The Soul of Fatherhood: What Makes a Good Father?

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Introduction

While there are plenty of magazine articles, TV programs, and other sources on how and what it means to be a mother, there is very little about what it means to be a father. Most TV programs and discussions in the media tend to make fun of fatherhood. Some serious articles tend to always focus on the abusive, oppressive, drug and alcohol addicted, dead-beat dad, controlling, dysfunctional patriarchal father who is said to be the relic of the old traditional past but is said to dominate the behavior of many fathers today. While some of the problems of bad fathers exist, there is very little information on what it means to be a father today. This article is meant for perhaps millions of young men to day who would want to know what it takes to be a good father who is married to the mother of the child or children.

Fathers must spend time to play with their children. Source: Google Images.

Fathers must spend time to play with their children. Source: Google Images.

Any boy past puberty and adult man can be a father in a biological sense. But being a good father demands more. This article is going to discuss fatherhood from point of my own experience and wisdom. I have been married for 36 years. My wife and I have raised 3 children. I have also taught sociology in college for 36 years during which I taught sociology of the family for 6 years. I discuss the “Soul of Fatherhood” because being a father is more than just being able to buy groceries, changing a diaper or two, and barking orders to your children. Fatherhood means the deepest essence of the calm masculine strength, presence, persona, love and humor being infused into a child from when they are a baby in the womb (they can hear the voices), to the crucial adolescence, all the way to being an adult man.

History

Fathers must spend time to play with the baby

Fathers must spend time to play with the baby

 

For thousands of years, fatherhood meant being able to fight as a warrior as a member of a tribe to protect and defend one’s village and family. The man had to fight in war. The man had to be able to kill wild animals such as lions, bears, tigers, leopards, and others to defend the man’s family. Providing for his family required the man to know how to hunt for food, and later farming skills. These were skills boys and young men had to know before they could seek a wife to marry. As the European Industrial Revolution was spread all over the world through European colonialism in the 17th and 18th centuries, fatherhood increasingly meant learning the skills of reading and writing and being able to get an office or other job. Today the police and the army play the role of protecting the nation-state in general. As women have increasingly joined the labor force and gender equality in marriage has be emphasized, fatherhood has become increasingly difficult to define.

A young father proudly holds his new born daugher

A young father proudly holds his new born daugher

High levels of unemployment both in the Western and Third World means it is increasingly difficult for young men to play the role of a father by being able to provide for the family.  The abandoning of the traditional socialization of boys and men, high levels of divorce and single motherhood mean that young men today increasingly go into marriage and other arrangements without having a clear knowledge of what it means and it takes to be a good father. The general tolerance of single motherhood means men and fatherhood may be seen as less important. This is not true. Fatherhood is very important for all children and more so for boys.

In order to be a good father, you need first, foremost and most important to realize that this is a full time role that you will play to eternity or the end of your life. Second, you need to be a good provider, protector and defender. Third, you need to be always there in the household taking care of the child, children and their mother. Fourth, both you and your wife or the mother must share a deep common bond beyond marriage; the unshakable and even unspoken conviction in both of you that raising your children and their welfare comes first within the context of love between the two of you. This is one of the key reasons why marriage vows include: “Till death do us part”. This vow is what provides the enduring love for you and your wife but also for the children. Fifth, as you go about being a father, some best parts of fatherhood are never realized at that moment when you are raising your child, but much later in life often when the child is an adult.

Fathers must spend time with their children teaching them how perform certain tasks such as how to change a flat tire.

Fathers must spend time with their children teaching them how perform certain tasks such as how to change a flat tire.

Fatherhood Eternal Role

If you would like to be a good father, you have to completely embrace, enjoy and look forward to the role for the rest of your life. This attitude will make it possible for you to make the necessary sacrifices, adjustments, and changes as you raise and support your child or children. It is when you play the role of father half-heartedly that you will not be able to enjoy it and make the necessary sacrifices to be a good father. When I picked up my new born son and my wife that morning at University Teaching Hospital Maternity ward years ago in Lusaka in Zambia, I knew I was ready to be a father. I have enjoyed the role ever since as my wife and I had more children.

Provider and Protector

The most challenging and demanding aspect of fatherhood, is being a good provider. This means providing good and safe housing, having a job to provide food, clothing and security for the family. This role is very difficult to play today as there is high unemployment and most jobs require high technical skills. Well paid unskilled jobs are very few especially in developed countries. Being a protector means being the first line of security both inside and in the perimeter of your home. Children and their mother should never have to feel unsafe or threatened inside and outside the home. Being a good protector does not necessarily mean owning a gun. It just means developing the physical and mental capacity to react when there is an intruder or anyone who threatens the home.

Sons and daughters have different experiences with their fathers. Source: Google Images.

Sons and daughters have different experiences with their fathers. Source: Google Images.

Always Be there

Being always there for your wife and especially the children might be very difficult since society created the office job during the Industrial Revolution. For thousands of years, fathers and mothers live together in villages and worked side by side while farming to provide for the family. Therefore the father was always physically around. In today’s world of 18 hour work days to earn a living, the father and sometimes the mother might not always be physically present to raise the children. This is the tragedy of children who grow up and say: “I never saw my father. He was away at work every day. He missed my birthday parties.” It is for this reason that a father might consider changing jobs so that he can be with his children.

Being with the children means not just playing with them but doing certain tasks together. I learned how to take apart an entire bicycle and repairing it from watching my father. I watched my father use an axe to chop a tree with such power, efficiency and precision. I watched my father calmly kill a dangerous snake. When my father was away for most of the day, his coming home was a big celebration for my siblings and my mother. He usually brought goodies in his famous brown brief case on his bicycle; bananas, bread, sugar, wild meat, beef, buns, a live chicken for us to either slaughter or raise.

When as a father you are around most of the time, you can then be able to help discipline the kids. This has never meant beating the children contrary to what is a popular impression whenever people discuss discipline. It often just means the father’s deep voice telling the toddler to stop doing something dangerous. This might be one of the good biological evolutionary reasons men have deep voices. It sometimes means just doing the chore with the children until it is completed and reinforcing that with the child or children. This is how a father can teach his child the important discipline of completing a task once you have started doing it. You can take time to tell significant stories about your life as you spend time with your children.

Fatherhood also means not just choosing to do pleasant things with the child but also to be there during difficult times such as sickness. My father took me and my siblings so many times to the clinic by bicycle when we were young.

In 1989 my wife and I almost lost our son in Lusaka in Zambia. He woke up sick that morning with diarrhea, vomiting, and a temperature. I took him to a private clinic at noon. He was diagnosed with malaria. After taking the first malaria dose, he got worse with diarrhea,  he was quickly dehydrating, his breathing became shallow, and the whites of his eyes were flickering. My wife sent me back with him to the doctor at 16:00 hours. The doctor said they had misdiagnosed my son. He had a stomach bacterial infection. Back at the house my very sick son took the first dose of the antibiotic. An hour later he was asking for food because he was hungry. This was sweet music to my wife, I, and any parent of a very sick child. Before I was a father, I liked to go to the bar a lot to drink after work. Had I gone drinking in my car that evening, I will remember this for the rest of my life.  I believe my son would probably not be alive today. He would have died during the night while his father was away drinking. He was that sick.

Fatherhood and Sex

The biggest elephant in the room is the questions: “How is the sexual experience during fatherhood?” During the traditional past in the Zambian and African society, they used to practice what anthropologists call the post-par tum sex taboo. It was a custom where after the wife had given birth, it was a taboo for the couple to have sex until after 18 months to 2 years. During the traditional past, as long as the woman was breast feeding she never had a period. As soon as she stopped breast feeding weaning the child, she would resume menstruation. This may no longer be the case for the vast majority of women.

One of the ways to be provider in the role of a father is to fish.

One of the ways to be provider in the role of a father is to fish.

Since the woman was breast feeding the baby during that period, it was believed that if a woman got pregnant the child would die. The belief was that the pregnancy contaminated the woman’s breast milk which she was using to breast feed the child. The question as to how the father or the man lived without sex during that period has never really been investigated. My suspicion is that first on the list of how the man coped must have been masturbation. Second, is that the husband and the wife slept apart as the wife was sleeping with the baby. The man must also have made himself physically busy. He probably went on long hunting trips and had hobbies.

The man expended energy farming. I know that during that period, I joined a local informal recreation soccer group of 8 men and played soccer every day after work and came home tired after expending so much energy. My work and hobbies also kept me very busy. My wife was also very busy with the baby, work, and household chores. What may have kept the couple excited during the wait was looking forward to the night they would have sex again. The father having sex outside marriage was also unthinkable as there were also taboos against adultery. A few couples in the traditional past may have solved the problem by the wife agreeing that her husband take a second wife.

Father and Mother Common Bond

The married father and mother is perhaps one of the most important bonds; the deep conviction between the married man or father and the woman or wife that raising children transcends whatever their temporary moods or feelings every day might be. This provides stability for both the children and the couple. When this is the common bond, then the parents are less likely to think of quitting or the “D” word or divorce at the slightest problem parenting. This conviction created the most stable environment for fatherhood. I share this conviction in this article. http://sufferingsoul.com/suffering-soul-child-divorce/

Best Part of Fatherhood

The best part of the fatherhood is the immediate gratification you get from your child calling you “Daddy” and crying that they want you to carry them if they are small. Playing with them and taking them on a walk or just eating with them. The bigger and better part is when you have done all the hard work raising them and now they are either in school, college or an adult. You as a father will feel as a sheer miracle that you had the privilege of being part of raising this human being form when they were a baby. That good feeling is indescribable and can never be fully conveyed to someone who has never been a real or good father. That feeling of being a father will be with you for the rest of your life.

Travelling to Solwezi in 2016.

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Introduction

Since the Curriculum Development Center (CDC) of the Ministry of Education approved my novel “The Bridge” to be used for teaching English Literature in Secondary Schools from Grade 10 to 12, there was one thing I was very anxious to do: I wanted to go to a few Secondary Schools do deliver a copy of the novel. I wanted to meet some teachers and students. I had already made the 746

Students at Solwezi Urban Secondary School

Students at Solwezi Urban Secondary School

Kms journey to Lundazi in the Eastern Province. But this time I wanted to go to Solwezi. I had never been to North-Western Province. If all went well, I wanted to drive all the way to Mwinilunga and beyond. I wanted if possible to go to the source of the mighty Zambezi River at Kalene Hills north of Mwinilunga.

Journey to Solwezi

The evening before my departure for Solwezi, I made all the preparations. I found my Google Map and printed the directions from the Internet cafe. I was going to travel South of Ndola and Kitwe which was the shortest cut to Solwezi. I filled up my tank at Manda Hill gas or filling station in Lusaka near my lodge. The filling or gas station attendant checked and topped all my fluids including my clutch or brake fluid for my F15 Ford Ranger which was going to growl itself to Solwezi this time. Something strange happened. As I

The Headmaster Mr. Mbimbi first left and Teachers at Solwezi Urban Secondary School

The Headmaster Mr. Mbimbi first left and Teachers at Solwezi Urban Secondary School

was driving back to my lodge, the clutch problem reared its ugly head again. I could not change gears. I limped the vehicle back to the lodge. The Avis Manager immediately calmly said they would bring another vehicle with a full tank of petrol for me to be ready to go to Solwezi the following morning as planned. There was no need for me to change my plans or to drive the vehicle to the airport. The agents promptly brought another vehicle which was a smaller Hyndai SUV.

Lusaka to Chingola

The distance from Lusaka to Chingola is 410 Kms or 254 miles which was supposed to take me 6 hours to drive. But it must have taken me close to 8 hours because I broke my own rule: never follow Google Map directions without having first some ground human intelligence. People have

The Deputy Headmaster at Kyawama secondary School in Solwezi where I left my novel "The Bridge".

The Deputy Headmaster at Kyawama secondary School in Solwezi where I left my novel “The Bridge”.

driven into oceans at night and drowned in their vehicles. Others have driven into the deadly Death valley Desert in the Western part of the United States and have driven in circles and have gotten lost and died. Google maps are not perfect. The Google map showed that I could drive south of the town of Ndola toward Luanshya to Solwezi. When I reached the Luanshya junction I should have stopped and asked people about the road. I did not. The paved road had some of the worst pot holes I have seen since the mid-1990s. The drive that should have taken me about 45 minutes may have taken about 2 hours. The Google maps short cut took me to Kalulushi which I should not have done before I found my way to the road to Chingola.

Chingola to Solwezi

I arrived at the Chingola Solwezi junction at about 6:00pm or 18:00 hours and turned left. The road was gravel or unpaved. The Hyndai suddeny began to shake, vibrate, and rattle as I drove from side to side to find a smoother part of the road. Two massive trucks drove the other way and left me in such blinding dust that I stopped, turned on my head lights and flashing hazard lights. My heart began to pump really fast. What did I get into? I began to ask myself. Did the road turn into a paved road somewhere ahead? After about 20 minutes of just the worst dust and rattling of the vehicle I stopped to ask a young man. How is the road like to Solwezi? His answer was that some parts were paved and some were not.

The road to Luanshya had the worst pot holes. Never trust Google Maps completely.

The road to Luanshya had the worst pot holes. Never trust Google Maps completely.

As I resumed my tough journey, it crossed my mind that I should probably turn around, sleep in a comfortable lodge in Chingola, and head back to Lusaka. The resolve to finish what I had started overwhelmed me.

I experienced some of the most difficult driving conditions. There was very thin but thick dust swirling ahead from trucks. I was driving mostly on detours as most of the road was being paved. The Hyndai vehicle minute after minute, hour after hour, rattled and shook. It was tossed in the air on some of the huge speed bumps that I could not see ahead of time. It was dark. Occasionally we got a short paved part of the road but the paved part was so small and in many cases had rough sharp edges dangerous to tires, and huge pot holes. You did not want to get a flat tire in this total darkness. After 4 punishing and grueling hours of 176 Kms or 109 miles, I triumphantly arrived in Solwezi and stopped at a gas or filling station to ask for the nearest lodge.

The trucks caused so much dust on the Chingola Solwezi Road.

The trucks caused so much dust on the Chingola Solwezi Road.

I drove around for a while as I could not find a room at several lodges. When I finally found a room at Florianna Lodge, I was ready to just take a shower and sleep. It was after 24 hours.

Solwezi Town

When I woke up in the morning, I had very good breakfast at the lodge with very friendly and courteous staff. People here mostly spoke Bemba as lingua franca. Mr. Sonny Mugwagwa gave me a brief lesson in the Kaonde language.  Muji byepi is “How are you?” Buulong Mwaane is “I am fine”. Mr. Sonny Mugwagwa at Floriana Lodge gave me 4 names of Secondary schools in the town of Solwezi. I decided I would go to Solwezi Urban Secondary School and Kyawama Secondary School. When I drove down the main street, I had not noticed this during the night. The whole town was covered with dust; buildings, cars, structures all had this red dust. Many town people acknowledged the dust as a problem.

Secondary Schools

The Solwezi town will have no dust once the road has been paved.

The Solwezi town will have no dust once the road has been paved.

I went to Solwezi Urban Secondary School and met with the Headmaster Mr. Mbimbi and some of his staff in his office. We had very good conversations. I gave them a copy of my novel “The Bridge”. Later I was able to meet a few of the students.  I ate nshima for lunch at a restaurant which had dingi or buffalo as relish. I really enjoyed my lunch. In the afternoon, I went to Kyawama Secondary School where I met the Deputy Headmaster whom I gave a copy of my novel.

Return to Lusaka

If the trip from Chingola to Solwezi was that punishing and grueling, I had not prepared the resources and time to drive to Mwinilunga and beyond to the source of the Zambezi at Kelene Hills. I decided  to return to Lusaka the following day. The most encouraging thing I learned from my trip to Solwezi is that the massive construction camps and dusty road detours mean that the entire road from Chingola to Solwezi will all be paved in the next few years. At that time the beautiful town of Solwezi which was buried in dust will be clean.

 

 

Do you like to Wear Used or Second hand Underwear? : Book Review

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D

Professor of Sociology

Kenneth Mwenda, Ph. D., LLD, DSc(Econ), Anthology in Law and the Social Sciences, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada: African in Canada Press (www.africanincanadapress.com) 2016, pp. 1111, $25.00, K230.00, Hardcover.

“A nation that stood tall above others and gave its best to the liberation of Southern Africa from colonial rule and apartheid”. – Kenneth Mwenda

Introduction

Do you like to wear used or second hand underwear? My answer is that the very thought of my private parts residing in an intimate apparel which had previously housed some other man’s parts, would make my manhood shrink in revulsion. I would not wear it even if the Ministry of Health had certified the used underwear had been washed in boiling water for 24 hours. Wearing

Professor Kenneth Mwenda

Professor Kenneth Mwenda

such a used garment would most likely threaten my matrimoniAnthologyal stability as my manhood would go on strike and refuse to fulfill its conjugal obligations. Whatever your answer is, I never knew that there are some men in Zambia, Africa, and probably elsewhere who welcome wearing used underwear. You may be wondering what wearing used or second hand underwear has to do with the book about anthology of law.

I would not have contemplated let alone been regaled by these thoughts had I completely succumbed to my initial erroneous judgment of the book by its title. Quickly looking at the title amidst the contemporary tidal wave of internet explosion of thousands if not millions of books and other commercial junk that is competing for my attention, I didn’t think the book was for me. This is because Professor Mwenda is an eminent legal scholar who has a stellar career in the legal profession. He read law at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and has published more than 25 books in the legal field. When I saw an email of the published just hot off of the press, Kenneth Mwenda’s Anthology in Law and the Social Sciences, I assumed if I read the book I would yawn through legalese. When I read the book, I was pleasantry surprised.

Structure of the Book

Kenneth Mwenda’s Anthology in Law and the Social Sciences is one thousand one hundred and eleven pages long of short easy to read articles meant for the non-legal ordinary reader like you and I. The volume is divided into three parts A, B, and C with a total of 88 chapters. Although he calls most of the 88 short articles “chapters”, let that not intimidate you as I was able to read many of the first 25 “chapters” or articles in between watching a boring blow out American

Do men like to wear used or second hand underwear?

Do men like to wear used or second hand underwear?

“National Basketball Association” (NBA) basketball playoff game in which the San Antonio Spurs trounced the Oklahoma City Thunder 124-92.

The format of the articles is that Prof. Mwenda raises a subject of very high public interest such as “should you wear used underwear”? He includes interesting anecdotes in the stories. Then he skillfully infuses and injects a legal perspective or public law into it. In this way the articles both entertain and educate you, they expose the reader to topics they never thought or knew about, and how the topic may relate to both national and international law.

Do women like used or second hand underwear? Do they like a used bra?

Do women like used or second hand underwear? Do they like a used bra?

For example, although I would not want to wear used or second hand underwear, I am not sure I want to stop other people who might make the choice. After all, the famous saying is that “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”. But Zambian law does not think so. “In Zambia, the Inspection and Acceptance Criteria for used Textiles Products (ZS 559:2004) criminalizes the selling or buying of second-hand underwear.” (p. 24) According to the article, other countries such as Zimbabwe and Ghana have passed similar laws prohibiting the sale of second-hand underwear for hygiene reasons. I would not have known this was even an issue if I had not read Kenneth Mwenda’s Anthology in Law and the Social Sciences. I am assuming some men like myself might

Do women like used or second hand underwear?

Do women like used or second hand underwear?

have strong views against wearing used underwear. What about women? Would they wear used underwear? Would they wear a second-hand bra?

As I read article after article, Kenneth Mwenda’s Anthology in Law and the Social Sciences did not disappoint me. The first few that I have read include: “Legalizing marijuana: to smoke or not to smoke?” “Working for a lousy boss”, “Does international law permit the searching of a diplomat?” “Can A Christian divorce and remarry?” “Falling in Love with Africa”, “Growing up and moving out of your parent’s home.”

Are You a Patriotic Zambian?

Part B contains many unedited extracts from the media which covers 93 pages of the book. One media story that attracted my interest was “Chileka Man Conceals Ex-Wife’s Private Parts Again” of August 27, 2009. In Malawi a man used magical powers to conceal his ex-wife’s private parts such that when she wanted to physically consume their love with her new lover, her private parts disappeared to both lovers’ frustration. Of course the Malawian courts got involved. Another article I found interesting was: “Did Kaunda Lead Zambia illegally?”

In the patriotic article Prof. Mwenda says Nelson Mandela went to Zambia first during his first visit abroad after 27 years in prison. Nelson Mandela with President Kaunda in Zambia in 1990.

In the patriotic article Prof. Mwenda says Nelson Mandela went to Zambia first during his first visit abroad after 27 years in prison. Nelson Mandela with President Kaunda in Zambia in 1990.

Part C of the book from Chapter 88 starting at page 915 contains: “Public intellectualism and philosophical inquiry through metaphors and muses”. This segment of the book has well over forty of these metaphors and muses. But Kenneth Mwenda’s Anthology in Law and the Social Sciences had one article that made me shed tears and made me proud of my patriotism as a Zambian was the piece: “A nation that stood tall above others and gave its best to the liberation of Southern Africa from colonial rule and apartheid”. Among us educated Africans being educated and “objective” often means always mercilessly contemptuously tearing apart your own country’s heritage and leaders. This piece spoke volumes about being very proud and positive about our own country both the past and present. If you are a Zambian you should inscribe this quote in your heart and all the public spaces in Zambia. We don’t beat our chests about it. But we have been and are a great nation.

Dead Aid: Book Review

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D

Professor of Sociology

“I would rather know it than be threatened by it”. – Mwizenge S. Tembo, September 26. 2005.

Dambisa Moyo, Dead Aid: Why Aid is not Working and How there is Another Way for Africa, London: Allen Lane, Penguin Books, 2009, pp. 188, $19.95, Paperback.

Introduction

A powerful billionaire at a major international aid conference called her and her book “Evil”. At a different forum an American-based Zambian intellectual blasted and excoriated her book as advocating that millions of poor Zambians and Africans should be denied life-saving assistance and therefore would die by the millions if Dr. Moyo’s views were implemented. The few comments by Zambians that I read on line on the internet expressed outrage that a Zambian would advocate such a deadly policy. The handful of Zambian critiques supported the billionaire claiming he was a kind man who was saving their lives. It never occurred to these few Zambians who were critical that a foreigner was unfairly calling one of their own Zambian intellectual and her intellectual ideas “Evil”. All of this unjustified and over the top vitriol was because Dr. Dambisa Moyo had just published the book: “Dead AID”.

Dead AID by Dambisa Moyo

Dead AID by Dambisa Moyo

International Flight

I was flying to Zambia in 2009 when the book caught my eye at the airport in Johannesburg. I bought it with the intention of reading the whole book on the long flight and may be using it for teaching my College or University students. I may have read a chapter or two but got distracted and never finished it. I was very surprised when on March 12, 2016, Dr. Moyo was still defending “promoting evil” remarks the billionaire had made in 2013 regarding her book. I decided I would read the entire book which I did in one day in between a very heavy work schedule.

Book Review

Dr. Dambisa Moyo in her book: “Dead Aid” explains very clearly in the very first chapter of the book: “The Myth of Aid” that there are 3 types of foreign or international aid. The first is humanitarian or emergency aid which is distributed in response to natural disasters such as earth quakes, the Asian tsunami in 2004, famine, disease epidemics such as Ebola in West Africa. The second is charity-based aid which is distributed on the ground by organizations in affected countries. This is the aid that might target malnutrition, empowering poor women, promote health care, birth control, or fight against poverty in general. The third is systematic aid “- that is, aid payments made directly to governments either through government-to-government transfers via institutions such as the World Bank (known as multilateral aid).” (p.7)

Dr. Moyo devotes about a paragraph to discussing some of the criticism that could be leveled at both emergency aid and charity aid in terms of how the aid is distributed and other weaknesses. She hastens to add: “But this book is not concerned with emergency and charity aid.” (p.7) She says that the significant emergency and charity aid that goes to Africa gives the wrong impression to the international community, the West, Africans, and Zambians that all types of aid to Zambia and Africa must be good aid doing good work helping and saving lives.

Dr. Dambisa Moyo devotes the first 4 chapters of the book criticizing and debunking the myth that the estimated one trillion dollars of systematic or government-to-government aid that rich countries have distributed to Africa since 1940 has resulted into meaningful, strong, and sustainable economic growth. She argues that this type of systematic aid has failed in Africa. Instead may have resulted into the decline of GDP and worsened corruption and may have fueled even civil wars in Africa. In the first four chapters or 68 pages of the book, she discusses “The Myth of Aid”, “A Brief History of Aid”, “Aid is Not Working” and “The Silent Killer of Growth”. She includes statistical and empirical data to argue her case in critiquing systematic or government-to-government aid.

Suggestions for Better Economic Strategies

In second 6 chapters or 86 pages or part II, Dr. Moyo devotes to “A World without Aid”. The six chapters include a discussion of: “A Radical Rethink of the Dependency Model”, “A Capital Solution”, and “The Chinese are Our Friends” and “Making Development Happen”. In a very pragmatic and non-dogmatic ways, she proposes some radical ways of how African countries could find and establish alternative ways of getting capital to use for economic development. She discusses and infuses the better role of flows of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as a better alternative for economic development in Africa rather than aid just as other countries do use FDI. She explores the role of trade, micro-credit organizations loans, and remittances from abroad as possible collective and better alternative means of creating economic growth in Africa while weaning from the aid dependency model.

Throughout the book, Dr. Moyo draws our attention to the reality that it will not be easy for Africa to eliminate the dependency on aid. “Africa is addicted to aid. For the past sixty years it has been fed aid. Like any addict it needs and depends on its regular fix, finding it hard, if not impossible, to contemplate existence in an aid-less world. In Africa, the West has found its perfect client to deal to.” (p.75)

Zambian Critiques of Dead Aid

When I was in graduate school doing my Ph. D. in the 1980s at the height of the anti-Apartheid Struggle, a black South African classmate told me that many books were banned during the Apartheid era. He did not want even his family members to know he was secretly reading some of the difficult to get banned books because if apprehended the whole family might have been hauled to prison. So at night he would pretend to go to bed in his tiny bedroom. He would retrieve the banned book from a secret location in the room. He would read the book using a torch or flashlight. Whenever anyone opened his bedroom door he would switch off the flash light and pretend to be asleep.

If Dambisa Moyo’s “Dead Aid” has erroneously acquired a bad reputation, you may find yourself unwilling to read it in case you are called names such as you are person who advocates “Evil”. Whether you are an ordinary Zambian, an educated elite, a college or university student, political party cadre or government official or an aid advocate, I recommend you read the book. You can even read it secretly. No one has to know. That’s why I came up with the saying: “I would rather know it than be threatened by it”. Never let the unknown intimidate you. All the 17 universities and colleges in Zambia should be reading this book so that we can have new perspectives and a robust debate. May be we could have better policies for economic growth into the future of Zambia.

International Critiques of Dead Aid

If you are an international critique of “Dead Aid” come up with better explanations as to why you disagree with Dr. Moyo’s argument. Read the book if you have not done so yet. To simply argue that Africans will die if Aid is taken away is to take the lowest denominator moral high ground. This is the argument that seems to imply that Africans, all 1 billion of us, are so helpless like children, that anything that takes away Aid will just kill most of us. One of the international critiques states: “Moyo is not offering a reasoned or evidence-based position on aid.” This statement appalled me because the entire book is full of statistics and arguments based on empirical logical arguments. What “evidence-based” position on aid does the person criticizing have? Let them show the evidence.

Conclusion

This review does not nearly cover or reveal everything Dr. Dambisa Moyo says in the book. She says some provocative things that I will leave for the readers to uncover. I found those ideas intellectually stimulating as I have thought them myself and have expressed them in some of my books. May be after you secretly read the book, let’s have a lively discussion and debate.

 

 

Term “Bride Price” Should be Banned

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo

Professor of Sociology

Introduction

The term “Bride Price” should immediately be banned from use anywhere in Zambia and Africa to refer to one of our cherished customs. I realize that the Europeans invented this term “Bride Price” in the 1700s and 1800s to refer to a fundamental aspect of Zambian and culture may have done it out of ignorance at the time. The great late eminent African scholar Ali Mazrui would have called what those early Europeans did to distort the meaning of this custom “European cultural arrogance”. I understand that the Europeans and their scholars, some of whom may even be Zambians and Africans, may still want to use it. If they so choose they can use “Bride Price” within the confines of European borders all the way to Britain, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, and Greece along the edges of the Mediterranean Sea. The people on the African continent must boycott and ban this term from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt all the way to Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Somalia, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, all the way to South Africa.

I will first explain to you why the term “Bride Price” must be banned, abandoned and boycotted. Second why there is so much confusion and ignorance about the term “Bride Price” among Zambians and Africans ourselves. Third, why the term “lobola” should be used instead using a dramatic social incident involving lobola going on in my large extended family right now. Lastly I will explain the proper traditional use  of “lobola” today if you would like to engage in it as a family whether your ethnic group or some of the 72 “tribes” in Zambia practiced lobola or not. I will end with the conclusion of the advantages of lobola in the 21st century marriages and extended families.

The book has more details about marital and other customs

The book has more details about marital and other customs

Why “Bride Price” Should be Banned

When Europeans first began to sail along the West coast of Africa in the 1600s, they did not know anything about Africa and African culture. In fact they called the interior of Africa “The Dark Continent” because they did not know about Zambia, Africa and Africans. When the Industrial Revolution occurred in Europe there was tremendous excitement among Europeans. Adam Smith’s “Wealth Nations” vividly reinforced the dominant advantages of the just discovered capitalism which hinges on commerce as the buying and selling and free market exchanging of everything including physical commodities, services, land, minerals, tobacco, sugar, cotton, silk, spices, indigo. Later on the famous Karl Marx exposed the key inner workings of capitalism. It was not surprising that Europeans went on to enslave anywhere from ten to 20 million Africans in the brutal Atlantic Slave Trade and European Colonialism in Africa in this atmosphere of practicing and enjoying the fruits of newly found capitalism and advancement of science.

It was in this atmosphere that Missionaries like David Livingstone and mining prospectors such as Cecil Rhodes arrived in Zambia and Africa from 1850s onwards. It was later in the late 1800s to the 1940s and 50s that anthropologists began to create knowledge about us Africans and Zambians for the benefit not of us Africans but European audience however misleading and distorted this knowledge might have been. It did not matter to the Europeans then perhaps even now. They had no ideas about complex kinships, marriage and family customs that had existed among us Zambian and Africans probably for many centuries perhaps going back to 100,000 to 50,000 years ago since Zambians and Africans are the origins of all the 7 billion people.

The European explorers, missionaries, travelers, and especially anthropologists observed numerous customs many of the so-called tribes in Zambia and Africa were practicing. They may have noted at the time that among these primitive people called Africans,  that when a man wanted to marry a woman, he had to transfer a certain amount valuables to the bride’s family; chickens, goats, cattle before the marriage could take place. The Europeans were so overwhelmed with capitalism, superiority complex and economic exchange of commodities that they wrongly called the custom: “Bride Price” and we as Zambians and Africans are stuck with that wrong term to this day. As a consequence among the 1 billion Africans especially the educated, we freely use “Bride Price” as it truly reflects what goes on in our marriages.

“Bride Price” does not exist

What many Europeans, educated modern Zambians, Africans, and other outsiders do not know is that the term “Bride Price” does not exist in any of the more than 18 Zambian major languages and may be 72 dialects, ethnic groups, and the 72 “tribes”. It may not exist among the 2,000 African languages and dialects. Even in Uganda where a feminists are fighting to eliminate the “Bride Price” which oppresses women in marriage.

For example, if the term “Bride Price” existed among say the Tumbuka people of the Eastern Province of Zambia and Northern Malawi, it would be called “kugula mwanakazi” which translates into English as “to buy a woman”. It would also be called “mtengo wa mwanakazi” which translates as “price of a woman”. These are expressions that are used for actual buying of commodities such as dresses, chickens, bicycles, and shoes. Instead the term that is used to refer to what goes on during complex marriage customs is “lobola” about which I will go into detail later. The distorted term “Bride Price” was inserted in all the press, books, college and university text books which are read around the world including our Zambian and African scholars. This had led to everyone wrongly believing we practice “Bride Price” which is the selling and buying of women and girls. There may have been some protests about the demeaning and dehumanizing nature of the use of the term “Bride Price”. The anthropologists and the editors of these text books that are circulated worldwide replaced the term “Bride Wealth” apparently to soften the use of the harsh term “Bride Price”. The distorted meaning of buying and selling women is still the same.

This book has fascinating details on how marriages were traditionally conducted.

This book has fascinating details on how marriages were traditionally conducted.

The Etic and Emic Perspectives

There are those who will argue that the use of “Bride Price” to describe a very important marital custom among Zambians, Africans, women rights campaigners, and radical feminist anthropologists is legitimate or accurately describes what is really happening because the natives themselves, including myself, are incapable of realizing what they are doing: buying and selling a woman. The argument is that it takes a clever outsider who is objective and educated may be with a Ph. D to actually explain the reality of the very rich social experiences if practiced the way it was in the African traditional society. The belief is that the “emic” is the perspective that the natives, local people, or insiders who say they are practicing the “lobola” custom will have. The “etic” is that perspective of the critical expert, objective, superior, more educated, better informed individual that calls this marital custom “Bride Price”. This “etic” perspective is what everyone should believe. The author strongly disagrees with this outdated point of view.

Lobola the Best Term

Zambians and Africans should never ever use “Bride Price” as it does not exist in any Zambian or African culture. Instead, lobola or any equivalent term in your indigenous Zambian or African culture should be used.  Lobola may have been practiced among some ethnic and tribal groups going back to the 1820s. There is evidence of the practice among the Zulu in the Chaka Empire in the 1820s. (Ritter, 1955, 1978) The Ngonis and other tribes may have spread the marital custom among the peoples in present day Zambia, Southern Tanzania, Northern Malawi and elsewhere in Southern Africa.

What Happened During Lobola?

Let’s say John NKhata of Mtema Village knows a young woman Mary Mvula of Basiti that he would like to propose marriage to. John would go to Mary Mvula’s village and propose to her. If she finds him attractive and accepts the proposal, very complex social relationships and actions begin to develop. John’s family will select a Thenga or go between to go to Mary Mvula’s family to begin talks about malowolo. Immediately there were social ripples of excitement between the 2 large extended families of the couple because the two families were going to unite. Marriage in Zambian traditional society was never only about just the 2 people getting married. The malowolo negotiations would take numerous visits back and forth between the 2 families and villages. After may be 6 months to a year, the lobola may have been two cows and may be 3 or some other valuables. These were never meant for the father of the Mary Mvula to enrish himself or just to spend on his own. Almost always traditionally as livestock, it was seen as a modest investment to be kept for the whole family. The lobola was often never given in total before the marriage. What you are reading here about how lobola is conducted is very simplified and abbreviated. But the entire lobola social transactions and involving large kinship networks were very complex but very enjoyable and useful for the couple and the 2 large extended families in the two villages.  Read Tembo, 2012; Chondoka, 1988, and Ngulube, 1989 for more details about this custom.

Lobola Custom in 2016

In May 2015, I received an email and later a phone call from Zambia. My large extended family in Zambia regularly hold family meetings which are modeled after the traditional mphala of the Tumbuka people or insaka among the Bemba people. They discuss family marriages and wedding arrangements. Often they get together to attend to funerals. One of our young men who is an engineer, who I will call David, had met and proposed marriage to a young woman from Central African Republic, Rita, who he had met while both were attending school at CrytalRose Polytechnic State University in Los Angeles in California. They wanted a traditional marriage including lobola. I was appointed the Thenga (go between) because I was an elder and knew the traditional marriage customs. I was surprised, honored and humbled to participate in this role. The first question I asked myself: “What young people today who are less than 30 years old, who grew up in the city like Lusaka, live abroad would want to practice the traditional custom of lobola in marriage?”

To cut a long story short, I consulted by phone and email with the Thenga from the bride;s family for 6 months. Both couple’s families are scattered in the Central Africa Republic Mali, Zambia, the United States and Britain. At one time we suspended the negotiations for more than a week because there was a death in the bride’s family in Bangui. Her uncle had died. Eventually, we came up with a lobola amount of several cattle equivalent in money. Members of the families will travel to Lusaka for the wedding soon. The couple will return to the United States as man and wife to start their lives together after the wedding. But families on both sides already know each other so much better because pf the lobola negotiations besides many other rich customs.

This book has more details about traditional Zambian culture and marital customs.

This book has more details about traditional Zambian culture and marital customs.

“Bride Price” distortions

There is plenty of confusion about the misuse of this very useful marital custom. There was headline in the international news a few months ago: “Uganda’s Bride Price Ruling Marks Women’s Rights Milestone, But Clashes With Customary Laws.” http://www.ibtimes.com/ugandas-bride-price-ruling-marks-womens-rights-milestone-clashes-customary-laws-2059128

Some will see my advocating this lobola which many will misinterprete as the same as “Bride Price” as setting back women’s rights in Uganda, Zambia and the rest of Africa. This would be throwing out the baby with bath water. This attitude or opposition would be understandable in that the use of “Bride Price” in the headline and in Uganda and elsewhere bears confirmation of the original sin or distortion when Europeans mischaracterized or distorted the custom. What compounded the problem is that virtually all educated Africans who use European languages have wrongly accepted the use of the term “Bride Price” instead of lobola.

The men and families who charge high “Bride Prices” because their daughter is educated or very valuable are playing right into the hands of the original Europeans who coined the distorted or wrong term “Bride Price”. The Ugandans and other modern Zambian and African men and families who abuse this “Bride Price” as license  to abuse their  wives and keep them captive when she wants a divorce are also ignorant because that was never the intended purpose of lobola in the traditional customs.

Conclusions

Practicing the original lobola in a positive traditional way with all its cultural and customary richness would be very valuable for strengthening marriages and strengthening families that unite in marriage today. Tribes and ethnic groups that traditionally never practiced the lobola custom can adopt it too to strengthen their marital experience. No Zambian and African should be prisoner of archaic terms that Europeans invented centuries ago to portray negatively what Zambians and Africans had enjoyed for ages. You will notice that I have avoided the use of the term “pay” to describe how the groom’s family delivers lobola to the bride’s family. This is another negative power of using English because it is a very powerful hegemonic tool for distorting our culture and creating the epistemology that both oppresses and distorts how we see our own lives as Zambians and Africans.

References

  1. Chondoka, Yizenge A., Traditional Marriages in Zambia: A Study in Cultural History,Ndola: Mission Press, 1988.
  2. Kottak, Conrad Philips., Anthropology: Exploration of Human Diversity, 12thEdition, New York: McGrawhill, 2008.
  3. Ngulube, Naboth M. J., Some Aspects of Growing Up in Zambia,Lusaka: Nalinga Consultancy/Sol. Consult A/S Limited, 1989.
  4. Ritter, E. A., Shaka Zulu,New York: Penguine Books, 1955, 1978.
  5. Tembo, Mwizenge S., Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture: Social Change in the Global World,Indian: Xlibris Corporation, 2012
  6. http://www.ibtimes.com/ugandas-bride-price-ruling-marks-womens-rights-milestone-clashes-customary-laws-2059128
  7. http://people.bridgewater.edu/~mtembo/menu/articles/TraditionalAfricanFamily.shtml
  8. http://www.hungerforculture.com/?page_id=334

 

 

The Kukaya-Kufwasa Center for Contemplation of Knowledge – Part Two

by Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Introduction

I was triumphantly standing on a hill overlooking one of the many breathtaking beautiful valleys in Zambia particularly during the rainy season of December. I was not alone. I was standing before the beautiful scene with two other intellectuals; Marita Banda, Mulenga Kapwepwe, and an eight year old girl Temwani Banda who was Marita Banda’s niece. What were we doing here in the wilderness away from the hustle and bustle of the Capital City of Lusaka with its nonstop action everywhere you go? This was the beginning of the culmination of the longtime dream I have had over the last 10 or even 30 years to establish a serene location in the Savannah wilderness where Zambians can

Right to Left Mulenga Kapwepwe, Marita Banda, and Temwani Banda

Right to Left Mulenga Kapwepwe, Marita Banda, and Temwani Banda

contemplate knowledge. We were scouting for a location of The Kukaya-Kufwasa Center for Contemplation of Knowledge near the Chongwe area along the Great East Road. If you have not yet done so read part one of this story to understand the background to this article.

Woman Breaks Intense Discourse

Mulenga Kapwepwe, Marita Banda, Temwani Banda and I were standing in a circle deeply engaged in an intense discourse of intellectual ideas in the middle of the Savannah grassy wilderness on top of a hill. We discoursed about gender in traditional Zambia and contemporary Western distortion of the status of Zambian women. I elaborated on the Zambian Temba Sangweni philosophical thesis about how the womb may influence human thought process in psychology. Idea after idea kept coming. We were so focused and engrossed that we lost track of time and where we were standing. At one time I remember in the periphery of my consciousness of my eye being aware of a boy walk by with a herd of cows. Suddenly a slender woman perhaps in her fifties approached us and paused about 20 meters or 20 yards from where the four of us were standing.

Village Headman Ngobela

Village Headman Ngobela

We instantly stopped as if coming out of a dream. The woman politely greeted us in somewhat very halty broken Nyanja. We responded.

“Banthu wadabwa kuti nibandani yayimira apa na motoka panthawi yotali?” she asked. (People in the village have been wondering what strangers standing around in the bush with a vehicle were doing?)

Strangers Standing in the Bush

That’s when it suddenly hit me. I have lived in the village since the 1950s and conducted research in rural villages in Eastern and Southern Province for many years. The first cardinal rule of protocol if you go anywhere in a rural area for an extended time, you have to visit and seek permission of the headman. In the midst of the spontaneous philosophical and intellectual discourse, we had lost track of time and became unconscious that were spending too much time just standing in the bush; 1 man, 2 women and a young girl. It doesn’t get and stranger than and as puzzling as this.

Village Headman Ngobela with Mwizenge Tembo

Village Headman Ngobela with Mwizenge Tembo

I apologized profusely and told her talakwa; twa phwanya mwambo. (We were wrong we had broken custom.) I explained to her that we had seen the beautiful valley and the hills from near Chongwe on the Great East Road. We wanted to see how the valley looked like from here on this side. I assured her that our stay was peaceful. As a matter of courtesy I offered that we pay a visit to the village headman. The woman entered the vehicle and we drove to the village to meet the headman.

We Meet the Headman

We entered the mphungu; which is a small round structure with a grass roof but with open sides. We sat down until the Headman who had been summoned arrived. He sat down, greeted us in a mixture of Lenje and Lusaka Nyanja languages. He told us he was Headman Ngobola. He told us his village is in Chief Bundaunda which is between Chieftainess Nkomeshya and Mphashya further East in Rufunsa region.

One Zambia One Nation

We told Headman Ngobela that the land was beautiful and that the woman who had met us was very friendly since we had not consulted him first. He said the land we had been standing on belongs to a Tumbuka man. He also said there were 2 Bemba men who had settled in the area. I told him that in my home village in Lundazi, there was a Tonga man who had married and had settled. He was speaking Tonga with Tumbuka accent. We all laughed. This is when Headman said something that was very profound. It makes me and should make every Zambian feel very proud and lucky to be a Zambian. Referring to people from various tribes who have settled in his area; Headman Ngobela said in his painful mixture of the Lenje and Lusaka Nyanja language:

“Mlemdo abwera ni katemo kakuthwa. Tizinkhala wa mtendere. Kaunda anatigwirisa One Zambia One Nation.” (A visitor sometime comes with a sharp axe. We should live in peace. President Kaunda united us Zambians under One Zambia One Nation”. At the end of our visit, we were given some very delicious bagful of mangoes.

Woman who found us who late r gave us a gift of mangoes.

Woman who found us who late r gave us a gift of mangoes.

Conclusion

Our trip had been more than successful. We learned by accident what the Kukaya_kufwasa Center for Contemplation of Knowledge will do in being a hosting place for intellectual and philosophical ideas. The fact that all the villages had a strict accounting of who steps on their land created the traditional security which is the comfort and security of all village life in Zambia. Although we had been only scouting and not yet chosen where the center may be located, this was a very good start.

References

  1. Bohannan, Paul., and Curtin, Philip, Africa and Africans, 4th edition, Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press, 1995.
  2. Kufwasa http://people.bridgewater.edu/~mtembo/menu/articles/kufwasa.shtml
  3. Kukaya http://www.hungerforculture.com/?p=1537
  4. http://www.hungerforculture.com/?p=1212

The Kukaya-Kufwasa Center for Contemplation of Knowledge

by Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Introduction

I was in awe triumphantly standing on a hill overlooking one of the many breathtaking beautiful valleys in Zambia particularly during the rainy season of December. This was just beyond the Chongwe Bridge East of Lusaka along the Great East Road. I had turned east on to the narrow muddy gravel road at Kazemba junction just inside Rufunsa jurisdiction. I had driven in the rental 4 wheel Ford Ranger pickup truck for 16 Kms. or 10 miles deep into the Savannah wilderness. There was a creek whose small concrete bridge might have been washed away last year. The 4 wheel drive sailed through the bottom of the shallow bridgeless creek as easily and as smoothly as changing a baby’s diaper or nappy.

Temwani pointing to the beautiful valley. Marita Banda in the middle and Mulenga Kapwepwe.

Temwani pointing to the beautiful valley just after Chongwe River bridge. Marita Banda in the middle and Mulenga Kapwepwe.

I was not alone. I was standing before the beautiful scene with two other intellectuals; Marita Banda, Mulenga Kapwepwe, and an eight year old girl Temwani Banda who was Marita Banda’s niece. What were we doing here in the wilderness away from the hustle and bustle of the Capital City of Lusaka with its nonstop action everywhere you go? This was the beginning of the culmination of the longtime dream I have had over the last 10 or even 30 years to establish a serene location in the Savannah wilderness where Zambians can contemplate knowledge.

Mwizenge Tembo admiring the beautiful valley, while Temwani Banda and Mulenga Kapwepwe look on.

Mwizenge Tembo admiring the beautiful valley, while Temwani Banda and Mulenga Kapwepwe look on.

What would be the reason of such a remote difficult to reach location? Why not open such a place in the middle of Lusaka so that seminars and workshops can be held there which everyone can attend? What will be the name of the place? What will be special about it? Am I, Mulenga Kapwepwe and Marita Banda the best and most educated intellectuals in Zambia? Why bring an 8 year old child to such a serious event? So she can jump around, rudely whine that she is bored with being in the bushes, and cause us to leave early?

The Kukaya-Kufwasa Center

The reason why the four of us were there will be explained in a rather an unusual fashion. We live in a world today in which every moment we are bombarded and overwhelmed with excessive chatter and information of little value or right out being irrelevant. I will explain the purpose of the center while describing something that happened spontaneously as the four of us were standing there in the Savannah

Marita Banda and Temwani Banda with the beautiful valley behind them.

Marita Banda and Temwani Banda with the beautiful valley behind them.

wilderness for hours undistracted. You will read information jam packed into this one short article because that is what happened. But there are even more surprises. If you are impatient and don’t want to read long articles that don’t say what is important in half a page in 5 short bulleted points, its time to skip this article entirely or come back to it later when you have more  kufwasa time. May be you don’t know what the “kufwasa” Zambian philosophical term means. May be this is one reason this article may be very important. http://people.bridgewater.edu/~mtembo/menu/articles/kufwasa.shtml

I had first sent an article earlier in December to both Mulenga Kapwepwe and Marita Banda to read. Then I asked them if they could come on the historic trip with me. The title of that article was: “Kukaya-Kufwasa Center for Contemplation.” The idea was to bring a young girl and boy on the trip to accompany us. The reason will be explained later. The young girl Temwani Banda was quickly found but we could not find a young boy. We ran out of time.

Contemplating Knowledge Kukaya-Kufwasa Center

As we stood overlooking the beautiful valley surrounded by the serene wilderness it is as if the spirits of our ancestors going back hundreds of years had suddenly reentered our minds. There was no spirit possession here. We just begun to talk. It was nothing formal. I expressed my wish and internal drive to both share with other Zambians and go beyond the knowledge that both indigenous and foreign that I had acquired over the last 50 years. I told them about philosopher Michael Polanyi “Tacit Dimension of Knowledge”. I told them of my encounter with Temba Sangweni; a Zambian 12th grade intellectual who inspired me who was searching for knowledge in 1989 or 28 years ago.

Mulenga Kapwepwe admiring the beautiful valley.

Mulenga Kapwepwe admiring the beautiful valley.

Marita Banda brought up her knowledge of the Maharishi Effect; that the energy expressed in knowledge in humans happens in subconscious process of communication and contemplation. I told them that a week earlier, my 91 year old father who is a retired teacher told me again about “mdulo”; the traditional indigenous belief that if a young woman has improper sex and goes on to cook and serve food especially older men and women, the people become victims of mdulo which is a cough that had no scientific modern physiological explanation. The treatment is herbs. Of course the West and other Eurocentric Zambians have dismissed this and other indigenous knowledge as superstition. They will often say everyone knows those African natives live in dirty dusty unhygienic mud huts, unsanitary environments, and worst of all believe in witchcraft.

Marita also shared her deep interest in epigenetics and how they might relate to both our indigenous knowledge and improving our lives today. It was then that she said something very profound: we can really use the best from both worlds; the indigenous and Western. I agreed and added that better still we could push the frontiers of knowledge into a better, deeper and newer different direction as our ancestors might have done thousands of years ago before Europeans enslaved us via the Atlantic Slave Trade and before European colonialism over the entire African continent.

Mulenga Kapwepwe who had been listening intently had walked away briefly a few meters away. She and Temwani were deeply engrossed in the flora and fauna, and the flying and walking insects. Mulenga was using her cell phone to carefully photograph these beautiful fascinating creatures and tropical plants.

Mulenga Kapwepwe chimed in with something very profound. She said the sad part is that we as humans are changing ourselves losing so much of what we have had for over a hundred thousand years. Western technology was erasing so much of what we had learned from our physical environment as humans. She cited the example that the Western society is totally dominated by the tick tock time. As a result Western bodies have only 2 rhythms while the natural bodies here in Zambia and Africa may have up to 7 rhythms. She added that rhythm and grace are what gives us humans speed and the richness of syncopation in our lives.

I added that we Zambians do not have polyrhythmic dances anymore as the Western dominated linear rythmless choreography dance through video clips dominate our entertainment. We were actually right there and then both kukaya http://www.hungerforculture.com/?p=1537

and experiencing kufwasa http://people.bridgewater.edu/~mtembo/menu/articles/kufwasa.shtml

and that’s what this center was going to do; provide a serene space where Zambians can engage and contemplate deep thought and intellectual discourse.

The role of the Child

The late Nigerian Writer is the one who might have said it best. He had said being a child in Zambia and Africa gives you the best position to observe and understand life around you including that of adults. I also subscribe to the traditional Tumbuka expression: “Mwana wopulikila wakurya tuwemi”,  which translates with complex metaphors as: “A child who listens to adults eats good delicious things”. The purpose of bringing 8 year old Temwani Banda to the event was that she can later bear

An 8 year old child sits next to the women attending a meeting of the construction of the Nkhanga Village Library in June 2009

An 8 year old child sits next to the women attending a meeting of the construction of the Nkhanga Village Library in June 2009

historical testimony; that she was there when the three adults were scouting for the Kukaya-Kufwasa Center for Contemplation of Knowledge. She turned out to be the best behaved child we could have brought along. She was curious and asked questions along the way without being disruptive. At the same time she enjoyed the precious opportunity as a child should. We as Africans have traditionally allowed children to attend the most solemn of adult gatherings so long as the child behaves him or herself. Describing this custom among the TIV of Nigeria, Bohannan and Curtin (1995) say: “….children are allowed to go any place, so long as they keep quiet. They can go into the most solemn court proceedings and sit down and listen. ….children at the age of eight or nine often get interested in court cases or political meetings.” (p.73)

Conclusion

The article cannot be concluded as more happened as the four of us were deeply engrossed in quite complex intellectual discourse in the middle of the beautiful Savannah Wilderness. A second part will have more intriguing details. A woman politely intruded and broke our kufwasa.

References

  1. Bohannan, Paul., and Curtin, Philip, Africa and Africans, 4th edition, Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press, 1995.
  2. Kufwasa http://people.bridgewater.edu/~mtembo/menu/articles/kufwasa.shtml
  3. Kukaya http://www.hungerforculture.com/?p=1537

 

Lusaka is a Driving Nightmare

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Introduction

I had just finished shopping at the Downtown Shopping Mall on the South-End of Cairo Road around the Kafue Round About. I turned left heading South to Kafue but I was going to Manda Hill on the Great East Road. I had to turn right at the robots toward Lumumba Road. I didn’t want to go to Lumumba Road because I knew there would be more traffic congestion. The U- Turn back toward Cairo Road was wide open. As soon as I made the U- Turn into an unusually wide open lane, I knew I was in deep trouble when a Traffic Police Officer stopped me immediately. He politely told me I had broken a traffic code as I was not supposed to make a U-turn. My protesting that I did not see any big visible “no U-Turn” sign did not change the officer’s mind. I was invited to the back of a make shift police station at the back of a van where I paid the fine.

Traffic Standstill on Cairo Road in Luasaka.

Traffic Standstill on Cairo Road in Luasaka.

Driving in Lusaka is any driver’s worst nightmare. There is congestion night and day in virtually all parts of the city. Cairo Road is probably the worst. It took me over 30 minutes to drive from Katondo Street across to the Main Post Office. If I had walked, it would have taken me may be 5 minutes.

A “Zambian Watchdog” article of May 2011 has a head line that says: “Traffic Jams and used cars terrorize Zambia’s Roads”. Another article by Kelvin Kachingwe in UKZambians web page in February 2008 said: “Lusaka becoming auto jungle – 50 vehicles per day are being imported”. It is estimated that 300 used cars are being imported into Zambia every day.

In spite all the traffic congestion, to be fair, I never saw any traffic accident in the two weeks I drove in Lusaka last month. Drivers help each other out and every driver negotiates incredibly tight space leaving mere millimeters between vehicles which often may raise one’s temperature and levels of anxiety.  Is there a solution to the traffic nightmare and gridlock in Lusaka? There are two possible solutions: first an underground train system and second a new massive sophisticated road highway system around Lusaka. Doing nothing or just building more side roads are not best solutions in the long run.

Underground Tunnel Train System

Lusaka should have 5 major underground train tunnels. The first train tunnel should be from the round about going to the Kenneth Kaunda International airport near Chelston on the Great East Road all the way to Cairo Road. The second underground train tunnel should start from Zanimuone or Landless Corner on the Kabwe or Great North Road all the Way to Cairo Road. The third train tunnel should start from Bauleni, Mtendere, partially under Independence Avenue, under the current Intercity Bus Terminal and Railway station, and finally connect to Cairo Road between Churchhill Road and Independence Avenue. The fourth train tunnel should start from Munda Wanga Botanical Gardens along Kafue Road all the way to Cairo Road. The fifth train tunnel should start from Chilenje and Chilenje South extension through Kabwata, and Kamwala Shopping Center under the Independence Avenue flyover bridge into Cairo Road. The whole area underground between Cairo Road, Cha-Cha-Cha Road, and Freedom Way should have a massive underground railway station where all the trains form the City will interchange.

Traffic Jam during rush hour along the Great East Road in Lusaka.

Traffic Jam during rush hour along the Great East Road in Lusaka.

Sophisticated Road Highways

If the underground tunnel is deemed not possible or too expensive, Lusaka should have a sophisticated road highway system. Four lane highways should be constructed on elevated massive pillars on top and along the five major current road arteries as described already; on the Great East Road, Independence Avenue from Mtendere and Bauleni, from Chilanga on the Kafue Road, and from Zanimuone on the Great North Road all leading to and some highways bypassing above Cairo Road. We cannot afford to have any major roads on the ground anymore as construction has used up all the ground space in Lusaka. These highways would be high speed expressways where there would be no stopping allowed. Slower cars and other limping vehicles would use the current ground roads underneath the elevated highways on massive pillars. The Highway Traffic Officers would enforce the new rules.

Advantages and Benefits

All of these recommendations if implemented would ease road traffic congestion in most parts of Lusaka, save billions of Kwacha in money spent on petrol by thousands of idling vehicles that are caught in perpetual traffic jams. The life spans of the vehicles would be extended. People would sleep better as they would not have to wake up very early to drive to work which would lower costs of medical conditions that happen due to stress. The flow of commerce in the city would be improved.

 

 

Everyone Needs Kukaya

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Introduction

What is a Kukaya? Kaya is a Tumbuka language noun which depicts a physical place in Savannah Africa where people who are closely related due to deep kinship ties build houses, huts, and dwellings that they share. Calling it a village limits the meaning of kaya as it has a deeper emotional meaning to Zambians and Africans who still live and identify with kaya. Ku-kaya – the prefix Ku is an adjective that denotes “to” as in Tumbuka: “Nkhuluta Kukaya” “I am going to Kaya”.

Kukaya is where all the houses of people you love are next to each other.

Kukaya is where all the houses of people you love are next to each other.

Kukaya is where your soul can wander. Kukaya is where girls and boys go to school to learn, gain knowledge and skills that they may use later in their adult lives as women and men. The boys and girls are learning in the modern school while being raised within the deepest aspects of their roots, traditions, and culture; chikayaKukaya is deeply buried in your heart although you may be ten thousand miles, 16,000Kms, or just four hundred miles or just 600Kms away. Kukaya is a place where all the people you love so deeply smile,  speak to you, quarrel with you, mourn with you and even laugh in the most comforting language; your mother tongue.

Kukaya in Zambia

Kukaya in Zambia and Savannah Africa is a place where you are related to all the children, boys, girls, men and women. Kukaya is a place where the maize for cooking the nshima, nsima, or sima staple traditional food, the peanuts for the nthendelo peanut powder and the delicious ndiwo, dende, umunani, or relish that is cooked is so fresh as it has just been picked from the garden just next to the house. Kukaya is where the food has been carefully cooked using wood fire taking plenty of time and served while the whole family eats together with plenty of love.

Kukaya is where all the women, girls, children spend time together. Children know who they are.

Kukaya is where all the women, girls, children spend time together. Children know who they are.

Kukaya as the seat of the soul is a place where all the chickens clack and roosters crow, goats bleat, cows moo, nkhunda domestic pigeons sing, pigs roll in the mud, dogs bark, cats catch rats. The livestock all intermingle with the people. Kukaya is where you can enjoy succulent fruits such as fresh pawpaws, mangoes, guavas, bananas, oranges, and wild fruits. Kukaya is where children as young as five years reveal their soul as they play with the freedom that most children can’t even dream about in the contemporary cities and urban life. Kukaya is where children even go to school through miles of bush paths while being watched and cared for by all adults. Kukaya is a place where you can walk barefoot and wear a t-shirt and enjoy your daily commune with nature and spirit of the beautiful daily blue sunshine of the Savannah.

Kukaya is where you play drums, dance, and sing all night to the Vimbuza Spiritual dance.

Kukaya is where you play drums, dance, and sing all night to the Vimbuza Spiritual dance.

Kukaya and Nature

Kukaya is where people don’t cage pet lions, snakes, wasps, frogs and all creatures because one can see these creatures everyday if one wants to. Kukaya is where the thatched houses and homes of your father, mother, brothers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins are all next to each other. Kukaya is where you quarrel with relatives but you still remain close. Kukaya is where at night you can see all the twinkling stars and the bright Milky Way. Kukaya is where the moon lights are mesmerizing. Kukaya is where you hear the distant singing and rhythmic sounds of the vimbuza dance drumming deep into the dark night as one turns over in one’s sleep.

Kukaya is where children drink fresh clean water from a hand driven borehole pump.

Kukaya is where children drink fresh clean water from a hand driven borehole pump.

Visit Kukaya Soon

Kukaya is where during the cold nights in June one can sit with relatives around a fire late into the night chatting about yesteryear while you bury sweet potatoes kandolo deep in the hot red ambers of the fire as a late night snack. Kukaya is the only place where the grave yard has all your relatives from bygone days are buried in one place. Kukaya has a special place in our hearts that we yearn to visit and dream about every day.

The reason this author has tremendous grief for all Zambians and Africans who don’t know kukaya is that this is what they are missing; it is simply put Heaven on Earth.  So make an effort to visit kukaya soon especially during this holiday season.

 

Ta-Lakata: Tears of Africa – Book Review

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Princess Zindaba Nyirenda, Ta Lakata: The Tears of Africa,  New York: Eloquent Books, 2009, 209 pp., 30.00 US Dollars, Hard Cover.

The world has information technology explosion; the internet, the cell phone, texting, twitter, blogs, journals, television, and on-line Newspapers. There are thousands of books being published every day. As I was quickly browsing through the “Acknowledgements” of  “Ta – Lakata – Tears of Africa”, something unusual caught my eye. A few italicized words were in a language dear to my heart: “akulu bane-yebo” – my older brother thank you; “mukanilinda yebo” – you escorted me thank you; “Bena Mphamba, munyakeso cha!” – we are Mphamba people, no one else. The italicized language was my mother tongue; the Tumbuka African language from ten thousand miles away from Lundazi in the remote Eastern Province of Zambia in Southern Africa.

Ta-Lakata Tears of Africa

Ta-Lakata The Tears of Africa

Excitement

I was excited; I took a triple take at the cover of the book, and quickly flipped through the pages. What I saw was not only heartwarming but very stunningly familiar. I wanted to tell everyone I met, call my neighbors, my friends, all Americans, Africans, and all Zambians to read the book. This is the story of a woman who grew up about twenty-one miles from my home village. But her adult life is very different. Although we never crossed paths earlier in our lives in Zambia, we share a very common foundation just growing up with some aspects of traditional Zambia. This common foundation may be true for and shared by many Zambian and African women as well as men of her generation.

She was born Princess Zindaba Nyirenda of the royal family of Chief Mphamba of the Tumbuka people of Lundazi in Zambia. What makes her story riveting and keeps you turning pages is how she immigrated to the United States at the age of 21 in 1985.  She accompanied her husband with their children but experienced unpredictable pain of separation and suffering with her whole family being ten thousand miles away back in Zambia in Africa. The most devastating is when dozens of her siblings, relatives, and former classmates died of HIV/AIDS. Zindaba recalls them as the dreaded midnight calls. She sought solace and comfort in God, prayer, and the Bible during such moments of deep grief.

“Ta –Lakata; The Tears of Africa”  is the untold story of the contemporary African who has the long umbilical cord connected to Africa but lives abroad most of her adult life. How does one reconcile the tensions of the abject poverty, death, AIDS orphans, and the suffering that exists in Africa, on the one hand,  and the wealth, affluence, and excesses of the  Unites States, on the other hand? No wonder Zindaba feels frustrated, disappointed, depressed, and in some cases angry.

Narrative Tone

The urgent-tone narrative of the book is right from the busy multi-tasking contemporary reader who has the cell phone in hand, texts and twits people, eats a hamburger while watching TV: the book reads fast and furious. The book demands not to be put down not even for a few minutes. The title “Ta Lakata” draws on the metaphor of dry leaves falling off the tree, floating away, and falling all over the world. These are the Africans and Zambians who floated away from the homeland tree of Africa but live all over the world today including the United States.

Zindaba shares intimate details about her family growing up in the city and then a rural  small sleepy town of Lundazi. Her journey from this small town, to St. Monica’s Girls Catholic School, to University of Zambia, and finally the United States is fascinating because she uses a furious and in some places provocative narrative. Describing childhood in her family, Zindaba says: “The Nyirenda children were known in our town as “tubazungu” (the little white girls), because we spoke a lot of English and led a pro-Western lifestyle, and because in a place that traditionally expects only boys to be leaders, we, the girls, created our own entertainment for the village children.” (p.25)

This reflects the many contractions and conflicts that were inherent in many Africans of many generations perhaps since the 1880s in the classic novel “Things Fall Apart” by the renowned African writer Chinua Achebe.  This is the conflict between Western Christian culture and indigenous Tumbuka or African lifestyles. For example, describing  her experiences in the village Chinamwali traditional girls initiation ceremony, Zindaba says:

“Here I was, a girl from the city who danced to discotheque music like the songs of Michael Jackson’s  “Thriller” and The Commodores, reciting all their lyrics by heart. And the women in the village were beating drums demonstrating and teaching me how to wiggle my waistline. “My God, this child is stiff!” they would exclaim angrily……..After this whole episode, I graduated with mkanda strand of beads adorning my waistline, ……….” (p. 103-104)

Conflicting Influences

Clearly, these powerful conflicting influences are apparent in her entire book.

Zindaba links her personal family tragedy to the last five chapters in which she challenges all readers to day to find a solution to poverty, HIV/AIDS, orphaned children and death in Africa. Zindaba proposes that the heavy contamination of drinking water and pollution by the mining industry chemical waste disposal, unclean drinking water in the entire country, and malaria may be leading to poverty, disease, suffering, and the high death rates in Zambia and Africa. What is the reader going to do? Why is there so much silence among Africans and Zambians about these serious problems especially wide spread deaths from HIV/AIDS?

“This AIDS epidemic is indicative that the land and the air is so polluted, and people are not going to survive until we address the source of this calamity and dilemma in the Southern hemisphere. People are dying, suffering from every single thing and more – a product of careless mining efforts and mess that is man-made, engineered by human hands in the quest of materialism and spreading civilization – and no one is doing anything about it. People are choosing to remain silent, and this silence reigns.” (p. 169)

Is it because of deep shame? She does not spare herself blame for being silent for so long. What is very eerie is that in the very last part of the chapter of the book, she gets another mid-night phone call; her sister had just died of HIV/AIDS.

African Elites

The book is about the elite Africans who were born in the 1960s at the dawn political independence from European colonialism in Africa coming to intellectual maturity. They want to tell their own story and ask the difficult problems of globalization today. The book is passionate and refreshing as it is no longer about how an American reporter, Western technocrat, or International AID worker sees the lives of Africans. We have enough of these books.  It is an African herself passionately expressing and narrating her point of view and perhaps the views and experiences of many Zambians and Africans in the Diaspora.

I highly recommend this book for all readers who want to understand what it means to be an African living abroad to day. I especially recommend it for all young and older Zambians and Africans who live in the Diaspora. This book will expose you to a little bit about our history, the role of Christianity and spirituality in our lives, some of the triumphs, joys and nostalgia we enjoy. Zindaba will also expose you to the pain, grief, heart breaks and frustrations we endure every day, and some of the hope, the possible questions and solutions to our lives. The book really expresses the strength and resilience we have always had as Zambians and Africans.

 

 

What Good is Thanksgiving this year?

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

We are only fourteen days from the terrible Paris attacks in which 130 people were killed and scores wounded. Before that, suicide bombings in Beirut had killed 43 and wounded 239. Two days before the Paris attacks, Boko Haram in Nigeria had killed an estimated 60 people and wounded hundreds in suicide bombings. There is heightened anxiety and vigilance about whether these terror campaign bombings and shootings will hit the American streets. One can ask the question: “What should we have Thanksgiving for when we are living with so much terror, death and war?” Where is God?

This is what we should characterize not as the fog of war but the fog of life. The most troubling memories from those who survived the immediate aftermath of the total destruction after nuclear bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan to end WW II, was not just the utter devastation itself the likes of which no one had seen before. But it was the aimless wandering of survivors as there were no other human beings in sight to help the wounded survivors and the destitute in cities of more than 300,000 thousand.

This Thanksgiving we should be thankful that the survivors of the Paris massacres, the Beirut bombings, and the Boka Haram killings have police, the military, emergency workers, hospitals, doctors, nurses, families, neighbors and all of us who offered them love and consoled them. We should be thankful that those killed can be laid to rest is safe peaceful cemeteries. We have been there with candle lights at make shift memorials.

Cooked Turkey ready to be served at the Family Thanksgiving table.

Cooked Turkey ready to be served at the family Thanksgiving table.

These tragic events this Thanksgiving may be the best moments for us to acknowledge what we have lost, appreciate what we have, and the best we can truly hope for tomorrow. We have lost so many people and military members in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. We have lost so many lives to guns due to gun violence in cities, neighborhoods, streets, families, schools and colleges. Many of us may have an empty seat at the Thanksgiving table because a member of the family passed away this year who might have been a patriarch or matriarch in so many ways we might never have truly realized until they were gone. Others are grown children who have moved away to distant places for work and marriage. All we have is their empty seat and place mat. Pets that used to hover under the table may also have passed away.

The brightest part of Thanksgiving is if the family has the newest member who was born or was adopted this past year. The new exciting addition of the baby may sooth some of the emptiness we may feel as families. That empty seat will have a baby booster on it with a young person who is wondering what this spectacle is all about with all the chatter, cheer, laughter, smells and taste of food, and clanking silverware. Next year the new member of the family will forever know what Thanksgiving dinner is and will happily anticipate and participate in it for many years to come. We should all be thankful that we have each other and can still feel good, have hope and be optimistic about tomorrow. If anything happened we still have other people who love us and can depend on whether we are in America, Nigeria, Syria, France, or Beirut this Thanksgiving. May be God is still present after all.

Principles of Electricity in a Zambian Language?

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Since the British colonized the then Northern Rhodesia now independent Zambia in late 1800s, we have been made to believe that English is the only, best, and superior language to express thought. We have English as the official language which we use in education from the first grade all the way to secondary school and university. Since Zambia’s independence about 50 years ago, with Zambia now having over 17 universities, we have never really seriously questioned or even explored whether English is the only and best way to express sophisticated thought. What about our 17 major Zambian languages which include Nyanja, Bemba, Tonga, Lozi, Kaonde, and dozens of others? Can they be used to convey sophisticated thought?

Communicating in a Zambian Language Video Clip

I have always known that our indigenous Zambian languages may be best for communicating, exploring, and even for research and development, technical inventions and innovations which we have been erroneously made to believe are only possible using English only. There is a 2.12 minute video clip that has been viewed more than 56,000 times that clearly confirms that we can use our Zambian languages to explain basic principles of electricity as one example. The language the boy used to explain his ideas is Lusaka Nyanja which is the lingua franca of the Capital City of Lusaka. In the video clip, a poor boy from Misisi compound in Lusaka holds a model he had built from discarded material himself to explain basic principles of electricity. https://www.facebook.com/samson.phiri.7/videos/1050732518280060/?pnref=story

He does this in such a surprisingly articulate way, that even I, as a grown man who has a Ph. D but not in electrical engineering, could instantly grasp the principles of electricity from the Kariba Hydroelectric Dam to my own domestic use may be in Lusaka or Kitwe, or Luanshya. Some have suggested that Zesco should have used this boy to explain power shading to the public.

Recommendations

The vast majority of viewers of the video clip comment that Zesco should sponsor the boy, government should sponsor the boy, and some even have said they could individually volunteer to sponsor the boy to get an education. He is clearly a boy who lives in poverty right now. My own reaction is that large institutions like Zesco and especially the Zambian government may already be preoccupied. Samson Phiri who made the video can track down the boy. He can start a fund drive that will first and foremost educate the boy. I would start by donating a hundred dollars myself toward the fund. If there is more money, he can start a program that will educate all the boys and girls who have been found to be as intellectually creative as that boy. There are thousands of talented boys and girls in Zambia who are like the boy in the video. But because of poverty and lack of opportunity, the boys and girls cannot use their creative talents for themselves as well as for the whole nation.

1.Abiudi Banda in Grade 9 when he was 15 years showing one of his projects in Entomology. He had made an insecticide from natural products; tobacco and 3 other ingredients from the bush.

 Abiudi Banda in Grade 9 when he was 15 years showing one of his projects in Entomology. He had made an insecticide from natural products; tobacco and 3 other ingredients from the bush.

First and foremost, we have to make sure that corruption is completely removed. If the 56,000 viewers of the video clip each donate just 5 dollars or K65.00, a total of 280,000 dollars or K3.6 million would be raised. If we can keep all the corruption out of this, this would be enough money to educate the boy, but may be hundreds of other boys and girls who have similar creative talent but live in poverty. If we harness this boy’s creative talents, there are also other benefits for you and me and the whole country. There are many possible benefits but I identify the possible two.

Teaching Pedagogy

What the boy is illustrating in the video clip is what is called teaching pedagogy in sophisticated lingo. The boy clearly illustrates teaching methods or how we should teach from the first grade, all through secondary school, up to higher education in colleges and universities. His methodology and simplicity should be incorporated into teaching which may involve bilingualism. This means teaching both in indigenous Zambian languages and English language in order to maximize clarity when explaining a complex subject to anyone especially students in a classroom and even the public. All my fellow teachers from grade one to college lecturers should take note of the basic fundamental principles of this video clip.

Abiudi Banda showing his natural insecticide.

Abiudi Banda showing his natural insecticide.

Construction of Models

The simple hand held but quite sophisticated model illustrating basic principles of electricity and the power grid can be manufactured on a large scale by Zesco and other manufacturers in Zambia. These models can be of so many different types of sciences which could be sold to thousands of schools. The models could be in biology, physics, chemistry, geography, astronomy, botany, medicine, anatomy, physiology, computers, engineering, and many others. The simple but cheap models could be exported to neighboring and other countries in the world which could also use them in schools, colleges and university. That could create both jobs in the country and exports. Instead of waiting for hard to convince foreign investors, Zambian entrepreneurs, companies, educators, individuals and others could easily join in this very exciting possible profitable venture that could help enhance education.

Abiudi Banda showing me a plastic container which can heat water by inserting electrodes in the container.

Abiudi Banda showing me a plastic container which can heat water by inserting electrodes in the container.

Creative Talents in Zambia

There are thousands of young boys and girls in Zambia who have creative talents but live in poverty. One such boy is my own nephew Abiuldi Banda who lives in poverty with his parents, his brothers and sisters in Lundazi. But the boy had incredible creative talents, curiosity and was always experimenting building and testing different models of science from when he was a small boy. Once he completed Grade 12 in 2012, he was admitted to UNZA. But his parents did not have money and the government bursary was not available to him. He is now languishing with wasted talent that he and the nation could benefit from. There are thousands such boys and girls in Zambia. As a nation we just need to harness these talents for the benefit of both the individual boys and girls but also for the entire nation of 13 million people. Mr. Samson Phiri could start the ball rolling without waiting for the government, Zesco, or someone else to start what would be the best project for the nation ever.

A plastic container which can heat water by inserting electrodes in the container.

A plastic container which can heat water by inserting electrodes in the container.

Zambian Languages and Sophisticated Idea

If you are still skeptical that Zambian languages can be used to express sophisticated ideas that can only be expressed in English, I believe in practice. I wrote an academic article in

My son Sekani Tembo who was a Third year computer major in at an American College showing his cousins, Abiudi and Nina, a lap top computer behind the Castle Hotel in Lundazi in 2009.

My son Sekani Tembo who was a Third year computer major in at an American College showing his cousins, Abiudi and Nina, a lap top computer behind the Castle Hotel in Lundazi in 2009.

English a few years ago. I translated the abstract into Tumbuka and Nyanja languages. You can try also to translate the abstract into Lozi, Kaonde, Tonga or Bemba Zambian languages. There is a link to the complete academic article in English. The title of the article is: “Eurocentric Destruction of Indigenous Conceptions: the Secret Rediscovery of the Beautiful Woman in African Societies.”

  1. http://people.bridgewater.edu/~mtembo/menu/articles/BanthuBakaziKukongolaAbstractDec92009.pdf (Nyanja)
  2. http://people.bridgewater.edu/~mtembo/menu/articles/BanthuBanakaziKutowaAbstractDec92009.pdf (Tumbuka)
  3. http://people.bridgewater.edu/~mtembo/menu/articles/AfricanBeautyRevisedMarch162010.pdf (Abstract and Full Article in English)

 

 

 

Gender Based Violence: Zambian Solutions

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Introduction

My 22 year old niece was about to complete her studies at Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka so she could graduate with a Diploma in Gender Studies. But she was left with one more last hurdle; she had to do an internship. She was attached for a month to one of the 8 Gender Based Violence (GBV) One-Stop Coordinated Response Centers located in hospitals. These centers are in Livingstone, Mazabuka, Kabwe, Chipata, Kitwe, Ndola, and Lusaka has 2 centers. What she told me in our casual conversation after she completed her internship is that she had personally attended to 24 cases of gender based violence. She said 12 cases were very severe and 12 were average to mild. The examples of 2 severe cases was a 2 year old girl who was brutally defiled by her uncle. The other case was a woman who had been brutally raped and dumped. My niece said she was emotionally drained but learned a lot. I was stunned that such Gender Based Violence is very wide spread to epidemic proportions in my otherwise beautiful country of Zambia. What has happened? Why are so many Zambian men beating up women, raping, and some even defiling very young girls?

School boys and girls at Bethel private school at Mpika Village of Hope in Mpika in the Northern Province. Comprehensive Gender Based Violence prevention should include all school and other institutions.

School boys and girls at Bethel private school at Mpika Village of Hope in Mpika in the Northern Province. Comprehensive Gender Based Violence prevention should include all school and other institutions.

Incidence of GBV in Zambia

According to a GBV survey conducted in 6 countries, the highest incidence of GBV was in Zambia with 89% of those women surveyed in Kasama, Kitwe, Mansa, and Mazabuka reported having experienced or been victims of Gender Based Violence. In the same survey, “86 percent of women in Lesotho, 68 percent of women in Zimbabwe, 67 percent of women in Botswana, 50 percent of women in the some provinces of South Africa studied and 24 percent of women in Mauritius have experienced GBV.” (Chanda, 2014) According to another “2007 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey, 47% of women in Zambia have experienced physical violence since age 15 – 77% by a current/former husband/partner – and one in five have experienced sexual violence in their lives, 64% of which is perpetrated by an intimate partner.” (CARE, 2013, p.2)

Why are these incidents of Gender Based Violence very high in spite Zambia’s enactment of a landmark Anti-Gender Based Violence Act of 2011? Since then there has been a public campaign to stop GBV through concerted efforts to treat victims, and for communities, organizations, police, health workers and judiciary to be involved in the fight.(Chanda, 2014)

The Zambian papers have frequent reports of such Gender Based Violent incidents. This article will explore the definition of gender based violence, possible causes of GBV in Zambia, and the author will recommend solutions that both include and go beyond those proposed by many institutions, organizations and government.

Definition of Gender Based Violence

Gender Based Violence is not only a serious public health social problem in Zambia but all over the world. The vast majority of victims are overwhelmingly girls and women. Although some men are victims of GBV, they constitute a much smaller number. The public may have the mistaken assumption that GBV, also called Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), only happens when extremely unstable drunk men or husbands beat up or rape their wives after a drunken night out. Gender Based Violence has wide a definition that includes many abusive behaviors that men direct at women and girls. Sexual and Gender Based Violence is “physical, mental, or social abuse that is directed against a person because of his or her gender role in a society or culture.” (ASAZA SGBV Training Manual, n.d., p.9).

The GBV includes sexual violence, Femicide (female killing) is quite common in Asian countries like in India and the Middle East; Battery is common in Zambia and worldwide; property grabbing after the death of a spouse; rape in and outside marriage. Marriage is not a license to force an intimate partner or wife to have sex when they don’t want to. Sexual harassment is a form of GBV; beating of women perceived to be improperly dressed especially at bus stations of urban areas; forced prostitution, engagement in pornography, sexual cleansing, trafficking in women and children for immoral activities, and finally forced abortion.

Causes of Gender Based Violence

The causes of Gender Based Violence are so many that they are multifaceted. The dozens of factors that cause GBV are both intertwined and may overlap. These may include poverty, unemployment, changing gender norms in which men’s dominance in marriage and relationships is being challenged, history of family dysfunction and violence in the GBV perpetrator and victim’s family background, male personality disorders, and lack of or poor legal or police action against GBV perpetrators. This is what may make finding one or two effective explanations and solutions that can solve the entire problem  very difficult to identify. The causes of GBV can be categorized into those that are Societal, Community, Relationship, and Individual. (ASAZA SGBV Training Manual, n.d, p.27).

Proposed Solutions to Gender Based Violence (SokoRelaNdi)

Gender Based Violence in Zambia both the physical and the verbal type or psychological intimidation especially of girls and women cause horrific harm to thousands of children and women, imposing havoc in families and communities creating untold life of suffering. All forms of campaigns, policies, and strategies to combat and eliminate this serious problem should be supported. But since most of the overwhelming evidence including surveys suggest GBV is  deeply embedded in the Zambian society, I propose a comprehensive national approach. This approach is most likely to eliminate or reduce the problem to a greater degree after many years as it will more likely result into transforming the entire Zambian culture from children in the home, marriages and families all the way to the national institutions. A problem of the GBV magnitude that is apparently deeply embedded in the Zambian society cannot be easily solved using piece meal approaches  much as the existing policies and strategies may be implementing very helpful programs.  The new comprehensive program should go by the very Zambian sounding acronym: SokoRelaNdi. This stands for Society, Kommunity, Relationships, Individual. “Community” is spelled with a “K” instead of the English “C” as this makes it very Zambian. “Ndividual” as a Zambianized word sounds very close to the English “Individual”.

The use of this new acronym, the programs and policies will draw attention to the reality that Gender Based Violence is both wide spread and needing comprehensive action by all 13 million Zambians at all levels. For example in SoKoRelaNdi, “Societal” or “Society” would mean GBV can be eliminated by creating more jobs lowering unemployment on the level of Zambian government. “Kommunity” means communities should create more shelters for victims of GBV.  The same would apply for “Relationships” and “Individual” components of solving the serious problem of GBV. The program would start with ministry of Gender Development, The President, Schools, Churches, towns, compounds, villages, and the way to families in rural and urban compounds. The media would lead the publicity. Everyone and all organizations would find a way of acting to reduced and eliminate Gender Based Violence (GBV) under one or some of what is represented in SokoRelaNdi. Zambia had at least 4 national Development Plans since independence in 1964. Gender Based Violence needs similar serious comprehensive national policies if we are going to eliminate Gender Based Violence as a nation.

References

  1. ASAZA, (undated), Care Givers Handbook, A Comprehensive Household Model. (The author derived the acronym from from the 4 components of causes of GBV ASAZA had identified in its manual: Societal, Community, Relationship, and Individual.)

http://preventgbvafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/ASAZA_GBV_Training_Manual_Zambia.pdf

  1. Chanda, Mwazipeza., “End GBV: Prosecute perpetrators”, in the Zambia Daily Mail, November 27, 2014. https://www.daily-mail.co.zm/?p=12375
  2. CARE, Lessons from CARE Zambia: One Stop Model of Support for Survivors of Gender-Based Violence.

http://www.care.org/sites/default/files/documents/GBV-2013-ZMB-CARE-ASAZA-OSC-Case-Study.pdf

  1. Kamanda, Mwelwa, A Hidden Truth: Gender Based Violence in Zambia,Video for Change.

https://blog.witness.org/2011/11/a-hidden-truth-gender-based-violence-in-zambia/

  1. Klomegah, Roger Y., “Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in Zambia: An Examination of Risk Factors and Gender Perceptions”, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Vol. 39, No. 4, (Autumn) 2008), pp. 557-569.

 

Critical Book Review: Have my Views Changed?

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

The Africans, by David Lamb, New York, Random House, 1982, 363 pp. $17.95, Hardcover.

********************

I wrote this critical book review in 1985 as a young Ph. D, student. Have my views changed 30 years later?

I wrote this critical book review in 1985 as a young Ph. D, student. Have my views changed 30 years later?

David Lamb, author and journalist, opens the book with a bang whose reverberations might remind the reader of the typical modern “Hollywood” plots or reminiscences of the diaries of early European colonial explorers in Africa.  There is only one exception; the modern technology – alas, the little that still works in Africa – enables him to travel virtually the whole of Africa in four years during the late 1970s.

In the introduction, Lam places the proverbial carrot in front of the reader’s eyes.  What book about Africa can be “good” without droughts, death, wars, ignorance, massacres, superstition, coup d’états, political turmoil, contradictions and other juicy alleged excesses that can tantalize any reader?  Lamb though, claims he is only trying to answer the question; “What is Africa and who are the Africans?”  Lamb further summarizes what he found or discovered in Africa and how he did it.  From his base in Nairobi, Kenya, he travelled 300,000 miles by air, road and rail through 48 Sub-Saharan African countries including South Africa.  He talked to presidents, villagers, university professors, guerilla leaders and many others.

From the opening chapter, the details about Africa begin to unfold and in some cases spill out.  For example, in the first chapter, Lamb describes the “portrait of a continent”.  In it the reader learns about impoverishment in Guinea-Bissau, the growing Sahara desert, poor farming, lack of population control because of ignorance and superstition.  “Only Gabon, in West Africa, has managed to achieve population stability – largely because 30 percent of the women have venereal disease.”(p. 18)  Over Two Hundred thousand Hutus were massacred in 1972 by the Watusi because of tribal conflict.  According to Lamb, there are only four black African countries where there has been political stability and meaningful economic development; Kenya, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast and Malawi.  The book has a total of 18 brief chapters that address issues such as “Collision of Past and Present”, “The Ghost of Idi Amin”, “The Colonial Heritage”, and “Culture Shock.”

A politically astute reader all along is anxious to lean about the political hot potato; the racist South African society.  He rightly devotes an entire chapter to this matter.  He describes the high level of economic development and at the same time the racial polarization.  He predicts the blood shed that will occur unless South Africa eliminates its racist policies.

This book contains mountains of information which, if carefully sifted, should be useful particularly for the African, the Africanist and those in the black diaspora who wish to search for positive changes in the progress, knowledge and understanding of the African continent as a part of humanity.  There are myriad useful facts about African economies, politics, social characteristics, tragic problems and contradictions that seem unique to the continent and its individuals.

But unfortunately, this useful information is shrouded in tints of outrageous anecdotes that should be dismissed as largely garbage by most intelligent readers.  For example, sex is perhaps the most emotion laden and sensational issue in the human contemporary civilization.  When David Lamb states that population control in Gabon has been achieved because 30 percent of the women have venereal disease is to deliberately open a can of worms whether his statement is “objective” or not.  In this and other curious sexual and other innuendo and unwarranted generalizations, one cannot fail to see the grim cultural ethnocentric implications of the anecdotes.

The author in numerous instances projects serious contradictions which he erroneously attributes to the African inhabitants but which clearly reside in the author’s own intellect.  For example, Lamb claims that the more he stayed in Africa the less he understood the African character. (p.234)  “But the African often becomes a deepening mystery.” (p. 235)  But in many volumes of words, he tells the reader in very clear and strong words devoid of any tinge of hesitancy what the African is all about.

Also, Lamb claims that Africans have resilience which “extends beyond any logical human limits”; crops fail, children die, “his government can treat him grievously and still carries on, uttering no protest, sharing no complaints”. (p. 235)  At the same time Lamb devotes a whole chapter to political “Coups and Countercoups” in Africa.  He also ignores that there were bloody liberation wars in Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, Mau Mau rebellion in colonial Kenya.  All this and much more is obvious evidence that Africans “protest”.  Has David Lamb ever “experienced” with an African family whose child has died and what type of anguish and subsequent searching personal actions and behavior modification that emanate from such tragic incidents?

I recommend this book particularly for mature, well informed and seasoned Africanists.  For only they can be trusted to possess the ability to sift through the subtle Western European or more specifically the American propaganda coating that is hidden in the book.  For it is one thing to say that an economic statistic of a certain African country has declined by 60 percent but quite another to say African children are “deprived” or “unstimulated” because they do not have toys of the Western European stock to play with when they are growing up.

Those who are being introduced to Africa for the first time are advised to either steer clear of this book or trust themselves to read it with extraordinary caution.  Otherwise instead of gaining useful knowledge, they will end up unwittingly consolidating their prejudices and racial stereotypes about Africans as constituting “pygmies, jungle, heat and lions” ironically the stereotypes that Lamb detests.

Post Script: This review was rejected for publication by over at least half a dozen African and Black Studies journals. The tone of the polite but hostile rejections by the editors was that of consternation and being stunned at the criticism of the book. I found the unpublished review in my old papers. I have not edited it. Have my views changed from when I was a young Ph. D. student 30 years ago in 1985 compared to now? Absolutely not to my surprise. My views or perspectives on this book have remained the same. One journal asked me to revise the review. Since as a young scholar “publish or perish” is such an urgent matter if you wish to climb the ladder of success and be accepted in the academic community, I reluctantly agreed to revise the review. This is how a heavily edited, shorter, less critical version of the review was published in the “African Social Research” a publication of the Institute of the African Studies of the University of Zambia at the time.

**************

TITLE:  Book Review     The Africans, by David Lamb, New York,

Random House, 1982.

AUTHOR:  Mwizenge S. Tembo

Affiliation:  Research Fellow at the Institute for African

Studies, University of Zambia,

Lusaka, Zambia.  Currently on

Study leave at Michigan State

University.

ADDRESS:  Michigan State University,

1575 I Spartan Village,

East Lansing,

MICHIGAN  48823

DATE:  18th January, 1985.

Are You a Hopeless Romantic?

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

I caught the radio news story in the middle during the second week of August in 2008.  “….he grew up poor working in the fields in the American South. His rise to fame in his music career came when……he produced the album …..Hot Buttered Soul …….Isaac Hayes dead at the age of 65.” My reaction was “Oh! My God. I didn’t know he was so young.” Another one of my music heroes was gone. What might have appeared as an insignificant revelation about him in the story confirmed something very fundamental that drew me to his music like a butterfly to sweet nectar.  How did an American, Isaac Hayes, influence a teenager who was growing up ten thousand miles away from America deep in Africa in Zambia in the late late 1960s? It happened in the most unlikely way.

Warm sunsets in Savannah Zambia are best for a hopeless romantic.

Warm sunsets in Savannah Zambia are best for a hopeless romantic.

I was a poor village kid who was excited to complete Chizongwe Secondary or High School in 1971 in the remote provincial town of Chipata. I got a job in town at a small local volunteer organization Dzithandizeni: Chipata Nutrion Group where an American had just arrived as a volunteer worker. We became good friends. After my first small pay check, I was so proud to buy a small portable record player; about the length of two 2 small lap tops and 4 inches wide. It looked just like a briefcase. I could also only afford to buy my only 45 single of Crosby Stills and Nash “Suite Jude Blue Eyes” for seventy-five cents or forty-five ngwee. I played the record over and over.

Rainbows are good for a hopeless romantic

Rainbows are good for a hopeless romantic

As a Christmas gift,  Bob the American friend gave me a couple of Long Play Albums. One of the covers had a huge close up photo of the top of a black guy’s shinny shaved bald head; that was Isaac Hayes’ album “Hot Buttered Soul.” By this time I was an undergraduate at University of Zambia and listened to the album so much in my dormitory room in Africa Hall. The music, the story line of the lyrics of the song “By the Time I get to Phoenix”, and everything about it invoked a certain bitter sweet painful melancholy. I did not understand why his music appealed to me so deeply at the time.

Flying Sea Gulls against the ocean blue sky is best for a hopeless romantic

Flying Sea Gulls against the ocean blue sky is best for a hopeless romantic

The answer came as I listened to subsequent radio news stories of earlier interviews Isaac Hayes had conducted. He said as he was growing up poor and working in the fields in the American Deep South, he was a “hopeless romantic”. That’s it. That’s what drew me to his music. Looking back I have always been a “hopeless romantic” while growing up all the way to my adulthood. What is a hopeless romantic? Some readers may get the mistaken impression that this is a human being who sits passively, frustrated because girls reject his advances, doing nothing but wait while day dreaming about romantic escapades. Nothing could be further from the truth. A hopeless romantic is a person who is always totally consumed by the deep feelings of passion, awareness, perpetual feelings of romance and desire while involved in some of the most seemingly mundane activities to the ordinary soul.

The Lundazi Castle Hotel is best a hopeless romantic.  My characters in my novel "The Bridge" spent a night in this Castle Hotel.

The Lundazi Castle Hotel is best a hopeless romantic. My characters in my novel “The Bridge” spent a night in this Castle Hotel.

A hopeless romantic sees infinite possibilities of vivid and intense human experiences in such normal activities as eating food, taking a walk in a botanical garden, riding a bicycle in a remote Savannah bush path, listening to music, walking in the park, fishing, having sex, reading, living in poverty, driving to the store, working on the farm, seeing the sunrise and the sunset, hearing birds singing, crashing waves on a beach, mourning loved ones, and conversation. When some of these activities are combined with the passion of romantic love, it is like pouring petrol or gasoline on ambers of fire. The elevated emotions flood the senses and create a symbiosis of taste, smell, sight, hearing, painful longing mixed with heavy doses of nostalgic memories. The hopeless romantic suddenly becomes engulfed in deep and overwhelming experiences with intense tearful emotional drama and anguish sometimes reminiscent of the Shakespearean Romeo and Juliet.

A minibus about to travel with a beautiful woman about to board it on the left. This is best for a hopeless romantic.

A minibus about to travel with a beautiful woman about to board it on the left. This is best for a hopeless romantic.

When Isaac Hayes said he was a hopeless romantic the remark invoked in me those deep memories of the pain and sweet anguish in his music which is the stuff of the soul. The remark validated my lifelong inclination to be drawn to deeply intense soulful music from any genre; from the traditional Mbira music of the Shona people of Zimbabwe in Southern Africa, to the thundering Nigerian Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s 1970s hit “Gentlemani”, to Jim Reeve’s Country intensely romantic love ballads like “A hundred miles to Mariam”, to the American Blue Grass music of  “Seldom Scene”, Alison Kraus and Union Station’s “Every Time You Say Goodbye”, and to the heavy metal Quiet Riot’s “Mama Mama let’s not get crazy now”.

This is one of the best scenes for a hopeless romantic.

This is one of the best scenes for a hopeless romantic.

The hopeless romantic is not just confined to music but also to readings such as novels. I still remember the most intense romantic experiences of the characters in my few favorite novels down to the page number even though I read these novels decades ago. These are such novels as Charles Dickens’ “David Copperfield”, Mongo Beti’s “Mission to Kala”, and Peter Abraham’s “Mine Boy”. I am hardly surprised that twenty years later I published a sizzling romance novel called “The Bridge” that only a hopeless romantic could write. We should all be thankful and appreciate music heroes such as Isaac Hayes and many others in many genres who especially help validate the intense feelings of all hopeless romantics in us in this wonderful world.

 

Is Tribalism Threatening One Zambia One Nation?

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

“And Chama said the UPND in Southern Province were polygamous by nature and “may be by having so many children, one day after 100 years, they may lead the country, but not under Hichilema.

If at all they will ever be in power, may be a hundred years from now, they are polygamous by nature so may be as they have more children they can be in power. But under the leadership of Hichilema. I don’t think it will happen,” he said. (The Post, June 9, 2015, p.8)

These are the incendiary offending remarks that have apparently stirred passions of tribalism so much among some Zambians today that there are even reports of a small group of  the Tonga in Southern Province defiantly talking about secession. The purpose of this article is to provide some advice and perspective in the form of the Zambian tradition of mphala, insaka, or indaba on the bigger picture about our beloved Zambian nation. First, I will briefly discuss the offending remarks by the PF Secretary General Davies Chama. Second, I will discuss why Zambian politics may be reaching a dangerous stage. Third, I will discuss the bad news or even potentially tragic news for those all over Zambia who have contemplated secession in the past, the present and in the future. Fourth, I will discuss the great news about our beloved country of Zambia and how anyone can be elected the President of Zambia from whatever tribe they belong. Last, I will mention a few Kaundaisms that all political leaders including the current and future Presidents of Zambia will find very useful in leading the great nation of Zambia.

Mr. Davies Chama’s Tribal Remarks.

Mr. Chama’s remarks were offensive not just to Tongas but may be to Zambians all over the country and the world. The best thing would have been for Mr. Chama to issue an apology but he has vehemently refused. What I found surprising was that the offending remarks were buried deep into his long statement about the PF swallowing MMD and the UPND. This suggests to me that he may not have fully meant the remarks to be harmful. His remarks were actually a form of taunting after someone has won a contest. He may have been carried away in the moment of exuberance and PF party chauvinism after electoral triumphs. This does not excuse Mr. Chama’s remarks. Taunting is unprofessional and is poor sportsmanship. In recent Zambian elections, whenever a particular party has won, the cadres of the winning party afterwards taunt the ones from the losing party sometimes resulting in violence. Taunting after winning elections has to stop. May be one of the reasons we are having so many problems with cadres, some political violence, and talk of secession is that we have too many young people in Zambia and too few elders like veteran politician like Mr. Vernon Mwaanga.

Zambian Population

The population of Zambia is 13 million. The proportion of the country that is under 14 years old is 46.7%, those between 15 and 24 years old are 20%, those between 25 to 54 years old are 28.4% and but those between 55 and 64 years old are only 2.9% and those above 65 years old are even smaller at 2.4%. The age statistics that are the most important in explaining both Mr. Chama’s remarks and how Zambian politics may be in danger of becoming dangerous is that Zambians that are younger than 30 years old may be about 70% of the population which is about 9 million young girls, boys, women and men. And yet those who are over 55 years old are only 2.9% which is only 377,000. Therefore, there are fewer elders to day in Zambia to teach younger people about our political history, customs, and our culture perhaps due to the high death rate of older Zambians who are over 55 years old because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic since the 1980s. Urbanization also takes its toll as the 36% of the urban population is rising. This means increasing numbers of Zambians lose their connection to elders,  rural areas where the source, strength and origin of our Zambian traditions are the strongest.

The Bad News about Political Future

When there is political frustration in a young population, certain people in Zambia who might feel they are not getting a fair share of the resources might contemplate revolution and violence as the sure and quickest way to getting what they want. This will not work in Zambia and may not be working very well in many countries where people have tried revolutionary violence. Peaceful secession is very rare. The vast majority of Zambians today have access to the internet through cell phones. There is Facebook, email, twitter, web pages, blogs, and Instagram. We read and see exciting images of the Arab Spring revolution in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria and many other places.

It is tempting for many younger Zambian leaders to assume we will just import whatever is abroad to solve our problems. While some of the information is good, some or much of it may be unrealistic and just plain dangerous and destructive for the nation. This author is advocating peaceful solutions for the Zambian nation not because he is a coward, scared and deathly afraid of revolutions but because I know we have a very peaceful country. We do not need revolutionary violence. I just love and cherish the peace that we enjoy and I am sure many Zambians would like to maintain it too. Many younger Zambians may have no idea how badly people are suffering with violence and chaos in the Eastern Congo, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Iraq, Central African Republic, and many other places. I will discuss more of this later about Kaundaisms.

The Great News about Our Country

The greatest news about our country is that we are probably the most integrated in the world. Our founders were intelligent enough to create the foundation. This is our greatest strength that very few countries in Africa and the world have. Even some of the most powerful countries such as the United States, the oldest European and other countries are not as integrated as Zambians. We Zambians do not have the deeply entrenched deadly hatred and segregation of one tribe against another of  the 72 tribes. Our founders made sure that we loved each other. This does not mean we have no problems or internal political differences. I had to laugh when there was news about Tonga secession. I was thinking if Southern Province seceded, I would need a passport to go to Mwanamayinda on the Kafue Road on the Mazabuka road. I am a Tumbuka from the Eastern Province. I have a sister who is married to a Tonga man who is my mulamu (brother-in-law) and I have more than 8 nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews in Southern Province. Would they suddenly be in another country? All of us Zambians have close friends, blood and marriage relatives in regions and provinces all over Zambia in the 72 tribes.

Any Zambian Can be Elected President

Because we are so integrated, that’s why anyone in Zambia from any tribe can be elected President. The talk that a Tonga, Lozi, Kaonde, Namwanga, Chokwe and any member of the 72 tribes cannot be elected President is just not true. Who would have thought President Obama, a black American, would become the President of the United States which has deeply entrenched racism against African-Americans? This is the advice that every political party and individuals who aspire to be elected President of Zambia should know. If you are a Presidential candidate who is Bemba, Lozi, Ngoni, Chokwe, Nkoya. Lozi, Tonga, Soli, Lenje, Lamba, and many others, don’t waste your time campaigning in your province or region. You already have that vote in your pocket. You need to have a good manifesto, organization on the ground, and then travel to all the other provinces to personally appeal for their votes. If you are genuine, Zambians can see you are  serious, fair, determined, you have a vision for all Zambians and you are genuinely non-tribal, Zambians will vote for you irrespective of your race, ethnicity, tribe, man or woman. This is why any Zambian man or woman can be elected President of Zambia.

Kaundaisms and One Zambia One Nation.

The younger generation of political leaders today in Zambia might take the peace, tranquility, the One Zambia One Nation we enjoy for granted. That is the most dangerous attitude. There are two of the many Kaundaisms that might help all of us Zambians which we should always remember.  First, if you advocate revolutionary violence, when the country of Zambia is up in flames, you won’t enjoy whatever you thought you will achieve. President Kaunda addressing a rally in the 1970s even said that once the whole country is engulfed in violence, thieves, saboteurs, those who are holding dark corner meetings, political opportunists, tribalists, racists, and even those engaging in corruption will not be able to enjoy their spoils. Second, if you as a President unjustly politically verbally or physically attack or imprison a particular opposition group leader(s) or political party leaders, the supporters of that party or group will hold a grudge against you and you will be creating more martyrs and enemies as a political leader or President. His advice was that it was best as a political leader to be fair minded, make just decisions, follow the law, be reconciliatory, be kind, and respect others including the opposition because you yourself as a leader might be out of power one day.

 

My Father Went Missing

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

In August 1969, my father was teaching at Kasonjola Primary school which is 30 miles north of Chipata along the Lundazi Road. I was in Form Three or Grade 9 on school holidays from Chizongwe Secondary Boarding School. My father went to Chipata on a Friday on a shopping trip. When he didn’t return by Sunday, my mother was very worried and concerned. When she did not see him on Monday, she was alarmed and frantic. Being the oldest boy at 15 years old, my mother dispatched me to look for him in Chipata and check with all the familiar relatives. When I returned from Chipata a day later, my father was nowhere to be seen. My mother dispatched me to the village 80 miles away in Lundazi carrying a bicycle on top of the bus. I went to the village to look for my father and inform my grandparents and the whole village that he was missing.

Grieving

When I returned to Kasonjola, my mother was beginning to grieve and reminisce about what a great time she had spent with my dad and now she was going to the village to suffer and raise us all 9 children alone as a widow through the hard work of farming using the hoe. My mother is the strongest woman I know. She said she was confident my dad was alive though because if he had been killed and thrown in a ditch in Chipata, this fifth day, the police would have known because people would report a decaying body. She was also a woman of deep faith. She had to be. She had been through so much in life.

On the sixth day, a rare vehicle appeared at our rural school and slowly meandered through the school ground toward our house. We kids screamed and jumped up and down with excitement. My mother smiled. Out of the vehicle came my dad and another man his age also about 45 years old, a suitcase and my dad’s famous leather briefcase. The two men had traveled by bus from Kitwe to Chipata. Instead of looking for a ride, they booked a vehicle from Chipata to Kasonjola so they could get home fastest.

The central main street in the town of Chipata in the Eastern Province of Zmabia

The central main street in the town of Chipata in the Eastern Province of Zmabia

The Kuchona or Long Gone Brother

What unfolded later was this: that Saturday when my father had traveled to Chipata, he had met an acquaintance who had told my father that my father’s brother who had gone to Johannesburg in South Africa in the late 1940s had returned and was in the town of Kitwe on the Copper belt. My father had neither seen nor heard from his brother for about 20 years. The Tumbuka call this kuchona. As my father was about to board a lift  to return home to Kasonjola via Mgubudu Stores that Saturday, a close friend of his who owned a Land Rover said he was heading to Kitwe right there and then for some business. He jokingly asked my father if he needed a free ride to Kitwe? The coincidence and the temptation was irresistible. My father could see his long lost brother. My father was never impulsive. He was a stable responsible family man. He didn’t need to think about it. My father sent a message to someone going to Mgubudu Stores to pass a word or message to my mother that my father had suddenly gone to Kitwe to meet his brother. That verbal message never reached my mother.

Laughter

My father and his brother Sajeni Tembo brought such laughter to the whole family as we kids excitedly sat around to hear about life in the great City of Johannesburg in South Africa. We kids chased the chicken and my beaming mother cooked the most delicious meal. I have an image of the two men strolling near our house in the evening, quietly chatting, strolling, and they would stop, face each other, and talk and gesture to each other. Then they would both laugh throwing their heads back. My father was so happy. My mother was so joyful.

Return of Sajeni Tembo

Sajeni Tembo had married a woman in Johannesburg during the 20 years he was there and had 8 children with her. He wanted to come home to Zambia with them. He could not afford it. He couldn’t travel though Zimbabwe which was still Rhodesia at the time. He found his way through Botswana, catching rides through either Kazungula or Caprivi Strip. He had to use disguises, false stories and forged travel papers at the time because of the tensions were very high between apartheid South Africa, Rhodesia and the whole Southern region. My father’s brother died in the early 1980s in Kitwe. He could never raise money and get travel papers to go and get his wife and children from Johannesburg in South Africa. There are probably grown Tembos, children, and great grandchildren of Sajeni Tembo in Johannesburg who wonder about their Zambian father who disappeared and never cared to come back for them.

Same Sex Marriages Coming to Zambia?

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo

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

Professor of Sociology

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

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

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

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

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

A young monogamous heterosexual couple with their biological children.

A young monogamous heterosexual couple with their biological children.

History of Human Sexuality and Gender

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

A married heterosexual couple with their  biological child.

A married heterosexual couple with their biological child.

 

Human Survival

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

Brilliance and Wisdom

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

LGBT, Same Sex Marriages, and Homosexuality

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

A monogamous heterosexual couple with their biological child.

A monogamous heterosexual couple with their biological child.

Sexual Orientation Changes in Zambia

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

First Night of Heterosexual Marriage

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

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

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

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

References

  1. Chondoka, Yizenge., Traditional Marriages in Zambia: A Study in Cultural History, Ndola: Mission Press, 1988.
  2. Tembo, Mwizenge S., Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture: Social Change in The Global World, Xlibris, 2012.
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/19/science/19human.html?_r=0

 

University of Zambia: Crisis of Problems

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

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

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

Entrance to the University of Zambia.

Entrance to the University of Zambia.

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

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

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

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

University of Zambia Problems

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

UNZA Alumni-Diaspora and Lecturers

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

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

Capital Expenditure

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

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

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

Lecturers and Workers Conditions

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

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

Refurbishing of Residence Hall Rooms

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

Library, Classrooms, Equipment, and Landscaping

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

Vison for the Future

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

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

 

 

Fresh Zambian Poetry Genre

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

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

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

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

An Email from Zambia

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

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

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

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

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

Releasing the Delete Button

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

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

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

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

 

 

Adada nati niwele

(Father I want to come home)
Mwanalume wanisuzgha

(The man is troubling me)
Ndeke zinai baliwiska

(Four planes were taken down)
Ndine mwanakazi yayi

(I am not a woman)
Ine bana nkhulela

(I am raising children)
Ndine mwanakazi yayi

(I am not a woman)
Nabapa bana bankhondi

(I have given him five children)
Ndine mwanakazi yayi

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

(My heart aches very much)
Adada nati niwele

(Father I want to come home)
Niza mlima kukaya

(I will come home and farm)

Am I a Malawian?

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

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

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

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

Gombeza

 (Blanket)

Gombeza ilo mukuona na nika pa nthambo, ndane

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

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

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

Ndipo, lu saba kuomila cha

(In fact it does not take long to dry)

Mungaleka kulisezga apo nkhulibika namweneco, ku chipinda

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

Kwambula ku nimanyiska

(Without telling me)

 

Gombeza lane nkhudikha para kwiza ka mphepo

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

Para nadikha mbwenu kati fuu… Makora ghene

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

New Zambian Poetry Genre

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

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

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

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

Compose a poem in a Zambian language about kukaya.

Compose a poem in a Zambian language about kukaya.

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

Important Message to Zambians

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

References

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

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

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

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

http://www.hungerforculture.com/?cat=19

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

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

The Untranslated Tumbuka Language Poem

Gombeza

by Marita Banda

Gombeza ilo mukuona na nika pa nthambo, ndane

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

Ndipo, lu saba kuomila cha

Mungaleka kulisezga apo nkhulibika namweneco, ku chipinda

Kwambula ku nimanyiska

Gombeza lane nkhudikha para kwiza ka mphepo

Para nadikha mbwenu kati fuu… Makora ghene

Gombeza ili nanga inunkhe folo, ndane

Panji mukunuska matuzi, ngane

Nanga ni nyelemo visyuli vya nchunga za msuzi uswesi, ndane

Asi lu chapiwa? Ilo lili pa nthambo likuomila makora ghene

Ningafika patali yayi kwambula gombeza lane liswesi

Na babulaula bati bii mu mphepete makora ghene

Nyengo zinyanke lusebeza nge ni nkhata

Nkhuthwikilapo maji pa kufuma ku dambo

Ndipo, pa kufuma ku thengele nkhutwikilapo nkhuni

La dazilo nkhayeghelamo mboholi wuwo makora ghene

Nkhumanya banyake pa imwe banyithu

Kumasinda uku muka nenanga kuti ‘ati ukazuzi bati!’

Kweni mboholi muli kulya

Nati nane lino nkhubetcha

Gombeza ndilo lane!

Ukazuzi nawo, ngwane!

Ntheura, mukhale waka chete!

Gombeza likunilela na mweneco,

Likunisunga

Ndipo ndiwemi nkhanira

Chinyakeso, nkhumanya pali banyake pano

Nyifwa yindanunkhe imwe  muli yamba kale

Kuibendelela gombeza ili

Kuti muzalitole para nyifwa yanifikila

Agho maghanoghano mulekeletu

Chifukwa ili gombeza nkhunjira nalo dindi

Olo nyifwa yinitole,

Ndine wonozgeka kale

Imwe mbwenu chitanda muza mubika mu gombeza ili

Mungasuzgikanga kuti mu gule linyake chara

Muzamusebezeska lene lili gombeza lane

Liswesi na babulaula bati bii mu mphepete makora ghene

 

 

The Bridge: Dreams Can Come True

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

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

Professor of Sociology

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

The twin birds and the 2 roses symbolize romantic love

The twin birds and the 2 roses symbolize romantic love

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

Curriculum Development Centre

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

The Ministry of Education CDC Approval Report

The Ministry of Education CDC Approval Report

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

What is “The Bridge”?

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

Dispelling Myths

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

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

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

Jenny

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

White American Student

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

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

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

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

Others

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

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

Recommendations

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

Why Zambian Babies Don’t Cry

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Introduction

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

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

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

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

What is the best way to raise a baby in 2015? Do you bottle feed only during certain controlled times? When do you introduce solid food? Is it a sign of being primitive and backward for  Zambian mothers to carry their  babies on their backs as some  animals in the wild do? Can you be a strong liberated educated woman, and Managing Director of a top company, a professional, and still carry your baby on your back using a chitenje cloth? Should women openly breast feed their babies in public? Should you let babies cry before they go to sleep in a separate crib in another room away from the parents? Should mothers sleep with their babies? How does this affect marriage?  What is the role of the father?  How much sex and attention should the husband and the father expect from his wife as she is mothering the baby? An article: “Why African Babies Don’t Cry” by……. a friend had sent to me on facebook instigated me to write this article. http://www.drmomma.org/2010/09/why-african-babies-dont-cry.html

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

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

 

Credentials and Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the best way to raise a baby?

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

Should you bottle feed only during certain controlled times?

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

When do you introduce solid food?

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

Carrying Baby on Back and Primitiveness

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

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

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

The Liberated Educated Woman

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

Should women openly breast feed their babies in public?

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

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

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

 

History Answer to Tribal Politics

By

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Author of “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Cutlure”.

Professor of Sociology

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

Tribalism Ugly Head

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

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

Solutions to Tribalism

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

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

One Zambia One Nation

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

The Founding Fathers of Zambia with President Kaunda seated.

The Founding Fathers of Zambia with President Kaunda seated.

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

Tribalism and Presidential Elections

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

Denounce Tribalism and Violence

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

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

Christmas Season Memories

by

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Simplicity Shapes Christmas Memories

By

Mwizenge S. Tembo

Professor  of Sociology

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

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

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

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

Scones or buns baked at the nearest rural store.

Scones or buns baked at the nearest rural store.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scone or bun with sweet jam.

Scone or bun with sweet jam.

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

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