My real names are Humphrey Mwila, otherwise known as Cactus Agony. I am from Kitwe but I was born in Luanshya hospital. My mother’s from Kawambwa late father was also from Luapula province. I attended Parkland nursery school, then Lechwe primary school then proceeded to study Alevels, college (With a sports scholarship) and university in the UK.
My professional music aspirations began in 2000 but my enjoyment and love of music came at primary school, grade 4 at Lechwe primary school in Kitwe. I studied piano and Glockenspiel and sang in the school choir for a few years.. It wasn’t until 1996 while studying in South London, England, what I took up a real interest in the art of writing, recording and performing. My close friend at the time who I met at Croydon College in South London and a South London Hip Hop outfit called the Nappy Clinch Clan would take me to the studio and to talent shows in and around London, this was a great eye opener for me.
After a few years of learning my craft and gaining confidence in 1999 I joined Cypher music studio in Lusaka. There I worked with the likes of Runnel, Red Linso, Jerry fingers, Inferno, Mampi, KB from K Army, Bob Mabege and others. This led to a compilation album under Cypher music “Cypher toon”
In 2003 Not long after, I searched for producers to record my debut album withs. , “Bush Territory” and his search led him to top producers and proprietors of Kula Music. Around this time I was also performing on the Lusaka live band circuit with bands like B Sharp and Sir Jones, Uncle Rex, Burning youth and others and this strengthened my stage work.
My debut album, “Bush Territory” was released in 2008. It became a huge hit, with songs like “Waiting” and “Body Can’t Lie” and the title track “Bush territory” The album is a powerful representation of my journeys as an African and as a Zambian. I speak of Rhodesia and Broken-hill man because of my patriotism, it was a result of being conscious of my history. It’s a message that transcends age, race and cultural barriers, as it is conscious and it is a statement, a banner claiming Zambian and Africa’s place in the world.
The album features a host of Zambia’s finest singers and producers. Produced by Elijah Tembo and James Mulenga at Kula studio this album saw me enter the Zambian music industry with my own album. From that album came hits like the videos for “Waiting” which was voted as “Video Of The Month” on ZNBC’s “Born And Bred” music video show and featured prominently on ChannelO and “Body Can’t Lie” which spent two months at Number one on MUVI TV’s music show, “The People’s Choice” in 2009 and also featured on ChannelO.
In 2013 I released my second album “The African dream” This Album was me putting out my pan African thought and it had a very wide range of topics, also mostly produced at Kula studio. In the same year I met Admiral P, the Norway based half Zambian, half Norwegian reggae superstar and his organisation ZEDWAY. A cultural and music exchange program he created between Zambia and Norway. I did two one month tours in Norway with fellow Zambian artists B flow, Milz, Ras Kinky, Kaya an, General Ozzy to mention a few. My 1st tour was in 2013 and the second was 2015. I had the opportunity to meet and share the stage with Gyptian from Jamaica, Mighty Crown sound system from Japan and others. ZEDWAY is now registered in Zambia asZedway foundation Zambia Ltd and is an official NGO.
Then 2016 I released my third album “Chasing the wind” this one was produced by Shom C and Shinko beats, with keyboards by Eric Lwatula and majority of guitars by Sir Jones Kabanga. It featured Kaladoshas, Katongo, Roberto, Mic Inity and Natalie.
In 2011, I was invited to become a Change Maker and Ambassador under the Unicef led initiative called the Brothers For Life Campaign; a regional initiative that started at the 2010 World Cup which sought male involvement in the response to HIV/AIDS. I welcomed this role and I continue to serve as an Ambassador in Zambia.
I went on to co-write and perform songs for various cause-related campaigns such as ‘Rhythm of Life’ for USAID funded Health Communications Project, ‘Tandizo’ give blood campaign for Red Cross, ‘ Brothers for Life’ for Unicef Zambia’s Brothers for Life Campaign, Proflite Fly 5 (Ambassador) ‘Speak Out’ for The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and, wildlife conservation campaign with Chipembele wildlife trust and WWF Zambia, ‘Mama Zambia’ for Grassroots trust and recently “Save the earth” for climate change. I had now discovered that I could do more than just sing, I could change things on the ground and help others with my social activism and contribute positively to my country.
As a business, music in Zambia is not easy, ther are a lot of obstacles but not as many as ther wer 20 years ago. I’ve had the opportunity to grow with the zed industry and much has changed positively and negatively. On the positive side we have so much Zambian music to listen to, so many genres and so many fans. Standards have gone up and there’s once again a lot of live bands. Corporate bodies are supporting us and our events, Zambian musicians are touring in the diaspora so these are the positives. On the negative side, the people’s buying culture and methods have changed dramatically.
The internet has been the game changer. What we lack it usually has an answer. In Zambia we don’t have booking agents, music, managers and promoters. This is where the Webb comes in cos artists can manage and sell their music via internet and be just as organized. Those who are doing well now without management will tell you this. Our music can generate a lot of income for the nation but our government needs to provide a more conducive environment. Tax exemptions on music instruments and equipment, music in schools on advanced levels, this would ensure growth and preservation of the arts.
I’ve recently been working with different producers on new projects. I have new singles dropping soon produced by Koby at xyz, Ken Dee, Kidman and others so you can look out for that.
I’m also working hard in conservation and climate change mitigation projects with my new song featuring Ann Jangle “Save the earth”