Field Notes: Expedition #K2K – Lusaka, Zambia

Conservation Music Calls for Change in Zambia

At the start of November, Conservation Music (CM) landed in Lusaka, Zambia, to continue Expedition #K2K. On the trek over from Harare, Zimbabwe, we stopped in Kafue, a small town outside of Lusaka, to spend time at the Amos Youth Centre (AYC) for several days. We were linked here through Director Julie-Anne, whom we met while in Livingstone in August, to learn about her work and educate the students about CM’s mission. Before we left for Lusaka, we met with our good friend and talented singer, Shaps Mutambo, who would be helping us with this month’s eco-song and connecting us with local artists to work with. Together, we created an impactful and moving song that uses poignant storytelling to tackle local environmental issues such as tree cutting, charcoal burning, and water management, along with humanity’s neglect of such problems. Global Platform Zambia (GPZ), a hub for social, health, and environmentally-based organizations, also welcomed our arrival and provided us with dorms for the entire stay. Throughout the month, our plans were set to produce the new eco-song “Samalilani”, film it’s music video, and attend a local conference where Alex would present CM’s mission while networking for potential collaborations in Lusaka. Tune into more of CM’s stories and videos on National Geographic’s OpenExplorer platform. If you would like to contribute to Expedition #K2K, please visit our Patreon page, where you can schedule monthly donations of any amount.

Amos Youth Centre

Our visit to Kafue was short, but we had a memorable time thanks to our friend Julie-Anne, who runs the AYC. She invited our crew to run a miniature workshop with the students, where we showed CM videos and then created a simple eco-song. It was a delight to see their excitement and engagement, while they questioned and discovered all aspects of the CM mission. Brighton was moved to share how he is “encouraged because, on our way, most of us end up in a situation of giving up. You know, life is a journey and then we face a lot of things and there are so many challenges that we face in life. But looking at you, I was asking myself questions: How is it possible that these people, they started this. And, now you’re working and I can tell that it is not easy. That conservation to prevent climate change, that I really appreciate. I’ve learned a lot from you.” This micro-workshop was a great success and we can’t wait to hold more in schools along our journeys.

CM Connects with Local Musicians to Create Eco-song “Samalilani”

After just a few hours of meeting with Shaps Mutambo, he introduced us to music producer Mr. Champs, singer/songwriters James Sakala and Theresa N’gambi. With this group of musicians, we held our first meeting, including a proper introduction of CM and discussion on the type of song that we desired for this month. Theresa gave us a head start by presenting one of her own songs, a composition already themed around the environment. Our first meeting was extremely productive as we set a melody, rhythm, chorus and track title.

With the eco-song moving along nicely, we met with a group of young locals who had contacted CM last year with desires to start a local CM chapter. We invited them to join our second artist meeting, where they were brought up to speed on the project and shadowed the production work. A lot was learned through the immersive experience as we recorded first runs of Theresa and James’s guitar parts, while Mr. Champs composed a modern beat to match the folky, down-tempo acoustic guitars. Next, our field crew headed over to Tyme Lyne Entertainments (TLE) to begin the tracking process. Thanks to James, we connected with Nyno, the producer and sound engineer at TLE. The studio was spacious and ambient, fully decked out with vocal and drum booths. We began with Theresa on guitar and then recorded a few surprise contributions from Chanda on guitar, Elvie on bass, and Brian on drums. During the following studio sessions, we recorded the remaining parts from Theresa, James, and Shaps. Soon enough, we made our way back to Kafue to record the children at the AYC. The group sang along to the chorus to create a climatic finale filled with many local voices.

 To build out the song a bit more, we met with locally renowned artists, Maureen Lilanda and Pompi. Maureen listened in on a session and returned home to develop lyrics in her own time. Later, we met at her home and recorded her bits with our mobile studio set-up. We fleshed out the track out a bit more by recording Pompi’s additions. Luckily, GPZ provided us with a studio space, which typically is used as a radio studio. Pompi contributed a powerful call to action for humanity to take the issue of climate change seriously. As we wrapped up recording, we tracked “Samalilani” and began spreading it to the masses.

With “Samalilani” airing on ZNBC national network, Maureen Lilanda continued to spread the song’s message and CM’s mission during an interview with Zambia’s NationLifestyle newspaper. “CLIMATE change is real hence the need to promote behavioral change in terms of how we use nature and its connection to Climate change, says Zambian veteran songbird Maureen Lilanda. The music artist said she has been featured in a music video on conservation aimed at educating people on the importance of conservation of natural resources into the impact of climate change. She revealed that the concept of the song “Samalilani” was written originally by Theresa Ng’ambi with support by an organisation called Conservation Music that are on a mission to warn mankind on issues of climate change. “So they invited me to be part of the project. I’m also just featured in the song, the project is called Conservation Music.” She explained. Maureen Lupo Lilanda is a household name in Zambia. She is an afro-jazz singer and songwriter with over twenty-five years in the music industry. She has also named international recognition especially in Europe and Asia. To my fans may God bless you all with good health and long lives, so that you may continue to support me. That’s the reason I still exist. I thank them for the love they have and continue to give me. As long as they’re there, I’ll be here,” she concluded (Noel Iyombwa, NationLifestyle).

The track, entitled “Samalilani”, is the culmination of multiple award-winning Zambian artists and the Conservation Music movement, coming together for the greater good, and is a prime example of what can be accomplished when people from all over the world put their heads together to create music for change in Zambia.

CM Shoots for the “Samalilani” Music Video

While our eco-song “Samalilani” continued to make an impact in Zambia, the field crew geared up for location shooting. We connected with Mr. Chipamoonga, a local Kafue elder, who allowed CM to use his land for the first location shoot. Here, we filmed the chorus with Theresa, James, Maureen, and Shaps walking together by a beautiful stream. Mr. Chipamoonga also graced us with a poetry reading, which we laid over the intro. Soon enough, Maureen lent her voice and profound lyrics, as she sang of a past time of fellowship and regard for the earth. We continued the location shoots as Pompi jumped in on the bridge with a heightened call to action, taking to the streets and rooftops, megaphone in hand, to awaken our Zambian brothers and sisters. Then we filmed Theresa’s verse in front of a large stack of charcoal, to highlight the harmful effects of charcoal burning. The crew wrapped up the location shooting at the AYC with all of the children chanting the chorus behind Shaps. The footage that we filmed throughout this eco-production is extremely powerful, matching the energy of the song.

CM’s Final Week in Lusaka

As the crew finalized the eco-production, we attended a local conference alongside Self Help Africa, where Alex presented CM’s mission and discussed potential collaborations with several organizations in Lusaka.

Next, we headed to Kafue National Park, which was a long, beautiful drive out into the bush, far away from civilization. We stayed at McBride’s Camp and were warmly welcomed by the park owners, Charlotte and Chris. Charlotte was warm and accommodating, while Chris was witty and very knowledgeable about the local animal and plant life. Our campsite was settled on the Kafue river, which we shared with pods of hippos, crocodiles, and many species of birds. At night, we were greeted by a small, cat-like mammal known as a genet. We were informed that despite its cat-like appearance, it is actually in the mongoose family, which is noted by its long, slender frame and tail. The field crew captured amazing wildlife footage and enjoyed time spent in the park. With just a few nights left, we headed back to the town to say goodbye to all of our new friends and prepare for the next phase of Expedition #K2K.

Our plans were set to move on to Lilongwe, Malawi, and the crew is excited for what is to come. Tune into more of CM’s stories and videos on National Geographic’s OpenExplorer platform. If you would like to contribute to Expedition #K2K, please visit our Patreon page, where you can schedule monthly donations of any amount.


This post was written by Charles Ross for Conservation Music

About Conservation Music

Our Musical Nonprofit For Conservation

of Conservation Music

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Linkedin

Conservation Music is on a mission to produce and promote musical media that educates listeners and viewers in conservation and sustainability, with an emphasis on rural developing communities, and to serve as a platform for similar efforts. Currently, the organization primarily collaborates with musicians throughout Southern Africa, catalyzing songs in local genres and local languages regarding local conservation issues in countries like Lesotho, Botswana, Angola, and more.

About the Editor

Alex Paullin

of Conservation Music

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Linkedin

After years of soul-searching and months in the African wilderness with the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project, musician and geographer Alex Paullin combined his foremost passions and founded Conservation Music, a non-profit aiming to foster a global culture of sustainability using music as the messenger. Throughout his life, he aims to expand the Conservation Music movement globally, in hopes that his lifetime will see and hear songs of conservation being sung throughout the world.

Field Notes: Conservation Music Teams Up with GreenPop in Zambia!

On The Road to Zambia

After wrapping up an amazing, yet enduring week at the Bushfire Festival, the Conservation Music (CM) crew geared up for their next adventure to Livingstone, Zambia. Greenpop, an environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) based out of Cape Town, South Africa, invited CM to contribute to this year’s Zambia Festival of Action. Alex Paullin, CM’s founder, was eager to accept this invitation, as his experience in 2016 was extremely memorable. The entire CM crew believes strongly in Greenpop’s mission and is excited to contribute to their efforts.

On June 18, 2017, the CM crew met up with Greenpop in Johannesburg to prepare for the journey to Livingstone. As Alex prepped his motorbike for the hefty journey, the rest of the crew shoved their gear into Greenpop’s Overlander. There wasn’t much space to work with, as Greenpop had all of their volunteer’s luggage and gear packed in already, but the crew remained extremely grateful for the ride. They spent all day on the road, and spent the night at the beautiful and quaint Tibane Lodge in Mokopane, South Africa.

On day two of the journey, with refreshed crews and hundreds of miles still ahead, Alex attempted to kickstart his bike, but having sat alone for four months prior to this journey, it decided to not cooperate. After several failed attempts at getting it started, he told everyone to hit the road while he stayed behind to work on the bike a bit more. The Overlander continued on through South Africa, weaving through the tall grassy plains and providing unforgettable views of elephants, giraffes, and other wildlife.

Eventually they made their way into Botswana, but not before one of the Overlander’s tires blew out. Setbacks are becoming a commonality on the road, yet the intensity of embracing each situation remains new. Although, high with jovial spirits, the crew of volunteers quickly rebounded and got the Overlander back on the road in enough time to complete their travels to the lodging area. As the evening hours set in, the crew still awaited Alex’s arrival, as his motorbike wouldn’t start, forcing him to leave it locked up at the lodge and hitch a ride with a straggling Greenpop vehicle. Alex did end up arriving later that evening, and everyone was able to get another successful nights sleep.

With the sun rising, the crews rose up again to complete the final leg of the journey into Zambia. Aside from driving for several hours, the main part of their day was spent loading and riding the Kazungula Ferry, which is the only current mode of transportation across the 1,300-ft wide Zambezi River. Watching the robust Overlander board the ship was quite a sight, honestly a little worrisome. After a successful crossing, the vehicles spent the next hour and half trudging down primitive dirt roads and then finally arrived at Greenpop’s campsite in Livingstone.

Week 1: Setting Up the Festival 

In just one week, the first set of participants were expected to show up, and aside from a couple dozen volunteer tents the campsite was pretty much undeveloped. Everyone spent their days cleaning the grounds, setting up tents, and building site features, such as the perimeter fence made from reeds. With all of the shuffling around and necessary site work, the CM workload began to take a backseat, and both Alex and Chris could feel the resulting pressures. To avoid a heavy decline in CM’s productivity, they accepted every opportunity to hitch a ride into town so that they could hunt down a quality Wi-Fi connection. Most of their work consisted of finalizing the mix for the first #CrowdStudio track and completing a rough cut of its music video. The plan was to debut it later that week during movie night at the campsite.

Weeks 2-3: Greenpop Welcomes Their First Round of Participants

As the volunteers wrapped up the festival preparations, the first round of participants piled in. Greenpop dedicated the first two weeks towards working with high school students that are inspired by environmental activism and adventure. The volunteers and participants worked together by planting trees, growing food forests, building with eco-methods, setting up recycling systems, brightening up schools with eco murals, attending sustainability workshops, celebrating with live music, and much more.

The CM crew capped off the week with a debut of the Bushfire Festival #CrowdStudio music video during Friday’s movie night. It was still a rough draft, but the entire audience wholeheartedly responded with support and positivity.  Over the next three weeks, they would continue to add finishing touches, as well as begin the Greenpop #CrowdStudio sessions. The energy and flavor that participants brought to the #CrowdStudio sessions during the first two weeks created a platform for yet another unique track. Just a few weeks ago, when the crew developed the #CrowdStudio concept, they had no clue that it would lead to this.

Week 4: The Second Round of Participants Arrive

It was a bittersweet end to the first phase of the festival, as the first group of participants had to say their goodbyes while the second group began to arrive. Greenpop devoted the final week towards working with participants of all ages. In the past, they have used this time to work with university students opting for an alternative school break, study groups searching for an opportunity of field work, families who strive for adventure, and pretty much any individual looking to get active within the environmental field.

Building off the musical platform that the first round of participants created for the #CrowdStudio track, Alex and Chris developed it further by working with the new arrival of festival participants. Everyone seemed to share the same vision, as the track naturally moved in an amazing direction. The endless effort, energy, and talent put forth by all of the participants was truly special, and made for such a great final week.

After the past few weeks of consistent hard work, the CM crew got the chance to escape for a relaxing outing to Victoria Falls, one of Earth’s greatest wonders. It exceeded any expectations they could of had, as they soaked in all of its thunderous glory. The river gently made it’s way over the edge of the falls and crashed down along the rocky trenches, creating a beautiful rainbow mist in the air.  Alex and Chris, incapable of fully taking a break from work, took advantage of the opportunity in front of them and captured magical footage for the music video. It was an unforgettable experience that they cannot wait to share with the world.

Mosi Oa Tunya, or Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe is pictured bottom center, Zambia bottom right.

With only a few days remaining in Zambia, the crew continued to record a few extra pieces for the #CrowdStudio track, including the crucial contributions of Flying Bantu, an afro-fusion band from Zimbabwe. They travelled out to meet up with CM and assist with the recording and arranging processes of the song. Their talent and insight was greatly appreciated, and certainly added some Zimbabwean spice to the track!

In their downtime, Alex and Chris ventured into town, where they met a local djembe designer named Javani. He shared his talent with the crew by graciously reheading one of their drums. The process was more intense than they had expected, as a local butcher slaughtered and skinned a goat right in front of them. As brutal as this might sound, it is a cultural tradition to use goat skin for the heading of a djembe, while it also feeds around 20 villagers. After Javani finished up the drum, the crew invited him and his drumming troupe back to the Greenpop campsite to conduct a drum workshop for the participants. One of the most beautiful aspects of field work is accepting the unexpected and seeing where it goes!

As the week finally came to a close, everyone worked hard to disassemble tents and clear any impact that they had made on the Greepop’s plot of land. Emotions swayed as the volunteers and participants knew their time together would be over soon. The CM and Greenpop crews really enjoyed their time spent together, while also sharing the beautiful experience with all of the participants.

What’s Ahead for CM?

The next morning CM set out on the road again, with a few stops prior to arriving in Johannesburg. Alex was dropped off to repair his motorbike, while Chris escorted all of CM’s gear to the lodge in Johannesburg. The crew is going to enjoy some downtime as they await the arrival of another CM field crew member, Bryan Murphy. Bryan has been volunteering his time at CM through professional photography, and everyone is excited to see the intensity that he will bring to the field.

Stay tuned for CM’s next adventures!

This post was written by Charles Ross for Conservation Music.

About Conservation Music

Our Musical Nonprofit For Conservation
of Conservation Music

Facebook Twitter Instagram Linkedin

Conservation Music is on a mission to produce and promote musical media that educates listeners and viewers in conservation and sustainability, with an emphasis on rural developing communities, and to serve as a platform for similar efforts. Currently, the organization primarily collaborates with musicians throughout Southern Africa, catalyzing songs in local genres and local languages regarding local conservation issues in countries like Lesotho, Botswana, Angola, and more.

About the Editor

Alex Paullin

of Conservation Music

Facebook Twitter Instagram Linkedin

After years of soul-searching and months in the African wilderness with the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project, musician and geographer Alex Paullin combined his foremost passions and founded Conservation Music, a non-profit aiming to foster a global culture of sustainability using music as the messenger. Throughout his life he aims to expand the Conservation Music movement globally, in hopes that his lifetime will see and hear songs of conservation being sung throughout the world.

CMP Month In Review : August 2016

Featured Photo by Thalefang Charles for Cross Okavango Delta Expedition.

Okavango, Okavango, Okavango… The Conservation Music Project glided into August aboard a mokoro, a week after launching from its birthplace of Seronga with the Cross Okavango Delta Expedition (CODE) on July 25th. It was a scramble to reset and repack in Johannesburg after arriving from Zambia July 21st! (The Zambia project, Tushange Isamu, was done alongside Greenpop, a Cape Town-based environmental education and tree planting group. More on that in another post!)

The Creative Crossing

CODE 2016 marked the first official “Creative Crossing” of the Okavango Delta, in hopes of supplementing research efforts to understand and conserve the place with poetic and musical messages to bring more Batswana (people of Botswana) on board, as well as to inspire a global audience. As many of you know, the Conservation Music movement was crystalized in Angola, en route to the Delta, aboard a mokoro in 2015 with Dr. Steve Boyes’ Okavango Wilderness Project (OWP). At the time of this writing, the OWP crew is pulling their boats through the deep, muddy wilderness as the water that carried our crossing continues to drop during theirs. You can follow along with live updates at

The CODE 2016 crossing was quite special… a group of 15 Batswana was joined by just a single foreign member, Conservation Music founder Alex. In general, the Delta is visited and run by either foreigners or white Botswana nationals, and one intention of CODE is to inspire more Batswana to visit and invest in this incredible national heritage site. Needless to say, it was an honor to be made the exception and join the team of creative celebrities, media professionals, and polers from Botswana to produce a song and music video throughout the two-week crossing.

EricPoleVideo still shot by Alex Paullin.

The song is entitled, “Okavango Oa Moxa,” which means “Okavango You Are Beautiful” in seYei, the mother tongue of famous four-string guitarist Stiger Sola, who was born into the lineage of the baYei, also known as the “Watshara,” or “The River People.” This tribe is said to have been the first to break into the Delta long ago, bringing 6-meter long wooden mekoro (mokoros) to enter the deep, wild paradise that the land-based KhoiSan bushmen in the region left alone.

Indeed, Stiger Sola himself was born inside that very wilderness… his aunt assisting his young mother to deliver him on an island, as his uncle waited aboard the mokoro, long ngashe pole in hand. They were still far from the village of Sharobe, the place where he was meant to be delivered, which would soon become his home. Thus a legend of Botswana was born in the heart of the same inspiration that our expedition was seeking…. We brought him back into the wild with a guitar.

Stiga River

Photo by Thalefang Charles for Cross Okavango Delta Expedition.

The other musical celebrity on board was HT Tautona, a Maun-born rapper who grew up on the cattle post but made his claim to fame in Gaborone, Botswana’s capitol. For HT this trip was like returning home, but finally seeing the Delta he grew on the edge of the right way… by mokoro, in the depth of its wilderness. His lyrics describe the overflow of emotions upon returning to this place “like a pen without ink” and being filled with inspiration to write. HT was a major team player and was easy to find helping in the kitchen.


Photo by Thalefang Charles for Cross Okavango Delta Expedition.

Last but not least, as a surprise addition to the music team, multi-talented poet Leshie Lovesong spoke up during a fireside brainstorming jam session with a poem she had written, which now serves as a deeply emotional opening to the song. Once she was brought aboard the music team, she also lent her voice to the chorus, responding to Stiger’s calls of “Okavango, Okavango, Okavango” with Stiger’s own declarations to his mother, the Delta, of her lovable, everlasting, beautiful nature, and her role in his existence as “a way of life.” Leshie’s own way of life took quite a shock in the wilderness… prior the expedition she had never even been camping.


Photo by Thalefang Charles for Cross Okavango Delta Expedition.

Conservation Music is extremely excited to be part of Botswana’s 50th anniversary celebrations. As we speak, the new song “Okavango O Moxa” is being registered with the Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS) so that the artists involved can earn their royalties and protect their rights when this song hits the radio in September. The music video shot in the Delta is soon to follow, and will we broadcast on Botswana Television (BTV) and on Youtube and Vimeo. The song and video will also be made available on iTunes and Google Play soon!
Overall the Cross Okavango song project has been a resounding success. The tune is set to be a hit, the video will be made up of some incredible moments with people and wildlife out in the deep wilderness, and new opportunities are coming up rapidly as this project gains attention. We cannot wait to release this song and video, and hopefully do it all over again next year.

What’s Next On the Horizon?

In the meantime, lots of other things are happening too! For example:

Conservation Music Presents Sotho Sounds @ Rocking the Daisies

For instance, Conservation Music is preparing to bring our old friends the Sotho Sounds from Lesotho down to Cape Town for the massive Rocking the Daisies* music festival! The festival runs from the 7th-9th of October, and we’ll be rocking the Hemp Stage in the Green Village area on Saturday from 2-2:45pm. The Sotho Sounds are a group of rural musicians with enormous heart and talent, and we are extremely excited to give them the chance to perform for such an audience, and hopefully to sell some of their handcrafted merchandise!

FYI, preceding the festival opportunity, we are discussing a collaboration in Lesotho with an American celebrity musician. More on that soon!

SSCrawfurdPhoto by Jacob Crawfurd of Crawfurd Media.

Zambian Tree Song “Tushange Isamu” Release with Greenpop

Quite close to the release date for “Okavango O Moxa” in Botswana, we look forward to releasing the tree planting song and music video recorded in Livingstone, Zambia alongside Greenpop. In July, the song was composed and performed by the Mosi Oa Tunya band, alongside members of the Golden Leaf band as well as Conservation Music’s own Alex Paullin. September is Arbor Month, so this release is very relevant!

ZamStagePhoto by Lee-Ann Olwege.

Return to Angola with The Okavango Wilderness Project

Conservation Music looks forward to returning to Angola in October, following Rocking the Daisies festival in Cape Town. The Okavango Wilderness Project (OWP) is bringing several research teams to survey the Angolan catchments of the Okavango watershed. We are grateful for their continued enthusiasm regarding the power of music to foster conservation ethics in the minds of the people living in the region, where decades of aggression have scarred both the people and the landscape. The beauty and importance of the landscape there are something to be proud of, and we look forward to encouraging that pride alongside OWP and National Geographic.

AngoVidVideo still shot by Alex Paullin.