'Let's Love Each Other & Unite': Rapper Ckayz On Zambia Youth Day
07:56 12.03.2023 (Updated: 11:20 12.04.2023)
Youth Day is an annual national holiday celebrated on March 12 in Zambia. It is a day set aside to commemorate the sacrifices and significant contributions of young people towards the independence of the country in the 1960s. The day is marked with various activities, such as parades, music and dance performances, speeches, and cultural displays.
As Youth Day approaches in Zambia, the country is preparing to celebrate its young people and the contributions they make to society. It is a day to recognize the importance of youth empowerment and to reflect on the challenges faced by young people in the country.
Among these young people is a rising rap and Afrobeats artist who is making waves in the music industry, but at the same time focusing on his "bloodline" career, studying economics. His name is Caleb Kalaluka
, but he goes by the stage name "Ckayz,"
which is an abbreviation of his real name (C for Caleb, Kay for Kalaluka, and Z for his beloved country, Zambia).
Sputnik has had the pleasure of sitting down with him to discuss his career, music, aspirations, and his thoughts on Youth Day. However, before diving into the interview, let's take a look at the history of Youth Day in Zambia.
Youth Day is celebrated in the Southern African country, 65% of whose population is under the age of 25, on March 12 every year. It is a public holiday that was established to commemorate the country's struggle for independence
and to honor the youth who played a vital role in achieving it.
In the 1960s, young people in Zambia, then called Northern Rhodesia, were at the forefront of the fight against colonialism and imperialism. They organized protests, strikes, and other forms of resistance, demanding the right to self-determination and freedom.
On March 12, 1962, following a failed attempt by the British colonial authorities to kill one of the independence movement's leaders, a rally was called in the Chimwemwe suburb in the Kitwe District, Copperbelt Province, to expose the plot. Many young protesters were killed during the rally, as police opened fire with live ammunition in response to the crowds throwing stones at them.
The anticolonial activists' efforts paid off on October 24, 1964, when Zambia gained independence from British rule. Since then, Youth Day, which was made a public holiday two years later, has been a symbol of hope and inspiration for young people in Zambia, reminding them of the power they hold to shape their own destiny. A statue known as "Chi Muposa Amabwe" (translated as "Stone Thrower") was built in the middle of the city of Kitwe to commemorate the day.
"This is a day of realizing what you are as a youth and what your job is," says 22-year-old Kalaluka. "Your job is to realize that you are now the new generation who is going to make a change in the country. It's not a day that Zambians usually go out and drink and do all sorts of crazy stuff. No. This day is when Zambians actually have a chance to realize just what I said."
Since Youth Day is regarded as a time to reflect on the challenges faced by young people and to advocate for their rights and empowerment, Kalaluka, who currently studies economics at the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia (RUDN) in Moscow, recalls how he used to take part in Youth Day marches when he was in his home country.
"Back when I was home, we used to go and wear the same red shirts, which have Zambian Youth Day in the middle and march around the premises. We're going to be marching the whole day," he says. "And during the whole time, the person who's going to be leading us, first of all, sometimes the person is from the army, and they're going to be telling us what exactly we are and what our duty is as youth."
Kalaluka adds that one of the inspiring figures for modern Zambian young people is the country's first President Kenneth Kaunda
(governed from 1964 to 1991), who was at the forefront of the struggle for independence from British rule.
"This man is a great man," the young artist says. "This man did a lot as a youth. And every time we have this celebration, we always go back and try to see what he did and also get inspired."
Now, thousands of miles away from his hometown Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, Ckayz, along with his Zambian compatriots in Russia, still celebrates the Day of Youth, not with parades, but with various performances, including singing and dancing, and most importantly, by holding discussions on "how our country was built and what our duties are here as youths."
Speaking of his experience moving to Russia and studying there, the Zambian says the big city of Moscow is where his professional music career began. However, he has had affiliations with music since his school years – his mother used to have dreams of him performing when he was about seven years old. At the time, he says, he had to "shut down" the dream of becoming a musician and in order to focus on school.
When he arrived in Moscow in 2020 and started learning Russian before attending university classes, his language teacher, Sergey Budekhin, changed his mind, encouraged him, and "jump-started [Kalaluka's] music career here."
"My Preparatory Faculty teacher helped me realize that you can still study and pursue your career. That's when everything changed," rapper Ckayz assumes.
He kicked off his music career in Russia with a remix of one of his old songs about youth life called "Nigne" (which, as Kalaluka explains, means "a crazy good friend") with one of his Russian friends named Fil. The original song was recorded in Zambia, and featured Kalaluka's twin brother.
"I told him that this is just a song about the youth, and it talks about how the youth lives. So you're going to talk about the youth in Russia, and I'm going to talk about the youth in my country. And so that's how we came up with that remix," Ckayz, who is currently signed to a label called Nalochi Music Promotions, says.
Speaking about the differences and similarities between Zambian and Russian youth, Kalaluka believes the biggest difference is that the Zambian youth "don't really have as much freedom as the Russian youth," but he sees that they both have one thing in common – "they are all chasing something, and they're chasing their dreams."
The experience with Nalochi Music has allowed the rising artist to take his hobby to a new level, as he has been able to release several singles and appear in the work of other young African artists contracted with the Moscow-based music promotion label. Among his most recent tracks are "Baddie Wa So," "Dance for Me," and "Sweet Bob."
"We're still doing stuff. I don't want to disclose everything, but I'm also coming up with a project soon, and I know it's going to be fire," the young artist says.
Apart from his music career plans and dreams, Kalaluka believes his country, Zambia, is quickly moving on the path of development
thanks to its ambitious youth and its wise political leadership. He thinks every nation has got "flaws and downsides, but right now we got a good president."
He says President Hakainde Hichilema, a 60-year-old businessman who was elected president in August 2021 mostly by young Zambian voters, has done a lot for the development of the nation. The 22-year-old student argues that the leader's approach to young people and the way he interacts with them, including on social media platforms, has changed Zambians' traditional views of a president. For this, Kalaluka says, Hichilema is known among young people in Zambia as "Ballie," which in local slang means "father or uncle."
"So this has changed the whole Zambian view of having a president who doesn't communicate to the youths," Kalaluka claims. "Back then, presidents only used to communicate to the people in the offices, the bigger people. But now the president is even communicating to the youth. He hears."
In his final message to young people across the globe, the 22-year-old calls for unity and helping, supporting, and empowering each other to grow and give "all your might and all your best" to make dreams become reality. He believes "the youth can change Africa by uniting."
"To all the Africans and to the youths across the world. There is a phrase in my country which says, 'Let's love each other and unite.' We never know what's ahead of us. Let's focus on building our generation, on building a greater future for our generation," Kalaluka concludes. "Yes, we can club. Yes, we can drink and smoke, but let's pursue our careers first. We're not going to drink the whole time. We're going to unite and let's keep doing what we're meant to do."