Kabwe Ka Makuba (Land of Smelting)

Logline: Faced with a lead pollution crisis that began 99 years before he was born, a young activist fights for the wellbeing of his hometown.

Synopsis: This documentary tells the story of Caleb, a young activist working tirelessly to advocate for a more sustainable future for his community. Lead pollution has made his hometown –- Kabwe, Zambia — ‘the world’s most toxic town,’ with over 100,000 people affected by the crisis.
The film follows Caleb as he gives talks in schools, speaks about the impact of the lead crisis on his life, and meets other affected community members, including a man making a living off the now defunct lead mine. This story captures the vulnerable side of unwavering activism as Caleb reckons with the future of his home.

  • Audrey Hubbard
  • Joshua Kalenga
  • Caleb Mulenga Bwalya
    Key Cast
  • Sylvester Mumba
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    16 minutes 1 second
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Colorado College
Director - Audrey Hubbard
Director Statement

Two generations ago, Zambia as we know it did not exist; it was called Northern Rhodesia and was a British colony. Since Zambia is such a young state, it is still recovering (and is continually impacted) from the effects of British colonialism and ongoing neo-colonialism. In Kabwe, lead pollution is clearly and directly linked to colonization. The Broken Hill Mine was (for the majority of its operations) owned by Anglo-American, a British company. The mishandling of the mine resulted in widespread lead contamination in surrounding communities, including in Makululu, one of the largest informal settlements in Southern Africa. We made this film to address the lack of current information and awareness about the catastrophic health and environmental emergency in Kabwe. The city’s lead pollution crisis has been an open secret for too long.

In order to raise awareness about Kabwe’s lead crisis, we wanted our film to elevate the voices of activists inside their communities who are desperately trying to make their communities safe for their generation and the next. Young activists are rarely given the opportunity to create palpable change or given a seat at the table. Our film gives a platform to young activists like Caleb and Sylvester (two of our protagonists) to tell their stories and create the change they desire for their hometown.