The smoke that thunders: Victoria Falls calling.
I have recently returned back to my country, Zimbabwe after 3 years living in Beijing. Before I left Beijing, I made contacts with some friends from Beijing Film Academy(BFA) inviting them to make a film in Zimbabwe as part of a cultral exchange program which I was part of. I was studying Chinese Language and Culture at Beijing Language and Culture University(BLCU) and BFA is right next door. I showed them the potential of making a film in Zimbabwe and they got hooked right away. Two months after my arrival back home the team landed at Victoria Falls Airport, the recently refurbished airport in the resort town of Victoria Falls, along with their state of the art film equipment.! As of time of filming, the film; Love in Zimbabwe was due to be released in cinemas across China in April 2018.
Opening Ceremony with the Zambezi River in the background.
We spent 10 days shooting in Victoria Falls. The crew could barely contain their excitment over this 7th Natural Wonder. The falls are truelly breathtaking in their might.
Save for the huge culture shock for most of the film crew, to whom it was their first time ever being out of Asia, everything went on pretty well...at least for them.
They walked with the lions.
Took amazing shots of lions.
We enjoyed delicious food together
The starry nightsky
This was the 1st project of its kind collaborating with the Chinese. I have to admit that, despite my basic Mandarin abilities there were huge cultural barriers. They wanted to capture things from their perspective, from what would get them the maximum commercial success I guess. The people of Zimbabwe are always warm and helpful, attempting at each opportunity to teach the foreigners our heritage. There are always those tourist places which the majority flock to then there are others, deep in significance and meaning to the local people but hardly visited because they have not been commercialised. They lost out on much valuable information and heritage because of this cultural barrier. People became less willing to assist these strangers whose sole concern seemed to just do their project and leave.
We also ran into the challenge of the BFA filmakers basically unwilling to pay anyone anything for any role in the film. I had the lead role for a Zimbabwean and I toured and guided them without any single token of appreciation. In fact ,they did not even bother to know my real name! However, I was happy to do it for the exposure.
The film was inclined towards promoting tourism in Zimbabwe and had the full support of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. The plot, however, was a love story. A girl decides to escort her boyfriend to Zimbabwe, 'Africa', on a quest to find the boy's mother. The boy's mother was a doctor who had left some years ago on a volunteer mission to help children in Zimbabwe and is suspected to have mysteriously died. The boy, having been born an only child, like most Chinese, are, was very self-centered and arrogant despite his girlfriend's sensere efforts to help. His heart is soften eventually through a mystical experience at Victoria Falls which opened up eyes to the love around him. Athough he never finds his mother, he learnt of the various charitable organisations she had left.
In Southern Africa the concept of Ubuntu, losely translated to humanity, is deeply engrained in our culture. One really has to be nice to us as to every other human being. Show respect, humility and appreciation of the status quo. It is in this same spirit of Ubuntu that I invite Steemians to consider visiting Zimbabwe and working with Zimbabweans.
Last day of shooting
For me seeing seeing my friends pack up and leave was quiete heartbreaking because it was just goodbye. I asked myself, how had the communities in which the shooting was done benefited? The nameless local people who had roles in the film had not been acknowledged nor paid. No local person had been trained a new skill nor where there any special offer to enroll at Beijing Film Academy being the top film school in Asia. I think that we can collaborate in better and more sustainable ways than this. A true give and take kind of working together which leaves lasting impact on the community.
Maybe after the film is released, hordes of tourists will visit Victoria Falls. The travel agents will benefit. The government will benefit. Big businesses will benefit, but not the community. The people whose land's natural resources should sustain them really never benefit because the system is designed to exlude them. A lot of the locals are trained to guide tourists in Victoria Falls and other places, something I think anybody can do. These locals however, only ever get the crumbs out of the big tourism pie.
This is a true business case for blockchain technology. Direct connection with a local who then provides their service as a tour guide. This way from my experience, a visiter is more likely to save on accommodation, food, and other overpriced services. The local is likely to give a visiter a more authentic experience wether it's a group, family, a couple or a solo traveler.
Wow! Very insightful trip! Looks absolutely amazing! Thank you very muchly :)
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I noticed you followed me. Are you considering writing again? I believe you could be an amazing ambassador for Zimbabwe. I learned an immense amount from this one post!
We seldom know the type of influence we have unless someone actually confesses it to us. Few take the time to actually return and explain the impact.
So, let us hope that one someone one in the BAF saw something good that they tucked away in their heart to ponder. Something that will lead to something better.
In the mean time, I really encourage you to write and create visuals about the subtle beauty of your world that accompanies the stunning beauty. Just as you want it to be seen.
The subtle beauty of family and community and spiritual life provides the roots, the stability. It is far from boring. Roots are always full of life and provision.
So. okay. one thing to know about me is that I think I can fix the world with enough words. ;-) So, let me stop before I repeat myself over much here. :-)
It's very nice to meet you.