The Embassy of Finland in Zambia celebrated the 100 years of Finnish independence on 6th December 2017 like so many other Finnish Embassies in the world. This party was unlike others. There were approximately 400 guests and it was the biggest event organized by the embassy so far. The guests, possibly expecting an average dull cocktail party on a working day evening were in for a surprise even before the fireworks hit the skies.
What made the evening spectacular was not only the program, but the surprise special guest, the First Republican president of the Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda. His Excellency Dr. Kaunda had made a point that hundred years is "no joke" and that he had to be there for the centenary celebrations. KK was sporting a "Suomi Finland 100" badge when coming to the event.
The 93-year old former head of state was clearly delighted when he heard the two choirs present at the event performing the song Tiyende Pamodzi (Let’s Go Together) which he himself had composed, and started jamming to the music – check out the video! Indeed there were two choirs performing in the event, the Dzikwa Trust Choir from Zimbabwe – a choir made up of talented Zimbabwean youth from the Dzikwa Trust / Zimbabwe Aids Orphans Society , a Finnish voluntary organization supporting the education of orphans in Harare, Zimbabwe - and the a cappella group Zambia Vocal Collection that had made an extensive tour in Finland this year. The following day Dzikwa gave two performances at the Lusaka Alliance Française.
This was not all President Kaunda had in store: the biggest applause of the evening was when he sang "happy birthday" to Finland. With the beautiful lighting of the residence garden in its blue and white gear, this was a truly memorable moment. It also merited some fame and publicity, and indeed in addition to social media it was highlighted in the Finnish daily Iltalehti.
The performances of the two choirs and Wezi, one of the most prominent Zambian female vocalists, left nobody cold. The residence staff had been busy for weeks preparing a menu of Finnish specialties, including cold-smoked salmon, reindeer, rye and fisherman's bread, mushroom salad and Karelian stew spiced up with local puku -antelope meat. The Finnish-Zambian delicacies disappeared quickly into the stomachs of the guests. The giant animal puppets from Lusaka’s own Barefeet Theatre Performing Group wandered among the people causing confusion and laughter.
The more than average cocktail event was concluded with an impressive firework show while Sibelius' Finlandia Hymn and Beethoven's Ode to Joy played in the background. Some guests continued on the dance floor until early morning hours. Finland celebrates 100 years only once, and Lusaka got to experience it for real.
And don't forget to watch the video summarizing the evening's events from our Facebook page!