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

By

Mwizenge S. Tembo,  Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

“Greetings Prof Tembo, 

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

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

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

Regards

Tembo Tembo Michael” (Not related to the author)

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

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

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

I am in Texas, at Oblate School of Theology. 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

 

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

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

When I was young growing up in the village, one day I rushed home to my parents to report that my brother had insulted and used the worst vile language, kutuka, in Tumbuka against another boy in a quarrel. I repeated the vile disgusting graphic language to my parents word for word to make sure I was reporting accurately. To my utter shock, my parents proceeded to angrily berate me for the report. When my brother who was the  guilty party arrived, my parents gave him lighter punishment and milder tongue lashing. What was my mistake? Didn’t I report accurately what had happened? My parents’ response, which was in form of Kulanga, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHz_bMRl2Rc   was that my reporting and repeating the actual graphic language was a further degrading and a humiliating insult to them and those listening; it was like adding salt to a wound. Better I should have just said my brother had insulted someone very badly without repeating the vulgar language.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology.

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

Girls learn chores and responsibility at a very young age.

Girls learn chores and responsibility at a very young age.

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

Although these two stories might look like the author is singling out foreigners or non-Zambians, this can actually happen to any individuals and sometimes even among Zambians in Zambia and abroad depending on their social upbringing. There is a famous song by Nashil Pitchen “Apongozi Amasiku Ano” in which he laments that the younger husbands in the cities in Zambia are so disrespectful these days. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnQwhvY4_3o

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

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

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

These video clips from my recent lecture at the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Center Lyceum Series in Virginia in the United States, explain three important Zambian customs: Kuopa or “to fear”,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNRPnmd7iVE

Kulanga or disciplining and giving guidance to children, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHz_bMRl2Rc

and kusungana https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIzt5PwafJY

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

 

 

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

Growing Up

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

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

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

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

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

Going to School

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

 

Chinjoka chikulu chikamnyenga Adam

Adam na Eva

 

A big snake tempted Adam

Adam and Eve

 

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

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

Challenges of School and Education

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chizongwe Secondary School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

University of Zambia

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

I had always wanted to major in Psychology. In my own secondary school mind I mistakenly thought psychology would teach me how to read people’s minds. My most influential teachers were Professor Robert Serpell and Professor Muyunda Mwanalushi. The first year was intellectually exciting for my young mind. I learnt about the scientific method, psychology experiments, conducting sociological researching in neighboring Kalingalinga compound, Introduction to Political Science, Sociology, and Psychology. English class exposed to the powerful “Autobiography of Malcolm X”. http://hungerforculture.com/?p=265

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

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

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

Graduate School Masters and Doctoral Degrees

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

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

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

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

I Meet My Wife

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

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

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

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

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

We are blessed with two large united

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

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

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

Intellectual and Academic Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Egyptian civilization occurred for 2,010 or more than two thousand years from 3100 B.C.E to 1090 B.C.E. This was about 760 years before the ancient Greeks. The great Ancient Egyptian Civilization which African established was 2,460 years before the very young European Industrial Revolution of the 1700s and 1800s. The 1090 B.C.E to 2013 is 3, 013 years ago. Dr. Siame’s article opened my eyes to the fact that using linguistic analysis known as  philology, and then the morphology, phonology, semantics and syntax of language you can trace “Siame” Namwanga Zambian name to the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt three thousand years ago. http://ukzambians.co.uk/home/2013/06/01/zambians-created-ancient-egypt/

The big question is why should our history books still contain only the Eurocentric history that says that our Zambian history is only significant from the 1600s when Europeans started the Atlantic Slave Trade and 1800s when European Colonialism started in Africa?  At first for example, the Eurocentric history of my own Tumbuka people said we were just there in Lundazi influenced by the Ngoni and Europeans. But Dr. Yizenge Chondoka’s intensive research and history shows that the Tumbuka came from Central Congo in the 1400s. This is from his book: History of the Tumbuka from 1400 to 1900 (2007). http://hungerforculture.com/?p=259

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

We have had some scholars in Zambia who have done some definitive work on Zambian history and knowledge. For example, Prof. Robert Serpell for more than 40 years has been using modern psychology to analyze our Zambian culture and technology, The Significance of Schooling (1993). http://hungerforculture.com/?p=547.

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

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

Last Word

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

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

  • My dream is that every Zambian  from Mongu to Kasama, Kafulafuta to Kalingalinga in Lusaka, Kariba, Sinazeze, Chililabombwe, Solwezi, all Primary, Secondary schools, University of Zambia and Vietnam, Japan, China, United States and UK should read, use, and contemplate our comprehensive cultural history as presented in the book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”.  http://hungerforculture.com/?page_id=242

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africa

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_(Australopithecus)

http://worldpopulationreview.com/population-of-jamaica/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recent_African_origin_of_modern_humans

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map-of-human-migrations.jpg

http://www.ezilon.com/maps/oceania/papua-new-guinea-physical-maps.html

http://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=banda

http://www.virginia.edu/woodson/courses/aas102%20(spring%2001)/articles/tierney.html

http://www.asante.net/articles/19/race-in-antiquity-truly-out-of-africa/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_slave_trade

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Ages

 

December 17, 2013

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

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

 

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

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

Welcome to Hunger for Culture!

homeWelcome to the Hunger for Culture website.  Here you will find information about Zambian lifestyle, written from the viewpoint of a native Zambian who now lives and teaches in a small college town in Virginia.  The importance he places on Zambian values is evident on this site, and you are invited to interact via comments to blogs and articles.  It is the author’s wish that other Zambians would find ways to share their memories of home, and hopes for preserving their culture!