SUNDAY PROFILE with YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka
TWO artistes feature in an advertisement which has since become a favourite for many, especially children.
The advertisement is characterised with humour and it features two actors, Evans Sianyekela and Isaac Chamba.
The two artistes have seemingly formed a formidable bond which is cemented by their ability to speak different languages.
“Wachiona chandembo ndembo, chakamba chinyanja (loosely translated as have you seen that huge guy with tattoos, he has just spoken to us in a local language),”.
Evans presents his jokes with a dialect of his mother tongue, Tonga, Bemba and Nyanga, while Isaac, who hails from the eastern part of the country, performs his act in four other different languages.
The duo, which has featured i n v a r i o u s c o m m e r c i a l advertisements on radio and television, believe their talent is a factor to reckon with in the country’s quest for continued peace and unity.
There might be a 10-year age difference between Evans and Isaac, but the two have a lot in common.
They are singers, actors, stand-up comedians and are married with five children each.
Isaac and Evans reveal their passion to contribute to the country’s unity through comedy.
They feel their ‘style’ of comedy has the potential to unify citizens through the One Zambia, One Nation motto.
“We present comedy that cuts across tribal lines. We are the unifying characters’ as we strive to incorporate many languages in our presentations.
“We want to see a scenario where when one speaks Nyanja, a Tonga should be able to understand and when a Tonga speaks his language, a Bemba should be able to understand,” Evans says.
Isaac says the duo has a deliberate vision and mission to bring Zambians together through laughter.
“We believe in presenting ‘clean’ comedy which cuts across tribes and religious groups. We want people to freely enjoy comedy with their family.”
The artistes are thrilled with the overwhelming response they have received from the public regarding their humour, specifically on the wildcat energy drink.
“In that advert, a white man with tattoos approaches and greets us in Nyanja, which is the type of unity we want to encourage. The first time it (advert) was posted on Facebook, there were over 20,000 views and it now stands at over 600,000. The comments are encouraging and it makes us feel great that we are using our talent for a good cause,” Isaac remarks.
“Some people who meet us for the first time inform us about how their children love that advert when in actual fact, they too love it. Many people have come to love and appreciate our collaboration. Our clients too, know that whatever Isaac can do, I too can do. We have an equal passion to deliver humour with a touch of excellency,” Evans adds.
How did the two meet?
Evans – My love for comedy started when I worked as a bus conductor. I used to crack jokes on the bus. I operated on the Kalingalinga – Mtendere and town – Garden House route. One day, I was surprised to receive a call from Isaac, who was an established comedian. He heard about my ‘potential’ from some members of the public. He asked me to partner with him on a ZICTA re-branding advertisement. Since then, we are buddies.
Isaac – I heard of Evans from my friends who encountered his jokes on the bus. We do not have a brand name for our product yet, but we usually share contracts.
What is your impression of the comedy industry?
Isaac – The industry has grown massively over the years. However, one aspect of comedy that is lagging in this country is creativity. Some people will pick jokes from the internet and tell them in bars and think they are comedians. There is clearly a lack of research.
Evans – I feel most comedians do not deliver to people’s expectations. Let us strive to simplify our comedy because complicated humour usually does not ‘connect’ with the audience. We should also be mindful of the different cultures so that we do not offend our fans in the process of cracking jokes.
Isaac – Comedy is cultural based. What is funny in the Western culture might not be funny in our culture and this is why the aspect of research is important. When the famous South African comedian Trevor Noah came to Zambia, he spent two days researching about our culture to ensure his jokes were in tune with our culture.
Evans – Isaac and I perform comedy that not only relates with the grassroots, but also attracts corporate clients. We carry out a lot of research before we get on stage to ensure we give our fans the best and freshest of comedy. We want every Zambian to fall in love with our collaboration.
Is comedy a lucrative business?
Isaac – Art is diverse in this country and the industry has grown so much that the corporate world is massively investing in it. Most of the advertisements on television are art-related. We thank Government for showing interest in art by creating the Ministry of Tourism and Arts. I believe art has the potential to contribute significantly to the country’s gross domestic product. We now have so many television stations and they are all looking for content. If well invested, the arts industry can compete favourably with the mines.
How do you ‘manage’ female fans?
Issac – I go to church at Bread of Life International and as a Christian; I believe God has given us the spirit of self-control. Christian values assist me to resist temptation. Always remember that fornication and adultery is sin.
Evans – In most cases, some fans will approach us genuinely but of course, there are those with ill intentions. I brush them off diplomatically. I love and respect my wife and this is why I tag her (wife) along with me during my shows. I am a firm believer in Christian values. I congregate at the New Apostolic church.
Evans was born in 1989 to Getrude Siamena and Alberto Sianyekela. He was bred in Chongwe’s Namanongo area and he completed his secondary education at Nyangwena School.
First born in an extended family, Evans possesses a diploma in Graphics and Designs. He is a proprietor of Evayvo Arts Band. He plans to expand his business in the near future to nurture new talent.
“I plan to establish a media organisation because I believe the country has massive talent that needs to be tapped into,” Evans says.
Isaac, on the hand, was born in 1979 to Elizabeth Mkandawire and late Andrew Chamba. He did his primary at Chibolya and completed his Grade 12 at Lundazi Secondary School.
In 1999, Isaac joined a Christian drama group after which in 2001, he enrolled at the University of Zambia Ridgeway campus where he obtained an advanced certificate in Business Economics.
He later joined the Post Newspapers and left employment in 2006 to venture into arts on a full-time basis.
Married for 14 years, Isaac, who is inspired by Lawrence Thompson, became popular in the comedy circles after he was crowned among the top five finalists during the Zambia stand-up comedy show.
He is also a film director, runs a media consultancy firm Tiphi/ Six. The company is engaged in branding, advertisements and film productions.
Evans and Isaac are planning to host a family comedy show ‘Chandembo ndembo’, to express gratitude to fans for their continued support.
SUNDAY PROFILE with YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka