Ketchup on the White House Wall


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Emeritus Professor of Sociology

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)

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.

First Time I Saw the Train Part Four


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Emeritus Professor of Sociology

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.

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.

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.

The First Time I Saw the Train Part Three


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Emeritus Professor of Sociology

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.

The concrete platform of the Lusaka Railway Station where my father and I laid down as we waited for the First Time I would see the train. This was a few years after Zambia’s independence in 1964.

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)

              Ehhhhhhh!!!! Ehhhhhh!

Response: Chaipirako ni chimo chikomo chotaya mbumba (One bad thing is ignoring his sister)

                  Ehhhhh!!!!    Eh!!!!!!!!!

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)

                  Mayoehhhhh!! Eh!!!!!

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.

First Time I Saw  the Train PART TWO


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Emeritus Professor of Sociology

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.

Gyeeem!!! Gyeeem!!!  Peeep!!!!! Peep!!! Peeeeep!!!  Gyeeeeeem!!!!!

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.”

Nyimba Bus Stop today 58 years later. Nyimba perhaps has the most different varieties of bananas.

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.

First Time I Saw the Train Part One


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D,

Emeritus Professor of Sociology

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.

Molozi steepest slope today on the Chipata Lundazi Road fifty-eight years later.

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.

Enjoying Zambian “Exotic” Foods: Inswa Flying Ants


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Emeritus Professor of Sociology

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 unusual exotic flavors” “ of or relating to striptease : involving or featuring exotic dancers exotic 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.

Mphalata in Tumbuka. Inswa in Nyanja or ChiChewa language.

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.

January 12, 2022

Enjoying Zambian “Exotic” Foods: Finkubala


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Emeritus Professor of Sociology

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 unusual exotic flavors” “ of or relating to striptease : involving or featuring exotic dancers exotic 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.

January 12, 2022

Critical Race Theory and Teaching Philosophy

by Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Emeritus Professor of Sociology

“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.

Author Mwizenge S. Tembo, Emeritus Professor of Sociology.

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.

Real Life Scare by Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D. Emeritus Professor of Sociology

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.

Lion basking the morning sun in the Luangwa Valley Game Park

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 Survived the Corona Virus in Zambia


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Emeritus Professor of Sociology

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.

Mwizenge S. Tembo at Chongwe Truck Stop 67Kms from Lusaka the Capital City of Zambia on the Great East Road. February 2021

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.

Tembo Fresh Crunch Salad

by Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

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.

Tembo Fresh Crunch Salad


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

Tembo Fresh Crunch Salad without the Mozzarella Cheese


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.

Tashupika: We are Suffering in America


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

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.

Mwizenge S. Tembo Voting in Harrisonburg, USA

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.

Chizongwe Secondary School 1967- 1971 by Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D. Professor of Sociology

I am fortunate enough to still have historical photographs from Chizongwe Secondary School from 1967 to 1971. Kindly help to identify the names of the students.

This goes way back to January 1968 when I was in Form II or equivalent of Grade 9 today.. The Chizongwe Secondary School Photographic Club took a day trip from Chipata to Lundazi. We toured Lundazi and this photograph was in front of the Lundazi Rural Council. Where are they now? On the left standing: Mr. Chidumayo the green lorry or truck School Driver. Next behind him Brown Kakumbi. Kasauka Daka on the right. Shadreck Chilumba, Lameck Banda, Benard Chabala, I am the little guy standing holding my chin Jacob Tembo, Samuel Kalililo, Clement Ngoma may be holding a box camera, Brown Kakumbi at the back next to the school lorry driver, Ackson Kanduza sitting next to Kalililo, Mkhuzo Soko standing next to me on my right. Kamzaza. Mbewe eventually was a lecturer in the School of Agriculture at the University of Zambia before he retired in the early 1990s.
Some were Prefects. At the very back, Mr. Bristow, British Teacher who was the Photographic Club Supervisor. Standing from left third; Shadreck Chikumba, Myself Jacob Tembo, Brown Kakumbi, Clement Ngoma, Standing on right: Samuel Kaliliro. Sitting on right Mr. Chidumayo, the green lorry school driver. Kneeling on right: Bernard Chabala. Sitting third from right Lameck Banda, Isaac Nkhungulu.
Aggrey House Junior Section 1968. Kneeling from left to right: Noah Tonga, Kaulanda Nyirenda, Bernard Chabala. Standing left to right second mr. Mtumbi Wing Prefect. Standing at the back right to left Third: Brown kakumbi.
From I B and Form IIB Standing from left to right: Back row Joy Ngenda, Samuel Chunga, Daveyson Phiri. Standing right to left: Salimoni Banda, Phillip C. Phiri, Gershom Chipandwe. Weston Chirwa. Sitting left to right: Simon Soko, Jacob Tembo, Jairous Manda. Squatting from right to left: Simon Lungu.
Standing on the right: Offson Ng’uni wearing a jacket – School Captain.
Chizongwe Boxing Club. Standing of the right: Salimoni Banda. Gibson Ndaba standing at the back making a face. Seated left to right: Third Chifa Banda

Recipe for Mphangwe (Pumpkin Leaves) Vegetable by Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D. Professor of Sociology

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.

Mphangwe ya Nyungu or Pumpkin or Squash leaves vegetable garden

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.

Recipe ingredients


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.

Mphangwe Pumpkin or squash leaves with their long stalks.
You snap and bend back a small piece of the stalk and peel down.
Snip and bend small edge of the stalk and peel down
Peel of all the stringy prick lings.
Cut the mphangwe pumpkin or squash leaves
Dice a medium tomato
Dice tomato
Medium onion
Diced onion
Cooking the mphangwe vegetables
Cooked serving of the mphangwe pumpkin or squash leaves vegetable
The mphangwe pumpkin leaves vegetable is traditionally served the nshima meal cooked with corn or maize meal. But you can serve it with bread, a wrap, rice or as a side dish.

Racism, Goodness Vs Evil: The Role of Christianity by Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D. Professor of Sociology

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.

I slammed the book shut because I was so angry.

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.

Significance of Zambian/African Traditional Kinship Bonds by Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D. Professor of Sociology


Kinship relationships, networks, and the bonds are probably the most important traditional foundation for social relationship among Zambians and Africans. Kinship are all those important fundamental social connections that happen immediately when any Zambian or African is born. It is the connections that instantly happen when 2 individuals, a man and woman, get married. The kinship relationships happen because of marriage or birth. In traditional Zambian/African societies, marriage was never just the young individual man woman getting married because they are in love; but it was more important that the marriage was the uniting of the man and woman’s families. This article will describe the traditional Zambian/African kinship relationships using Tumbuka terms as examples. The second discussion is the importance or significance of kinship in traditional society. Last, the article will discuss how these kinship bonds are still important today.

Kinship Relationships and Terms

As soon as you are born in a Zambian/African family, of course you will have amama (mother) and adada (father). All your siblings are dumbu or adumbu; which means sibling of the opposite sex; akulu or anung’una; older or younger  sisters or brothers. The term adumbu is used for your sibling of the opposite sex  with gender distinction embedded in the situational conversation.

All your Father’s Brothers are your adada or your fathers. All your Father’s Sisters are ankhazi or aunts. All your Mother’s Brothers are your asimbweni or uncles. All your Mother’s Sisters are your amama or Mothers. All your Father’s Brother’s children are adumbu or your sisters or brothers if the sibling is opposite gender to you.. All your Father’s Brothers’ sisters children are your vyala or cousins. Your Mother’s Sisters’ children are your vyala or cousins. Your Mother’s Brothers’ children are your vyala or cousins who you joke with and may even be encouraged to marry.

All your Father’s and Mother’s parents are agogo or grandfathers and grandmothers. All your Grandfathers’ and Grandmothers’ sisters and brothers are your agogo or grandfathers and grandmothers.

If you are a man or groom, when you get married, all your wife’s siblings and the people she calls adumbu or her brothers and akulu or anung’una; older or younger sisters are your mulamu or sister-in-laws or brother-in-laws. You become mkweni or son-in-law to her parents and all the people she calls amama and adada or mother and father in her kinship group.

If you are a woman or bridegroom, when you get married, all your husband’s siblings and all the people he calls adumbu or his sisters and akulu or anung’una; older or younger brothers are your mulamu or sister-in-laws or brother-in-laws. You become mkamwana or daughter-in-law to his parents and all the people he calls amama and adada or mother and father in his entire kinship group. The parents of the groom and bridegroom are asebele to each other. All of the above describe kinship relationships that have to do with both your mother and father’s or parents’ generations.

These next kinship relationships describe your own generation. All your akulu (younger) and mnung’una or older or younger’s Brothers’ Children are your sons and daughters. All your adumbu or sister’s or brother’s children are baphwa nephews or nieces.

These kinship relationships are difficult to sort out when one is required to  describe kinship relationships between two families; those of the groom and bridegroom. These relationships become more complex when families have polygamous marriages involving large extended families may be involving a hundred men, women, and children.

Significance of the Kinship

The kinship relationship through the family and clan your born into provides support from when the individual is a child, an adult, and up to old age. Besides the 2 biological parents of mother and father, the bond of kinship network provided individual identity and a source of vast support involving clans in two different villages. These two  villages sometimes may have a population of 300 men, women, and children in each  of the villages  of the groom and bridegroom.

The kinship relationships embedded in the clans and villages provided many advantages in life. Kinship provided the individual a place to live, food, clothing, social guidance, land for farming and provision of food, social support during difficult times such as death, being orphaned and during illness. In the 1800s when wars and conflict were common, kinship provided security from  threats from external sources from the village such as war and wild animals. Kinship provided you with help during marriage in terms of providing lobola, celebrations such as marriage weddings, child birth, and support when attending school.

Perhaps the most important aspect of kinship relationships and terms that are used is that they defined obligations to the people who shared the bonds. Fathers and mothers treated all their sons and daughters warmly with  obligations to support all the their daughters and sons with love. Brothers and sisters supported each other and enjoyed their relationships and especially obligations. One thing which is very significant is that in all the kinship relationships described, there were never any step fathers, step mothers, step sisters, step brothers, or half brother or half sister, or adopted son, adopted daughter, and adopted niece. Of course if people ask how the two people are related, they may explain some details of the background mentioning names. But the reality that someone was not biologically related to you, was never the focus of the kinship relationships and bonds. This is why in the Zambian/African traditional societies, even today, it is possible to have so many fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, grandmothers and grandfathers.

Kinship Relationship Today

Although many of the traditional Zambian/African kinship terms are used, their used has been vastly urbanized and Westernized. Kinship terms such as mother, father, daughter, son, nieces and nephews are used mainly in the small nuclear biological monogamous family. Kinship relationships in the extended family outside the immediate nuclear family are less emphasized and less prominent. The use of uncle, niece, step-mother, step-sister, and half-brother are now very common in urban Zambia with very little link to their traditional uses as described. This may signal the weakening of kinship bonds that were very strong all the way to the 1960s and 1970s.

Tembo, Mayovu, Nyoni, and Banda Kinship Clans Bond by Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph.D. Professor of Sociology


Have you ever asked yourself:  “How are the Tembos, the Mayovus, the Nyonis, and the Bandas related?”  You might have a good idea if you are more than fifty years old and lived in the village in Lundazi at one time.  But if you are an independence baby who was born sometime after 1964 or never lived in the village for a long time, you may have a very limited idea regarding how we are related.  Over the last seven years, (from 1988 to1994) I have conducted interviews with a number of our elders to record how the history of the kinship relationships occurred.  The first interviews occurred after the funeral of the late Calistus Mayovu in November 1988.  My aunt, the late aTirabirenji Tembo (died in 1992) and aNya Chitima came to our house in Handsworth court and spent about two hours.  The second interviews took place on Sunday July 12, 1996, at Zibalwe Village with my father Sani Zibalwe Tembo and  Dikilani Mayovu.

Meeting of men Tembo, Mayovu, Nyoni, and Banda Clans members on a Sunday afternoon in May 2016
Sani Zibalwe Tembo of Zibalwe Village

There are three main parts to this description.  The first is a general summary of how and when our ancestors came to the area that now occupies Ciroba (Bandas), Zibalwe(Tembos), and Seleta(Mayovus).  The second part will be a systematic description of all the relatives; who married who, when, and where they lived and the villages.  The last part will be a discussion of the future of the Tembo, Mayovu, Nyoni, and Banda kinship bond connections, why you should care about our kinship history, and what you can do.

The History

During the second half of the 19th century (1850 to 1900) the Ngoni people had a tremendous impact on the lives of the people of Southern Africa.  As Mzilikazi fled north from Chaka, the fierce Emperor of the Zulu people in Natal in South Africa, no one would have guessed that those events would eventually affect the Tembos’, Mayovus’, Nyonis’, and Bandas’.  As the Ngoni tribes migrated north they fought, conquered, and incorporated many indigenous peoples into the Ngoni influence.  Groups of the Ngoni tribes migrated through Zimbabwe, Mozambique through Malawi to Southern Tanzania and eventually came back and settled in the present Chief Mberwa in Northern Malawi.

Joseph John Mayovu of Seleta Village (JJ Mayovu)

Before I describe what happened next, it is very important that you realize that in the 1860s, 1870s, and 1880s, the present border that separates the Tumbukas in Lundazi did not exist.  Once the Ngoni settled in an area, they had the policy of sending what were known as Impis to survey surrounding territory to determine who was there and whether they could be incorporated into the Ngoni Kingdoms or jurisdictions.

It was in this context that Zwangendaba, from the present Chief Mberwa’s area, sent Impis to explore the area which now is settled by the Tembos, Mayovus, Nyonis, and Bandas i.e. Zibalwe, Ciroba, Bilapacande and Seleta.

Although African traditional societies did not keep calendars as known today, events that are described seem to have happened between 1850 and the 1920s.


The Tembo, Mayovu, Nyoni, and Banda dynasty of kinship relationship are traced back to Ciroba Village where two women who were sisters; Ziryeci Phiri and Mgonkha Phiri.  Ziryeci was the older sister and her umbilical cord name was Nthembo and Mgonkha was the younger sister.

Ziryeci Phiri married a Ngoni Impi from Kasungu in present day Malawi[1].  His name was Holoholo Bilima.  The couple gave birth to a daughter whose name was Gabani “Bilima.  Gabani Bilima first got married to a man by the name of Kwamthiba Manda.  They had one child; a daughter by the name Kabuthu (Vayeya) Manda (My father’s mother).  It is not known what happened to this marriage.  They may have divorced, separated or widowed.  Gabani Bilima was married for the second time to a man by the name of Makanyanga Mayovu.  Gabani Bilima and Makanyanga Mayovu had four children; Yohane (John) Yamise Mayovu (son), Movete Mayovu (son) daughter aNyacitima?, Fani Mayovu (daughter), and the last born David Mayovu who is said to have been very cruel and so disobedient that he refused to be sent on errands by elders.

Overs Banda of Chiroba Village

Yohane (John) Mayovu married three wives.  The first wife was Jesi Nya Banda and had five children with her; Dickson (Dikirani) Mayovu (son), Noah (Kaswatu) Mayovu (son), Elija (Awise Binkhe) Mayovu (son), Fani Mayovu (daughter), and Lyson Mayovu.

The second wife was Leya Zimba (Mtuma).  He had only one child with her; Langford Mayovu (son).  Awise Fwanipo.

The third wife was Dolase Nya Zimba who had three children; Elevasi Mayovu (daughter), Joseph John Mayovu (JJ) (son), and Mazghanga Mayovu (daughter).

Mgonkha Phiri married a man who was a Ngoni Impi by the name of Seleta Nyoni.  He left many other Nyonis in Malawi near Kasungu.  The couple had two sons; Andreya Curazeru (Chiwurazeru) Nyoni and Yofete Zemba Nyoni.  These two had tremendous influence on my father.  Curazeru and Zemba are names that I constantly heard when my father described his youth and formative years growing up at Seleta Village.  These are people who had tremendous wisdom steeped in Tumbuka traditions.

Mwizenge Sani Tembo of Zibalwe Village

Curazeru married three wives.  The first wife’s name was Masitele whose marriage was through chokolo as Curazeru’s kin brother had died.  Curazeru had five children with his first wife Masitele; Saini Nyoni (son), Leya (Mtuma) nya Nyoni (daughter), Visi (Amose) Nyoni (son), (he is married in Zimbabwe and has two wives) Sara (Faginala) Nyoni (daughter) married John Benga Senior – Nya Banda UTH, John Banda (Benga Junior), and the last child Curazeru had with this wife was Selina Nyoni (daughter).

The second wife was Nyarozghe Banda.  Curazeru had two sons with this wife; Kakoba Nyoni (son) now of Bilapacande Village (Matambe), and Edward Nyoni (Harrison Nyoni).  Curazeru had several children with his third wife.  But they all died.  The wife died childless.

Man left of Bilapacande Village; the Nyoni Clan village

Yofete Zemba Nyoni married two wives.  The first wife was Pamkeya Carumako who had four children; Fage Mtamandanji Nyoni (daughter), Emeli Nyoni (daughter), Rebeka Nyoni (Ovase Banda’s mother), Machona Nyoni (son) Luka’s father.

The second wife was Guske Matimba who had three children; Phikisoni Nyoni (son), Yaunda Nyoni (daughter), and Tafwanji Njabene Nyoni (daughter).

Zibalwe Tembo

Chief Magodi was sent by Zwangendaba to establish a kingdom.  He was given several Ngoni Impis to accompany the chief.  Mumbwe Tembo was one of the many young members of the Impis assigned to accompany the Chief.  In the 1870s Mumbwe Tembo married a woman Mwaziona Mkamanga.  The couple had only one child a son whose name was Zibalwe Tembo.  The young boy Zibalwe Tembo was old enough to go to the First World War in 1918 but only as a carrier of ammunition.  This means he may have been between sixteen to eighteen years old.

After Mumbwe Tembo died, Mwaziona was Chokoloed (married by Mumbwe’s closest brother or male kin).  Mwaziona got married for the second time to Msimuko.  Mwaziona had three children; Maggy Msimuko (daughter), Phangisa Msimuko (daughter), and Ruth Msimuko (daughter).  The Msimuko who married Mwaziona came to Zibalwe Village with other Msimukos who were children from another marriage; Jeremani Msimuko (son), and Vitengwerechi Msimuko (daughter).  Zibalwe Tembo gave lobola for the marriages for the Msimukos.

Ruth Msimuko gave birth to a Nyamswesi and John Rundu.

Bina Manda (the Mandas) and Mwandila were given birth by Phangisa Msimuko.

Bina Ngulube (the Ngulubes) was given birth by Maggy Msimuko.

Zibalwe Tembo had three wives.  The first wife was Mkhuta Nyanga (Chona in Malawi and had one child Pyera Tembo).  She had five children?; Mateyo Tembo (son), Lizi Tembo ( daughter), Paulosi Tembo (son); were twins but one of them died.  Sinele Tembo (daughter), Sajeni Tembo (son) he lived in Johannesburg in South Africa for more than twenty years.  Returned to Zambia in the early 1970s and died in Kitwe.  He is believed to have left a wife and grown children in South Africa.

The second wife was Kabuthu Vayeya Manda who had three children.  Njiramanda Tembo (son).  As a grown man he simply disappeared one day without a trace.  Tangu (Edesi) Tirabirenji Tembo (daughter), were born twins but one died.  The last born was Sani Tembo (born in 1924) who was born in an unusual way Chavunama.  He was born face down which was believed not to be normal.

The third wife was Tinkhira Maso.  She married Zibalwe Tembo a much older woman.  She had no children.  Her maiden name was Tinkhiramaso Tembo.  But Zibalwe changed her last name or chiwongo to Phiri.  This was because Zibalwe did not want to look like he had married his sister.

 CHIROBA was a very big village

Holoholo Bilima married another woman whose last maiden name was Banda.  He had a daughter, Jeni Nya Bilima who married Banda of Luzi village and the couple gave birth to Lameck Banda from Msuka Village.  Ciroba had many clans.  Counting only the heads of clans.

  1. Nyoni
  2. Bilima
  3. Nkhoma
  4. Kacali
  5. Nthaka
  6. Cidambo Nthaka
  7. Jeremani Banda
  8. Filimoni Kanyinji

Children had children and the village at one time could easily have had more than five hundred people.

ZIBALWE Village was also big.  It had such clans as:

  1. Tembo
  2. Msimuko
  3. Mkamanga
  4. Chulu
  5. Nyirenda
  6. Banda – Boyole
  7. Nyirongo
  8. Chungu
  9. Msuka
  10. Mbale
  11. Mvula
  12. Chima
  13. Phiri

In 1923 there were only three villages near present Zibalwe Village.  But by 1930 villages that were near and surrounding Zibalwe were Gundu, Kapinda, Ngwata, Mthiwa, Ciroba, and Burwe.

Post Script

This brief synopsis is what I have been wanting to do for a long time.  It is a very exciting project.  As you can see, not everybody’s kinship relationship is identified in detail.  For individuals born after 1945, we might want to identify what year and date they were born.  If you know any more details, whether you are a member of this kinship network or not, please send these to me as soon as you can so that we will be able to write a more detailed genealogy.

Since the early 1960s up to this day, the village has always held a special significance in my life.  As life is changing, there is an urgent need to preserve some aspects of our village roots for the future children.  Please send details to:

Dr. Mwizenge S. Tembo

Bridgewater College, Box 74

Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology

Bridgewater, VIRGINIA 22812

United States of America

[1] Normally I would have found it unnecessary to explain this fact.  But with the present excitement, anxiety, and controversy about who is a foreigner or indigenous Zambian leading up to the Presidential and General Elections, I am compelled to state the obvious.  Prior to European colonialism and the Scramble for Africa in 1885, the present day border between Malawi and Zambia did not exist.  As such our ancestors had open Virgin land on which they settled and freely explored.  Europeans did such an “excellent job” in dividing us that today we squabble about who is indigenous and who is not often based on these borders which were created by European colonialists who couldn’t have cared less about our ancestors.  This may be a legitimate debate today, but in the 1800s, I marvel at the reality that our ancestors must have enjoyed incredible freedom of movement as pioneers.

You can also send E-mail:

                  Fax:  540-828-5479

Bridgewater College

Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology

Tembo, Mayovu, Nyoni, Banda Kinship


Mwizenge S. Tembo*, Ph.D.

August 19, 1996

Tel Office #540-828-5351     Home 540-828-4467     Fax #540-828-5479

E-Mail Address:

*Mwizenge S. Tembo obtained his B. A. in Sociology and Psychology at University of Zambia in 1976, M.A., Ph.D. at Michigan State University in Sociology in 1987.  He was a Lecturer and Research Fellow at the Institute of African Studies of the University of Zambia from 1977 to 1990.  During this period he conducted extensive research and field work in rural Zambia particularly in the Eastern and Southern Provinces of the country.  He is currently Assistant professor of Sociology at Bridgewater College in Virginia, USA.

[1] Normally I would have found it unnecessary to explain this fact.  But with the present excitement, anxiety, and controversy about who is a foreigner or indigenous Zambian leading up to the Presidential and General Elections, I am compelled to state the obvious.  Prior to European colonialism and the Scramble for Africa in 1885, the present day border between Malawi and Zambia did not exist.  As such our ancestors had open Virgin land on which they settled and freely explored.  Europeans did such an “excellent job” in dividing us that today we squabble about who is indigenous and who is not often based on these borders which were created by European colonialists who couldn’t have cared less about our ancestors.  This may be a legitimate debate today, but in the 1800s, I marvel at the reality that our ancestors must have enjoyed incredible freedom of movement as pioneers.

Making Breakfast Msele with Tendela Peanut Powder by Mwizenge S. Tembo

Maize or corn is the staple food for Zambians. As a result, there are over a dozen different types of food you can cook from maize. Nshima is the main staple food cooked from maize mealie-meal. One food that is cooked is breakfast from maize msele wotendela with fresh raw peanuts or groundnuts powder. Tendela is a unique or special Zambian traditional cuisine in which while cooking raw freshly pounded peanuts or groundnuts powder is added to any food.

In rural areas and even some areas in urban Zambia, a woman will start the process of making breakfast early in the morning. She will start pounding the maize with thuli (mortar) and musi (pestle). She will pepeta (winnow) the pounded maize using chihengo container and make msele or what Americans call hominy. She will also pound fresh raw dry peanuts pepeta or winnowing or seaving it using chihengo. This makes nthendelo or raw peanut powder. This the recipe:

Msele wo Tendela

For a family of 5

2 Cups Msele maize

3 Cups of Fresh Peanut Powder

Half a teaspoon salt

6 Cups of water

Pour the 6 cups of water in a medium size thick pot. Heat the water on high until it comes to a boil. Lower heat to medium and pour the 2 cups of msele maize into the pot. Let the msele maize boil for 45 minutes adding more water if necessary as it boils. Taste the msele maize to make sure it is soft. Add the 3 cups of freshly made raw peanut powder into the pot. Add the half teaspoon of salt. Use a mthiko cooking stick to stir the msele to mix it thoroughly with the peanut powder. Cover the pot and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes stirring the msele every 5 minutes to prevent burning at the bottom. Add more water as needed as the msele simmers. Serve and eat with a spoon. Some people will add a little sugar.

Cooked Msele wo Tendela

Recommended: Msele wo Tendela is best eaten without adding anything else to it as the flavor and aroma of the cooked peanut powder is the most delicious taste of eating msele.

Journey to Chasela by Mwizenge S. Tembo

After my father completed his teacher training at Katete Teacher Training College, his first school assignment was at Chasela Primary School in the Luangwa Valley among the Bisa people. At the time the valley had numerous wild animals roaming like Africa had been probably for thousands of years. Lions, buffaloes, impalas, hyenas, monkeys, leopards, and elephants were everywhere night and day. Humans and deadly encounters with wild animals were common.

The Cape Buffalo; one of the meanest and most dangerous wild animals

Sometime in late 1959, my mother arrived back at our village. I had lived with my grandparents for two years; first herding goats and later doing Sub A at Boyole School. My mother had come to get me to join the family  at Chasela Primary School.

We caught the colonial Northern Rhodesia Central African Road Services (CARS) bus at Hoya along Chama-Lundazi Road. My mother and I spent a night at the rest house in Lundazi. It was a huge building with tiles for a roof. It had upstairs and downstairs. It cost you six pence for upstairs and 3 pence per night for downstairs. The following day at noon, we boarded the bus for Chief Mwanya. The road was narrow and bumpy at first. Later on the bus picked up speed. It was going so fast and trees were zooming by so close to the road I wondered how the driver missed crushing into them. The repeated bumps, swerves, up and downs were so violent and nerve jarring that adults, including my mother, were vomiting out of the bus windows. I stood all the way and was enjoying the experience. At 3:00 pm that afternoon, we arrived at Lumimba Catholic Mission station. We all came out for refreshments. There were streaks of vomit all along the bus outside. None of the adults could eat because their stomachs were so upset. My mother bought me nshima with chicken and I ate it all cleaning the plate. At 6:00 pm that evening we arrived at Chief Mwanya. My mother and I spent a night at one of the chief’s guest houses since the Chief knew my father as the Head Teacher  at Chasela Primary School.

Early the following morning, my mother and I set off on foot for Chasela Primary School. But first she went into the bush and broke a small branch of the mnyongoroka tree. She stripped the fiber and broke the stick into 4 pieces which she threw in all four directions; North, South, West, and East. My mother was carrying a bundle on her head of our clothes and blankets. I was small so my mother had to walk at my slow small boy’s pace.

By 9:00 am, the searing valley heat was on and we were walking bare feet. By noon, our drinking water was gone, I was trotting as the ground was scalding my feet and I was crying and asking my mother to carry me. You could smell and see the seething heat. The earth, dust and dirt were sizzling hot. My feet and legs were aching and threatening to turn into jelly every step I took. My mother kept saying we were almost there and “your dad has nshima with chicken ready and plenty of drinking water”. At one point my mother pointed to a distance where we could see some baboons and herd of buffalo.

I was by now bawling with both my hands behind my head and pleading with my mother for us to stop so I could rest. She said we could not afford to stop, as there were too many lions, leopards, and hyenas that came out at night. We could be meat. This was true. We had to get home before dark.

She kept encouraging me to walk a few more yards with: “The house is just beyond those bushes”. At 3:00 pm, we finally arrived at the house. I had walked ten miles in seething heat and bare foot. I collapsed, did not eat dinner and slept all night. The following day I could hardly walk as my feet and legs were swollen. This is where I was to live for the next 2 years; a place among the Bisa people in the Luangwa Valley with incredible wild life everywhere everyday. Incidentally when my boys were small they used to like the “bus ride to Chasela” with daddy. I would put them on my knee, bump them violently up and down, half tip them over on sharp bends, and they would pretend to throw up like grandma did. They all loved the ride and begged me to give them the ride to Chasela any spare moment.

HIV/AIDS to Corona Virus: Historical Perspective by a Zambian by Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D. Professor of Sociology


I was doing my Ph. D. in Sociology in the United States under the sponsored scholarship of the famous University of Zambia Staff Development Fellowship. The year was 1983. The news was buzzing and spreading like wild fire. A new killer disease that was sexually transmitted, attacked the immune system. It was killing mostly gay or homosexual men in the United States. I bought the Newsweek Magazine and read the whole story. When I read the New African magazine, the report said this new Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was affecting mainly heterosexual men and women in Africa. In sensational reports, the Western media identified Uganda as the AIDS ground zero in Africa. I was alarmed. I knew that if this new disease reached Zambia, it was going to be a disaster. Many Zambians would die including my relatives.

Mwizenge S.Tembo with Corona Virus mask

I went to work. I bought a few copies of the Newsweek magazine with the article and mailed it to as many relatives as possible. As a patriotic Zambian, I sent a copy to my fellow Zambian lecturers at University of Zambia and even Ministry of Health. Given the havoc that the Corona Virus pandemic is playing in the world today, this is a story of how this author alone in his own way tried to help to fight the HIV/AIDS in Zambia over a period 15 years from 1983 to 1998.

First, I will explain why I am writing this article. Second, I will describe what I did on my personal level to help fight HIV/AIDS and what I witnessed about HIV/AIDS in Zambia from 1987 to 1989. Third, I will describe how I used my scientific knowledge and skills to investigate HIV/AIDS. Lastly, what I think today about the Corona Virus in Zambia and the global world.

Why Write this Article?

When the news about the Corona Virus spread in January 2020, the first questions I asked myself are: “How many Zambians lived through and experienced the terrible  HIV?AIDS pandemic in the 1980s?” “How many 18.3 million Zambians beside myself, are alive today who may have lived through the HIV/AIDS pandemic?” 

According to the Zambia Population Census of 2010, the country ten years ago had a population of 13 million. The proportion of the country that was under 15 years old was 45.4%, those between 15 and 24 years old was 20.8%, those between 25 to 54 years old was 27.04% and those from 55 to 64  years were only 2.8% and those above 65 years old are even smaller at 2.6%. Zambians who were born before 1965 or are 55 years or older today in 2020, constitute an estimate of 5.4%  which is about 972,000 Zambians. Those who were born before 1955 or are 65 years and older are only 2.6% or 468,000 Zambians.

These are the few of the 18.3 million Zambians who experienced the crisis of the wide spread illnesses and deaths of too many close relatives, friends, schoolmates, and workmates from HIV/AIDS crisis. If these people are alive, they may provide advice to younger Zambians and even government on how to respond to the Corona virus. A large population of Zambians, who were born after 1990 or are 30 years old, constitute 66.2% or 11.9 million Zambians who never lived through the HIV/AIDS crisis. I hope this article can provide a perspective about the past of HIV/AIDS and the present Corona Virus crisis although the 2 pandemics are not the same.

HIV/AIDS Fight 1987-1989

As I was pursuing my Ph. D., I began to read as much information as I could about the epidemic. I mailed a lot of the information to relatives, friends, in Lusaka as well as in the rural area to my home villages in Lundazi and the Ministry of Health. I arrived back in Zambia after my Ph. D in 1987 to resume my work as Research Fellow at the then Institute of African Studies of the University of Zambia. People were dying. I lost count how many times I went to the Leopards Hill cemetery in Lusaka to bury relatives, friends, and workmates. Those were very sad years in Zambia.

HIV/AIDS Prevention message near present Manda Hill Mall along the Great East Road in Lusaka in 1993.

Of the numerous deaths I witnessed, one shocked me for its sudden swiftness. This death was to be one amongst the numerous that was to anger and infuriate me about some of the tragic and unfortunate panic, hysteria and myths that surrounded HIV/AIDS pandemic at the time.

Virtually anybody in Zambia at the time who died after two days, six months, three months, or one week of illness was assumed to have died of HIV-AIDS disease. There were no reliable widespread HIV tests yet. The disgracing and shameful assumption was that the person or their spouse was sexually promiscuous. Some of the deaths of friends and relatives stood out.

This friend was at his prime. I will call him George. He was married and had four children. He drank. George looked healthy and was not the sickly type. He fell ill on Monday. We, his close friends and fellow employees, visited him on Wednesday morning at his house. George was sitting up in his living room and in a surprisingly lively cheerful way, described his symptoms as fever. He had opted to go to a traditional healer in one of the nearby compounds. He explained that he was given an herb that made him purge to cleanse his stomach. He said he thought he was going to be all right. By Friday that week though, George was so sick that he was admitted at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH). I visited him in the hospital ward on that April sunny Saturday afternoon.

HIV/AIDS Prevention message near the North-End of Cairo along the Great North Road in Lusaka in 1993.

The hospital ward was relatively quiet,  bright, and immaculately clean. I was shocked that this man who had looked very healthy only Wednesday that week was suddenly fighting for his life. George’s throat was almost swollen shut. He was making loud, hissing, desperate breathing noises. Something was swollen on his neck the size of a golf ball. Later I was to find out from his official death certificate that this was a swollen lymph node. I stood there by his hospital bed, stunned at the sudden turn of events. After a while, he opened his eyes and saw me. He hissed when he tried to mouth something but nothing came out. I gestured a finger to my lips that he shouldn’t say anything. George continued to breathe struggling at every breath making a loud crooking sound. I will remember that awful sound for the rest of my life. After a while, I took two steps back to leave. George desperately stretched and reached his hand out to me. I held his hand instinctively.

“D-o-n’t ….go……” he hoarsely hissed after breathing in very deeply making a big effort. I felt guilty for wanting to leave. He looked scared of being left alone. I stood there until his wife came back from an errand. She and I exchanged some brief words and I left.

The next day on Sunday at noon, as my family and I were eating lunch, word came that my friend had died the previous night. If there was anything for me that was later to epitomize the painful tragedy of some of the hysteria that might have been the botched HIV-AIDS “diagnosis” or some of the erroneous beliefs, it was this death.

Later, a clinic attendant who knew George the deceased friend said the friend may have had a normal bacteria infection. But George may have panicked fearing he had HIV-AIDS and delayed getting immediate and standard antibiotic treatment. He may have sought herbal treatment from a traditional healer (there is nothing wrong with this) out of desperation fearing and believing he had HIV-AIDS which had no cure in the modern hospital at the time.

My HIV/AIDS Scientific Paper

In December 1989, I sadly left Zambia to work in the United States. I began to read more deeply and widely about the scientific controversy about  HIV/AIDS. The more I read the history of pandemics, human anthropological biological evolutionary aspects of viruses and bacteria, about some of the myths and hysteria around HIV/AIDS, the more I got infuriated. What made me angry is not so much that many Zambians were dying of this new disease, but that too many might have been dying because of anxiety, possible misdiagnosis, and misinformation. I knew that if some of the information I knew was spread widely among Zambians, many lives would have been saved.

Since there was no modern drug yet that could cure the  HIV  virus that caused AIDS, I spent some time investigating and researching for some herbal possible treatment. It was very difficult at the time because the internet did not exist. I wrote a 30 page scientific paper that I thought could be published in African journals. The paper is titled: The Deadly Fallacy of the HIV-AIDS-Death Hypothesis: Exposing the Epidemic that Is Not.   The journals rejected the well-written scientific paper that would have helped us educated elite Africans understand the HIV/AIDS controversy better at the time. I sent this paper to so many friends. Twenty-four years later, I now understand very clearly why the paper was rejected for publication. Academic journals are very conservative. No editor or reviewers will endorse or publish something that is new and controversial that even they themselves do not understand. It is a huge risk that even probably I, if I had been as a reviewer and editor, would not have taken.

The Corona Virus in Zambia and the Global World.

After having lived through the HIV/AIDS pandemic that still exists in Zambia to day and Global World, my advice to my fellow Zambians is to take the Corona Virus seriously. The 1908s did not have the internet, but myths, misinformation, and racist views about HIV/AIDS toward Africans from the Western world were still spread through the Western media at that time. This infuriated me but I was powerless to do anything. Today the internet is spreading myths and conspiracy theories about the Corona Virus. Some African leaders are already saying it is a hoax and a joke since there are very few cases so far in Zambia and elsewhere in Africa. This misinformation is dangerous. HIV/AIDS was and is spread primarily through sex. The Corona Virus is spread primarily  from droplets from breathing. So all it takes is for one infected person to infect dozens of people in a crowded bus, restaurant, bar, train, nigh club, family dwelling, especially singing in a packed church, wedding, shopping Mall, and packed market. Hundreds of people can be infected this way. Wear a mask, wash your hands, use sanitizer, wipe surfaces with bleach, wear gloves, and avoid crowded places.  This is not a hoax. The Corona Virus is real.

A Letter From Dr. Tembo

I am thrilled to be in touch with you. I feel blessed to have had numerous opportunities over the last 30 years to do work that helps people in communities here in the United States but more especially in Zambia in Southern Africa. Since 1969 when I was in 9th Grade or Form 3 at Chizongwe Secondary School in Chipata in the Eastern Province of Zambia, I have been involved in numerous volunteer and philanthropic non-profit organizations and projects.

I have been involved in faithfully spending or executing more than $157,000 of publicly donated funds for the the Nkhanga Village Library Project and the installation of 52 borehole pumps for providing clean drinking water to 52 villages in Lundazi, Zambia. All of it has been so gratifying that you will never know how good and proud I have felt about your support and contribution to this work over the last 5 decades.

Now, I need your help in this latest project: the Mwizenge Sustainable Model Village.

In 2016, I bought 123 acres, or 50 hectares, of land with my own limited funds to create a sustainable model village on a piece of Savannah Wilderness in Chongwe, about an hour’s drive East of Lusaka, Zambia. The college where I’m a professor has just awarded me a precious sabbatical research leave for 6 months starting in December 2020; the rainy season in Zambia. In order to conduct this research, I need $10,000.00 and would appreciate any contribution. The funds will be used to build 6 huts and conduct valuable ethnographic research at the model village.

The goal of the village and upcoming research is to create a community where residents live a life in line with the traditional Zambian/African/Tumbuka philosophy and principles known as Kufwasa, which translates to human social closeness and serenity. Additionally, one of the sustainability goals is to have residents grow their own organic foods. This includes a wide variety of the same foods grown by my grandparents and parents when I lived in the village in the 1950s as a child. Some of the foods include corn or maize, peanuts, red kidney beans, peas, cassava, and up to 30 indigenous greens from the delele group of vegetables, just to mention a few of the dozens of food varieties.

The current challenge I have is to build 6 huts on the land between May and July of 2020. The 6 huts will provide accommodation for the 6 to 10 people who will be carefully selected or volunteer to live at the village from December 2020 to June 2021 during the entire growing season of crops. This is perhaps the most exciting and promising project I will ever be involved in. The successful completion of the research will provide a model or blueprint for how people can live a sustainable and gratifying lifestyle of Kufwasa, full of serenity and connection to other people, while also contributing to the exploration and documentation of sustainable agricultural practices, providing a resource for current and future generations to thrive rather than just survive or grow crops for profit.

Attached, I have given you the budget for the construction of the 6 huts and other research expenses, my sabbatical leave research proposal, my resumé, and my CV. Kindly forward these to anyone who you think may be able to help us with the $10,000. There is also a possibility of YOU visiting me and the village residents when I will be living there with as many as 10 other residents from December 2020 to June 2021. The model village is also available for tours at any time, as well as additional research projects.

Thank you for your time and support,

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Attached Documents:

KAM – You were born on this day at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. This is a HAPPY BIRTHDAY Pictorial Present; January 21 2020

Birthday cake in Lusaka in Zambia 1988
Your big brother and your mom in 1985.
Withe Ben and Margaret in 1985
With Uncle Dave and Aunt Marie at your baptism
When you as a big baby were place in the tiny tub on the right during baptism, there was a wave of a tsunami that spilled over on to the priest’s robe. This caused laughter.
Participating in a Christmas play at your preschool in Lusaka in Zambia; December 1988.
On the way just before going to preschool early in the morning in Lusaka in Zambia
On the way just before being dropped off at school early in the morning.
With grandpa Sani Zibalwe Tembo at Zibalwe Village in 1988. Grandpa made bows and arrows for you and your brother. He also gave you small bags of peanuts to carry with you. This was in 1988.
You standing by the white cupboard getting ready to walk for the first time. November 1985.
This is one of my most favorite picture of you with the exciting look and effort of the first walk; you had held on to a spoon. You don’t seem to have it in your right hand. By the time your mom came back home probably from an errand, you had been walking around our little apartment living room for may be an hour.
You drew this birthday poster of yourself in Zambia in 1988.
With Uncle John and Gandma Sue at Earhart in Ann Arbor; the most memorable house.
With your baby brother and big brother in November 1989.
With Santa Clause in 1986 in East Lansing
With Aunt Sara.
Happy times with Uncle Dave.
At the best summer swimming pond in the world at Earhart in Ann Arbor. Even your little brother on the left was dipping his toes in there.
With your little brother and big brother at our apartment in Ypsilanti in Michigan in April 1990.
With your block playmates in front of our house in Lusaka November 1989. Where are all these playmates now? May be you can track them down.
With some of your cousins in Michigan or was it here in Virginia?
Another birthday cake with friends.
With President Geisert of Bridgewater College during May Day Parade Court during which you carried the ceremonial May Day Court Ring to crown the winner.
With the family at the Farm House in 1991
As a member of the Wilber Pence Middle School basketball team.
As a member of the Lawn Party Marching Band in Keezletown in August 1994.
With your older brother on his birthday with many of his friends from many countries at the Chuck EE Cheese play center at Meridian Mall in East Lansing in Michigan December 1986. One of the pictures that says children would be so much better if they play with children from many different countries.

TEMWA – You were born on this day at UTH. This is a HAPPY BIRTHDAY Pictorial Present; December 27 2019

Grandma NyaKabinda and Grandpa Sani Holding you January 1982
You with Grandpa Zerweck Christmas 1982
You with Grandma Z, Uncle Steve, your Mom Christmas 1983
Your with Aunt Sara July 1982
You and your Mom in front of the Castle Hotel in Lundazi in January 1982
You, Your Mom, Aunt Jean and Aunt Sara July 1982
You and your Dad in front of the Castle Hotel January 1982
You and Aunt Marie 1983
You and Uncle Craig Aug 1982 at Earhart in Ann Arbor Michigan
You with your Mom, Aunt Sara, and Aunt Anne August 1982
You and Me saw Nelson Mandela at the Detroit Tigers Stadium April 1990
Your first time to be outside in the snow Michigan on our apartment porch 1983
You going to school early in the morning in Lusaka in Zambia in 1989
You and your little brother in April 1985
You, your little brother, your cousins Lizzy, Sinele with your Grndma NyaKabinda at Zibalwe Village in Zambia in July 1988.
Perhaps my most favorite picture of you at the apartment at MSU. You were joyfully excited skipping to go outside down stairs to play in the sandbox. 1983
You, your Mom, your Dad, Grandma Z, Grandma Sue, Grandpa Zerweck Christmas 1982
You play horse with Uncle Bob at Earhart in Ann Arbor
You and Grandma Z laughing
You and your birthday party in Zambia in 1988
You blowing out your birthday candles in Zambia in 1988
You fishing with your little brother and friends at the dock at a lake in Michigan August 1987.
You in the Country marching band at the Keezletown Lawn Party parade in 1994.
You, your mom, Uncle Graig, and Aunt Sara at a picnic at Natural Chimneys in Bridgewater VA
You and your other little brother
You and Uncle Steve playing baseball during the summer in Ann Arbor
You and many friends from different countries at MSU. The kid on your right was from Kenya and one on your left was from South Africa. Do you remember the Chiago the Brazilian kid? This was after your birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese in 1986. I used to love the place too at Meridian Mall.

Book Review – The Zwangendaba Mpezeni Ngoni: History and Migrations, Settlements and Culture.

Yizenge Chondoka, The Zwangendaba Mpezeni Ngoni: History and Migrations, Settlements and Culture, Lusaka, Academic Press, 2017, 148 pages, Hardcover, $32.00 (K411.00)

BOOK REVIEW – in Memory of Dr Yizenge Chondoka


Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D

Professor of Sociology


At dawn on June 23rd 2019, I boarded a bus in Lusaka. My destination was  Lundazi in the rural remote Eastern Province of Zambia. I was anxious and excited to arrive at the bus station at 15hours or 3:00pm Zambian time. Before my final leg of the journey of a 45-minute minibus ride to visit my relatives to eat nshima with chicken, in my home village near Boyole in the North-Western part of the Lundazi District, I was to meet a man who was going to hand me a special gift.

Book Cover

As soon as I stepped out of the bus, the short man stepped forward. He was grinning ear to ear, had bright eyes with some grey hair. I finally met Mr. Frackson Bota. We shook and pumped hands as we excitedly greeted each other and talked with a mix or English and Tumbuka as we multilingual Zambians do.

“Here is Dr. Chodoka’s book,” Mr. Bota said amid our laughter and excitement.

This is how I finally got possession of a precious gift from the late Dr. Yizenge A. Chondoka’s book: The Zwangendaba Mpezeni Ngoni. He passed awayin May 2017 leaving instructions to Mr. Bota to hand me a copy of the book because of my dedication to and passion for Zambian and African culture. I was flattered to see the message Mr. Bota inscribed in the book.

Whenever I have a book that I know I will enjoy, I don’t read it all at once. I could have read the 13 Chapters and  148 pages in one evening. But like a delicious meal of nshima with best ndiyo, umunani, dende or relish, I wanted to eat it slowly over a few days enjoying a few pages each day while I was in the village sitting under my favorite shady Msoro tree. It is tempting to tell the reader everything that is in the book. But then what are you going to be left to read when you buy the book? There are so many things I found good about the book. I will summarize four of them; who was Nsingo? The Great Shaka King; Mfecane Wars and the debunking of the white or European bogus Hamitic hypothesis, the Bemba-Ngoni Wars, and the significance of Zwangendaba-Ngoni.

Nshima with Chicken

Who was Nsingo?

When I attended Chizongwe Secondary School in Chipata from 1967 to 1971, there were four Halls of Residence; Aggrey, Muleya, Skeva Soko, and Nsingo House. I had heard that Nsingo was a hero in the then Fort Jameson in the late 1800s and now Chipata area. To my great joy, Chapter 12 of the book says Nsingo was a great hero and a martyr in the 1897-8 Anglo-Ngoni War in the Mpezeni Kingdom. You can learn the details of that war in the book.

Shaka Zulu and the Bogus Hamitic Hypothesis

Shaka Zulu and how he ruthlessly ruled and expanded the Zulu Empire is one of the most influential leaders of all time in history. He instigated the Mfecane Wars or wars of chaos and disorder from 1818 to 1828 which affected the entire Southern Africa; Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi up to Southern Tanzania. To understand the falsehood or bogusness that is the European or white Hamitic Hypothesis, you have to understand its origins. In 1758 a Swedish biologist came up with biological classifications of humans. Europeans eventually came up with racial classifications in the 1890s that classified humans into Caucasians, Mongloid and Negroid wrongly creating racism; with Negroid (blacks;Africans)  being the most inferior and Caucasians (Whites) being most superior. The Hamitic Hypothesis is the popular idea which Europeans spread all over the world that Africans could not come up with anything useful or intelligent on their own; there had always somehow had to be a European or White influence.

Yizenge Chondoka Biography

Europeans used the Hamitic Hypothesis in history books to claim that Shaka Zulu was influenced by the Dutch, the British, or the Portuguese because Shaka Zulu could not have created such a powerful empire on his own being of course black and an African. Yizenge Chondoka thoroughly debunks the Hamitic Hypothesis.

“However, recent historical researchers in South Africa have proved beyond doubt that the theory of White Inspiration is false. There was no outside influence to the rise of the Zulu state…..Finally using the available evidence, it is safe to conclude that this theory is indeed false. It was coined to match its counterpart: Hermitic hypothesis, which  basically states that anything good on the Continent of Africa was brought by outsiders, the white people.”(Chondoka, 2017: 8-9)

The Ngoni-Bemba Wars

The Ngoni and Bemba peoples fought many wars when they encountered each other in the Northern province of Zambia. Historians on both sides have tried to determine who won the wars. About this dispute, Chondoka says: “The book is dedicated to the Bemba who have reluctantly ‘agreed’ with the Ngoni that in the Bemba-Ngoni war none of the two was ‘defeated’.  On this point, it is better to agree to disagree to avoid unnecessary arguments that can lead to High Blood Pressure for one group.”(Dedication, p. ii)

Read the book in the village under the shady Msoro tree

Zwangendaba 1815-1848

Another looming and towering figure was the influential Ngoni leader Zwangendaba. He led the Ngoni for 30 years as they moved in the Southern African region conquering many other peoples along the way and incorporating them into the Ngoni Kingdom. Some of his decisions, his death and succession were controversial. This is often the case with larger than life leaders. My father is Ngoni and my late mother was Tumbuka. That intertribal marriage was a Ngoni influence among the Tumbuka in Eastern Zambia and Northern Malawi.


I highly recommend this book if you are among the 17 million Zambians at home and abroad. If you come from the Southern Africa region, there is a chance that Shaka Zulu and the Ngoni influenced your ancestors, language, and culture. I took history in Secondary School and in Universities. That history is heavily Eurocentric some of which Chondoka debunks. The book both taught me and confirmed that as Zambians we created our own history, which we never read, in the Eurocentric history which is often wrongly projected as the only and most accurate history.