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This interview is a republished interview. This week we’re celebrating African women in eSports and their position in the games industry.

Lily Kananda is a sports and gaming lover and co-owner at Replay Gaming Lounge, a unique gaming and eSports centre that also organizes and hosts eSport events, and gaming tournaments. Get to know Lily, how her competitive nature helps her manage Replay Gaming Lounge, and what her hopes for the future of gaming are.

Lily Kananda

Tell us about yourself Lily.

My name is Lily Kananda, I was born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia. I am an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction books and a collector of Jordan retro sneakers and retro Nike basketball sneakers. I love to watch soccer and play basketball and video games when I can.

I played college and club professional basketball and represented the country in various tournaments and club championship games. My favourite NBA team is the L.A. Lakers and I have been supporting them since Magic Johnson’s days.

I’m quite competitive and a sore loser, ha ha ha! I love to win and I think that has helped me with the managing of Replay Gaming Lounge because when I see our gamers play to compete and not just to participate, it makes me realise that the Zambian gaming scene’s future is very bright.

The games I have played the most in the past 5 years are Mortal Kombat, Ratchet and Clank, NBA 2K20, FIFA20, TEKKEN 7, and God of War.

How did you come to take an interest in gaming?

I grew an interest in gaming at a very young age. My father bought us our consoles and my elder brother would have me to practice with. I would eventually join in to start playing against him and occasionally. I would beat him when he allowed it. Everyone in our family plays, my parents occasionally played with us but all my siblings are gamers.

Gaming lounges were quite popular in the 00s. The perception mostly has been that they are for children. How are you working to dispel this stereotype?

Well, the stereotype that video games are for children is now far off. Having experienced co-owning and managing a gaming lounge, I have seen that we have all ages coming in to play. We have parents coming to play with their kids and so on. Gaming is for everyone and not just children.

Replay gaming lounge has been hosting tournaments since 2019. How have current global events like the Covid 19 pandemic affected this part of the business? Have you discovered new ways to get around it?

Replay Gaming Lounge has successfully hosted a lot of different tournaments since 2019. When the world was struck with the Covid 19 pandemic, yes, it affected our business because we had just picked up speed and recognition in the gaming community.

However, we adjusted our sales and made other plans on how best we could still provide our services following the guidelines provided. We made sure we had all the required measures taken: advised our gamers to mask up and sanitize as they entered the gaming lounge – failure to which access is denied to our lounge, a minimal number of people in the lounge, and of course, social distancing is observed. During this time, we have taken the initiative to work out events and tournaments online and see how that could fall into place considering the pandemic.

How do you create buzz for Replay Gaming Lounge and upcoming tournaments?

The arts and graphic work are done by Savior Kalebwe aka “Bishop”, one of the co-owners of Replay Gaming Lounge, and I believe that he is one of the best in the country. Then we have our very own brand ambassador Bugsy “The Kid” who is a famous radio and TV personality. He does the on-air radio ads and the videos that we use for our social pages. And then we have me. Together, we make sure that at all times, our social media platforms have content for the public. When we are about to host a tournament, all the artwork for gamers posters, the tournament posters, radio jingles, tournament videos are shared on our social media pages and on other gaming-related pages.

Tell us about Replay Radio. What is your vision for it?

Replay Radio is our current new baby, we want to host gamers and interview them. Our goal is to create a hub where gamers from everywhere can have an opportunity to talk about the gaming community in their individual areas of interest and yes, we will play gaming music. That and many more services!

What is your hope for the future of Replay Gaming Lounge?

The future of Replay Gaming Lounge in my eyes, looking at the fact that we now want to become bigger, is more services, bigger space, etc…

I hope we can have more sponsors coming in especially for tournaments. We want to see more powerhouse gaming families like AI Gaming, Gematrix, Nerd Otaku and my favourite streamer Alien Myndz come together and help grow the gaming community. Replay wants to bring in all of that, and add on online and offline tournaments, and groom players from all walks of life.

We would like for gamers to understand that they can make something of themselves through gaming, and help to put Zambian gamers and also Replay on the map. We hope that we can also have a proper organising body for gaming the same way other sports and recreation clubs do, and most of all, we hope to encourage female gamers to take part in these tournaments. No matter how much we get trolled, we will troll back lol!

Replay Gaming intends to bring in all the extra services and feel that we cannot get from our homes alone. “For us by us”, a place that not only caters to gamers but streamers, bloggers, commentators, and camera crew at one spot, that being Replay Gaming Lounge.

What new games are you looking at adding to your catalogue?

We are always looking to get new games and some are requested by our gamers, I cannot exactly say which ones we are looking to add, but we do want to have a section for our PC gamers too.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us? A fun fact about yourself?

Anything else about me? Well, from the time we started having the tournaments I have bought a pair of brand new Js for good luck!!

Lily Kananda (right)

Read more about Replay Gaming Lounge from Nkwazi Magazine: http://www.nkwazimagazine.com/replay-changing-the-gaming-landscape-in-zambia

Follow Replay Gaming Lounge on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/replaygamingloungezm/

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