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

Growing Up

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

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

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

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

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

Going to School

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

 

Chinjoka chikulu chikamnyenga Adam

Adam na Eva

 

A big snake tempted Adam

Adam and Eve

 

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

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

Challenges of School and Education

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chizongwe Secondary School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

University of Zambia

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

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

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

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

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

Graduate School Masters and Doctoral Degrees

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

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

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

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

I Meet My Wife

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

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

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

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

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

We are blessed with two large united

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

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

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

Intellectual and Academic Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

December 17, 2013

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

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

 

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

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

The Demands of Being Christian

The Powerful Demands of being a Christian in Our Lives
These ideas have been inspired by my life-long human struggle and contemplation of goodness and evil, human suffering and triumph, appreciation of both beauty and ugliness. Growing up as a child in the village in Zambia, Africa, I remember my parents and grand parents pointing out to me what was cruelty and kindness, goodness and evil. Their teachings were mixed with personal example sprinkled with generous doses of laughter and a sense of appreciation of all that is good; the gift of life, good harvest and meals, dance and song, wearing good clothes to go to church on Sunday, the goodness that comes from living a righteous and dignified life of hard work. All of these created in me and my community a deep sense of appreciation of life and the power and magnificence that God created.

Then I went to college at the young and only University of Zambia at the time. This was in the country’s Capital City of Lusaka. I was the type of student who read the text books to pass tests but often spent a great deal of time reading material that was outside class reading. This material challenged me at a tender age to think more deeply about life. When I first read the “Autobiography of Malcolm X” as a freshman English course assigned reading, I had to stop half way in between and put the book down. It was eleven at night. I walked out of my dorm room and walked for two miles along the Great East Road near campus up to the Zambian parliament building. I was very angry, confused, and eighteen years old. How could there be so much evil and pain intentionally inflicted by some human beings on others in the world? Why was racism created in America? How could some human beings (whites) enjoy the evil that they were doing and inflicting on other human beings (Blacks)? There was a haze in my eyes as the street and car lights glistened through my tears. This was confusing for me as most of the African people I grew up with in my family were kind and dignified. When my parents received many guests including Europeans, they treated them with cheer, respect and hospitality. At about the time I went to college, I met a young White American couple that were to be my dear and life long great friends. Most whites I met were descent human beings. How could many Europeans and Americans claim to be Christians and yet practice or believe in colonialism, racism, and own slaves or approve of slavery? Is Christianity synonymous with evil? These questions could not be answered at that time because people often use cliches as answers to such deeply troubling questions. I have struggled continually with these questions and I am not certain they will be answered during my life time.

When God created Adam and Eve, the two were endowed with spiritual passion and surrounded with physical beauty. One can see this beauty when you see the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains, the Muchinga Escarpment, the gorgeous Blue lagoons and magnificent blue waters and sand beaches of the world, and the breath taking green river valleys. The ability to engage in evil of varying degrees is present in all humans. Parents and the community are the first line of defense against evil. God helps as they raise and nurture children be these their own or those of others in the community. A bad, cruel, poor  or a lack of proper parental or extended family upbringing with little or no spiritual nurturing tremendously increases the chances that the child will not distinguish between good and evil.

Christianity and believing in God and Christ is the most powerful spiritual force when individuals open themselves and their hearts to the force. God works through parents and the community to teach children about kindness, sharing, treating all human beings with fairness and respect, and to revere life itself. When we are born then we have a tremendous gift for doing good through our families and communities. When does evil begin to grow in humans? When human beings acquire power, material possessions and wealth for greedy ends, their powerful, true, compassionate and genuine Christian beliefs are threatened or begin to decline. Lack of or weak parental extended family upbringing and the desire to acquire material possessions and power  beyond our immediate needs is the beginnings, if not the foundation of evil and sin and sometimes misery. What does all this mean in everyday life and especially for a Christian during this end of the second millennium?

It means as humans, we all live the way God intended us to live until we begin to engage in limitless hedonism, or exercise the desire for more power and material possessions for greedy ends for both individuals and nations. The foundation for all egregious evil is the desire for more power, and material possessions which is reflected in human greed of different degrees. The root and beginning of the evil and atrocities humans commit on both a small and grand scale is always the desire for more power, and material possessions than God intended for our happy, compassionate, righteous, happy fulfilled lives.

One scholar, Inge Bell asserted: “Slaves were better human beings than their masters”. A variation of this statement is the simple question: “Can a slave owner also be a good person?” Many years ago, I posed this question to my sociology class. I was astounded at the convoluted answer. “Many slave owners treated their slaves with kindness; fed, clothed, and housed them.” Since then I have asked a variation of this simple question? “Can a slave owner be a true or genuine Christian?” The answers to these simple questions vary: “Slaves were being civilized as Africans were primitive”. “Many Whites were poor and did not own slaves”. I have never understood this obfuscation and the difficulty in answering this question when this society believes it has the most educated, informed, compassionate, and sophisticated people. A slave owner, however kindly he may have treated the slaves, could NOT have been a good human being, let alone a true Christian. I hope this says “the Emperor has not clothes”. The practice of slavery especially in the US, greatly damaged the powerful good influence of Christianity. European colonialism in Africa and elsewhere and the practice of apartheid in South Africa also tremendously destroyed the image of God, Christ, and Christianity. Fortunately in every society in the world, there are thousands and sometimes hundreds of courageous people always fighting to eliminate evil and needless suffering and spread kindness and compassion.

What are you going to do in this new millennium to eliminate evil and needless suffering? Are you going to be kind and compassionate to all humanity?

So Many Ways to Express Romantic Love

My Entrancing: So Many Ways to Express Romantic Love

My entrancing,

Your letter was truly splendid. Your phantasmagoric interpretation of our panomic culture was most enlightening.

Your symbology provoked me to regard your conceptual lucidity and articulation when concretizing the abstract as overwhelmingly erudite.

I stand in profound indebtedness for having been a participant in your incomparable evaluations of the philoprogenitive and autogenenitive appraisals of our civilization.

However, I did receive a passé and chauvinistic interpolation of the quixotic machination existent in the female species and would here to fore, suggest that when promulgating on esoteric cogitation, beware of platitudinous ponderosities. During a pending war, where silent armies intend to clash by night, a cacophonous and catastrophic clime predominates man’s inhumanity to man becomes appalling. When hordes of marauding barbarians threaten to spread their havoc and destruction there is a universal catharsis of misery. One must question the traditional mores ilubued in us at birth in such disastrous time. You know, all kidding aside, I love you.

I am sorry we have no memories to share then we would recall those memories and our letters would not remind us but bring us together.

To one of your inimitable perspicacity, the degradations, debasements and deprivations of war would be a horrendous imposition.

Your loving

Name (Anonymous)

Except from: Mwizenge Tembo, Titbits for the Curious, Lusaka: Multimedia Publications, 1989, p. 33-34

Themba Chako Radio Comedy

Radio Chikaya in Lundazi
Who are the Tumbuka people? They live in Zambia, a country with a population of 10 million people with 2.02% annual growth rate. It has a life expectancy at birth of 43, and adult literacy rate of 78.2% 1. The country is landlocked and shares borders with seven countries; Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Congo, and Tanzania. The Tumbuka are one of the many  Bantu ethnic groups that are found in Southern Africa. The Tumbuka speak Chitumbuka which is one of 72 bantu languages and dialects that have been recorded in Zambia. They are located in the Eastern Province of the Southern African country of Zambia straddling the border between North-Eastern of Zambia and Northern Malawi. Approximately 750,000 Tumbuka people live in Malawi and 400,000 in Zambia 2

Since the early 1920s when the British established and colonized the then Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, the Tumbuka have maintained their traditional lifestyle, cultural values, and subsistence farming. But their life has also been influence by Western medicine, education, and Christianity. The Tumbuka who live in the Lundazi district of Zambia  where this radio comedy was broadcast, are predominantly subsistence farmers growing maize or corn as the staple food including peanuts, beans,  peas, finger millet, sweet potatoes, cassava. The Tumbuka grow and sell cotton cash crops. They use the cash proceeds to pay school uniform and fees, modest clinic fees, and the purchase of modern consumer goods such as bicycles, soap, radios, batteries, sugar, clothing, and traditionally brewed beer. They also raise livestock such as chickens, goats, cattle, and pigs.

The Tumbuka still lead a predominantly traditional life style in which family and close kin reside in small villages surrounded by farm lands divided according to the needs of each family. The Zambian government provides clinics, schools, and agricultural extension services. The Tumbuka have certainly been influenced by modern institutions such as schools and clinics. For example, dozens of schools including Lundazi Secondary School, Musuzi and Mphamba Basic Schools, Mchereka Schools are located in the town of Lundazi and surrounding region where these radio programs were recorded. These social influences may have created some unique ways of approaching life.

Radio Chikaya is broadcast everyday predominantly in English and Tumbuka. The one hour weekly Tumbuka show is the character Themba Chako. When I first heard the Themba Chako program, I almost on my food with laughter. It was in the evening under moonlight 30 miles west of Lundazi in my home village. We were eating dinner with my family. The 4 radio programs of YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9jJZwdcLZE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TLbQBKBn2Y&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG6y5wtLBHs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aJFZffFKVA

1 F. Jeffress Ramsay, Global Studies: Africa, 8th ed., Guildford, Connecticut: Dushkin/McGraw-Hill, 1999, pp. 166-167.

2 The Tumbuka of Malawi and Zambia, www.imb.org/southern-africa/peoplegroups/tumbuka.htm

Ways to Express Love in the Family

If you live in the Western world, you have seen many Hollywood romantic movies and read romantic novels, you probably believe one thing: the best way to express love and romantic feelings is through flowers, kisses, and especially a romantic dinner by candle light. You might also believe that love and romance may not exist in other non-Western cultures. After all, aren’t marriages in these non-Western cultures miserable and practically between strangers since they are arranged? Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only do single young men and women have choices, romantic love often blooms. The only exception might be that the romantic love starts and is expressed differently from the West.

In the Western society love in the context of the family is expressed in form of verbal gestures such as “I love you son,” or hugs, kisses and presents. Parental and family love are also expressed differently in many non-Western cultures. For example, among the Tumbuka people of Eastern Zambia in Southern Africa, parents and siblings rarely show affection by hugging, kissing, or loud statements of: “I love you”. But their love is often as deep as ever. Romantic love in the West is cherished and publicly celebrated.

The type of enduring love that the Tumbuka truly cherish though is the one between couples and their children within marriage and the family. Many years ago I was having a conversation with a woman acquintance and we were swapping stories about our childhood family experiences. Both of us were in our thirties at the time and she was just getting over a divorce. I told her how pleasant and warm my memories were of my family. But she said her memories were of sheer hell since all she recalled were the constant fights between her parents and threats by both that they would leave. They eventually divorced. She said she was insecure and has always had anxiety in her life. A bell rung in my head at the time. It occurred to me then that my parents created such a loving environment by example. Since I did not want to rub it in, I did not share with her what I am going to tell you.

My parents are peasants in a village in Zambia who raised nine kids with my father’s elementary teacher’s pittance of a pay and my mother working hard on the land to provide and supplement meals every day. Everyone chipped in the chores of the house. Some of the best times were during evening meals. Sometimes we would eat meals by a flickering yellow light of the hurricane kerosene lamp or in the summer by the bright moonlight outside. We would have sweet conversation and laughter after the meals before we went to bed.

When my mom and dad had their conversation, it was always in low gentle tones as they caught up on each other’s day. Sometimes they would tease each other and laugh and would feign asking each one of the kids to take their sides. My mother is the most humorous person I know. We kids were often amused and used to hearing loud laughter from our parents’ bedroom.

My parents had their fights and disagreements of course. But they were never the “mother” of all fights that degenerated into loud threats that either one was going to leave or those contemptuous remarks meant to hurt and demean the other especially in front of the children. They always respected each other. Over the years, three siblings died. My mother always said wistfully that we could have been twelve kids. Once in a long while, we will talk about the deceased siblings as if they were alive just yesterday. My parents provided the love, stability and warmth that every child should have and take for granted; that is to know that just as the sun surely rises and sets every day, your parents are going to be always there every day and forever to protect, nurture, and feed you. What my parents gave us nine kids is not just the biological gift of  life but the icing on the cake is the ability to truly enjoy life and experience joy in the truest sense of the word.

Welcome to Hunger for Culture!

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