Sampa Kangwa-Wilkie was born in Zambia in 1974 (her name means to fight for). Describing herself as an actor turned housewife, turned film maker, she has managed to fill her life with many varied roles at a relatively young age. She was raised with two younger sisters by her single mother, a strong, resilient go-getter, and pursued a career in theatre despite her mothers misgivings. At the age of 21 she co-founded a theatre group, Groundwork Theatre Company in Lusaka. The group promoted awareness of HIV and AIDS in Zambia, receiving a positive response to their efforts thanks to the refreshing and innovative ways in which they presented their message. The group also organized productions with children from the street, with whom they shared the takings.
In 1996, Kangwa-Wilkie moved to Britain to study and work as an Arts Co-ordinator for the Ebenezer Welfare Centre in London. In 1998, having returned to Namibia, she met her future husband, British filmmaker Simon Wilkie at a film festival in Windhoek while she was working on an international theatre project. The couple married in Lusaka in December 1999, and their first child, a son named Lutanda, was born in 2001.
Having worked as a casting director for Bridget Pickerings Unos World in 2000, Kangwa-Wilkies next project was to make a film of her own with the assistance of her husband. The film, Imiti Ikuli (Bemba forTrees Which Grow) was part of a Steps for the Future series, that came to fruition after Kangwa-Wilkie attended a talk given by Don Edkins at Windhoek in January 2001. Edkins was looking for unusual but upbeat stories about how people in Southern Africa coped with HIV/AIDS.
Two months after Edkins talk, Kangwa-Wilkie pitched her idea for a film to an international panel of 12 producers. Despite confessing that her own experience was limited to working in theatre with street kids, her idea was approved within three weeks. She underwent a crash course in filmmaking in Johannesburg in May 2001, and her husband Simon, who was to be the films cameraman, agreed to co-direct. By the end of the month they were carrying out research in Lusaka, and after two weeks they encountered Memory, the girl featured in the movie, and her gang. For five weeks Kangwa-Wilkie and her husband and a crew of just three others filmed the gangs everyday life. The film received its final edit in Cape Town in September 2001. It was screened at over 30 film festivals and broadcast on television throughout the world and, in June 2002, won the Jurys Award at the Childrens Film Festival in Hamburg, Germany.
Following the release of Imiti Ikuli, Kangwa-Wilkie enrolled at the University of Namibia (UNAM) to study media and sociology. It was her time there, observing the lifestyles of her fellow students, that gave her the idea for her next film, a 20-minute documentary called No Means No! which was financed by the Finnish embassy Focusing on four female UNAM students, but ultimately of interest to a much broader audience, the film examined the pressures placed upon women in relation to sex. The film was released in January 2003.
Kangwa-Wilkie has also held positions as a consultant to the Media Institute of Southern Africa for live radio broadcast, and as a researcher for Oxford University Press for the Women Writing for Africa Project. Since 1994 she has been involved in six different HIV/AIDS related projects in Namibia, Zambia and the United Kingdom.
Sampa Kangwa-Wilkie Filmography
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