Chishimba M. Lumbwe, Ruminations: Politicians, Politicians, Everywhere; But Hardly a Statesman in Sight! A Brutally Frank Satirical Look at the African Society in the 21st Century, Lusaka, Pensulo Publishers, 2022, 266 pages, Paperback, $14.82 (K300.00)
In the past fifty-nine years since 24th October 1964 when Zambia got its independence from British colonialism, we Zambians have had seven Presidents. We should not only be proud of this outstanding achievement against all the obstacles, but we have had peaceful transfers of power from one president to the next. The first President who is the founder of our peaceful nation was President Kaunda who had led the nation for the first 27 years of independence.
After yet another general election year in 2021, for the seventh time power was transferred from the outgoing President Lungu of the Patriotic Front (PF) political party to the incoming President Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) at a public ceremony at Heroes Stadium. During these 59 years, there has been the rise and fall of political parties, candidates, and presidents. Millions of Zambians of several generations have participated in election campaigns and have voted. Presidents have proposed and implemented development plans, have made numerous cabinet appointments including ambassadors. The question which may be the biggest elephant in the room is “what is the uniquely Zambian or African political culture that has evolved in our country over the last 59 years?”
Dr. Chishimba Lumbwe is a medical doctor who was a State House physician for three presidents. He worked closely in the top corridors of Zambian political power for more than forty years. He has written a book titled: “Ruminations: Politicians, Politicians, Everywhere; But Hardly a Statesman in Sight! Satirical Look at the Zambian/African Society in the 21st Century.”
Ruminations are when a person has many deep thoughts about a specific problem. The problem might be their marriage, job, family, why a relative died in the family, why they did not get a particular job. Ruminations are associated with negative thoughts as the ruminator is trying to understand may be an existing or past problem. Dr. Chishimba Lumbwe in this book has been ruminating about Zambian and African politics since 2015 but with a twist; he is ruminating using satire or while being funny. He tries to make the reader laugh about our Zambian or African politicians and our political system since we inherited it from our British colonial Westminster parliamentary system in 1964.
Instead of using the conventional chapters in the book, Dr. Chishimba Lumbwe uses 12 Ruminations. The 12 ruminations include: Rumination 1 – Blood is Thicker Than Water, But Not Thicker Than Opaque Beer; Rumination 2 — Politicians, Politicians, Everywhere; But Hardly a Statesman in Sight! Rumination 6 — Why Politicians Always Think It’s Always Their Time to Eat; Rumination 8 — What Happens When A Political Party Tastes The Heady Pill of Power; Rumination 11 — Job Description for the President of Zambia.
In his book, Ruminations, Dr. Chishimba Lumbwe who was at one time a State House Physician, provides us Zambians and African citizens and readers a valuable gift. This is because if you are Zambian/African who has lived in Zambia for an extended period during the last 59 years, the book will make you smile, laugh, but also think about our past and future lives both as individuals and as a nation. He alludes to the role of cadres and cadrerism in Zambian political party politics and government. The book also provides some powerful creative expression including some poetry on pages 19, 20 and 152. The book also has many examples of providing wisdom, unique insights, and observations in virtually all the 12 ruminations.
For example, discussing how the President and other top political leaders fill job positions, Lumbwe says: “Let’s get a bit personal and put you, the reader, in the president’s shoes: Be honest. Who would you trust to keep your skeletons firmly locked inside a steel cupboard?……And in any case, if you do not fill up some of those posts with your relatives, someone else will fill them up with their relative…..That’s just the way the logic runs, unless you have a true statesman in the State House.” Rumination 1, page 21.
In Rumination 6 under Theorem 10: Lumbwe says there are more men who are psychopaths than women, this is why our politics are so terrible, page 115; If you are interested in understanding how charts, graphs and mathematics are related to human politics, Rumination 10 with thrill you. In Rumination 12 Lumbwe asks why there are so many political parties in Zambia; Lastly in the Postlude Lumbwe asks, “Should we constantly blame other people for our collective stupidity?” p. 176. In the Postlude, Lumbwe discusses “18 things that do not make sense about the Zambian society specifically and the African society in general.” Pp. 216-244.
I would highly recommend Ruminations not just for the ordinary Zambian/African reader, but also for politicians, scholars of political philosophy, social studies teachers, lecturers, Zambian/African English literature, mathematicians, and professors of political science and satire in colleges and 17 Zambian universities including UNZA and other universities in Africa and abroad.
There is the mistaken impression and reputation that one can only learn from books published about Zambia and Africa by political science experts in London, Paris, New York, and Tokyo. The perspective and epistemology Lumbwe expresses is always regarded as illegitimate. Ruminations is a legitimate social perspective and epistemology by a Zambian about the challenges of the Zambian/African political systems and experiences that may be different from politics particularly in Europe or Western societies to whom we always compare ourselves.
The traditional Tumbuka cooking of Chigwada vegetable ndiyo, dende, relish or umunani involves many stages. These were followed when I cooked the Chigwada as “The Village Chef” at the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village with the help of two Research Assistants; Mr. Robert Phiri and Ms. Jusi Nya Banda.
Stages of Cooking Chigwada
You start with making chidulo, second collect fresh tender Chigwada or cassava leaves, third pound the leaves with a pestle and mortar, fourth pour the chidulo into a cooking pot and put the mashed-up leaves into a cooking pot and place it on the fire. Boil the Chigwada for half an hour and add nthendelo, nthwilo or raw fresh groundnut powder. Add salt and any tomatoes. Boil covered for half an hour. Stir every few minutes to avoid burning at the bottom. Add some water if the Chigwada seems to be thickening. After half an hour, stir the nthendelo in the chikwada. After cooking for two and half hours, the Chigwada is ready to serve and eat with sima or nshima. I will critique my cooking of the Chigwada and the taste compared to how my grandmother and my mother used to cook it.
1. Chidulo is made from a choice of many dry leaves of a farm field crop. The chidulo can be made from dry maize stalks, from vitondozo vya skaba or stalks of dry groundnut leaves, dry banana leaves, dry groundnut shells, dry bean plant leaves and shells, dry visokoto from maize. In this case I decided to use the dry stalks of the maize which was about to be harvested. We set a pile of the stalks on fire and collected the cool ashes.
2. The ashes were put in chichezo container which had holes made at the bottom. The ashes were placed in the container and cold water was poured into the ashes. Soon, a dark golden brown liquid began to drip out at the bottom which was collecting in a container at the bottom.
3. We collected about 2 lbs or 1 Kg of fresh soft or tender Chigwada leaves from the trees. Put them in a mortar and pound the leaves until they are a wet moist mash.
4. We pounded raw peanuts with a pestle and mortar and made about 6 cups of fresh peanut or groundnut powder.
5. We poured 5 cups of the chidulo liquid into the cooking pot and added the mashed Chigwada leaves and began to boil the Chigwada for 30 minutes.
6. I poured 4 cups of the raw groundnut or peanut powder on top of the Chigwada. DO NOT stir yet. Add one teaspoon of salt. You can add tomatoes but this is optional. Boil covered for 30 minutes.
7. I stirred the Chigwada vigorously and let it simmer and added water if necessary if the Chigwada is drying up. Stir every few minutes to prevent the Chigwada from burning at the bottom. Lower the heat.
8. After two and half hours, stir the Chigwada and remove it from the fire as it is ready to be served with nshima.
Critiquing the Cooked Chigwada
I ate and enjoyed the nshima with the cooked Chigwada. But the taste was nowhere close to how my grandmother and mother used to cook it. Fist I need to determine which crop stalk has the strongest chidulo. Is the chidulo from the dry groundnut leaves, banana leaves, bean leaves or maize visokoto or vigamu and any other, the strongest? I could not find a flat stable surface for the sensitive scale I was using. This might sound simple. I could not find a small foldable table in Lusaka after going to so many shops.
My grandmother and my mother used a clay pot for cooking. This may make a difference. I think the Chigwada needs very slow deep cooking. Metal pots are not always the best way to cook all foods. Adding more water when cooking the Chigwada dilutes the chidulo which needs to have a sharp acidic taste at its best. Chidulo is not just a flavoring to the Chigwada but it is a central ingredient that tremendously defines the characteristic taste. It is a uniquely Zambian taste embedded in traditional cooking among the Tumbuka.
What was best about the cooking experiment is that we had all the basic tools. When we repeat or replicate the cooking, my team and I will only improve and get better. This is the central feature of any scientific approach.
For 19 million Zambians in Southern Africa, nshima and what it stands for is the very basis of life. Nshima is the staple food eaten by not only Zambians but Malawians and many other African neighbors. Almost all 72 tribes and indigenous African languages in Zambia probably call nshima by a different name according to the specific area language and dialect variation. The Chewa, Tumbuka, and Ngoni of Eastern Zambia and Malawi call it sima or nsima, the Bemba of Northern Zambia call it ubwali, the Tonga of Southern Zambia call it insima and Lozi of Western Zambia call it buhobe.
There is a saying that Eskimos who live in the frozen north pole may have many different definitions of snow. This reality of having so many definitions may be true for people who live in the desert and how they define sand or people who live on sea islands and how they may define types of fish, for example. This reality is true for nshima in Zambian culture.
In traditional villages in rural Zambia, nshima has many types and states. There is nshima that is cooked from cassava meal (sima ya chikhau or chinangwa), sorghum meal (sima ya mapila or chidomba), finger millet meal (sima ya kambala), and sima of rice or mpunga. Potentially nshima can be cooked from any grain and tubers that can be ground into meal or flour. There is nshima that has lumps in it (sima ya mambontho). This nshima is often the result of hasty cooking and only young inexperienced girls, men, and novices are expected to make this mistake.
There is nshima yopola. This is nshima that has gotten lukewarm or cold because either it was cooked too early or eaters, guests, or diners delayed getting to the table. This nshima is rather hard and might even crumble as the eater tries to get a lump. There is nshima ya cimbala. This is nshima left over from the previous night. It is usually stone cold and wet from steam condensation overnight. Children are the only ones expected to eat this type of nshima sometimes for breakfast. Adult men are not advised to eat nshima ya cimbala as it is believed to cause weakness in the elbow joints and also likely to usurp a man’s sexual energy.
Nshima yibisi means raw nshima. This is the nshima that was badly and hastily cooked perhaps with a very weak flame due to inadequate firewood or impatience on the part of the woman or the cook. One extreme way of testing if the nshima is yibisi or not well cooked is to push one’s forefinger deep into the just cooked nshima on a plate like one would push a dipstick when determining oil level in an automobile engine. If the nshima is well cooked, the finger will hardly penetrate, as it will be too hot for the tester. But if the nshima is undercooked, the finger will penetrate all the way and the individual tester will hardly feel any discomfort.
There is nshima ya mugayiwa. This is nshima that is cooked from corn or maize that is not hand processed. It is corn meal ground directly from corn using a hammer mill. This type of nshima is darker and very coarse or rough. Many Zambians will only eat this as a sign of hardship, in an emergency, or if they are living in institutions like the boarding school, armed forces, or prison.
In extreme cases it might cause diarrhea because of too much roughage for those not accustomed to eating it.
There is nshima ya kambandila which is cooked from maize or corn meal that is made from corn that has hardly dried in the fields just before harvest. This is also often done in desperation as the family might have run out of corn or maize from the previous season’s harvest or vingoms va chomba.
Nshima yosoza refers to eating the nshima without the second dish; the relish. This again is an extremely tremendous sign of suffering if individuals have to resort to eating nshima without relish. This extreme case is rare as in most cases individuals who eat nshima yo soza are said to be careless. There is a learned skill in eating a large plate of nshima matched with often a smaller portion or serving of relish. One has to learn to match the rate of eating the nshima with the specific served portion of the relish. Going to the relish pot for some more is usually unacceptable or impractical. So, in the unfortunate situation of mismatching the rate of eating nshima and the relish, the individual might end up eating nshima yo soza
Nshima features very prominently in many other cultural aspects of the community. For example, a traditional healer or nga’nga will often prescribe that a patient gets the herb soaked from roots of a certain tree and use it for cooking nshima. The patient has to eat this type of nshima for two to three weeks to a month. This is true for a child who is being treated for childhood epilepsy or seizures for example. This type of nshima is known among the Tumbuka people as kasima ka mnkhwala or a tinny nshima cooked for medicinal purposes.
One of the most significant aspects of the Zambian staple meal by which the sima is ultimately identified with is what in English might be called the “relish”. The relish is an English somewhat poor equivalent or translation, which obviously, does not precisely reflect or capture what Zambians often realize is the very fundamental and transcending essence of the dish. The relish is a second dish that is always and without exception served with the sima. It has many indigenous equivalent names. Among the Tumbuka of Eastern Zambia it is known as dende, among the Ngoni and Chewa of Malawi and Eastern Zambia it is known as ndiyo or dende, and umunani among the Bemba speaking people of Northern Zambia and the Copperbelt Province.
The dende second dish which is always served with sima is often cooked from domestic and wild meats that include beef, goat, mutton, deer, buffalo, elephant, warthog, wild pig, mice, rabbits or hare, antelope, turtle, alligator or crocodile, monkey, chicken eggs. Green vegetables include domestic or garden grown like collard greens, known as rape in Zambia, cabbage, pumpkin and squash leaves, pea leaves, cassava leaves, bean leaves, kabata, nyazongwe, or bilozongwe leaves. There are numerous wild green vegetables that include katambalala, chekwechekwe, katate, lumanda, and numerous others, which are all, referred to by the very well known generic name of delele or thelele among people of Eastern Zambia and Malawi. There are anywhere from 20 to 30 of this group of thelele vegetables.
Because the delele and other groups of vegetables are always so plentiful and easily available in the natural environment, it is one dende that is frequently held in contempt. In rural Zambia the daily conversation will often focus on how difficult it is to get dende. Someone will invariably complain that they have been eating delele for three straight days. Since any type of meat protein is the most scarce, it is the most valued or desired. Infact there is a special term that is used for that irresistible desire or yearning for meat which is known as nkhuli in Eastern Zambia and Malawi.
The pair of sima and dende is therefore the most significant Zambian meal. One is rarely possible without the other. The two are like Siamese twins, the left and the right hand, student and teacher, husband and wife, male and female or mitt and glove in American baseball parlance. Having one without the other is possible but is always regarded as a serious anomaly or oddity. If the cook induces the condition of eating sima or dende on its own, it would be regarded as lack of proper planning. If the diners induce the condition, they would be regarded as having poor judgement or being immature.
Other types of madende include fish, peanuts, peanut butter (chibwabwa or chimphonde), numerous types of wild mushrooms, and many varieties of beans and peas.
One excellent reason for why sima and dende always go together is that they complement each other. Sima eaten by itself is rather relatively plain and bland. Although if you are an experienced, seasoned, and traditional eater of the meal, the sima has its own subtle differences in taste and flavor depending on the type of mealie-meal and how it was cooked.
In fact when Westerners who visit Zambia first eat sima their typical reaction is: “God, why don’t you add butter, sugar or something to give it some taste or flavor?” But that is exactly the beauty and deeply acquired taste and appreciation of sima in that it is the dende, dende or relish second dish that gives it the unique taste or deliciousness. The sima therefore accentuates the dende and the reverse is also true. Eating the sima by itself will fill the eater but without any taste ecstasy. Eating the dende by itself might be gratifying but the individual will not feel full or satiated. Eating sima by itself is known as kusoza among the Tumbuka people of Zambia. Kusinkha refers to eating dende or relish by itself.
(Names of people have been changed to respect their privacy)
“Your—- excellency, Sir, ehh!!!” I said still stuttering but regaining my composure. “My boss, President Hansen of Oakhill University College has sent me to ask if you could come and address our students at the college. The fifteen hundred students at the Christian school are mostly white. They would be honored and would learn a lot about Africa and Zambia if you visited us.”
“Mr. Mufwaya!” President Kaunda calmly called as I was talking. “Have you found it?”
“Not yet, Mukwayi,” Mr. Mufwaya replied from the kitchen. “I am starting to do laundry.”
Conversations went back and forth with his staff as the President and I talked. He said he and Mr. Mufwaya would look at his schedule. We can discuss the date and details later. As I was realizing my five minutes would be up soon, a spontaneous urge came over me about the numerous questions I had been curious to ask him for many years.
“Sir, I have been curious for many years. What was it like to meet South African Prime Minister Vorster in the train car in the middle of the Zambezi railway Victoria Falls bridge in the fight against white racist apartheid policy in South Africa?”
President Kaunda’s face animated and eyes suddenly sparkled with passion. He began to describe to me that he had been doing everything or anything to fight and negotiate to dismantle apartheid. He knew that without the peaceful resolution of apartheid, there would be terrible bloodshed in the whole of Southern Africa. His sudden passion was as if my question had turned on a switch.
“Vorster was very treacherous… deceitful…insincere….” Suddenly President Kaunda paused in thought. It was as if he had realized something. “If you were……well young man….” His voice faded away.
“Mr. Mufwaya! Are you ready?” President Kaunda suddenly yelled.
“No!” Mr. Mufwaya replied from the kitchen. “Mukwayi, I am busy doing laundry and doing some house work today. Can he take my place?”
I was not paying attention to the conversations because I knew my five minutes were nearly up and I was very happy and ready to leave.
“Young man, can you play golf?” President Kuanda suddenly asked.
I glanced around me because I thought the question was directed at someone else behind me. There was no one else behind me.
“You mean me?” I jabbed at my chest with my forefinger.
“Yes, of course!” my sudden emphatic reply shocked me. What was I doing?
“Mr. Mufwaya, can you get and lend your golf shirt to the Professor?”
Since I was a young boy from the village through secondary school, I was the worst person at sports. In the chifwayo soccer or football I played with other boys using a ball tied with rags and tree fiber, the choice of who would be on the two teams was always humiliating for me. I was last to be chosen. If the total number of players was an odd number like 7 or 9, I was last and the one player who both teams willingly said: “You can have Mwizenge on your team! He doesn’t matter.” The teams would then play with my team having 4 players against 3 or 5 against 4. One time when I was at the Prestigious Chizongwe Secondary School, I tried to learn how to play tennis singles with my classmates Charlie, Mike, Ben and Ruskin in 1970. I failed miserably.
For some reason, when I was doing my Ph. D. at Michigan State University in 1985, I decided to learn how to play golf. I took ten lessons. I thanked my stars because today twenty-one years later in 2006, I was going to be able to play golf with my hero President Kaunda. What a lucky son of a gun? God sometimes blesses fools like myself. I thought to myself.
When we arrived at the golf course for tee off, a 65-year-old African-American man was paired with his 30-year-old son. President Kaunda and I were paired. The President was going to drive our golf cart. At that moment, a million thoughts rushed through my head. There were no cell phones yet for me to take selfies. I wished at that moment that my parents, my brothers and sisters, family members in Zambia and America, my wife, and my childhood friends were there to see me play golf with President Kaunda. Who was going to believe this? Even I could not believe it. It felt like a dream.
After a few minutes of these fantasies, I made one important decision: to enjoy every second and minute of my 18 rare holes of golf with President Kaunda. I decided to talk little but see, hear, smile, smell, and laugh. You can never really enjoy special moments if you are trying to talk at the same time during the whole time.
I was not going to try to be a golf hero hitting the ball 300 yards or 275 meters. If you hit the ball too wildly as a terrible golfer myself, the ball would end up in the bushes under trees. You waste time looking for the ball in thick bushes. I decided I was going to play it very safe. I would drive the ball for about 100 yards or 91 meters in the middle of the fare way. And that’s what I did for 18 holes. I avoided embarrassing myself. President Kaunda had one of the smoothest beautiful swings in golf I had ever seen.
As we were motoring toward the 18th hole, it was getting dark, cold, and raining. I held our large umbrella as President Kaunda drove our cart. When we arrived back at the apartment, I was thoroughly content to leave. I told my hosts I was going to leave to find a motel room, sleep, and fly out of Boston in the morning at 8:00hrs. President Kaunda would not hear it. He said I was welcome to sleep in the one spare bedroom they had.
We did not call a taxi or get a limousine to go out to a restaurant for dinner. President Kaunda took a warm bath. All five of us walked, with President Kaunda in the middle, in a single file along the sidewalk of the busy city street at night in the City of Boston, the way we walk on a bush path between rural villages in Zambia.
After four blocks, we arrived at an Indian Restaurant where we ate a delicious dinner amidst jokes and hearty laughter. When we arrived back at the apartment late that evening, I bid President Kaunda goodbye thanking him for the great wonderful time I had. When I hugged him good night, I noticed he was so tall that my forehead barely touched the bottom of his chest. Early the following morning, Mr. Phiri escorted me to the railway station on my way back to Boston Logan International airport for my flight back Washington, D. C. to Oakhill University College.
(Names of people have been changed to respect their privacy)
My intense interest to meet President Kaunda started 61 years ago in 1962 when I was eight years old. My father was a teacher at Mafuta Primary School in Chief Mafuta’s area 30 miles or 48kms north of Chipata along the Chipata-Lundazi road. There were political tensions, skirmishes and violence as the United National Independence Party (UNIP) and the African National Congress (ANC) were vying for power in the fighting for independence against the British colonial government in the then Northern Rhodesia.
Violent clashes between UNIP and ANC supporters were common. As they were discussing what was going on in the country in animated, tense, and sometimes hash-hash tones in our house, I would hear my father and mother mention “AKaunda” and “ANkhumbula” “UNIPI” “KONGRESI” also “Welensky”. This is how my young ears were exposed to the political founders of independent Zambia such as Kenneth Kaunda, Harry Nkhumbula, Simon Kapwepwe, Reuben Kamanga whose home constituency of Chitandika was just west of Mafuta, Munukayumbwa Sipalo, and many others. As a child I often wondered what it would be like to meet some of our great legendary leaders such as Kaunda, Nkhumbula, Sipalo, and Kapwepwe.
After being elected the first President of Zambia at independence in 1964, President Kaunda often toured all parts of Zambia to unite the young fragile country. When I was in Form I or Grade 9 in January 1967 at the prestigious Chizongwe Secondary School, students from the school walked to the Lundazi-Mfuwe road to see, cheer, and wave our small Zambian paper flags at President Kaunda who was touring the Eastern Province. His fast motorcade was driving from Chipata Airstrip. Kaunda’s motorcade zoomed by in his black swift Mercedes Benz as he waved his white handkerchief smiling from the back seat. Later that afternoon, we students walked 5Kms to Mpezeni Park in Chipata where President Kaunda addressed a massive rally. I was fortunate to be close enough to the podium in the massive crowd that surged forward when the President arrived. The rally was a very electric political spectacle.
During my first year as a student at University of Zambia in 1972, I bought and read on my own Kenneth Kaunda’s “A Humanist in Africa”. It was his celebration of our Zambian/African culture and his thoughts about our African politics of liberation at the time leading to 1964. Kenneth Kaunda the President and his philosophical ideas began to intrigue me. “Who is this man?” I began to ask myself as I was to read all his five books the next eighteen years. I began to ask myself what would happen if I met this man face to face? What questions would I ask him about his ideas and about being President? He became my hero who I greatly respected and he became center of my admiration.
The opportunity to meet President Kaunda never occurred when I was in Zambia for 13 years in the 1970s and 80s. I was abroad most of that time doing my Masters and Ph. degrees which the Zambian people had paid for. The precious opportunity to meet President Kaunda did not occur until 2006. President Kaunda was to participate in the African President-in-Residence program at Boston University for one year. I was a lecturer or Assistant Professor teaching at Oakhill University College in the United States of America. The small body of 1500 students was mostly white. I thought that the students would learn a lot about my African or Zambian culture if the college invited President Kaunda to come and address Oakhill University College. This is how for four months, I called President Kaunda’s assistant Mr. Mufwaya to ask and arrange for President Kaunda to visit our college. President George Hansen, who was my boss at the college, was enthusiastic and encouraged me to work on inviting President Kaunda to pay our small rural Christian college a visit.
President Kaunda was a busy man at Boston College as so many organizations all over the United States were inviting him. This is when I suggested to President Hansen that I go to visit President Kaunda in Boston so that I could talk to him face to face about the invitation to visit our college.
As soon as my boss approved my trip to Boston, I was thrilled, scared, and nervous as hell. What profound thing was I going to say face to face with President Kaunda? This is the man who had been President of my beloved country for 27 years. He had dined with Kings, Queens, and Presidents. I was a nobody. I knew there would probably be a long line of dignitaries waiting to see him and I would be lucky to have even just five minutes to talk to him. My nervousness became worse when I realized this was my hero who I tremendously respected and was eager to impress.
During my one-hour flight from Washington, D.C to Boston, I carefully rehearsed what I would say to President Kaunda in five minutes. I caught a train from the airport to the City of Boston. Another of President Kaunda’s assistants, Mr. Phiri, met me at the railway station. We walked three blocks to President Kaunda’s flat or apartment. When we entered the apartment building, I realized the great moment had come. We had to climb 15 stairs to get into his apartment. My heart was thumping into my throat each time I climbed one step closer. I saw President Kaunda sitting upright in a dining room chair with a second chair next to him. He was not wearing a black suit with a tie. He was wearing casual clothes. There was no line of people waiting to see him? How lucky was I? Did I come too early? Nothing looked normal about meeting a former head of state. Something had to be wrong.
“How are you, Professor?” President Kaunda smiled as he rose and we shook hands.
“I am—-alright, Your—– Excellency,” I faintly stammered as I cursed my stupid heart as it was still racing and thumping in my throat. I was as nervous as hell. Remember what you have to say, remember what you have to say, I reminded myself. I feared my stupid heart was going to waste my five precious minutes with this busy man.
Where were you and what were you doing when you heard the news that the greatest football or soccer player in the world Pele had died? I was eating lunch alone in Virginia in the United States at the dining room table in my house as the TV CNN news channel was running. The announcer said “CNN Breaking News”. Once I heard that Pele had died, my hand froze with the next bite of the piece of watermelon I was eating and chewing to finish my lunch. I paused for about a minute to just let the news sink in. I felt terrible but not shocked. Pele had been in the hospital during the recent world cup that had ended just a few days before on December 18 when we watched the World Cup final between Argentina and France. I was sad. I knew I and the world were going to miss Pele’s genuine happy bright smile. Boy, did he have passion for what he called the beautiful game of football or soccer?
My immediate reaction was “Who can I talk to about Pele”? Ten years ago, I would have picked up my cell phone to call Zambia to talk to my uncle who had introduced me to the legend of Pele in 1969. But my Uncle Mr. JJ Mayovu died in 2014. I would have called my friend and University of Zambia classmate Dr. Vincent Musakanya who lived in the UK. But he also passed away October 9 2019.
Since Pele was born in 1940 and died in 2022 at 82 years old, there are perhaps billions of people who have died who lived, saw, heard about, even played with and enjoyed the football legend’s breath-taking plays. After exploring all his football achievement statistics, what can we reminisce from Pele playing spectacular football on the world stage for nearly 20 years from 1957 to 1977. There are numerous questions that one can ask about Pele the legend. You can ask the millions and perhaps billions of people in the world when did you hear about Pele and how? For those to have been fortunate enough to see him play, when did they see him and what did they think? Some of the most bitter disagreements football fans may have today is how would Pele fare in today’s football? In spite his fame, were there players during Pele’s era who were better than him?
Later to be nicknamed Pele, Edson Arantes do Nascimento was born in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, in rural Brazil on 23 October 1940. He died on 29 December 2022 (aged 82) in the city of São Paulo in Brazil.
I was 372 miles or 600 Kms. away from the Capital City of Lusaka in rural Chipata in the Eastern Province of Zambia attending the prestigious Chizongwe Secondary School in Form III or Grade 9 in 1969. My uncle and aunt invited me to spend the August school holidays at their home in North mead in Lusaka. That first weekend my uncle took me to Woodlands Stadium to watch City of Lusaka hosting Mufulira Wanderers. It was my first time to see the famous Zoom Ndlovu. I saw him make a wonderful creative intelligent play worthy of the beautiful game of football.
Zoom was in the middle of his short swift crisp graceful passes to his team mates as they were building an attack against City of Lusaka. Zoom had intercepted a pass and had possession of the ball rolling it along as if looking to pass it. He stopped. He suddenly bolted forward taking his defender with him. Zoom did not have the ball. He had left it deliberately sitting on the ground. Zoom’s teammate took the ball. It was a pass to his teammate who had been nearby. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. “Z-o-o-m!!!!!” was the loud cheer from the crowd. I excitedly clapped as my uncle and I looked at each other with sheer amazement and pleasure at what Zoom was doing.
When we got home that evening, that is when my uncle told me about Pele. In a very excited tone, my uncle said Pele was a great player from Brazil who was probably ten times better than Zoom. “He can dribble or nyunya past a forest of 6 to 8 defenders and easily score with either foot. He can keep the ball in the air kicking and heading it two to three times past defenders and shoot a bullet to score. His headers are deadly. He creates fear in all defenders because of his dribbling, speed and agility!!!” I was hooked on Pele from that evening in August 1969. This was a time news was available in major newspapers only in large cities of the world. Widespread TV, the internet and the cell phone were 31 years away. But somehow the legend of Pele spread like wildfire to the remotest parts of the world.
The Role of the Internet
Instead of just hearing about Pele or reading about him from pundits like this author, the advantage of the internet today is that there is tons of information, history, books, and especially video clips, documentaries, and films of Pele. Over the last twenty years, I have spent countless times on Saturday nights watching video clips of Pele’s best plays and some old black and white films from the 1950s. You can check things for yourself. The problem in Zambia and perhaps most of the Third World is that the internet cell phone bundles cost so much that it is difficult and costly to watch just even a few old video clips.
Some of the video clips are the ones which show reactions from players from teams that played against Pele. The players attest that it was impossible to mark and defend against Pele. The man scored at least one goal in every game of the more than one thousand games in which he played.
I was fortunate enough to see the last goal of his entire professional career. I saw it on black and white TV when I was a graduate student doing my Master’s Degree at Michigan State University in Michigan in the United States. This was on 1st October 1977. Pele’s professional football team at the time was the New York Cosmos in the United States. The team played the exhibition game against the Santos Football Club of Brazil.
I watched Pele take a free kick from about 30 yards or 28 meters from the goal. There was no wall of defenders in front of the free kick. The goalkeeper looked alert and ready. Pele struck the ball the way he had done for nearly twenty years. Like a Tomahawk jet powered laser guided ballistic cruise missile, the ball travelled just 32mm or 12 inches above the smooth football ground surface grass toward its target. The goalkeeper dove to the ground to block the bullet. By the time the goalkeeper had hit the ground, the ball was behind him and bouncing in the corner of the net. The crowd roared.
Soccer was still very unknown in the United States. So, I was watching that last game alone in my dormitory room. Pele had done it again for the last time. This is why in all of his interviews, Pele says his spectacular skills, unbelievable instincts during the game, passion, and love for the beautiful game of football or soccer was a gift from God. Indeed, he was a gift from God to the world that will never happen again. There will never be another Pele.
I delivered this sermon to the Harrisonburg Unitarian Universalists Church located in Harrisonburg Virginia in the United States on October 23, 2022.
Let us pray: “We thank the redeemer for giving us life, beautiful sounds of music, physical strength, spiritual strength and this beautiful day for all of us to gather together to worship. We ask that you open our eyes and ears to the message that the congregation has asked to be delivered this morning. Give us the ability to look beyond our immediate narrow lives. We ask for all these blessings in the redeemer’s name. Amen.”
The title of my Sermon this morning is “The Significance or importance of Good and Evil in Our Lives: Examples from Personal Experiences and Cultural Faiths.”
The human struggle between good and evil is primordial; it has been there; it was there before you and I were born and will be there long after we are gone. I will draw examples from my personal life experiences and the expositions from selected religious or more accurately cultural faith leaders. This message will implore you to fill your lives like vessels that will be brimming full of goodness in spite all the challenges and struggles against evil that we face in our everyday lives.
According to the video, the Universe is so vast and deep that our human minds cannot possibly comprehend it. In the same way knowledge of ourselves and the world as we humans understand it is very deep. Our faith is very deep. But our human arrogance is so big that we as humans often lack humility.
What is the Universe of Good Vs. Evil? These ideas have been inspired by my life-long human struggle and contemplation of goodness and evil, human suffering and triumph, appreciation of both beauty and ugliness. Growing up as a child at Chipewa Village in Zambia, Africa, I remember my parents and grandparents pointing out to me what was cruelty and kindness, goodness and evil. Their teachings were mixed with personal example sprinkled with generous doses of laughter and a sense of appreciation of all that is good; the gift of life, good harvest and meals, dance and song, listening to folktales by the fire at night or under a bright moonlight, wearing good piece of clothing to go to church on Sunday, the goodness that comes from living a righteous and dignified life of hard work.
All of these created in me and my community a deep sense of appreciation of life and the power and magnificence that God created; God in my Tumbuka tribe was not the God of the major world religions; Christianity, Islam, Buddism, Hinduism; but the God we the Tumbuka called Chiuta which is the bow that you see in a beautiful rainbow. Uta is also the bow that the Tumbuka used for hunting. This is what I mean by “Cultural Faiths”.
Let me discuss both Evil and Goodness. I will be light on Evil because it creates darkness, shocks and depresses us. Goodness on the other hand is uplifting and fills us with joy. There are all types of Evil from mild to just simply unthinkable. Recently, I saw the three episodes ofThe U.S. and the Holocaust documentary by Kern Burns. This is the ultimate in human capacity to commit evil on an unthinkable scale. I don’t want to discuss the details. I am the man who for more than forty years has learned and taught sociology and the social sciences. I have taught about evil. But was always very considerate to my young students. I am not about to change that now before this congregation.
Evil has many degrees and types. Evil also has to do with bad things such as the holocaust and the Atlantic Slave Trade happening to some people and not to others. The big question in life is “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I would refer you to Harold Kushner’s book: “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People”. You may get some answers. The answer is not because God wants bad things to happen to good people.
What is intriguing about life, my life, your life, is that for the most part it is filled with goodness because people and nature are both good to us for the most part.
When God created Adam and Eve, the two were endowed with soul, spiritual passion, and were surrounded with physical beauty. One can see this beauty when you see the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia in the United States, the Muchinga Escarpment in the Eastern Province of Zambia, the gorgeous blue lagoons and magnificent blue waters and sand beaches of the world such as those on the Island of Jamaica, and the breath-taking green river valleys. The ability to engage in evil of varying degrees is present in all humans.
Parents and the community are the first line of defense against evil. God and all Cultural Faiths help as people raise and nurture children be these their own or those of others in the community. A bad, cruel, poor or a lack of proper parental or extended family upbringing with little or no spiritual nurturing tremendously increases the chances that the child will not distinguish between good and evil. As I have contemplated and in my own way fought against evil, I am convinced that Christianity has a valid point; we humans seem to be born with sin.
All major faiths including Christianity and believing in God of all cultural faiths including faith in Christ are the most powerful spiritual forces when individuals open themselves and their hearts to the force. God or Chiuta works through parents and the community to teach children about kindness, sharing, treating all human beings with fairness and respect, and to revere life itself. When we are born then we have a tremendous gift for doing good through our families and communities.
When does evil begin to grow in humans? When human beings acquire power, material possessions and wealth for greedy ends, their powerful, true, compassionate and genuine Cultural Faith beliefs are threatened or begin to decline. Lack of or weak parental extended family upbringing and the desire to acquire material possessions and power beyond our immediate needs is the beginnings, if not the foundation of evil and sin and sometimes misery. What does all this mean in everyday life and especially for all us gathered here now?
It means as humans, we all live the way God or our Cultural Faiths intended us to live until we begin to engage in limitless hedonism, or exercise the desire for more power and material possessions for greedy ends for both individuals and nations. (Prosperity Theology or Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism) The foundation for all egregious evil is the desire for more power, and material possessions which is reflected in human greed of different degrees; greed for power and greed for sex. The root and beginning of the evil and atrocities humans commit on both a small and grand scale is always the desire for more power, and material possessions than God intended for our happy, compassionate, righteous, happy fulfilled lives.
I have been blessed to have been surrounded by goodness and kindness all my life. Some of the best representatives of this goodness were my mother, my father, amama a Nya Zgobvu, my wife, my late best college friend Dr. Vincent Musakanya. Examples from my aunt NyaZgovu: one time I asked the Pastor of the Church I attend; how can I repay my aunt’s goodness? Send her a card?
Goodness Vs. Evil play a tag of war in our lives. Goodness and Evil are related to love and pain and suffering. President Kennth Kaunda said:
“The very attempts of modern societies to insulate themselves from suffering have resulted in a refusal of love, for the willingness to love and be loved makes suffering inevitable. And in the refusal of love, modern man feels pain without the possibility of transforming it into suffering. In trying to shut out suffering, Man only turns it into something useless and degrading.” (Kaunda, 1966, p.40)
Dealing with all kinds of evil is not easy. Since there is so much evil in this world, how can we live a life brimming and overflowing with goodness?
First, surround yourself and seek good, strong, and kind people. You may be lucky to be born into a good family in this sense. Not necessarily a family that is rich and well off.
Second, live a life of deep faith and humility.
Third, take care of your soul. Moore, Thomas., Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life, New York: HarperPerennial Publishers, 1994.
Kushner, Harold., When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough: A Search for Life that Matters, New York: Pocket Books, 1986.
Fourth, learn how to both acquire and use the power you are granted judiciously. Do not let excessive desire for power and excessive material possession lead you to commit evil. Do not let hubris overcome you. Live a life of humility. You and me are really small in this vast universe we call life.
Avoid acquiring excessive material possessions. I have often wondered why people who joined or converted to some religions or communes got rid of virtually all of their material possessions. Excessive power, material possessions, often create greed and then evil. Having the appropriate power and enough possessions to meet our needs creates goodness, happiness and joy and so much joy in our lives.
Closing Prayer: “Let us pray. We thank the almighty for the message that has just been delivered. We pray and hope that this message will help to open our eyes, ears, and our hearts to be aware of evil and to help us embrace the possibilities of feeling our hearts with goodness and joy. We ask for all these blessings and possibilities in the redeemer’s name. Amen.”
by Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Bridgewater College
ABSTRACT: A study was conducted at the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village in rural Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, in southern Africa in the Chongwe area along the Great East Road. The model village was located on 50 hectares, or 123 acres, of Savannah Wilderness. The study used the ethnographic method with a limited survey. The two questions investigated were, first, whether the fifteen village residents could develop sustainable social bonds and networks in the context of the social ecology of the village; and second, whether the model village residents could successfully employ sustainable subsistence farming methods in the production of food. The findings answered both questions and the viability of creating a sustainable model village. The findings also exposed the challenges of developing social bonds within the social ecology of a newly created model village and the problems of using subsistence farming methods in implementing sustainable food production strategies in agricultural development in rural Zambia/Africa.
KEYWORDS: Sustainable; Sustainability; Model Village; Subsistence Farming; Rural Zambia; Rural Africa; Sustainable Food Production; Rural Agricultural Development; Ethnography; Social bonds, Social Ecology, Ethnography, Qualitative methods.
Challenges of Sustainable Subsistence Farming…………………………….. 3
Physical and Social Aspects of the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village………………………………………………………………………………………… 4
Methodology of Ethnography………………………………………………………. 5
Sustainable Zambian/African Model Village Question 1: Social Bonds
and Networks…………………………………………………………………………. 7
Sustainable Zambian/African Model Village Question 2: Food Production…………………………………………………………………………………… 9
Findings of the Sustainable Zambian/African Model Village
Question 1: Social Bonds and Networks………………………………… 10
Findings of Sustainable Zambian/African Model Village
Question 2: Food Production………………………………………………… 14
Table 1: Farm Field Inputs…………………………………………………………. 22
Appendix A: Model Village Photographs……………………………………. 27
Sustainable development has been advocated in international development policies since the late 1980s, when the global population reached five billion, creating unprecedent pressures on food production. In the two decades after 1970, world leaders realized through the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations in 1987 that the world could not continue to enable lifestyles that consumed large amounts of the world’s resources. There was a concern among development experts and environmental activists that the prevailing consumer habits would deplete the world’s resources, and, as such, they began to widely advocate for sustainable development policies. According to the Brundtland Commission U.N. Report of 1987, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED 1987a: 43).
The major objective of this research report is to present findings from a research project conducted at the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village located in rural Lusaka in Zambia in southern Africa from January to June 2021. First, the research project investigated whether subsistence sustainable agricultural development methods can be successfully used to grow food in a rural environment. Second, the project investigated whether a model village could be created to instigate enduring sustainable social bonds within the social ecology among rural model village residents. It was hoped that the findings of the model village study could be used as the basis for implementing successful sustainable development model village programs in many parts of rural Zambia and the global world.
The research report has seven major parts:
A discussion of the two major problems of subsistence sustainable farming and the social bonds of a model village social ecology that were investigated in this study and why the author set up the model village to solve these problems.
A description of the physical location of the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village and its residents.
A discussion of the ethnography primary major research method that was employed in the study.
A discussion of the two major questions that were investigated.
The findings of the sustainable social bonds among the village residents question.
The findings of the sustainable food production question.
Discussion of the findings and conclusions.
Challenges of Subsistence Sustainable Farming
There is a prevailing social crisis which is a paradox of globalization and massive industrial production of manufactured commodities, products, agroindustry, agribusiness, massive bureaucracies, conspicuous consumption, social class, urbanization, the Internet, and social media. Some of the paradoxes include: “Are low-carbon cultures that live with rather than seek to master nature backward?”; “Is frugality poverty?”; Are non-Western cultures rich in what Western cultures are now poor (no monetized items such as open space, leisure, solidarity, ecological knowledge)?”
Because of these paradoxes of globalization, the challenges of maintaining and implementing sustainable lifestyles, including introducing sustainable, primarily organic subsistence food production in rural Zambia and Africa, have become increasingly urgent. This is because climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, rapid population growth, globalization accompanied by massive conspicuous consumption, and the effort to transform food production and farming into massive-scale commercial farming all threaten the future of humans and the planet earth.
The current looming crisis in the food production necessary to feed 7.7 billion people, including an estimated 17 million Zambians, lies in the threat of unsustainable food production practices. Current food production practices emphasize the use of cheap labor and excessive use of increasingly expensive fossil fuels, fertilizer, hybrid seeds, and other commercial farm inputs that raise the cost of growing food for small rural farmers in Zambia and the rest of the Third World. The wide and heavy use of herbicides and pesticides compromise the soil and the growing of genetically modified foods in order to produce food on massive commercial scales all threaten close-knit human social bonds and networks. The possible ecological destructive impacts on the land, the environment, and human beings of these food production practices are being investigated only in a very marginal way.
One of the three pillars of sustainable development is social sustainability, which advocates the strengthening of human bonds and developing cooperative social relationship networks while performing productive work, such as growing food or farming. Current commercial food production practices are not only ecologically unsafe, but they have also severely compromised meaningful and enduring human relationships.
Exploring some of the negative ecological challenges and impacts that commercial farming causes, McMichael (2017) criticizes “the conversion of farming into an industrial activity,” arguing that it
“underscores a significant ecological blind spot in development theory…. These are the significant social and environmental impacts, such as disruption of agrarian cultures and ecosystems, the deepening of dependency on fossil fuel, and modern agriculture’s responsibility for up to a third of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Such consequences challenge the wisdom of replacing a long-standing knowledge-intensive culture/ecology (farming) with an increasingly unsustainable industrialized economic sector (agriculture)” (McMichael, 2017: p.9).
If sustainable organic rural subsistence farming is to be implemented to mitigate the impact of unsustainable development, two conditions and factors must be investigated: 1) How effective are organic rural village subsistence farming methods in the production, preservation, and storage of food?; and 2) What are the social bonds needed to successfully implement the sustainable organic rural subsistence farming, and could the social bonds in the social ecology of the traditional Zambian/African village be re-created to create sustainable social cohesion and therefore sustainable subsistence farming?
Social ecology is a broad subject whose founder is Murray Bookchin. He argues that most
if not all of our contemporary problems may be attributed to serious social problems.
“What literally defines social ecology as “social” is its recognition of the often-overlooked fact that nearly all our present ecological problems arise from deep-seated social problems. Conversely, present ecological problems cannot be clearly understood, much less resolved, without resolutely dealing with problems within society. To make this point more concrete: economic, ethnic, cultural, and gender conflicts, among many others, lie at the core of the most serious ecological dislocations we face today—apart, to be sure, from those that are produced by natural catastrophes”. (Bookchin, 1993).
In this study, a group of people who were random strangers volunteered to leave their villages and families of origin of familiar social systems and relationships. The people traveled distances to live with a group of strangers at a new model village to both create and participate in new social systems and relationships. “Social life revolves around people, social systems, and the relationships among them. But those are not the only relations that matter, for people and social systems exist in relation to physical environments. Human ecology is the study of those relationships, and it figures in social life at every level.” (Johnson, 2014, p. 93)
The model village was a system that had both many systems within and outside it. All the model village residents participated in so many of these systems which constituted its social ecology. The study attempts to capture some aspects and goals of these systems within the context of the social ecology.
There is no doubt that these broader Murray Bookchin’s social ecology problems may be related to the problem of achieving sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles in the global world today. However, this study is focused on the much narrower sociological definition of social ecology as used by Allan Johnson (2014) and other sociologists. This study will be exploring how the nature of the physical organization of the model village dwellings may have impacted how residents lived with and interacted with one another. This may be related to the nature of the social bonds that the residents developed. These identical social ecological principles exist in present day villages in rural Zambia.
The ethnographic study investigated these questions at the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village. Next is the description of the physical and social ecological environment in which these two questions were investigated.
Physical and Social Aspects of the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village
The research was conducted and based on 50 hectares, or 123 acres, of natural Savannah Wilderness land in Zambia that the author purchased in July 2018. The land is located 41 miles (67 kilometers), or a one-hour drive, from Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka along the Great East Road from Lusaka to Chipata in the Chongwe area. The preparation to create a typical model village and to be a venue for fieldwork for the ethnography research commenced immediately after it was purchased.
When the author first saw the Savannah Wilderness land, it was largely undisturbed with pristine bushes and trees. When you stood facing the property, there was a hill towards the back. The author created and drew a physical plan. There would be a three-room brick dwelling unit at the entrance to the land. This is where the caretaker would stay, though some of the rooms would be used as storage space. A borehole well with a hand-driven pump for drinking water was drilled and installed 45 meters, or 150 feet, from the brick dwelling unit. Ten hectares in front of the dwelling brick unit were set aside for all farming needs. The farming needs would be met by growing food using sustainable village traditional organic subsistence methods. These traditional foods include maize or corn, peanuts, beans, and other indigenous crops commonly grown in rural Zambia.
Beyond these 10 hectares, another 10 hectares of land was set aside as a nature reserve, conservation forest, or wilderness sanctuary on which tree chopping or any other land disturbance activities are prohibited.
The model village is located one mile, or 1.6 kilometers, to the left towards and near the top of the hill. Ten acres have been used for construction of dwellings for residents. The dwelling units include five Zambian/African village huts using a traditional village construction including toilets; replicas of traditional food storage structures; and chicken coops and other traditional livestock structures. The huts can accommodate about four people per hut, allowing for up to a total of eighteen to live in the village at any one time.
On July 8, 2019, the first group of men, women, and children began living at the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village. Prior to this, between July 2018 and July 2019, up to about thirty mostly young men commuted to the site from their temporary accommodations near the shops on the Great East Road. This first group of people lived at the site after one year of preparation and construction at the premises. This was the first night fifteen people spent the night as residents at the model village. The fifteen people constituted three women, nine men (including the author), and three children, all girls, ages eight months, five years, and eleven years. The residents primarily shared the three-room, red-brick designated caretaker dwelling. The caretaker and his wife and two children shared one room. The two women and the eleven-year-old girl shared one room. The author and model village manager, the research informant later to be named Chatonda, shared one room. The seven men shared one dwelling unit at a nearby neighbor’s farm, which was a five-minute walk from the model village.
The source of the village’s water came from a 50-meter-deep (or 164 feet) borehole and a hand-driven pump, which were both installed in June 2019. The borehole was 15 meters, or 50 feet, from the caretaker’s brick dwelling unit, which is located on the western edge of the 10 hectares, or 123 acres. The five huts of the village are located about a mile away, uphill, in the middle of the property. Hauling a 44-gallon drum of water up the hill to the village a couple of times a week was a challenging task.
One of the most significant social features or characteristics of the sustainable model village is that it has a very high frequency of mobility of residents moving to and from the surrounding area and from the villages of the Lundazi District, which is 439 miles (or 707 kilometers) away in the Eastern Province of Zambia. Brick molders, bricklayers, carpenters, and farm laborers were needed. Large numbers of residents temporarily lived in the model village, providing labor to perform ganyu, defined as piece work or contract work, during the period June 2020 to June 2021. This was when the five huts for the model village were built and crops were grown during the 2020/21 rainy or farming season.
Methodology of Ethnography
The researcher could have planned this project perhaps as an experiment in which he could have had some strict controlled variables of the participants for age, marital status, levels of education, place of origin, gender, and religion. The before and after the model village experience measurements in the study would have required a longer time and tremendous resources. The researcher did not have both time and the financial resources. The researcher did not use a formal survey as the principal method of study during the January to June 2021 because the model village sample would have been too small. Ethnography employing participant observation was the best methodology for the study.
Advocates of the positivist paradigm methodology, however, often challenge ethnography as a methodological paradigm as it generates subjective qualitative as contrasted to objective quantitative data. This study used ethnography in order to more effectively capture the process of establishing a model village. This approach is more consistent with the view that: “Quantitative approaches can sometimes, therefore, be rendered untenable, and so qualitative research approaches have to be drawn upon as a replacement for – or as supplementary to – quantitative approaches (Busetto et al., 2020). Consequently, qualitative research can be used as a way to empirically investigate experiences over the life course which would otherwise be hard to capture or document (Allmark et al., 2009; Elmir et al., 2011; Silverio et al., 2020),”
These are some of the major reasons why the primary method of collecting data for the study was through ethnography employing participant observation. The author had already conducted a small survey of fifteen residents who lived in the model village in July 2019. The results of that small survey showed the broader demographics and characteristics of the village residents: age, gender, education, religious affiliation, and views of village and town life. What were the respondents’ evaluations of the model village? The findings suggested that the survey could not adequately reveal the crucial social bonds and face-to-face interactions that may be key to the operating social structures of the village men, women, and children. What were the social circumstances of the relationships and entertainment sources, as well as the nature of social conflict, conversation, and language? The ethnography methodology would provide a deeper and closer observation of the social factors that might build, strain, or collapse social bonds among the village residents through the author’s participant observation.
The researcher was aware from the beginning of the research that the circumstances and plan of the ethnographic study may be subjected to the unusual criticism of bias. This is the perennial central criticism and characteristic of all ethnography pedagogy as a methodological tool that produces and relies on qualitative data.
Some of the critical questions may be since the researcher was a participant and the village residents were aware of his higher social status, did this influence the village residents to alter their behavior? Did the researcher knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or unconsciously have predetermined expectations and therefore may have steered the study toward a certain desired outcome? How objective was he?
In order to minimize bias and enhance objectivity as much as possible, the researcher maintained a number of rules. These rules were applied to when he interacted with the village residents and the researcher also adhered to specific rules of behavior. These rules may have minimized bias in the study and as much as possible enhanced objectivity.
First, the model village administrator, Chatonda and NyaDindi were the authority figures that dealt directly with most if not all major logistic arrangements, administration, and most supervision of duties. These arrangements included planning, work schedules and goals for the day’s work, food processing, purchasing of food and cooking arrangements, assigning and division of labor in form of daily chores, mediating and resolving daily minor conflicts, arrangements for medical treatments in case of illness, and many other daily duties and spontaneous incidents. For example, when it came to being paid for their work, Chatonda is the one who negotiated verbally the work agreements with the village residents. The researcher gave the money to Chatonda as the supervisor and he is the one who physically gave the residents the money or paid them.
Second, all the residents came to the village voluntarily in order to work and earn some money. There were no contractual obligations that compelled the village residents to stay or live at the village. They could leave at any time. Indeed, some of them left at any time if they had emergencies to attend to away from the model village or if they felt they were unhappy with the pay for their work.
The rules for the researcher were that first, he never managed any of the activities in which the village residents were involved. Chatonda was both the chief supervisor and informer of the research. Second, the researcher made sure he was never the central or compelling driving force of any social activity in which the village residents were involved. The researcher participated in many social activities, and in many of them he was an observer who sometimes listened while nearby or on the edge of the social activity. For example, during the evening around the fires, the researcher would sometimes join the residents and just sit and listen as much as possible.
The researcher did talk to and interact with all of the village residents in the course of regular numerous social interaction opportunities during the participant observation. These rules may have helped to minimize bias on the part of the researcher and may also have minimized the extent that the model village residents were always conscious that the researcher was the overall boss.
In employing ethnography, the author observed and participated in most of the model village activities while keeping a diary of his observations. The participant observation was from January 5, 2021, when the author arrived at the model village to live in one of the five huts, to July 12, 2021, when the author flew out of Zambia to return to the United States. During the entire period when the author was conducting the ethnography research, the village residents knew that he was the owner of the model village and therefore regarded him as the overall elder and boss. This reality may have created some limitations on what he could and could not participate in during the observations.
Residents of the model village community grew food on 10 hectares, or 24 acres, employing mostly the traditional sustainable rural Zambian organic village methods with which the researcher is very familiar. These include no use or spotty use of fertilizer; no pesticides; and crops grown appropriately intermixed. The seeds were from traditional crops that were formally identified in the author’s study at the Mkanile and Gwazapasi Villages in 1982. These include maize or corn, peanuts, peas, beans, pumpkin or squash, and tomatoes. These green leaf vegetable seeds were carefully planted. As I wrote in that study,
“There are more than 12 green leaf relishes (vegetables) in the Eastern Province of Zambia[i] and the Tumbuka that are cooked and eaten with nshima. Pumpkin leaves (nyungu), pea leaves (nkhunde or mtambe), sweet potato leaves (chimphorya), bean leaves, cassava leaves (chigwada), kakundekunde, luni, tomatoes, kabata (also called nyazongwe or bilizongwe), bondokotwe, mpapa dende, and kamganje. Although many of these are cooked with maybe a tablespoon of cooking oil, traditionally many of the best tasting are cooked with fresh raw peanut or groundnut powder (Tembo, 2012, p.128). There are vegetables that naturally grow in intermixed plantings in the same field, much like weeds do.
“There are more than 16 delele green leaf relishes in the Eastern Province of Zambia and the Tumbuka that are cooked and eaten with nshima: chekwechekwe, zumba, katate, chilungunthanda (okra), lumanda, zobala, nyoronyoro, katambalala, chizwayo, kapuku, jandarara, thurura, chererwa, lundale, kazinda, and phuruphuru. Other vegetable relishes include chipokoro (fruit), chinaka (also chikanda among the Bemba), and wowa or bowa (mushrooms)” (Tembo, 2012, p. 129).
The first livestock were free-range chickens, both for food as well as ecological reasons, as village chickens eat all crawling and flying bugs and ants and help keep huts, homes, and people safe from insects (Tembo, 1991).
Ten hectares, or 24 acres, of the land were de-stumped and the grass dug upside (kusinda) in March 2019, just after the rainy season had ended when the ground was still soft. The author was in Zambia from May to July 2019. Indigenous or traditional seeds for dozens of crops were collected. These seeds were planted on the farm field in December 2020. At the end of June 2021 after the harvest, all the types of food grown were to be carefully harvested and quantified.
Question 1:Wouldthe residents of men, women, and children, including the researcher, create deep networks of social bonds as they cooperated and worked together every day within the social ecology of the village from January to June 2021 and onwards? Employing the concept and philosophy of kufwasa, would the residents work together in the field to grow food? Will they draw water, cook food, eat together, build village huts and other structures, pray, tend to the sick, create entertainment, and support one another, creating a sustainable holistic lifestyle that has interdependence with the natural environment?
The researcher kept a journal in order to document in meticulous detail his experiences with all of the thirty-one residents who were invited to voluntarily live and participate in field work, village chores, and social and other activities in the model village from December 2020 to June 2021. What were the successes and challenges of creating deeper, enduring, stable, and dependable human social networks?
The expectations at the end of June 2021 after two cycles of growing and harvesting food were that the journal compilation would provide a comprehensive, systematic, clear, and compelling description of the process of establishing a model village. This might be a village that creates a sustainable rural lifestyle of deep social networks in Zambia or Africa that incorporate the traditional sustainable village customs and practices. The two most significant ethnographic descriptions will pertain to the nature of the social bonds and networks that will be created or fostered among the model village residents after being together every day for six months. This will, perhaps, bear parallels to Durkheim’s concept of anomie that he used to characterize the drastic disruptive social changes that happened in Europe during the Industrial Revolution at the turn of the nineteenth century. Likewise, globalization and urbanization may have created conditions of anomie in the lives of village people in rural Zambia. The model sustainability village will perhaps create conditions of eliminating anomie, leading to the reestablishment of norms, which will once more be embedded in Durkheim’s mechanical solidarity as opposed to the organic solidarity of contemporary urban life in Zambia.
The second description will be how much food the traditional sustainable subsistence mixed-crop farming produced during the one growing cycle of seven months from November 2020 to May 2021.
Question 2: Would the two staple foods of maize (or corn) and peanuts be grown and harvested in sufficient quantities? Would other supplementary crops, such as peas, beans, zghama, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and numerous vegetables, be harvested in sufficient quantities to both support sustainable food consumption and to exceed mere subsistence consumption? Will they produce enough food to feed the eighteen residents for at least one year? Would finding adequate stable labor among the Soli ethnic group be a constant challenge such that the model village may continue to draw members and labor from the Tumbuka of Lundazi District?
Findings of the Sustainable Zambian/African Model Village Question 1: Social Bonds and Networks
When the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village was first established in July 2019, the gender roles and the daily routines of the fifteen residents then living in the model village were as follows:
They woke up early before sunrise. The men and women took turns using the one toilet, though the women and men’s bathing shelters were in two separate locations. The women swept and cleared the ashes from the open cooking fireplace. They made the fire. Another woman and the eleven-year-old girl swept the yard. The men removed ashes from the men’s mphala, a traditional assembly place among Tumbuka men in the village. The men heated their own water, with which they washed their faces. The women heated water for washing their faces. The women prepared and cooked breakfast. The men collected their axes and left to work on the ongoing construction at the model village structures site deep in the 123 acres of the wilderness. There was a small path that led to the site.
When breakfast or lunch was ready, one of the children was sent to call the men to come and eat. Often, one woman and one man carried the food to the worksite where the men took a break to eat together.
The women did laundry, prepared lunch, and involved the two children, a five-year-old boy and an eleven-year-old girl, in some of the chores. Everyone helped with watching the children. The author observed the children play during the day, as well as when they performed some small chores, such as pouring more water into the boiling beans and playing with the baby. Since the borehole pump was about 50 feet, or 15 meters, from the dwelling house, the children spent much of their time both playing with the water while helping adults pump the water to fill containers.
In the afternoon at about 4 p.m., the men returned from their work. They drew their own bath water at the borehole pump and heated it on their own fire to take baths. After dinner in the evening, the women sat together at their fireplace, chatted, and laughed aloud in unison. The men sat at the mphala around the fire and chatted. After 9 p.m. everyone dispersed to go to bed.
The gender roles, chores, and the daily routines from July 2019 and those from January to June 2021, when the author was formally conducting participant observation, were identical. In January 2021 there were seven residents at the model village. They were Chatonda, who was the overall manager and the main research informant; NyaDindi, who was the only female and wife to Chatonda, as well as the caretaker; Fwaka; Jombo; Tungwa; Goli; and the author.
Chatonda managed the planning and coordination of all the tasks of the model village. NyaDindi directly supervised all the daily work of the workers and looked after their personal well-being, including caring for them during illness and attending to funerals and other personal family affairs. The four male workers started work at 7 a.m. (700 hours) and continued until 4 p.m. (1600 hours), with lunch between 1 p.m. (1300 hours) and 2 p.m. (1400 hours), with NyaDindi’s supervision. During this period from January to June 2021, the responsibilities of the four workers were planting seeds on the 10-hectare farm; weeding; applying fertilizer; performing the gamphani tasks; and drawing water in the 44-gallon drum for the residents of the village, which was located up the hill from the borehole pump near the caretaker dwelling. Other tasks included building new structures, such as chicken coops at the model village, and fixing and repairing old broken structures, such as nkhokwe, which are traditional food storage structures.
The diary entries describe some of the more significant observations, thoughts, and social events through the author’s participant observation. Some of the social events included prayer services, entertainment, work habits, and how the number of village residents fluctuated from week to week, changing social relationships while increasing the labor for various tasks and chores.
Diary: February 5, 2021
Late one Saturday when the model village residents were finishing their work for the day, I casually asked them if they wanted to pray on Sunday, the next morning. They all gave an emphatic “yes” with surprising enthusiasm. When would they want the service? I was surprised when they said 8 a.m. I thought after a long week of hard physical work, they would want to sleep in a little. I told them we would assemble in the little mphungu hut structure for the prayer service. This all happened very spontaneously. It was dark. The last thing I ever expected is to conduct a prayer. It was already dark. The village has no lights. To cut a long story short, I woke up at 6 a.m. on Sunday and prepared for the program and the sermon for that morning’s prayer service.
I reached back to the time I spent at the Tamanda Boys Upper Primary School of the Dutch Reformed Church Mission Boarding School from 1964 to 1966. I have a hymnal which is in Nyanja. I only had an English Bible. The village residents have very little education. So, my service was in a mix of English, Nyanja, and Tumbuka languages. We sang hymns No. 2 and 40. The choices of what to read or use from the Bible was a no-brainer for me. I read Genesis 1, verses 1 to 31. Halfway up to verse 16, I stopped and translated into Nyanja and English languages. I gave a brief sermon which I was inspired about. This is how the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village, of all things, got a very unlikely prayer service in our own very modest prayer sanctuary. I cannot wait until this coming Sunday for our next prayer service. The model village currently has two women and seven men.
The model village has had workers with serious problems just performing routine work. Often, they cannot get up on time early to start work. According to Chatonda, Jombo and Tungwa went to drink during weeknights and could not work the next day. They just appear to have serious lack of good judgment and serious difficulties following formal instruction and routines about work. I saw NyaDindi come to the model village huts at 6:30 a.m. to wake up Fwaka and Goli so that they would be ready for work at 7 a.m. Both Goli and Fwaka were my neighbors in the village. Some of the residents’ own personal problems intruded into their work performance. This raises questions about the village and the nature of how humans lived in groups thousands of years before the seismic change of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. This issue has come to the forefront at the model village.
One of the most recent resident workers is Jombo. He seems to have particularly difficult problems. He complains all the time about work and pay and talks back to NyaDindi, who is the caretaker and his immediate supervisor. Some of this might be because NyaDindi is a woman. Jombo has problems with his physical health such that yesterday he had to go to the clinic because he had such serious back pains that he could not work in the field weeding grass using a hoe. He took a day off to go to the clinic. Before he left, he had gone to the neighbor where he apparently gets marijuana to smoke practically every day.
My initial reaction was that this is unacceptable as smoking marijuana to get high is bad according to some of the societal beliefs and negative reputation of the drug. I also found out that Fwaka also smokes marijuana because he has some physical and other undiagnosed problems. Marijuana apparently helps Fwaka and Jombo cope with their physical ailments and life. How bad is individual use of marijuana for people who live in these remote areas? Should the criminalization of marijuana apply to these people?
Diary: April 22, 2021
The day before Chatonda was to travel from Lundazi back to the model village in Chongwe after being away for about two months, NyaDindi suddenly asked if she could have her eighteen-year-old daughter, who had a two-year-old daughter, come over with NyaDindi’s three-year-old granddaughter (from NyaDindi’s married son). So it was that on Sunday, April 11, two young children and an eighteen-year-old young mother joined as new residents of the village. This changed everyone. I was suddenly agogo, or grandfather. Residents were suddenly looking after and taking care of two small children, who also followed NyaDindi around. NyaDindi welcomed taking care of grandchildren as she had been bored many times just doing work. Now she had the welcome responsibility of nurturing her daughter and two grandchildren. Relationships also suddenly changed as the young single male residents were making calculations about the young mother, who is unmarried. The father of her small daughter was shot and killed by the police about the time before the two-year-old daughter was born. The circumstances of his death are unclear. Speculation is that it was crime-related.
During the month of April, the labor demands and tasks increased at the model village. The harvesting of crops started. The three men, Goli, Tungwa, and Fwaka, were working on harvesting maize and digging peanuts every day. The model village needed the construction of three huts to be completed, building of mphungus for the huts, building of bathing shelters, and digging and constructing four toilets. Bricklayers, grass roofers, and carpenters were needed. Chatonda had traveled to the villages in Lundazi and urgently fetched two women and four men to perform all the construction jobs on a contract, or ganyu, basis.
This is why on April 12; the model village population grew to fourteen residents. Relationships developed as there were up to fourteen residents in the village, including three children under five years old.
These were the residents of the village (as of May 9):
NyaDindi – A woman, caretaker of the model village, 40 years old;
Ashiya – NyaDindi’s granddaughter, 2 years old;
Regina – 18-year-old daughter of NyaDindi;
Timeke – NyaDindi’s granddaughter from her married son, 3 years old;
Fwaka – a man, general worker and assistant caretaker, 27 years old;
Goli – a man, general worker, 28 years old;
NyaZiba – a woman, 35 years old, who provided kumata, or decoration and beautification of the huts;
NyaWachi – a woman, 42 years old, who provided kumata, or decoration and beautification of the huts;
Mzumi – a man, 36 years old, who performed grass roofing of the huts and other structures;
Ngo’ma – a man, 40 years old, who performed grass roofing of the huts and other structures;
Tungwa – a man, 29 years old and a general worker;
Mwizenge – owner and director of the model village, 66 years old;
Chatonda – a man, manager and supervisor of the model village, 58 years old; and
Ncherwa – a man, bricklayer, 35 years old.
Diary: May 5, 2021
On Sunday, May 2, at about 7 p.m. (1900 hours), NyaWachi showed up at the mphungu where Chatonda and I were chatting around the fire. Everyone else was gone for the day as we had been working all day on Sunday to try to complete the last part of the model village construction. There had been talk two days prior that I had drums and we could get together for a Vimbuza, or traditional dance session. I was surprised that they had showed up. We sat around the fire in the mphungu for a few minutes, then I went into my hut and got two of the three drums. I warmed one to the fire and began to play. Goli and Fwaka showed up. The sound of the drums also attracted Tungwa, and another NyaMwaza, who was a guest at the caretaker house, came as well. Soon the women were dancing to Vimbuza, slowly gyrating to the ground; another chioda traditional dancing method was also performed. Last were chinamwali traditional dances. Tungwa played mphininkhu, whose sound was familiar but I had never tried to play it before. Tungwa also played mapilimapili; the two are very closely related. More wood was added to the fire. The women sung so many different current vimbuza and other traditional songs that it was synonymous with listening to beautiful poetry.
NyaWachi played the drums very well and had so much soul behind it. The passion and so much energy came out of NyaWachi’s drumming. I had so much to learn and enjoy. The two women, Gire and NyaMwanza, had children on their backs. They drummed and danced. At one point Gire’s two-year-old toddler swayed her body to the dance and the drums.
I played the drums and sweated. We stopped at 2200 hours. That’s when I ate my nshima and well-cooked mbeba or mouse, which I had not eaten since the 1960s. It was delicious. Goli had cooked it in an unusual way as he burned off the hair from the mbeba before cooking them. He loved to serve them, as I teased him about how he did not cook them the right way. I was told later that NyaWachi does not eat nshima at certain times because she has, or suffers from, the Vimbuza spiritual possession.
Diary: May 9, 2021
There is something I have observed every day for the last two months. Two months ago, Goli and Fwaka would not wake up early for work. NyaDindi had to wake everyone up before 6:30 a.m. so they could be at work at 7 a.m. They showed a very poor work ethic where they expected to be told to do everything. At the same time, on Saturday and Sunday, they could not wait to leave to go to the shops, especially to drink. However, now, I have noticed a change. Their pay has not increased, and it will not be increased for a long time, but their enthusiasm level for work has increased remarkably. I see Goli awake already at 6 a.m., brushing his teeth and waiting to go to work. They seem to want to work instead of going to the shops to drink. All the residents cook for themselves and share meals. They chat and joke a lot.
It appears the village residents informally created and employed various methods to socialize, including evening activities of storytelling, drumming, vimbuza and chioda traditional dances, communal singing of sing-along songs, reciting poems, and enjoying other social activities away from the cell phone. All of these activities were conducted around a fire.
The relationships and the conversations are creating strong social bonds, which diminish the desire of the residents to get away from the village and seek entertainment and a more exciting social life elsewhere. There is talk today that on Sunday some will go together to watch local football or soccer matches, which are very prominent social entertainment events in the area.
At the beginning of each new growing season during the dry month of October in rural Zambia, people use their hoes to remove bone-dry weeds and other dead growths in the farm fields. This was done this growing year in October 2021 at the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village. After this, they dug small rectangular holes in the ground three feet apart in many straight lines across the field. Each rectangular hole is about 2 feet long, 6 inches wide, and 6 inches deep. Each household in the village has a hole behind the house on the edge of the bush where they dig a hole in the ground which may be 3 feet long by 3 feet wide but 5 feet deep. This is what they call nkhando, into which they throw all the biodegradable trash, including ashes, fruit covers, soil swept from the yard, food waste, chicken or animal droppings, and wet trash from the bottom of cooking pots. This turns into compost after one year.
The family carries the compost and they pour some of it into each rectangular gamphani hole. They then plant three seeds of maize or corn and other crops and cover the hole with soil. The purpose of the gamphani hole is that it collects water when it rains. When there are poor rains or mild drought, enough water and moisture gather and is stored in the hole so that the maize or crop will continue to grow even when there is less than normal rain. This has been the case because of climate change due to global warming in Zambia and southern Africa.
A small portion of the farm field used the organic gamphani method and used the natural traditional maize seed. We intended to observe how the crops would grow on this field compared to the rest of the larger model village farm field in which the commercial fertilizer methods were applied and hybrid seed was used.
I asked NyaDindi how the planting of maize was done this year. On the eastern side of the 10-hectare farm field, holes were dug in the ground in straight lines. In each hole were dropped three commercial maize seeds and a palmful of D-compound fertilizer.
Diary: The Smell of Maize and Wevulira, February 14, 2021
The maize or corn had been fertilized a couple of times and was growing very well. We expected a good or bumper harvest this year. As a farmer you watch the crops every day, carefully inspecting each stage of the growth. In the case of our maize field, the maize was short and small in December 2020. At the beginning of January 2021, it was waist high. By the end of January, it was so tall, it had begun to flower and young maize, or corn, was emerging with wevulira or kacheche. One morning in the first week of February, I walked to the cornfield and smelled something that evoked deep emotional memories. The flowering corn kukhung’uska and wevulira produce a special smell. I realized there and then that I had not experienced that special smell since I was a child way back in 1962, when I was eight years old. That was the last time that I was present with my family to experience the entire growing season. Most of the years, I would come back home for Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Then I would go back to boarding school. I would come back home in April for four weeks of school holidays. By then, the farm fields had fresh sweet corn, fresh raw peanuts, and many different goodies in the farm fields. The flowering in the process fertilization of the corn was always in February when I was away at school.
The 2020/21 Harvest
The inputs for the 10 hectares of the farm field for the growing season at the model village from November 2020 to March 2021 were as follows:
Commercial seeds of 20 Kg maize or corn;
10 Kg peanut seed;
3 bags (50 Kg) of top-dressing D-Compound fertilizer;
3 bags (50 Kg) of basal dressing fertilizer (basal dressing is solid fertilizer evenly spread over the entire field before or at sowing or planting);
3 liters of pesticide;
10 Kg amount of compost and 0.5 Kg indigenous maize seeds for planting in the few gamphani maize rows; and
Labor for planting, weeding, and harvesting the maize and peanuts.
Once the mature maize dried and looked brown, it was ready for harvesting. Once the peanut plant looked dry and the leaves looked brown and were falling off, the crop was ready for harvesting. There were several concerns about harvesting early and quickly between April and June. If the dry maize was not harvested immediately, the dry maize stalks could collapse because of wind and the weak-bottom roots of the stalk. Once the maize stalks collapse to the ground, white ants can quickly devastate the maize, ruining the crop and losing the harvest. I saw the white ants’ damage that had already occurred to the few dry stalks of maize the wind had knocked down. The white ants devour both the stalks and the maize.
The harvesting also has to be done between April and the end of July because of the livestock rule or custom among the Soli headmen, villages, and chiefs in the area. During the rainy and growing season from November to July 31, all livestock have to be penned in. This is to protect growing crops within all farm fields in the area’s villages. On August 1 of every year, all livestock are let loose so that they are free to feed and wander around night and day. Cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs roam around freely from August 1 to November 1. If the farmer has not harvested their crop and livestock eat the unharvested crop, the livestock owner cannot be held responsible for the damage.
Since between April and July the rains have stopped and the ground gets hard and drier by the day, the peanuts have to be dug out early in April and May when the ground is still relatively soft from the just-ended rainy season. Large amounts of the crop can be lost in the hard ground if the farmer does not dig out the ripe peanut crop early using hoes.
The process of harvesting is very arduous for both maize and peanuts. There are some minor variations in how individual farmers harvest these two staple crops. For maize, the most common method is for individuals to go to the farm field with machetes. They line up and chop the maize stalks at the very bottom and then carefully place the chopped stalks in large vertical piles called mikukwe. After that, the corn or maize cobs are removed from the stalks and from the covers, carefully placed in large piles, and then collected in containers and moved to the village. In the case of the model village, a large, square, wooden, and grass-elevated structure had been built next to the caretaker yard. This is where all the maize cobs brought from the farm field were stored.
The next step is to remove all the maize from each cob and place it in large 50-kilogram grain bags. Removing the maize from the cobs is another demanding process requiring physical work. Once in the bags, the maize is ready for storage and sale.
When harvesting the peanut crop, individuals line up along one side of the field with hoes in their hands and dig very deep under each peanut plant to uproot all the peanuts. The peanut plants with peanuts on them are placed together tightly, facing up in groups of about thirty. They are placed this way so that the plants can face the sun and dry. Once all the peanuts have been dug up and dried, individuals will spend all day (for many days) removing the peanuts from their dry stalk and placing the unshelled peanuts in containers. This is known as kutondola skaba in Tumbuka. Once all the peanuts have been collected and taken to the village, they can be traditionally stored in a chilulu structure or, today, in large bags. When being prepared for sale, eating, or cooking, the peanuts are shelled by hand.
The labor of the four model village residents who had permanent employment was not going to be enough to provide all the crop harvesting. For this reason, during the months of April and June, over thirty additional men and women were hired on a ganyu, or contract, basis. They were assigned to one of the large mukukwe vertical piles of maize stalks, where they removed the corn or maize cob and schucked it. The other job they were assigned to perform was digging the peanuts. Once the peanuts were dry, they were also tasked with removing the peanuts from the plant and putting them in containers.
During the 2020 and 2021 growing season, the model village harvested a total of 41 bags of maize or corn, each weighing 50 kilograms. The model village harvested a total of 11 bags of unshelled peanuts, each weighing 25 kilograms. The maize or corn yield from the four rows of maize in which the gamphani organic method was employed was compared to the yield from four comparable rows where fertilizer was used. Each one of the four rows was 36 by 126 feet (or 10.91 by 38.40 meters). There were no significant differences in the yield, with an estimated 16.7 kilograms of maize brought in using the organic method and 17.8 kilograms of maize using the fertilizer method.
During the middle of the growing season in February and March, two vegetables were sun dried in traditional fashion. These were pumpkin leaves and kabata. The dried vegetables yielded a total of one bag weighing 9.8 kilograms.
The discussion will focus on what proportions and aspects of the original two questions were confirmed. The discussion will then focus on some of the major challenges in social bonds, social ecology, and sustainable food production which the findings have exposed if the model village is to be recommended for adoption as the main tool for implementing sustainable development.
The research question asked whether the village residents of men, women, and children, as well as the researcher, would create deep networks of social bonds as they cooperated and worked together every day in the village from January to July 2021 and onwards. Employing the concept and philosophy of kufwasa, would the residents work together cooperatively in the field to grow food. Would they draw water, cook food, eat together, build village huts and other structures, pray, tend to the sick, manage conflict, create entertainment, and support one another, creating a sustainable holistic lifestyle that has interdependence with their social and natural environment? What were the successes and challenges, or obstacles, of creating deeper, enduring, stable, and dependable human social networks?
Before joining the village, thirteen of the fifteen permanent residents, or 86 percent, in the Mwizenge Sustainable Village did not know each other prior to moving in. The residents had to adjust and learn how to live together with total strangers. Virtually all of them had no formal education or an education that was below seventh grade. They had never been exposed to the daily routine that is required of formal activities such as employment, for example. Due to all these reasons, the residents faced difficulties during the first few weeks of living together. The author’s diary entry confirms this challenge.
The model village has had workers with serious problems just performing routine work. Often, they cannot get up on time early to start work. Some drink weeknights and cannot work the next day. They just appear to have serious lack of good judgement and serious difficulties following formal instruction about work. Some of their own personal problems intrude into their work performance. This raises questions about the village and the nature of how humans lived in groups for thousands of years. After observing these village resident workers now for a few weeks and especially their difficulties, I have come to the conclusion that the model village will continue to receive and cater to workers who cannot adjust easily to just modest demands that they follow routine activities, make good judgements, and be independent workers. They will always require close supervision.
After the fifteen residents had lived and worked together for another few weeks, there was a remarkable improvement in their work ethic, following work routines, creating, and strengthening of social bonds. These social bonds, however, were not without skirmishes and minor social conflicts and disagreements. The author’s diary entry confirms these observations.
Diary: April 22, 2021
The model village as of this moment is a center of tremendous social activity; so much so that there is no boring moment. There are numerous tasks that have to be done every single day such that there is constant movement and consultation, charging cell phones, calling people, arranging for and planning meals, harvesting maize or corn and peanuts, calling the carpenters and bricklayers. The Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation Television (ZNBC TV) and Radio planning to do recordings at the model village. Some of the residents attend community soccer or football games on Sunday. I have to plan for a Sunday sermon this week. There are some positive changes that are happening in some of the residents who arrived here with terrible drinking habits and poor work ethic. I am surprised now that all of them wake up early and seem keen to work all day. I am beginning to notice those small changes in human lives that suggest that individuals have made some small changes and may be learning in life that suddenly seem to turn their lives in a positive direction. This is very gratifying. This is something one cannot capture in a standard survey.
For the first time as a researcher, I feel alive as many of the relationships among residents are beginning to bear fruit of human fulfillment: trust, companionship, laughter, joking among residents about some previous earlier terrible behavior of conflict and disagreement, drinking as an example. NyaDindi is beginning to think loudly about if there is life in the future of the model village. She may be contemplating living here longer maybe to see her grandchildren grow.
One key factor that may have helped otherwise strangers to create remarkable social bonds after a few weeks of the new residents living together is what sociologist Allan G. Johnson describes as social ecology. In his book The Forest and the Trees: Sociology as Life, Practice, and Promise, Johnson suggests that the structure of a social interaction such as a classroom may determine the nature and expectations of the social interaction.
Johnson said the structure of the typical college classroom has a small or large room which may have a few to many desks and chairs arranged in rows with fronts and backs. In the front of the many seats and desks is a single podium with a seat. This arrangement predetermines or defines the roles the social actors will occupy; in the case of the typical classroom, they are the roles of teacher or professor and students. The teaching and learning of social roles have happened under this social ecology or arrangement for centuries.
Although the model village is not necessarily a school classroom, a structure or social ecology exists at the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village. The structure and location of the various physical dwellings make it possible for residents to live and interact by the philosophy of kufwasa. Kufwasa is the philosophy that makes it possible for model village residents to have very close social interactions while they perform together selected tasks or even one task every day. The structure of the village dwellings makes the close and very intense social interactions possible.
The basic physical structures and their locations in the village are that all the huts are in straight lines and built 50 meters (164 feet) apart. The huts each have a mphungu structure in which the cooking is done. Each mphungu for each hut is also located in a straight line 50 meters (or 164 feet) apart and 16 meters (or 51 feet) from the huts. Any structures such as chicken coops, nkhokwe food storage structures, bathing shelters, and toilets are located behind the mphunugu structures.
The residents sleep in the huts, which, by design, are relatively small. There is enough room for approximately six people to sleep in it. A couple and two to four small children may sleep in it. It is generally dark inside in the huts even during the day. It will be very unusual for a resident to just sit inside the hut during the day as it is dark and not much can be done inside it besides sleep, rest, and convalesce during short periods of illness.
During most of the daylight hours residents spent their time outside the huts. There is a corridor known as chiwundo, which is built around the hut and used for residents to sit, chat, visit, and perform some small tasks. The mphungu (kitchen) is where all the cooking is done and the design is such that visitors and others can sit on the edges.
The most significant social aspects, or what can be characterized as the social ecology of these dwellings are that residents can easily see and hold conversations with each other without yelling or shouting. The entire village was an open space with no wall between them. This happens 24 hours every day. Early in the morning residents can see each other, greet, wishing each other good morning as they wake up and come out of their huts. As they sit and cook in the mphungu kitchens, they can talk both within the mphungu and to residents in the next mphungus. It is the openness and proximity of these physical structures that makes social interaction so easy and almost inevitable.
This creates a very strong social cohesion, both in health and illness and in happy and sad moments. Residents literally see each other and share each other’s lives every moment of the day. If ever there was a social arrangement that made significant improvement in the kufwasa lifestyle it is the social ecology of the typical Zambian/African village and the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village. The author personally experienced this during the six months he lived with the model village residents. This was from waking up in the morning through rainfall, early mornings, and in the dark nights. The nature and significance of this life was highlighted on the very first page of my book: Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture (Tembo, 2012).
Lack of formal education, poverty, conflicts, lack of entertainment, and lack of prior kinship relationships among village residents all create serious challenges to the development and creation of social bonds. In fact, they can threaten the social bonds that later emerged among total strangers at the model village after initially facing difficulties creating the social bonds. Weak or fraying social bonds may affect social cohesion, food production, productive work, and other activities.
The common impact of acquiring basic formal education is that the individuals acquire reading, writing, and other skills that can later help them gain employment and enable them to sustain their life. One of the skills learned from acquiring basic formal education includes learning how to plan and perform routine activities, including the ability to deal with formal authority required when an individual is employed. Besides the author, Chatonda, and Goli, twelve of the fifteen, or 80 percent, of the model village residents had no education or less than a fifth grade education. Lack of formal education was a major contributor to poverty as prior to coming to the model village, the residents were unable to find gainful employment. Poverty was a serious condition for all of the residents as while they lived in their villages of origin, their main source of income was growing maize in subsistence farming. Their annual income ranged from $39 to $431.
Lack of entertainment at the model village created conflict among the model village residents. Once they had completed work for the day late in the afternoon or on weekends, the residents frequently expressed a desire to bathe, get dressed, and leave the village by walking five kilometers to the shopping center on the Great East Road. Many wanted to go and drink and dance at the three bars. Walking back to the model village late at night in the dark after drinking was a dangerous risk, especially for the women.
Establishing the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village has been a challenge in many ways, but the most difficult challenge is that of establishing strong and long-enduring bonds among strangers recruited from different environments and having different social histories. Typically, the Zambian or African village is comprised of clans of men, women, and children who share a bond of kinship that binds the many individuals and families through marriage and birth or blood. None of this has been the primary basis for creating the model village. The residents come with their own separate, unknown, individual social histories.
If the residents came as members of closely related clans and kinship groups, some of their social histories, particularly their histories of conflict and animosity between individuals emanating from their villages of origin, would have been known. Here’s an observation of one of the conflicts that resulted when non-relatives lived together.
Diary: Relationships Between Men and Women, June 23, 2021
The relationship between men and women residents brought with them whatever prior social networks and obligations they had with their families away from the model village. This was the case with residents and their families from villages in Lundazi, as well as the case of residents Goli and Fwaka from the model village area.
One relationship that stood out that had both joy and contentiousness and conflict was that of NyaZiba and NyaWachi. NyaZiba had been a resident and had worked at the model village in 2019. She asked her close friend in the village, NyamNyaWachi, to come along so that they could work together and make some money. Their principal job was the beautification of the village huts using traditional Tumbuka methods. NyaWachi had been married and divorced and apparently had four grown children, some of whom were even married and had their own children. NyaZiba had been married but was divorced. She had brought her eight-year-old daughter in 2019 who had debilitating sickle cell anemia. Her daughter had tragically passed away because of the disease. Both women appeared to get along really well and had a strong friendship.
As the days went by, Ncherwa the carpenter and NyaWachi developed a relationship and had such an attraction that they began to spend some nights together. Soon NyaWachi and Ncherwa were a couple. Ncherwa was married and had a wife in his village. NyaZiba did not make it a secret that she was looking for a man. She often openly remarked that she would go to the shops at the road and look for a man at the bar. She hated to sleep alone at night. This caused everyone to laugh including myself. Sometimes I would joke that I was in the same boat since my wife was away and not with me. Everyone laughed.
The reality that her close friend, NyaWachi, had a man may have troubled NyaZiba. NyaZiba’s hut was next to mine and NyaWachi’s hut was next to NyaZiba’s hut. One evening I was standing outside my hut in the dark when I heard a heated conversation. NyaZiba was addressing NyaWachi, who was with Ncherwa.
NyaZiba began to rant (kuteketela in Tumbuka): “Iwe NyaWachi tikiza kuno tabili kuzagwira nchito kuti tisange ndalama. Sono iwe ivi ukucita ni vya uhula. Kuhula nkhuheni. Ungagonanga uli na Ncherwa mwanalume wotola kukaya? Ici nchiheni. Kugona na Ncherwa lino yayi. Ufumemo munyumba. Ivi ukucita ni viheni.”
Translation: “You NyaWachi we came together two of us as friends to come and work to earn some money. Now what you are doing is prostituting. Prostituting yourself is wrong. How come you can sleep with Ncherwa, who is married and has a woman back in his village? This is wrong. Do not sleep with Ncherwa tonight. Leave the house. What you are doing is bad.”
When Ncherwa tried to defend his girlfriend, who was not saying anything to rebut the accusations, he was met with threats from NyaZiba,
“Iwe Ncherwa ine nkhuyowoya na NyaWachi. Kunjililapo yayi. Ningakuchaya ine!! Iwe ungagona uli na uyu mwanakazi? Ndiwe wotola kukaya.”
Translation: “You, Ncherwa, I am talking to NyaWachi. Do not join. I can beat you up!! How can you sleep with this woman? You are married at your home in the village.”
All the parties in this conflict did not know that I was standing only 50 meters (164 feet) away listening, as it was dark and besides there was no moonlight. When I heard NyaZiba invoke or threaten that she could beat up Ncherwa, I was tempted to intervene in the still-verbal altercation. But I also knew that my showing up might truly escalate the fight as Ncherwa would be forced to defend his manhood and bruised ego. I stayed quiet. NyaZiba continued to rant, which sounded more and more like she was bullying NyaWachi. All of them had been sitting together around the fire. Eventually Ncherwa and NyaWachi left and went to their hut. NyaZiba also went to her hut.
When the verbal altercation had died out, I recalled that NyaZiba always had a volatile personality, as she easily gets angry and begins to rant and issue threats of physical altercation. Only two weeks earlier, she had learned that NyaDindi had slaughtered and cooked a chicken. Chatonda and I and, of course, NyaDindi had eaten the chicken with nshima. NyaZiba said loudly in the morning before the group of residents that NyaDindi had denied them chicken with nshima. NyaZiba said that was unfair as all the residents deserved to eat the chicken. She ranted that we shouldn’t have to eat vegetables all the time.
The social bonds and cohesion the model village residents created may have contributed to the effective subsistence production, processing, and storage of food. This contribution was in the form of cooperation in the labor required for planting, tilling, harvesting, and storage of food.
The two staple foods of maize or corn and peanuts were grown and harvested in sufficient quantities. Other supplementary crops such as peas, beans, zghama, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and numerous vegetables were harvested in sufficient quantities to both support the sustainable food consumption of residents and would exceed mere subsistence consumption. They produced enough food to feed the eighteen residents for at least one year. Finding adequate stable labor among the Soli ethnic group was a constant challenge such that the model village continued to draw most members and labor from the Tumbuka of Lundazi District, located 707 kilometers, or 439 miles, away in the Eastern Province.
During the 2020 and 2021 growing season, the model village harvested a total of 41 bags of maize or corn, each weighing 50 kilograms per bag. The model village harvested a total of 11 bags of unshelled peanuts, with each bag weighing 25 kilograms. The maize or corn yield from the four rows of maize in which the new gamphani organic subsistence farming method was employed was compared to the yield from four comparable rows where conventional fertilizer was used. The size of the two farm fields whose yields were compared were each 10.91 by 38.40 meters, or 36 by 126 feet. There was no significant difference in the yield, which was estimated at 16.7 kilograms for the gamphani organic and 17.8 kilograms for the fertilizer yield.
These were the inputs for the 10 hectares of the farm field during the growing season at the model village from November 2020 to March 2021.
Commercial seed 30 Kg maize or corn @K304.9
or $16.94 per Kg = K9,147.00 or $525.67
Commercial seed 20 Kg peanuts @K417.60 or
@ $24.00 per Kg = K8,352.00 or 479.37
Two 50 Kg bags of D-Compound fertilizer (K550.00×2), K1,100.00 63.15
Two 50 Kg basal dressing fertilizer (K620.00×2), K1,240.00 = 71.22
3 liters of pesticide, K3,000.00 = 172.35
Ox-driven plowing, K4,000.00 = 229.80
10 Kg amount of village compost, K0.00 = 0.00
0.5 Kg indigenous maize seeds for planting in the few gamphani
maize rows, K0.00 = 0.00
Labor for planting, weeding, and harvesting the maize and
peanuts, K12,200.00 = 700.14
TOTAL K39,069.00 $2,241.77
The harvest of 41 bags of maize, each weighing 50 kilograms, may have been adequate for consumption among model village residents for the 2021-22 growing year. The 41 bags at the sale price of K150.00 per 50 Kg bag had a total market value of K6.150.00, or $361.72. This harvest may have been unsustainable. The factors for being unsustainable may include the cost of inputs contrasted with the recommendations of the agricultural extension department regarding sustainable yield for subsistence farming of the maize staple crop. Another factor is the paradox of mechanization of farming and some of the unrecognized significance of subsistence farming among the rural people.
Subsistence farming food production and harvest has its own challenges and calculations. During the long history of subsistence farming in Zambia among the Tumbuka and perhaps the entirety of rural Zambia and Savannah Africa, the objectives of farming production were very simple. The family tilled the land and planted crops during the first rains in November. In April the following year, the family would harvest all their crops of maize or corn and peanuts and store them away in the nkhokwe traditional food storage structure for the family’s consumption. The challenge was to eat that food and stretch it out until March the next year during the first harvest of the new crop. Many families easily achieved these objectives and avoided starvation. This was the process before the introduction of European colonialism. In the 1950s and 1960s, the sale of some of the crop harvest began to be encouraged. This was called chalelela in Lundazi. By the 1960s, my grandmother would get cobs of dry maize from the nkhokwe storage. She would sell it to the local commercial market. The income was used to buy clothes, pay for children’s school uniform and fees, and occasionally buy buns, sugar, and tea.
In the 2020s, the situation is different. The agricultural extension officers have been teaching subsistence farmers the new gamphani program since 2000. This is to increase output but is also meant to help subsistence farmers make calculations about their farming input and output expectations, taking into consideration the family’s need for food, especially the maize staple food, for the whole year.
The calculations are that if you apply 6 bags (50 Kg) of fertilizer (3 basal and 3 D-compound) you receive a total of K3,510, or $200.80. Each of the 6 bags of fertilizer should yield 10 bags (50 Kg) of maize, which would be worth K9,000, or $514.88, in the 2021 market price of maize. In this case, that would be for 60 bags of maize. Assuming that the harvest is higher, a total of 95 bags (50 Kg) may be harvested. If you have a family of six members, each is calculated to eat a total of 3 bags (50 Kg) of maize per year, which is worth K450, or $30.89. This family would need 18 bags worth K2,700, or $154.46, to be put aside for consumption. You would also need to keep 60 bags (50 Kg) of maize for K9,000, or $514.88, in order to sell to reserve enough fertilizer for the next growing season. The 95 hypothetical 50 Kg bags of maize would earn K14,250, or $815.23.
All this has to take into account that a percentage of the maize is lost before the harvest. White ants eat some of the maize; domestic livestock like chickens raid some of the maize; and the family begins to use some of the maize from the field for food before the harvest. Climate change also affects the yield. All these factors reduce the surplus, or the maximization of the harvest, making it hard to reach the goal of achieving the highest yield from subsistence farming.
Some of the income from the limited surplus from selling maize has to be used to pay for school fees and uniforms for the children and clothing for adults; paying back fertilizer loans; paying for medical expenses; and purchasing basic consumer goods, such as bathing soap and cooking oil. These expectations are very high and the margin of error between the farm inputs and outputs is very narrow. Would an average subsistence family be able to achieve these goals and objectives? Probably not, especially when considering that the residents of the model village reported that their range of annual income from subsistence farming was $39 to $431.
Another factor is the paradox of farming mechanization and some of the unrecognized but significant aspects of subsistence farming among the rural people. Large commercial famers can have very high yields because they optimize the growing of a monocrop such as maize. They can use a tractor and mechanization to plant the one crop of maize seed; apply fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides; and harvest the crop. This not only minimizes the cost of labor but maximizes the yield of the maize per hectare and maximizes the profit margins. The subsistence and other small farmers in rural areas cannot afford mechanization. But the other, more compelling factor is that they cannot afford the more productive and efficient monocrop farm field. Out of necessity of survival, subsistence farmers have to plant numerous crops in one field: maize, groundnuts, peas, pumpkins, majungu, beans, and many others. They also get natural vegetables that grow within the farm weeds such as kabata, chererwa, and bondokotwe. The subsistence farmers have to feed from the same farm field from very early on during the growing season. If they didn’t, they would starve because they cannot afford to buy some of their food, such as vegetables, from a supermarket. They are heavily dependent on the farm field as a source of sustenance throughout the year. The author’s diary offers some testimony.
Diary: The Significance of Subsistence Farming, February 27, 2021
Most descriptions of growing of food in developing or Third World countries including rural Zambia or Africa is that people engage in subsistence farming. The explanation is that they grow just enough food primarily to feed their families. If there is a little surplus, it may be sold for cash to meet some of the modern needs, such as, for example, buying soap, paying for school fees, or purchasing clothes. Subsistence farming is said to be less efficient with low-production levels of food. Commercial farming is praised, promoted, and advocated as it produces larger amounts of food to feed a growing, especially urban population.
The model village farming model may be used to advocate both commercial farming methods but also subsistence farming styles that may support sustainable agricultural methods. The model village farm this year embraced both methods. It used fertilizer to grow the corn and used some pesticide. But within the corn were planted pumpkins and majungu. But within and between the growing corn or maize were the naturally growing vegetables such as chererwa, bondokotwe, and pumpkin leaves, which are vegetables that are routinely collected, cooked, and eaten with the nshima meal.
Between the corn or maize are also growing weeds. If herbicides are used such as in commercial agriculture, all these natural vegetables are destroyed with the weeds. These natural vegetables are a significant source of food for large populations that practice subsistence farming. The author ate some of the vegetables during his stay while conducting this research. Because of the use of fertilizer and some traditional gamphani methods, the maize looks as healthy as the ones that used primarily commercial methods. But the subsistence farming method has the obvious advantage that it provides more food that is planted with the maize.
Although these were not all planted in the model village farm, some of the crops that can be planted with the maize include peas, beans, pumpkins, watermelons, chilungu nthanda (okra), cimphwete, chipokoro, njivo sugar cane, mapira (sorghum), sweet potatoes, najungu or maungu, and peanuts. Use of herbicides and pesticide in the subsistence farming would be very hazardous to all these foods, which rural subsistence farmers rely on for their livelihoods.
This morning I spent more than an hour walking through the large, thick, green, tall maize and looked at what is growing between the maize. The village residents had weeded a few weeks ago, but the growth of all these other sources of food is thick. The experience this morning has struck me that this should act as evidence for the advocating of sustainable agriculture, which may only be possible using subsistence agricultural methods. It will certainly involve less mechanization and will require more manual labor. This will not be possible with commercial agriculture. Subsistence farming may require more labor, which would reduce both surplus and profits.
The paradox is that mechanization in the commercial agricultural method employing monocrop, such as the maize staple crop in Zambia, gets the highest harvest yields. But this same commercial agricultural method may hurt subsistence farmers if the subsistence farmers widely adopted it. Contrary to popular belief, the prohibitive cost of inputs in commercial farming should not be the only factor preventing rural subsistence farmers from adopting the method. Subsistence farmers in villages should use some of the commercial agriculture methods, such as the use of fertilizer and commercial seed, but the use of mechanization and monocrop farm fields would be detrimental to subsistence farmers as these farmers would not be able to plant other crops that are crucial for their survival. Getting rid of all the weeds using herbicides, for example, would also get rid of all the wild naturally growing vegetables that grow with the weeds. The rural residents heavily depend on these foods for their survival during the entire growing season from December to May.
This research report presented findings in a research project which was conducted at the 123-acre, or 50-hectare, Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village located in rural Lusaka in Zambia in southern Africa from January to June 2021. The project used the ethnographic method and a limited survey. First, the project investigated whether a model village could be created to instigate enduring sustainable social bonds within the context of the social ecology within which the rural model village residents live. Initially, the residents experienced difficulties in settling in the village. But after a few weeks, they were able to create somewhat strong social bonds after overcoming some of the initial challenges.
Secondly, the research project investigated whether subsistence sustainable agricultural development methods can be successfully used to grow food in a rural environment. The model village residents achieved some remarkable farm outputs while employing primarily sustainable agricultural methods. The nature and amount of farm inputs and outputs created serious questions as to the viability of the model village for achieving sustainable rural subsistence farming. It was hoped that the findings of the model village study could be used as the basis for implementing successful sustainable development model village programs in many parts of rural Zambia and the global world.
Every research has limitations. One advantage that both the experiment and the survey as research methods have is that the studies have a definite end; the experiment ends and the survey ends when the survey sample number is reached. This ethnographic study did not have a definitive end. The six months may not have been enough for the study. As a researcher, I have since realized that this is the reason why good ethnographic studies may take many years of participant observation.
I would like to thank all of my colleagues within the Sociology Department at Bridgewater College for all the support they gave me during my teaching but also especially during all the phases of my sabbatical research: Dr. Benjamin Albers, the Chair of the Department, and colleagues Dr. Tim Brazil, Professor Skip Burzumato, and Dr. David Reznic, as well as Dr. Betsy Hayes, the former Chair of the Sociology Department and the Division Head of Humanities and Social Sciences. I would also like to thank the Information Technology Center at Bridgewater College for their help when I was conducting data analysis of the limited survey from my research. I would like to thank Jada Blinn, theDirector ofStrategic Analysis and Reporting Bridgewater College, for her help when I was writing the research project proposal.
I would like to thank the following colleagues for their help when I was writing the sabbatical research proposal: Dr. Kimberly Bolyard of the Department of Biology, Dr. Timothy Kreps of the Department of Biology, and Teshome Molalenge, Director of Sustainability at the Center for Engaged Learning.
I would like to thank Mr. Vincent Tembo for his unwavering support of the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village, as well as his dedication to and sacrifice for the project prior to the research field work and especially during my participant observation or ethnography field work. The entire construction of the model village would not have been possible without Mr. Vincent Tembo. I would also like to thank all the residents of the model village from different backgrounds for their enthusiasm and cooperation as we participated in this experiment together. I would like to thank Heather Hayes of Charlottesville in Virginia for editing the report.
Finally, I would like to thank my family for their support: Beth, my wife of 41 years; my adult children, Temwanani, Kamwendo, and Sekani; my daughter-in-law Hannah Tembo; and all the members of my two large extended families on the Tembo and Zerweck sides. Your support always means so much to me.
The six months of research field work during which I lived in my own hut at the model village was the most exciting research in my life. It was not without risk as towards the end in June, I came down with malaria fever and COVID-19 and had to be hospitalized. I was admitted at South Point Hospital in Chelstone in Lusaka. I would like to thank the staff of the hospital for their professionalism and kind treatment.
Conflict of interest
The Mednick Foundation awarded me a small grant which partially funded my research project. The grant was awarded through my employers; Bridgewater College. Both institutions had no expectations about what the results or findings of the research project should be. The author owned the 123 acres or 50 hectares of the model village. There were no pressures or investment on the part of the author to achieve certain results or to confirm certain hypotheses. There were no expectations on the part of the author to recoup expenses for farm inputs from the village farm yields or harvests. All the 41 bags of maize harvest were left to the model village residents to sell and reserve some of the maize for personal consumption. Although the author is aware that the ethnographic method is inherently biased, the author declares no conflict of interest.
Johnson, Allan G., “Chapter 4, Population and Human Ecology: People, Space, and Place,” in The Forest and the Trees: Sociology as Life, Practice, and Promise, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2014. Pp. 91-106
Macionis, John, Sociology, 17th Edition, New York: Pearson, 2019.
McMichael, Philip, Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective, 6th Edition, Los Angeles: Sage Publications, 2017.
Scoones, Ian,“Sustainability,”Development in Practice, Vol. 17, No. 4/5 (August 2007), pp. 589-596, Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of Oxfam GBStable, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25548257.
Schumacher, E.F., Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, New York: Harper and Row, 1973.
Tembo, Mwizenge S., The Bridge, New York: Linus Publications, 2013.
Tembo, Mwizenge S., Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture: Social Change in the Global World, Xlibris Corporation, 2012.
Tembo, Mwizenge S., Zambian Traditional Names: The Meaning of Tumbuka, Chewa, Nsenga Ngoni and Tonga Names, Lusaka: Julubbi Enterprises Limited, 2006.
Tembo, Mwizenge S., “Where Chickens Sleep in Trees: The Importance of Chickens in Rural Zambia,”The World & I, September 1991.
Tembo, Mwizenge S., Conceptualization of Appropriate Technology in Lundazi District of Rural Zambia, Ph.D. Dissertation, East Lansing: Department of Sociology, Michigan State University, 1987.
Tembo, Mwizenge S., “An Assessment of Appropriate Technology Needs of Gwazapasi and Mkanile Villages of Lundazi District of Rural Zambia,” Eastern Africa Journal of Rural Development, Vol. 14, No. 2, 1981.
Tembo, Mwizenge S., Part II: Lundazi District, in An Assessment of Technological Needs in Three Rural Districts of Zambia, Tembo, Mwizenge S., Mwila, Chungu, and Hayward, Peter, Human Aspects of Technology in Zambia: Rural Technological Needs Assessment Survey, Preliminary Report, No. 1, February 1982, Lusaka: Technology and Industry Research Unit, Institute for African Studies, 1982.
World Commission on Environment and Development (1987a), Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
World Commission on Environment and Development (1987b) “Food 2000: Global Policies for Sustainable Agriculture,” Report of the Advisory Panel on Food Security, Agriculture, Forestry and Environment.
 Since I am Zambian who grew up and whose life is deeply embedded in both Tumbuka and Zambian traditional culture, there are certain activities I knew were taboo for me to participate in as a man. For example, men and women ate separately according to indigenous customs. While I could observe the women eating together, I never joined them to eat for purposes of the study. Doing so would have broken one of the fundamental aspects of the traditional culture and customs. The women and men would have thought of me as being rude, disrespectful, and even contemptuous of them.
 The information was collected during research the author conducted at two villages: Mkanile and Gwazapazi Villages in the Lundazi District while he was a Research Fellow at the Institute of African Studies during field trips in 1981 and 1982. Tembo, Mwizenge S., Hayward, Peter, and Mwila, Chungu, As Assessment of Technological Needs in Three Rural Districts of Zambia, Report No. 1, Lusaka: Technology and Industry Research Unit, Institute for African Studies, February 1982.
Also: Tembo, Mwizenge S., “An Assessment of Appropriate Technology Needs of Gwazapasi and Mkanile Villages of Lundazi District of Rural Zambia,” Eastern Africa Journal of Rural Development, Vol. 14, No. 1 and 2, 1981.
 The information was collected during research the author conducted at two villages: Mkanile and Gwazapazi Villages in the Lundazi District while he was a Research Fellow at the Institute of African Studies during field trips in 1981 and 1982. Tembo, Mwizenge S., Hayward, Peter, and Mwila, Chungu, As Assessment of Technological Needs in Three Rural Districts of Zambia, Report No. 1, Lusaka: Technology and Industry Research Unit, Institute for African Studies, February 1982; and Tembo, Mwizenge S., Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture: Social Change in the Global World, Xlibris Corporation, 2012, p.129.
 Tembo, Mwizenge S., “Where Chickens Sleep in Trees: The Importance of Chickens in Rural Zambia,”The World & I, September 1991.
 Life in the village can be best summarized as influenced by the experience of the Tumbuka term “kufwasa.” Fwasa is a verb that can be translated as to be calm, patient, quiet; to focus or concentrate one hundred percent; to be serene; to take your time. Kufwasa is the state of being or experiencing this condition. Some words and their deeper philosophical meanings in one culture are rarely easily or accurately translatable into, say, English or another language. Kufwasa is such a term in Tumbuka. Tembo, Mwizenge S., “Kufwasa and Serenity,” November 13, 2016, https://wp.bridgewater.edu/mtembo/articles/kufwasa.
 During the period of the study from January to June 2021, none of the residents lived in the model village for all of the six months. Residents moved in and out of the village. Some came to the village as visitors or guests for a few days, maybe up to a week. Most came to earn an income through ganyu, or piece or contract work. Six were permanent workers who earned a monthly wage.
 Macionis, John, Sociology, 17th Edition, New York: Pearson, 2019.
 Macionis, John, Sociology, 17th Edition, New York: Pearson, 2019.
 The author first lived at the model village for three weeks in July 2019. He later lived in the model village from January to June 2021.
Chinamwali is the traditional puberty ceremony for girls in the Eastern Province of Zambia.
 The drumming for the Vimbuka spiritual traditional possession dance has three drumming sounds: mboza, mapilimapili, and dancer or master drummer. Mphininkhu is the variation or reverse of the mapilimapili sound. All the drum sounds are represented with oral notations. There are no written notes like in the Western written music notations. There is the Vimbuza dance when an individual is experiencing spiritual possession and the Vimbuza dance for entertainment. The village residents were doing the latter.
Nshima is a food cooked from plain maize or corn meal or maize flour known as mealie-meal among Zambians. Nshima is the staple food for 17 million Zambians. It is eaten at least twice per day: for lunch and dinner. Another second dish, known as ndiwo, umunani, dende, or relish, must always accompany nshima. The relish is always a deliciously cooked vegetable, meat, fish, or poultry dish. By comparison to other cultures, Zambian recipes tend to be bland and hardly use any hot spices at all. However, they use other traditional ingredients and spices that give Zambian foods that distinctive unique taste and flavor. https://wp.bridgewater.edu/mtembo/zambian-foods/nshima-and-ndiwo/https://www.thefreelibrary.com/COMING+FROM+THE+EARTH.-a058371694
Wevulira and kacece are the traditional Tumbuka terms for the stages of fertilization of corn or maize. Both wevulira or kacece refer to the silk-like flowering of the young baby corn or maize. This is the female part of the process of flowering in the fertilization of the corn. https://www.evergreenseeds.com/baby-corn/
Khung’uska is the flowering that takes place at the top of the growing maize. This is the male part of the flowering of the maize or corn in the process of fertilization. The author is both wondering and unsure whether the farmers are conscious of the smell that is apparently present during the process of farming maize or corn. https://www.evergreenseeds.com/baby-corn/
 Johnson, Allan G., The Forest and the Trees: Sociology as Life, Practice, and Promise, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2014.
 Describing kufwasa and serenity in my home village, I state: “During the early evening night, I sit on the front of my small round hut along the narrow edge known as chiwundo by the thin closed wooden door. The yellow glow of the candlelight is visible along the edge of the rectangular doorframe…..Thisis the place where my mom and dad’s house is literally less than eighty yards or seventy-five meters away from my house. My two brothers and their wives’ houses and their children are less than sixty yards or fifty-four meters away…..When I wake up and open my front door, I can see all these people I love at once at a glance”. Tembo, Mwizenge S., Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture: Social Change in the Global World, Xlibris Corporation, 2012, p.21-22.
I was at a burial at the Leopards Hill cemetery in Lusaka the Capital City of Zambia in Southern Africa. It was somewhat quiet, tense and very sad as people were mourning as the dirt or soil was being poured into the grave of our beloved departed relative. In Zambian society, the Ngoni from the Eastern Province and the Bembas from the Northern Province has a chimbuya or grandfather and grandmother ship. The two groups tease and joke about each other a lot in public, at weddings, and at funerals. This goes back to incidents between the two tribes or ethnic groups going back to the 1850s.
The deceased man we were burying was a very close Bemba man whom we can call Mulenga. The men who had an obligation to bury and pour soil or dirt into Mulenga’s grave were Ngoni Easterners. As they were piling the soil on the grave using shovels, there was a small dead mouse. Easterners eat mice. Suddenly the Ngoni man grabbed the mouse and tossed it on top of the grave mound saying: “Since Mulenga will be hungry in the grave, he will eat this mouse.” The mourners momentarily laughed right in the middle of a somber very tense serious moment.
I was watching the very serious January 6 Congressional Hearings because our nation’s democracy here in the United States is in danger whether you are aware of it or not. During the hearings, the witness Cassidy Hutchinson was creating a very convincing narrative of what happened in the White House during the January 6 riot, insurrection or should we call it an uprising now in the light of the new devastating information?
Cassidy Hutchinson described an incident in early December 2020 when the former President was apparently very angry at Attorney General Bill Barr when he said there was no wide spread fraud or any credible irregularities in the 2020 elections. The President allegedly smashed his lunch hamburger and french fries plate against the wall splattering the ketchup all over the White House dining room wall. Hutchinson found herself helping picking up the broken China pieces and helping the White House valet wipe the ketchup off the wall. I laughed very hard.
Cassidy Hutchinson said the former President expected to be driven to the Capital from his rally he had just addressed at the Ellipse. When the secret agent driver repeatedly told the President No! “We are going back to the White House”, the President was so angry he allegedly lunged at the secret service driver grabbing the steering wheel or chidraivilo. When he was rebuffed, the President reached for the driver’s clavicle. At this point I just lost it, not in anger, but in serious belly rocking laughter. I found myself suddenly laughing very hard. I have not found anything to laugh at in the news these days about the country and the world. But why was I laughing?
First and foremost, we laugh during tense moments when something unexpected happens. Afterall, that is the secret behind all humor and comedy. But I began to ask myself how did we elect the leader of the most powerful country in the world who does these things in anger? We ordinary citizens who are mere mortals may express our temper that way. But it is not right. None of us ever condone this behavior. But then I began to ask myself whether the other 45 American Presidents could have done this in the White House? Would Presidents Biden, Obama, both Bushes, Clinton, Reagan, Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, and JF Kennedy have engaged in this behavior? What about the Great President Lincoln from the 1860s?
My conclusion to all of this is that our character, integrity, and dignity is often reflected not in public big earth-shaking pronouncements and decisions, but rather if in anger we can lunge at a driver in the automobile if we don’t get our way; or if in anger we hurl our dinner plate against the wall splattering ketchup on it. One million Americans died of the Corona Virus pandemic when the former President was in charge. Let’s count our blessings that we did not have the Cuban Nuclear Missile crisis when the former President was in charge of the nuclear bombs code.
Philipp Dettmer, Immune: A Journey into the Mysterious System That Keeps You Alive, New York, Random House, 2021, 341 pages, Hardcover, $21.99 (K372.70)
Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D
Emeritus Professor of Sociology
You own a large three-bedroom house. In the kitchen you have mealie-meal, cooking oil, bananas, oranges, onion, bread, biscuits, and tomato to last the whole month. You have a fridge full of raw and cooked food, all kinds of soft drinks including a crate of beer. You have a large screen cable TV with over two hundred stations in your very comfortable living room with thick sofas. Your bedrooms have good beds with thick comfortable mattresses with good blankets. The closets are full of the latest new clothes and shoes. The shower has good soap and your flash toilet is clean. The house has two doors, ten windows, a ceiling and a roof.
As you are sitting in the living room flipping channels watching TV, you look out of the window. There are hundreds of robbers all around your house every night and day who want to find ways to break into your house, kill you and your family so that they can settle in, eat, enjoy themselves, steal, occupy, live in and take over your house. The house is your body, you, and your family and relatives living happily inside it. The fierce armed robbers who are all around outside the house walls, doors, windows, and roof banging and trying to invade and get into your body are the numerous germs or enemies outside your body, that create havoc through disease, illness, and death trying to get into your body to kill you. How does all of this relate to your life and 7.7 billion other human beings in the world which include 17 million Zambians?
Immune: the Book.
Philipp Dettmer has published a book “Immune: A Journey into the Mysterious System That Keeps You Alive” in which he describes in the most understandable way how the immune system operates to defend your body and mine in 45 short chapters. The chapters include: The Empires and Kingdoms of the immune system; Naked, Blind, and Afraid: How Do Cells Know Where to Go?; Weapon Factories and Sniper Rifles: B Cells and Antibodies; How a Viral Infection is Eradicated; When Your Immune System is Too Weak: HIV and AIDS; The Hygiene Hypothesis and Old Friends.
We can walk, laugh, work, eat, play, read, have sex, go to school to earn certificates, diplomas, degrees, and do many things that make us happy because the immune system keeps us safe from germs. But what is surprising is that the body and the immune defensive system are both very complex and complicated. This is why despite advances in science, some of the activities of the body and the germs are still not well understood.
Dettmer first describes the physiology of the body, who are the soldiers that defend our bodies against our enemies both inside and outside our bodies, how do the soldiers defend our bodies, and what happens when our valiant soldiers lose the war to the invading enemies in form of germs?
Our bodies are very big. They range for an adult in height from 5ft or 1.52 meters to 7ft or 2.13 meters. Our adult bodies can weigh ranging from 130lbs or 58.9kg to 300lbs or 136.07kg. The body is composed of flesh and muscles, 60% water, and fluids such as blood that the heart pumps through veins making the fluids flow throughout our body. The body is protected from enemies outside our bodies with a thick skin that has a surface area of 2 square yards or 1.67square meters. According to Dettmer, the skin “luckily is not that hard to defend, since most of it is made out of a hard and thick barrier covered with its own defense system. It feels soft, but is pretty hard to breach if it is intact.” (p.11)
In the house example that was used earlier, robbers, burglars, and enemies are likely to pry doors and windows to try to enter your house to attack you. Similarly, the weakest points that germs are likely to enter to attack your body are the openings in your body which are your mucous membranes. According to Dettmer, these are “the surface that lines your windpipe and lungs, eyelids, mouth, and nose, your stomach and intestines, your reproductive tracts and bladder….on average there are about 200 square yards or 167.22 sq. meters of mucous membrane….the size of tennis court.” (p.11)
What is the unit that defends our body in the immune system? The smallest unit that the immune system is built around is the cell. The cell is a very tiny microscopic unit compared to our huge body. But the cell does numerous things for our body. The tiny cell has so many things in it and performs so many functions. According to Dettmer, inside the cell there is a nucleus, “….the information center of your cell – pretty large structure with its own protective border wall that houses your DNA, your genetic code.” (p. 17) The cell’s insides has millions of molecules and proteins. Proteins are the most important building blocks and tools for not only our bodies but all living things.
The body has forty trillion cells including red blood cells, muscle cells, fat cells, epithelial cells, and immune cells, just to mention a few (p.13). The numerous immune cells include the Dendric Cell, Natural Killer Cell, T-Cell. B Cell. Mast Cell, Macrophage, Antibodies, Basophil, and Eosinophil (p.28). You name anything in the human body there is a cell for it. How does the immune system operate to defend the body using the Innate Immune System and the Adaptive Immune System? Who are the sworn enemies of the body that if they manage to get into our bodies, we may become very sick or even die?
The three major microorganisms that are enemies that are always threatening our bodies are parasites such as bacteria, viruses, and others. The total number of bacteria in the whole world is estimated to be 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. This is five million trillion trillion or 5 x 10 to the 30th power. Because they are so ubiquitous, they are everywhere and we can never get rid of them. However not all bacteria are enemies to the human body. Since about 3.5 billion years ago (p.3) when the human immune system began to evolve, some bacteria are hostile but others are friendly and actually live inside our bodies and help us to live a healthy life. For example, according to Dettmer, around your intestines, “ ……on your gut mucosa, around thirty to forty trillion individual bacteria from around 1,000 different species and tens of thousands of species of viruses make up your gut microbiota” (p.162). There are one million bacteria on a square centimeter of your skin alone (p.45). The difficult job of the immune system is to keep the friendly bacteria but kill the dangerous bacteria. There are also an estimated ten thousand billion, billion, billion viruses. (p.168)
This information about your immune system should not scare you. Instead, it should create a better understanding of what it takes for us to live healthy lives every day. Often, we are not even aware of the internal battles our immune system fights every single day. But even more important, this information should help us understand how and why we get sick and sometimes die. Why do we have malaria fever, influenza epidemics during the cold or winter months, cholera, childhood diarrhea kills millions of children, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and now the Corona Virus or Corvid 19? Instead of paying attention to conspiracy theories, what do vaccines do? How can we help our bodies strengthen our immune system beyond taking drugs?
I highly recommend this book for the ordinary reader, teachers of introduction to biology and the immune system, nurses, students in all medical fields, and students of the relationship between evolutionary biology, diseases, and pandemics.
Author of the Internationally Acclaimed Romance Adventure Novel: “The Bridge”.
I was a village boy who was going to see the train for the first time any second now. My dad and I had just completed a grueling sixteen-hour bus trip from the remote Eastern Province of rural Chipata district of Eastern Province of Zambia. We were dusty, black and blue just from the physical pounding we had endured on the 600Km bumpy bus ride on a gravel road. We had spent the wee hours of the morning on the Zambia Railways concrete platform station and I was seconds away from seeing the train. I stared in the southern province direction with great anticipation of the rail tracks as the train approached. I first saw the engine’s bright white head light.
First it was the loud moaning piercing melodic steam whistle blow that echoed around the adjacent downtown skyscrapers of Cairo Road in Zambia Capital City of Lusaka. I saw the billowing thick black smoke. Then the train platform vibrated as the massive engine thundered by amidst a loud cacophony of screeching metal, sparks, and jets of white steam furiously shooting from the sides of the massive engine. The train gradually ground to a halt. Suddenly doors flung open and people poured out of the passenger cars like ants as my dad and I excitedly moved forward to board the train to Kitwe. The legend and my dream of the train had met with my reality. I was ecstatic. It was just as my uncles had described in the village but even more exciting. This was to be forever my life before and after I first saw the train.
My uncles had traveled from our African village to work in plantations 1,600Kms or one thousand miles away in the former British colonial Southern Rhodesia and now Zimbabwe in the 1940s and 50s. Some relatives had gone as far as Johannesburg and Cape town in South Africa which were almost 3,200Kms or two thousand miles away. They told riveting romantic stories about the train on their return to the village.
The train was an imposing technological phenomenon. But there is an aspect of it that creates tremendous enchantment. I experienced the wonder during that first train ride from Lusaka to Kitwe in Savannah Africa in the mid1960s. My dad and I were riding in a third-class car. I stuck my head out of the window to the blowing wind and a vista of short grassland of the Savannah interrupted by commercial farms, grass hut villages, valleys, and grazing livestock.
At the first stop outside Chisamba, people ran along the sides of the train with oranges, guavas, bananas, biscuits or cookies, the famous yellow chikondamoyo home- baked buns spread with jam or butter, boiled eggs, and an assortment of soft drinks.
I had been warned that these traders often ran away into the bush with your change if you were not careful during the hasty transactions. Some crooked passengers also deliberately delayed in paying the traders until the train would take off with the trader running along the train shouting for his or her money as the train picked up speed. My dad had learned his lesson at Kacholola. He did not dare give the trader his cash until he had the items and paid with the exact change. No more asking for change from my now wise father.
One of the best things my father did for me was he bought me the famous chokondamoyo; the lover of life. Once it was in my hand, I stared at it and slowly took one bite. Like many town foods on this trip, I had never eaten anything like it before. It was mildly sweet with a rich aroma of what towns people called butter. It was bright yellow but a little chewy as if you were eating a piece of maize cake.
Once we resumed the trip the train picked up speed. When we reached a long bend, I could see the three long massive black bars below the engine synchronously moving rapidly making loud sounds: nashupika!!! geza njani!!!! Wauhhhhhhh!!!!! was the piercing loud moaning melodic steam whistle as the massive train passed road crossing after road crossing. It was a melodic sound beautiful and pleasing to the human soul as the black plume of smoke curved behind the engine spiraling into the blue sky of the savannah grasslands. Then the black smoke was evaporating into thin air.
Now I understood why people in my village at the time described the train as “moaning” and the loud chugging along was characterized as “nashupika” which is an indigenous word for “to suffer”. They were almost attributing human qualities to the chugging train’s effort that was hauling probably over a hundred cars including cabins. Since that first memorable train ride, I have come to understand why the train as a technological marvel became such a legend and inspired so much imagination.
My uncle Paulosi or Chimbaranga lived in Kwacha township in Kitwe. He had two twin brothers sons Charles and Elijah who were my age. Most of the town foods were new to me. The full cream milk was in a small rectangular plastic container with Drinka Pinta insignia cartoon of a smiling cow on it. The sliced Supaloaf bread was in a reddish white plastic covering. I thought the taste and flavor of the bread could not compare to the strong aroma of the yeast buns baked at Molozi bakery back in rural Chipata. My cousins took me to the Kitwe Round Table playground which was near mayadi or high income neighborhood which used to be reserved for Europeans only during the colonial days of British racial segregation before Zambia’s independence in 1964.
One day down town Kitwe, I was standing on a street corner when I saw this big seven ton lorry turning a corner and behind the wheel was a Zambian woman wearing a colorful duku. My eyes must have almost popped out of my sockets because of my utter disbelief that a woman could drive a lorry!!!? Such things happen in cities and towns. I never forgot that significant rare event in Kitwe during the rest of my life.
Author of the Internationally Acclaimed Romantic Adventure Novel: “The Bridge”
On my long bus journey from Chipata to Lusaka to see the train for the first time, we left Kacholola on the Great East Road and now entered the treacherous Muchinga Escarpment hills leading to the Luangwa Bridge. It was hot, dusty, and pitch dark outside except for the two bright beams of the Fiat bus that cut and sharply lit the darkness ahead to reveal the narrow gravel road. Suddenly there were dark hills on both sides of the road as the bus rumbled, vibrated and rattled picking up speed.
There was sign after sign of steep slopes and dangerous sharp bends ahead. The carcasses and skeletons of trucks, lorries, and cars that had crashed, over turned and sometimes burned were visible on the side of the road just as we navigated sharp bend after sharp bend. The bus would lean to one side as the driver carefully navigated as we took each sharp bend. The repeated sounds of Tsa-shaaaaaa!!! Tsa—shaaaa!!! could be heard from underneath the bus as the driver repeatedly hit the hydraulic brakes. The danger and risk that the bus could overturn while navigating sharp bends if the driver was not careful and experienced was real. I was tense and scared. The bus was quiet.
When the bus was bumping and vibrating violently, you could not hear the sound of the engine. Then suddenly the sound of the Fiat bus engine would be heard again reemerging as if it was a phoenix that had risen from the ashes.
There were small and large leaping flames of fires along the dark hills on both sides of the road. It was eerie. These are lupya seasonal dry season fires rural people deliberately set in rural Zambia. We could see many approaching vehicles 3Kms away in the valley as their beams meandered and zig-zagged toward us. When we finally met the oncoming vehicles, the bus pulled aside and waited as the gravel road was too narrow for both vehicles to safely pass each other.
After sometime, there was a road sign that we were approaching the bridge. The bus came to a stop and then drove slowly into the Luangwa Bridge. The driver switched on the bus inside lights. We drove really slowly. We could barely see the water of the mighty Luangwa River flowing under the bridge. Once we crossed the bridge, the bus conductor announced that the next two significant places on the road to Lusaka were Manenekera and Rufunsa.
After driving for some time, the ominous road signs were visible. First it was a sign of sharp bends ahead with was an image of a long wriggling snake. There was a sign of a long sharp gradient ahead. And most ominous was “Sharp bends and narrow road next 10 miles. Buses and trucks engage lowest gear”. I had a knot of apprehension and fear in my stomach. The driver stopped and made big movements and loud gear changing sounds of apparently engaging the lowest gear. The bus began inching along really slowly down Manenekara. He switched on the lights inside the bus. Two elderly women moved from their seats and sat on the floor in the isle of the bus. They were too afraid to look outside the windows. They were weeping with tears rolling down their cheeks. They were afraid of Manenekera.
Half way down the long steep slope, I could see that the very narrow gravel road had been carved out of a tall mountain. There was a tall mountain on the left of the bus and a deep dark bottomless chasm on the right. As I peeked through the bus window, the gravel road was so narrow it appeared inside the bus as though part of the body of the bus on my side was leaning over the edge of the deep chasm. The wheels of the bus looked like they were barely twelve inches or 30cms from the edge of the deep dark scary bottomless chasm. If the bee stung the driver or if he sneezed uncontrollably and lost control of the steering wheel, the bus could plunge down the bottomless chasm. Passengers were very quiet. I was sweating and scared to death.
Once we safely passed Manenekera, we arrived at Rufunsa where the bus stopped and we ate nshima. I knew the next step would be Lusaka and my seeing the train for the first time. I was so excited that I began to think and quietly ham the old traditional song from the Nsenga people of Petauke.
Leader: Kalindawaro ni mfumu (Kalindawaro is the Chief)
Response: Chaipirako ni chimo chikomo chotaya mbumba (One bad thing is ignoring his sister)
Leader: Naima naima nebo!!!!!! (I am going on a journey)
Response: Naima!!!! Naima nikaone njanji ningafe wosayiwona (I want to go and see the train
before I die)
After riding the bus for a while, suddenly the ride was quiet and smooth. We had hit the tarmac of the outskirts of Lusaka. A passenger said on the left were the bright lights of the Lusaka International Airport. I had never before seen so many streets, houses, and street lights of the big capital city. We finally arrived at the Kamwala Intercity Bus Station.
A few passengers said they wanted to catch a train to go to Kitwe or Livingstone. About fifteen passengers decided to proceed and walk to the Lusaka railway station. My father carried our big suitcase on his shoulder as we walked through the Kamwala Shops what was called the second class shopping center for black Zambians during the racial segregation of British Northern Rhodesia colonial days. The first class which was for Europeans was Cairo Road where there were glitzy shopping stores.
In the wee hours, we arrived at the Lusaka Railway station concrete platform. We were to catch the train to Kitwe. My dad and I laid our blankets on the concrete platform and laid down. I saw big red flashing lights which had the word: “MobilOil.” This I was to learn later was along Cairo Road. I waited for the first time I would see the train.
Author of the Internationally Acclaimed Romantic Adventure Novel: “The Bridge”.
After washing our faces early in the morning, my dad and I went to the Kapata Tea Rooms at the market. A cup of plain hot black tea was 2 pence and with milk was three pence or ticky. The buns were one penny for two buns. We drunk one cup of tea with milk with three buns each for breakfast. This was the time of transition from the Northern Rhodesia British colonial currency of Pounds, Shillings and Pence to independent Zambia Kwacha and Ngwee. Chipata was somewhat still called Fort Jameson.
When we got to the Kapata Bus Station, the relatively brand new 50 passenger Lusaka-Chipata Fiat bus was waiting. It was a long bus with bright United Bus Company (UBZ) logos along the sides and two silver round long small metal rodes along the sliding windows. Soon my dad bought the tickets. I stepped on the first step into the bus and I could feel and hear the bus trembling and rattling. The smell of burning diesel hit my nose and the excitement and anxiety of the starting of the big journey suddenly gripped me.
My dad and I sat on the two- passenger seat and I sat next to the window so that I could see everything. People were noisily hastily bidding each other good bye and to tell the relatives in Lusaka everybody was fine back home. Soom the bus was filled up and every seat was occupied. I saw the young bus driver remove his UBZ Khaki jacket and toss it on the back of his seat as he jumped into the driver’s seat and immediately hit the accelerator and the hooter.
Many passengers were feverishly shouting good byes through the windows to relatives and friends standing outside waving goodbye.
“Tizafika ku Lusaka mailo! (We will arrive in Lusaka tomorrow )” “Nizapita ku Matero pa Sabata kukaona amai banu! (I will go to Matero to visit your mother on Sunday!!!)” I heard one woman shout through the window to a waving relative. The bus took off and we were off for the 372 miles or 600 Kms to Lusaka; ku walale, the City, and the line of rail.
One of my teacher Mr. Banda’s many Grade Six Social Studies lessons at Tamanda Boys Dutch Boarding School in 1965 went like this:
“Pupils!! In todays’ social studies class, we will travel from Chipata to Lusaka. We will learn about major towns, what tribes live in the areas along the road, what type farming they practice, transportation, and the types foods and trades they practice.”
Among many of those lessons, I would now get to see the places, listen to some different languages, and different types of foods. Mr. Banda’s social studies lessons would be from Mpulungu to Lusaka, Lusaka to Livingstone, Solwezi to Chingola, Lusaka to Mongu and many other major roads in Zambia. I was familiar with and had heard about the many major places and towns from Chipata to Lusaka.
The Fiat bus hummed quietly on the smooth tarmac road until after St. Monicas Girls Secondary School turn off just outside Chipata when suddenly without warning all hell broke loose. The bus bumped, shook, rattled and vibrated loudly as it bounced around on the gravel road. The driver swung the steering wheel from side to side while switching gears and searching for a smoother part of the road. There was no smooth part. Once he accelerated, the bumps were a little smoother. Some dust seeped into the windows as some passengers closed the windows to keep out some of the dust. This was to happen throughout the long trip.
Soon we passed Msandile River and stopped at Mtenguleni. My dad and I looked at each on other and we said we were in for a long journey if we stopped everywhere at the numerous bus stations and bus stops to drop off passengers and pick up new ones. Passengers began to talk and make commentaries on the journey, the many places and speculated about when we would arrive in Lusaka. The passengers talked about the legendary scary places during the journey. The worst was the dangerous and risky was driving through Manenekera narrow mountain edge in the dark at night in the treacherous steep hills of the Muchinga Escarpment along the Luangwa River.
We were driving all day. We passed through Katete, Sinda, Patauke, Minga, and stopped at Nyimba where we ate nshima. It was dark by the time we arrived at Kacholola before entering the treacherous Muchinga Escarpment. Something happened that was significant. It was hot, dusty, and the smell of burning diesel was strong.
At Kacholola the bus lights from the inside the bus lit the outside such that we passengers were able to see and to buy snacks from traders who were walking displaying their merchandise in baskets on their heads. Guavas, soft drinks, boiled eggs, buns with margarine or sweet red jam spread on them, vitumbuwa, and bananas.
My dad leaned over me to the window and asked a boy for six bananas which were costing one ngwee or one penny for two bananas. My dad gave the boy the susu or six pence coin and the boy handed my dad the six bananas. The boy reached in his pocket as if to reach for change. The boy slowly backed off and quickly disappeared into the dark and the milling crowd of traders.
“Young boy!!! Iwe!!!” my dad shouted through the window. “Give me my ticky change!!!! Give me back my change!!!!”“Aka kamwana kanibira chenji yane!!! (This child has stolen my change!!!) ” my dad shouted dejectedly after a while of waiting for the boy to bring his change. My dad sat down and gave up. I looked out away facing the window capping and covering my mouth so that my dad did not see my face. “A young boy has just robbed my father!” I quietly laughed rocking my shoulders.
Author of the Internationally Acclaimed Romantic Novel: “The Bridge”
President Kenneth Kaunda was young. Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe was young. Munukayumbwa Sipalo was young. Peter Matoka was young. Julia Chikamoneka was young. Chibesa Kankasa was young. Mutumba Mainga Bull was young. Chieftainess Nkomesha was young. All the chiefs in Zambia were young. The hills, the forest, and the trees in Zambia were young. Cairo Road in Lusaka was young. The Zambezi River, the Luangwa River, and the Kafue River were young. My parents were young. My three brothers and six sisters were young. My uncles and my aunts were young. All my friends were young. Zambia was young. The University of Zambia was young. I was young.
My father was a teacher at Kasonjola Primary School in Chief Mkanda’s area north of rural Eastern Province of Zambia along the Chipata Lundazi road. We were living in a small five room teacher’s brick house built in all rural primary schools just after Zambia’s independence from British colonialism in 1964 at the beginning of the sleeping Zambia’s more than twenty-five years of spectacular leap in development and social change.
This is what we always did as a family after supper. This one August evening we sat in our tiny living room on wooden chairs around the dining room table chatting for hours. The younger siblings would already be sleeping having slumped over on the floor in the dark. Something totally unexpected and unusual happened that night.
My father emerged from the bedroom carrying a paraffin hurricane lamp which he had just lit because we were trying to save the paraffin. We often only lit the paraffin lamp if we really thought it was necessary. Some nights we ate dinner outside and chatted in the bright beautiful moon light. My father placed the flickering orange light hurricane lamp in the middle of the table.
“Mwizenge,” my father said sitting down. “After tomorrow we are travelling to Kitwe to the Copperbelt to visit your uncles, aunts, and cousins.”
My eyes popped out as I grinned from ear to ear. The darkness in the room was suddenly bright. I was frozen and speechless with shock.
“Mwanyithu muluta ku walale ku Kitwe na awisemwe, (you our friend are going to Kitwe and line of rail with your father)” my mother added fuel to my excitement and imagination as she
must have seen my wide grin and popping twinkling eyes of sheer rare joyful moment.
“Your mother will help you tomorrow wash the clothes you will be taking with you,” my father said as we all dispersed to go to bed in our rooms.
That night was torture as I could not sleep from sheer excitement and imagination. When I was young living in the village, I had heard so much about Lusaka, Broken Hill (Kabwe), and Kitwe in the then Northern Rhodesia from my uncles who had gone there to work. Some uncles had gone far away to Salisbury (Harare) in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Johannesburg and Cape town in South Africa. They had exciting experiences and stories but also warned of the dangers of matsotsi or crooks, conmen, and criminals in the cities. There were too many cars, road car accidents, and it was dangerous, the delicious new European or (white man) town foods, and then there was the romance of the train. As I finally drifted to sleep, I wished the journey was right there and then. I did not want to endure one more whole day of torture waiting for this greatest trip of my young life.
On the day of departure, my father rode his bicycle carrying the one large suitcase which had our two blankets and some clothes. I was wearing shorts but barefoot which was common for boys and children my age in rural areas. My father was wearing his normal attire of shoes, pair of trousers, long sleeved shirt and a jacket.
I rode my mother’s bicycle. We arrived at the Molozi bus station at about 1600 hours and promptly rode a lift to Fort Jameson (Chipata) as it was late in the day and the United Bus Company (UBZ) from Lundazi to Chipata had already passed. Molozi was notorious because it had the steepest chikwela or slope on the gravel road on the Chipata Lundazi road. It was so steep that during the rain season we could hear from 5 miles or 8 Kms away at Kasonjola, trucks and buses painfully moaning up the hill. Many a vehicle simply broke down trying to climb the Molozi Hill.
We arrived in Chipata at Kapata Bus Station at 18:00 hours and reported at a guest house that charged each one of us six pence or six ngwee for the night. We laid down on the cement floor using half of the blanket to lie on and folding the other half as cover. We would be buying the ticket and boarding the Lusaka bus early in the morning.
The dictionary definitions of “exotic” are many: “introduced from another country : not native to the place where found”“exotic plants… exotic species creating havoc when introduced into new environments.” “strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusualexotic flavors” “ of or relating to striptease : involving or featuring exotic dancersexotic dancing; an exotic nightclub.”
I am not sure I should call the Zambian traditional foods I enjoy exotic. Exotic to whom? The foods were not introduced from somewhere else. The foods do not create havoc but instead create culinary pleasure for me and a large population of Zambians. These foods are only exotic to non-Zambians and especially Europeans when they first arrived here in the 1700s and 1800s during colonialism.
I went to the market and bought Inswa or what are called flying ants which is the most popular name. But we call them mphalata in Tumbuka.
We used to catch buckets of them when I was young. During the middle of December, you locate a live anthill during the day. Late in the afternoon, you notice holes and big-headed magenge guard ants on the anthill which are telltale signs that the inswa would come out that night. You clear part of the anthill of grass may be half a meter by 2 meters. You build a long rectangular grass dome on it with a bucket half full of water lodged on one and only bottom open end. When the inswa come out they fly right into the bucket of water. You can fill several buckets with inswa that way as their wings are wet.
One time when I was at boarding school in rural Chipata, the inswa were taking too long to come out. One traditional method to make them come out is to roll a joint of marijuana, pot or chamba. You light it but don’t inhale the smoke yourself. Instead, you blow the smoke in the dozen or so inswa holes using a grass straw. The inswa came out in large numbers after that. We were able to collect many buckets of inswa and roasted them for lunch with nshima the following day.
They are generally cured by just roasting them on a dry pan on high heat, salting, and sun drying them until they are brittle dry. Some inswa are first sun dried and later roasted in a pan and salted. They are delicious when you eat them as a snack tossing them into your mouth just as you do with peanuts. Their aroma is terrific.
This afternoon after I returned from the market, I tossed a few into my mouth. They were so delicious I thought I would finish eating them all before I cooked nshima. I had to restrain myself.
They are even better when you eat them with nshima. Let me know how if you enjoy eating inswa or if you eat them at all.
The dictionary definitions of “exotic” are many: “introduced from another country : not native to the place where found”“exotic plants… exotic species creating havoc when introduced into new environments.” “strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusualexotic flavors” “ of or relating to striptease : involving or featuring exotic dancersexotic dancing; an exotic nightclub.”
I am not sure I should call the Zambian traditional foods I enjoy exotic. Exotic to whom? The foods were not introduced from somewhere else. The foods do not create havoc but instead create culinary pleasure for me and a large population of Zambians. In some cases, I never developed a taste for them when I was young but I am developing that taste now. These foods are only exotic to non-Zambians and especially Europeans when they first arrived here in Zambia in Southern Africa in particular and the entire African continent in general in the 1700s and 1800s during colonialism.
I went to the market and bought finkubala which is the most popular name. But we call them matondo in Tumbuka. I was aware of two types; these blackish ones and the big green ones. Both grow and thrive on tree leaves. The green ones thrive in the mutondo tree leaves.
They are generally cured by boiling them, salting, and sun drying them until they are brittle dry. They are delicious when you eat them as a snack tossing them into your mouth just you do with peanuts. They are even better when you pair them with nshima. Someone to day suggested that they add onion and tomato to finkubala. Is this true? I thought that would make them soggy and unpalatable. Let me know how you eat finkubala or if you eat them at all.
“I Would Rather Know It Than be Threatened by It.” Mwizenge S. Tembo, September 6, 2005
One afternoon during my forty years as a professor teaching in college, one of my very curious and enthusiastic students Christina showed up in my office during my office hours. She had questions for me. What did I think of the Egyptian Civilization, racism, my perspective on gender, sexism and the oppression of women in American society? What about homosexuality, religion, and what was my point of view on abortion? It was such a rare instance where a student has taken several classes with a professor, and they have come to feel so comfortable and trusting of them that they can ask any questions without fear. I loved our conversation just as every professor would.
I explained my understanding of the topics and mentioned the various scholars who have addressed the issues some of whom whose books were among the three thousand books that surrounded the walls of my office. One thing I told her is that she and other students in my classes would never know my opinion on some of the more controversial topics such as abortion. Because once I revealed my opinion, she and other students would never write freely or hold free open class discussions because they would be afraid to contradict my opinion. As a good professor, I never expressed my personal opinions in class as a matter of principle.
As our animated discussion went on back and forth, at the crescendo of expressing my deep and passionate interest in academic knowledge, I said spontaneously: “I would rather know it than be threatened by it!!” Christina and I paused for thirty seconds. I explained to her that my philosophy of knowledge during my entire life was embodied in what I had just said to her in the heat of the moment. Human beings including myself have always been afraid of what we do not know. Once you truly know it, whatever you are afraid of will not be a threat anymore. And that is why good education is truly liberating of the mind, body, and spirit. That day of our conversation was September 6, 2005 at the height of Katrina hurricane that devastated New Orleans.
That fear of the unknown appears to threaten many people in America today applies to the Critical Race Theory. The CRT goes back to the famous sociologist William DuBois in early 1900s and the very radical Franz Fanon. Academic scholars including one Aulette (2018) today explains CRT as the reality that racism has been around for centuries since the 1600s and that it is deeply embedded in all major institutions such as religion, marriage and the family, schools, colleges, universities, in employment and corporations, policing and the legal systems, segregated residential neighborhoods, banks, Hollywood movies, entertainment, and sports. All of this means that racism will not easily be eradicated. The book: “The New Jim Crow” devoted itself to and is very convincing and provides ample evidence that racism will be very difficult to eradicate.
Another tenet of CRT is that racism is such a deep and normal part of society that to most white people and many people of color racism is invisible and normal. Racism is so normal in American society that it is akin to asking a fish that is swimming deep in the ocean: “How is the water?” That fish will probably respond with surprise: “What water?” Fish do not notice that they are swimming in water.
The reality and the history that racism is deeply embedded in American society ought not to be controversial or cause too much disagreement. Racism that has been around for centuries was also embedded in the rest of the Third World through European or Western colonialism and imperialism in Asia, South America, and Africa. This part of the discourse is what might cause some Americans resentment as the author might appear to be piling on America or to be needlessly anti-American. The critics would rather I accentuated American exceptionalism. To the contrary, this is not piling on or hating America. This should be part of the knowledge that all patriotic Americans should learn. We can sure learn about CRT and still love our country.
Teaching about CRT is causing anxiety both in K – 12 and perhaps in college among conservative pundits. Some states, including Texas, have already tried to legislate against CRT in schools. Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed into law a bill which is likely to create mandates which will dictate to teachers what they can and cannot teach about CRT. Creating mandates is the prerogative of the School District Boards. But telling teachers what they can or cannot say may not be the best approach. Teachers and creators of syllabi in K-12 schools including colleges are so experienced that they should be trusted to know how to teach delicate subjects to their students. It was Oprah Winfrey who once said that even though she was a powerful African-American TV broadcaster at the height of her career, she could not show Civil Rights Movement protests on her program every day. In the same way teaching CRT ought not to be so radical that students would not learn or enjoy learning the subject in the classroom.
Just as I would not feed a hamburger to a one-month-old baby, teachers from kindergarten to college professors can be trusted to know how to teach delicate but unnecessarily controversial subject such as the Critical Race Theory.
My family and I in 1959 lived at Chasela Primary School in the Luangwa Valley among the Bisa people in the Eastern Province of Zambia in Southern Africa. I was five years old. My father was a teacher during British colonialism in the then Northern Rhodesia. We lived in a small 3 room redbrick house with grass roofing. At the time the Luangwa Valley had numerous wild animals roaming night and day like Africa had been probably for thousands of years. Lions, zebras, large herds of buffaloes, impalas, hyenas, monkeys, leopards, birds, and elephants were everywhere night and day and around our house. Humans and deadly encounters with wild animals were as common as traffic accidents are today in our time.
One day, my dad went on a business trip to Fort Jameson (now Chipata) riding his bike through sixty miles or ninety-six Kms. of dangerous desolate wilderness in the Luangwa Valley. At that time there were few people and villages. My mother asked me to leave my bedroom and instead to sleep in my dad’s bed next to my mother’s since we were by ourselves that night. It was 1900 hrs. 7:00 pm and the yellow paraffin lamp was dimly burning and flickering on mom’s small bedside table. My mom had just finished giving a bath to my seven-month-old baby sister, Ester. Ester was whining and fussing with mom bugging her.
“Mama nipeni baseline!!” She whined.
My baby sister wanted the “baseline” bottle to apply the Vaseline on herself again. My mom was saying “No! will you please go to sleep!” When all of a sudden:
“Graaaaaaaaargh!!!!!!” One lion roared with the deepest bellow literally five feet or two meters outside our rickety wooden bedroom door and window.
“Graaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!” The second lion roared in response. Our whole small three room red brick house shook and vibrated.
My mother hastily blew out the kerosene lamp. My little sister tried to dive under mom to hide. I froze. Deep fear hit the pit of my little stomach. I was so scared I could not move to hide under the covers. My little heart may have stopped and I could not breath. The plates, dishes, pots, and pans rattled on the kitchen shelves as some loudly crashed to the bare cement floor in the kitchen. Some rats fell with a thud from the grass roof. The two lions continued to roar in tandem.
There was loud commotion in the nearby Chibande large village of five hundred as playing children screamed and fled in terror. Mothers desperately yelled calling their children by name to “please run home!!!.” Most kids ran into the nearest house for cover for that night as there was no time to run to their parents’ house.
When I opened my eyes in the morning, it was very quiet and it was almost 9:00 hours. This was very unusual as we always woke up early in the morning at 6:00 hours.
First, my mother said a brief prayer thanking God for having saved our lives that night. She then gingerly opened our small wooden bedroom window and carefully peeked outside to make sure the lions were not waiting anywhere outside. That’s when we came out of the house. The bedroom door that led to the outside just left of where the lions had roared was a small thin wooden door. The lion could have effortlessly just put its paw on the small door, and it would have been inside our bedroom. Later that day, my mom told me that a few seconds prior to the lion’s first roar a few feet from our bedroom door, she had heard strange sounds. “Pomp!!” “Pomp!!!” Pomp!!!” We found out later on that those were sounds of the lions wagging their tails hitting both sides of their stomachs as they quietly approached our house under the mango trees. When we looked at the footmarks, the pride had been about ten to fifteen lions. I often wonder what scares children today compared to those older times.
I was having the best time of my life for five months at the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village in Chongwe in rural Lusaka the Capital City of Zambia in Southern Africa. I was living a full life with about 15 men and women every day in the African wilderness finally doing the research work I have loved and craved for all my forty years of working life since I was a Research Fellow at the then Institute of African Studies of the University of Zambia in the late 1970s.
I woke up early that morning in Chongwe in June 2021 as usual and had my breakfast of large slices of juicy red tomatoes on brown bread with hot black tea. At 7.25am I suddenly felt so awful, ill and weak in my entire body that I intuitively knew I had to call a taxi to urgently take me to the Clinic in Chongwe 16 miles or 27 Kms away. I felt so weak I could not carry my 30lb or 13.60Kg backpack. Instead, I asked one of the young men village residents, to carry my backpack to the taxi. He looked so puzzled at me that even he realized something was seriously wrong – village residents knew I refused help and always carried my own heavy large backpack and often walked the 5 Kms to the main road.
The young doctor at the Chongwe private clinic said I had a bacterial infection and gave me antibiotics. I went back home and spent a night in utter misery of sickness of fever so high that sweat drenched my bed sheets. My brother decided we should travel 41miles or 67 kms to Lusaka to South Point Hospital where the doctors had access to cutting edge medical lab technology. The battery of tests revealed I had such serious case of malaria that I had to be hospitalized and admitted immediately. The experienced nurses in the small ten-bed hospital ward immediately frantically started to administer the drips for the 3 bags of fluids since I was dangerously dehydrated. The expensive cocktail of doses of intravenous malaria drug courses were quickly administered. Two days later I was discharged feeling great. I went back to my hut in the model village in Chongwe.
A few days later I went back to the South Point Hospital for a medical review where the medical staff warmly welcomed me. I had no idea something was going to happen that would drastically change my life forever. The doctor said my lab tests showed the malaria parasite was still there. They would treat it with yet another round of the cocktail of intravenous drugs. This time I would be an outpatient. The doctor casually suggested I get the rapid Corona Virus test. When the test results came back, I will never forget that moment, the doctor very casually told me:
“Your Corona Virus test came out positive,” he looked at me. “How are you feeling? Any shortness of breath?”
“I feel fine,” shrugging my shoulders. “I have been wearing a mask all the time. I have a small cough; nothing serious.”
“You must be one of those asymptomatic Corona Virus people.”
The doctor gave me Corona Virus prescription drugs that I was to take for 10 days. I was staying at a lodge. I took my first dose. That night my whole body broke up into hives and rushes. I could not sleep. I badly wanted to scratch all over my body. My fever was drenching my bed covers with sweat every night.
My aunt and uncle who used to live in the City of Lusaka passed away several years ago. My nearest relatives were 372 miles or 600kms away in the remote Eastern Province in Lundazi district. My wife and children were 10,000 miles or 16,000 Kms away in Bridgewater in the United States. I would fight this battle alone in a lodge.
When Derrick Chauvin the white police officer had his knee on Gorge Floyd’s neck for nine minutes in the United States, George knew he was going to die. He cried for his mother. During the worst times of my Corona Virus illness, I cried for my late mother who passed in 2018. When I was young, my mother once said: “There are times my son in your life when you will be alone and suffering very far away from home. You will have to be strong. and pray to God. Other kind people will help you.”
My mouth felt so bad that the sight and thought of eating food felt disgusting. I lost my sense of taste and smell of food. My 35-year-old taxi driver Mulenga who said he had also been sick and recovering from the Corona Virus became my inspiration. “Ba Shikuru (old man) you will be alright” he kept encouraging and reassuring me every day as the battle continued.
The hospital could not issue me the international Corona Virus travel certificate yet as my Corona Virus test was still positive so I could not fly back home to the United States even after 10 days of taking medications. I was depressed. Would I ever fly back home anytime soon?
Slowly I began to eat. I first ate nshima with lumanda delele. One day, the hospital issued my international Corona Virus travel certificate as the test was finally negative. After 17 hours of grueling flying, the massive plane landed at Dulles Airport in the United States. When I emerged at the international arrival lounge, my tall mask less son was waiting:
“Welcome home Dad!” He had had both vaccinations. I was so happy.
I have lived with the survivor’s guilt. I was one of the lucky ones. I did not need a Corona Virus hospital bed and a ventilator. People are dying of the virus in Lusaka and among 17 million Zambians who cannot escape. But I was able to fly away. That made me feel guilty. Many Zambian have survived and recovered from the virus. There is still lots of suffering and death from the dangerous Corona Virus among my 17 million fellow Zambians.
Before classes ended on December 11 for the Holidays, I had been making this what I call “crunch” salad for lunch. I took it to work every day. I just love this salad, which I will call the “Tembo Fresh Crunch Salad”. If you love clean fresh salads, you will love this one. Once you have made and eaten this salad, please come back, write comments and share your experience here.
4 leaves fresh Romaine Lettuce
2 Oz. Gorgonzola or Blue Cheese
1 long Fresh Celery Stick
2 ins. Medium Size Cucumber
10 Grape Tomatoes
½ Cup Low Moisture Part Skim Mozzarella
1 to 2 Tb Spoons Caesar Dressing
1 Medium Size Bowl
Cut the 4 leaves of fresh Romaine lettuce and spread it evenly at the bottom of the bowl. Cut the celery stick into small bite sizes and spread the pieces evenly over the lettuce. Cut the 2 Oz. Gorgonzola or Blue cheese into crumbs. Spread the crumbs evenly over the lettuce. Peel the 3 inch cucumber and cut it into bite sizes. Spread the pieces evenly over the lettuce. Cut the 10 small grape tomatoes into halves and spread them evenly over the lettuce. Pinch the half cup of Low Moisture Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese between your thumb and fingers. Spread the shredded cheese evenly over the lettuce. Spread 1 to 2 Table Spoons of Caesar Dressing evenly on the lettuce. Serves one person.
I had been watching news all week about the early voting for the crucial American Presidential elections on November 3rd. I saw TV images of long lines of voters standing six feet apart going sometimes miles or kilometers around street blocks in many cities and towns. Some people were reporting standing in line for eight hours to cast their vote.
About thirty million Americans of the possible total of about 134 million voters had already voted in the early voting by last week. Some had voted by mailing or posting their ballots. But the President and Republicans are so desperate to win re-election that the Post Office was messed up in June this year. Some Post Office boxes were removed, large mail automatic processing machines were removed from Post offices, and the Post Office mail or letter carriers were ordered to slow down mail delivery. Since many people especially Democrats were going to vote by mail because of the Corona Virus pandemic, these measures were going to severely delay or disrupt the delivery of the filled election ballots causing Trump and the Republicans to win re-election. The President has been making wild false statements that voting by mail was going to cause wide spread fraud in the elections. There is no proof of voter fraud as many States like California have safely conducted mail voting for decades. The bad news made me panic. I did not want my vote not to count on Election Day if I was unable to vote that day due to overcrowding. So I decided to go and vote last Saturday on a non-work day.
The previous evening, I went to the park and exercised since all the gyms are Covert-19 super spreaders and have been closed. In the morning, I packed lunch, took two spare masks, charged my cell phone lining up my favorite music. I drove 23 Kms to the closest town of Harrisonburg population of 54,000. I arrived ready to face voting obstacles at the Rockingham Country early voting precinct. There was no line. I went inside and voted in less than ten minutes.
But much as I feel good that I voted, I and millions of other Americans have this very deep fear. The country is very divided and we fear there might be violence on election day next Tuesday November 3rd. I have witnessed many elections for the last 40 years in this country. I have never seen this much tension over elections with actual threats of violence breaking out on election day and the days that follow. There have been fears that after being defeated in the elections, the President might refuse to leave office or the White House as he has already broken most of the rules of his office over the last 4 years.
The tensions, divisions, and now more than 225 thousand Americans dead from Corona virus started on July 16 2015. This is the day when Donald Trump declared his candidacy for President of the United States as a member of the Republican Party. He started by saying Mexican immigrants were criminals, rapists and drug dealers. He bullied over 17 other Republican candidates and won the nomination. For months, he falsely claimed President Obama was born in Kenya and was not an American. There were so many terrible things he said as a candidate that I, and most Americans believed he would never win the General Election. Once he won in November 2016, the nation was stunned. We knew we were in for the next 4 years of hell as a nation. I remember the following week being at a meeting in November 2016 of over 200 people in room as a member of the newly created Indivisible Movement that was going to resist Trump for the next four years. These 4 years have been dark days in America.
George Washington is the founding father and the first President. Since 1797, there have been 45 Presidents. Trump is among the worst. He won his election very narrowly in 2016 engaging in political chicanery as Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million. Press reports today say he has told more than twenty thousand lies.
The entire Congress and Senate are so corrupted that when the President was impeached last year, the Senate refused to remove him from office. The entire federal bureaucracy is headed by his inept political sycophants as most experts have been side lined or forced out of government. The President demands that all his government appointees have personal loyalty to him and not the Constitution of the United States. The President has fomented disunity among the 28 European countries who are members of NATO. These are not just my words or views, as there are now over a dozen books and too many former patriotic government employees disclosing how corruption, criminality, and immorality are so rampart. This great American nation has been lucky many times during it’s over 200 years since the first President George Washington in 1797. Tashupika; we are suffering here in America. We are all just praying we will be lucky during next Tuesday Presidential elections.
Locate the dark green sprawling mphangwe, squash or pumpkin leaves plants. The first and most important action is that when you approach the long growing pumpkin plants in the garden, in harvesting the leaves for cooking, you nip off with a knife or your fingers only the first three tender or fresh leaves in front of the nose of the plant. This was my mother’s rule. These are the leaves that are the most fresh and tender. You do not just pick up any of the leaves. The coarsest the leaves the worse the taste of the pumpkin vegetables and the harder to cook.
Once a pound of the leaves are collected, the tiny prickly looking growths around the stems are individually peeled off of each stem using your hands and fingers. If these prickly small things are not removed that would also ruin the taste of the cooked vegetable.
Wash and dice or cut the leaves into quarter or half inch width.
Pour two tablespoons of olive oil into a medium size pot. Heat the oil on high for one minute. Put the diced mphangwe squash leaves into the pot two handfuls of at a time and stir. Once all the mphangwe leaves are in the pot, stir for a minute until all the leaves have shrunk. Add in the diced tomatoes and onions and stir. Add the salt, the garlic and any other desired seasoning. Stir for two minutes. Cover the pot, lower the heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes. Taste every few minutes if you like your vegetables medium or well cooked. Take the top off, turn off, and take the pot off the burner to avoid over cooking the mphangwe vegetable. Serve with bread, rice, potatoes, or a wrap. Zambians eat the mphangwe vegetable with the traditional nshima staple meal cooked from corn or maize meal.
As large demonstrations against the white police brutal killing of George Floyd in the United States have exploded all over the world, we all should engage in some deep thinking. My life-long human struggle and contemplating of goodness and evil, human suffering and triumph, appreciation of both beauty and ugliness, life and death, have inspired these ideas. Growing up as a child in the village in Lundazi in Zambia, Africa, I remember my parents and grandparents pointing out to me what was cruelty and kindness, goodness and evil. Their teachings were mixed with personal example sprinkled with generous doses of laughter and a sense of appreciation of all that is good; the gift of life, good harvest and meals, dance and song, wearing good clothes to go to church on Sunday, the goodness that comes from living a righteous and dignified life of discipline and hard work. All of these created in me and my village community, a deep sense of appreciation of life and the power of and magnificence that God created.
Racism, Good and Evil
I went to the young and only University of Zambia at the time in 1972. This was in the Capital City of Lusaka. I was the type of student who read the textbooks to pass tests but often spent a great deal of time reading material that was outside class reading. This material challenged me at a tender age to think more deeply about life.
When I first read the “Autobiography of Malcolm X” as a freshman English course assigned reading, I stopped reading half way and slammed the book down. It was eleven at night. I stormed out of my dorm room and walked for three Kms. along the Great East Road near campus up to the Zambian Parliament Building. I was very angry, confused, and eighteen years old. How could there be so much racism, evil and pain intentionally inflicted by some human beings on others in the world? Why was racism created in America? How could some human beings (whites) enjoy the evil that they were doing and inflicting on other human beings (Blacks)? There was a haze in my eyes as the street and car lights glistened through my hot tears.
This was confusing for me as most of the Tumbuka Zambian African people I grew up with in my family were kind and dignified. When my parents received many guests including whites or Europeans, my parents treated them with cheer, respect and hospitality. At about the time I went to college, I met a young White American couple that were to be my dear and lifelong great friends. Most whites I met at the time were descent human beings. How could many Europeans and Americans claim to be Christians and yet practice or believe in colonialism, racism, and own slaves or approve of slavery? Is Christianity synonymous with evil?
These questions could not be answered at that time because people often use clichés as answers to such deeply troubling questions. I have struggled continually with these questions and I am not certain they will be answered during my short lifetime.
Adam and Eve
When God created Adam and Eve, the two were endowed with spiritual passion and surrounded with physical beauty. One can see this beauty when you see the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains in Virgiona in the United States, the Muchinga Escarpment along the Lungwa River in Eastern Zambia, the gorgeous Blue lagoons and magnificent blue waters and sand beaches of the world, and the breath taking green river valleys and mountains in Swaziland. The ability to engage in evil of varying degrees is present in all humans. Parents and the community are the first line of defense against evil. God helps as they raise and nurture children be these their own or those of others in the community. A bad, cruel, poor or a lack of proper parental or extended family upbringing with little or no spiritual nurturing tremendously increases the chances that the child will not distinguish between good and evil.
Christianity Powerful Force
Christianity and believing in God and Christ is the most powerful spiritual force when individuals genuinely open themselves and their hearts to the force. God works through parents and the community to teach children about kindness, sharing, treating all human beings with fairness and respect, and to revere life itself. When we are born then we have a tremendous gift for doing good through our families and communities. When does evil begin to grow in humans? When human beings acquire power, material possessions and wealth for greedy ends, their powerful, true, compassionate and genuine Christian beliefs are threatened or begin to decline. Lack of or weak parental extended family upbringing and the desire to acquire material possessions and power beyond our immediate needs is the beginnings, if not the foundation of diabolical racism, evil and sin and sometimes misery. What does all this mean in everyday life and especially for a Christian?
Power and Greed for Material Possessions
It means as humans, we all live the way God intended us to live until we begin to engage in limitless hedonism, or exercise the desire for more power and material possessions for greedy ends for both individuals and nations. The foundation for all egregious evil is the desire for more power, and material possessions, which is reflected in human greed of different degrees. The root and beginning of the racism, evil and atrocities humans commit on both a small and grand scale is always the desire for more power, and material possessions than God intended for our happy, compassionate, righteous, happy fulfilled lives.