Zambia @47 years, politically free but…poor
Zambia has celebrated its 47 independence anniversary. The days of Zambians buying through pigeon holes which irritated the first republican president Kenneth Kaunda forcing him to become a vegetarian are history. As the anti-colonialism song in chi-Bemba “Ubulofwa bwa kale” cheerfully stating “Amayendele Muno Zambia, meaning free movement in Zambia.
We are saying that Zambia has had 4 decades of independence free from the oppressive yoke of foreign domination. The Black Maria fault-finding, stick-wielding policemen who sent terror in the hearts of Zambians are a thing of the past. Zambia has witnessed five presidents and three political parties hold the reins of power. Like many African countries, Zambia is free socially and politically. However, much needs to be done in the economical sphere which has seen other former colonial states still languishing in poverty not solely resultant of corruption and mismanagement but largely to do with lack of the expertise that disappeared with the exit of the colonial masters. Many African countries can be rightly called surrogate races which shouldn’t have been administratively weaned prematurely from their colonial masters who created them in the first place.
Maybe the independence Zambia could have borne full economic benefits if the colonial masters were allowed to participate in the development of the country. This is true for most sub-Saharan African countries that got independence in the 60’s. Controversial as it is, many countries were ill-prepared for self-governance. This is not to say colonialism was a good thing. Colonialism like slavery was an evil imperialistic practice that needed replacing with self-governance. On the other hand, self governance by inexperienced leadership was not a solution in itself.
The cruel truth is that many third World countries would be far worse-off were it not for colonization. The development we strive to achieve unfortunately is euro-centric and we have to master the skills and techniques employed by our former colonial masters if our endeavors are to bear the intended results. Coming back to Zambia which had only 101 graduates at independence, removing former colonial masters from governance was catastrophic. Zambia’s founding father, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, confessed in an interview with the former Times of Zambia political editor Samuel Ngoma that the nationalists at Independence were ill-equipped to rule the country.
The creation of a Rainbow nation encompassing all races for a better South African has already borne fruits in economic and political circles.
For countries like Zambia whose well-meaning nationalists came up with emotional and ill-conceived political and economic policies like nationalization that saw an exodus of whites to countries like South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Britain, the consequences have been severe.
Needless to say if the victorious UNIP had tolerated the white-dominated United Federal Party (UFP) to participate in development of the country, maybe Zambia would have been a better place economically than it is now.
On a happier note, politically we are free “Amayendele Muno” Zambia (free movement) but economically, we should have spent more time with our colonial masters. /End…