Development

Joan Musonda, queen of radio drama

JOAN Musonda at her home in Chimwemwe in Kitwe. PICTURE: MATHEWS KABAMBA

Sunday Profile:
MATHEWS KABAMBA, Kitwe
HAVING starred for the once popular Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) Ifyabukaya for over a decade, Joan Musonda is a queen of radio drama in her own right.
A ZNBC Radio One production, Ifyabukaya arguably ranked highly on the table of one of the most listened to radio dramas in both rural and urban areas before the proliferation of television.
All things being equal, the drama series had the reputation of some of the most popular local and international telenovelas and soap operas that have become a regular feature on TV today.
In the 90s, it was not uncommon to see families gathered around a small stereo listening to the weekly drama that usually depicted the daily occurrences in communities.
With the advent of TV and smart phones, Ifyabukaya is a fading memory from the past, the programme no longer commands the same audience as it did before the turn of the millennium.
“Things have changed now, it is not the same. I wish its influence on society had continued because it was an effective culture and moral preservation tool,” Joan says.
She says the programme captivated most of its listeners because the scripts were based on real life issues that families faced in most communities.
“We had most people in the communities writing to the producer about what is happening in their communities.
“Those situations that were intriguing and had good life lessons were scripted and we were given roles to play and make a production,” she recounts.
In the drama, Joan crafted herself a big reputation that saw her play double characters in most series.
Like most artistes that have graced the airwaves, Joan traces her acting roots to drama school clubs – her first public act was a leading role in a play that required her to act as a man.
According to the setting of her maiden play, after coming of age, a Mr Chanda [Joan