Zambia: Tourism Body Ignores Local Musicians For Rebranding Event

The Zambia Tourist Board, a quasi-government organisation charged with the duty to market the Zambian tourism market, has just rebranded with a new logo. However, to the chagrin of local musicians, the board invited a Paris-based Congolese musician Fally Ipupa to perform at the rebranding function in the capital, Lusaka.

ZTB changed its logo from the decades old “Zambia, the real Africa” to “Zambia, let us explore”. Tourism is Zambia’s third foreign exchange earner after copper mining and agriculture, but in terms of tourist numbers, the country lags behind the big tourist destinations such as Kenya, Egypt and South Africa.

Zambia has over 20 national parks, over 60 waterfalls and a number of other tourists attractions and yet only the smaller South Luangwa National Park is marketed because of its developed infrastructure, and similarly, the Victoria Falls, shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is touted more than others waterfalls including the equally magnificent Ntumbachushi and Kalambo Falls which, although narrower, is twice the height of the Victoria Falls. Kafue National Park, which is the largest in Zambia, is half the size of Switzerland.

The Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya. The photo has been released into the public domain by its author, John Walker.

In terms of music, the Zambian music industry has grown in leaps and bounds in the last few years after lagging behind Congolese Soukous (the African version of Cuban Rumba) and South African Mbaqanga and its other genres. The country has produced good musicians who are now performing in most of Southern African countries and their music being sold all over the world, some of it on iTunes.

Exasperated Zambian tweeps were quick to pick on the ZTB faux pas and quickly took to their gadgets to express their disapproval of the move. One internet radio station, Zambezi Radio which specialises in playing Zambian music even spoke with the chairman of Zambian Union of Musicians (ZUM), Maiko Zulu, a musician himself.

Tweeps did not only discuss the invitation of the foreign musician, they also discussed the weak tourism strategy employed by the Zambian government through the ZTB. @Missbwalya opened the discussion by stating the number of people who took part in the rebranding exercise:

Over 10,000 people around the world participated in the initiative to re-brand Zambia's tourism logo.

@ZedBeats wondered why the Zambia Tourism Board had to use a foreign musician:

I dont know about you, but it doesn't make sense to me that the Zambia Tourism Board will be using a FOREIGN (artist)…

Zambia: Let's Explore. New logo to market Zambia tourism. Photo source: Zambia Tourism Board.

“Typical old-fashioned Zed mentality…,” said @geshgroove:


RT @fytzm: @geshgroove @BradleysEvents @Cephasong Typical old-fashioned Zed mentality that thinks ‘foreign’ is better. #pathetic

@simunza tried to explain why the Congolese musician was chosen:

@missbwalya somebody at the ZNTB is mad that they didin't get to see Fally last year (when he visisted Zambia). The brand relaunch is their excuse for a personal show

@zambeziradio noted that Zambia has many artists:

Oh hell no–>>>Zambia Tourist board bringing which foreigner artist launch Zambian tourism? What Irony? Kupaka ma artists pa Zed [There are a lot of artists in Zambia]!!

@geshgroove posed a question for @missbwalya and @GNdhlovu:

@missbwalya @GNdhlovu have you guys ever attended the world tourism fairs in Europe?you would be upset if you visited Zambia's booth!

@GNdhlovu responded:

@geshgroove @missbwalya Tourism fairs are not enough mwanawesu [my brother]. Nichifye [it is only that] I have proprietary rights to what I'd like to tell Namugala [Zambian Tourism Minister Catherine Namugala] 4 a fee

GNdhlovu again:

@missbwalya The marketing targets wrong people. Tell Namugala to fetch me and I'll tell her one or two things to attract tourists. #Zambia

Do people even know where Zambia is?:

@missbwalya A lot of people abroad don't know jack about #Zambia. They think it is (in) Nigeria or South Africa. Or the Vic (Victoria) Falls is Niagara.

Why does Zambia receive so few tourists?:

Zambia only receives 800k tourists annually. Can someone say “missed opportunities?”

@missbwalya pointed out the height of Zambia's hopelessness:

@GNdhlovu The height of our hopelessness was inability to attract tourists who came for #WC2010. Even unstable Zim [Zimbabwe] does better.

As if the change of logo and invitation of a foreign musician were no enough, one tweep who owns a lodge in Livingstone, the city that is home to the Victoria Falls, thinks that the new logo is uncannily similar to his lodge’s. He tweeted:

@GNdhlovu #Zambia > Check the new Tourism logo then check the Chanters Lodge logo and tell me what you see

Another tweep agreed:

@livilodge @gndhlovu The logos are similar mmmhh! Interesting

South Africa hosted the World Cup, the premier world soccer event, in 2010 which attracted millions of people to Southern Africa. Zambian is less than two hours flight from South Africa and ironically, that country’s tour operators market the Victoria Falls together with that country’s Kruger National Park and other tourist destinations.

Maybe the question that deserves an answer is: Is the hiring of Ipupa reflective of tourism marketing which largely ignores the potential in local tourism in preference for dollar wielding foreign tourists?

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