By Kaela B MulengaBenjamin Yorum Mwila (popularly known as BY) was put to rest last weekend. M.H.S.R.P. As president Michael Sata said, “let us mourn him with respect”. Indeed, Mwila in his own way he was giant of a guy, who will be dearly missed by not only his relatives and friends, but by all Zambians. The question is why is that?
As I mourn him myself many miles across the ocean, I think of BY’s death as a turning point – or that it should be one because of a number of reasons. Biggest of them all, is his patriotism, commitment and love of his country – Zambia. He made impeccable contributions to the development of that country.
BY literally sacrificed his business empire and comfortable life to try and help Zambia move forward. According to those who have insider’s information, it is claimed that – at least for Kitwe, he was in the class of the late Shame Mulenga as being one of the richest. It is difficult to verify this detail.
But what is true is that BY invested a lot of personal wealth in promoting the “multi-party democracy” project started by MMD. As those who were close to him like VJ (Vernon Mwaanga) have confirmed, Mwila spent a buck to sustain MMD. Thank you my friend for doing so; we are all now better off today because of your efforts.
During the late Chiluba, FTJ’s rule, we understand that it was Mwila who was controlling him (the president) from getting extravagant. In other words BY was bitterly against his nephew’s corrupt activities.
Apart from business successes, BY will be remembered for being involved in just about all post-KK political machinations and combinations, all because he always dreamt of making Zambia a better place to live in – a paradise for every body. He first formed Zambia Republican Party ending up with National Democratic Focus. The fact that Zambia has not yet become a place where every Jim and Jack can survive, I am sure worried him even as he took his last breath. The man simply wanted every ordinary Zambian well off. That was the nature of the man – kind of a saint.
Those passing critical comments contend that BY like the likes of Enoch Kavindele, spent too much time trying to become politicians when they should have concentrated on becoming the best Zambian business leaders ever. In our situation, it is not difficult to know why. One obvious reason is that – you cannot sit by while the seat of power is making all sorts of awkward decisions. That is, somehow he had to be involved.
That is why after learning the intrigues of being a successful businessman, Mwila tried very hard (though not quite successful) to master the political ones too. Though it was not to be, but he kept on going. Had he become our president, I have no doubt in my mind that he would have transformed, economy wise, that country to another unimaginable level. Like the late Anderson Mazoka founder of UPND, these are the two outstanding presidents WE NEVER HAD.
While we are making ululations in praising Benjamin Mwila and celebrating his life, I want to remind the young generation of Zambia that – the old guards and caretakers of the country are all dying out one by one. Indeed, BY belonged to the seventy-something generation, which forms the current crop of rulers or decision makers. What does that suggest?
It signals that it is time to change the shift. But this shift won’t change unless the replacement ones – the young generation crowd is prepared to get their hands dirty.
The young but uneducated ones – cadres, have done their part. But we now need the educated, ex-UNZA/CBU/university breed to become active. I am not referring to demonstrations for meal cards or dormitory beds, but to be politically active. They have to be involved in real politicking and party campaign matters. This is different from being involved in just anti-government or establishment protests. In other words, they’ve to come up with survival strategies if the country is to survive beyond the Satas, RBs, etc. They’ve to figure out how to bring about economic emancipation. And nobody is going to do it for them.
But if going by what is happening in the Zambian music industry is an indicator, we know that given sufficient interest – the Zambia youth are capable of delivering and reaching for the clouds. Applying the same creativity and enthusiasm, the youth must invade the Zambian politics. Political decisions and policy, is too important to continue leaving in the hands of “old madalas”.
After all, today’s young generation is lucky because they’re born in virtually a-tribal society, with members like Chanda Hamaundus, Mutale Nalumangos, Smith Phiris, etc. That is even before we factor in tools like social media technology: face book, YouTube, twitter, internet general, radio and print media. Therefore, the young people being in command of these resources and technology should not find it difficult to let’s say, put in power people of their choice.
The only reason why old folks are still in the driver’s seat is because the young are not interested in local politics. There is some improvement however, given the new Young Greens Party. But much more is required. Therefore, with Mwila (BY) gone, I hope that this will send a strong message to all the young people of Zambia. It is in this context that Mwila’s death should help us to switch on the great banner reading – “YOUTH OF ZAMBIA UNITE”.
Here, the unity I am referring to is a serious one and not the funny, Watch Dog type of commentary and language. The comedian type of jokes shows that one is not serious. It is good to laugh once in a while, but for how long should that continue? Let’s emulate Mwila in being serious and committed.
Because now that the nation’s protectors and spokesmen like BY and others like him, the Dominic Mulaisho are gone – who is going to protect Zambia from wolves and those who envy it? Note for instance that the population density in the Great Lakes region of Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and Tanzania is growing. As I speak, the encroachment of Rwandise in Mbala/Kasama/Mpika corridor is worsening. Much closer, Kitwe is already overstocked by people from DRC and Angola. [I am sure some are even from Governor Katumbi’s area].
So unless the Zambia youth are vigilant and reflect on what is going on, they would miss the epoch of Benjamin Mwila’s death.
Finally, the youth must be aware of the rural/urban areas divide, environmental degradation symptomized by all kinds of pollution taking place on the copper belt, natural resource depletion occurring now by Chinese and other resource hunters. These are warnings to the youth that – unless they wake up quickly, they will find them selves in a precarious position. They must prepare and be ready now for the Tsunamis of untold proportions coming. The death of Mwila has thus, given us an opportunity to think about these things.
Therefore my friends, while Mwila is gone to rest – we’ve to stand guard and be forewarned that – unless each and every one of us commit like he did to the good of the country, we risk losing it. If we do nothing to safeguard our country, it is just a question of time before we loose it to others in the new world order. KK has always warned us to – “protect what is ours”. Are we ready to emulate our late brother – BY? Condolences and sympathy go to his folks.
Mwila was born on 17th September, 1943 and passed away on 17th August 2013. He is survived by two wives, Maggie and Cordelier, children and grandchildren.
May His Soul Rest in Peace.
Toronto, August 23, 2013.
Kaela B Mulenga