Ahead of our 2014 Greatest Zambian Awards, we met up with nominee Maiko Zulu to find out more about his lifetime achievements…
Zulu is the most celebrated and prolific Reggae artiste in Zambian music history. He is the CEO of Dread Art and the President of the Zambia Association of Musicians. He has produced 6 albums and has used his hard hitting lyrics to advocate human rights. He is also a Kora All Africa Awards Nominee, Ngoma Award Winner and Freedom to Create Award Finalist. Not only concerned with music Zulu is known for a philanthropic streak. The International Labour Organization (ILO) honoured him as goodwill Ambassador against Child Labour for Zambia.
Open Zambia: What first got you interested in becoming a musician?
Maiko Zulu: I grew up as a goat herder in rural Zambia and that’s where my passion started. I started writing my first songs as a pupil at Kabulonga Boys Secondary School.
OZ: You’ve spoken out against political parties harassing journalists; do you think it’s important for the media and politicians to work together harmoniously?
MZ: Media is the lifeline of any democratic society and it’s important that media and politicians work in harmony to further the citizens’ right to information. However, media should not be compromised by politicians, and politicians in turn should not sideline media that does not necessarily support their views.
OZ: What inspired you to become involved in human rights activism and in particular children’s rights?
MZ: My inspiration to become a human rights activist comes from the time I was starting my music career and I attempted to go and listen in on the debates at Parliament. As I reached the gate, the then Speaker Mr Nabulyato was being driven in and upon seeing me spotting little dreadlocks, he ordered the security at the gate never to allow “such characters” anywhere near Parliament. I also happened to have experienced apartheid in South Africa as a young actor with Tikwiza Theatre.
OZ: Earlier this year you announced you were going to contest the Kabwata seat in the next parliamentary election, can you tell us anymore about this?
MZ: My decision to contest for Parliament is my contribution to enhancing the democracy that we as a nation have. I feel I have ideas which can further the development of Kabwata Constituency. I also want to inspire the ordinary citizens to take up governance roles as a service to Zambia. However I will only announce the party I wish to stand on when the Electoral Commission of Zambia opens the campaigns for Kabwata.
OZ: Have you any plans to release more music?
MZ: Yes between now and 2016, I plan to release more music which I hope will be as relevant to our nation as my previous releases. I will also continue with my community outreach programmes which I have always been involved in.
Maiko has been nominated for Open Zambia’s Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of his commitment to human rights activism and music. Voting for the awards will open on our Facebook page from the end of August!