Zambia Daily Mail, Lusaka
THERE has been one artist repetitively on the lips of many Zambian music fans recently, and thankfully not for reasons of notoriety.
That name is B Flow whose real name is Brian Mumba Kasoka Bwembya, who recently was recognised by United States (US) President Barrack Obama during a Mandela Washington Fellowship 2015 Presidential Summit.
B Flow is presently in the US after he was selected among a group of young Zambians to be part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship 2015 programme under President Obamaâ€™s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
Directly referring to B Flow at the summit, President Obama remarked: â€œSo Brian uses music to advocate against things like gender-based violence, and to educate youths on HIV/AIDS.
â€œSo while in the US, heâ€™s learned about our health care system, met the founder of an American HIV/AIDS organisation and now he plans to start a record label for music about social change. So Brian, we are proud to be your partner.â€
The YALI Network provides virtual resources and vibrant physical spaces to equip young African leaders with the skills and connections they need to foster change in their communities and countries.
It was established by President Obama in April 2014 and the Network already includes almost 140,000 members.
B Flow, therefore, made up the second crop of young Africans to be selected into the prestigious programme.
His online bio describes him richly: â€œZambian dance hall artist, social justice advocate, part time radio presenter, peer educator and owner of Chant-It-On Music & Media, current chairperson of the HIV/AIDS and Social Commentary committee of the Zambia Association of Musicians.
He shot to fame with hits such as Bubblegum Lover and No More Kawilo but his music has since taken an inspirational twist which he is now dubbing, â€˜Music for Change.â€™
â€œMy first two albums, I was just singing about love. They say love makes the world go around. The reason I was singing about love was because I thought that was what people wanted to listen to, and also because I wanted to do [music] for entertainment,â€ B Flow told the US National Public Radio (NPR) in an interview.
His stage moniker, â€˜B Flowâ€™, was inspired by numerous praises from people who loved his â€˜flowâ€™ in music.
Born in Kabwe on November 12, 1986, B Flowâ€™s musical roots stem from his childhood. At age eight, he and his friends played a small band, turning pots and buckets into drums and making Banjos (non-electric guitars) using tins, planks and strings.
From that random childhood band, B Flow is the only one who is now a professional musician.
After completing his Mandela Washington Fellowship on August 9, 2015, B Flow was given the chance to undergo Professional Development Experience (PDE) in New York.
â€œI will work in the field of music, events and company management; with an American company called â€œOK AFRICAâ€ here in NY. This company focuses on raising the profile of African artists on the global stage.
â€œA big thank you to President Obama and the US government for recognising my work, for sponsoring this trip, connecting me to all these organisations and for investing in the enhancement of my work-through YALI,â€ the artist said via his official Facebook page.
He has also had the rare privilege of visiting Hollywood and getting into studio with American record producer, Thom Russo, who is winner of two American Grammy Awards and 12 Latin Grammy Awards.
Russo has worked with acclaimed artists such as Babyface, Enrique Iglesias, Eric Clapton, Faith Evans and Jay-Z. While in America, B Flow has also featured on the Voice of America.
â€œEverything Iâ€™m learning here at the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is not for me, it is for my country. Representing a nation at the Fellowship is one thing, but going back with knowledge to implement is another.
â€œIt is for this reason that Iâ€™m taking every lesson with utmost seriousness, assimilating knowledge from civic leadership to corruption, to community mobilisation, advocacy, gender and much more. Networking with fellow Africans and also with American mentors and peer collaborators, is another part that is strengthening my work right now,â€ he shared online with his fans.
Ignatius Chongwe, a man nicknamed the â€œLawyer without Bordersâ€ discovered B Flowâ€™s singing talent after he performed at a talent show at Sacred Heart Parish in Kabwe in 2004 and later that year, Mr Chongwe started sponsoring B Flowâ€™s professional music career.
His debut album, Mpu mpu mpu (meaning heartbeat), was released in 2009. It earned B Flow local recognition at the 2009 Zambia Ngoma Awards where he was nominated in the Best New Artist Category.
That album featured songs such as Bubblegum Lover, Energiser, Mosikito as well as the album title track Mpu Mpu Mpu.
His second solo album called No More Kawilo meaning â€˜no more loneliness,â€™ was released in 2011. Voiceless Woman was his third album, released in 2013.
B Flow has had the privilege to share the stage with international artists such as Oliver Mtukudzi, P-Square, Brick & Lace and Jah Cure.
He is also brand ambassador for non-governmental organisations like AIDS Health Care Foundation and the USAID-funded SHARE II.
Additionally, he is chairman of the HIV/AIDS and Social Commentary (HASC) team of the Zambia Association of Musicians and is part of the Zambia/Norway (ZedWay) project.
â€œThis has been an incredibly amazing experience. It has given me the realisation that my work is much more than music and that I am a leader. I have learned how I can use my music to contribute in other fields like health, education, environmental health and any others,â€ B Flow told the Weekend Mail exclusively.
Zambia Daily Mail, Lusaka