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.
As large demonstrations against the white police brutal killing of George Floyd in the United States have exploded all over the world, we all should engage in some deep thinking. My life-long human struggle and contemplating of goodness and evil, human suffering and triumph, appreciation of both beauty and ugliness, life and death, have inspired these ideas. Growing up as a child in the village in Lundazi in Zambia, Africa, I remember my parents and grandparents pointing out to me what was cruelty and kindness, goodness and evil. Their teachings were mixed with personal example sprinkled with generous doses of laughter and a sense of appreciation of all that is good; the gift of life, good harvest and meals, dance and song, wearing good clothes to go to church on Sunday, the goodness that comes from living a righteous and dignified life of discipline and hard work. All of these created in me and my village community, a deep sense of appreciation of life and the power of and magnificence that God created.
Racism, Good and Evil
I went to the young and only University of Zambia at the time in 1972. This was in the Capital City of Lusaka. I was the type of student who read the textbooks to pass tests but often spent a great deal of time reading material that was outside class reading. This material challenged me at a tender age to think more deeply about life.
When I first read the “Autobiography of Malcolm X” as a freshman English course assigned reading, I stopped reading half way and slammed the book down. It was eleven at night. I stormed out of my dorm room and walked for three Kms. along the Great East Road near campus up to the Zambian Parliament Building. I was very angry, confused, and eighteen years old. How could there be so much racism, evil and pain intentionally inflicted by some human beings on others in the world? Why was racism created in America? How could some human beings (whites) enjoy the evil that they were doing and inflicting on other human beings (Blacks)? There was a haze in my eyes as the street and car lights glistened through my hot tears.
This was confusing for me as most of the Tumbuka Zambian African people I grew up with in my family were kind and dignified. When my parents received many guests including whites or Europeans, my parents treated them with cheer, respect and hospitality. At about the time I went to college, I met a young White American couple that were to be my dear and lifelong great friends. Most whites I met at the time were descent human beings. How could many Europeans and Americans claim to be Christians and yet practice or believe in colonialism, racism, and own slaves or approve of slavery? Is Christianity synonymous with evil?
These questions could not be answered at that time because people often use clichés as answers to such deeply troubling questions. I have struggled continually with these questions and I am not certain they will be answered during my short lifetime.
Adam and Eve
When God created Adam and Eve, the two were endowed with spiritual passion and surrounded with physical beauty. One can see this beauty when you see the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains in Virgiona in the United States, the Muchinga Escarpment along the Lungwa River in Eastern Zambia, the gorgeous Blue lagoons and magnificent blue waters and sand beaches of the world, and the breath taking green river valleys and mountains in Swaziland. The ability to engage in evil of varying degrees is present in all humans. Parents and the community are the first line of defense against evil. God helps as they raise and nurture children be these their own or those of others in the community. A bad, cruel, poor or a lack of proper parental or extended family upbringing with little or no spiritual nurturing tremendously increases the chances that the child will not distinguish between good and evil.
Christianity Powerful Force
Christianity and believing in God and Christ is the most powerful spiritual force when individuals genuinely open themselves and their hearts to the force. God works through parents and the community to teach children about kindness, sharing, treating all human beings with fairness and respect, and to revere life itself. When we are born then we have a tremendous gift for doing good through our families and communities. When does evil begin to grow in humans? When human beings acquire power, material possessions and wealth for greedy ends, their powerful, true, compassionate and genuine Christian beliefs are threatened or begin to decline. Lack of or weak parental extended family upbringing and the desire to acquire material possessions and power beyond our immediate needs is the beginnings, if not the foundation of diabolical racism, evil and sin and sometimes misery. What does all this mean in everyday life and especially for a Christian?
Power and Greed for Material Possessions
It means as humans, we all live the way God intended us to live until we begin to engage in limitless hedonism, or exercise the desire for more power and material possessions for greedy ends for both individuals and nations. The foundation for all egregious evil is the desire for more power, and material possessions, which is reflected in human greed of different degrees. The root and beginning of the racism, evil and atrocities humans commit on both a small and grand scale is always the desire for more power, and material possessions than God intended for our happy, compassionate, righteous, happy fulfilled lives.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
by Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.
Professor of Sociology
When the Toronto Raptors won the first game in the NBA finals, all hell broke loose with wild predictions; “the Warriors are dead” and I am sure the Toronto players were feeling we could beat this team. But fortunately or unfortunately, it is a 7 game series. So you can’t just win one game. Raptors would have been the NBA Champions 2 days ago. The Houston Rockets felt the same way when they pushed the Warriors to game 7 last year; they said: “We were close to beating them. We could have beaten the Warriors if only Chris Paul had not been injured.” That’s what great teams do. This is what good teams who are on a winning streak do; they make the opponents feel: “If only the ref had not made that one call against us, we could have beaten this team.” Good and great teams are simply juggernauts. That’s why you just have to learn to enjoy the moment as a fan.
I have been fortunate and blessed over so many decades to see so many great and good teams on a winning streak. The legendary players on the teams or in the sport have their own larger than life stories that send shivers through your back when you remember their performance if you are a true fan of any sport.
Sometimes over the years, I have slept at 2:30am on a week work night watching the Warriors in the play offs. I have then had to get up early to go to work. They have not only figured how to win and know what it takes, but they make it look easy. Steph Curry sometimes makes me think I could shoot 3s from my neighbor Mr. Johnson’s house across the street opposite my house; and I am not even a basketball player.
Tops has to be the Brazilian World Cup teams from 1958 to 1970. Those teams were loaded with Pele greatest soccer player ever. With the whole world and all the opposing teams knowing Pele and guarding him, he still at his peak scored one or 2 goals every game. The legendary 1970 Brazilian team had such strikers like Pele, Tostao, and Jazghigno. I saw the film “The World on its Feet” of the 1970 world cup when Temwa found it on Netflix. I had last watched that film in 1972 in Lecture Theater One at University of Zambia. There is a video tape on YouTube of a man whose team played against Pele somewhere in Europe in the late 1960s. This man said at half time, his team decided they were not going to have Pele score. What they agreed to do was that 8 players were going to create a cordon at midfield to corale him. That player said they saw Pele approach them; before they knew it he was behind them scoring a goal. Scoring goals in soccer is difficult I think because there are so many bodies and legs packed in front of the goal area.
I personally saw the great Ucar Godffey Chitalu of the Zambian soccer teams of the 1970s. To think that I saw him play in so many games. This was at Lusaka Independence stadium and also at City of Lusaka Woodlands stadium when he played with great Kabwe Warriors Soccer club team of the 1970s. Chitalu scored 107 goals that one year I believe in the 1971 season. The 1974 Zambia’s soccer team that played in the Africa Cup Finals was the best ever. It was loaded with such legendary names as Godfreey Ucar Chitalu, Dick Chama, Dickson Makwaza, Boniface Simutowe, Brighton Sinyangwe.
The NFL Chicago Bears of 1985 scared even me when I was watching the game at home on my couch. Imagine the fear the opposing players felt. The team had coaches who were maniacs who invented the 46 defence. They had a line backer who had fierce eyes. The entire team was just ferocious. But the legend of the “Fridge” created such excitement. The Bears only lost one game in the regular season and easily won the Superbowl against the lowly New England Patriots at the time.
The Detroit Tigers of 1984 are easily the most memorable. I followed all the games on TV and on radio with the legendary broadcaster Earnie Harwel. We even went to see one of the games at the old Tiger Stadium in Detroit. But they just won that year starting 35 – 5.Kirk Gibson, Alan Tramell, Lou Whitaker, Larry Herndon caught the last fly ball to win the World Series. Lance Parish, Willie Hernandez the pitcher as the great saver and closer with his screw ball pitch.
The Bridgewater College Division 3 Football Team that played in the National Championship in 2001 was a great team. Their teams went on to dominate ODAC along the East Coast for 5 years. I was lucky enough to be on the sidelines to watch those great teams up close taking photos. This is the great privilege the college and athletic director have given me. They used to make it look so easy to beat other teams. They would simply steam roll them. I once saw our running back simply run over the defender to score a touch down. The most memorable is when BC beat Rowan on their way to the National Championship game. It was cloudy, rainy, and the field was muddy. When BC scored a touch down with no time left, I was in the stands. I saw one female student cry as I run on to the field and pandemonium broke loose. The crowd took down the goal posts as is tradition.
Kam’s high school started with his young group in Middle school in basketball. When that class became Juniors and Seniors in High School they dominated both in Basketball and soccer. The soccer game I will never forget is when Kam’s TA soccer team played Harrisonburg. It was a rivalry game.
That soccer game was perhaps the best Kam’s team had played over the 2 years. Their passes were so crisp that no one on the team had to chase the ball because of a bad pass. Steve Wallace was a great goalee. Kam, Tim Glick, Jose were on the team. The team won 3 – 0. When I asked Kam when the game was over if he was tired. He said no because they played so well they didn’t break a sweat. That’s what great teams do. They make it look effortless especially when they are all focused and intense.
I watched Breakfast at Wimbledon Tennis in the 1980s in our little apartment in Spartan Village. It was at 9:00am in the Tennis Wimbledon Finals and I was watching John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Christ Every Loyd, Martina Navratilova, Jimmy Connors. And then there were those great Mohammed Ali boxing fights against Joe Frazier and the big Ramble in the Jungle \against George Foreman. Ali made heavy weight boxing look easy. He would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”. How about Ali as s sports figure also creating some poetry. All the great teams create their own poetry.
The Warriors will likely win the NBA championship. This might be their last one. Their legs and their bodies are giving up after a 5 year run. Apart from Leonard, the rest of the Raptors team have no clue what it takes to win an NBA championship. Isiah Thomas is the one who put it best. He said in his autobiography, that you don’t know what it takes to win it all until you play in the 7 game series in the finals; it is long, hard, tiring, painful; 80 regular games and 16 in the playoffs. This is why dynasties and three peats are rare. So just enjoy Warriors Vs Raptors. You may never see this again.
Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.
Professor of Sociology
I have avoided terrible addictions since 1960. I have never been addicted to beer, work, smoking, girls and women, food, politics, cell phones, the internet and many other things on this earth. Some of my minor addictions are to books, ideas, history, writing, listening to the radio, good human beings, relatives, and I have some cravings for nshima and some Zambian traditional dende, ndiyo, umunani (relishes) which I can’t have here abroad.
As one of my temporary minor addictions over the last month, I have found myself every evening after work and supper checking on the internet what latest video this African Ghanaian character has posted. The internet and YouTube has millions of videos; some of them utter rubbish time wasters, are boring, some are dangerous and many are very educational and entertaining videos. This African character calls himself “Mr Ghana Baby” and I was getting impatiently irritated because he had posted only a second video in 2 days from Tanzania. I was also sad because that morning on Sunday March 10, an Ethiopian Airlines jet had crashed killing all 157 people from 35 countries.
I clicked on his YouTube video channel and he was skyping live to the thousands of his worldwide followers. He was communicating saying that had he not been deported from Uganda Entebbe Airport ten days earlier, he was would have been among the 157 dead. Wode Maya’s original plan was to fly from Uganda to Tanzania, then to Ethiopia, then fly from Addis-a-Abba to Nairobi to meet a famous Kenyan woman vlogger Miss Trudy. He was saying live on Skype that we his viewers would have been reading that he had died in the plane crash had he not been deported from Uganda to Rwanda. He was thanking God and the Ugandan Airport officials for deporting him, which disrupted his original plan. After being deported from Uganda, Wode Maya had made a video from Rwanda saying although he was angry and disappointed, his deportation may have happened for a reason.
I was stunned. How many people at Addis-a-Ababa Airport in Ethiopia had missed that flight that morning and escaped death? Who controls our lives and our destiny? Who is this Wode Maya character and why am I temporarily addicted to his YouTube Channel, which had over 300 videos? Wode Maya is a Ghanaian young man who went to school in China and obtained an engineering degree. He speaks fluent Chinese. Although he has no money and no budget, he decided to become a vlogger or YouTuber and make videos using his cell phone that show only the exciting and positive aspects of our African countries that the Western and international media will not show you or the rest of the world. And I love it.
Western Media Negative Promotion of Africa
His point is that the Western media devotes most of its news and international aid fundraising focuses on Africans living with diseases, poverty, famine, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Cholera, corruption, wars, wild animals, malnourished children with flies in their eyes, and worst of all that all Africans live in mud huts. There are never any positive images about Africans. This is the key reason why most people in the African diaspora never want to visit Africa for vacation or holidays because they have only negative images about our mother Zambia and Africa.
I Became Emotional
What make me cry when I first watched some of Wode Maya’s travel videos from African countries is that this is what my friends and I were dreaming of doing in 1974. My friends Charles Kateketa, Michael Ngulube, and I were sitting in Kateketa’s room in International Hall at University of Zambia one Saturday evening chatting as we were students, poor and broke. We said although we had no money, how it would be exciting to just hitch hike through Zimbabwe, Mozambique and may be board a cargo ship at Maputo in Mozambique to Australia and hitchhike in that country and see some Kangaroos. It was such a memorable night of being young and full of dreams for a group of young Zambian African people. I had no money. But because of the inspiration from my 2 friends, that next Saturday I tried alone to hitch hike just to the Chirundu border just out of curiosity and adventure. I made it as far as the Kafue Bridge. I waited there all day but could not hitch a ride. I returned to Lusaka to my dormitory room that evening.
Why am I Excited?
What excites me about Wode Maya was that he is doing what my friends and I could not do in 1974; 45 years ago. He is traveling through Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and now he is in Tanzania. I am so jealous but very excited for him. He wants to travel to all 55 African countries. What is striking about Wode Maya is that he is a very ordinary looking African. He wears shorts, sandals and sometimes pata-pata even through airports. This is perhaps why he was deported from Uganda at Entebbe Airport because the Ugandan officials must have thought he looked like a poor useless African. Wode Maya exudes freedom of the mind, soul and joy that many of us Africans only dream of. Whenever he goes into an African country he shows only all the positive sides and people of the countries; in Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. I wish he would come to Zambia because we have so many positive things he could show about the beauty of Zambia and the warmth and friendliness of my fellow citizens.
Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D
Professor of Sociology
Joseph Mwenge Katapa, Echoes of the Goma Lakes: “Why they behave as UNZA students”, Lusaka, DNK publishers Zambia, 62 pages, Paperback, K100.00
One chilly morning class period at 12 years old in Grade 7 at Tamanda Upper primary School in 1966 in a remote rural part of the Eastern Province, Mr. Phiri digressed from teaching us English, and asked the class what we wanted to be after completing school. We looked at each other blankly in stunned silence. What could kids in a rural village school dream about just 2 years after Zambia’s independence? Then Mr. Phiri gave us his memorable talk.
“What’s the matter with you!” he raised his voice. Then he said almost whispering and sweeping the class with his gaze: “You are young. The future for all of you is wide open. Our young independent country of Zambia will need doctors to cure disease, pilots to fly planes, agricultural experts to grow more food, locomotive drivers to run trains, bankers, teachers, surveyors, newspaper reporters, architects to design homes, engineers. Any of you could even go to the new University of Zambia, get one or two degrees and become college or university lecturers. You need to know not just about our school, our chief, your village, or our country, but about the whole world. Did you know that as we speak in this classroom now at 9 hours, on the other side of the world in Japan its dark at midnight and people are asleep?”
I smiled and looked around to my 34 classmates with a look of amazement, excitement, and befuddlement. That was it! I didn’t know about what my classmates thought but Mr. Phiri’s passionate message was too fascinating for me; a kid who had only known about herding goats in the village up to this point. My imagination was ignited and a seed of curiosity was planted. I went on to go to Chizongwe Secondary School in 1967, and the University of Zambia in 1972 and later went to do my Masters and Ph. D. in the United States.
Poetry of Life
When the author Mr. Joseph Katapa asked me to review his book “Echoes of the Goma Lakes: “Why they behave as UNZA students”, it was both an honor and a challenge. It was an honor because unfortunately for reasons that I have been trying to think of the last 40 years, UNZA graduates never write personal memoirs of what they experienced during their four years at UNZA. This is the first book that I have ever read that dwells on the personal lives and glimpses of the experiences we went through for thousands of us as graduates of University of Zambia since 1969. This is a good time for all UNZA graduates to begin writing our personal experiences about the transformative experiences while students at University of Zambia. No one else will write our personal history. How will our children and grandchildren know how our lives were like as young people growing up at UNZA?
Writing the review was a challenge because I have numerous deep memories of UNZA as the vast majority of us lived through this unique institution during our formative years of what was to be the poetry of our lives. We experienced academic challenges although we were the cream of our nation. I still remember getting the first and only worst humiliating grade of D in my whole academic career on a paper during the very first week as a fresher in 1972. The list of “UNZA Terminologies” in the book reflects that “Mojos” and “Mommas” have remained the same. But there are some new terminologies that reflect change as every UNZA student goes through being a “fresher” to graduation 4 years later.
The four chapters in the book “The Uno Of Uni’s” “Becoming” “Uproars” and “The Contribution” describe when the UNZA student is a “fresher” and the challenges of adjustment. The love lives of the campus mojos and mommas is a staple of the book. One chapter addresses the tumultuous years of student campus politics, unrest, and demonstrations. The central role of UNZASU students union is mentioned which may be the most powerful students union of all the higher institutions in Zambia including the 17 universities in Zambia today. The book also does address the reality that many prominent leaders in Zambia went through UNZA including President Mwanawasa and President Lungu.
This book is a brief narrow window that invokes nostalgia about the good old days at UNZA but also describes the contemporary challenges that the UNZA students might be facing when UNZA had an enrollment of only 1500 (Fifteen Hundred) in 1972 to (Thirty Thousand) 30,000 today in 2019. It is a book of tribute to bittersweet memories from the soul that I hope both UNZA graduates, non-UNZA graduates, and others in the Zambian public will enjoy.
Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.
Professor of Sociology
University of Zambia 1972-1976.
I have a confession as well as frustration. I wonder if I am the only Zambian intellectual today my age (in the 60s) who has this perspective. When I went to UNZA in my first year in 1972, when I was learning everything in my courses and classes which was a Eurocentric epistemology masquerading as pure objective scientific knowledge, I always had a parallel perspective which I felt at the time and still today as an equally valid and legitimate perspective. For example, when I was introduced to Freudian Psychology that makes sweeping assumptions about monogamous marriage or true loving marriage as only between one man and one woman, I was asking questions in my mind during the lecture about how I could understand and analyze my grandfather who had 3 wives in my village while I was growing up. My experience was that many other male and females relatives were happy in polygamous or polygynous unions. Why was their epistemology invalid? I would ask.
Perspectives about the nature of our intellectual and scholarly pursuits are troubling to day for these same reasons.
What troubles me is that many of us Zambian intellectuals still are convinced that our scholarly research and agenda is objective and we are contributing to and advancing objective universal knowledge so long as we apply the scientific method. But most of this knowledge is economic, financially, and politically driven that both drives and reinforces Eurocentric epistemology that started in the 1600s when Europeans began to dominate and colonize the world. This domination continues to this day. The outcome is what is called white privilege today. We can’t seem to realize that there is a whole lot of indigenous valid and legitimate Zambian and African epistemology that might predate Jesus, Mohammed, the Greek Civilization (which was for only 300 years) and especially European influence which may have reached its peak from the 1700s to about 1950.
The irony of all this is that the knowledge that we as Zambians can use to uncover new epistemologies is embedded in our indigenous languages and history in the deepest sense; Chewa, Bemba, Lozi, Tonga, Zulu, Shona. It appears we will never recover this epistemology because many of us who have Ph. Ds. today may believe that English and many of the foreign languages we may have gotten our Ph. Ds. in are superior to our indigenous languages. I have witnessed the power of our indigenous languages in epistemology with some of the work I have done including my article “Beautiful Women in African Societies”. This crucial role of the Zambian thinker being embedded in indigenous culture and language is dramatically illustrated in Dr. Chisanga Nebat Siame’s work including especially “Katunkumene and Ancient Egypt in Africa”. He was able to do his work effectively because his knowledge is embedded in the deepest aspect of Bemba culture and at the same time deep knowledge of English.
My dream is that may be one day soon 10 Zambians including myself will have spent a whole year reading and immersing ourselves in everything we could get our hands on about Zambian and African indigenous knowledge and philosophy. Then we would all meet in Zambia at a remote location like the new Mwizenge Village. We then would have real or genuine philosophical discourses for one week undisturbed addressing; philosophy, astronomy, physics, math, healing and medicine, political science, history, culture, music, dance. We may even create some new disciplines. I am not sure this can even happen in my lifetime. This is the dream I have had since 1972.
One last and frustrating thing I have discovered: there are African Americans who have done tremendous research and are highly acclaimed in Black, African or Afrocentric scholarship. But I feel a certain sadness because they will never be able to comprehend and be in a position to defend the deeper aspects of African epistemology until they become truly embedded in Zambian or African culture. This creates tremendous challenges in their effort to debunk the hegemonic Eurocentric myths that masquerade as the only real and objective knowledge.
The double-edged paradoxical sword Eurocentric epistemology wields is that it claims to advance neutral and objective knowledge and scholarship while it simultaneously denigrates, apartheidizes, divides, continues to racialize, denies, minimizes, trivializes, shames, and demonizes indigenous African culture and its people. The same challenges also apply to the contemporary Zambian or African intellectual who has a Ph. D.
In other words, you cannot seriously conduct meaningful Zambian scholarship when the hegemonic Eurocentrism dominates. Eurocentrists continue to breathe down your neck while always demonizing Africans in the name of the seductive objective critical analysis, so-called scholarship, speaking to power, fighting rampant disease, patriarchal oppression of women, poverty reduction, and Zambian society that is consistently and wrongly always portrayed as never being fully democratic. The list of failures of Zambia since 1964 is often endless in much of this Eurocentric scholarship.
Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.
Professor of Sociology
- *In Memory of Vespers Shimuzhila*
It was dark and I was asleep in my room in Africa 5 Room 26. An irritating smell woke me up from my deep sleep. I looked at the clock. It was 4 hours. My roommate also woke up. The pungent smell got stronger. My nose, lungs and my eyes were irritated. I opened the balcony door to find out the source of the pungent smell. Other students were also on their balconies of the 4 floors of Kwacha Hall next to Africa Hall. They were shouting asking what was happening.
“It’s tear gas!!” someone yelled.
“The mobile police guards just outside the wall must have tossed tear gas over the wall!!!” another student shouted. “Bafi……….“ the student shouted to the mobile police an insult in Bemba.
Remembering scenes from TV when crowds riot in streets and police toss tear gas, I immediately told my roommate to close all windows and the balcony door. I have mild asthma. I rushed to the bathroom. I run some cold water from the tap. I rinsed my irritated eyes, face and my nose. I went back to my room and sealed the bottom of the front door with a wet bathing towel in case heavier and more tear gas was going to seep into the room. After a while, we could not see any more plumes of tear gas
over the balcony.
This was at University of Zambia in February 1976. We had been demonstrating on campus and holding sporadic boycotting of classes for a week. The previous afternoon, the mobile police were deployed to campus to quell some physical altercations and incidents between demonstrating students. At one point the platoon of mobile police with their guns were advancing toward International and President Halls of residence in coordinated military advance attack formation. We students recognized the formation because we had all been to National Service training. Suddenly the platoon was given orders to back off.
That night armed mobile police guards surrounded the entire campus. No student or anyone could enter or leave campus. The government announced early the next morning that the University of Zambia was closed due to student unrest. We later concluded that the tear gas incident must have been a rogue act of a bored lone mobile police guard who wanted to punish we comfortably sleeping students by throwing probably one tear gas canister over the wall behind Africa Hall. No other students on campus had such a tear gas experience that night.
When Two UNZA Students Died.
One Sunday morning at the University of Zambia campus in 1975, news spread like wild fire that a female student in Zambezi Hall had suddenly died in her sleep. The cause of her death was not known. The University administration and UNZASU organized for her body to be driven to her Luanshya hometown for the funeral and burial. About 50 students including myself volunteered to go to the funeral in the large UNZA bus.
About 20 kms from Luanshya the bus pulled over to the side of the road. We all went into the bush to collect firewood which would be part of our contribution to the funeral wake. We hoisted the firewood on top of the bus.
When we arrived and pulled to the house of the deceased student’s parents, the modest small house yard was full of mourners; many already cooking and setting up fires. I will never forget the haggard look of the student’s mother. She was wailing in a voiceless hoarse voice once she saw us walking out of the UNZA bus one by one. She was wearing a black duku around her head, a black dress, and a chitenje.
“Abanankwe nabesa!!! (Her friends have come!!) she wailed flaying and throwing up her arms helplessly. The sad image of her desperate grief stricken mother with a hoarse voice has been seared in my memory. The following day at the burial, Chitundu Soko, UNZASU President delivered a moving eulogy on behalf of the student body.
A few months before a 4th year student was to graduate in 1976, news spread on Sunday morning on campus that the male student had been killed in a car accident in Chelston township. I had seen and said hello to that same student in the lower campus Dining Hall during supper that previous Thursday. The UNZA community was plunged in sorrow. About 40 students volunteered to go to the funeral and burial in a remote village 770 Kms from Lusaka. This was in the South Eastern part of Lundazi district in the Eastern Province toward Chief Mwase. In those days communication of urgent news about deaths was either by ZNBC radio or by telegram. There were not cell phones. We didn’t know if the relatives in the village in this remote part of Zambia would receive the tragic news before we got there with the student’s body.
We travelled all night. We arrived at the village at sunrise about seven hours. A young ten years old boy took the tragic news particularly bad. He was hyperventilating as mourning descended on the entire village. The burial was at 4:00 pm. Immediately after burial, we drove all night back to Lusaka.
The death of any UNZA student is a tragic loss for the student who suddenly will miss all of life’s future possibilities. It is a huge loss to the family that invests so much hope in their daughter or son. This is why I would like to express my deep condolences to the Vespers Shimuzhila family, the UNZA community, and Zambia as a nation. This is why I pray that her death will not have been in vain. UNZA students, the community, the government, and all of us as a nation should come together. We should agree to take measures that will ensure that a tragedy like this death never ever happens at University of Zambia again.
Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.
Professor of Sociology
Late in the afternoon as the sun was about to set, two exhausted dogs with small bloody scratches all over their faces, and still breathing very rapidly with their tongues hanging out emerged out of the bush into the village. They immediately propped down in the shade. More dogs came emerging out of the bush. The men’s voices could be barely be heard at first. Then their deep loud voices got louder as they came closer to the village. The men each slowly emerged from the bush into the village.
Each of all the men was carrying one animal or more on their shoulders; cousin Kanthaulo was carrying 2 kalulu (hares or rabbits), cousin Njenje was carrying 2 sezi, my grandfather Mchawa was carrying nyiska or insa or a duiker on his shoulder. Men were carrying 5 tungwa, 3 insa, many sezi, many tondo (big mouse), ngulube (wild pig), gazelle, mnjiri (warthog), some birds including a nkhanga (guinea fowl), and many small animals I did not recognize.
The men assembled at the mphala or insaka lifting off their shoulders their kills.
We the boys including my cousins excitedly followed the men to the mphala. As they put down their kills, they told us to get many broad masuku leaves from the bush nearby. These were laid down covering the ground on which the animals were going be skinned. The men made 6 fires. Our biggest job as young boys was to help the men skin the animals. We were asked to hold the leg here, pull the leg away or closer as the me sliced their skins away using sharpened knives. Axes were used to break the bones.
“Mwizenge!” Asibweni (uncle) Gowokani said. “Hold the leg over here”. He
continued to slice some pieces of meat.
“Put these 2 pieces of meat on the fire. This one is yours and this one is mine. Keep an eye on them as they cook so they don’t burn. Once they are done, we will eat them.” The men tossed some of the meats and bones to the dogs that were attracted to the smell of the meats as the dogs were lurking and waiting on the edge the mphala as they sniffed around.
Once I finished helping Uncle Gowokani, Agogo (grandfather) Mchawa called me for help. He also put 2 pieces of meat on his fire; one for me and one for him. The men were talking and laughing about the hunt and teasing each other about the various incidents and adventures during the long day hunt. They said that was a long trip deep into the utter remote wilderness down in Chizingizi area. They said there were so many animals there since virtually no humans lived there all the way down to the Luangwa River.
“Mwizenge,” Uncle Mzimphu called. “Take this plate of meat to your Apongozi (aunt) aNyaMchulu. Tell her to cook this ndiyo (relish) for nshima tonight. Wendeske!! (hurry up).”
Holding and carrying the plate of meat carefully, I hurried to aunt NyamMchulu. Like all the women had done that day, she was ready. The fire was burning, the pot was clean and ready to cook the special meal. I run back while taking small bites an savoring the roasted meat I had skillfully carried with me in the corner of my hand from the mphala.
That evening, my cousins and all the young boys were running, hurrying excitedly, crisscrossing the village in the evening
darkness delivering fresh meat to all the women of the village who cooked the meat immediately. They young girls were also learning from their mothers, grandmothers, and other adult women how to prepare and cook the meats depending on the type of animal.
Later that evening over 20 nshimas arrived at the mphala with different types of delicious ndiyo (relishes) of different types of wild animal meats. The men gave us 5 nshimas with relishes or ndiyos for us 10 boys to eat. Some of the meats were fresh roasted from our own fires from the mphala. Everyone in the whole village that night, men, women and children ate nshima with delicious meats. It was a memorable feast that I have never forgotten and will never forget for the rest of my life.
Since all the fresh meats and food get bad in two days if they are not eaten in the village, the following day the men did something special. They built small raised racks from small branches from trees. They sliced the rest of the wild meats. They built fires under the small racks. They salted and dried the meats over the fire for 2 days. Once they were dried the meats were stored away to be cooked in the months to follow.
The last chisokole hunt has been memorable for me and I remember it with great nostalgia as if it happened yesterday. The following year, I couldn’t go as my grandmother NyaMwaza had promised because I went to school for Sub A or Grade one at Boyole Primary School. School was the beginning of Westernization or Europeanization that took me away and forbade me from participating in my precious African culture. Today I ask why is that type of hunting being regarded as primitive? Why was Western culture imposed at the expense of or obliterating my Zambian or African culture? Some will argue that Western technology and education taught me how to read and write, speak English, to be civilized, saved me from dying from malaria, whooping cough, typhoid fever, small pox, and other deadly childhood diseases. Should really the price of this have been obliterating my or our Zambian and African culture?
**If you loved this story, this author published “The Bridge” a highly acclaimed romantic thriller novel in 2005 that reflects deep aspects of our Zambian culture. The Ministry of Education Curriculum Development CDC) in April 2015 approved or accepted the book to be used as a supplementary reader for grades 10 – 12 in the Zambian Secondary School Literature syllabus. An application was filed with the Zambia Examinations Council for the book to be adopted by Secondary School in June 2016. Please kindly contact Zambia Examinations Council to urge them to adopt the book.
Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.
Professor of Sociology
I woke up from my grandmother and grandfather’s house rubbing my eyes and emerged out of the door. The October early morning long bright sunrays were shining between the village thatched houses hitting the bare brown ground, dry grass and the naked trees against a clear blue sky. Suddenly two dogs chasing each other zipped past me. Another dog was chasing chickens that scattered away. Two other dogs were chasing goats. I heard the deep loud raised voices, noises, and commotion of many men from the direction of the village mphala or insaka shouting calling the dogs “to stop!!!”
My heart was suddenly beating fast with excitement when I realized what was happening. I ran to Grandmother NyaMwaza who was already up and sitting with her legs stretched out by the small thatched kitchen hut with her bare back basking toward the early morning soft sun rays.
“Agogo! Agogo! (Grandma, Grandma) I want to go to chisokole – hunt with the men!!”
“Yayi (No)” grandma replied.
“But I can walk long distances in the hot sun without drinking water, carry an axe or spear for grandfather. I will listen. I will obey the adults!! Agogo nabeya (please) can I go?”
“No, you cannot go. Ndiwe mdoko kuchisokole (you are too young to go on the hunt)’ my grandmother NyaMwanza replied emphatically.
I collapsed to the ground wailing. I rolled on the ground many times kicking the sand with my legs raising dust while crying as loud as I could: “Agogo!! I want to go to chisokole w-e-e-e!!!!” I cried as I hyperventilated laying on the sand. This was in 1960 at Chipewa Village in Lundazi district of the Eastern Province of Zambia in Southern Africa and I was 6 years old.
Grandmother NyaMwaza gently picked me up by my arm as I stood up still crying and sobbing.
“Mwizenge, mwana wane (my child)” my grandmother said softly. “Chetama, chetama (stop crying)”
“You are too young to go to chisokole hunt,” she said as she wiped my tears and the sand from my face.
“What about cousin Kathaulo and Njenje, they are going!”
“They are older than you. They are not nthanga yako (your age mates). “In fact your cousins Jemusi and Sokoyala who are your age mates are not going either.”
“They are not going?” I said looking at my grandmother with both surprise and relief.
“Mwizenge, may be next year when you are older you will be able to go. Chisokole is dangerous for younger boys.”
I was dejected and disappointed but felt better. At least I was not the only one of the boys not going on the exciting chisokole.
Early that morning the men had cooked some porridge with herbs from secret special tree roots. Once the dogs had eaten the munkhwala (medicine) porridge, they were so excited and ready for the hunt. That’s why the dogs were excited and chasing chickens and goats because they were ready for the hunt. The men had delayed leaving for chisokole hunt.
My Grandfather Mchawa and all the men of the village assembled at the mphala or insaka. They had their sharpened spears, axes, knives, and arrow heads. They carried their bows, arrows and nthonga (knobkerries).
I had heard from the men growing up that the way they hunted is the men lined up abreast in a long line. They shouted, yelled, and beat the bushes as they all advanced forward through the bushes at an equal pace within sight of each other. No one was to lag behind and go too far forward. The noises spooked animals that would bound out running away from their hiding places. The hunters would then carefully use their weapons in front or behind them to kill the animals. This is why it was prohibited to go too far forward or lag far behind. Because either way you could be speared accidentally during the intense swift chaotic noisy split second decisions.
The men all took long last big swigs of fresh drinking water in case they were not going to find any drinking water during the long all day hunt in seething October heat. The men whistled and shouted for the more than 15 dogs which were frantically still running around chasing goats with their tongues hanging out. The men lined up abreast in a long line along the western side of the village. They were shouting, laughing, and yelling as some were whistling while calling the names of the many dogs. The dogs disappeared first into the bush ahead of the men. Then the men followed and disappeared into the bush. The chisokole hunt had started.
My grandmother NyaMwaza, all the women of the village, and my cousins were all day anxiously preparing waiting for the men’s return from the chisokole.
***If you loved this story, this author published “The Bridge” a highly acclaimed romantic thriller novel in 2005 that reflects deep aspects of our Zambian culture. The Ministry of Education Curriculum Development CDC) in April 2015 approved or accepted the book to be used as a supplementary reader for grades 10 – 12 in the Zambian Secondary School Literature syllabus. An application was filed with the Zambia Examinations Council for the book to be adopted by Secondary School in June 2016. Please kindly contact Zambia Examinations Council to urge them to adopt the book.
Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D
Professor of Sociology
One chilly June morning when I was in Grade 7 at Tamanda Boys Boarding Upper Primary School in 1966 in rural Chipata in the Eastern Province of Zambia, the Headmaster Mr. Phiri digressed from teaching English, and asked the class of 30 students what we wanted to be after completing Grade 7. My classmates and I looked at each other blankly in stunned silence. What could kids in a rural African village school dream about after finishing only Grade Seven? Then Mr. Phiri gave us this spontaneous talk that I will never forget for the rest of my life.
“What’s the matter with you!” he raised his voice his eyes slowly surveying the classroom and then he said almost whispering:
“You are young. The future for all of you is wide open. Our country just got its independence 2 years ago. We will need doctors to cure disease, pilots to fly planes, locomotive drivers to run trains, bankers, teachers, surveyors, architects to design homes, engineers. Any of you could even go to college and even to the new University of Zambia! You could get one or two degrees and become professors. You need to know not just about our school, our chief, your village, or our country, but about the world. Did you know that as we speak in the classroom now, on the other side of the world in Japan its midnight and people are asleep?”
I smiled and looked around at my classmates. That was it! That was fascinating and very inspiring for me as a kid who had only known about herding goats in the village at this point. My imagination was ignited and a seed was planted. I began to dream night and day about may be being a bus driver, doctor, policeman, or train driver. May be even going to University of Zambia if I worked hard. The previous year in 1965, our imagination as students had been instigated when our Headmaster announced that our government of Zambia was raising funds all over the country to build the first national University of Zambia. This would be the highest educational institution in the land where students would obtain degrees. Every child in our
school donated ten ngwee or ten cents toward the national project.
School Holidays in Lusaka
My uncle and aunt invited me while I was attending Chizongwe Secondary School to spend the August 1969 school holidays at their home. I was a curious rural boy thrilled with Lusaka City life staying ku Mayadi or middle class neighborhood in Northmead. One morning I got on a sports bike and wanted to see the University of Zambia. I rode the bike to near the
Zambian National Assembly building.
Lusaka then was known as the Garden City because of its bungalows and marvelous wide front yards and lawns. There were no walls surrounding houses. So you could see the beautiful front yards of all homes with flower gardens, their broad living room glass windows and colorful curtains. Then I rode my bicycle on a bush path through what is now Arcade Mall or East Park Mall to UNZA. I emerged from the bush path to see Africa Hall and Kwacha Hall but President and International Halls were still incomplete. There were cranes and loud construction sounds everywhere. I stood by my bike and stared in wonderment at the new University of Zambia being built with the administration building and the Library in the far distance. I was in Form three or Grade 9. I was in awe to be and see the University of Zambia; the seat of knowledge. I wondered what it would take for anyone to be at University of Zambia. I retreated and returned to Northmead.
Form V and Chizongwe Secondary school
One day while I was in Form V or Grade 12 at Chizongwe Secondary School in 1971 when we heard news that UNZA students had marched and demonstrated against apartheid along Freedom Way down town Lusaka. Something went wrong as police threw teargas, there was pandemonium, and students scattered as they run through Cairo Road through plumes of tear gas as police chased them. One former Chizongwe Secondary School graduate who was a student at University of Zambia sent a copy of the UNZA student newspaper the UZ Spokesman to a friend in Aggrey House Senior section. We all congregated to read and have a glimpse of the students’ views of what had happened in the student protest. The UZ Spokesman made a tremendous
impression on me; the notion that students could publish a paper that was right in the middle of national politics.
I had no idea that six months later in May of 1972 I would be a freshman or first year student at the University of Zambia. It was a thrill of my life and that of my whole family. Beyond the best University education I obtained at University of Zambia, I have made one conclusion after 46 years of observations of many University college newspapers both at UNZA and especially abroad in western universities: the UNZA student papers represented the best and purest form of freedom of expression because of three reasons.
Freedom of Expression
First, the student newspapers UZ Spokesman, later TRUNZA, and In-a-Hurry (which I had co-founded with Dr. Vincent Musakanya) reflected the free, direct, true and unvarnished student expression. This expression was unrestrained by censorship, libel or sedition laws where students could be sued and jailed because of what they had published offended someone. Once four TRUNZA editorial board members were tried in court for sedition and acquitted.
Second, the capital for publishing the student papers was so low that it enhanced student expression. The papers were sold at 3ngwee each. Students used cheap stencils and duplicated the newspapers on regular cheap print paper. The UNZA student papers were not imitating the Times of Zambia or the Zambia Daily Mail which were very expensive or costly to publish.
Thirdly, the total freedom of expression meant that vulgarity and insults were sometimes common. However, in the early years of UZ Spokesman vulgarity did not exist. But vulgarity and fierce extreme political opinions became the staple of TRUNZA. Other student papers including our own In-a-Hurry were conservative. Censorship was very limited as both men (mojo) and women (momma) students were often given equal opportunities to insult each other. But one of the best and perhaps tragically ignored aspects about the UNZA student papers is that they reflected some of the best writing in Humanities and the Social Sciences. We were the cream of the nation assembled in one institution. Some of the most creative, humorous, unique intellectual expression, analysis and political commentary were in those student papers including very inspiring poetry. I have never encountered such freedom of expression and creativity in student newspapers in the few Western Universities I have observed over the last 46 years.
Archive all UNZA Student Papers
There is often a misguided notion even among some UNZA former students and may be even the Zambian political leadership and the public that those papers were childish, rubbish or the useless product of children playing in the sandbox. I strongly disagree. What I urge is for the University of Zambia to immediately collect, bind, scan, and digitize all those UNZA student papers starting from 1969. These student papers include UZ Spokesman, In-a-Hurry, TRUNZA, IN and OUT and others. I know where these student newspapers are located in the basement of the University of Zambia Library when I was last in the basement in the 1980s. Deeply buried in those publications are a treasure trove of very significant history of unique knowledge and human creativity that you will not find from students from other Universities in the world.
Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D
Professor of Sociology
Johann Hari, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions, New York: Bloomsbury, 2018, 321 pp. K280.00 ($28.00), Hardcover.
In 2008 I got a frantic call from a close Zambian friend who lives in Chicago with his wife and two children in a typical middle class neighborhood. His 19 year old son was attending college and went to a party near campus with a group of friends. During a race-related fracas at the party, his son was severely beaten and had to be taken to hospital. Once out of the hospital, the son was back home and deeply depressed. His depression was so severe that he would be in bed all day and not come out of his bedroom. He would not eat much.
Taking anti-depressants was not helping. Did I have any suggestions?
I advised my friend that they should immediately fly back home to Zambia in Africa. I gave them the name and cell phone number of the reputable traditional healer who lives in the Chawama compound South of Zambia’s Capital City of Lusaka. The wife boarded the plane for Zambia with their son. As soon as they landed at the Lusaka Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, they booked a taxi and headed straight to the traditional healers’ house. This was an urgent matter and there was no time to waste.
The traditional healer prescribed several types of treatment for the depression which included a pile of roots. These were to be soaked in water. The mother was to use the herb from the soaked roots to boil a thin maize or corn meal porridge. Her son had to drink this porridge 3 times a day for 3 months. She and her son soon after travelled north of the country to the Copper belt where they stayed with close relatives and other extended family members as he underwent treatment. During the process her son was able to eat delicious nshima meals with good ndiyo, umunani or relishes which the whole family ate together three times per day as is the traditional Zambian meal eating custom. Her son laughed, joked, played, and talked every day in the Zambian language with his aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins, and many others. He shared bedrooms with his cousins. After a month, they returned to Illinois where her son continued to cook and drink the herbal porridge for another month.
How did I know this traditional healer might be able to treat the son’s deep depression? It is because my own son eight years earlier had dropped out of college as a sophomore because of depression. Counselling and other therapy did not work. The antidepressants had such horrendous so-called side effects that my son exhibited suicidal thoughts. That’s when I urgently had also flown to Zambia to the same traditional healer in Lusaka. I went beyond that to the village where my son consulted another traditional healer. Is my argument that Western doctors and the powerful pharmaceutical antidepressant drugs don’t work for treating depression? Am I advocating that every reader who has depression board a plane and head to Lusaka Zambia or to any African country from Cairo to Cape Town? How is this related to the book “Lost Connections”?
I have personally experienced some depression. I have seen it in close family members the last 58 years since I was a child growing up in Zambia in the 1950s. I saw and have seen how depression was treated in traditional Zambia. I am keenly aware that depression is a rampart and destructive of lives both young and old in contemporary America and in societies in general. After reading all the 321 pages in Johann Hari, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions, I was able to more explicitly realize the connections between the dots about depression that I could see in both my personal and academic life that I was suddenly able to see and make the connections.
Three ways to Read
There are three possible ways to read and look at the proposed approach to causes and solutions to curing depression proposed in this book. First, you could entirely avoid reading the book because you might think it is too long. Instead you could read small tidbits of reviews, a few hundred-word short critical commentaries that either praise or
criticize the ideas in the book. Second, you could read it for theoretical knowledge so you can use it as ammunition in academic discourse which often mimics combat. Third, you could read it with serious urgency because depression and anxiety are so wide spread in our society you may be trying to be part of the search for serious solutions. I decided I want to read both for knowledge but also to determine if I might be able to draw from my traditional Zambian and African experiences in order to be part of finding some long term real treatment and solutions. What Western societies are doing right now in their approach to causes and treatment of depression may not be working.
Summary of Lost Connections
The American author of the book Lost Connections battled depression from a very young age when he was a teenager using antidepressants which never worked. But he endured horrendous side effects from the antidepressants while being convinced they were beneficial in curing his depression. He did not know it at the time that the antidepressants were not working. The 22 chapters of the book of 321 pages are divided into 3 distinctive parts. Part I is “The Crack of the Old Story” which are very significant first 55 pages of the book. He exposes and debunks the myth that has been very deeply embedded in us that science and drugs that are promoted and believed to fix our brains when we have depression have not only all been mistaken but may be lies to put it plainly. Drug companies may be very complicit in continuing to perpetuate this lie.
“People are told that drugs like antidepressants restore a natural balance to your brain, she said, but it’s not true – they create an artificial state. The whole idea of mental distress being caused simply by a chemical imbalance in “a myth” she has come to believe, sold to us by the drug companies.” (p.30)
Part II of the book addresses in detail the “Nine Causes of Depression and Anxiety” which are said to have caused serious and harmful disconnection among humans in contemporary society. The causes include: Meaningful Work, Disconnection from other
people, lack of Meaningful Values, Childhood Trauma, Disconnection from the Natural World, the Role of Genes and Brain Changes.
Part III of the book explores “Reconnection. Or, a Different Kind of Antidepressant” which includes such topics as Reconnection to Meaningful Work, Meaningful Values, and Reconnecting to Other People.
Significance of Lost Connections
Each reader will encounter perhaps many significant ideas about depression in “Lost Connections” that they may agree or disagree with. But what I found most gratifying was Hari’s statement which reaffirms my own preexisting beliefs and convictions all along which I first expressed in my opposition to some of the earlier methods of research and controversy about the HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. A man is walking long a dark street and loses his keys and begins to look for them. Another person notices that the man was looking for his keys not in the part of the street where he might have lost the keys. When the man who lost the keys was asked why he was looking for his keys not where he might have lost them fifty yards away, the man replied: “Because this is where there is a street light”. That man was never going to find his lost keys.
Reaffirming the validity of the lost key analogy, about depression Hari says: “Because we have been framing the problem incorrectly, we have been finding flawed solutions. If this is primarily a brain problem, it makes sense to look for answers primarily in the brain. But if this is to a more significant degree a problem with how we live, we need to look primarily for answers out here in our lives……It seemed clear that if disconnection is the main driver for our depression and anxiety, we need to find ways to reconnect.” (p.161)
Savanna Zambia and Africa
This author realized that Hari’s advocating reconnections brings contemporary modern society full circle to the significance of life in the African Savannah village from where all humans evolved and migrated perhaps forty thousand years ago. I characterized the deep human connections reflected in the traditional Zambian and African village as: “Heaven on Earth” in my book Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture.(p. 21-23). In order to find lasting cure to depression employing the holistic approach may require humans to adopt the African Savannah lifestyle we may have abandoned perhaps about ten thousand years ago.
Discussing why loneliness may cause depression and anxiety, Hari says: “Human beings first evolved on the savannas of Africa, where we lived in small hunter-gatherer tribes of a few hundred people or less. You and I exist for one reason- because those humans figured out how to cooperate.”(p.77)
What is most appealing and meaningful about the ideas in this book are its holistic and historical approach. Several times in the book he mentions that all of us 7.7 billion people came from the open Savanna in Africa. Could rampant depression be related to virtually everyone reading this evolving from the open Savanna may be forty thousand years ago but now living in what might be cages in isolated houses, offices, factories, hostile and alienating work places, the internet virtual world, tiny apartments or flats while being
increasingly disconnected from other humans?
Some social scientists conducted research all over the world to find out what physical environment people have a liking for. “What they found is that everywhere, no matter how different their culture, people had a preference for landscapes that look like the Savannas in Africa. There is something about it, they conclude, that seems to be innate.” (p.129) The premises and references to the Savannas in Africa in the book validated why I have a deep love, fondness, and even a spiritual connection to the Savanna wilderness I am fortunate and blessed to have grown up in 58 years ago. This book provides credible causes and possible solutions to depression but the challenges of adopting those solutions are daunting. But he provides some optimistic recommendations and encouragement at the end.
Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.
Professor of Sociology
President Kaunda should see the Black Panther. All the founders of Zambia whether they have passed away or are still living should watch the Black Panther; Simon Kapwepwe, Reuben Kamanga, Peter Matoka, Grey Zulu, Munukayumbwa Sipalo, Julia Chikamoneka, Chibesa Kankasa, Madeline Robertson, Chieftainess Mulenje Nkomeshya; just to mention a few of our founding ancestral fathers and mothers.
Sir Abubaka Tafawa Balewa, the first Prime Minister of Independent Nigeria in 1960 should see Black Panther. Namdi Azikiwe the first President of independent Nigeria should watch the movie.
Nelson Mandela the first President of independent South Africa, Jomo Kenyatta first Prime Mister of independent Kenya, Kwame Nkrumah the first Prime Minister of Ghana, Chief Albert Luthuli, the Rev. martin Luther King, Malcolm X, should see the Black Panther.
My Grade 7 teacher Mr. Elisa Phiri at Tamanda Mission Boys Boarding School in 1966 should watch the movie. Every Friday afternoon he gave the whole remote rural school the weekly current affairs lecture about the new Independent African countries and their new Prime Ministers. Every Zambian, African, the whole world should watch the Black Panther for the African cultural unity the movie finally unveils is what everyone has been yearning and longing for. I will try my best not to have any spoilers in case you have not watched the movie. If you have not watched the movie yet, stop reading right now. I have watched the movie a gazillion times including 3 D version.
First Reason I Cried
The first reason why I cried when I watch the Black Panther is when the characters say: “We are home!” “It never gets old.” I have lived on and off in the diaspora for more than 40 years. Flying back home to Zambia has always been my going back to my Wakanda. It will never get old. I had been away from Zambia for 3 years studying for my Masters degree when I first flew back to Zambia in 1980. I flew on the TWA 747 jumbo jet from New York to London Heathrow. I had not
spoken my Tumbuka mother tongue, Lusaka Nyanja, or heard Bemba, Lozi, Tonga, or seen other ordinary Zambians for 3 years. I didn’t realize my soul was starved for home until I boarded at London-Heathrow the massive Zambia Airways DC 10 plane with its beautiful Zambian flag colors on the outside. When I entered the cabin, the latest Zambia music was playing on the intercom. I saw Zambian young men and women pilots, and especially stewardesses who were going about the cabin speaking in sweet Lusaka Nyanja dialect mixed with English and Bemba. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. At that moment I felt like screaming and jumping up and down and hugging them: “I am hoooooome!!! Nafika Mu Lusakaaaa!!!(I am in Lusaka!!!)” I had to retrain myself because I knew I would have been ejected off the plane for being mentally unstable or for gross public misconduct. My ecstatic warm feelings happened again when ten hours later the massive DC 10 jumbo’s wheels kissed the tarmac at the then Lusaka International Airport during early March morning. “I was home!!!”
Second Reason I Cried
The second reason I cried is when what I have known intuitively having grown up in the village and through reading that we as Africans were never inferior as portrayed by Europeans since the Industrial Revolution and colonization of the entire continent from 1600 to 1960. The unity of the African peoples of the continent and those of the African diaspora powerfully reflected in the Black Power movie triggered in me about our proud majestic history of Africa and Africans as the origin of the entire human civilization.
If your understanding of our African history is from the Eurocentric history that starts from the 1600s with Europeans sailing and exploring the coastal areas of West Africa, you have the wrong history. If you believe that the Atlantic Slave Trade in which 11 million Africans were taken in chains between 1600 and 18000 and Europeans colonization of Africa from 1880 to 1960 was because Africans have always been an inferior people, you have the wrong history.
The more accurate history is that many groups of Africans called homo sapiens evolved from Savannah East Africa about two hundred thousand years ago. They migrated through present day Saudi Arabia through India, Andaman Islands, to the Far East including Islands in the South Pacific, Australia, and New Guinea. The same Africans may have lived in North Africa, Southern Europe, the Middle East and some may have migrated by canoe from West Africa and settled in North and Southern America. This may have been thousands of years before what are known as the Dark Ages in European History (500-1500 AD), Spanish exploration (1492 – 1892), Portuguese exploration (1500-1600), and European voyages of exploration and colonialism around the world.
I discuss some of this information which is at the center of human evolution in Chapter 17 of my book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”. In other words all the 7 billion people today all over the world may be biologically descendants of Zambians and Africans starting from about two hundred thousand years ago. If this is the broad accurate history, why is it today that the history of Zambians and Africans is so distorted that nearly everyone generally denies, including Zambians and Africans ourselves, that Africans had any significant influence in history? That somehow Zambians and Africans are a black race that have always been colonized, inferior or were slaves? The Black Panther movie may help to reignite the tracing back of our proper and accurate history and reuniting of African people from North Africa in Libya and Cairo in Egypt to the Southern tip in Cape Town in South Africa; from the Horn of Africa in Djibouti to the Gambia and Cape Verde Islands in West Africa.
Third Reason I Cried was Kukaya
The villain dies grieving that his parents abandoned him and never took him back to Wakanda where the sunsets are beautiful. Many Zambians have enjoyed the beautiful sunsets in Zambia all their lives while experiencing genuine freedom. The freedom to walk anywhere with your chest high and an elegant spring in your step knowing that the ground you are walking on is yours and that of family and ancestors. I felt sorry for 40 million African Americans who are 12% of the United States population of 325 million people will never see and experience Africa like the fictitious Wakanda in its true beauty, of being Kukaya and enjoy true liberty and freedom. It is always painful to grow up to be told you’re a minority and to be forever in Ghetto stockades of the mind even if you are rich. There are other millions of Africans descendants in Brazil, the Caribbean, in Asia and Europe for whom the Black Panther will for the first time give them a glimpse of just the tip of the iceberg of the diversity of the beauty of what Wakanda and Africa can provide them. This is one of the reasons why I always take photographs of the beautiful sunsets whenever I am in Zambia. The beauty of the African sunsets is why the British Colonizer Cecil Rhodes from the 1800s is buried on Matopo Hills in Zimbabwe.
Fourth Reason I Cried – the Women
After Zambia’s independence from British colonialism in 1964, there was a serious cultural conflict among Zambians. Some young women began to adopt some Western cultural practices. Women began to use skin lighting creams on their faces such that their faces looked orange and the rest of their body was blue black. The men youth leaders from the United National Independence Party (UNIP) by 1965 roamed public places including markets identifying young women who were using skin lighting on their faces and publicly rebuked them. Zambians derisively called these women coca-cola and fanta as a way of critiquing their orange faces and while the rest of their bodied had dark skin.
Lupita Nyango (Nokiya in Black Panther) has fought a valiant battle. A British magazine had used her on their magazine cover. They lightened her dark skin and make her African kinky hair smooth to meet the European conceptions, standards, and stereotype of women’s beauty. Lupita protested and criticized them that they shouldn’t have altered her African looks. This was very courageous of her. The magazine apologized. I am so proud of her for standing for millions of black dark skinned women in Africa and the rest of the world who have been made to feel inferior and ashamed of how they look because of the Eurocentric wrong belief that white European features and skin are superior and African, ebony, and blue black skin are inferior.
In the Black Panther it was heartwarming to see on the big screen the full diversity of the beauty of our women and men that I was able to experience since I was a child in the village in Zambia. I have six beautiful sisters of various skin shades from brown to blue black skin tone. The full range of beauty from the women with the darkest blue black skin color to the chocolate brown.
None of these tones were in our African cultures were ever associated with inferiority and superiority of certain skin tones as being “white” or “light”. In fact in our African culture we refer to kufiyira (Chewa) uswesi (Tumbuka) or usweshi (Bemba) which have absolutely nothing to do with inferiority and superiority of while skin color as Europeans have erroneously made us to all believe. The Black Panther ought to liberate not just all African women but all blue black dark skinned lovely beautiful women who are Dalits and are the despised untouchables regarded by
society as the most vile people in the Caste system in India, Bangladesh, Andaman Islands, and elsewhere.
The Black Panther has given you permission to enjoy and walk with joy in the bright sunshine with elegance, dignity, and pride. You are beautiful. You are women who may have broad flat noses, full lips, kinky hair, sparkling smiles, and choose a bald head; you are beautifully elegant. Most of all, the Black Panther will liberate all men, and especially black heterosexual men, that if you are attracted to, loved and cherished any of the women who have dark blue-black skin, that it is alright for you to admire, cherish, and love them. We can finally breakthrough the racist and mental bondage of the myth of the racial superiority of the white European skin especially in women and dispel forever the myth of the inferiority of the blue black dark skin.
Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D
Professor of Sociology
Marita Banda, Telling It Like It is, Lusaka: National Arts Council, 2016, 62 pp. K116.00 ($12.00), Paperback.
My soul stirred with tinny flashes of excited anticipation when I saw the brown envelope from Zambia in my mail box with my hand written name on it. It was date stamped 18 July 2017. It was time to enjoy my primordial ritual of 43 years. I would wait until later in the evening at the right moment.
I cooked a small nshima with the special Zambian breakfast mealie-meal stored in the deep freezer. The nshima was so small that my Tumbuka mother would have mocked me that it was like kasima kamnkhwala; small nshima for medicinal purposes. But this same nshima has saved me from the ravages of high blood pressure because of the serious risks associated with obesity, being overweight or like we would say in Zambia: being too fat. I slowly ate the small nshima with delicious (from my back yard garden) mphangwe ya nyungu yotendela; fresh pumpkin leaves cooked with fresh self-pestle and mortar pounded
Another relish was the delicious American black eye peas cooked with no cooking oil but water boiled with curry powder and garlic just as my grandmother would have cooked the peas from home in Lundazi. I ate it slowly nicely kukonya each nthozi; molding each lump of nshima. Afterwards, I checked some email and watched some TV.
I took a good shower. I turned on my small side-bed table lamp which has a glowing soft light. I crawled into bed and finally opened the brown envelope. The rainbow beautiful colors of a butterfly softly flew on the cover of the book: “Telling It Like It Is” writings of Marita Banda. Glimpses of the contents of the small book were visible on the cover embedded under the lovely feminine font. I realized immediately that I was in for a treat; that’s what good books have done for me all my life.
Telling It Like It Is
“Telling It Like It Is” by Marita Banda is series of 29 poems. She had mentioned to me in July in 2016 when I saw her in Zambia that she was publishing a book of poems. But I have a confession that I am not embarrassed to make. When I was a wide eyed freshman at University of Zambia in 1972, I took E 110 – Introduction to English. We read as many as 25 books and wrote assignments about them. Some of the books made a very radical and deep impact on my young curious mind that was yearning for knowledge. Books such as the provocative “Autobiography of Malcolm X”, the novel “The Grass is Singing” by the Nobel Literature winner Doris Lessing, “Soul of Ice” by the radical Black American Eldridge Cleaver. I love prose. But I hated poetry. For a long I didn’t remember that we read in the class Senegalese President’s famous book: “Senghor Prose & Poetry” which I still have on my shelf.
Twenty five years later in 1997 after I had taken my E – 100 course at UNZA which I nearly failed, tumultuous events
compelled me to write my very first poem ever. I went on to write 30 more poems. I was born again poet. I am only making this confession to properly contextualize what I experienced first reading Marita Banda’s book. I never engage in this ritual for the hundreds of purely academic books that I have read. But I conduct this ritual that I reserve for a few selected books, like the one that I have just received, because they appeal to my soul.
During these moments of emotional drama, I am torn. Do I read all the 22 short poems on 60 pages may be in half an hour? And then what? Why should I be in a hurry? If you have a great vintage bottle wine, do you want to gulp it all at once? You want to sip a small glass everyday may be after dinner perhaps with your beloved. So I did what I have always done for very nourishing short sweet books: I have read a few pages every night enjoying the pre-reading ritual every night.
Gombeza and The Poems
So I first went to the poems 3, 4, and 5 which are titled: the Tumbuka language “Gombeza” – blanket. This is not just a blanket but it has a deeper meaning. Gombeza to me is the blanket I shared with my 2 cousins when I was sleeping in my grandparents’ house growing up in the village as a child. Gombeza then is not just a material item that you use at night to cover yourself when you are sleeping but has much deeper significance. Poems provide deeper meanings using a few carefully chosen pregnant words in a language. It is tempting to tell the reader what all the 29 poems are about but then what is the hurry? I haven’t read all these poems yet. Poem number 6: “There is a carnival in my garden”; Poem Number 10: “A Few stolen moments”; Poem 21: “The Man I Want to Meet”; now this ought to make all the single guys want to read the poem.
What I love about these poems is that they have the feel of a new genre: she employs several languages; English, but also some French, and some Tumbuka. I was able to enjoy the Gombeza poem in English and Tumbuka. But you can also enjoy it in French. The physical book itself has such a soothing feel that I would want to take it with me on a long plane, bus or train ride. May be I could sit under the tree shade and read the poems at the beautiful Goma Lakes sunset at UNZA or may be at Munda Wanga Botanical Gardens. I will read a few poems late every night before I go to bed. I don’t know what to anticipate. But I know it will be great.
Young Girls, Women, Boys and Men
If you are a young girl or a woman who wants to read something inspiring, this is the book. I like it that it is from Lusaka. If you teach poetry, you can use this book. May be after this I will write a few poems of my own because I am sure I will feel inspired. If you are a young boy, man or grown man, read “Telling It Like It Is” writings of Marita Banda; there is everything right with discovering and appreciating your feminine side. Feminism and the women’s liberation movement gave me that permission to enjoy my feminine side 30 years ago.
This lovely book of poems is available at East Park Mall next to University of Zambia (UNZA) at Grey Matter Bookstore next to the Arcade Mall in Lusaka the Capital City of Zambia.
Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.
Professor of Sociology
The hot day was seething with dry heat in the summer of Savannah Zambia in Southern Africa in August 1964. My father, mother, my brothers, and sisters were worried. There was tension, sadness and anxiety in our Tembo family of 9 children. For days we did not know whether we would see our second oldest 15 year old sister alive. We were a family of nine; 3 brothers and 6 sisters. For days there was news on the radio and many rumors that a religious war had broken out in our home district west of Lundazi including my mother and father’s Chipewa and Seleta villages. May be over a total of six hundred people in our two villages alone may have been burned in their grass thatched houses, killed, and massacred. Our sister Misozi (not her real name) at the time was attending Kanyanga Catholic Mission Boarding School which was right in the heart of the religious war. That school was about ten miles from our two villages. The tension was unbearable as we waited every day for what seemed
like days on end.
On that hot day in August that I will never forget; the glowing red sun was setting as the family was sitting in front of the house. Someone said: “I can see something coming up the road; there is someone”. We all saw a small figure bop its head up and down on the Western horizon from Chipata-Lundazi Road coming toward our house. As the lone figure drew nearer, we the children screamed first:
“It’s sister Misozi!!!” as we ran to greet her and hold her hands. She looked haggard and had a weary smile on her face.
Misozi was ragged, her face unwashed and her hair shaggy and dirty. She had not had a bath for days. She had dusty bare feet and had just walked 5 miles from the main road. She was only wearing a dress and a chitenje cloth draped over her small shoulders. She literally had only the clothes on her back. As a child the best part about my sister Misozi’s safe return was to see the utter joy and relief on my parent’s faces; their baby was alive. As a Zambian or African family, we quickly conducted the malonje greeting custom. This is when the host greets the guest and the guest gets to explain the details of the purpose of their visit. This is what the whole family heard from my older sister Misozi.
All the converts of the new Lumpa Church for weeks had gathered at Kamtola headquarters in the Northern Province near the town of Chinsali. They had decided they would kill all the non-believers in all the villages. The small clinic at the Kanyanga Catholic Boarding School for weeks was overwhelmed treating those wounded in the war who were brought in by the truck loads. Thousands had already been killed. As the war drew nearer to the school, the Northern Rhodesia British Colonial government sent 4 buses to the school with armed battalion soldiers to evacuate the school. My sister and her school mates hastily boarded the buses under heavily armed soldiers. Some soldiers rode inside the buses and some were located on top of
the roof tops of the buses. No student was allowed to bring anything besides what they were wearing. My sister tried to find her shoes in the dormitory. She was ordered at gunpoint to hurry out of the dorm.
Significance of Inferfaith Unity
This is a rather dramatic introduction to the topic of interfaith. This is a very vivid example of the extreme of what can happen when either interfaith does not happen or religious groups become intolerant. It need not always result in murder and violence. But it has happened in history, it is happening now, and it probably will happen in the future if people of different faiths do nothing in the presence escalating religious tensions, hostility, and violence. In this presentation, I want to discuss FOUR specific aspects of the positive aspects of living the interfaith mission in life. The first is family attitude, second, the attitude of community and the religious faith itself. Third, the policies of the government regarding the interfaith mission. Fourth and last I will answer the question: “Is the interfaith mission the solution to religious tensions, hostility and unfortunately violence?”
The Family and Interfaith Mission
Our attitudes about religious differences within our Zambian or African family may have been influenced by a long cherished social value that is taught and expected in all brides and grooms as they are about to get married. Older women advise the bride that if your husband likes a particular food that you yourself might dislike or might not care for, cook that food very carefully and serve that food to your husband with respect and joy. In the same way, older men advise grooms that if your wife likes a particular food even if you dislike the food yourself or might even hate it, get it for her. Give that food to her with respect and joy. Your wife, so the grooms are advised, will love you forever. This might apply to how we treat or respond to different religions that might exist in our communities: you may dislike how they pray, or what God they say they pray to. But you should always respect how other people pray or their religions. That’s the best way to create interfaith peace and harmony.
My family of 9 and I must be the luckiest people in the world. My parents took us to and encouraged us all to attend church. They were comfortable with all of us belonging to different churches including some who might not have been as religious. We all respected each other, were tolerant and my parent made sure that happened. I attended a Dutch Reformed Church Boarding School for 3 years between the age of 11 and 13. My 2 older sisters belong to the Catholic Church. My younger sister belongs to
a Pentecostal church. One of my brothers joined the Islamic faith. My parents never expressed religious zealotry or never insisted on religious purity like the early Puritans on the East Coast of the United States. Religious zealotry and purity which certain forms of religious fundamentalism that they exhibit may be antithetical to the interfaith mission.
Attitude of the Religious Faith
The attitude of the religious faith itself may determine whether its members can practice or fulfill the interfaith mission. Is the religion tolerant of members of other religions or non-believers? This is the toughest question because it gets to the heart of whether people of different faiths and religions can live together as neighbors, school mates, and as community members with minimal or no religion-based tensions and conflict.
Even though the edicts of the religion may endorse members avoiding, shunning, ostracizing and even harming people who belong to other religions or non-believers, can religious peaceful coexistence still be maintained? Again my answer goes back to the beliefs and experiences within my family. The family is the first line of defense or mitigating the negative or hostile religious attitude. When a child, a parent, or other family members say negative things about someone belonging to another different religion from their own, it is up to parents and family members to object loudly to the negative behavior. Whenever any of my siblings or myself said anything negative about people from a different religion or different culture, my parents were the first ones to discourage that behavior.
My parent’s words always echo in my mind. They would say in Tumbuka language:
“Iwo para opemphera nthana bakwanangila vici iwe panyake ise pa banja pithu? Yayi, kanawo ndimo wopempherela. Kuli chikatolika, Chitawala, Chi Slam.”
Translated as: “So, if they pray like that, how do they hurt you or us as a family? No, don’t say such negative things. That’s the way they also pray. There are Catholics, Watch Tower Church members, and Muslims or Islam.”
I am not here saying this is easy may be in the face religion based provocation, hostility, violence or even murder. I often ask myself how do those people who live in difficult religious hot spots live their everyday lives? I am referring here to Muslims and Christians in Northern Nigeria, for example, who frequently have violence flaring up resulting into horrendous violence and murders. I don’t know how they did this and why it happened that way. But after the Lumpa religious war ended, many surviving former members returned to the villages in Lundazi. Some of them were my kinship relatives. There was forgiveness and quiet reconciliation and no reprisals at all up to this day in all the villages.
Government policies can set the tone for interfaith peace, coexistence, and religious tolerance. Despite the rough start of the country’s independence in with the Lumpa Church religious war in October 1964, Zambia was a non-racial, multiethnic and multi-religious society. The President of the country and the top political leadership always emphasized freedom of religion and peaceful coexistence of not only people from different racial, ethnic, and racial backgrounds but also accepted religious diversity.
My country of Zambia is the size of Texas and has a population of 14 million. It has 27 so-called tribes or more accurately ethnic groups because “tribes” no longer exist in Zambia and much of Africa.
“Zambia Christian denominations are mainly Protestant and Catholic and include Anglican, Pentecostal, New Apostolic Church, Lutheran, Seventh-day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Branhamism, and a variety of Evangelical denominations. Christianity so dominates the country that some reports suggest that an estimated 85% of the population belongs to some form of Christianity, another 5% are Muslim, 5% other faiths, including Hinduism, Bahaism, and traditional indigenous religions, and 5% are atheist.” (Tembo, 2012, p. 183)
It seems a successful interfaith mission not only depends on the community living a positive life of cultural diversity but it ought to live a life of active cultural integration. Zambia is so lucky because it might be the most well ethnically integrated society in the world. This is no hyperbole or exaggeration. So it might be more accurate to say that my home country of Zambia has peaceful religious coexistence because the government and political leadership actively implemented the social integration of the so-called 72 tribes or ethnic groups within the context of a non-racial society.
“Is the interfaith mission the solution to religious tensions, hostility and unfortunately violence?”
My response to this is rather nuanced. It may not even be what you might expect. I would like to thank the Harrisonburg Interfaith Association for the great work they are doing to create harmony, unity, and reconciliation among the various religious faiths in the community. May be we could talk about this in the question and answer time. If a community and society has already established the 3 factors I have just talked about, there may be no need for a formal an interfaith mission of organization. If families live with people from different faiths, communities, schools, clubs, and neighborhoods live with people of different faiths, and lastly if the government and political leaders already espouse the virtues of people from different religions living together; then the formal interfaith mission organizations become icing on the proverbial cake. Let me elaborate on this.
A successful Interfaith mission in all communities or societies start with families that actively encourage and live the mission in their homes. This is where we should pause and ask: “Is the Harrisonburg community living the Interfaith mission? Is America as a society living the Interfaith Mission?”
A successful Interfaith Mission in all communities or societies start with the different religions themselves actively encouraging and living the Interfaith mission in their congregations in churches, Synagogues, Mosques, and elsewhere. We can ask the same question: “Are Harrisinburg City and churches in the surrounding counties living an interfaith mission among their congregation in churches, Synagogues, Mosques and where ever they worship?”
A successful Interfaith Mission in all communities and societies start with government and political leaders actively encouraging and living the Interfaith mission among all the diverse religions within the country. “Is the American government and the political leaders encouraging the Interfaith Mission in the entire country?”
Before I end, let me share with you the song that I sung with my first grade classmates during a Religion Knowledge period in 1959 in my home village school in Zambia in Southern Africa in 1959.
Leader: Adam, Adam
Response: Adam na Eva (Twice)
Response: Njinjola chikulu chikamnyenga Adam, Adam na Eva.
Translation: A big snake tempted Adam, Adam and Eve.
The address is also available here Prof. Tembo Addresses the Interfaith Gathering.
Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.
Professor of Sociology
President Kaunda was young. Simon Kapwepwe was young. Mwinikayumbwa Sipalo was young. Peter Matoka was young. Julia Chikamoneka was young. Chibesa Kankasa was young. Mutumba Mainga Bull was young. Chieftainess Nkomesha was young. Cairo Road in Lusaka was young. The Zambezi River was young. My parents were young. My brothers and sisters were young. My uncle and my aunt were young. All my friends were young. Zambia was young. University of Zambia was young. I was young.
I had just triumphed in my long struggle to complete my B. A degree at the University of Zambia in the Capital City of Lusaka in 1976. I pounded Cairo Road, Chachacha Road, and Freedom Way in search of a job. A few weeks later I was fortunate enough to land a job as a Training Officer in the Personnel Division of the Parastatal National Agricultural and Marketing Board (NAMBOARD). The massive national headquarters occupied four floors of Kwacha House in the North-End of Cairo Road. I
walked half an hour to work every day from my Uncle and Aunt’s house in Northmead.
After I had been working there for a few weeks, my boss sent me on my first field assignment. I was to inspect all the dozens of NAMBOARD depots scattered in the entire Western Province and to submit a written report after my return. My boss gave me a plane ticket with instructions that Mr. Imasiku would meet me at the Mongu air strip. When I went home that evening I told my uncle and aunt that I was very excited. I was going to visit a different part of Zambia; Western Province. My aunt’s response was to ask me to bring back some dried fish. I was so excited that night I could not sleep for fear that I would over sleep and miss my plane at the then Lusaka International Airport.
The 2 propeller Hawker Sidley 35 passenger Zambia Airways plane smoothly took off from the Lusaka International Airport heading west. It was a pleasant November day with such clear blue skies that I could see as far as the eye could see through the comfort of my window seat. After about an hour we landed at Mongu airstrip.
Mr. Imasiku looked about 50 with a slightly bald head and a mix of dark and some grey hair. He had a wonderful broad grin, sparkling small eyes, and reassuring deep calm voice. He was the NAMBOARD Assistant Provincial Personnel Manager. Beside him was a brand new cream Land Rover which was one of the dozens of brand new Land Rovers NAMBOARD had bought that year that had just been distributed to all the provinces. The young driver was Mundia who looked 20 wearing smart well ironed trousers and a shirt; no doubt in readiness to meet me the big official boss from Kwacha House NAMBOARD headquarters in Lusaka. They both welcomed me and we drove to Lyembai Hotel.
The next two days, I visited the offices of the NAMBOARD provincial headquarters. Behind the office building was a large storage yard that had high piles of bags of fertilizer, ox-driven ploughs, agricultural pest control chemicals, seeds, storage tents, empty sack grain bags, pesticide sprayers, chains, ropes, irrigation equipment, pumps, and all kinds farm equipment spare parts. I attended part of the provincial depot manager’s workshop that was in progress. As I was walking through the offices, I heard loud heated raised exchanges of voices between 2 female personnel. They were speaking back and forth in SiLozi; until one of them said to the other in English:
“…….I don’t know why you expect me to do this! This is not my mother’s NAMBOARD !!”.
Since I did not understand any SiLozi, Mr. Imasiku later explained to me that the conversation wasn’t anything unusual as the two employees were having a normal disagreement among workers.
Since I had to learn some SiLozi, I asked Mr. Imasiku how do I ask for water and beer in SiLozi. In my own mind I assumed that if ever I was in danger of dying, these were the 2 things I would absolutely need to know how to ask for. He told me; asking for water was“Nikupa mezi” and asking for beer was“Nikupa bucwala”. Although I might have learned many other phrases, these were the most important phrases at the time which I still remember to this day many decades later.
That evening, Mr Mundia dropped me off at the nearest watering hole which was about two hundred meters from Lyembai Hotel with the expectation that I could walk back to the hotel at my ease after whenever I felt I had successfully “inspected” the Sinjonjo Bar watering hole that evening. Half way through my third Mosi, I saw what many men live for; a woman. She was not just any woman, she was a very beautiful woman standing next to the bar next to other people; she was stunning. Thirty seconds before my eyes landed on her, the drinking establishment had been boring with rather dim lighting. But suddenly there was a beautiful glow of light all around the bar and her like a halo.
She was wearing a fabulous bright yellow dress, oh! and a curvaceous figure that made me salivate, large white sparkling eyes, and she was smiling in my direction. I quickly glanced around to see if her attention was to someone behind me. There was no one. My mind and body both panicked together. The Nyanja would call her “chiphadzuwa” (sun killer), the Bemba would call her “chipeshamano” (one who kills a man’s brain). I was immediately drawn to her like inswa insects are drawn to a bright light in pitch dark tropical night Zambia in December. The momentum of my confused body took a few fateful steps toward her and stammered:
“aaaa….b-w-anji?!!!” (…how… are you?) I asked in my Lusaka Nyanja. I stretched my hand toward her. She actually touched my hand in a split second handshake.
“……something… something.. Kaonde.” She replied smiling with a beaming face and sparkling eyes; that special inviting smile every man dreams of in his sweetest dream; a stunningly beautiful woman who is so obviously reciprocating the attraction.
“ eehhh…manje…what’s your name? Zina.. lanu?” I pointed at her as I stammered with my heart beating very fast. “..nachoka ku Lusaka…(I have come from Lusaka)”. I was anxious to create a strong impression that I was a sophisticated city man; and not one of the Sinjonjo bar locals.
“…something —something Kaonde,” she replied again with her bright smile.
We obviously were not communicating. I looked around frustrated. Where was Mundia the young man when I needed him? At that instant I wished I knew more SiLozi than “nikupa bucwala”. I probably needed to know some ChiKaonde too, may be Lunchazi, Chokwe, ChiLovale, may be Chi Lunda. How could I know what she was speaking as my mind was racing for an urgent solution? This was a do or die emergency.
“Nikupa bucwala? Do you want a beer or a drink?” I desperately asked again reaching into my pocket for some money; even though I knew that was probably botched or poor conversation SiLozi even in a watering hole.
“….something …something Kaonde,” she replied again with a bright smile.
At that point some man, who did not approve of what she was doing with me walked to her and they had a heated argument either in Kaonde, Luchazi, Lovale or SiLozi. I couldn’t tell. He grabbed her by her stiff arm as she resisted and pulled her away from me as she protested. She wanted to talk to me. I felt so helpless. Was the man her husband? Ex-boyfriend, cousin, relative? I knew that if that was her lover or husband, I would already be dead on the ground after his left hook landed on my jaw. Part of me wanted to intervene. But something in a split second held me back. It was my father’s voices when I was young about how to handle fights and other dangerous altercations in bars. My father’s voice was saying: “Walk away, walk away, walk away”. But my other voice was saying” “Be a man, get her from the beast of a man, she is stunningly beautiful, she loves you! You are young and strong. You could throw in a few punches. Be a man. Defend her against that animal of a man!”
I saw her in the corner of the bar in a full blown animated argument with the wretched man who was ruining my dream. I continued to finger my mosi on the bar counter as I waited like a coward for them to settle the argument. My thinking was she would soon come marching back to me. It did not happen. The man dragged her by the hand out of the bar as she was resisting. I waited. Later, I looked around for her outside the bar. She was gone. I walked back to Lyembai Hotel dejected. I could not sleep. What was her name? What language was she speaking? Where does she live? Who was the man? Things had happened so fast in the bar that I did not have time to ask all these questions.
Early the following morning, Mr. Imasiku, Mr. Mundia, and I drove 190 miles (306kms) in the Land Rover through the November dry, hot and sandy Zambezi flood plain to Kalabo to inspect a NAMBOARD depot. Soon after leaving Mongu, we used the pontoon to cross the Zambezi River. There was so much thick sand that the road was just tracks of sand which our vehicle followed. I had never seen so much sand in my life let alone travel on it. The sand was so thick and deep that our brand new Land Rover could only drive a maximum of 35 miles per hour (56 km per hour) where the sand was less deep. Otherwise we drove at between 15 to 25 mph (24 to Km per hour) using four wheel drive during the long, hot, and slow 5 to 6 hour drive to Kalabo.
There were virtually no large trees in the sandy flood plain.
All along as we drove and made conversation, my mind was with the woman chiphadzuwa. I had to find some way of meeting her again. But how would I solve the language barrier?
At noon we pulled from the track and parked the Land Rover under the shade of some short bushes for lunch. We ate some buns and coca-cola. After lunch, I called Mr. Mundia our driver behind the Land Rover away from Mr. Imasiku’s ear shot.
“Mr. Mundia,” I said. “I met a woman at Sinjonjo Bar”.
Mr. Mundia began laughing holding his hand to his mouth leaning down while excitedly trotting away from the Land Rover as he clapped his hands together repeatedly.
“Bo Tembo,” Mr. Mundia smiled as he walked back toward me. “You have to watch out at Sinjonjo Bar. It is a dangerous place. I could see that you mind is somewhere else today.”
“Can you do me a favour?”
“Yes, sure. What!” Mr. Mundia paused.
“Tomorrow night when we return to Mongu, can you come to Sinjonjo with me? If she is there, you can translate for me. I didn’t know what language she was speaking”
“Ok, no problem,” Mr. Mundia replied. “We can go there. And I will even tell you if she is one of our local girls, Bo Tembo.” He laughed again.
“Hey Mr. Mundia,” I whispered as I tapped his hand. “But don’t tell your boss Mr. Imasiku because he might not understand since he is older.”
Part Two available upon request
Mwizenge S. Tembo
Author of “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”.
Professor of Sociology
On Wednesday, I came back from work in the evening. When I opened the front door, our white German Shepard dog was right there squeezing her nose against the door as both dogs do always when we come home. However, Buddy, the other dog, was standing a few feet away with very droopy very tired looking eyes. He had a very slow staggering walk. Buddy would not even eat. He loves to eat. He looked miserable as his whizzy labored breathing got louder.
On Thursday when I got home at 4:00pm Buddy was lying across just behind the front door almost blocking it. He did not even lift his head. I jumped over him. His breathing was terrible. I called the Veterinary doctor to see if I could take him in
immediately. The doctor had already left for the day. I made an appointment to take Buddy in at 8:45am.
Buddy had not eaten for two whole days. There were two good pieces of nice chicken in the fridge. I cut them into small pieces and warmed them in a pot and made some gravy with it. I have been told a million times that people food is bad for our pets. I added this to his dry usual bowl of food. I put the plate right up to his nose as he lay there. Suddenly, he lifted just his head above the bowl and ate the food. That was to be his last very good meal.
Buddy liked to ride in the car. I winded through the back road of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley before arriving at the clinic. The doctor showed me the X-rays that showed so many things wrong including an enlarged spleen, enlarged heart, high fever, and many spots on his lungs including arthritis in his bones. The doctor said he could not say if any of it was cancerous. The prognosis was not very good. His breathing was so loud it was like a broken whizzing vacuum cleaner. I felt awful for him. He was suffering and about 15 years old. We got the dog when my mother-in-law passed away in 2008.
I was there lovingly patting his head as he closed his eyes and that terrible heart wrenching horrible whizzing loud breathing for 2 days was suddenly gone. Buddy was put to sleep. Buddy the Australian Sheep dog was not suffering or in pain any longer. I had a feeling of great relief but also grief. Later I sent an email to the long list of family members to inform them of Buddy’s passing. Why do we love animals?
In January 2008, our family Beagle mutt that our 6th grade son had adopted from our local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) died after a short illness due to old age and perhaps natural causes. I expressed my grief in a column in our local paper. A few days later I received a hand delivered blistering 3 page hand written letter from a man who was behind bars in our town in Harrisonburg. He berated me for wasting column space and possessing poor intellect in expressing my grief over a pet. Didn’t I know Americans spent $43.2 billion on their pets when millions of people are starving and live in dire poverty? Wasn’t I aware of American and European imperialism and aggression that inflicted injustice, caused wars and conflict in the Congo in Africa and elsewhere? Did I know who the radical Malcolm X was? He expressed contempt for my views since in an earlier column I had expressed some positive sentiments about conservative black American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
My critic had been in and out of prison for several years. It was apparent he did not know who I was, my history, what I knew, and what I had experienced in life. I did not respond because growing up I was taught not to hit a man when he is already down.
In my humble opinion, from Kafulafuta, Gwembe Valley, Mpulungu, Lusaka in Zambia to America, Russia, Europe, Japan and the whole world, we love animals because the same very powerful love we have for other humans is exactly the same love we have for animals. This simple explanation is probably the most powerful reason we should love and treat all animals kindly.
Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.
Professor of Sociology
When I saw the images of the massive fire at the large sprawling Lusaka City Market in which 1,901 shops were destroyed, I was alarmed. I was aware that fire gutted a market in Bauleni in Lusaka in August 16, 2016. I had not paid much attention since that time until President Lungu’s address to the nation in which he listed a chronology of terrible incidents all over Zambia that involved fires gutting public buildings and vandalism of ZESCO electricity pylons. There have been over ten such incidents since August 2016. I am both stunned and fearful about my home and country of Zambia. Could this be the end of peace in Zambia after 53 years? Could these destructive activities be the work of just a few criminals and copy cats? Is this the work of ambitious frustrated political saboteurs who want to send a message to the nation, President Lungu and the ruling PF party? Is it that some Zambians want to wreak so much havoc and chaos that the country becomes so ungovernable that the ruling
government will look so weak that the opposition expect to reap huge rewards of political power once the dust settles?
Arsonists, Copy Cats and Criminals
There is a possibility that arsonists have set all the terrible fires. My limited knowledge of minds of arsonists from police crime documentaries is that arsonists all gain tremendous rash of physical gratification from the site of huge burning fires they have caused; the bigger the fires the better for them. Since everyone pays so much attention through word of mouth, news outlets, photos, and videos of the huge sight of the fire and the destruction it causes, there are some people who will imitate the terrible actions by setting new fires themselves; these are the copy cats. Those with criminal minds like to take advantage of such chaotic situations. The fires and the vandalism could be the actions of criminals. I am sure Zambia’s security forces have probably already investigated these possible motivations for these criminal actions that endanger public security.
I am sure that from the President, security forces, and ordinary citizens all over Zambia, people have an idea whether this is political sabotage or not. Because all the terrible incidents have happened among ordinary Zambians, those destructive people who carry out these terrible actions of arson and vandalism live, talk, go home, sleep and walk among Zambians. Some Zambians have to know who is doing this and why. I will not suggest any suspects as my aim is for everyone who is reading this to think in a wider picture about 14 million Zambians as opposed to narrow political motives.
Assuming that this is political sabotage, if the aim of members of disgruntled opposition political parties is to cause so much fear and chaos that the country becomes ungovernable, how can you be sure that once the chaos perhaps stops, you will assume political power if we have elections at all? If everything is in flames in Zambia how will you rule? If you as the opposition now somehow assume power later because the country has become ungovernable through your terrible actions, what will stop the next opposition parties from using the same strategy of planting chaos in order to later win power? The cycle of destruction would never stop. Are these the kind of politics we want in Zambia?
King Solomon and Cutting the Baby
The Biblical story is that two women had a serious dispute because each claimed to be the mother of the newly born baby. The case was brought before King Solomon. In order to solve the case, King Solomon ordered one of his guards to bring a huge sharp sword. The baby was laid on a pedestal. The King told the 2 women that he would order his guard to cut the baby in two so that each woman would have half of the baby. The first woman cheered and said the King’s decision was very wise. The second woman cried and between sorbs said she rather the King gave the baby to the first woman even though the second woman knew she herself was the real mother. When the King asked her why she gave up the fight, the second women replied she would rather the baby stay alive and live with the other woman. The King handed down his judgment and gave the baby to the second woman who the King believed was real mother because she did not want her baby to be killed and preferred the other woman to raise it. At least the baby would be alive.
The moral of the story is that all politicians in Zambia should follow the biblical King Solomon story. If you love your country, you do not want to create chaos, violence, and threaten or act in any way to destroy the country so that you can rule it. You should have enough love of the country and confidence that other elected Zambians can lead the country peacefully. You should be able to find peaceful means of resolving all political disputes.
Guard Peace Jealously
I will never forget being among now fewer Zambians who have lived through all the 53 years of peace since Zambia’s independence in 1964. Creating a nation of peace and tranquility is not easy. There are always challenges, serious ups and downs. We used to think President Kaunda was a madman whose public speeches during his 27 years always repeatedly urged Zambians to love one another; to avoid tribalism, racism, hate, and to fight ignorance, disease, and exploitation of man by man. In one of his hundreds of speeches during the 27 years, President Kaunda once warned potential political saboteurs who were said at the time to be meeting and plotting in dark corners, that once the whole country was engulfed in flames, there would be neither peace nor a place for the political saboteurs themselves and even criminals to enjoy their spoils.
My advice to any Zambians who will listen is that as a Zambian never ever take the peace for granted. Because once it is lost, sometimes it may never come back. Every Zambian has to guard the peace jealously. It means that if you are a young cadre in any political party and a fellow Zambian is urging you to engage in violent criminal acts, such as arson and destroying ZESCO pylons especially for political motives, you have to oppose him or her. Everyone has to work with other citizens to find peaceful ways of achieving change if you strongly feel Zambia is becoming undemocratic.