Themba Chako Radio Comedy

Radio Chikaya in Lundazi
Who are the Tumbuka people? They live in Zambia, a country with a population of 10 million people with 2.02% annual growth rate. It has a life expectancy at birth of 43, and adult literacy rate of 78.2% 1. The country is landlocked and shares borders with seven countries; Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Congo, and Tanzania. The Tumbuka are one of the many  Bantu ethnic groups that are found in Southern Africa. The Tumbuka speak Chitumbuka which is one of 72 bantu languages and dialects that have been recorded in Zambia. They are located in the Eastern Province of the Southern African country of Zambia straddling the border between North-Eastern of Zambia and Northern Malawi. Approximately 750,000 Tumbuka people live in Malawi and 400,000 in Zambia 2

Since the early 1920s when the British established and colonized the then Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, the Tumbuka have maintained their traditional lifestyle, cultural values, and subsistence farming. But their life has also been influence by Western medicine, education, and Christianity. The Tumbuka who live in the Lundazi district of Zambia  where this radio comedy was broadcast, are predominantly subsistence farmers growing maize or corn as the staple food including peanuts, beans,  peas, finger millet, sweet potatoes, cassava. The Tumbuka grow and sell cotton cash crops. They use the cash proceeds to pay school uniform and fees, modest clinic fees, and the purchase of modern consumer goods such as bicycles, soap, radios, batteries, sugar, clothing, and traditionally brewed beer. They also raise livestock such as chickens, goats, cattle, and pigs.

The Tumbuka still lead a predominantly traditional life style in which family and close kin reside in small villages surrounded by farm lands divided according to the needs of each family. The Zambian government provides clinics, schools, and agricultural extension services. The Tumbuka have certainly been influenced by modern institutions such as schools and clinics. For example, dozens of schools including Lundazi Secondary School, Musuzi and Mphamba Basic Schools, Mchereka Schools are located in the town of Lundazi and surrounding region where these radio programs were recorded. These social influences may have created some unique ways of approaching life.

Radio Chikaya is broadcast everyday predominantly in English and Tumbuka. The one hour weekly Tumbuka show is the character Themba Chako. When I first heard the Themba Chako program, I almost on my food with laughter. It was in the evening under moonlight 30 miles west of Lundazi in my home village. We were eating dinner with my family. The 4 radio programs of YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9jJZwdcLZE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TLbQBKBn2Y&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG6y5wtLBHs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aJFZffFKVA

1 F. Jeffress Ramsay, Global Studies: Africa, 8th ed., Guildford, Connecticut: Dushkin/McGraw-Hill, 1999, pp. 166-167.

2 The Tumbuka of Malawi and Zambia, www.imb.org/southern-africa/peoplegroups/tumbuka.htm

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