Entertainment Music

Kachacha in the Finnish snow

TROPICANA Radio Show presenters Paula and Papa Zai.

IT can get extremely cold in Finland, but for those in Helsinki tuned into Tropicana Radio Show, there is something to warm you up; a show that plays Zamrock, Kachacha, Kalindula, Zambian rhumba, Zambian reggae, Zambezi music, Zambian dancehall and hip-hop.
“The programme is aimed at promoting traditional, old school and contemporary Afrocentric music from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. We also explore how some of these music forms have evolved out of each other and influenced each other both on the continent and across the seas,” Finland-based Zambian-born multi-talented musician Papa Zai (Ernest Yikona), who presents the programme with his future wife hopeful Paula Paukku told the Weekend Mail from Helsinki.
“Finnish musicians who play these music forms are also presented. Every Wednesday afternoon the listeners get to hear what we call the weekly dose of Zambian music, which has a more dominant presence in this programme. Here we discuss the history of Zambian music from pre-independence times to the contemporary.
“During special occasions we play according to the theme of the occasion. For example, during the period of an African, Caribbean or Latin American country’s independence celebration, we dedicate the programme to that country, discuss its history and explore the music forms from there. We do this also with our host country, Finland.”
Papa Zai says they have had various themes focussing on subjects like the music from former Portuguese colonies in Africa, where they have traced an international music form to the traditional Angolan music form called Semba, the ancestor of Kizomba and Brazilian Samba.
“Our primary audience are the residents of Helsinki. By recording and uploading our programmes on the internet, we potentially reach everyone in the world with internet. For this reason we try to tailor our programmes in such a way that even people in Zambia and elsewhere can relate and follow what is going on with ease,” he says.
“We use both Finnish and English to balance between our local following and the non-Finnish speaking listeners. African and Caribbean music have a steadily growing patronage in Finland. Many Finns travel to study, work, tour, learn dance, explore music forms and other pursuits in life to these places, so there are many people who want to reminisce or hear what is new in those places. We cater for those people too.
“We also cater for people from those countries resident in Finland. We give them the opportunity to hear old songs they may have forgotten or never even knew existed, and we also keep them abreast with what is current in their countries.”
Other than Paulu preparing and co-presenting the programmes, she also updates the radio’s page in Mixcloud. Among other ways of helping people access the programme, they also send links on social media.
“We have a Facebook page called Tropicana Radio Show where we post notifications on what is to be expected in upcoming programmes as well as upload the programmes that have already been aired, and these can be heard anywhere with an internet connection any time,” Papa Zai says.
“The radio station is called Lähiradio Helsinki, a community radio. Our work is voluntary but we love what we do. My partner is also a journalist and a music enthusiast so we do extensive research and in the process discover many interesting things about many different regions.”
He says this job and how they have taken it, has been an eye opener to how much variety and diversity there is in musical creativity despite the fact that most of what is heard in the mainstream is somewhat monotonous.
They have also been able to observe patterns and trends in the creativity of African and Afrocentric music over a reasonable period of time.
“We keep learning more, and we hope we can keep it going for an indefinite while so that we can share more of the joyful and enlightening things we discover in our search,” he says.
“We find music ranging from little known artistes who produced hit quality, but somehow were not hit by the spotlight, to organic chants from remote indigenous peoples in ritual or entertainment.
“Some songs we hear are totally hilarious and witty in their word play, some of interesting notation and musical arrangement, some educative and some just hilariously ridiculously silly. We do have a good time both behind the scenes and on the air.”

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