Anona Community: Meet Chilufya Mulenga

Updated: Jan 9, 2020

Anona Wellness Profile: 8/10

Part 1: Getting Familiar with Chilufya

1. Tell us a bit about yourself! Do you have any hobbies or special interests? What do you like to do for fun?

I go to Algonquin College right now for hospitality and one day, I hope to open my own restaurant or hotel. I’m actually a vegetarian and I got my inspiration for it once I started looking at a lot of basketball players who started going vegetarian, such as Kyrie Irving and Jalen Brown, and I realized there were a lot of benefits associated with going vegetarian that could help me athletically.

2. Do you have any hobbies or special interests? What do you like to do for fun?

I also play basketball, but lately I’ve had a lot of knee injuries and just recovered from an illness that prevented me from playing it competitively. However, I’m trying to go to a couple of colleges next year and try to get back on track when my body is doing a bit better.

I also love to dance and stay active that way. At a younger age, when jerking and all that stuff blew up, I got into that, and then a friend got me into dance and helped me realize how great dancing could be and introduced me to breakdancing. Usually, I find groups and practice dancing in spaces like colleges, universities, etc. There’s also a centre I go to that welcomes people all the time and lets you drop in whenever.

I also recently got into making music. I like to do a lot of hip hop and R&B, but essentially, me and a few friends have been focused a bit more on producing and creating beats, since it’s hard to make a quality beat.

3. What does your typical day look like?

I usually wake up, brush my teeth, figure out what I’m going to have for breakfast. My trainer told me that I should have around 30g of protein, so I have like 3 - 4 eggs to get the protein that I need. Then, I’ll usually play basketball until around 11 am, and then I go to work at the restaurant that I currently work as a chef at. When I’m home, I’ll usually end up working on some music as well.

4. How have your dreams and goals changed throughout your life?

Before, my dreams were to be a basketball player, but as life has gone on, I’ve found that’s not everything and that’s not all I want to be known for. Honestly, now I’m realizing that I love to make people happy and see people smile, and that’s why I’m in hospitality. I’ve worked in a lot of hotels and resorts before and what I love to do is see people happy in those places and I would love to recreate that one day.

A lot of the current hotels and resorts are run with an old school mentality and sometimes, the people running those places don’t realize how important it is to make your customers and staff happy. So I kind of want to change that.

Part 2: Culture

5. How closely do you identify with and affiliate with your culture? How assimilated into mainstream culture do you think you are? How assimilated into mainstream culture are the members of your family?

I’m Zambian, and was born and raised there. After a few years, we moved to England for a bit, and I’ve now lived in Canada for the last 16 years or so. My culture is mixed of a lot of Canadian/Western tendencies, as well as a lot of Zambian traits that I can’t let go of.

Whenever I travel back to Zambia, they always show me a lot of love and I always feel welcome there. I actually don’t even feel that same amount of welcoming energy here in Canada.

When it comes to Western culture, I don’t think I’ve fully assimilated. I think sometimes there are some social ticks and cues that I tend to miss, and there are aspects in Western culture that I seem to miss. I find a lot of people here aren’t always that inclusive of me and once again, not as genuinely warm and welcoming.

My parents have also had some tough times with assimilating too. Like my dad for example, he’s lived in Zambian culture for almost entire life and then is just expected to come here and act like everyone else? It’s tough for him and you can see it when he’s talking to people who are more Western in nature. For my parents, it’s been hard because as kids, we only had some of our Zambian culture, but for my parents, it’s just how they are.

PART 3: Wellness

6. What comes to mind when you think of wellness?

Wellness is taking care of yourself physically and mentally in any way shape or form that you can. There are a lot of ways that you should be taking care of your body and mind that we aren’t doing, but I’m always looking for new ways each day to practice wellness to be the best person I can be.

7. Do you think that wellness and associated activities are typically well understood/accepted within your culture and overall community?

I think it is not well understood. Whenever I try to bring up the thought of mental illness to my parents, they usually brush it off as sickness or excuses. They don’t really understand how many people it effects on a daily basis and how easy it is to fall into a mental illness.

8. What wellness activities do you typically engage in (if any)?

I find playing basketball really therapeutic. It keeps my body in good shape, and when I was sick, it helped me stay strong. I’m always clear mentally afterward. I also like to snowboard.

Are there any activities that you’ve always been interested in trying, but haven’t tried yet? Why haven’t you?

Meditation. I’ve done it, but I haven’t taken a deep dive into it. I think it’s hard because you aren’t really doing anything, it’s super mental. Like with yoga, at least you’re moving your body, but with meditation, you just have to face your thoughts, which can be hard.

9. In a perfect world, what wellness activities would you like to see more of in your community?

Zambian communities could definitely benefit from doing yoga because honestly, I don’t think a lot of people in Africa do yoga. A lot of them mostly just do daily activities, they don’t really do things to help themselves mentally.

With a lot of people, the mentality is ‘we haven’t done it in the past, so we’re not going to do it’. However, they’re becoming more open to it and more welcoming.

Having access to things like yoga and therapy is so beneficial for your life moving forward.

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