), and Kaonde, Luvale and Lunda (Northwestern Province). These seven languages are used, together with English, in early primary schooling and in some government publications (wikipedia). In Autumn 2016 we started a Bemba/Nyanja language nest for children. The aim of the language nest is to introduce Bemba/Nyanja through games and songs. The language nest was held in Olkkari, in Kauppakeskus Arabia, Helsinki. The nest was open for all children free of charge. The funding for the language nest has been applied from Koneen säätiö with Moniheli.
In May 2016 we invited Mathew Tembo to perform and conduct workshops in Finland. The workshops included learning a bit of theory about Zambian music, creating a recycled instrument and learning to play it. Mathew led workshops in English-speaking day-cares in the Helsinki area, and at schools for children from 1st grade to 6th grade. The schools, which took part in the project were Kaivoksela school in Vantaa, where the children learn partly in English and Itä-Hakkila school in Vantaa, where children learn in Finnish. Mathew also did one adult workshop in Helsinki.
The Finnish-Zambian Association organised a live club for the Helsinki African Film Festival in Café Mascot, where Mathew performed with talented artists based in Finland: Papa Zai, Maarika Autio, Macoumba Ndiaye and Mikko Nousiainen.
The aim of the project was to reach out to Finnish people and people from other nationalities living in Finland and teach them about African music and Zambian culture. Another important goal was met when Zambians based in Finland got to treasure their own culture and heritage.