Same Sex Marriages Coming to Zambia?


Mwizenge S. Tembo

Author of “The Bridge- A Romance Adventure Novel”.

Professor of Sociology

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) sexual orientations are openly advocated today from President Obama of the United States and the First Lady Michelle, in American schools, institutions of higher learning, the military, some churches, in work places and families. Same sex marriages are now legal in 36 of the 48 states in the United States. Ireland just voted to legalize same sex marriages by 62%. Bruce Jenner, the most celebrated and decorated Olympic male athlete in the United States now calls herself “Caitlyn” as a woman at the age of 65. She is transgender and her photo is on the front page of the famous Vogue magazine.

A wedding procession motorcade in Lusaka the Capital City of Lusaka. Heterosexual marriages between a man and women have been celebrated throughout history.

A wedding procession motorcade in Lusaka the Capital City of Zambia. Heterosexual marriages between a man and women have been celebrated throughout history.

The change in attitude is happening so fast that if anyone today appears to sit on the fence, question, or equivocate about supporting LGBT or homosexuality and same-sex marriages, the individual will have an avalanche of vicious criticism fall on them like a ton of bricks. They will instantly be called homophobe, gay basher, anti-gay, uneducated, uninformed, a reactionary, oppressor, close minded, supporter of human rights abuses, religious conservative fanatic, and Hitler. And these are just the name calling that can be printed.

There is something about the issue that ignites our most primal passions today whether you are for or against the issue. How did we get to a point where most Americans and Westerners are about to accept homosexuality and same sex marriages? Why do individuals still spend so much emotional energy to oppose same sex marriages? Since this author cares deeply about children, how will children turn out during all these tsunami of social changes? What should Zambians think about this because social changes that start in the Western society very quickly often sweep to Zambia through media followed by Western inspired NGO human rights campaigns?

A young monogamous heterosexual couple with their biological children.

A young monogamous heterosexual couple with their biological children.

History of Human Sexuality and Gender

Over two hundred thousand years ago when as the first human beings we lived in small bands in Savannah Africa including in Zambia or when God created us, all types of sexual orientations might have existed. Heterosexuality was sexual attraction between people of the opposite sex or between males and females. Homosexuality, gay or being a lesbian was sexual attraction to someone of the same sex. Intersexuality was people whose bodies (including genitals) have both female and male characteristics. Hermaphrodite was an original Greek term which referred to intersexual people who have both female ovary and male testis. Transsexuals are people who feel emotionally they are one sex (male for example) even though biologically they are the other sex (female for example) or vice versa. Bisexuality is sexual attraction to people of both sexes. Asexuality is a biological lack of sexual attraction to people of either sex. Sexual pathologies existed such as pedophilia which is being sexually attracted to children, bestiality having sex with animals, sexual addictions including pornography, peeping toms, nymphomania, sexual phobias, and fetishes all existed. What is the relevance of all this to today’s conflicts about homosexuality and same sex marriages?

A married heterosexual couple with their  biological child.

A married heterosexual couple with their biological child.


Human Survival

Two hundred thousand years ago it was a matter of survival for a man to have genital sex with a woman because that was the only way babies could be created. Because human babies are the most vulnerable and unable to fend for themselves until they are probably about 18 years old, (today it might be as old as 30 years old in some families and countries) marriage between a man and the woman and the extended family were very crucial for human survival. So the very strong culture of monogamous heterosexual sex, marriage, family and kinship were developed. All the cultural rituals and customs including groups such as hunter and gatherer bands, villages, clans, communities, Chiefdoms, and Kingdoms were built on the foundation of the biological productive unity of the monogamous union between the man and the woman. Without highly emphasizing that original heterosexual sex between a man and a woman, we would likely have gone into extinction. I emphasize this point among our earliest first human African ancestors in Chapter 17 in my book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”.  Our human population grew from an estimated18,000 people1.2 million years ago to 7.2 billion in 2015.

Brilliance and Wisdom

The monogamous heterosexual family centered on a man and a woman was found to be the best and most intelligent and wisest way to produce and raise children for survival. Our African ancestors created sufficient strong networks of kinships relationships so that no baby or child was ever an orphan, abandoned and had the best chances of being raised to adulthood. The author was raised in the last days of those historic African village community in the 1950s which he regards today as heaven on earth because as a child he could never have had a more enriching social environment to live and be raised in. It takes a village to raise a child to day is just for the most part a cliché that we are no longer able to live by especially in large cities.

LGBT, Same Sex Marriages, and Homosexuality

Since our reproductive ability, personal physical security and technology have improved so much that there are 7.2 billion of us, there are virtually no threats from nature to humans anymore. Humans should be able to and are going to more freely express their sexual orientations. But the only universal criteria that should be enforced is that everyone should abide by same strong moral code of wholesome sexual conduct that heterosexuals or married men and women have followed and insisted on through customs and reinforced by religious codes for thousands of years. It is when we have all these uniform moral sexual codes that children will be raised in very stable marriages, families and social environments. If people in all kinds of marriages refuse to abide by these strict moral codes, it should not matter what sexual orientation they have, they should not choose to have children. Because it is always the case that when there are so many social changes and upheavals, it is always children that suffer.

A monogamous heterosexual couple with their biological child.

A monogamous heterosexual couple with their biological child.

Sexual Orientation Changes in Zambia

Since independence in 1964 and the openning of the University of Zambia in 1966, we have never even through formal research paid attention to how our society indigenously and traditionally regarded all these forms of sexual orientation. Because I am sure these forms of sexual orientation have always existed and do exist today. My own interpretation from growing up in the village and informal observations in Zambia over a period of 50 years is that we never took seriously, regarded with hate and disdain informal sexual relationships outside heterosexual relationships between a man and a woman. I am sure going back to two hundred thousand years ago, women had sex with women and even held each other’s hands during the day. Some boys and men had sex or were homosexuals. But all of this may have been ignored and deemed insignificant or unimportant. All the human and collective community effort and energy were sorely focused and invested in heterosexuality. Puberty rituals for girls called Chinamwali (Chewa), Chisungu (Bemba), and Mwalanjo (Lozi) were all preparing the girl for marriage for sex with a future husband who was a man. All boys and men underwent initiation rituals including use of herbs in preparation for marriage and sex with a future wife who was a woman. Although sex itself is enjoyable but its purpose was mainly to produce children that would ensure community survival.

First Night of Heterosexual Marriage

After months of preparation and a wedding ceremony, the first night the newlyweds spent the night together was very crucial. Today we might even laugh about some of the first night rituals. The one I find most fascinating is when Yizenge Chondoka describes in his book: “Traditional Marriages in Zambia”.  Chondoka says among the Valley Tonga, after the first night the groom and the bride had spent together:

“To find out how strong the man is, the girl is asked to break a number of short pieces of sticks from along stick according to the number of times they made love the previous night. If, according to the elders’ judgment, the number of broken sticks is less, then they start looking for medicine to help the young man.” (Chondoka, 1988:129)

I make similar descriptions about the first night of the newlyweds:

“If the groom has successfully had sex with her, he tossed hot embers outside the door. This was a symbol of success that brought cheers and ululations to the people gathered outside. The following morning the bride was asked how many times they had made love during the night. Four times was the yardstick. If the man failed to perform, the bride rushed out with the bad news and that could be the end of the marriage.” (Tembo, 2012: 111)


  1. Chondoka, Yizenge., Traditional Marriages in Zambia: A Study in Cultural History, Ndola: Mission Press, 1988.
  2. Tembo, Mwizenge S., Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture: Social Change in The Global World, Xlibris, 2012.


University of Zambia: Crisis of Problems


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Author of “The Bridge” – the  transatlantic romance adventure novel.

On a Sunday blue sky afternoon in May 1972, I finally stood on the balcony of the fourth floor of Africa Hall 5 Room 26 as a freshman at the University of Zambia appreciating and surveying the beautiful scenery around and below. The lawn was green with gorgeous flowers and short bushes. Different types of music were booming from record players from many students’ rooms. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and excitement about the better times to come of gaining a University education which my family and I had not even ever dreamed of even just months before in January 1972 when I got an acceptance letter from the University of Zambia.

Entrance to the University of Zambia.

Entrance to the University of Zambia.

My room was furnished with brand new wardrobes, book shelf, desk, reading lamp, chair, blankets, clean bed sheets, blankets, and pillows. The bathrooms had good new hot showers, a line of clean wash sinks with shinning mirrors. The hall floor toilets were clean with toilet paper which was replaced virtually every day. These clean toilet facilities were also all over campus classrooms and the library with toilet papers. Hall sweepers cleaned the rooms every day. This was the case in the 5 residences of Africa Hall, Kwacha Hall, Presidents Hall, and International Hall. The women’s was October Hall. Thefts of property on campus were unknown. Supper that evening in the main dining hall was a five course meal of soup or a salad, rice with chicken or beef, custard with cake, fruit, coffee, tea and bread with butter. We had pocket money of K25.00 and an allowance for purchasing text books at the bookstore for our classes.UNZA Library

It was very exciting to sit for the first time  in Lecture Theater One and Two for lectures by may lecturers at the time including Professor Robert Serpell and Professor  Muyunda Mwanalushi in Psychology and many other courses. We had some of the best professors and lecturers from around the world since we did not have too many indigenous Zambian lecturers yet. The University of Zambia had an enrollment of fifteen hundred. The cost of room, board, and tuition was four hundred Kwacha per year. My father earned K19.00 per month as a primary school teacher with 9 children some of whom he had to pay school fees for. My family could never afford for me to attend the University of Zambia.

The vast majority of Zambians could not afford the cost of sending their sons and daughters to the University of Zambia. The government provided bursaries for everyone because the country needed educated highly skilled labor.Confuscious Institute

Thousands of Zambians who graduated from University of Zambia will forever love the University of Zambia and will always want the institution to remain alive. All of us graduates are  dedicated to do whatever we can to help support the University. This is why the problems that have continued to beset the University of Zambia are always deeply troubling for all graduates, former students or alumni of the University Zambia as well as for all concerned citizens.

University of Zambia Problems

Since the great days of the early 1970s during the last 43 years, the determined men and women of UNZA have proudly continued to graduate students who excel both in Zambia and the  international diaspora although the university has faced major challenges that would have made other institutions buckle and disappear. The list of problems is so endless that this article cannot know nor address all of them. These discussions and proposed solutions are not meant to imply that the author has all the solutions  but rather to make some very pragmatic suggestions according to this author’s view.

UNZA Alumni-Diaspora and Lecturers

There are 5 possible serious problem areas and proposed possible immediate and long term solutions to some of the deeply embedded problems of the University of Zambia. The first and probably the most serious problem is lack of a culture and an organization that can both coordinate and mediate mutual cooperation and trust between UNZA lecturers and older graduates some of whom are retired and some may be in the diaspora. All the thousands of UNZA graduates all the way back to its inception in 1966  who are in Zambia and especially those in the diaspora are deeply devoted to the institution.  Day and night they are proud and would like to help the University of Zambia. But there appears  to be lack of a culture and  prominent organization to channel this desire to help.Old residences or Goma Ruins

Anecdotal evidence suggests that there may be mutual suspicion about the intentions of the graduates who are in the diaspora and those at UNZA. The same mutual suspicion also applies to national leadership where Zambians who are in the diaspora are regarded with suspicion if they express a desire to participate in the electoral process or seek political electoral office. Although many of the lecturers at UNZA may have been also trained abroad, there is an underlying suspicion that any diaspora graduate coming to UNZA may be looking for a job to displace the indigenous younger faculty or looking to unfairly dominate the institution. Some of the diaspora UNZA graduates may harbor a superiority complex. Both of these attitudes would have to be resolved before any long term plans and actions can be mutually executed to help University of Zambia. We all deeply love the institution and badly want to help it survive and prosper. This potentially may be the most serious problem that may hinder or impede any potential progress initiated by the two wings of the UNZA graduates or alumni.

Capital Expenditure

Since the early 1970s, the University of Zambia has increased its enrollment from 1500 to about 30,000 in 2015 which is an overwhelming increase of 1900%. Has student housing or residence halls, teaching and classroom facilities increased by 1900%? That is probably not the case.  According to The Post of 8 May 2015 Page 2, UNZA  has deplorable conditions with lecturers having 250, 298, 500 to 1,000 students in a class with some sitting on the floor.

A few years ago during a Presidential election campaign one candidate promised that if elected they would improve the conditions at UNZA such that 19 students would not be sharing one residential hall room. I was stunned but was never able to verify that my room like Africa 5 Room 26 could be occupied by 19 students. During most of the early years at UNZA, there were only 2 students per room.Biology Dept Plants

This is a troubling reality that affects not only UNZA but all public institutions that offer services in Zambia; the demand increases as the population grows but there are never enough resources to accommodate the increasing demand. How can we get the resources to increase capital expenditure? Although government might be the solution, there is much more that alumni or graduates of UNZA can do to build the new, necessary and needed infrastructure to expand the institution.

Lecturers and Workers Conditions

The lecturers should be the best paid since donations and endowed Chairs could account for some of the pay. Some of the best conditions could be arranging for lecturers to take sabbatical leave to institutions where UNZA graduates are teaching and researching in foreign institutions. All UNZA lecturers could have a designated counterpart  UNZA graduate lecturer at other institutions abroad to work together for research and exchanging some of the new cutting edge teaching pedagogy. May be we could have  lecturers abroad who are UNZA graduates to give live lectures by skype as guest lecturers in one of the current UNZA lecturers’ courses as a donation. The other way round is that current UNZA lecturers can provide guest lectures to University classes abroad where lecturers who are UNZA graduates are teaching at colleges and universities in the diaspora.

Since I began teaching here in America 25 years ago, I tried to use appropriate supplementary textbooks by some of my Zambian colleagues and authors in the courses I taught in the early 1990s. There is a possibility that a live lecture from an UNZA lecturer would provide a valuable source of course material for my students who often cannot afford to fly to Africa or Zambia to attend a lecture at  a Zambian or African institution. Many times I took my American students to the University of West Indies Mona Campus in Jamaica where my students attended many lectures by Jamaican lecturers for a fee that was paid to both the lecturers and the University. University of Zambia could to the same today via skype or closed circuit television.

Refurbishing of Residence Hall Rooms

Some of the most passionate desires among all UNZA graduates in Zambia and abroad are to refurbish and paint their dilapidated old rooms in the Halls of residence. The word is that the late President Mwanawasa did refurbish his old room in President Hall. This is one of the easiest tasks that a new organization can arrange. When University of Zambia students are on a break between terms,  teams of UNZA graduates with their families, friends, and children would come to campus and paint rooms every year. The best way would be to install plaques in each room listing all the graduates who resided in those rooms since the University opened. This could be a continuing tradition in which every UNZA student upon graduating would be expected to help take care of his or her former room later in their lives.

Library, Classrooms, Equipment, and Landscaping

UNZA needs library resources, adequate classrooms, equipment for teaching and research and landscaping to maintain the beautiful grounds, very modest donations by all former graduates could take care of some of the expenses. For example, if we assume that UNZA had graduated a conservative total of 8600 students over the last 43 years, how could they make donations? If each one of the alumni or the graduates donates K500.00 ($71.00) each, that would yield K4.3 million. If they donated K721.00 ($100) each that would yield K6.2 million. There should be a new approach in which all donors’ names should be recognized on campus by engraving names of each donor in relevant places, buildings, and rooms. Their names should also be put on the UNZA web page.

Vison for the Future

University of Zambia can be stronger even produce better graduates for the future. In order to achieve this, we ought to have a better vision for the future for the institution. Simply doing the same things we have done since 1966 may not be enough. Professor Lameck Goma, the first Zambian Vice-Chancellor of the University game a famous graduation speech in the early 1970s titled: “The Usefulness of the Useless Disciplines”. University of Zambia focused intensely on training students to occupy skilled jobs in the Zambian economy that were under tremendous demand. Disciplines such engineering, medicine, law, computer science, business, education, economics, biology, agriculture, and mathematics were regarded as “useful” disciplines. But disciplines such as the arts, music, philosophy, poetry, anthropology, literature, theater, and dance were regarded as “useless” disciplines because they could not help Zambia provide the technological skills we urgently needed for developing the nation at that time.

Prof. Goma was arguing that we needed knowledge of the arts to lead fuller both personal and intellectual lives as a nation. I agree with Prof. Goma. University of Zambia needs to introduce the arts. How this can be done is subject to proper planning and discussion. For example, University of Zambia should build a state of the art Performing Arts Theater and center. This could be a source of employment, income from the community as all audience attending events would pay for all national and international performances.  A performing arts center would also be a training ground for future artists, film makers, creative writers, play wrights, dancers, musicians, ethnomusicologists, opera writers, opera performers, stage and film actors. Virtually all UNZA graduates are good technocrats but very few of us are capable of infusing the arts into our work.



Fresh Zambian Poetry Genre


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

It was Malcolm Gladwell in his book: “The Tipping Point” who said at the beginning of the internet era in the early 1990s, emails were not only very few, but they were very useful for only quickly communicating very important meaningful information. The tipping point when email turned from being valuable to a new sense and even a menace is when its volume increased. Today one individual can generate millions if not billions of spam email at a click of a button clogging up our inboxes with meaningless rubbish or trash. It is for this reason that among thousands of emails I receive, besides work and other formal official email correspondence, I can count may be up to five the number of emails that have had a profound impact on my thinking and world view during the last ten years. These emails constitute a major “event” because I become very sharply aware of my own thinking before and after reading that particular mail.

Compose a poem about sunrises in Zambia using a Zambian language.

Compose a poem about sunrises in Zambia using a Zambian language.

An Email from Zambia

So it was that on 3 October 2014 at 10.00 hours Eastern American time, I risked clicking open an email from a stranger. I read it for the first few seconds with my clicker hovering above the delete button. The excerpt from the email said:

“…….The first time I came across your information was a few months ago when I was looking up some Tumbuka expressions and I found your “Hunger for Culture” web page.  Your Adada Nati Niwele and Amama Nati Niwele poems were very inspirational to me. I was impressed, at first I thought you were Malawian, but as I read more I discovered you are Zambian, I was delighted and very proud. I hold you in very high esteem and I’m humbled to be able to communicate with you.

I am aspiring to write in Tumbuka. My parents hail from Lundazi, it’s a long time since I have been there. I barely speak Tumbuka, but I understand, and can read and write fluently……..”

Compose a poem about the man and his cow in a Zambian language.

Compose a poem about the man and his cow in a Zambian language.

Releasing the Delete Button

I instantly released my delete button. I had written 2 Tumbuka mother tongue poems on my web page with no translation into English. I can write, do, and publish material in an innovative way and responsibly on my web page without anyone breathing down my neck telling me what I can and can’t think and express. So many furious thoughts began steaming in my mind. Who is this Marita Banda? I wrote the 2 poems many years back when I was experiencing my own normal ups and downs of marriage problems. The 2 poems reflect what married Tumbuka men and women traditionally contemplate and wrestle with during normal marital conflagrations, problems, and sometimes upheavals.

Compose a poem about car traffic in Lusaka in a Zambian language.

Compose a poem about car traffic in Lusaka in a Zambian language.

One very short portion of the long Tumbuka poem I wrote that Marita had read is reproduced with English translation for the first time. The poem is from the married woman’s perspective.



Adada nati niwele

(Father I want to come home)
Mwanalume wanisuzgha

(The man is troubling me)
Ndeke zinai baliwiska

(Four planes were taken down)
Ndine mwanakazi yayi

(I am not a woman)
Ine bana nkhulela

(I am raising children)
Ndine mwanakazi yayi

(I am not a woman)
Nabapa bana bankhondi

(I have given him five children)
Ndine mwanakazi yayi

(I am not a woman)
Mutima bukubin’gha nkhanira

(My heart aches very much)
Adada nati niwele

(Father I want to come home)
Niza mlima kukaya

(I will come home and farm)

Am I a Malawian?

Marita Banda at first thought I was Malawian? That’s the legacy of Africans and Zambians being victims of British and European colonialism in 1884 during which the continent was divided into 54 artificial countries on a map. The result of which is that of the one million Tumbuka people, half of them are in Eastern Zambia in Lundazi and the other half are in Northern Malawi. Some of the Lozi people in Western Province in Zambia are in Zambia, some in Botswana and others are in Namibia. Some of the Bemba are in Northern Province and others in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Some of the Chewa people are in Eastern Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

Girl using Chihengo or winning pounded maize in a village. Compose a poem about this in a Zambian language.

Girl using Chihengo or winning pounded maize in a village. Compose a poem about this in a Zambian language.

Marita Banda was aspiring to write in Tumbuka and did not know her native language very well? All of this intrigued me so much that some of my long held negative assumptions about contemporary Zambian writers were beginning to be challenged. Her Tumbuka poem was forty lines long but only the first 7 lines are reproduced here with English translation for the first time. The full poem is at the bottom of the article.



Gombeza ilo mukuona na nika pa nthambo, ndane

(That blanket I have hung on the cothes line is mine)

Lene lila liswesi na babulaula bati bii mu mphepete makora ghene, ndane

(The red one with butterflies along the edge, is mine)

Ndipo, lu saba kuomila cha

(In fact it does not take long to dry)

Mungaleka kulisezga apo nkhulibika namweneco, ku chipinda

(Do not move it, I the owner store it in the bedroom)

Kwambula ku nimanyiska

(Without telling me)


Gombeza lane nkhudikha para kwiza ka mphepo

(My blanket I cover myself with when it gets cold)

Para nadikha mbwenu kati fuu… Makora ghene

(When I am under it, I feel so warm and so good)

New Zambian Poetry Genre

This is an excerpt of my response to Marita’s email:

“Your e-mail was sweet music to my ears. Your poem made me laugh especially about “gombeza na viskuli”. This brought vivid memories to my soul about my childhood. That’s why I find Tumbuka so profound because it brings out the deepest philosophical thoughts and memories from kukaya when I was growing up; my grandparents, my father and mother, cousins, uncles, aunts, food including nchunga ziswesi or eating red delicious kidney beans with nshima. “Gombeza liswesi” I can see the vivid colors of the blanket and images of “kwanika pa nthambo”. i.e to hang on the clothes line.

…….I think sometimes English is very restricting and narrow. I think what you have written is not just a poem in the English Western sense, but I think is more a poem of “Kuteketela” in the Tumbuka language sense”.

The expression “a poem of Kuteketela” was the moment of eureka for me in the email when a sudden flash of a new idea, perhaps a new fresh genre of Tumbuka and therefore Zambian poetry in the 72 Zambian dialects and languages, was born. We could also have another genre of Tumbuka poems we could call “Kutoza” directed at someone of something that had annoyed you.  Another genre could be poems of  “Kuzingiziwa” describing intense and profound suffering. Another one could be poems of  “Kugexgha” where you challenge someone or something that is confronting you. I also just thought of “Love, Romance, and Marriage” which would be “poems of Chitemwano” in Tumbuka for young romantic lovers.

Compose a poem in a Zambian language about kukaya.

Compose a poem in a Zambian language about kukaya.

You could also have “poems of Kusungana” for couples who have had long deeply loving relationships especially in marriage. For example, we could have poems and prose about “Mwanakazi wa garuka” or “Mwakazi wa Punthuka” both involving a woman’s intense feelings of alienation in marriage. Poems of “Mwanalume tondo” would reflect a man’s reflections, reactions and expression of frustration in a marriage or any relationship in which a man’s devotion, tenacity and courage are being doubted by family members. Poems of “Kulobombolela” would reflect feelings of pessimism, gloom and predicting a negative future which is very common in our politics. Perhaps the most fascinating and full of deep philosophical thought are poems of “Malonje” when two Zambians greet each other in a traditional customary way.

Important Message to Zambians

Remember where and when you read this article. The most important message you should get especially in this preceding paragraph is that all of these new possible genres of poetry probably already exist in virtually all Zambian languages including in Bemba, Tonga, Lozi, Ngoni, Chewa, Tumbuka, Lunda, Luvale, Kaonde, Soli, Lenje and many other Zambian languages. People just need to express them in those languages originally and commit them to the written page. I am very excited that in the weeks and months to come I will be writing some poetry in these new genres both for purposes of expressing myself but also to serve as a practical expression of what Zambian poems written in native, indigenous or mother tongues read like while invoking our deepest experiences and feelings which we are denied when we are compelled to use English when it is not our mother tongue.


Gladwell, Malcolm., The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2002.

P’Bitek, Okot, Song of Lawino, Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1966.

Wa Thiong’o, Ngugi., Detained: A Writer’s Prison Diary, London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd., 1981.

Tembo, Mwizenge., the Tumbuka Poems “Adada nati Niwele” and “Amama nati Niwele” can be found at this link:

Tembo, Mwizenge., “Hunger for Culture: Kusungana as a Zambian Expression of Deepest Love between Couples”.

The Untranslated Tumbuka Language Poem


by Marita Banda

Gombeza ilo mukuona na nika pa nthambo, ndane

Lene lila liswesi na babulaula bati bii mu mphepete makora ghene, ndane

Ndipo, lu saba kuomila cha

Mungaleka kulisezga apo nkhulibika namweneco, ku chipinda

Kwambula ku nimanyiska

Gombeza lane nkhudikha para kwiza ka mphepo

Para nadikha mbwenu kati fuu… Makora ghene

Gombeza ili nanga inunkhe folo, ndane

Panji mukunuska matuzi, ngane

Nanga ni nyelemo visyuli vya nchunga za msuzi uswesi, ndane

Asi lu chapiwa? Ilo lili pa nthambo likuomila makora ghene

Ningafika patali yayi kwambula gombeza lane liswesi

Na babulaula bati bii mu mphepete makora ghene

Nyengo zinyanke lusebeza nge ni nkhata

Nkhuthwikilapo maji pa kufuma ku dambo

Ndipo, pa kufuma ku thengele nkhutwikilapo nkhuni

La dazilo nkhayeghelamo mboholi wuwo makora ghene

Nkhumanya banyake pa imwe banyithu

Kumasinda uku muka nenanga kuti ‘ati ukazuzi bati!’

Kweni mboholi muli kulya

Nati nane lino nkhubetcha

Gombeza ndilo lane!

Ukazuzi nawo, ngwane!

Ntheura, mukhale waka chete!

Gombeza likunilela na mweneco,


Ndipo ndiwemi nkhanira

Chinyakeso, nkhumanya pali banyake pano

Nyifwa yindanunkhe imwe  muli yamba kale

Kuibendelela gombeza ili

Kuti muzalitole para nyifwa yanifikila

Agho maghanoghano mulekeletu

Chifukwa ili gombeza nkhunjira nalo dindi

Olo nyifwa yinitole,

Ndine wonozgeka kale

Imwe mbwenu chitanda muza mubika mu gombeza ili

Mungasuzgikanga kuti mu gule linyake chara

Muzamusebezeska lene lili gombeza lane

Liswesi na babulaula bati bii mu mphepete makora ghene



The Bridge: Dreams Can Come True


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Author of  “The Bridge: Romance-Adventure Novel”.

Professor of Sociology

I opened my e-mail in my office. As usual there were hundreds of messages from work, friends, and organizations, companies, including the useless and annoying spam that I quickly delete. As I scrolled down, the subject said: “Congratulations!” and it was from someone I knew from Zambia. I quickly clicked it open: “It is with great delight that I extend my heartiest congratulations to you for your book, The Bridge, being accepted by the CDC in Zambia as a supplementary reader for grades 10 – 12 in the Zambian Secondary School Literature syllabus”.

The twin birds and the 2 roses symbolize romantic love

The twin birds and the 2 roses symbolize romantic love

I was stunned. My emotions were frozen for a few moments. My mouth was open in disbelief. I was alone in my office. I heard myself say: “Oh My God!! Dreams can come true.” I had been learning, struggling, reading, writing, and fighting for this moment for the last 50 years since I was 11 years old in Grade 6 in Zambia in 1965. I wanted to scream with joy. But I didn’t want my American workmates to think I was a Chainama case. I paced up and down my office with pent up excitement and stood by the window and stared at the American Spring sunny blue sky day. I sent an email to my wife and children to tell them of the great news. I thought about my parents in the village and all the sacrifices they had made to give me an education; my father is 91 years old and my mother is 89 years old.

Curriculum Development Centre

I would like to thank the Zambian people for having paid for my education from Chizongwe Secondary School all the way to finishing my Ph.D. This novel is my thank you for all you have done for me in my life. This is my gift to you and a thank you. I hope this novel  will help many young Zambians and non-Zambians today and in the future. The Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education Curriculum Development Centre of the Republic of Zambia has just approved my novel “The Bridge”. The novel will be used for teaching English and English Literature in all Secondary Schools for Grades 10 -12 students.  Teachers should be very excited.

The Ministry of Education CDC Approval Report

The Ministry of Education CDC Approval Report

I would like to thank Mr. Elisa Phiri, who was the Headmaster, who taught me English in Grade Seven at Tamanda Upper Primary School in 1966. I would like to thank Mr. Lyson Chikunduzi Mtonga who was my English teacher when I was in Grade 6 at Tamanda Upper Primary School in 1965. Mr. Benson, who was British,  was my English Literature teacher at Chizongwe Secondary School from Form 3 to 5 from 1969 to 1971. My late cousin, Smart Nyoni, told me so many traditional folktales when I was growing up as a child in the village that I was enchanted, inspired, and fascinated by the power of telling a good story. The writing of “ The Bridge” benefited from all these people.

What is “The Bridge”?

It is a powerful romantic story between two characters: Kamthibi the Zambian man and Trish the Irish woman. The saying that the proof of the pudding is in the eating is true in this case because just describing the novel may not be enough to appreciate its power. When I was in Grade 6 in rural Zambia, we read an English textbook which had photos of a red double decker in London in England. The Nkhwazi Nyanja textbooks had our traditional Zambian village culture in it. Of course later, I read Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”, Dominic Mulaisho’s “Tingue of the Dumb” and Gideon Phiri’s “Ticklish Sensation”. I have also read dozens of other books. But I was never satisfied. I have always wanted to write books in which anyone can read but I have wanted Zambians to be right in the thick of the book. There were other reasons. But when I was writing this novel, I always had Zambians and the Zambian reader at heart.

Dispelling Myths

There are some common myths that should be dispelled right away. Everyone will enjoy this novel. Don’t categorize it as “Zambian or African novel; then I shouldn’t read it because I am not Zambian or African”. People who have read it from different walks of life have had only praise and sometimes anger because they could not get enough of it. This novel has been around for 10 years. It has been circulating underground. Let me give you just a few of numerous examples why it is a good novel.

"The Bridge" Synopsis Content Syllabus by the Curriculum Development Center

“The Bridge” Synopsis Content Syllabus by the Curriculum Development Center


In October 2012 I was visiting Mpika.  The host was a Bemba woman I will call “Jenny”. She loves novels. One day after work, she locked herself in her bedroom at 16:00 hours to read “The Bridge”. She burst out of her bedroom at 2100 hour insulting me the author just after she had just finished reading the novel. “Iwe Tembo! Nala kuuma (I will beat you up). This novel is so gudu iwe but how can you end it like this!! I am not satisfied. I kudinti stop reading it!!” I almost run out of the house because I thought she was going to beat me up.

White American Student

When I wrote the novel 11 years ago, I asked a 19 year old white American college student to read and edit the novel. After handing the thick manuscript to me in my office, I asked her what she thought about the novel. Tears dropped from her eyes. I was surprised and worried because I thought something terribly wrong had happened to her. When I asked her why she was tearing up, she said: “I didn’t know what was going to happen to the characters.” Although this was very early, I knew I had something good.

"The Bridge" Language Assessment and 84% Rating by the CDC

“The Bridge” Language Assessment and 84% Rating by the CDC

The Zambian students will not be the first ones to use “The Bridge” in the classroom.  Over 200 of my American college students have read “The Bridge” in my classes and they have all enjoyed it over the last 9 years.


James Mwape and Mbumwae Suba-Smith are two of the many Zambians who read “The Bridge” in the United States. They both thought it was so good that it could be made into a great movie. A lecturer at the University of Zambia who has a Ph. D. in Mathematics said after reading “The Bridge” in 2006: “Tembo, reading your novel is like watching a video”. This is some of the best complements I could get as a writer as it meant the descriptions in the novel are very vivid so that you feel like you are right in the middle of the action. Lengani Kabinda read “The Bridge” and wrote a review in which he expressed glowing comments.

In December 2014, a Zambian woman in Lusaka who is also a writer read “The Bridge” between her work and family responsibilities at home. She said she could not put it down and called “The Bridge”  “a page turner”. She complained that as a result some of her domestic responsibilities were somewhat neglected that week.


I would like to thank the Curriculum Development Board for approving the novel. Both men and women adults, secondary, college, and University students from all walks of life will enjoy “The Bridge”. Teachers will enjoy their teaching and their students will enjoy learning just as my students have the last 9 years.

Why Zambian Babies Don’t Cry


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology


My wife carefully laid down in his crib in our bedroom our napping three week old first born baby boy. She slowly tipped toed out of the bedroom carefully leaving the bedroom door half way open so she could hear the baby if he began crying. As a young new mother and housewife, she had so much to do that morning while the baby was napping. She wanted to wash the pile of soiled cloth nappies or diapers and hang them on the clothes line outside to dry. She was going to do more laundry, cook relish for lunch, sweep the house, and cook nshima before I got home for lunch. She was hardly ten steps tiptoeing out of the bedroom, when our baby son cried. My wife went back in, briefly breast fed him to sleep again. When this happened the 5th time, she was frustrated as she could not have any chores done without the well-breast fed baby waking up and crying.

A mother carrying a baby  in front using a chitenje cloth in Lusaka. It is easier to breast feed the baby if needed.

A mother carrying a baby in front using a chitenje cloth in Lusaka. It is easier to breast feed the baby if needed.

Although she was American and very Western, my wife did what she had seen the millions  of Zambian mothers so; she got a chitenje cloth and tied our son on her back. The baby blissfully slept for next few hours as she did all her chores. I had driven my wife and our baby son from University Teaching Hospital (UTH) maternity ward three weeks before. We were living in Lusaka at the time in the early 1980s at the institute of Africa Studies.

What is the best way to raise a baby in 2015? Do you bottle feed only during certain controlled times? When do you introduce solid food? Is it a sign of being primitive and backward for  Zambian mothers to carry their  babies on their backs as some  animals in the wild do? Can you be a strong liberated educated woman, and Managing Director of a top company, a professional, and still carry your baby on your back using a chitenje cloth? Should women openly breast feed their babies in public? Should you let babies cry before they go to sleep in a separate crib in another room away from the parents? Should mothers sleep with their babies? How does this affect marriage?  What is the role of the father?  How much sex and attention should the husband and the father expect from his wife as she is mothering the baby? An article: “Why African Babies Don’t Cry” by……. a friend had sent to me on facebook instigated me to write this article.

A baby on the back of a woman who was  dancing the Chiwoda at the Lundazi Agricultural Show in 1996. Zambian babies experience a lot of excitement and may be that's why they don't cry.

A baby on the back of a woman who was dancing the Chiwoda at the Lundazi Agricultural Show in 1996. Zambian babies experience a lot of excitement and may be that’s why they don’t cry.


Credentials and Experience

Since I am going to say and suggest things about how to raise babies that some may regard as controversial,  offensive, uninformed, sexist since I am a male, and perhaps unscientific, I want to disclose my life experience as well as my formal academic credentials. I will also explain why I have been motivated to write this article.

I was born and grew up in the village in Zambia in Africa. I saw perhaps how hundreds of babies were raised. I saw how my mother and father raised 5 of my younger siblings from the first day they were born and up to when they became adults. I was heavily involved in raising my own three boys from when they were a few minutes old as babies up to now when they are adults. I have also observed how babies are raised for the last 30 years in the Western or American society.

Girl carrying her baby sister on the her back. Her back is small enough for the baby to feel comfortable. This was in a village in Zambia.

Girl carrying her baby sister on the her back. Her back is small enough for the baby to feel comfortable. This was in a village in Zambia.

I worked with the Dzithandizeni Nutrition Group in Chipata in 1971and also taught nutrition classes in the villages in rural Chipata from 1969 and 1971 in the Eastern Province of Zambia when I was a student at Chizongwe Secondary School. I also worked with the National Food and Nutrition Commission in Lusaka from 1972 to 1975. I majored in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Zambia from 1972 to 1976. While studying for my Ph. D at Michigan State University from 1982 to 1987, I was heavily trained in Cross-Cultural or Comparative Studies.

I have been compelled to write this article for a very simple reason: I deeply care about babies and children and their welfare. It deeply pains me personally when babies and children are subjected to some of the most distressful or harmful child rearing practices which appear to have been introduced to serve the interests of adults and not the babies. I hope this article will help all young mothers and fathers who want to do the very best for their babies. The Zambian baby does not cry. Their babies may gain so much from this good experience that ultimately the good practices will make raising children a joyful experience for both the baby and parents. It is gratifying to raise babies who don’t cry. How you raise your baby may ultimately influence what she or he is like as an adult.

An 8 year old boys carries on his back a small 2 month old baby. His back is narrow enough for the baby to feel comfortable.

An 8 year old boys carries on his back a small 2 month old baby. His back is narrow enough for the baby to feel comfortable.

What is the best way to raise a baby?

The best way to raise a baby is to give them that total mother’s attention everyday as soon as they are born. This means holding them as they breast feed on demand even if they are just fussing. Carrying them on the back is the most natural as they can feel the comfort of the warm of the mother’s human body. A mother’s back may be too wide for a small baby who may be only a few weeks old. In the villages and large extended family households in Zambia, there are always young boys and girls who are 8 or ten years old who have narrower backs who will more easily carry the small baby on the back using the chitenje cloth. The father and other family members can also help provide and maintain the social warmth the baby naturally craves by holding and talking and interacting with the baby.

Should you bottle feed only during certain controlled times?

Exclusively bottle feeding the baby after being born for no good reason deprives the baby of the basic immunological advantages that have biologically been passed to the baby through the mother’s milk during the first 6 months. If you have to bottle feed perhaps for medical reasons, you should be aware at least of the nutritional and health advantages of breast feeding. When I taught nutrition from 1969 to 1975 in Zambia, we taught all mothers to breast feed their babies as the best way to prevent malnutrition in babies. Bottle feeding may have become common in Europe after the Industrial Revolution among wealthy upper class elite families. The idea of feeding the baby on demand  becomes very difficult with bottle feeding. My wife and I were so grateful that she was able to stay home for the most part to breast feed all our three boys with abundant supply of her breast milk.

When do you introduce solid food?

There is no need to rush. There is no set time. If there is enough breast milk that they are able to frequently feed even during the night, the baby will be very content. When they have outgrown the breast milk, they will let you know. Traditionally, mothers used to chew or masticate the solid probably hard food and feed it to the growing still toothless baby. Today we say how disgusting and primitive, exchanging mother’s saliva with the  baby! Think about this; wild animals still do it and this is how we survived as human beings from 150,000 years ago. After all, Zambians and Africans are the origins of all the 7 billion people to day starting way back about 150,000 years ago. We discovered the best way to raise babies from trial and error. But of course to day we grind foods easily and can make all kinds of porridges and smooth processed foods. So there is no need to first chew the food for the baby.

Carrying Baby on Back and Primitiveness

One of the most powerful and destructive words which Europeans have used is the term “primitive”. If you live in a flat in a city, have Western education, can read and write, use sophisticated technology, then you as a mother cannot carry a baby on the back with a chitenje cloth; because that would be like those primitive native Zambian or African women carrying their babies on their back like monkeys or other wild creatures do. Westerners associate carrying the baby on the back with primitiveness. What this has done is to introduce a wedge between a mother and one of the most nurturing actions or instincts anywhere in the world: to physically be with her baby on her back or front if she needs to with a convenient chitenje cloth.  This is not just a matter of convenience for the mother or guardians of the baby, but the physical closeness the carrying of the baby on the back introduces may be a biological necessity for the safety and health of the baby and later perhaps the emotional health of the child as an  adult.

There are times the baby sibling may look bigger that the young girl. This was in a village at  Muganda dance in Lundazi in Eastern Zambia in 2002.

There are times the baby sibling may look bigger that the young girl. This was in a village at Muganda dance in Lundazi in Eastern Zambia in 2002.

The Liberated Educated Woman

Should the liberated Zambian educated woman carry her baby to the office and breast feed the baby on demand while she is working? This question is provocative but it is the wrong question that really puts the cart in front of the horse. I think liberated men and women should be asking, “Since when were women banned from raising their babies and working at the same time to earn an income?” When I was growing up in the village, my mother worked in the field with us. The baby was often on her back. She would stop and sit down and breastfeed the baby and resume her work. She took the necessary breaks as needed. Sometimes after breast feeding while sitting on a ridge (mzele), she would spend a few minutes while the baby sat on her lap and briefly played. Then my mother would get up to resume working. My mother took particular pride in being able to work hard in the field to contribute to the family food while taking time to attend to the baby. Why should this be impossible to do this for today’s Zambian educated women? Why should this not be possible for women everywhere?

Should women openly breast feed their babies in public?

I was travelling in a 20 passenger minibus from Serenje to Lusaka in Zambia. The bus stopped to pick a woman passenger with a 6 months old baby on her back. As she soon as she boarded the bus, men and women moved so they would offer her a better seat. She shifted her baby in the chitenje cloth up to her front. Within minutes she was breast feeding the baby and no one was freaking out, staring, squinting at her, or looking stunned. It was normal.  We live in a beautiful society that cherishes the bond between the baby and the mother.

One of the most striking and unfortunate differences between Western and Zambian women is that  Zambian women can breastfeed their babies anywhere anytime 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Western women can be arrested in some cases if they breastfeed openly. If they are in public, restaurant, bus or shopping mall, they have to go to the public toilet or rest room to breast feed. The very isolated defiant Western women who try to breast feed in public will try to cover themselves and the baby in some obscure corner. They are made to feel embarrassed, ashamed and fearful. The public also act alarmed and will call the police and act very hostile if a woman is breast feeding openly.

I took for granted and was never aware of the abundant freedom that the Zambian woman enjoys to breast feed her baby openly until I came to America in the 1970s. I had not seen women breast feed in public in the United States for so many years, that the first time I returned home to the Capital City of Lusaka, I was aware of women breast feeding everywhere; on buses, on streets, in shops, and walking. After a few hours later, I didn’t notice it anymore. This is the power of culture. I am very thankful for the sake of the Zambian mother and the well-being of the babies that Zambian men and women have given women this freedom by not sexualizing and turning into  sexual pornography the natural act of openly breast feeding the baby. Every Zambian woman and man should be vigilant though because the educated Zambian elite men and women can easily introduce these hostile cultural values to Zambia through internet pornography.


History Answer to Tribal Politics


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Author of “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Cutlure”.

Professor of Sociology

During the night for about 12 hours on 7 February in 1968,  Zambia did not have a President. I was sleeping in my Aggrey House dormitory bed with my school mates as a young Form Two student at Chizongwe Secondary School in Chipata. Over 3 million of my fellow Zambians had no idea what potential danger and catastrophe was brewing in the Capital City of  Lusaka. Political conflict,  vicious tribal divisions and fights had become so bad at the UNIP’s National Council conference hall in Chilenje in Lusaka that President Kaunda had stormed out of the conference in disgust and disappointment and had resigned as President of Zambia. He had driven to State House to pack his bags to leave. The tribal conflicts all over Zambian had been building up for months. The top leadership at the conference knew what bloody chaos would fall on the entire nation if President Kaunda resigned. Zambia was only 4 years young and  a very fragile nation.

Tribalism Ugly Head

The top leadership of Vice President Simon Kapwepwe and Grey Zulu told all the leaders not to leave and  to stay in the Conference Hall in Chilenje. They knew the whole nation was tittering on the brink of an unimaginable disaster. The 2 leaders followed President  Kaunda to State House to persuade him to reverse his resignation. Church leaders, representatives of the army, police, and friends went to State House all night. President Kaunda by morning had reversed his decision. Zambia had dodged the ugly scourge and divisive evil that is tribalism.

During the recent Presidential elections, vicious tribalism has reared its ugly head again. There have been charges, counter charges about tribalism, and finger pointing among the two leading political parties; UNDP and the PF. The intellectuals have been in the middle of these verbal tribal fights, dousing the political flames, taking sides and apparently using some of the most hateful language. Why all of a sudden is this tribalism becoming so bad after 50 years of relative peace and harmony? One possible explanation is that we have generations of Zambian leaders and citizens who may be too young to remember how, who, what struggles, what it takes, the leadership, and the sacrifices that brought  Zambians together to be a peaceful nation.

Solutions to Tribalism

The solution to tribalism today is to deeply understand the sacrifices and revisit our national history and how our founding fathers and mothers built a stable Zambian nation to begin with. May be we could learn from our own history. There are those of us who are educated and see other countries that appear to be more democratic. We want our constitution to have articles from the constitutions of those countries and insert them into Zambia’s constitution. This alone cannot solve our apparent national problem of crisis of tribalism. We have to change people’s minds and hearts. That is not easy and hardly happens overnight. The constitution alone, however well written with well-meaning appropriate clauses, cannot solve some of the apparent tribalism problems and the animosity that emerged during this recent election.

Incidentally, the time to implement solutions is now and not when various tribes, stakeholders, and groups are at war and cannot talk to each other any longer. Political leaders ought to visit Rwanda, go to Kenya and see the terrible impact of the recent political violence, visit Somalia, Southern Sudan, understand the history of apartheid South Africa and NAZI Germany periods. Even developed democratic countries are not immune to this racial, ethnic, or tribal hatred. There are plenty of examples of what hate can bring to an otherwise peaceful nation like Zambia. No Zambian from the top leadership to the ordinary citizen, or even the cadres should  take the peace and tranquility for granted.

One Zambia One Nation

At the very beginning of the nation in 1964, the founding Fathers and Mothers of the nation and President Kaunda had decided that Zambia would be a non-racial and non-tribal society. These were not just empty slogans. They put these guiding principles into practice

The Founding Fathers of Zambia with President Kaunda seated.

The Founding Fathers of Zambia with President Kaunda seated.

through offering opportunities for leadership, education,  and the economy to every Zambian without taking into consideration race, tribe, region of origin, sex, and other differences. Secondly, they taught and preached those ideologies and  policies of love, unity, Humanism, One Zambia One Nation, tolerance, non-violence,  in every aspect of  life for all Zambians every single moment every day.  I know because I lived through that whole period. I did not have to read about it or listen to rumors or some second hand twisted historical revisionism today. The best life style the leadership encouraged was social intermixing, integration, and the intermarriage that happened among the young generation  as a result. We Zambians may be ethnically the most socially integrated not just in Africa but the entire world. We ought to regard this with pride as a strength although societies which  still practice racial, ethnic, and religious segregation, may regard this as a national weakness.

Tribalism and Presidential Elections

What is the solution to the tribal politics and voting that happened during the recent elections? All Zambian leaders and citizens must go back to history and understand what our founding fathers did to create unity, a non-violent, non-racial and non-tribal society. All the Chiefs who encouraged their subjects recently only to vote for people from their own tribes were wrong. All political parties and their leaders who encouraged people to vote just for the candidate of their tribe were wrong. To say that it is the other tribe or political party who started it or made tribal statements first is not a good excuse. This was not Zambian political behavior. We cannot change or improve something unless first we know and acknowledge what was wrong.

Denounce Tribalism and Violence

During the next 18 months before the next election, all political leaders must make a clear effort to first denounce violence and tribal politics among all Zambians and especially their political supporters and cadres. The Zambian voters must also become better educated about our own political history. Every Zambian reading this should realize that once that peaceful tranquility is perhaps accidentally lost due to careless, irresponsible, and inflammatory tribal statements and actions among leaders, it will be impossible to get back the stable and peaceful Zambia we enjoy and cherish for ourselves and our children in the future. I have a first grandchild who is barely three weeks old. I would like her when she grows up to live in a peaceful Zambia that I as her grandfather has lived in for more than 50 years.

If you would like to know more about how the founders and Zambians fought tribalism in Zambian politics and struggled and sacrificed from 1964 to 1991, you can read Chapter 16: “Evolution of government and multiparty democracy in Zambia from 1964 to 1991” in my book: Satisfying Zambia Hunger for Culture. If you would like to know why and what caused President Kaunda to resign that night 47 years ago, read the book: Night Without a President  by Sikota Wina.

Christmas Season Memories


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

It has always occurred to me that parents create lasting warm memories through the wonderful things they do for their families and especially children during the Christmas season. When these children grow to be adults, they will often return home during the holidays to re-experience that magic. I do not know whether I can ever re-experience my special childhood Christmas magic.

We were a family of nine in a rural village in Zambia in Africa. My father was a primary school teacher who earned a modest twenty kwacha or dollars per month in the early 1960s. How did he and my mother make us all happy at Christmas? Of course some of the food like maize for nshima, beans, and peanuts we grew on land just behind our house. How did my father manage to buy one small gift for each one of us at Christmas? He saved and planned ingenious layaways for the whole year with the local Indian (from India) shopkeeper at Mgubudu Stores. Each of the six girls and mother got an inexpensive dress sewn by local tailor. Designer clothes were out of the question. The boys usually got either a pair of shorts or a shirt.

One Christmas at the old age of eight, my father bought me my first pair of shoes. When I saw them, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I put them to my nose to smell them. They smelt new. Everybody had a big laugh because I did not know which shoe went on the right or left foot. Like a good mom, my mother teased me about my scrubbing my feet really good so that my razor sharp calluses did not put holes in the new shoes. She had a point because there were no socks with the shoes. A pair of socks would have been too expensive.

The most exciting and memorable part of Christmas day in our family was the food. The day before Christmas, my father would buy a loaf of bread, rice, onion, Tiger Oates and a special spice called chikasu. Early in the morning on Christmas day, a chicken was slaughtered. My mother diced the onions and sautéed them in oil with the chikasu spice. The aroma wafted from the kitchen. The smell was so good that it could have killed several starving and emaciated men. We kids would all hang around the kitchen our nostrils sniffing the air around us.  Mother would tease us asking what we were hanging around the kitchen for. Why didn’t we go and play outside, say about a  mile away? She needed elbow room in the kitchen, she would say. She would have this special beam and smirk on her face that said a thousand words that she was happy on this special day.

After church at noon, we would have a large family feast; rice and chicken both cooked with the special chikasu spice, cake my sisters baked using recipes from their domestic science classes at Kanyanga Girls boarding  school. In the afternoon, dressed in whatever best new piece of clothing each of us had, we went to Christmas festivities including a variety of African traditional dances like vinyau, chitelele, and cimtali in the villages.

Healthy village dogs resting and playing. They take advantage of any situations for a good meal.

Healthy village dogs resting and playing. They take advantage of any situations for a good meal.

One memorable Christmas incident surrounds the African village tradition of not wasting any food. When a chicken is slaughtered, for example, everything is used except for the feathers. Children clean and roast the intestines and the head and eat them as a snack ahead of the main meal. This was often seen as a preliminary reward for the children for performing the hard and exhausting task of chasing the chicken through the village before it was apprehended. We boys always looked forward to amusing ourselves by using the chicken’s stomach as a soccer ball. We would clean the inside, inflate it and tie it.  We would usually get a good game of chifyawo football going. One Christmas day, my  brother and I had just inflated the chicken stomach and kicked the “ball” about a hundred meters ahead  of us in the village square. We sprinted after it. Six to ten chickens began to also chase the thing. This was not unusual. But from nowhere, our family dog furiously charged the “ball” amidst our screams to “stop!!!”. The village dog knows a good meal when he sees one. He disappeared into the bush with the  “ball”. He reappeared later licking his chops.


Simplicity Shapes Christmas Memories


Mwizenge S. Tembo

Professor  of Sociology

I was hardly surprised recently to read that John and Lisa Henderson decided to cancel Christmas in their home. Apparently they had had enough of their children acting up and taking everything including Christmas presents for granted. When they broke the news to their three sons; 5, 8, and 11 year old, there was crying. The parents were going to donate to those in need whatever they were going to spend on Christmas presents.

In a highly prosperous society with material excesses, there is no longer a debate that simplicity in Christmas celebration was tossed out of the window decades ago. To remind myself that Christmas can be simple and happy I go back to memories of my first Christmas which I always remember with nostalgia.

It was during the late 1950s in a village in rural Zambia in Africa. This is the earliest Christmas I can remember.  I was one of more than 15 grandchildren in the Tembo clan. My grandparents were great farmers who provided us with abundant food, including delicious red kidney beans, corn, pumpkins, cassava, sweet potatoes, peanuts, chicken, and an occasional goat meat. But this year there was an air of excitement. Christmas was coming and word got around that we were going to eat something special on that day.

My grandmother had saved One shilling or 12 cents during the year. My aunt walked all afternoon to the Hoya store and came back in the rain that evening. Whatever she had bought was dry and had been obviously carefully concealed all through advance contingency planning. I could barely sleep with anticipation about Christmas and whatever my grandmother was keeping secret.

Scones or buns baked at the nearest rural store.

Scones or buns baked at the nearest rural store.

Early the following morning, as the grand children  jostled for position around the open fireplace, two gallons of water were boiled in a clay pot. From a small brightly colored aluminum foil packet, my aunt sprinkled half of some black dry floating substances never seen before. She then poured a whole three pennies or  three cents worth packet of sugar into the pot. She stirred it. The children sat near the pot as adults – uncles, aunts, older cousins – sat a little distance waiting and making a running commentary among them on how excited we kids were.

My grandmother handed each a small rusty metal cup. Adults had larger metal mugs. She carefully and slowly poured a little bit of the dark steaming liquid into the cups enough so that the liquid could go around the many cups. My grandmother unwrapped pieces of golden brown, white and soft edibles which were known locally as scones; pronounced as sikono. She split each piece among four children while adults split halves.

I proceeded to slowly take a sip of the sweet dark liquid followed by a small deliberate bite of the sikono. The whole experience was known as drinking tea with a small piece of a bun and it sent all us kid bonkers with profound sheer joy, pleasure, and wonder. As children this experience could not simply be bottled away.

Drinking a cup of black sweetened tea with a scone or bun with jam in a Christmas special treat.

Drinking a cup of black sweetened tea with a scone or bun with jam in a Christmas special treat.

Soon after most of this brief exhilarating event was over, I clutched by now a rather small piece of bun I had saved in my hand and ran outside the house to brag to other admiring friends in the village. “We drank tea and ate scones for Christmas!” I yelled at the top of my lungs as I pranced around. The other kids in the village begged for a piece of the Christmas. I gave each of them a smitten of the bun just enough to wet their mouths. But the kids were thrilled all the same.

That was my happiest Christmas ever. Later that morning we went to church and in the afternoon watched traditional dances.

Scone or bun with sweet jam.

Scone or bun with sweet jam.

More than forty years  – thousands of cups of tea and loaves of bread, pizzas, hamburgers – later, I have never really forgotten that Christmas. The majority of people in rural parts of the Third World still celebrate this Christmas by eating something special in the whole large family; it may be something as simple as a cup of sweetened black tea and slice of bread with sweet jam.

I have never forgotten that if I do not get any Christmas presents at all, the best way to celebrate Christmas is to share a meal however small.

Why are the White Police Shooting Unarmed Black Men?


Mwizenge S. Tembo

Author of “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”.

Professor of Sociology

Huge peaceful public demonstrations have gone on for many days from coast to coast in protest of white Police officers killing unarmed black men. Three of the numerous cases are so outrageously tragic. A twelve year old African American boy Tamir Rice was playing alone with a toy gun in a public park. The video shows the Police Cruiser driving up to him within feet and the boy was shot dead in less than two seconds. Eric Garner in New York gasped for his breath as he said 11 times “I can’t breathe” as one of the more than 5 police officers  chocked him to death because of he was allegedly selling loose cigarettes or mishanga; loose cigarettes in my native country of Zambia.

Police officers maintaining peace in a city 4th of July Independence Day parade.

Police officers maintaining peace in a city 4th of July Independence Day parade.

John Crawford was a 22 year old African American  man playing with a harmless bb gun in a Walmart store. The victim had no chance. The video shows he was on his cell phone talking to his girlfriend and not even paying attention. He wasn’t threatening any one. The police shot him dead within less than 10 seconds. In both of these cases all it took was for a white person to call the police saying there was a black man with a gun. These cases are now just an endless epidemic. What has gone wrong? Are the police racist, out of control, and trigger happy?

We cannot arrive at useful solutions unless we understand what is going on beyond these tragic incidents. If you are looking for one quick simple answer such as because of the “racist white police” or “the black victims resisted arrest and were thugs and deserved to die”,  you may need to rethink.

The first thing that should be clear is that the vast majority of Police Officers in almost all communities perform their jobs very well in keeping the public safe. They follow the rules. But just as in every organization you will get a few rogue officers whose idea of policing may be distorted by racism or the Hollywood movie images of the thrill of shooting bad guys. Otherwise how does one understand the most recent case in which a rookie police officer was reportedly patrolling a public housing stairway with a drawn gun which accidentally fired and shot dead a completely innocent black man? It is common knowledge that we tell children not to run in the house holding a knife, folk, pencil, sharp stick or object? Why would a police officer be running around in a staircase with a drawn gun?

Some of the major reasons why the police are shooting black men are that there are too many guns in America an estimated 270 to 310 million guns or 101 guns per 100 citizens including babies. Forty years ago, many of the poorest neighborhood small time gangs in American ghettoes did not have guns. There may also be an estimated 3 million people today who may have mental illness in America who may need to be institutionalized but they may not be getting medical treatment. Families are managing these people and some are on the streets and are among the homeless population. The US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) says that blacks accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population in 2009; 841,000 black males and 64,800 black females out of a total of 2,096,300 males and 201,200 females in the jail population. These same statistics are used as a justification for police racial profiling of  black men. Lastly, the recent proliferation of digital social media may have weakened both the citizens and the police’s social skills and ability to socially interact with each other in an amicable manner.

So when the police attend to calls, they may be dealing with very highly volatile situations. Many of these black victims in these police encounters are either innocent or deserve a day in court and not to be killed. We may need to think of all these factors before we find a solution to white police officers shooting unarmed black Americans.

Who will Succeed President Sata?


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Author: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”.

It is nearly over a month since President Sata died. Zambians are in a state of political hysteria both at home and abroad. I have been following news from Zambia every day. It seems there is minute to the minute political drama and jostling as political parties, potential candidates,  the nation, and the Patriotic Front (PF) ruling party are focused

President Kaunda receives a copy of the book: "Satisfying Zambian Hunger fro Culture" from Professor Tembo in November 2012.

President Kaunda receives a copy of the book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture” from Professor Tembo in November 2012.

on who will be elected the successor as President.

Dr. Christine Kaseba was in mourning for her deceased husband President Sata,  and planned to be in seclusion as required in our Zambian culture. But within a matter of a day or two  she had filed papers and had declared herself Presidential candidate. She said she had been urged to stand to save the party which was dominated by open squabbling. There is nothing wrong and everything right with her wanting to stand as President. After all, spouses work together, support each other, often share strengths, insights,  and determination needed to become effective in most positions and careers each one may hold in society. Carazan Aquiono of the Phillipines became the 11the President of the Philipines after her husband was assassinated in 1986. Asif Ali Zardari became Prime Minsiter of Pakistan after his wife Benazir Bhutto who was the former Prime Minister of Pakistan. Hilary Clinton may become the first woman to be President of the United States if she decides  to run in 2016. She is the wife to former American President Bill Clinton.

Concern as Zambians

What should concern all Zambians is that we do not have well established ways yet and sources of guidance as to how to conduct ourselves in these circumstances of important funeral customs and other major social events. It has generally been

After President Kaunda received the book: "Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture". From right to left: The author's late Uncle Mr. J. J. Mayovu, President Kaunda, Professor Tembo, and Mr. Mfula.

After President Kaunda received the book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”. From right to left: The author’s late Uncle Mr. J. J. Mayovu, President Kaunda, Professor Tembo, and Mr. Mfula.

observed that hardly was the late President’s  body cold and put in a coffin before people declared their candidacy and began campaigning. There was a story in the press that an educated woman attended a women only mourning session at President Sata’s numerous informal funeral gatherings wearing a short skirt when  all the other women were wearing chitenjes as Zambian traditional symbols of modesty and proper  mourning decorum. It is no secret that we educated Zambians are the worst at flouting these traditional rituals and customs  as we regard them with contempt as archaic, anachronistic, old, backward and primitive. This superiority complex attitude toward our own culture may be misguided as  an unfortunate remnant of our European colonial heritage.

Answers from “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”.

The questions we should be asking as Zambians are: “Do we know what our customs are?” “Should  we follow all the traditional rituals and customs and why?” “How much of our traditional customs should we change and what should we adopt from other modern cultures?” Sometimes we can’t find good answers because either we don’t know our own traditional customs  and knowledge enough  in the first place, and are therefore  torn and confused about how to behave in particular social situations.  If you have questions, lack confidence, you have an inferiority complex, and feel an emptiness of meaning about our Zambian culture and indigenous technology; you may

A father who was in one of the photos in the book: "Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture" shows his son. This was at Chikana Village in Chief Magozi's area West of Lundazi in November 2012.

A father who was in one of the photos in the book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture” shows his son. This was at Chikana Village in Chief Magozi’s area West of Lundazi in November 2012.

be reading this article at the right time.

The book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture” had contributions from four Zambians: Claire Miti is a Zambian who lives in UK. Ruth Mugala is a Zambian who lived in Canada and now is in Zambia. They wrote the long Chapter on how girls and women are raised in Zambia. James Mwape with Mwizenge Tembo contributed to the Chapter on Zambian traditional dances especially Kalela. The book describes so many significant aspects of Zambian culture that President Kaunda wrote the foreword to the book saying:

“Many books have been written about Africa covering many aspects of human development. To my knowledge, no man has described in greater detail various aspects of African culture as this book by Prof. Mwizenge S. Tembo. In my humble view, this book, Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture, fulfills the desire for understanding and appreciating our Zambian  and African culture among my fellow citizens and non-Zambians whether they live here in Zambia or abroad in the diaspora.” (p.12)

Honey and Bee Stings

I will never forget what my fifty year old  younger brother told me a few years ago while I was visiting at our village. He said: “Para mupenja uci, njuci zimulumaninge”

Two girls browsing the only copy  the author had of the book: "Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture". This was in November 2012 at Chikana Village in Chief Magodi's area  West of Lundazi.

Two girls browsing the only copy the author had of the book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”. This was in November 2012 at Chikana Village in Chief Magodi’s area West of Lundazi.

translated: If you want to get honey be prepared to be stung by the bees”. The metaphor says that if you want anything  that is very important in life, be prepared to suffer some pain and sacrifice before you achieve or get it.  The book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture” is probably the most important book for 15 million Zambians today. But it is difficult to get or buy the book in Zambia since it was published in the United States in September 2012.

In the whole of Zambia, there may be about 20 copies of the book. When those who are in the diaspora buy and read it, these are the e-mails I have been receiving like this one recently from Inonge Mulako:

“I am a biochemist/molecular biologist based in Germany.  I recently purchased your book titled ‘Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture’.  I am still reading the book and I do not normally write to authors of books that I find interesting, however, the subject of this book is very dear to my heart.  I would personally like to thank you for this great book, it has stimulated many discussions among myself and my siblings .  I have ordered books for a few other family members and I am  looking forward to the discussions when we all meet for Christmas in December”. 

You may have to make an effort to get the book. I would strongly recommend that all the Presidential candidates and top political leader from the eleven  political parties should read the book with the idea of developing meaningful better manifestos on how the Zambian nation should go forward; Patriotic Front (PF), Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD), United Party for National Development (UPND), Alliance for Democracy and Development (FDD), Agenda for Change (AfC) Party, National  Restoration Party (NRP), Heritage Party (HP), United National Independence Party (UNIP), Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), ULP, and National Democracy Focus (NDF).

Zambian Cabinet

All members of the Zambian cabinet should read this book. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs through Embassies abroad should gladly provide this book as a gift for those foreigners who truly want to understand Zambian people in the past, present, and the future. The book addresses Zambian political history, traditional dance, the detailed Zambian food customs especially our nshima staple food and various relishes or ndiyo, umunani, dende, or ndiwo. What about the role of religion, Christinaity and witchcraft among Zambians, traditional and modern diseases and treatments? What about the future? etc. etc. The book has 17 Chapters. This is the book to have not tomorrow but now.

Is Acting President Guy Scott a Muzungu?

Chapter Three addresses the very delicate subject of our Zambian identity. How do we identify ourselves as Zambians with 72 tribes and a very tiny minority of whites and non-Africans? The word muzungu has been used now for over a century, often in a negative way, as describing anyone who is white. Mwenye similarly is used in a very unique non-racist Zambian way. But we Zambians describe muzungu in such a way that  we don’t regard Guy Scott as a Muzungu but at the same time we sometimes refer to some particular  black Zambians as ba muzungu including African Americans. How is this possible? You may ask. After you read this chapter in the book you may for the first time as a Zambian realize that we have a very different complex but forgiving conception of race such that we feel comfortable with all our fellow white Zambians as citizens because the majority of them don’t behave like a muzungu but  behave like munthu or a Zambian or African.

Most important Book.

This may be the most important book for all 15 million Zambians. I was born and lived in the village totally immersed in Zambian and African language and culture in the late 1950s among the Tumbuka in Lundazi. I witnessed Zambia growing as a young nation and went to school at Tamanda Misison Upper School and Chizongwe Secondary School. I went to the University of Zambia from 1972 to 1976 majoring in Psychology and Sociology. I taught Social Development Studies, was a Research Fellow at the then Institute of African Studies of the University of Zambia, from 1977 to 1989. I have taught at colleges and read so much material on African culture here in the United States for the last 20 years. The book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture” is so good that I gave a copy to President Kaunda. I called Cabinet Office to arrange to give a copy personally to President Sata around December 16 in 2012. I now regret that I never made it to State House to personally hand him a copy of the book. My three months sabbatical leave had come to an end.  I run out of time as I had to fly out of the country back to my college here in the USA where I am a lecturer or Professor.

The Passing of President Sata


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Author: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”.

Even when we were expecting it, when a relative or someone we dearly love who has been sick for a long time finally departs, we are shocked and still filled with infinite grief as we grapple with the finality of the passing of President Sata; our great country’s fifth President.  His immediate family members begin to reminisce about when they last saw and heard his voice, shared a meal, a joke, laugh, or played with the grandchildren. As a nation we begin to think of when we last saw him in public or heard him in the media. I remember his sharp memorable cobraisque comments a few months ago before parliament. As a nation that passionately loves our Presidents, we will all share those happy moments as we continue to khuza or mourn our beloved leader. The passing of President Sata at this moment turns everything that he did suddenly into the past. Never will he pass through Zambia’s great beautiful Savannah soil again in flesh. But his memories  will continue to nurture us as we look to tomorrow’s sunrise as a nation for another thousand years and beyond.

Every individual, family or marriage, every institution finds out its strength in a crisis. So it is true with nations. The passing of President Sata has created a crisis that tests us all as a nation. How do we mourn following our traditional Zambian values and customs while balancing this obligation with concerns about succession? Those of us who are abroad and cannot attend the funeral are the hardest hit as we wish we were there to be with our fellow citizens in this moment of grief.

After just celebrating 50 years of independence and having gone through the death of  President Mwanawasa and Chiluba, as a nation we should now be developing certain strong and clear customs, rituals, decision making procedures that guide us on how to mourn and choose the new leader. We should by now be able to tell each other: “This is how we mourn as Zambians” or if one of our fellow citizens is doing something which is munthondwe or unthinkable, we should be able to tell the individual: “That’s not not how we mourn as Zambians”.

Was it just an interesting coincidence that President Sata was not to be at the 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations in Lusaka? Was it a coincidence that President Kaunda’s remarks at the celebrations reiterated his message urging of love, unity, and harmony among Zambians as the founder of the nation of Zambia? He had been doing and saying these messages since 1964.

As we grieve and mourn the passing of President Sata, especially after just celebrating 50 years of relatively peaceful independence, it may be appropriate for our whole nation to take a moment to count our blessings as we contemplate where we go from here and who we will choose  next as our beloved leader.

There are those Zambians, the young, and especially the very educated non-Zambians who believe that democracy in Zambia was born in 1991 when the nation had the first multiparty elections since 1968. I beg to differ. The building of democracy started in Zambia soon after independence in 1964 because that’s when the founding fathers started to build institutions and values, through the One-Party State, and the ideology of Humanism that eventually led to the multiparty democracy we enjoy today. Democracy and democratic values are never brought or imported on a clean silver platter to a nation from somewhere. Each nation has to work hard, struggle,  believe in God, and have to go through difficult times. Some nations go through deadly conflicts and genocidal wars before they finally establish democracy.  The scars of those deadly conflicts haunt the souls of those countries forever.

We Zambians as  a nation should feel very blessed and lucky that as we mourn the passing of President Sata  everyone including leaders are preaching love and unity. These values did not magically happen because one leader waved a magic wand and shouted: “Democracy”. They had to be developed especially by our founding leaders, fathers and mothers fifty years ago.

Some of the fundamental values that we share among Zambians as a nation can only be characterized as a few of the many Kaundaisms. These are the values our founding fathers and mothers preached and implemented in all policies to the nation every day and night as we built this great nation. First are love for each other, unity, and treating each other with dignity. Second, Zambia is a non-racial and non-tribal society. Third, that Zambians even during the heat of the struggle for independence chose a non-violent approach which is satyagraha in Gandhi non-violence philosophy. Fourth, that every Zambian should guard our peace, love and tranquility as a nation just as a  wife and husband will jealously protect their marriage and the love they have for each other. If as a citizen you see a fellow Zambian and especially a foreigner who wants to introduce seeds of division, exploitation, racism, tribalism, a hatred and violence, you should take appropriate peaceful precautionary measures to let other citizens and authorities know.

We Zambians are  a strong, compassionate, resilient, and a good people. I am sure Zambians have perhaps millions of stories like this one. I was on a 20 passenger minibus travelling from Serenje to Kapiri Mposhi. The minibus stopped to pick up a woman passenger. She sat down. After driving for 20 minutes she suddenly yelled that she had forgotten her cell phone at the station at which she had boarded the minibus. The young driver immediately slowed down contemplating what to do. The driver asked us if we could go back so the woman passenger could retrieve her cell phone. We agreed. We made a U-turn and drove back. When we arrived at the station, a woman run out of a house nearby  holding a cell phone saying she had been keeping it safely. We were back on the road when one of the men passengers said to the lady who was so grateful to have retrieved her cell phone: “Madam, you should buy the driver a drink once we arrive in Kapiri Mposhi”. All the passengers broke into hearty laughter.

So as we bury President Sata, the political parties that are jostling for power and choosing leaders  that might be elected to continue to lead the country,  should take the task very seriously. The potential leaders should be men and women who have demonstrated that they believe and will  practice the Zambian democratic principles and values embedded in the foundation of Kaundaisms that we have peacefully  lived by over the last 50 years.

The video clip by of Mvela by Rachel Botha  could easily be our mourning anthem at this time, should have the lyrics also apply to the reality that if you lose not just personal life but  peace in a nation, it is very difficult to get it again as you cannot buy it from anywhere. I could not stop the tears as I watched the video clip.


Drinking Water Borehole Pumps Successfully Installed.


Mwizenge s. Tembo

Professor of Sociology

On Saturday afternoon May 24 2014, I had just finished mowing the grass around my yard. It was a warm spring day. I sat by the small table under the pine tree in my back yard to rest before I could remove my coveralls or overalls. The dogs were suddenly barking in the house which was usually the sign that someone was at the front door. There was no one in the house at the time. Sometimes the dogs barked if they saw the cat through the front door. After a while a man was on the back yard fence gate. He was an older man I had never seen before.


New Water Borehole pump installed.

New Water Borehole pump installed at Zibalwe Village

He sat down after I greeted him and I apologized for not running to

the front door.

Drinking Water Bore hole pump Completed

Drinking Water Bore hole pump Completed at Chitamba Village

He told me he had this idea of wanting to provide clean drinking water to people in rural Africa. He said he had his own money. Would I be willing to help him?

I was surprised. I told him that he might be taking a huge risk because there is so much corruption in Africa. What if I got his money, drunk it, bought a brand new car, and flew to Las Vegas to go and gamble?

Women contribute sand to the water Borehole pump

Women contribute sand to the water Borehole pump

The elderly man laughed. He shook his head and said he had heard about me. He thought I was a good trusted man. I told him I was flattered.

He explained  that he and his wife would provide the money for drilling the water boreholes, the cost of the hand driven water pumps, and the labor for the installation of the water pump. The village residents would contribute labor in carrying sand, crushing stones, and providing the water for the construction of the borehole water pump cement deck.

I finally told him he might be in luck and the people who will receive this gift of clean water will also be lucky. My brother and I had just gone through 6 years building the Village Library at NKhanga. The library was opened on December 8, 2012 and has now been operational serving hundreds of people in the community and many schools. We had gone through six difficult years from 2006 to 2012 of organizing people in the villages to execute the project. We had learnt some lessons about how to carry out the project. It had been very challenging but gratifying work.

I told the man I would propose the idea to my brother in the village and I would get back with him.

Borehole water pump installed at Kamzati Village.

Borehole water pump installed at Kamzati Village.

The man is Mr. Harry Showalter who is 90 years and is a member of the Mennonites. His house is on a farm  about 5 minutes’ drive from my house across the North River in Ottobine.

The great news is that after 5 months of hard work including consultations, dozens of phone calls, text messages, and my brother conducting extensive research, organizing, and travelling 400 miles to Zambia’s capital city twice to buys pumps, the great news: the first 3 villages now have clean drinking water using the hand driven borehole pumps that have just been installed this week October 21 2014. Mission accomplished. The villages that now have clean water are Zibalwe, Chitamba and Kamzati. The next three villages have already asked to have the pumps installed as the news has spread like wild fire.


Learning and Teaching Wrong Zambian History: Distracted Dog Syndrome.


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

This column suggests that we Zambians and Africans are taught and continue to teach ourselves the wrong and distorted Zambian history. The column explains the Eurocentric context of the current history. The column proposes the Distracted Dog Syndrome (DDS) as the reason we continue to teach ourselves, sustain, fiercely continue to support our wrong history. The column appeals to both educated Zambians and Ministry of Education to revise the current education to teach ourselves the accurate Zambian/African history.


*In Memory of the Great Africanist and Thinker Ali Mazrui.



In our African history in 1968 in Form II (Grade 9) at the prestigious Chizongwe Secondary School, we learned that some of the earliest humans 125,000 years ago included the Broken Hill man (Kabwe) whose skull was found in the mine. There was also Zinjanthropus whose bones were located in East Africa in the Olduvai Gorge from 1.75 million years ago. The history also included the numerous names of Zambian and African tribes that I could not easily remember during exams and too many people that constantly fought each other; the Sebetwane of the Kololo fought their neighbors, Mzilikazi of the Ngoni fought the Chewa, the Ndebele fought the Matebele and so on. Zambia has 72 names of tribes.

The big part of the African history was European explorers’ arrival in Zambia such as missionary David Livingstone, Mungo Park, Henry Morton Stanley and others spreading Christianity, European colonialism and stopping the brutal Arab Slave trade in East Africa. My classmates and I did not have to be geniuses to realize that our place in this narrative of history was that we Zambians and Africans lacked religion, were ignorant, uneducated, passive, fighting tribal wars, lacked modern schools, democratic institutions, we were uncivilized, superstitious until the more advanced, enlightened, and powerful Europeans arrived.

This narrative of history clashed with my personal experiences when I grew up among the Tumbuka people. I experienced my grandparents, aunts, father and mother and everyone in the village as the most confident, intelligent, confident use of indigenous technological knowledge, articulate in Tumbuka language people I have known in my life. My paternal grandfather Zibalwe Tembo was smelting and forging iron in the late 1800s. The founding fathers and mothers of the Zambian nation led by President Kaunda did not look lost in 1964. They were a confident lot.  Indeed, looking back my grandfathers and mothers behaved more like people who have been around for numerous generations going back perhaps thousands of years. There was a confidence, knowledge and dignity about their persona and life that I can’t describe that suggested to me that they are people who had been around for thousands of years. They didn’t behave and look like people who were waiting for Europeans to tell them what to do. But why was their legitimate and accurate history not in the textbook official Zambian history I was being taught? For forty-six years these questions and contradictions were always in the back of my mind as I continued to gain Western education and lifestyle.

Why does the history  we learn always have this undeserved underlying background and undertone of Zambian inferiority? Why do we continue to teach the history in this manner so that future Zambians will believe they have been always passive, colonized,  slaves or somewhat inferior and will be perpetually behind while trying to catch up especially to the West and the rest of the world?

This column will address four major ideas. First, I will discuss the more broad accurate history. Second, I will discuss why our Zambian history is so distorted. Third I will discuss the Distracted Dog Syndrome (DDS) as the major obstacle to we Zambians as  individuals and a nation discovering and teaching our 13 million citizens the accurate and appropriate history. Fourth, I will discuss in what ways as Zambians through the Ministry of Education can teach,  reclaim for our future generations, and learn our accurate Zambian history.

The More Accurate History

The more accurate history is that many groups of Africans called homo sapiens evolved from Savannah East Africa about two hundred thousand years ago. They migrated through present day Saudi Arabia through India, Andaman Islands, to the Far East including Islands in the South Pacific, Australia,  and New Guinea. The same Africans may have lived in North Africa, Southern Europe, the Middle East and some may have migrated by canoe from West Africa and settled in North and Southern America. This may have been thousands of years before what are known as the Dark Ages in European History

Adaman people look just like us Zambians and African but are found on Andaman Islands East of India .

Adaman people look just like us Zambians and African but are found on Andaman Islands East of India .

(500-1500 AD), Spanish exploration(1492 – 1892), Portuguese exploration (1500-1600), and European voyages of exploration and colonialism around the world. I discuss some of this information which is at the center of human evolution in Chapter 17 of my book: Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture. In other words all the 7 billion people today all over the world may be biologically descendants of Zambians and Africans starting  from about two hundred thousand years ago. If this is the broad accurate history, why is it today that the history of Zambians and Africans is so distorted that nearly everyone generally denies that Africans had any significant influence in history? That somehow Zambians and Africans are a black race that have always been colonized, inferior or were slaves?

Why Our History is Distorted

We cannot understand why our Zambian history is distorted until we are aware and conscious of how we as humans have a major weakness: we try to impose the present day conditions on past history. We wrongly impose what we know and the language and terminology we use now on the past and are wrongly convinced that what exists today or now was there and is going to be there forever.  Also once as human beings we have declared one group of people as inferior, the dominating group or nations work hard at suppressing and successfully removing and distorting the history of that targeted inferior group. Europeans have been very successful in all three in suppressing and distorting the history of Zambians and Africans. Today we have language and divisions according to races; Caucasian, (white or European), Mongloid, (yellow skinned), Negroid (black or dark skinned). All of these skin colors are false. A “black person” or “human” never existed among the Africans or Zambians from two hundred thousand years ago. In fact, munthu wakuda (Nyanja or Chewa) or munthu mubinkha (Tumbuka) referring to the physical race of person never existed among our people or Zambian ancestors. These terms are recent inventions and adoptions from probably the 1950s as a response to European racism and the superficial racial constructions. The term “Bantu” in our Zambian lexicon means “human” with zero reference to skin color. In this sense, all 7 billion people today are actually banthu or bantu.

Europeans have used three principle motivations and forces to successfully suppress the accurate history of Zambians. The clash between Zambians and Africans in the ancient Egyptian civilization and the Greek Civilization, the Atlantic Slave Trade of Africans to North and South America, and European Colonization of the entire African continent.

Ancient Egyptian and Greek Civilizations

The ancient civilization of Egyptian Kingdoms headed by powerful Pharaohs dominated North Africa and the Middle East for almost two thousand years ago from  c 3100 to 1090 B.C. E. This was before Assyrians, Persians, the Babylonian Empire, Greeks, and Romans occupied Egypt. This was also before Christ. The African Egyptian civilization was the first to create a large empire, establish writing using hieroglyphs,  large scale political economy, the bureaucracy and built the sophisticated massive pyramids.  In 330 B. C. E: Alexander the Great of Greece had gained control of  Lower Egypt and established the city of Alexandria. Greeks ruled Alexandria for 3 centuries or 300 years until the Roman conquest.

Egyptian Pharaoh or King

Egyptian Pharaoh or King


In 30 B. C. E: Rome imperial rule was established. Queen Cleopatra committed suicide to avoid being humiliated in Rome. Roman law and religion were imposed on Egyptians until the 4th century. From 7-2 B.C. E. to 30 -33 AD was the period of Jesus also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth the central figure of Christianity. From 640 -1600 was when  the historical Age of Islam took root.

Zambian Direct Descendant of Egyptians

Europeans, their scholars, and other supporters for a long time have denied that any Africans were involved in the Egyptian Civilization. Their argument was that if they built the Egyptian Civilization, where are those same Africans and their descendants to day?

We Zambians are direct descendants of the ancient Egyptians. The journal article that  Dr. Chisanga Siame had published was titled: “Katunkumene and Ancient Egypt in Africa” from the Journal of Black Studies of 20 March, 2013. It clearly shows that all of us Zambians might be descendants of the ancient Egyptians. Dr. Siame had cracked the secret code which was hiding right under our noses; our clan names and our Bantu languages which have left our imprints all over North and West Africa, the Middle East and all over Africa up to Cape Town on the Southern tip of the African continent.  The secret code might be buried all over rural Zambia in our 72 tribes and our languages and clan names which include Lozi, Tonga, Bemba, Nyanja, Chewa, Kaonde, Luchazi, Tumbuka, Namwanga,Luvale  and dozens of Zambian languages. Dr. Siame found out that the Bemba term uku tunkumana may have descended from the name Tunka Men (Tutankhamun: c. 1346-1328 bc) the name of the ancient kingdom of Sudan suggesting a connection between the Bemba and Namwanga people and ancient Egypt.

Towards the end of the fall of the great Egyptian Civilization, the Greeks are believed to have taken some of the technical knowledge and philosophy from an Egyptian library in Alexandria. Some of the key technical knowledge for building the

Hieroglyphics are the earliest forms of written language.

Hieroglyphics are the earliest forms of written language.

great Egyptian pyramids is believed to have been later adopted in the construction of sophisticated building structures in Greece, Mesopotamia and the Biblical great tower of Babel. As Europeans advanced during the enlightenment period in the 17th century, they sought to expunge or remove completely African Egyptian influence in the Greek Civilization. They wanted to make Greece suddenly a white, Caucasian, or exclusively European.The reinforcing and hanging on to this myth still goes on to day in form of conflict between Eurocentrists and Afrocentrists in American academia. The European suppression, denial and distortion of Zambian and African history may have started in earnest about ten thousand years ago.

The Atlantic Slave Trade

In the early 1600s Europeans began to buy and ship Africans as slaves to North America, the Caribbean Islands and South America. In 1619, the first 20 Africans arrived in Jamestown in Virginia in America as free indentured servants. By the 1660s all the British colonies had passed laws making all Africans outside the continent of Africa slaves for life. The Portuguese bought Africans from Angola and shipped them to Brazil. Other European countries bought slaves from West Africa. It is estimated that 11 million Africans were enslaved in the transatlantic slave trade. The significance of the trade is that it helped create and reinforce the image and ideological belief of Africans as an inferior people and therefore it was probably morally and ideologically appropriate not only to enslave them but to distort and deny their significant contribution and participation in human civilization but instead always portray them as just slaves and passive inferior observers in history of the rise and fall of civilizations.

European Colonization of Africa

There were dozens of large Empires in Africa and movement of Zambians and Africans on the continent and beyond for thousands of years.  In 1885, 14 European countries met at the Berlin Conference and divided the continent into 54 countries that they colonized. Zambians and African were suddenly not only dominated and exploited, but were divided into 54 small countries. Often many tribes were divided between 3 or 4 different countries. For example, half a million Tumbukas are in Eastern Zambia and half a million are in Northern Malawi. A large population of the Lozi people are in the Western Province of Zambia. But some of the Lozi people are found in Namibia and Botswana. Some of the Luchazi people are in NorthWestern Province but others are found over the border in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Chewa people are in the Eastern Province but many of the same Chewas are in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. All of these people are Bantu or just Africans and belong together in terms of their origins, language and culture.

The most destructive aspect of the Atlantic Slave Trade and European Colonialism in Africa is the ideology of racial inferiority of Africans  that Europeans generated, spread, and maintained all over the world. What made it possible to maintain this distorted and often racist knowledge about Africans was especially after the invention of the Guttenberg Printing technology in Germany in 1450. This made it possible to print newpapers, journals,  text books that could easily  spread false information and propaganda all over the world and into Africa about the inferiority of Africans. Why and how do you think the inferiority of Africans and anyone with dark skin was spread all over the world?

Distracted Dog Syndrome (DDS)

Why is it that 13 million Zambians cannot teach ourselves a more accurate history 50 years after gaining independence from European colonialism? Why do even the most educated Zambians at Universities and Africans in the 54 countries still learn and believe in the distorted history that is Eurocentric and continues to project and have the undercurrent of the inferiority of Zambians and Africans? The answer is the Distracted Dog Syndrome (DDS).

The “Distracted Dog Syndrome” (DDS) is a useful metaphor. Supposing you are walking along and out of the blue a big menacing vicious dog is charging at you and closing in. If you have a bone or a piece of very rotten meat in your pocket, you can throw it away from you. The dog will immediately change course and go where you threw the bone or meat. You distract the dog. You will escape safely.

The same analogy can be applied to how we Zambians and Africans have failed to uncover our own ancient history, because each time we may try to ferociously and tenaciously uncover our own history like that vicious charging dog, Europeans and others who have joined them who want to continue to bury that history throw us a bone or a piece of rotten meat and we charge into the wrong direction chasing the bone instead of pursuing our own ancient history going back to antiquity. How does this happen?

Whenever you mention an interest in finding out if Zambians, Africans, or we the Bantu created the ancient Egyptian civilization for example, you will be told: “Black Africans were in Sub-Saharan Africa and were always enslaved to America and sold by their fellow Africans”.  “There were so many people crisscrossing Africa, there is no definitive evidence who built ancient pyramids in Egypt”. “Do you have a degree or qualification in Egyptology or Greek? If not, how can you tell?”  “Aliens must have built the pyramids because Africans today are so backward. How could they have built the sophisticated pyramids that even present day European engineers do not understand?” These sources of distraction are not only by Europeans but also our very educated Zambians and Africans who have been coopted to the Eurocentric thought or perspective in the process of acquiring Western education including Secondary School Certificates, B.As, Masters, and Ph. D degrees. If you are an educated Zambian like this author, if you criticize your fellow Zambians and Africans harshly, you are said to be “rational” “objective” and the most well “educated”. The conversations and arguments will turn to who enslaved Africans, why Africans have failed, what were the other groups that crisscrossed North Africa and Egypt hundreds if not thousands of years after the fall of the Egyptian civilizations instead of the main topic. All the distracting tactics constitute the Distracted Dog Syndrome or what the Bemba would call “ukufulunganya ifintu”, “mifulungenye”  or  what the Chewa would call “musokonezo”(causing confusion), what the Tumbuka call “ku tangwaniska munthu” or causing “mfundukutu” or confusion and doubt.

Ministry of Education and Zambian History

Both the very educated and ordinary Zambians will be bewildered and will ask questions like: “What will learning our accurate ancient history do for us?” “Will this knowledge provide us food, create democracy, employment, get rid of HIV, now Ebola, or help us compete in the modern world, will this be racism in reverse?” “Will all the teachers have to be retrained and the Ministry of Education write and print new text books?” “Will all our Eurocentric educational certificates, degrees and credentials that we have be revoked or become useless?”  “All of this will be wasting money and time that can be used for true development.”  Insisting that we learn our own accurate history is not racism in reverse or retrogressive as those who practice DDS will claim or charge to create confusion and doubt like they have done during the last perhaps one thousand years. To the contrary, the answer to all these questions is “yes”  in the long run we will develop better. Our accurate history is so important that it will truly liberate us from “mental slavery” as Bob Marley would say. If all the 13 million Zambians learn our accurate Zambian and African history, the thousands and millions of teachers who will also have this knowledge will play a very special role. This new knowledge will truly improve our lives and we will be truly educated, liberated, strengthen our sense of dignity and we will make better strives in development.


Anta Diop, Cheik., The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, Edited and translated by Mercer Cook, Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Review Press, 1974.

Anta Diop, Cheikh., Civilization or  Barbarism: an Authentic Anthropology, Brooklyn, New York: Lawrence Hill Books, 1991.

Bernal, Martin., Black Anthena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, Vol. I, The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1987.

Bernal, Martin., Black Anthena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, Vol. II, The Archeological and Documentary Evidence, New Bruswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2002.

Bernal, Martin., Black Anthena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, Vol. III, The Linguistic Evidence, New Bruswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2006.

Chondoka, Yizenge., and Bota, Frackson F., A History of the Tumbuka from 1400 to 1900, The Tumbuka under the M’nyanjagha, Chewa, Balowoka, Senga and Ngoni Chiefs,  Lusaka: Academic Press, 2007.

Heine, Johan., and Tellinger, Michael., Adam’s Calendar: Discovering the Oldest Man-made Structure on Earth 75,000 years ago, Johannesburg, South Africa: Zulu Planet Publishers, 2008.

James, George G. Stolen Legacy: How the Wisdom of Ancient Egypt was Transformed into Greek Philosophy,  San Diego, California: The Book Tree, First Published 1954, New York: Philosophical Library.

Khapoya, Vincent B., The African Experience: An Introduction, New York: Pearson Education, Inc., 2013.

King, Richard D., African Origin of Biological Psychiatry, Baltimore, MD: Afrikan World Books, Inc., 1990.

Lefkowitz, Mary., Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to teach Myth as History, New York: Basic Books, 1996, 1997.

Ladner, Joyce. (ed.) The Death of White Sociology: Essays on Race and Culture, Baltiomore, MD: Black Classic Press, 1973.

Mainga, Mutumba., Bulozi under the Luyana Kings. Political Evolution and State Formation in Pre-Colonial Zambia, London: Longman, 1973.

Muller, Gert., Black Origins of Ancient Rome and Black Roman Emperors, London: Pomegranate Publishing, 2013.

Penda, Chanda (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Zambian Names: Reconciling Zambian and Global Worldviews, Lusaka: Pensulo Publishers Limited, 2013

Rotberg, Robert I., The Rise of Nationalism in Central Africa: The Making of Malawi and Zambia, 1873-1964, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard  University Press, 1965.

Siame, Chisanga N. “Katunkumene and Ancient Egypt in Africa”, Journal of Black Studies,  20 March, 2013.

Tembo, Mwizenge S., Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture,  Indiana: Xlibris Corporation, 2012

“The Difference Between Us” Episode 1: in the video series Race the Power of an Illusion, California Newsreel, 2003.

Sharman, Fergus., Linguistic Ties between Ancient Egyptian and Bantu: Uncovering Symbiotic Affinities and Relationships in Vocabulary, Boca Raton, Florida: Universal Publishers, 2014.

Sertima, Ivan Van., They Came before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America, New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2003.

Wele, Patrick., Likumbi Lya Mize and other Luvale Traditional Ceremonies, Lusaka: Zambia Educational Publishing House, 1993.

Williams, Chancellor., The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of Race from 4500 B. C. to 2000 AD., Chicago, Illinois: Third World Press, 1987.



First Migration of Africans The five foot black skinned Andaman Island Isolated Tribe Evolution.






Why Do We Love Animals?


Mwizenge S. Tembo

Author of “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”.

Professor of Sociology

On Wednesday, I came back from work in the evening. When I opened the front door, our white German Shepard dog was right there squeezing her nose against the door as both dogs do always when we come home.  However, Buddy, the other dog, was standing a few feet away with very droopy very tired looking eyes. He had a very slow staggering walk. Buddy would not even eat. He loves to eat. He looked miserable as his whizzy labored breathing got louder.

Buddy the dog during happier times playing with the ball in the back yard.

Buddy the dog during happier times playing with the ball in the back yard.

On Thursday when I got home at 4:00pm Buddy was lying across just behind the front door almost blocking it. He did not even lift his head. I jumped over him. His breathing was terrible. I called the Veterinary doctor to see if I could take him in immediately. The doctor had already left for the day. I made an appointment to take Buddy in at 8:45am.

Buddy had not eaten for two whole days. There were two good pieces of nice chicken in the fridge. I cut them into small pieces and warmed them in a pot and made some gravy with it. I have been told a million times that people food is bad for our pets. I added this to his dry usual bowl of food. I put the plate right up to his nose as he lay there. Suddenly, he lifted just his head above the bowl and ate the food. That was to be his last very good meal.

Buddy liked to ride in the car. I winded through the back road of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley before arriving at the clinic. The doctor showed me the X-rays that showed so many things wrong including an enlarged spleen, enlarged heart, high fever, and many spots on his lungs including arthritis in his bones. The doctor said he could not say if any of it was cancerous. The prognosis was not very good. His breathing was so loud it was like a broken whizzing vacuum cleaner. I felt awful for him. He was suffering and about 15 years old. We got the dog when my mother-in-law passed away in 2008.

I was there lovingly patting his head as he closed his eyes and that terrible heart wrenching horrible  whizzing loud breathing for 2 days was suddenly gone. Buddy was put to sleep. Buddy the Australian Sheep dog was not suffering or in pain any longer. I had a feeling of great relief but also grief. Later I sent an email to the long list of family members to inform them of Buddy’s passing. Why do we love animals?

In January 2008, our family Beagle mutt that our 6th grade son had adopted from our local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) died after a short illness due to old age and perhaps natural causes. I expressed my grief in a column in our local paper. A few days later I received a hand delivered blistering 3 page hand written letter from a man who was behind bars in our town in Harrisonburg. He berated me for wasting column space and possessing poor intellect in expressing my grief over a pet. Didn’t I know Americans spent $43.2 billion on their pets when millions of people are starving and live in dire poverty? Wasn’t I aware of American and European imperialism and aggression that inflicted injustice, caused wars and conflict in the Congo in Africa and elsewhere? Did I know who the radical Malcolm X was? He expressed contempt for my views since in an earlier column I had expressed some positive sentiments about conservative black American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

My critic had been in and out of prison for several years. It was apparent he did not know who I was, my history, what I knew, and what I had experienced in life. I did not respond because growing up I was taught not to hit a man when he is already down.

In my humble opinion, from Kafulafuta, Gwembe Valley, Mpulungu, Lusaka in Zambia to America, Russia, Europe, Japan and the whole world,  we love animals because the same very powerful love we have for other humans is exactly the same love we have for animals. This simple explanation is probably the most powerful reason we should love and treat all animals kindly.

Encyclopedia of Zambian Names: Book Review


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D

Professor of Sociology

Chanda Penda (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Zambian Names: Reconciling Zambian and Global Worldviews, Lusaka: Pensulo Publishers Limited, 2013, pp. 466, $48.93, 300ZMW, Hardcover. [email protected].


The taxing massive Zambia Airways DC 10 plane was holding to take off in the pitch dark night with its flashing red lights on the huge protruding long wings. The beautiful stewardesses raced through the isle of the plane holding a canister quickly spraying a mist of an anti-mosquito chemical. Soon the Lusaka International Airport terminal lights zoomed by faster until the massive plane took off into the darkness immediately veering sharp left away from the Great East Road heading towards London, UK. This was December 15, 1989.DSC_0084

I had a heavy heart, deep sadness, and disappointment as if I was attending one of the numerous funerals at Leopards hill Cemetery of many friends who had died of HIV/AIDS in Lusaka that year. My wife and our 3 children were with me; 6 months, 4, and 7. All my previous flights abroad had been as a student or attending conferences with the psychological comfort from the knowledge that I would be coming back home to Zambia. But this was different. We had decided to move to America and for the first time I was going to have a Ph. D. and be unemployed. I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to afford for many years to return to Zambia to see family, childhood friends, and relatives.

Settling in America

As I begun to settle abroad, one of my major regrets about leaving Zambia was that I was not going to complete the research I had started into the culture and meanings of Zambian traditional names. I deeply cared about the topic as it created a deeper understanding of our Zambian and African culture. This was not a popular research topic to attract national researchers, international academic institutions, NGOs interest and financial sponsors. I had done fieldwork and researched into traditional names from the Eastern and Southern Provinces of Zambia. I was planning next to go to Western Province and then the rest of all the 9 provinces when sadly I had to leave the country.

Encyclopedia of Zambian Names

I was sitting in my office having just received a DHL package on Wednesday afternoon of July 2, 2014. It was a thick book: “Encyclopedia of Zambian Names” edited by Chanda Penda and Pensulo Publisher Series. I felt like I was in a dream. I nervously thumbed through the first pages. The title page was the signed autograph with the handwritten message to me: “To Professor Mwizenge Tembo. Thank you for allowing us to stand on your shoulders. We simply built on your foundation for you let go of the baton and allowed us to run on. You are our hero. Signed Chanda Penda 28.06.14.” This was both a big surprise and a great honor. I became teary eyed as I stared through my office window through the glaze of tears. Over many years, Mr. Penda and a group of dedicated Zambians had completed the research I had to abandon twenty five years ago. My dream had come true.DSC_0097

The next page had the inscriptions: “In Memory of Professor Mukumbuta Lisimba Whose untimely death made him leave behind The Unfinished colossal task of supervising this work.” The Encyclopedia was the efforts and contributions of so many Zambians. The acknowledgements included Professor Lisimba who had contributed Lozi names through “Lozi Names in Language and Culture”. Ms. Mulenga Kapwepwe had contributed through: “Some Bemba Names and their Meanings”. Many of the 500 names from the Eastern Province and 300 from the Tonga in Southern Province were included from my book from the research I had done: “Zambian Traditional Names: The Meaning of  Tumbuka, Chewa, Nsenga, Ngoni and Tonga Names”. There were so many contributors and researchers of names from all the provinces from most of the 72 tribes of  Zambia including names from the Tonga, Bemba, Lozi, Chewa, Ngoni, Tumbuka, Lunda, Luvale, Kaonde, Mbunda, Namwanga, Lungu, Mambwe, Lamba, Lala, Swaka, Ila, Lenje and Soli.

Zambian Names

A few random examples from virtually hundreds and if not more than a thousand names in the Encyclopedia are: Akapelwa – one for whom it (the sun) won’t rise, Lozi; (p.12) Chakumanda – belongs to the grave, Chewa, Ngoni;(p.12) Chisola – having many miscarriages, eventually giving birth, Luvale;(p.12) Katwishi – uncertainty, Bemba; (p.12). Kapijimpanga – hunter, Kaonde. (p.154). Mutinta – to change in gender, baby born after the woman had 2 consecutive girls or boys, Tonga (p. 229); Mutanuka – to search diligently for something important, Soli; (p.245). Kunotha – to be proud, baby whose parents are proud, hold their heads up, stand tall, Tumbuka (p. 304).DSC_0137

This “Encyclopedia of Zambian Names” has so many interesting and culturally useful details that it is impossible to adequately summarize them in a short review. This is also by definition what an Encyclopedia should be as a reference: contain exhaustive, lasting, and detailed information. There are three broad possible uses of this encyclopedia.

Spreading Knowledge

The first is that it can be used for teaching the deeper authentic cultural foundation, Bantu philosophy and languages of Zambian and African culture in Universities, colleges, schools through newspapers, libraries, radio stations, and TV. Encourage Professors, lecturers, teachers, students of all ages, all libraries, maternity wards in all hospitals and clinics, in, outside Zambia  and ordinary citizens to buy the book. The encyclopedia perhaps for the first time in Zambian history represents a solid cultural written validation of who we are and have been as an African people perhaps going back two hundred thousand years. Our names are not just a superficial contemporary representation of clans or totems for anthropological identification and edification. Names constitute the very essence of who we are as a people in both in ancient history and contemporary time. Naming is not just a mindless, arbitrary and impulsive act as a reaction to Westernization but the whole process represents our deeper complex personal identity, cultural history, philosophy, and an expression of the meaning and poetry of life.

Mwizenge Tembo resting at Chisekesi market returning from Gwembe valley in Aug 1988.

Mwizenge Tembo resting at Chisekesi market returning from Gwembe valley in Aug 1988.

All Zambians to Buy the Book

The second broad possible use is that every one of 13 million Zambians in the country and abroad ought to buy and have this encyclopedia on their shelf in the family household. Those who have an affinity to Zambian culture should also buy the book. I will buy a copy for my son who is expecting a child with his wife. They have no direct connection to Zambian culture if they wish to choose a Zambian name for their child and my grandchild. My grandchildren and great grandchildren will be able to use the book. Anyone in the world who wants to choose a good meaningful Zambian name for their child will have this Encyclopedia as a prefect source of names. One last profound statement is from Naboth Ngulube in Some Aspects of Growing Up in Zambia: “Culture needs a strong foundation in the formative years of the people concerned. You do not speechify culture.” (1989: p. 176). What he means is that for our Zambian and Africa culture should be preserved it must be lived and not merely talked about. Your act of buying and using this Encyclopedia today will actively promote, conserve, and validate our Zambian heritage and African culture.

Dominique Muchima, center, research assistant and translator, records information about the meaning of Tonga names.

Dominique Muchimba, center, research assistant and translator, records information about the meaning of Tonga names in Gwembe Valley in the Southern Province in August 1988.

Zambians and African Origins of Humans

The third use of this encyclopedia is that the names should eventually be used to properly investigate, reclaim, validate, authenticate, and properly establish that we Zambians, Africans and Bantu people are the origins of the 7 billion people to day. The “ANNEX” of the Encyclopedia from pages 449 to 451 which has the title: “How International is Your Name” as is written suggests that Zambian names may have randomly and arbitrarily spread recently to other parts of the world from recent times up to 2014. This may not be the whole story. It is more likely that Zambians, Africans, or Bantu people migrated from East Africa with their names and their Bantu languages and names of places from two hundred thousand, ten thousand, to three thousand years ago. They had settled in Southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Central Europe, India, the Far East region around Banda Sea, Japan and North America. The names of the Bantu people, their language, and Bantu origin place names may still exist today in these places. All of this will be confirmed through further linguistic historical research soon. This Encyclopedia may just be the beginning.


Anta Diop, Cheikh., The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, Edited and Translated by Mercer Cook, Chicago, Illinois: Lawrence Hill Books, 1974.

James, George G. M., Stolen Legacy: How the Wisdom of Ancient Egypt was Transformed into Greek Philosophy, San Diego, California: The Book Tree, 1954.

Ngulube, Naboth., Some Aspects of Growing Up in Zambia, Lusaka: Nalinga Consultancy/Sol-Consult A/S Limited, 1989.

Sharman, Fergus., Linguistic Ties between Ancient Egyptian and Bantu: Uncovering Symbiotic Affinities and Relationships in Vocabulary, Boca Raton, Florida: Universal-Publishers, 2014.

Sertima, Van Ivan., They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence Before in Ancient America, New York: Random House, 1976.

Tembo, Mwizenge S., Zambian Traditional Names: The Meaning of Tumbuka Chewa Nsenga Ngoni and Tonga Names, Lusaka: Julubbi Enterprise Limited, 2006.

Tembo, Mwizenge S., “The Challenges of life as a citizen and descendant of Zambia and the global world”, Chapter 17, in Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture, Xlibris Corporation, 2012; pp. 354-370.

How to Have the Best Sex: Advice for Zambian Men


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Author of “The Bridge” a Trans-Atlantic Romance Adventure Novel


A man was admitted to Livingstone Central Hospital after having one liter of blood drained from his manhood to relieve him of a three-day erection. The attending UTH urologist Dr Michael Silumbe had advised men who have sexual problems to seek medical attention instead of resorting to taking aphrodisiac substances. Dr. Silumbe had further said the lengthy erection suffered by the Livingstone man was due to priapism and could lead to erectile dysfunction.

“Priapism is a condition where an erection lasts more than four hours. A normal erection should not last that long. This leads to the reduction of oxygen floor to the tissues and also leads to acidosis, meaning more acid gets to the tissues and could damage the muscles if not corrected in time,” Dr. Silumbe said. (The Post, Sunday July 21, 2013)

The man in this story was 36 years old and was apparently on separation from his wife and had gone to see a girlfriend. Fortunately, the story ended well for the man as he was given medical treatment and he apparently recovered.

The purpose of this article is to provide some informal advice to Zambian men on how they can have the best sex without necessarily resorting to taking modern or traditional aphrodisiacs. I do not claim to be an expert sexologist but I have lived long and gained enough knowledge to offer advice to younger and even older Zambian men.

But before we proceed, a few ground rules. This article intends to be respectful. Therefore, it will avoid use of explicit anatomical language which often reduces a man sharing one of the most special fulfilling private social actions with a woman, into a cheap short meaningless physical activity. If you want to know the various biological parts of a female and a male to gain some basic sexual education, this is not the purpose of this article. If you would like to know those clinical details read a textbook in reproductive biology, human anatomy and physiology or some of the numerous manuals on how to have sex.


In this article we will use metaphors; a man’s private part will be called “Nthonga”. Sex between the two partners will be called: “making love”. When the two make love and reach the point of such pleasure that the man feels like he will die, that will be called “crossing the bridge of no return”. When the man successfully crosses the bridge with his partner, he will then have “delivered the goods through his Nthonga”. The discussions are divided into three parts: boys and young men between 14 and 17 years old, men between the age of 18 to 40 years old, and men between the age of 40 to 90 years plus. Lastly the article will describe the most ideal way to make love with a woman.

Foundations of the Best Love Making

The best and most ideal circumstance for very satisfactory love making for all men is to have one partner you are married to or with whom you have a long term committed relationship. Any other arrangement however glamorous or convenient such as one night stands, having sex with numerous women, quickies, visiting prostitutes, and affairs tend to be unsatisfactory and filled with stress and anxiety. The reason is that if you want to truly experience love making and ecstasy at its best, you need the physical, emotional, and the soul to be all involved. This is not possible with temporary partners. If you are married or have a permanent relationship, when you and your partner during love making cross that bridge of no return, you will both experience incredible total complete physical and emotional pleasure or ecstasy.

Boys between 14 and 17 years old

Boys between 14 and 17 years old may be still too young to engage in sex. Although testosterone, and other sexual hormones of puberty may be screaming “sex! sex! sex!”, their bodies and emotions are not yet mature enough to engage in and handle love making. Modern life sexualizes children too early. As a result every boy and girl feels the pressure to have sex when they are not even old enough. During this age boys should avoid looking at pornography. Instead boys should be focusing on school, participating in church activities, sports, games, school clubs, and learning from fathers and older responsible men. If they have a girlfriend, they can go to movies, adult supervised birthday parties with no alcohol, do home work together, talk on the phone, and take walks to parks with other groups of friends. If the boys between this age group rush to have sex, they risk impregnating a girl, contracting sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and 25 other possible sexually transmitted diseases, and developing poor sexual habits that later in life might create problems and make the boy unhappy during marriage as an older man. Good things always happen later in life for boys who wait. The process of waiting is not easy.

Men Between 18 and 40 years old.

If you are a man in this age group, and have any problems getting your Nthoga to rise to that special love making occasion, you should consult a medical doctor to see if there is anything medically wrong. Some of the problems that cause failure of your Nthonga to rise to the occasion are watching or addiction to pornography, anger and resentment of your partner, prescription medications, serious marriage problems and tensions, psychological stress relating to work and family, lack of physical exercise, smoking, excessive drinking of alcohol, and a poor diet that is high in fat.  Eating nshima with relish which had little fat may be one of the possible ways to help your Nthonga to rise and also maintain less weight or to fight obesity.

Even our wise ancestors knew that a diet excessive in fat can block a man’s blood flow to the veins such that his Nthonga fails to rise during love making in marriage. Naboth Ngulube (1989) in “Some Aspects of Growing Up in Zambia” mentions many traditional taboos including: “Fatty Mice – to boys, girls, and pregnant women – Too much fat would close the way in the Nthonga  and render one impotent”. (p. 54) (Nthonga added)

The “New Mulemena Boys” have a song in which a wife is complaining that her husband’s Nthonga does not rise so that they could make love. The wife consulted a traditional healer. After investigation the problem was found to be that the husband always came home late at night drunk from the bar. Alcohol abuse was causing the problem.

Men Between 40 to 90 years plus

If you are a man in this age group, the first thing that will happen is that there might be a noticeable decline in sexual drive or desire. First the production of the men’s sexual hormone testosterone declines the older a man gets. Second, this is often also because most men do not lead perfect lives. All those bad habits such as drinking, divorce, smoking, stresses of work and career, raising children, parental responsibilities,  poor diet of eating fatty food, disease including high blood pressure and possible strokes, all begin to have an impact during this period. This is the bad news. The good news is that you now have the wisdom, patience, and capability to change and improve your life. As a result, you will have a better perspective on sex and love making and so does your wife. The two crucial things to keep in mind in order to continue to have a good or improved sexual life are; maintaining physical exercise and a good balanced diet. The Zambian nshima diet may be the best. This brings us to the best and most ideal way for a man to make love.

Ideal Way to Make Love with a Woman

The best or ideal love making needs to have the physical, emotional, and the soul aspects all involved. What does this mean? Love making for men requires first and foremost for his Nthonga to rise in a sustained way. All the physically gratifying vigorous activity demands quite remarkable physical effort equivalent to perhaps running a marathon, 400 meters or running 100 meters dash. All readers would agree that to perform all these quite demanding activities you need to be physically fit and exercise often. Of course you can experience some pleasure in love making if you are not quite physically fit. But it might not completely satisfy you or your wife. Exercising regularly and a good diet are a must.

The emotional aspect may be the force that may be what binds the man and the woman. Loving the woman means you think and care for her all the time every day. You talk to her, hug and hold her, remember special occasions, buy her flowers, tell her what of her perfumes you like on her, you do some cooking of good food, you call her when you are out with your guy friends, you take care of your children, listen to her, laugh with her, and argue and fight with her without physically beating or emotionally intimidating or abusing her.

The Role of the Soul

The crucial role of the soul is probably what most of us may not even be familiar with in love making. This includes erotic feelings and thoughts involving all the senses such as smell, what we see, taste, hear, and touch. It involves the mysterious role of the mind and the spirit. Good love making invokes some of the godliest deepest feelings about our partner and the mystery of the goodness and meaning of life.

Ideal love making may start in the morning as the couple hug or kiss or bid each other goodbye as they embark on the day. During the day, she calls him and says in a secret cryptic message that only both of them know: “kaja kanthu nakonza” (I have prepared that thing). They both are so excited all day. They can’t wait to see each other at home. As the children do homework and dinner is being prepared; the couple exchange tense smiles. They eat a hearty meal. The anticipation is just killing them both. When finally the children are asleep and the bedroom door closes, all hell breaks loose.

They wildly kiss hastily and can’t tear off each other’s clothes quickly enough. They breathe heavily like desperate wounded animals. They switch on the TV to mask loud sounds to come that may wake up the children frightening them. After vigorous love making and crossing the bridge of no return, their bodies shake and tremble from head to toe. The man experiences pleasure not only in his robust Nthonga but an orgasm too in the whole of his body. The couple collapses in each other’s arms with lots of sweat mingled with the engulfing scents of natural aromas. There is a calm serenity over the couple that momentarily takes care of the world’s troubles in their lives. Some couples will have a special snack both of them like to quietly share afterwards.


Berkowitz, Bob., What Men Won’t Tell You But Women Need to Know, New York: Avon Books, 1990.

Burton, Sir Richard and Arbuthnot, F. F,. (Transl) The Kamasutra of Vatsyayama, London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1963.

Burton, Sir Richard F., (Transl) The Perfumed Garden of the Shaykh Nefzawi, New York: Kessinger Publishing, Castle Books, n.d

Gilder, George., Men and Marriage, Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company, 1986.

Joe McIlhaney, Jr., Sexuality and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker House, 1990.

Moore, Thomas., The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life as an Act of Love, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1998.

Helmering, Doris Wild., Husbands Wives and Sex: How One Partner Alone Can Change the Dynamics to renew sex, romance, and intimacy, Holbrook, Massachusetts: Bob Adams, Inc., 1990.

Ngulube, Naboth., Some Asepcts of Growing up in Zambia, Lusaka: Nalinga Consultancy/Sol-Consult A/S Limited, 1989.

Nioche, Brigitte., What Turns Men On,  New York: New American Library, 1989.

Tembo, Mwizenge S., Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture, Xlibris Corporation, 2012

Tembo, Mwizenge S. The Bridge: a Trans-Atlantic Romance and Adventure Novel, New York: Linus Publications, 2013

Witkin-Lanoil, Georgia., The Male Stress Syndrome: How to Recognize and Live With It,  New York: Berkley Books, 1986.



Secondary Education: Where are they Now?


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Author of “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”.

Professor of Sociology

The Zambia Knowledge Bank Libraries: Nkhanga Branch (ZANOBA) in Lundazi in the Eastern Province of rural Zambia was at the very crucial beginning of its construction in March of 2007. A few dollars had been donated by private citizens in Bridgewater in Virginia in the USA toward the construction of the library. A few men in the village had molded bricks and cleared the bush to begin the digging of the foundation. But there was a serious hitch that threatened to derail the project. There was no professional architect to draw the plans for the building. Any professional architect was going to demand an estimated  Ninety million Kwacha. The project was not going to have that kind of money in a million years as it was going to be always at the mercy of small individual community donors and volunteers.

Drawing Building Plans

As I was about to sleep agonizing over the serious problem, it suddenly hit me. I had taken a technical drawing class when I was in Form V (Grade 12) at Chizongwe Secondary School  36 years before in 1971. I could use that skill to plan and make the drawings that the builders could use when constructing the massive library. I got hold of a mathematical set box with 45 and 60 degree set squares, compass, 180 degree protractor,  a stencil, a pencil,  a ruler, and a piece of paper. Once I finished the drawings, I gave them to the foreman on the construction site. As the saying goes, the rest is history. I still cannot believe that I drew the plans of the massive sturdy beautiful building  when it was officially opened as a library with more than three thousand books on December 8, 2012. How could an untrained sociologist make effective technical drawings for a building?

The magnificent library building show that you can use even good secondary or high school knowledge to solve life problems.

The magnificent Nkhanga  library building shows that you can use even good secondary or high school knowledge to solve life problems.

The answers to this question  has to do a lot with not just education but the value of certain forms of secondary school education. All of this came to my mind when I was looking for a family  photograph in an old photo album when two secondary school photos suddenly dropped to the floor. This was very fortuitous as I stared at the old black and white photos from Chizongwe Secondary School.

Photo of the Teachers

One photo had all the 22 teachers most of whom were Europeans. There were only 3 Zambians. This was just 6 years after Zambia’s independence and the Zambian government had a massive program to produce educated citizens to fill skilled jobs. In 1964 at Independence, “Zambia had only 100 Zambians with University degrees, about 1500 Zambians with Form V or Grade 12 school certificates, and only 6,000 with junior or two years secondary education.  There was a critical shortage of manpower which could also be called a crisis for a country that had an urgent need to achieve high levels of development.” (Tembo, 2012: p. 334) The British colonialists had left practically no skilled  man power to run and develop the country. The teachers were kind and did a great job.

Ms. Janet Mvula, the Lundazi District Commissioner cuts the ribbon durinng the official opening of the Nkhanga (ZANOBA) library on December 8, 2012

Ms. Janet Mvula, the Lundazi District Commissioner cuts the ribbon durinng the official opening of the Nkhanga (ZANOBA) library on December 8, 2012

Mr. Hall was my technical drawing teacher who demonstrated how to bring to life all the lines on a piece of paper to a live building. Mr. Africa was the Headmaster. Mr. Benson introduced me to English Literature reading the classics Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” “Julius Caesar”, and “A Man of All Seasons”. I came to love reading so much that I went on to buy and read most of Charles Dickens books. I own an entire Charles Dickens collection. Mr. Sohi from India wore a turban and introduced me to basketball on the dusty school basketball yard court although I was one of the least athletic people in the world.

Mr. Ian Martin was the world history teacher whose ideas about world wars I can still apply to international wars to day. What I gained from his class was very valuable although I has a poor score of 8 in History in my Form Five G.C. E. Exam. We nicknamed him “Mr. Tinadall” after the author of the World History Textbook. Mr. Hordyk from Holland introduced me to Math that I love up to this day. He introduced and reinforced in me the spirit of volunteerism as I worked with him in Chipata Nutrition Group to fight malnutrition. Most of the teachers were from United Kingdom and Canada.

Zambian Teachers Inspirational models

The Zambian teachers were very inspirational models. Mr. Hapunda was a young dashing teacher who had just come out a teachers’ training college. He taught the Ballroom Club that travelled to St. Monica’s Seconadry school and St. Francis Nursing School to dance ballroom.

Teaching Staff at Chizongwe Secondary School in 1971. The teachers did a great job.

Teaching Staff at Chizongwe Secondary School in 1971. The teachers did a great job. Where are they now?

Mr. Chirwa taught me not only spoken but also written Nyanja or Chichewa. Knowing and mastering Chichewa or Nyanja and all Zambian languages is so important as Bantu languages may be the foundation of all human language to day. We Zambians and Africans or Bantus are origins of all human civilization going back two hundred thousand years ago even going back to the Pharaohs about three thousand years ago. Fergus Sharman supports this perspective in “Linguistic Ties between Ancient Egyptian and Bantu: Un covering Symbiotic Affinities and Relationships in Vocabulary.”

The Importance of  Students and Teachers

The photo of the Chizongwe Secondary School Magazine Editorial Board shows many close friends such as Weston Chirwa, Kennedy Ngoma, Simon Soko, Mussadique Kadodia, Dickson Shumba, Richard Kamanya. I have always regretted that I never met the late Charles Kateketa again after July 1975 when were both at University of Zambia as students.

The Editorial Board of the Chizongwe Secondary School Magazine in 1971. Where are they now?

The Editorial Board of the Chizongwe Secondary School Magazine in 1971. Where are they now?

Secondary education may be the foundation of not only education but also the future character of a student. Teachers play a crucial role in gaining the education as well as establishing one’s character and integrity. We all owe our secondary school teachers and friends great appreciation.

St. Monica’s  Secondary School Girls

One positive influence that may not seem obvious is that every young man needs to have positive relationships with girls very early in life. The positive influence that St. Monica’s Girls Secondary School had on most Chizongwe boys cannot be over emphasized. The influence was so powerful that one student wrote a very powerful poem that was published in the student magazine that year serenading the love and dedication Chizongwe Boys had for  St. Monica’s girls even in the boys’ dreams. What would be life without all these influences?  But what I keep wondering is where are all these people now that had such a big influence on my life?


Sharman, Fergus., Linguistic Ties Between Ancient Egyptian and Bantu: Uncovering Symbiotic Affinities and Relationships in Vocabulary, Boca Raton, Florida: Universal-Publishers, 2014.

Tembo, Mwizenge S., Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture,  Xlibris Corporation, 2012.

High Price: Book Review


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D

Professor of Sociology

Dr. Carl Hart, High Price: A Neuroscientist Journey of Self-Discovery that Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, New York: Harper Collins, 2013, pp. 340, $26.99, Hardcover.


Whether you consider yourself an ordinary reader, a well-read citizen of the global world, a highly educated individual who is a Ph. D. holder in the specialized reified air of natural or social sciences in the highest echelons of academia, there is no book that you will read that may result into driving a seismic shift in existing epistemologies and paradigms. This is not mere hyperbole to sweeten the selling of a book. Reading this book gave me the same feeling I had when I first read “The Death of White Sociology” (1973)  by Joyce Ladner thirty-seven years ago when I was a young graduate student. It was the realization that what had been published in respectable academic literature up to the 1920s in America and the Western world as “objective” scientific studies that reinforced deeply racist foundations of Western culture was actually debunked by Ladner as being deeply flawed. The basic foundations of the racist views have not been eliminated since the publishing of that book by Joyce Ladner.

Is this also about to happen to Dr. Carl Hart’s work? Are most readers going to dismiss the book and therefore its powerful new ideas as mere usual grievance ideology to make whites feel guilty about racism and African-Americans and so-called minorities to feel righteous?

High Price and Color Blind Society

Dr. Carl Hart’s High Price: A Neuroscientist Journey of Self-Discovery that Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, is a story of the most unlikely African American man to become a neuroscientist. He grew up in poverty in a violent dislocated family in the toughest neighborhoods of Miami. But he fought too many odds to become someone least likely to be so: a neuroscientist and tenured Assistant Professor at the prestigious Ivy league Columbia University. So this is a story of an individual rising from rugs to riches, so what? There are perhaps thousands in if not millions of Americans who beat various types of odds and obstacles to achieve the highest positions in the professions they have decided to pursue. What is different about Dr. Carl Hart’s ideas, experiences, and biography?

Book cover iamge is the elephant in the room.

Book cover iamge is the elephant in the room.

It is very easy, in the contemporary atmosphere of political correctness of advocating a color blind society, to overlook the biggest elephant in the room that is right on the front cover of the book. Dr. Carl Hart is not just obviously black or African-American but he is wearing a suit and dreg locks. How many African-Americans who wear dreg locks are neuroscientists? Will the fact of his looks lead the potential readers to dismiss his book and therefore profound ideas? Will the readers wrongly judge the book by its cover? “As my scientific career moved forward, the number of black peers around me dwindled until frequently I was the only black person in the room. When I got my Ph. D. in 1996, in fact, I was the only black man in America to receive a doctorate in neuroscience that year.” (Hart, 2013: p. 221) If my entire argument was about his looks and his low social racial status in our present society, I would not waste my time writing this raving review.

Dr. Carl Hart discusses and exposes the massive misleading hysteria in American society since the early 1900s that wrongly portrayed African Americans as smoking marijuana and becoming high and crazed. While in this drug-induced craze, they would go on violent rampage endangering peaceful white communities especially white women. Except all of these assumptions were never true although they led to American society making marijuana illegal and inflicting stiff punishments on those who broke the law according to Dr. Hart. The actual impact of the marijuana as a drug was never really addressed or scientifically investigated rationally.

Crack Cocaine Hysteria

Dr. Hart fast forwards to the white powder and crack cocaine hysteria of the 1980s. The media, law makers, and society portrayed the black inner city crack cocaine user as an irrational addict, violent, crazy, and desperate to do anything to get a fix. The consequences were broken black families, high unemployment, rise in violent crimes, and dislocation of the inner city black neighborhoods. Harsh laws were passed against cocaine use that had the unintended consequences of incarceration for longer terms of large black male population while whites who perhaps used even more cocaine were hardly imprisoned. Dr. Hart debunks these myths and argues using his own research in neuroscience and his own abuse of drugs earlier in his youth that, most, if not all the assumptions we make about drugs, addictions, and their impact on African –American neighborhoods in the inner city may be wrong and based on hysteria. He says this might be the case even among the highly acclaimed research by prestigious neuroscience researchers who publish their articles in exclusive highly peer reviewed journal publications. This reviewer asks what good is a highly peer reviewed published research article if the entire foundation and assumptions that undergird the research might he seriously flawed?

“It became increasingly clear to me how prejudices about drug use and our punitive policies toward users themselves made people who take drugs seem less human and less rational. Drug users’ behavior was always first ascribed to drugs rather than considered in light of other, equally prominent factors in the social world, like drug laws.” (Hart, 2013: p. 260)

Challenging the Existing Paradigms

One of the most profound claims that Dr. Hart makes which will resonate and likely suddenly make so much logical sense to the reader is that any drugs that are introduced among any people, and especially African-American inner city neighborhoods, are done in the context of preexisting social pathology: unemployment, crime, poverty, violence, dislocated families, social isolation, poor schools and education, despair, and hopelessness. People in these circumstances may use drugs not because the drugs themselves cause the social pathology but it may be the other way round. People will use illicit drugs not because of the intrinsic and compelling neurological impact of drugs on the brain, but because individuals who live in and are experiencing debilitating social pathology may find drugs attractive to alleviate their anxiety, hopelessness, social isolation, and alienation. If this assertion by Dr. Hart does not challenge and question our entire epistemology and paradigm about drugs and society, I don’t know what will. The  entire book provide compelling evidence in support of his assertions.


“High price” will perhaps be inspirational to many readers. But it raises many questions as it also confirms many uncomfortable realities of American if not Western society. I find it frustrating that 50 years after the Civil Right Act, Dr. Carl Hart and perhaps millions of African Americans still live troubled lives of poor education, poverty, and rampant racial discrimination and segregation. Large segments of this population may not still be part of the American mainstream and may feel alienated.

I find the book to be so highly interdisciplinary that I recommend it for all scholars and especially teachers of social and natural sciences. If you just read or see the cover this book and dismiss it as “it deals with African-American and minority marginal issues”, you will be making a grave academic mistake. The beauty and strength of this book is that you can extrapolate and apply the ideas to many scientific, social ideas, perspectives and problems. After reading the book you just become a more educated and better informed person.



Inside the Presidency: Book Review


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D

Professor of Sociology

Dickson Jere, Inside the Presidency: Trials and Tribulations of a Zambian Spin-Doctor, Oakville, Ontario, Canada: Nsemia Inc. Publishers ( 2014, pp. 237, $27.00. K185.00, Paper.

I was browsing for Zambian news on the internet when I came across a horrendous story. Some reporter had taken very graphic images of a woman giving birth in the middle of the street in Lusaka. The graphic photos were apparently being circulated on the internet and the local papers to show how incompetent President Rupiah Banda was in handling the nation-wide strike by medical doctors. I was very furious asking myself: “how would any Zambian or let alone a reporter think such a graphic photo that grossly crossed basic lines of ethics and decency was the best way to show that a political leader was incompetent?”

“A reporter for the daily Post newspaper obtained harrowing images of a woman giving birth without medical assistance. Those pictures were circulated. Somehow the images found themselves on my desk and that of the President. One of his private secretaries must have put the envelope containing the photos in the president’s office without alerting him of the contents. He was extremely angry when he saw them. “This is very unethical and unAfrican,” he said as he threw the pictures away.” (Jere, 2014:p. 63)


Cover of the book: "Inside the Presidency."

Cover of the book: “Inside the Presidency.”

This is among the many inside stories  of the  challenges and triumphs that the former President Rupiah Banda faced during his presidency from 2008 after the death of President Mwanawasa to 2011 when President Banda lost in a general election to President Sata.

There are many Zambians since 1964 who have worked very closely with former Presidents Kenneth Kaunda, Chiluba, Mwanawasa and Rupiah Banda. Although some of the people may have written some articles, given some interviews and perhaps a book, none have written an inside story. They have not answered the biggest question that most of us Zambians may be curious and ask: “How does it feel like to be the closest person to the President?”

Inside the Presidency: Trials and tribulations of a Zambian Spin-Doctor by Dickson Jere breaks new ground as he is the first Zambian in contemporary times to describe his experiences a President’s closest aid, confidant, advisor, and Spokesman. I found the 23 chapters in the book to be a fast paced quick read. I read it over 2 evenings after dinner in between my heavy teaching work schedule. If you are among the 13 million Zambians who are in the country and especially if you are in the diaspora, this is the book to read to understand one of our former Presidents.

Many readers will come to their own conclusions once they also read the book. I learnt four main things about my country from reading Dickson Jere’s story. First it seems any member of the press can print or publish any serious allegations of corruption or scandals about a sitting President with no judicial, criminal, or court consequences even when the story later proves to have no credible proof.  It seems there is little press accountability for reporting possible falsehoods. Meanwhile, the President or any political leader’s reputation will have been destroyed with virtually no recourse. Second, just as I have always thought, being a President is the toughest job in any country including Zambia. Dickson Jere was very lucky to go on this very thrilling ride to do something that served the public interest of Zambia as a nation.

Third, I was very proud of and became teary eyed about my country of Zambia when President Rupiah Banda peacefully conceded defeat after the elections and handed over power to the new President elect- Michael Sata. President Kaunda had done the same thing in 1991 after UNIP had lost elections to MMD by a land slide.

However, I was very scared when there was political revenge violence soon after the elections. I was tense when Dickson Jere’s house and family was threatened by mobs of youths banging at his gate at 4 hours as they perceived him as the enemy. “But the systematic attacks on MMD supporters increased. They were beaten and their homes looted that whole week following the conclusion of elections”. (Jere, 2014, p. 211) Although the violence could have been worse, violence is something that all Zambians, political leaders and parties should discourage before and after elections.

Fourth, what appears to be unjustified harassment or tormenting of former Presidents by the new government that has just been voted into power has to stop. “The new government carried out sustained negative campaign against the former President since he left office. He was depicted as corrupt man who was involved in several questionable deals with members of his family. The government also threatened to withhold his benefits unless he quit his position as MMD president because the law prohibited former presidents from engaging in active politics.” (Jere, 2013: p.224) Former Presidents ought to retire from politics to travel and conduct national and international diplomacy and peace building.


Dennis Liwewe: Zambia Vs. British Colonials


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Author of “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”.

Professor of Sociology

Dennis Liwewe’s  greatest radio commentary in his illustrious career was perhaps the football game that took place at Woodlands Stadium on October 23, 1964. This was twelve hours before Zambia’s independence from British colonialism on October 24, 1964. The old scratchy sounding audio tape of that greatest game was forgotten in the dark back shelves of the then Northern Rhodesia Broadcasting Services, later ZNBC and Zambia Information Services. A patriotic Zambian whisked overnight by air to me the old audio tape for computer digital reconfiguring by the crack team of the University’s Information Technology Center. Since parts of the audio tape have deteriorated over the last 49 years, some parts of the football game are missing with lots of crackling shhhhh transistor sounds.

Dennis Liwewe: Shhhhh…..”Good afternoon to my fellow  2 million Northern Rhodesians who in exactly 12 hours are to break away the shackles of colonialism and oppression to become citizens of the free great and independent nation of Zambia and a new member of the United Nations. I am broadcasting from Woodlands stadium on a bright sunny hot October afternoon. The Zambian side has fielded a team that has the least experience in playing football  as for many years the players were involved in the struggle for freedom. The British Colonial team is fielding their best many of whom are seasoned veterans who have played in top English Football clubs. The Zambians have tremendous heart and determination against the British Colonials team which has all the experience. Starting lineup for the Zambian side is number one Goal Keeper  Grey Zulu, number two the sweeper who is the back bone of the Zambian defense is Munukayumbwa Sipalo…….Shhhh!!!!! [tape breaks away]

Dennis Liwewe: Shhh!!!! “…..Peter Matoka passes the ball to Arthur Wina, Arthur Wina the brother to Sikota Wina passes it to Dingiswayo Banda or “Dingi” the half back. He is challenged and loses the ball to Godwin Hunter of the British Colonials. Hunter passes the ball to Sir Edgar Willimson the midfielder  of the British who quickly picks up momentum. The British are on the attack!! John Mwanakatwe challenges but is beaten, the ball is crossed to Alexender Chambarlain the British left forward who chases the ball to Zambia’s left corner flag. John Mwanakatwe, Dingiswayo Banda and Reuben Kamanga all challenge the intruder. This is a dangerous situation for Zambia’s inexperienced team. Alexander Chambarlain like a magician dribbles the ball and breaks through the cordon of the three Zambian  defenders. Chambarlain has only Munukayumbwa Sipalo to beat!!!! Sipalo slide tackles Chamberlain… the ball bounces out of bounds for Britain’s seventh corner!!!  Ya! Ya! Ya!!!! Britain’s seventh corner!  [Loud uhhhhh!!! From the crowd]. Shhhhh!!!! [Tape Breaks up]

Dennis Liwewe: Shhhhh!!! “……Five minutes before the end of the first half and the score is still zero zero. Chambarlain will take the corner kick from the left side of Zambia’s goal. Goal keeper Grey Zulu has to be alert. Zambia has packed everybody in the penalty box. The corner kick sails above the front of the goal. Sir Roy Welensky heads the ball into Zambia’s penalty area in a dangerous situation!! Commotion in front of  Zambia’s goal area!!!! Away!!! Sipalo clears it away in a dangerous situation!!! ….. The referee has blown his whistle… it is half time. The score is zero zero. Zambia has to regroup if we are to win this game. The front line of Simon Kapwepwe, Kenneth Kaunda, and Mainza Chona have to produce goals. The midfield and Munukayumbwa Sipalo and the defenders have worked so hard to keep the bombarding British at bay for 45 minutes……..”[Break in the tape]

Dennis Liwewe: Shhh!!!!!!    “…….both teams are tired.. it is 40 minutes into the second half and the score is still zero zero. It has been a hard fought game.  Here come the British Colonials again launching an attack. Full back Phillip Limestone passes the ball to Chester Clifford, Clifford to Brandon Bentonbarbour, Bentonbarbour to Sir Edgar Williamson as the Zambians are packing in the defenses. Peter Matoka, Reuben Kamanga Simon Kalulu, Simon Kapwepwe and Kenneth Kaunda are all in the back field to repel the British attack. The dangerous left forward Alexander Chamberlain has the ball as he is challenged by John Mwanakatwe. It rolls out for a throw in to British Colonials. The long throw in lands in Zambia’s danger zone as the British are bombarding us with guns, tanks and the air force and we Zambians have only bows and arrows. Striker Sir Row Welensky kicks the ball over the cross bar for a goal kick to Zambia.  Goal Keeper Grey Zulu quickly takes the long goal kick. The British defenders had moved to near center field!!!!  It is a now a race between Kapwepwe and Kaunda and the experienced British full backs Braxton and Phillip Limestone!!!!!……Kapwepwe is going!!! he is  running with the ball on the left flank towards the British goal and Kenneth Kaunda is running on the right flank towards the British goal!! The British defenders are left behind… Simmon Kapwepwe has only the goalie Bradley Carpenter to beat, Kapwepwe passes the ball to Kaunda …’s a g-o-a-l!!!!!!!!!!! Kenneth Kaunda it’s a goal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  One zero Zambia is leading the British Colonials!!! Kaunda is running around leaping in the air pumping his fist as Kapwepwe embraces him. The team has mobbed Kaunda in a big pile of celebration. Zambia’s reserves on the bench have cleared and run on to the field  to join the team in a wild celebration; Lewis Changufu, Aaron Milner, Sikota Wina, Nalumino Mundia, Justin Chimba, Elija Mudenda including the only white member of the Zambian team James Skinner. Even the youngest player who is only 18 years old Vernom Mwaanga had joined the team on the field!!!![loud deafening noise from the crowd][Break in the tape]

Dennis Liwewe: Shhhhh!!!!! “…..the referee has finally cleared the field…..two minutes to go in injury time of the greatest game ever for Zambia. Zambia leads one zero over the British Colonials. The Zambians  have packed everybody in defense. The referee is looking at his watch. He has blown his whistle. Zambia wins the game One Zero!!!!!! There will be celebrations to day from Kalabo to Mpulungu, from Livingstone to Kafulafuta to Mwinilunga to Chipata…… [tape break] shhh!!!!!!!

Post Script: I had tears in my eyes as I listened to this tape of the great Dennis Liwewe. If ever a country is given a gift from God it is Dennis Liwewe as a gift to all Zambians. As a Zambian who spent many years listening to Dennis Liwewe on those Sunday afternoons, my hope is that when I die, I will go to heaven. There will a football game there between God’s Angels Eleven versus the Chipolopolo Boys or the KK eleven. I will not want to watch the game on TV if there is one in heaven but will instead  listen to the radio commentary of the game by the Great Dennis Liwewe. That will be second heaven to me while I am already in heaven. May Dennis Liwewe’s Soul Rest in Peace.

The “Dirtiest” Book Ever? :Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture


Mwizenge S. Tembo,  Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

“Greetings Prof Tembo, 

It is with the great joy writing to you to express my heartfelt joy using your book titled: Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture: Social Change in the Global  World. Bloomington, IN: XLIBRIS, 2012. I would like to say thank you very much. I am still writing a book review on it. I had almost finished then my computer had viruses so I lost some data on it.

Baba aTembo, lomba mweo baba, how do you use the concepts of “Uncle, Aunt and Cousin?” Are you using the named terms with the urban context or rural or both? I am using your book now, and I am somehow disagreeing with the usage of these concepts. Kindly indicate the context? (Cf. 46 of your work). In my paper I write, as suggested by Mwizenge S. Tembo, in the Senga-Luzi culture, a child “has more than one mother, father, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, grandmother, grandfather, and of course cousins and in-laws.” I strongly disagree with Mwizenge S. Tembo on the concepts of  uncle and cousins unless these concepts are used cautiously and among the selected few urban families. Even in urban setups, when one is called uncle, aunt and cousin, their relationship is quite distant. 

Once more, thanks for this great masterpiece. It’s one of the dirtiest books I have ever read while in the Zambian diaspora. 


Tembo Tembo Michael” (Not related to the author)

I was thrilled to read your e-mail as the author of the book. But your use of the word “dirtiest” in your last sentence first surprised me and then it made me smile. I tried to guess what word you had meant to type. When I failed to guess, I sent you another e-mail to ask you to explain. Then I received your e-mail in response.

“Oh no, sorry, I wanted to write, it’s the book I have dirtened with a highlighter. I have labelled so many pages in the book! I have really written in it very much and really enjoying it. I will do likewise when I am done with the book review.

This is my key textbook done by a Zambian scholar! It’s respectable work at my school. I have used it in my research works. Some Profs have been asking me if we are related. I answer them, the surname says it all. 

I am in Texas, at Oblate School of Theology. 

Once more, thanks for the great work and keep it up.”

I want to thank you very much for your kind words. I am very glad that you enjoy the book tremendously and you are finding it helpful in your academic papers at your School of Theology. Before I continue to respond to your questions, I am conscious that readers might assume that this is a publicity stunt for the book. I have not met you before and we are not related although we share the same last name which means our origins may be from the Eastern Province.

What you do when you read a book you very much like is exactly what I also do; mark them. All my books that I read and like I mark very heavily writing questions, both positive and critical comments on the edges of the page. So when you said you “dirtened” the book, that’s the sign that you are both enjoying and critically absorbing the ideas from the book.

The kinship relationships and terminology that I describe on page 46 of the book are common among my tribe; the Tumbuka and also the Ngoni in Eastern Province and may be going all the way to the Zulus in South Africa. I am sure similar kinship systems and terminologies exist among probably dozens of the 72 tribes of Zambia. Anthropologists have classified this as the Omaha kinship system which is among more than four  major types found in societies all over the world. The only question is whether many tribes or ethnic groups follow this system in Zambian traditions. For example, among the Chewa of the Eastern province of Zambia and also of Malawi and Mozambique, the most important kinship has been that between a woman and her brother whom they call malume or uncle.

Most families in urban Zambia today might be so removed from knowledge of their ethnic or tribal kinship systems that the use of “uncle” is used to refer to close relatives but also friends of the family who are the father’s age. “Aunt” is used to refer to close relatives but also friends of the family that are the mother’s age. May be this is what you disagree with. I am sure that there are still some families in Zambia and abroad that still follow their traditional kinship relationships and terminology.  I whole heartedly welcome the disagreements because that is part of intellectual discourse.

The book Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture can be used for so many different purposes; families can learn about Zambian culture, middle school, high school or secondary and college students can use it. Professors can use it as I do for teaching anthropology and Sociology. I recently gave a guest lecture in Professor Deborah Dunn’s class on “Nshima and Zambian foods” to her course on “International Foods and Nutrition” at our college. The book is so rich with our cultural history but also provides  some vision and recommendations for the future. There is no comprehensive book that does this well right now. I am glad you are finding the book very useful.

As a last comment, this discussion reminds me of when I was a student at University of Zambia in the early 1970s. A Zambian student told his European lecturer or Professor that he was going to be absent from his class because he was going to a funeral because his mother had died. Six months later the same student told the same Professor that he would miss class again because he would be away to attend to a funeral of his mother who had just died. The European Professor thought the student was being less than honest until the Zambian student explained that in the Zambian and African traditional culture, he had more than one mother. I am proud that I have had three mothers; my mother’s only younger sister who passed away in 1984. I have two living mothers; my mother who lives at Chainda Farms in Lusaka. Today we would call her aunt. Then I have my biological mother who is still living in the village. I call both women amama. They both know it and they are happy.



The Bare-Breast Controversy: Kulanga and Proper Conduct at Public Ceremonies.


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

When I was young growing up in the village, one day I rushed home to my parents to report that my brother had insulted and used the worst vile language, kutuka, in Tumbuka against another boy in a quarrel. I repeated the vile disgusting graphic language to my parents word for word to make sure I was reporting accurately. To my utter shock, my parents proceeded to angrily berate me for the report. When my brother who was the  guilty party arrived, my parents gave him lighter punishment and milder tongue lashing. What was my mistake? Didn’t I report accurately what had happened? My parents’ response, which was in form of Kulanga,   was that my reporting and repeating the actual graphic language was a further degrading and a humiliating insult to them and those listening; it was like adding salt to a wound. Better I should have just said my brother had insulted someone very badly without repeating the vulgar language.

Women performing the Kioda dance at the annual Agricultural Show in Lundazi in July 2007.

Women performing the Kioda dance at the annual Agricultural Show in Lundazi in July 2007.

A few years ago when Rupiah Banda was President, the medical doctors had a dispute with the government over low or poor pay. The doctors went on strike. This caused so much disruption in the normal operation and services of the hospitals that somehow a pregnant woman had to give birth in the middle of the street. A Zambian who had a digital camera took the graphic picture of the woman giving birth and went ahead and posted it on the internet media. The person argued that this was freedom of the press, transparency and showed how the government of President Rupiah Banda was mishandling the case of the striking doctors. If you think everything and anything should be posted on line because it promotes transparency, democracy, and shows freedom of the press, you should stop here and not read the rest. You might not like what will be said next as it follows the tradition of Kulanga. I will not describe the stories in graphic detail or show you where you can see the pictures according to the wisdom of my elders.

There have been two controversial media stories in the Zambian press recently. The first one was a young Zambian folk musician who apparently riled the Ngoni Royal Establishment (NRE) because the musician is shown in a photo pulling the nipple of a bare-breasted old Ngoni woman at the Ncwala ceremony. The musician is his defense said he was practicing “chimbuya” with the old woman. Another story was yet a second photo from the same ceremony where another young man is holding the bare-breast of a woman. One thing should be made clear. This author is not against both young and older women being bare-breasted at these ceremonies. The beauty of the human body and its expression should be celebrated according to the appropriate rules of conduct in our culture. This is something that I totally support and am very passionate about. But there is nowhere in traditional Zambian history and the present where the culture says any man has the right to openly grab any woman’s bare-breast during these ceremonies. Our culture never encouraged degrading sexual exhibitionism in public.

Women dancing the Kioda at the annual Agricultural Show in Lundazi in the Eastern Province in July 2007.

Women dancing the Kioda at the annual Agricultural Show in Lundazi in the Eastern Province in July 2007.

What is probably more important is that all the Zambian media that published the humiliating photos should have the primary blame. If you are a credible Zambian media, the Editors should not have published the particular photos in question. Because they have zero redeeming value and only serve to humiliate and embarrass all of us Zambians to ourselves and because of the viral nature of internet technology, the whole world might have seen the photos.

The second person to blame are the photographers and especially if you are a private individual with a personal cell phone camera. You might even enjoy and be excited about taking selfies. All photographers should have a moral campus. Just because something is happening it does not mean you should photograph it or post it on the internet. I know what I am saying goes against the tsunami that is the digital generation because I will probably be thought as a prude, a  fontini, too conservative, tin pot dictator, or living in the old or dinosaur past. I have digital cameras and have been taking thousands of photos since 1967. It is not about taking away your freedom of expression but it is learning about making good judgment about public moral integrity and dignity. There is no freedom without dignity and responsibility anywhere in the world. If you believe this freedom without any controls, it is a myth. Think about the hurt and degrading feelings of the victims, especially of the old woman who appeared in the photo and public pain her family and relatives have felt. Those photos will never be taken back from the internet.

As a nation we may have a need to have a conversation about this matter in the light of the digital age technology and millions of younger Zambian audience who attend these ceremonies where people and especially girls and women may be celebrating bare-breasted enjoying and expressing our culture.  There might be slaughtering of animals and other graphic rituals that may be part of the ceremonies.

This is a message to all the Royal Establishments of the many wonderful Zambian traditional ceremonies: Chibwela Kumushi, Kulamba Kubwalo in the Central Province,  Kulamba, Ncwala, Vinkhakanimba in the Eastern Province,  Umutomboko in the  Luapula Province, Chibwela Kumushi in the Lusaka Province, Ukusefya Pa Ng’wena in the Northern Province,  Likumbi Lyamize  in the North Western Province,  Lwiindi, Shimunenga in the Southern Province, and Kathanga, Kuomboka in the Western Province. All the Royal Establishments should consult with their subjects, the public, Members of Parliament and the President to establish the rules of conduct to be followed by all ceremony goers and participants. If a ceremony goer happens to take a risky or embarrassing private photo, let it remain private. There should be an orientation and dissemination of lessons for all participants before they go to the ceremony so that they will know how to behave and conduct themselves.



The Significance of Kuopa or “to fear” and other Zambian Customs.


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology.

In September 2012 just a few weeks after my book “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”  was published, I was a guest on Mr. James Mwape’s Blog Radio to discuss some aspects of Zambian culture.  A Zambian man called and said he was married to a non-Zambian  woman and lived in New York City. They decided to go and visit his Zambian parents who lived in the City of  Mufulira on the Copper belt. The couple stayed at his parents’ house. The second day they were there, the non-Zambian wife decided to wear some very tight shorts and a tight top that may have revealed probably too much in the context of the in-laws’s household. The Zambian’s father and mother were embarrassed and uneasy. When the Zambian husband asked his wife to wear something a little different may be more modest may be with a chitenje, her reply was that it was too hot and she had the right to wear what she pleased. Of course all of this broke many Zambian traditional customs including obviously the crucial  “kuopa” custom that is practiced between in-laws.

Girls learn chores and responsibility at a very young age.

Girls learn chores and responsibility at a very young age.

On the same program, a Zambian woman called  who was married to another non-Zambian. She complained that when she behaved like a daughter-in-law would towards her father in-law according to Zambian customs by say, staying out of the living room where her father-in-law was sitting, the husband’s family complained that the Zambian wife had an unfriendly “attitude” wondering why she was always subdued and walking out of the living room when her father-in-law was there.

Although these two stories might look like the author is singling out foreigners or non-Zambians, this can actually happen to any individuals and sometimes even among Zambians in Zambia and abroad depending on their social upbringing. There is a famous song by Nashil Pitchen “Apongozi Amasiku Ano” in which he laments that the younger husbands in the cities in Zambia are so disrespectful these days.

They walk into their mother-in-law’s house without knocking. Supposing the mother in-law is taking a nap, says Nashil Pitchen, on the living room couch and her covers accidentally fall off in her sleep and she is partially naked, that would be very disrespectful and embarrassing.

Everyone knows that we are experiencing tremendous social change as Zambians. But some of our customs need to be understood better so that we can know how to behave better within our families while following some of the very positive Zambian customs. These customs  traditionally exist in virtually all of the 72 tribes in Zambia including among the Lozi, Tumbuka, Ngoni, Chewa, Tonga, Kaonde, Luvale, Bemba, Lunda, Chokwe, and many others.

You are lucky if you are a Zambian and married to a non-Zambian who might be aware and has enough humility when you visit back in Zambia or even when abroad, that the family and kinship customs are important enough for the individual to try their best to practice them.

These video clips from my recent lecture at the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Center Lyceum Series in Virginia in the United States, explain three important Zambian customs: Kuopa or “to fear”,

Kulanga or disciplining and giving guidance to children,

and kusungana

which expresses the deepest love between a married man and a woman. These are good customs that reflect being civilized. They are neither primitive nor backward. I make this argument in my lecture.  Please send the clips to anyone; your children, friends, even people in Zambia and people who need to know these customs. I am sure that ZNBC radio can probably use the video clips. Please forward the clips to them if you get a chance.



Profile of Prof. Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Growing Up

My name was formerly Jacob Tembo. I was born at Mshawa Chungu primary school outside Chipata in 1954 where my father was teaching at the time. The best thing my parents did for me for the whole of my life for which I will forever be grateful is when  they sent me home when I was

Prof. Tembo regards the African drum as representing some of the most fundamental deeper aspects of Zambian and African traditional culture. He has done storytelling of Zambian folk tales and drumming to audiences in the United States.

Prof. Tembo regards the African drum as representing some of the most fundamental deeper aspects of Zambian and African traditional culture. He has done storytelling of Zambian folk tales and drumming to audiences in the United States.

a young boy to live at Chipewa Village at my mother’s village in Lundazi among the Tumbuka people. I lived with my grandparents Mateyo Kabinda and Esilete Nya Mwaza. Living in the village was like being in heaven on earth. My father’s village, Seleta, was about one kilometer away. Between the two villages  I lived among six hundred loving relatives.  I lived among my grandparents, uncles, aunts, numerous cousins, and many people from other clans. All of the people loved me.

We ate nshima with nchunga ziswesi or red kidney beans, peanuts, pumpkin leaves, or mphangwe vegetables with peanut powder, delele, peas, pumpkins, chicken, goat meat, and wild meat when adult men when on hunts in the dry season. There was plenty of food as my grandparents were great subsistence farmers. As children we went to the bush and fetched fruits such as futu, nthumbuzgha, masuku,  kasokolowe, mbulimbunje, and nchenja. We dug mice and killed small birds. We swum and fished in the cool swift fresh waters of the Lundazi River and Denkhule creek. During the bright savannah moonlight at night we would listen to vilapi or folktales or play hide and seek. My cousin James Kabinda and I were charged with herding the family goats. Every day was  so full of drama and adventure until one day my uncle called me to take me to school for the first time.

Going to School

My uncle took me to school one afternoon to start Sub A or Grade I at Boyole Primary School in 1960. When my uncle let my little hand go to walk into the classroom, our teacher Mr. Mbuzi welcomed me and told me to squeeze between some of the students on the few desks. The class had about 40 students. The teacher was drawing a big snake on the black board as I joined the class in singing:


Chinjoka chikulu chikamnyenga Adam

Adam na Eva


A big snake tempted Adam

Adam and Eve


This was a religious knowledge class. That’s started what was to be along academic career. That same year my mother came and got me so that I could join the family at my father’s first teaching assignment after his teacher training at Katete Mission. We lived at Chasela Primary School among the Bisa people for two years before my father was transferred. The thing I remember the most from Chasela are the friendly people but especially wild animals. Every day when I woke up I could see elephants, giraffes, monkeys, Impalas, large herds of buffaloes all roaming freely everywhere around my house. I cannot believe today that there are so few animals in the same Luangwa Valley where I lived 53 years ago.

My father taught at Mafuta School, Dzoole School, Kapongolo School, Kasonjola, Gundani and Mnoro school.

Challenges of School and Education

I was never always the most intelligent as I gained my education. But what my grandparents and parents taught me was to work hard at everything just as we did when we woke up every day early in the morning during the rainy season to work in the field with a hoe to grow food. My parents instilled in all of us 9 children; 6 girls and 3 boys the value of hard work, tenacity, and endurance. The best gift my parents gave us is by example to teach us to be kind, generous, and compassionate, to enjoy laughter, and to share what we have. But my parents also taught us to be tough, assertive, and to always defend ourselves. Being soft, to be paralyzed by fear or katelu was not allowed in our family among all the girls and boys. My mother had a saying that I always remember: “Mwana wolera nge ni botolo yayi”; meaning “You do not raise a child like a delicate bottle that is going to break any time you drop it.”

 Dr. Tembo’s father Mr. Sani Tembo who is 89 years old is still active and works hard hoeing to grow food. This was in December 2011

Dr. Tembo’s father Mr. Sani Tembo who is 89 years old is still active and works hard hoeing to grow food. This was in December 2011

When my father was teaching at Mafuta School, Dzoole School was burned down in 1962 in an arson attack as the African National Congress (ANC) led by Harry Nkumbula and the United National Independence Party (UNIP) and Zambians defied, struggled and protested British colonial rule.  My father was assigned to go and reopen the school as he worked with the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) to rebuild the school. My father opened grade one as he taught the class under the shade of a huge Kachele tree. Since Dzoole Primary School did not have Standard II or Grade 4 yet, my father arranged that I attend a weekly boarding at Rukuzye Primary School which was 15 miles or 24 Kms. away and I was only 9 years old. Every week for 6 months in 1963, my mother packed me food for the week in  a small carton box. I went to that school on Sunday riding my mother’s bicycle and came back every Friday.

Dr. Tembo with his mother A Enelesi Kabinda or a NyaNthula in the village in Dec. 2011

Dr. Tembo with his mother A Enelesi Kabinda or a NyaNthula in the village in Dec. 2011

In January 1964, I was accepted to attend Standard 3 or Grade 5 at Tamanda boys Upper Boarding  School. This was a Dutch Reformed Mission Church Mission School on the remote border with Malawi. The first night I cried all night because I was away from home among some hostile students as mockery was very intense. But I remembered what my parents told me about the importance of education for my future and that of my family. My education at Tamanda was the best. I had some of the best teachers. The ones I remember are my English teacher and Headmaster Mr. Elisa Phiri, my brother-in-law who married my sister, Mr Lyson Mtonga, and Mr. Khondowe.

Something happened to me and my family that had a profound effect on my entire life. It was during the late afternoon of manual work at Tamanda Mission Boys Upper Boarding School. I was performing manual work sweeping the dusty school yard excitedly chatting with a detail of fellow students when a student walked to the group and told me the School Headmaster Mr. Phiri wanted to see me immediately in his office. My fellow students were surprised because I was not a typical trouble maker who broke school rules. I had been called to the Headmaster’s office once under some minor disciplinary circumstances where a received a stroke of the cane. But that was a year before. I was surprised too and wondered what I might have done wrong this time that I was not aware of. The Headmaster was well known for being a strict disciplinarian and for his stern red eyed chain smoking look. He freely used corporal punishment when necessary. I walked to his office with trepidation.

I softly knocked on his office door and a deep voice asked me to come in.  I stood at attention as without any fanfare the Headmaster raised his head from his paperwork on his large desk and said: “Mwizenge, I just received a message from your father that your younger brother Leonard passed away last week. The message didn’t say what you brother died of.  I am sorry.” The large clicking clock to the Headmaster’s desk showed 16.00 hours or 4:00pm June 14, 1966. I was 12 years old and my world had just fallen apart.

I was in shock and stunned. I don’t remember how I walked from the Headmaster’s office to my dormitory bed. I lay in my bed and I could not stop crying. When dinner time came, I could not walk to the dining hall. Another student brought my dinner and put it by the side of my bed. Students continued with their boarding school routine. They had to go to the classroom with the only paraffin lamp that had enough paraffin for studying and doing homework  from 19:00 hours or 7:00 pm to 21:00 hours or 9:00pm.

The entire large dormitory  with 60 beds was quiet and pitch dark. I cried as images of my little 7 year old brother flashed before me especially the last time I had seen him barely three weeks before as I was leaving for  my boarding school early that morning. I played soccer with him as he tried to get the ball away from me. He was crying and running to get to the ball but each time I would kick it away as he yelled for help from mother. My mother yelled for me to give the ball to my crying little brother as I was leaving soon. My father was to escort me riding our bikes ten miles to the bus station at Lumezi. I gave the large soccer ball to my little brother who held it with both hands with a triumphant look on his face as I rubbed his head and walked away. My brother was now gone. I would never see him again.

My covers were drenched as tears poured from eyes. In the pitch dark dormitory room I heard footsteps and a voice. A student said the Headmaster wanted me to go to his house immediately. I walked the two hundred yards to the Headmaster’s house and knocked on his door.

The living room looked comfortable with nice cushions and sofas. He asked me to sit down in one of the sofas. My eyes were wet and red from non-stop crying. His young wife who had a baby on her back walked in from the kitchen with a teapot and some cups of tea. She served me some tea.

As the yellow kerosene lamp flickered, the Headmaster told me in a much softer voice I had never heard before how he was sorry about my brother’s death. He urged me to stay strong. He said I would be going to see my mother and father and family in six week times during the school holidays. Besides, soon I would be sitting for the most important exam in my life: the Secondary School Entrance Exams. He urged me to stay strong in life.

We sat quietly for may be twenty minutes and then he told me to go back to the dormitory.

Going to church twice per week and being a member of the church school choir were some of the best memorable experiences. I had so many friends and class mates including Michael Ngulube, Elliot Tembo, John Jere, Shuward Shawa, Leornard Phiri, John Mbewe, Yandikani Nkhoma, and the student who had very serious stuttering Malilo Ngwira.

Chizongwe Secondary School

My niece Ruth Tembo waiting for a bus near our village on our return to Lusaka in December 2011

My niece Ruth Tembo waiting for a bus near our village on our return to Lusaka in December 2011

The Tamanda Upper School Grade 7 class of 1966 had 40 students; only 14 of us qualified to go to secondary school. I was among about 6 students from Tamanda who reported for Form I at the prestigious Chizongwe Secondary School in January 1967 in Chipata. It was very challenging as all the Form One students were the best from the whole province. The next 5 years at Chizongwe were probably one of the most important. I made tremendous strides in learning in such subjects as Mathematics, Geography, English Literature, Physics, Chemistry, Nyanja, and Technical Drawing. I made lifelong friends and also met some of my best teachers who inspired me. Mr. Newton, a British teacher, told me I could do Physics  and Chemistry when I did not have the confidence. Some of the teachers were Mr. Parkinson, Mr. Ad Hordyk, Mr. Bailey, My Geography Teacher Mr Milroy,  and Miss Keon.

The most inspiring was probably our Principle Mr. J. S. Mei who was a disciplinarian who had the best of sense of humor. Every student from Chizongwe has a J. S. Mei story especially when we had a near student riot among Form Four and Form Five students in 1967. The Chipata Mobile police had to be called to campus for a day to quell tensions.  Because Zambia lacked man power just after independence, the 22 teachers at Chizongwe were all European and Mr. Chirwa was the only Zambian teacher. I feel very lucky that Mr. Chirwa taught me and I learnt to write Nyanja because knowing that Zambian language is as significant or important as learning English. I found this out later in life in the 1980s as I began to conduct research as a scholar at the University of Zambia and now in 2013. Some friends form the 1971 class are Ben Kalinda, Kennedy Ngoma, Michael Ngulube, and Abdul Munshi.

The testosterone soaked teenage life of a Chizongwe Secondary School male student is consumed with thinking and dreaming about the beautiful girls of St. Monica’s Secondary School whose school was just over the mountain in Chipata. One classmate who will remain nameless even wrote a romantic poem about St. Monica’s girls which we published in the school newspaper. I can attest to this because I was on the editorial board for the school newspaper at the time in 1971.

University of Zambia Students Union (UNZASU) led students held a political demonstration and marched from the Great East road Campus to the French Embassy which was located on Freedom Way downtown Lusaka. The students were demonstrating against France selling Mirage Jet Fighters to the then Apartheid South Africa. Those jets were going to be used to support the regime as it bombed ANC bases in the front lines states. The young Zambian State and Police force may not have known yet how to handle public student demonstrations. The police tried to disperse the students using clubs and tear gas.   There was commotion as the students fled and  scattered some running through Cairo Road dodging through stunned busy Cairo Road shoppers with button totting  police in hot pursuit. One fleeing student was shot in the behind apparently because a police officer accidentally discharged his fire arm. There was a huge controversy in the national press and government about the handling of the student demonstration. Fortunately no lives were lost and no one was seriously injured.

When the sensational news reached our school, we were all intrigued as we excitedly discussed the events in our dormitory in Aggrey House. We knew some of the names of the  UNZASU students who had just gone to UNZA the previous year from Chizongwe. I never realized I would be at UNZA that following year and participating in student politics.

The 1971 From V class at Chizongwe had 65 students. I was among the top  6 of us who  qualified to go to University of Zambia for our Bachelor’s degree in 1972. The competition was very stiff as the freshman class could only admit 350 of the best students from thousands of Form V or Grade 12 students from all secondary schools in Zambia.

University of Zambia

I will never forget my first day at University of Zambia. I was in African Hall 5 Room 26. I stood on the balcony and could see the beautiful green lawns and flowers around the residence hall. The 3 dining halls served 5 course meals including soup, rice, meat, vegetables, cake with custard, bread, tea or coffee with milk. Zambia had so much money that we used to get some of the left over bread and feed it to fish at the Goma Lakes during evening straws on campus.

I had always wanted to major in Psychology. In my own secondary school mind I mistakenly thought psychology would teach me how to read people’s minds. My most influential teachers were Professor Robert Serpell and Professor Muyunda Mwanalushi. The first year was intellectually exciting for my young mind. I learnt about the scientific method, psychology experiments, conducting sociological researching in neighboring Kalingalinga compound, Introduction to Political Science, Sociology, and Psychology. English class exposed to the powerful “Autobiography of Malcolm X”.

We wrote papers about the different intellectual arguments about the establishment of One Party States in Africa at that time in 1972. As first year students, many lecturers emphasized that our lecturers did not have a monopoly on knowledge contrary to our secondary school belief that the teacher knew everything and was always right. As freshmen students, we were urged to scrutinize, critically evaluate, question, challenge existing assumptions, assertions, theories, models,  and epistemologies through the gathering of empirical data. I took all this to heart up to this day.

One thing I found very disturbing was that as I wrote research papers, none of what I knew from my Tumbuka indigenous African cultural alternative perspectives appeared in any of the research papers, journals and books that I read. I asked myself why? All of it seemed to have been published by Europeans. Most of it described African culture as primitive and backward. I never believed that all the people who lived in my village were primitive and backward. The lecturers insisted that we only use in our papers only material that had been published. That troubled me greatly. This is probably why I have ended up devoting my entire adult life doing original Zambian and African field research.

As liberation wars were raging in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia,  Zimbabwe, as well as the struggle against apartheid in South Africa in 1975, radical Marxism caught  fire among lecturers and students on the University of Zambia. The University of Zambia Students Union (UNZASU) led frequent demonstrations which culminated into campus protests, marches, near riots that led to the closure of UNZA and the brief detention of some students in February 1976. Some my best friends from the 1976 class are Dr. Vincent Musakanya, Dr. Stanley Mwila, Dr. Chisanga Siame, Dr. Fred Nga’ndu and Ms. Sophie Ng’andu, the late Dr. Irene Maimbolwa,  Mr. Tom Mubita and Dr. Poonam Groover.

Graduate School Masters and Doctoral Degrees

After I graduated from UNZA with a double major in Psychology and Sociology in 1976, I briefly worked with the National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMBOARD) for 3 months as a Training Officer. One of my most memorable assignments is when I was sent to visit and write a report on all the dozens of NAMBOARD depots in the Western Province. I flew Zambia Airways to Mongu. The Mongu NAMBOARD official, a driver, and a brand new Land Rover were waiting for me at the airport. That’s when for the first time in my life I realized we have such a beautiful country and great people. I visited Kaoma, Lukulu, Senanga, Sesheke, and we crossed the vast dry sandy Zambezi flood plain on our way to Kalabo.

The University of Zambia and the brand new Staff Development Program invited me to join under the Sociology Department. Professor Robert Serpell and Professor Mwanalushi invited me to join them as a Research Assistant on the “Community Response to Alcohol-Related Problem” project sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO). The project was housed at the Institute of African Studies of the University of Zambia at the time. The same institute is now the Institute of Economic and Social Research (INESOR). This is how I became a Staff Development Research Fellow at the Institute while also affiliated with the Sociology Depart or the Social Development Studies as Staff Development Lecturer. Conducting both some teaching and doing field Research was what I had dreamt of most of my academic years at UNZA.

At the Institute I was to work with Directors such as Prof. Kashoki, Dr. Steven Moyo, Prof Serpell, and Professor Oliver Saasa.

The Staff development Fellowship program was probably one of the most innovative in Zambia if not the whole of Africa. The government of Zambia by 1975 had noticed that there were very few or hardly any Zambians on the faculty of the young University of Zambia. To improve the Zambianization process, the program was put in place in which every year from 1975, the best one or two graduates from all departments or majors were going to be selected. They would be offered scholarships abroad and trained to do their Masters and Doctoral Degrees. After completion they were to return to University of Zambia to become our Zambian indigenous lecturers.

I Meet My Wife

I arrived at Michigan State University in East Lansing in Michigan in the United States in September 1977 to do my Master’s and Doctoral Degrees in Sociology. As soon as I stepped out of the plane, all the euphoria, anticipation, and excitement I had enjoyed among my family and friends in Lusaka at many farewell parties abruptly ended. The place was colder than anything I had ever experienced in the coldest month of June in Zambia. I was told the worst in the winter was still to come. I did not like the food, it was too cold, my friends and family were thousands of miles away in Zambia with no phones at the time. Letters took months.

Dr. Peter Manchungwa was there the first day to show me the ropes. He was at the time doing his Ph. D. in psychology. I experienced major culture shock and loneliness. I took so many course credits because I had nothing to do except study. My American classmates were shocked I was carrying such a heavy load of 12 graduate credits when the average was 5. My thinking was the Zambian government was paying for my tuition and board, I did not want to waste precious time. Besides I was used to studying and working hard since I was 9 years old.

Graduation day for my son; from left to right: my Son Temwanani Tembo, Dr. Tembo, Sekani Tembo and Beth Tembo

Graduation day for my son; from left to right: my Son Temwanani Tembo, Dr. Tembo, Sekani Tembo and Beth Tembo

One day I causally met this white American girl at our African party. We hit it off and sparks flew as we were very attracted to each other. Our love was living proof to me that love cuts across human taboos and barriers. Years later in November 1980 amidst a night curfew because of an attempted coup, we were married in Lusaka at the St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Rhodes Park in a small private ceremony before about 15 of our closest friends and my uncle Mr. Mayovu. We were young and I was poor and broke. That’s how we started our lives together.

We are blessed with two large united

My son Sekani Tembo graduating from Bridgewater College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Philosophy in May 2012.

My son Sekani Tembo graduating from Bridgewater College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Philosophy in May 2012.

families in Zambia and the United States. The family rendezvous in Lusaka is my uncle and aunt at Mr. J. J. Mayovu’s house in Lusaka in Chainda farms. I would arrive with my children there on our way to  our remote home village in Lundazi. My wife and I are proud that our 3 children know their roots here in Zambia all the way to the village. They all have Zambian names.

Intellectual and Academic Life

I completed my Doctoral Studies at Michigan State University in 1987 with the late Prof. Ruth Hamilton as my Doctoral Committee Chair. I returned to Zambia with intentions of my working at University of Zambia the rest of my life. After 30 years of an exciting, challenging, research, teaching and intellectual life,  Bridgewater College awarded me a full Professorship in February 2010.

If I were to perform a bird’s eye view of my life achievements spanning over five decades since the early 1960s, the first thing is that I am everyday so profoundly grateful to the Zambians who fought for me to enjoy the tremendous freedom and especially the free education I had all my life. I thank President Kaunda, Simon Kapwepwe, Harry Nkumbula, Titus Mukupo, Julia Chikamoneka, Nalumino Mundia, Munukayumbwa Sipalo,  Reuben Kamanga, Dingiswayo Banda, Justin Chimba, Mainza Chona, Peter Matoka, Elijah Mudenda, Simon Kalulu, Nalumino Mundia,  John Mwanakatwe , Munukayumbwa Sipalo, James Skinner, Arthur Wina, Sikota Wina , Grey Zulu; Lewis Changufu  and Aaron Milner. Without the efforts, sacrifices, and determination of these and many other thousands of Zambians, I may have experienced slavery, the harsh colonialism of forced labor and being lashed with a shambok. We Zambians and Africans have had over hundred long years of being enslaved through the European Atlantic Slave Trade and the Arab East African slave trade. Then there was European colonialism. There is a picture that has haunted me since I first saw it in my history textbook class in Grade 6 when I was 11  years old one bright morning at Tamanda Primary School in 1965. It is a group of Zambians in a single file chained together some with wooden collars around their necks. They were captured as slaves and being brutally marched through the Savannah bush to an East African Sea port by their Arab captors. My thinking at that time was that the enslaved suffering people could have been me, my father, my brothers, my sisters, my grandparents in the village. This appalled me and wondered why any human being would do such evil things to other human beings.

In my whole life, I have never been interested in routine administration leadership. My passion has been conducting research, dealing with, analyzing,  and contemplating philosophical thought. I know I am happy other people purposefully seek, welcome and perform these challenging administrative tasks otherwise I would have no work because someone has to lead and perform administrative jobs. Otherwise I might have no well-run organization or Bridgewater College to work at. Because of this lack of interest, my resume does not have too many having been “Head, Dean, Director, or Chairman” of this or the other organization, Department, Company, College or University.

The organization I am most proud of is being President of Zambia Knowledge Bank (ZANOBA). I had been looking for something very original and important to promote knowledge among our Zambian people. Dr. Wyndioto Chisela, a Physicist,  and I met in Canada in 1995 when my family visited his family. We came up with the idea of creating an organization to encourage  Zambians to document our history, culture and technology. This organization eventually built a Library at Nkhanga Village in Lundazi which opened to the public December 8, 2012.

I conducted research field work while at the Institute of African Studies from 1977 up to 1989. Some of that work resulted into the publication of truly original Zambian and African knowledge in my four books: Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture (2012) with the Foreword by President Kaunda for which I am very grateful. Titbit for the Curious (1989), Legends of Africa (1996), The Bridge (2005, 2012), and Zambian Traditional Names (2006). I had always wanted to be a journalist. I have published over a hundred newspaper columns, dozens of journal and magazine articles about our Zambian culture.

I taught sociology and psychology at Copperbelt University in 1980. I also taught sociology at Michigan State University while I was a Doctoral student from 1985 to 1987. I taught sociology at University of Zambia in the Social Development Studies department from 1987 to 1989. I have

Dr. Tembo with Faculty and his Sociology students at Bridgewater College in Virginia in the United States in May 2011

Dr. Tembo with Faculty and his Sociology students at Bridgewater College in Virginia in the United States in May 2011

been teaching at Bridgewater College in Virginia in the United States for the last 23 years. I have taught General Anthropology, Social Problems, Racial and Ethnic Studies, Cultures of Africa, Development and Underdevelopment of the Modern World, Principles of Sociology, Personal Development Portfolio, Sociology of the Caribbean: A Case Study of Jamaica, Quantitative Research Methods using the SPSS and Mystat Computer Program and (National Opinion Research Center) NORC data, American Culture Seminar, Sociology of the Family, and Criminology. I have also done some quiet extensive scientific reading on the science of HIV-AIDS, disease, and the immune system since the disease’s inception in the early 1980s.

Although I have had all this large volume of knowledge about societies, Zambians and Africans  over many years , my world view was changed dramatically in May this year when I first read Dr. Chisanga’s Siame research article: “Katunkumene and Ancient Egypt in Africa” from the Journal of Black Studies of 20 March, 2013. My world view changed permanently and forever. The challenge is:  “Can we change this world for the majority of 13 million Zambians and then 1 billion Africans?” I did not come to this realization just because I read a short journal article, ate nshima and drank a cup of tea and then said: “Let me think how I can upset so many educated and ordinary Zambians?”

Because of all the knowledge, appreciating history, personal experiences from the village in Zambia to the United States, research, reading so much information and teaching some of it for the last 30 years, I have concluded that we Zambians, from the Ministry of Education Grade One  to grade 12 to University of Zambia, we are teaching the wrong or distorted history to ourselves about ourselves. Our history as Zambians started  a long time ago from two hundred thousand years ago when we were the first humans in East Africa and Ethiopia. We spread all over the world. The evidence of us having been all over the world is all over the world right now. We just need to have the courage and conviction to find it and interpret it to the world. Europeans used to and have successfully blocked this knowledge but the internet will open the flood gate.

After early humans lived and migrated in small bands and communities for thousands of years, We Zambians and Africans created the Egyptian civilization. The arguments as to whether Egypt had white or black people may be irrelevant and it is a deliberate distraction, mifulungenye (Bemba),  msokonezo(Nyanja) kutangwaniska and kujalizgha (Tumbuka), or obfuscation that Europeans cherish which they introduced to justify the beginning of the Atlantic Slave Trade and later European colonialism in Africa. They love to inject race into everything with whites always being superior somehow. African Egyptians in the north were olive skinned and those further south towards the equator were darker skinned.

The Egyptian civilization occurred for 2,010 or more than two thousand years from 3100 B.C.E to 1090 B.C.E. This was about 760 years before the ancient Greeks. The great Ancient Egyptian Civilization which African established was 2,460 years before the very young European Industrial Revolution of the 1700s and 1800s. The 1090 B.C.E to 2013 is 3, 013 years ago. Dr. Siame’s article opened my eyes to the fact that using linguistic analysis known as  philology, and then the morphology, phonology, semantics and syntax of language you can trace “Siame” Namwanga Zambian name to the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt three thousand years ago.

The big question is why should our history books still contain only the Eurocentric history that says that our Zambian history is only significant from the 1600s when Europeans started the Atlantic Slave Trade and 1800s when European Colonialism started in Africa?  At first for example, the Eurocentric history of my own Tumbuka people said we were just there in Lundazi influenced by the Ngoni and Europeans. But Dr. Yizenge Chondoka’s intensive research and history shows that the Tumbuka came from Central Congo in the 1400s. This is from his book: History of the Tumbuka from 1400 to 1900 (2007).

As a Zambian you may have your own different convoluted half-truth version you read or were taught somewhere about how Africans are different people who have thousands of different tribes and languages. The real objective in using “Sub-Saharan Africa” is European attempt to Europeanize, whiten, and distance Africans from Egypt, Southern Europe and the Middle East. But one thing is clear: there is ample evidence now coming out that we should change and revise this history that wrongly portrays all Zambians, Africans, black people everywhere in the world as inferior, came from slavery, or were just sitting in the African jungle or bush jumping for tree to tree until Europeans arrived. This is a massive distortion and suppression of our history since the Greeks first encountered advanced civilization of Egypt three thousand years ago.

We have had some scholars in Zambia who have done some definitive work on Zambian history and knowledge. For example, Prof. Robert Serpell for more than 40 years has been using modern psychology to analyze our Zambian culture and technology, The Significance of Schooling (1993).

Dr. Mutumba Mainga Bull researched; Bulozi Under the Luyana Kings: Political Evolution and State Formation in Pre-Colonial Zambia (1973), Professor Mubanga Kashoki published Sirarpi Ohannessian and Mubanga E Kashoki, Language in Zambia (1978). There are many other works. There are some works by European scholars such as Elizabeth Colson among the Tonga. This is not  the fault of these scholars. But some of these works go beyond the narrow confines of the Eurocentric view point but some do not.

This is the time to begin conducting wider research  that traces our Zambia history not just of culture and technology in the narrow tribal  pejorative sense but looking at our role in Astronomy, Engineering, biology, Mathematics, religion, philosophy, technology, architecture, chemistry, biology, cosmology, and language.

Last Word

Dr. Tembo on the day he was Promoted to Full Professor in February 2010.

Dr. Tembo on the day he was Promoted to Full Professor in February 2010.

  • My dream is that every Zambian  from Mongu to Kasama, Kafulafuta to Kalingalinga in Lusaka, Kariba, Sinazeze, Chililabombwe, Solwezi, all Primary, Secondary schools, University of Zambia and Vietnam, Japan, China, United States and UK should read, use, and contemplate our comprehensive cultural history as presented in the book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”.

Even our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Embassies abroad could use this book. There is no other book that has such comprehensive descriptions of our Zambian culture. I tried to reach State House last December 2012 to see if I could deliver the  book personally to the President at State House when I was in Zambia. But I was unable to make the arrangement.

  • One of my most important passions for many years has been to help President Kaunda to
    Dr. Tembo handing a copy to President Kaunda a copy of his book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”. The President wrote the foreword to the book.

    Dr. Tembo handing a copy to President Kaunda a copy of his book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”. The President wrote the foreword to the book.

    write his autobiography from 1964 to 1991 during the crucial birth of our nation. This is very important especially that Nelson Mandela is gone. If you read the book “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture” you can see that I can do the best job in writing President’s Kaunda’s autobiography. Writing an easily readable, enjoyable,  and engaging autobiography requires tremendous skill. It should never be like writing a technical report. I can do this for nothing although I am relatively poverty stricken.  But his autobiography would be President Kaunda’s biggest gift to our country.

    From left to right after presenting the book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture” to President Kaunda; Mr. Mfula, Dr. Tembo, President Kaunda, and Mr. J. J. Mayovu.

    From left to right after presenting the book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture” to President Kaunda; Mr. Mfula, Dr. Tembo, President Kaunda, and Mr. J. J. Mayovu.

  • I am proposing that we create a “Center for the Deep Contemplation of Knowledge”. This center should be located in a remote Savannah serene but beautiful location away from the bustle of the city. This is where Zambians can spend quiet time  to retreat and  contemplate any knowledge they have. This will not be a University, technical R and D, a place to hold workshops, or a place to use alcohol and hold parties. We already have those. This is where serious Zambian men and women, who would be at least 35 years old, can seriously deeply reflect in a serene location all kinds of knowledge: History, Law, Literature, Performing and creative  Arts, Philosophy, Religion, Linguistics including and especially Zambian languages, Culture, Economics, Gender and Sexuality, Psychology, Sociology, Political and philosophical science, Computer science, Mathematics, Statistics, Agriculture, Architecture, Divinity, Engineering, Physics, Astronomy and Space, Cosmology, Chemistry, Biology, Medicine. Some of the disciplines such Anthropology have been so contaminated, we should never hesitate to create  new disciplines where necessary. Merely repeating or extending epistemological theories that were developed 200 years ago may no longer be useful or give us good explanations or answers as the world continues to change and evolve.

References if Readers want to pursue some of the ideas and knowledge.

Anta Diop, Cheikh., edited and translated by Mercer Cook., The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 1974.

Bernal, Martin., Black Anthena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, Vol. III, Linguistic Evidence, New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 2006.

Bernal, Martin., Black Anthena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, Vol. I, The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985,  New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1987.

Lefkowitz, Mary., Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism became an excuse for teaching myth as history,  Basic Books, 1996, 19997.

Rodney, Walter., How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Washington, D. C.: Howard University Press, 1974.

Bynum, Bruce., (Ed.) Why Darkness Matters: The Power of Melanin in the Brain, Chicago, Illinois: African American Images, 2005.

King, Richard D., Melanin: A Key to Freedom, 3rd Edition 7th Printing Sept. 2011 Baltimore: Afrikan World Books, Inc., 2010.

King, Richard, M. D., African Origin of Biological Psychiatry, Baltimore, Maryland: African World Books, 199o.

Moore, T. Owens., The Science and the Myth of Melanin: Dispelling the Rumors and Exposing the Fact,  Buffalo, NY: Eworld Inc.,  1995, 2002.


December 17, 2013

My son Kamwendo Tembo when he graduated from Culinary School at Oregon Coast Culinary Institute in the United States.

My son Kamwendo Tembo when he graduated from Culinary School at Oregon Coast Culinary Institute in the United States.


My son Kamwendo Tembo with his mother  Beth Tembo in Coos Bay in Oregon in the United States in Aug. 2012.

My son Kamwendo Tembo with his mother Beth Tembo in Coos Bay in Oregon in the United States in Aug. 2012.