Zambia: Down Memory lane with Austin Kaluba

This week I will look at the social history of Zambia without confining myself to one sector. Join me as we ride in my shiny Belmont car Down Memory Lane. As we ride down the bumpy Hell Run, lets enjoy Rikki Ililonga’s Zambia.

 1. We called a court acquittal a ‘washauti’-Washout. Private detectives were called Shaidis-C.I.D ( Criminal Investigation Department).Those who worked for the office of the President or the Intelligence were derogatorily called ba Shushushu.Local courts were known for trying cases of defilement ukulya ichisungu-in chi-Bemba.We knew that in courts there was no beating about the bush even with taboo issues like sex. People liked whiling time in court just to hear cases of adultery or defilement.

2. We believed that anything broadcast on radio was the gospel truth-radio taibepa. ITT Supersonic radios that used batteries were very common and would usually give a cacophony of sounds before giving a clear reception. They came in sky-blue,orange or red colours. The radios used batteries like Ray.O.Vac, Ever Ready,Ucar,Berek and Tiger. The batteries would be warmed in the sun to be recharged for special programmes like Ifyabukaya, Sewero,Malikopo,Pompolyongo, Pocedza Madzuro,Zimene Mwatifunsa         ( arguably the most popular radio request show in all languages),Ilyashi lyakwa Kaela,Kabusha ( hosted by the late  David Yumba and Emeldah Yumbe) or a soccer commentary.Later we had Mansa batteries company and bought locally-manufactured batteries.We made simple radios which easily settled for the R.S.A ( Republic of South Africa) radio station.

3. Cars like Maza,Datsun,Austin Morris,Chevrolet and Belmont were common. So were lorris like Bedford and Austin not to talk of trucks like Fuso canter.

4. Going abroad especially to England or America was rare and people who had been overseas treasured the memories. A bag bearing the acronyms B.O.A.C ( British Overseas Airlines Corporation) was a symbol of status.

5.We read the Oxford primers -book 1 and 2 and remembered stories like Robin Hood or Old Mariana.

6. Living ku ma yaadi was enviable as these houses were formerly occupied by white settlers. Many houses in ma yard had swimming pools and orchards. The ma yaadis also had servant quarters which housed servants. Now many are being rented out. A good number of swimming pools have been buried or turned into garbage dumps.

7. Condoms (then called by their brand name Durex) were very rare and strictly used for birth control.

8. Some clinics and hospitals never treated any Sexually Transmitted Infection (S.T.I’s) insisting the patient brought along with them sexual partners who had infected them. It is for this reason coupled with the stigma attached to being infected with S.T.Is that many people sought traditional medicine and went to hospital only when they were terminally ill.

9. Telegrams usually meant bad news like death or a serious illness. Senders were charged per word so telegrams were usually very short reading something like : ‘Mother dead come” or ‘Father very ill.’ The Zambia Broadcasting announced deaths freely in the philosophy of humanism. The announcements were heralded by a mournful piano tune. The anouncements were done in English and translated in vernacular languages spoken on radio. I can’t remember the full introduction message but I remember it started with lines in ci-Bemba ‘Limolimo fwe bantu tulaponenwa namafya. Limbi kuti bururu wenu nafwa nangu umwana naluba etc Followed by umulabasa wa Zambia ukukonkana ne chikomo cha bwananyina chilasabankanya blah blah blah…

10. The UNIP government heavily censored information in the government-owned and State-controlled Media like the Times of Zambia, Zambia Daily Mail and Zambia Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) programmes in English and vernacular languages and newspapers in the 7 languages. Considering this monopoly on news dissemination, it is unsurprising that many Zambians were swayed by opiniions expressed in the media concerning issues like the Alice Lenshina uprising, introduction of the Humanism philosophy,dissidents, the Mushala uprising and some phantom coup attempts considering the fact that there was only one major source of information.

12. During the struggle for independence in neighbouring countries, the government launched an awareness campaign to sensitise Zambians about the evil intentions of the enemies (usually former colonial masters ) printing posters and broadcasting news about spies. A common posters with an exploding bomb read-Don’t touch anything that looks suspicious because if could be a BOMB! It was around this time that Keith Mlevu sang an awareness song Ubuntungwa in ci-Bemba warning Zambians about spies who were dishing out money for information to destroy the country.

13. We believed pupils who attended girls secondary school like Roma or Fatima were spoon-fed and usually flunked in their first year at the University of Zambia. I don’t have statistics to prove whether this was true or false. Form Fives used to sit for the Cambridge Examinations before it was changed to the Examination Council of Zambia. Many (especially those who sat for the Cambridge examinations) believed the examinations became easier when it was Zambianised. Again, there is no concrete evidence to prove this. Grade seven examination results used to be stuck on the school notice boards.

14. We took pride of the assembly factories like the Livingstone Motor Asemblies and Chipata Bicycle company.

15. We hated White-ruled South Africa with a passion despite trading with the country and using some of their products./End..

 Answer to last week’s question On what gambling show was this song sang :

 Look for Lotti the Lottery man,

Only buy your ticket where I am

Wonderful prizes you’ll agree

In the Zambia State Lottery


Look for Lotti ‘n join in the fun

Buy yourself a ticket perhaps you’ve won

A big prize winner you could be

In the Zambia State Lottery”

Pick A Lot Show.

This week’s question : when did Zambia replace the old currency of Pounds, Shillings and Pence?
a) 1964
b) 1967
c) 1965

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5 responses to “Zambia: Down Memory lane with Austin Kaluba”

  1. Eric Tanda says:

    great! this is good, it reminds me of those days.

  2. What is a good beginners book for civil engineering technology or civil engineering? Please help. I want to start learning but at the lowest possible level.

  3. I wish more people would write sites like this that are actually fun to read. With all the crap floating around on the internet, it is a great change of pace to read a site like yours instead.

  4. Boyd Hamulondo says:

    Wonderful article. It reminds me of those good olden days. Unfortunately, they aint coming back.

  5. Bwalya says:

    Classical, I enjoy reading this column, on time, every Friday!!! Thanks Kaluba!!

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