For over 10 years, Ronnie Mupambwa worked long hours entertaining Calgarians as a nightclub DJ. But when the COVID-19 pandemic started, the music and his job stopped.
“It was tough. I could not believe I was sitting at home on a Friday night,” Mupambwa said.
“It made me relax and try to put my ducks in a different row and see what else can be done moving forward.”
The time off gave Mupambwa time to plan what he really wanted to do: start a restaurant.
Monday marks the official opening of Mupambwa’s new business: Chakalaka Tapas Restaurant and Cocktail Bar on 17 Avenue S.W.
“Opportunities don’t stop and life doesn’t stop just because COVID is there,” Mupambwa said.
“Bills have to be paid. Life has to go on so you have to make a choice: do you sit at home or do you go back to the drawing board and see what you can do best?”
Mupambwa is no stranger to challenges. He said the racism he has dealt with since he arrived in Calgary from Zimbabwe when he was 17 resulted in an unlevel playing field.
“Some of the things that I would want or I wanted to do, it just wasn’t given a fair chance at times, and a lot of times the more I speak up, the more I get myself in trouble,” Mupambwa said. “I had to go in front of authorities at different times to defend myself and to ask why do we get treated that way?”
Mupambwa is encouraged by the progress he’s seen in Calgary when it comes to racism. He said you never really get used to racism but it has made him work even harder.
“That has helped make things a bit easier for people like myself but the fight hasn’t stopped. It still continues and it is still out there,” Mupambwa said.
As for opening a restaurant in the midst of a pandemic, Ronnie said his faith in God combined with a matter-of-fact attitude about moving forward are giving him the courage to take on the new adventure.
“There’s always going to be challenges, whether it’s a pandemic or it’s a recession. I’m much more excited than scared,” Mupambwa said.