This week, I will go down memory lane with you by highlighting some memories of motherhood and growing up in Zambia. Join me as we look into the view master to the old good days.
When there was a baby in the family, our mothers told us they had bought it from ZCBC and we believed them! It was only when we were older that we realised how babies were born. It was common to see prams for mothers who could afford them.
Single motherhood was really frowned upon. Single female teachers who got pregnant were dismissed from the teaching service for fear they would set a bad example for girls. The practice lasted up to the early 70’s.
Sometimes we were told as boys to put salt in the relish when our older sisters were menstruating. It was traditionally believed that a menstruating woman should not add salt to relish for fear of contaminating the family.
We sometimes ate Nshima with our mothers direct from the pot. We would put lumps of Nshima on the edge of the pot to allow it to cool. We were later allowed to eat with our fathers when we grew older. We were not allowed to wash hands even when were satisfied. We had to wait for our father or any elderly person to do so.
We believed putting a needle on a rail line would derail a train. We also believed that albinos did not die but just disappeared. When we reached our teens, we were told that our dicks would be burnt if we slept with girls.
Sometimes, we would steal Lactogen powdered milk usually meant for the baby. The other common powdered milk was Cow and Gate or Nestle. We would also take a sip from Gripe water which was slightly sweet. We would also steal sugar and put it in our breast pockets. We would then find a straw to suck it with.
We would fight to baby sit but quickly get bored especially when our age mates were playing. To find an excuse to hand over the baby to our mothers, we would pinch it. Our mothers reprimanded us for not holding babies properly.
We would skip rope to a nursery song or rotate a hoop –chingolongolo around our waists.
As small children we would sleep on the floor or reed mat while our older brothers slept on a thin mattress. Bed wetting -buchisusu was common and we would wake up early in the morning to dry blankets. Usually bed wetting came with a dream to wee. If your brother put his leg on your neck, you dreamt that someone was strangling you.
Our parents kept several members of the extended family. An average Zambian family would have 7 to 8 children. As children we would sleep in the same room and sometimes incestuous sexual relationships would occur.
As children we made love ukuchita ifyabupuba-doing foolish things-in abandoned houses, old cars, ditches or classrooms. We never had orgasms but just got tired after making several hissing sounds by sucking our teeth.
When talking careers, our favourite jobs was to become drivers, Policemen or pilots. We wanted to become drivers because we were fascinated by driving. We wanted to become Policemen because the career was associated with beating people then. Being a pilot fascinated us because of the love of flying. We thought being a president was a career associated with the first republican president Kenneth Kaunda. We would ask questions like ‘who was the Kaunda of Tanzania?
At school we would count our fingers and toes to solve addition or subtraction sums. We did sums like 1+ Box = 4 what is box? We also did sums were we carried over digits to be added later. We were told by our primary teacher that bigger figures could not be divided with smaller figures. Our teachers would ask ‘7 into 3?’ and we would shout ‘It can’t! It was only when we went to secondary school that we learnt about sums to do with points. We did comprehension exercises like ‘Can You Remember.’ At secondary level, we were introduced to a comprehension book called Read and Think.
We usually had fist fights during closing of schools. A stronger boy would challenge someone to a fight by simply saying nalilala-schools have closed to which someone willing to fight would reply nalilala, nomba finshi?-schools have closed, so what?
Teachers would announce pupils who had passed by making the class enter a circle and name them according to the positions in the examination. The first would come out of the circle and maybe receive a prize in form of an exercise book. After a required number has been reached, the pupils who have failed would be jeered.
This week I will write about opposition politics in Zambia. I will also look at individuals dubbed ‘dissidents’ by the UNIP government who condemned the government. Join me as we go down the turbulent memory lane listening to Rikki Ililonga’s Love Is The Only Way.
1. Shortly after independence March 8, 1966 Kenneth Kaunda refused to meet Berrings Lombe, the leader of the United Front Party (UFP) later known as United Party (UP) for an inter-party meeting. Later the new leader of the party Mufaya Mumbuna questioned the prolonged incarceration of the self-styled prophetess Alice Lenshina. UNIP started showing clear signs of intolerance to opposition and UNIP cadres later beat both Lombe and Mumbuna in Livingstone.
2. At a meeting addressed by Mumbuna at Luburma market in Lusaka, government security men handed Mumbuna with a tape recorder to record everything that he said at the meeting. Lombe quit UP because of harassment from UNIP members. Several other UP leaders followed suit citing constant harassment from UNIP cadres. The UP national organising secretary William Chipango had his house searched for ammunition by government security men. Other UP members had their houses petrol-bombed by UNIP cadres. A Mr Kalaluka of Chimwemwe in Kitwe and his wife sustained serious burns when his house was torched at night.
3. An unruly UNIP mob stoned a UP member who attended a UP meeting addressed by Mundia. The government later arrested Mundia on 13 June 1968 and charged him with four counts under the Secrets Act. On 14 August of the same year, UP was banned and Mundia was restricted to his natal village in Kalabo. Several UP members were jailed at Mumbwa prison. Upon release they were restricted to their home villages. They included Henry Ndhlovu, Julius Namakando, Dickson Chikulo, and Blatson Mushala. Some UP members defected to ANC led by Harry Nkumbula. UNIP felt UP which enjoyed overwhelming support in western province especially from the Litunga was more of a threat to the new government than ANC. The Litunga whose autonomy was lost under UNIP banked on UP to restore his lost autonomy. The Lozi king had reluctantly accepted UNIP’s victory over the settler government.
4. After banning UP, UNIP turned it’s wrath on ANC starting with countrywide anti-ANC speeches and harassment of ANC members. The education Minister Wesley Nyirenda banned ANC in Livingstone and Mumbwa and warned that the ban was going to be extended to other towns in the country. He said multi-partism was retrogressive in Africa since it only bred chaos. There were clashes between UNIP and ANC members especially in Mufulira leading to several deaths.
5. Africans who had not long ago lived majorly along tribal lines were not used to live with members of other tribes in the new republic called Zambia. The colonial government had somehow succeeded in uniting them using force. Tribalism surfaced within UNIP fanned by several tribal factions. Some Bembas leaders who felt Bembas or the Bemba speaking group which enjoyed numerical advantage over several other tribes were sidelined in the party. Kaunda dismissed several Bemba leaders James Chapoloko,Justin Chimba, Alfred Chambeshi and John Chisata. The foremost Bemba leader in the party Simon Kapwepwe who was vice president quit his position to form UPP on 22 August 1971. Kapwepwe had complained all along that Bembas had been sidelined in the party. Throughout his tenure of office, Kaunda had played a juggling game in uniting tribes in Zambia. The Bembas were proud of their historical military conquests and felt they were a superior tribe. The Lozis were also proud of their kingdom and academic superiority over other tribes. Conscious of these tribal rivalries among ‘big’ tribes Kaunda sometimes using their differences to his advantage. He also incorporated other members of the minority tribes by tribal balancing.
6. Kapwepwe’s resignation from the party was a big blow to UNIP and the government. UNIP realized this and quickly issued a press statement arguing that Kapwepwe had been pushed to form a party by drunkards and failures.
7. UNIP organized a protest against UPP on 27 August 1971. The Women Brigade headed by Chibesa Kankasa organized women in the party stripped to their petticoats and marched in the streets chanting anti-UPP songs and singing a parody of Tiyende Pamodzi changing the lines to Tengani Kapwepwe ku Chainama. They were addressed by Copperbelt cabinet Minister Alex Shapi who appealed to Kaunda to be ruthless with the rebels.
8. Kaunda who was in Mfuwe on a working holiday warned UPP and ANC that he would brook no nonsense and blamed Kapwepwe for joining hands with Nkumbula whom he had earlier condemned as having no principles. He said Kapwepwe was being sponsored by South Africa, Portugal and Rhodesia. Kaunda also revealed that he knew all along that his childhood friend haboured ambitions to be president. He ended his speech by chillily warning that UNIP was a live wire that would burn anyone who tried to upset it.
9. Kapwepwe whose party’s main aim was to improve the welfare of workers failed to woo ZCTU support. UPP had little time to expound it’s principles because of harassment from the government and negative media reports on the new party. The Zambia Daily Mail carried a cartoon of Kapwepwe dressed in his traditional African attire kneeling before Balthazar Vorster crying ‘the South Africans have not paid me.’ The cartoon was entitled tribal chief. Kapwepwe sued the paper and won.
10. The governor of the Ministry of development, planning and national guidance Rueben Kamanga who had been defeated for the post of vice president by Kapwepwe said multi-partism had not only been condemned in Zambia but in heaven!
11. At a UNIP seminar in Ndola rural at Masaiti Institute Oswald Chimavu, a UNIP leader said that when Lucifer who was second to God tried to overthrow God, he was thrown out of heaven because the heavenly kingdom did not want any crisis and confusion. It was this party-engineered sycophancy that made it clear to historians of Zambian politics that UNIP was bent on banning multi-partism shortly after independence.
12. To strengthen it’s membership against UPP, UNIP incorporated some former ANC members to it’s fold. Long after ANC was banned, it’s former leader Harry Nkumbula was harassed by the government. Nkumbula complained that he was broke after the government froze his bank account and closed his mine the Nkumbula Gem Processing Limited.
13. UNIP’S honeymoon of plenty was gone and between 1974-76 the copper revenues nose dived sharply forcing Kaunda to look to agro programs which he hastily and haphazardly implemented. The food prices rose leading to discontent in the country. A state of emergency was declared in January 1976. Kaunda was retained as the sole candidate in the elections held in December 1978 and in October 1983.
14. The One Party State saw guerrilla activities by Adamson Mushala in north western province. Mushala had been trained in military warfare and caused havoc for seven years before being gunned down in 1982. There were also constant protests from UNZA students in the 80’s.
15. Addressing the Ndola branch of the Law Society of Zambia, the chairman of Standard Bank Zambia Limited Elias Chipimo urged leaders in Third World countries especially those in Africa to review their policies towards single party constitution and introduce flexible mechanisms to allow for change of leadership. Chipimo added that multi-partism was a surest way of avoiding coups and eliminating the disgraceful tendency of presidents ending up with bullets in their heads.
The party and it’s government which thought it had successfully muffled all diverse views by banning opposition did not take Chipimo’s ‘outbursts’ kindly. UNIP members protested against ‘dissidents’ who included Chipimo himself, former Finance Minister John Mwanakatwe, Barclays Bank Manager Francis Nkhoma, former Bank of Zambia governor Valentine Musakanya and former Mines Minister Andrew Kashita. They went to their offices to drag them to Freedom House. Fortunately, most of the rebels were out of their offices apart from Nkhoma who was harassed by the irate cadres. The cadres called on the government to try the ‘dissidents’ without trial or confiscate their passport. Some cadres even suggested that the rebels be hanged. Chipimo resigned his position long before Kaunda held a press conference accusing the four of being behind a plot to incite the army to overthrow the government. Emmanuel Kasonde issued a statement that there was nothing wrong in debating why Zambia had a single candidate for presidency. During his tenure of office, Kaunda survived 4 coups imagined and real.
This week, I will take you Down Memory Lane without confining myself to any field. I will start with the origins of some names. Join me as we listen to Kalambo Hit Parade Impanga ya Mambwe.
1. The UNIP leader Dingiswayo Banda was implicated in a poaching case. Game meat has since then been called Dingi.
2. The Zambian musician Rikki Ililonga, now based in Denmark popularised dreadlocks in the country. Plaiting hair in dreadlock-like strands for women became known as tu Rikki.
3. Patients who received treatment for STI’s at UTH were directed to the Kalipinde section of skin clinics named after a popular pub of the same name. Kalipinde dancing queens were reputed to be spreading sexually transmitted diseases.
4.Shaving head hair was called Yul Bryner, after a popular actor.
5. Jagari Chanda, the Witch band frontman popularised Bermuda shorts.
6. ZCBC stocked Mazoe soft drink we called Mazoi, Cream SodaWilson sweets in flavours like butter milk, mint and strawberry.
7.The president Kenneth Kaunda would make important announcements from Mfuwe on working holidays. He was once quoted saying UNIP is a live wire warning of the action he planned to make against the formation of UPP led by Simon Kapwepwe.
8. Valentine Musakanya and Elias Chipimo were reputed to be so anti-UNIP and the two ‘dissidents’ were reported as referring to Kapwepwe and Kaunda as ‘those two villagers from Chinsali.
9.a typical Boma office was sparsely furnished with a green felt cloth covering a table and a mounted basin of water with a bar of soap and towel with GRZ embroidered on it.
10. Road side hawkers would sell Munkoyo or maheu and would give you some dyonko.
11. In the late 80’s,coupons were issued to workers earning a salary below K20,000.
12. Bread cost 13 Ngwee for some years.
13. Quack doctors like Professor Shehu Yahya and ‘Dr’ Nawa advertised their services in newspaper on diseases they could cure.
14. Wearing military fatigues would attract a beating from security men.
15. Kaunda strumming a guitar with his wife was a common picture whenever he celebrated his birthdays./End..
First Republican President Kenneth Kaunda’s son Panji has said the current shift of support from the ruling MMD to the opposition Patriotic Front clearly shows that Zambians are geared to change government.
Colonel Kaunda who is interim chairperson for the People’s pact forum and former United Party for National Development (UPND) member explains that the Zambia people have suffered enough at the hands of the MMD government.
He has reiterated that change is coming adding that people should remain united for the just cause of showing the MMD the exit door.
Colonel Kaunda who recently held a series of meetings in western Province under the people%u2019s pact forum says he was overwhelmed at the massive support the PF is receiving in the province.
He has since called on the opposition in the country to unite in order not to split votes in the coming elections.
Former President, Dr Kenneth Kaunda has implored writers and other artistes to effectively capture and reflect Zambia’s rich culture and history through their works.
Dr Kaunda said there is need to explore ways of improving skills in creative writing for authors to fully capture Zambia’s rich culture.
He said this in Lusaka yesterday when he officiated at the launch of a book titled ‘The Future Has Arrived’ authored by Grieve Sibale.
“The few published writers, printers and publishers of literary works that we have in this country have complained of low readership levels for books of a general interest such as novels. We know that many in Zambia read textbooks for the purpose of passing examinations,” Dr Kaunda said.
He said this has discouraged local publishers.
Dr Kaunda said publishers have also complained that imported books are usually cheaper because they are brought in tax-free but locally produced ones are generally more expensive because of raw material attracts import duty.
“The publisher Tupelo Honey Industries has helped us publish Grieve’s works, but all of us must work to improve the situation. We need active involvement of writers as individuals and associations,” he said.
Dr Kaunda urged all stakeholders in book production to engage in effective dialogue with Government to find lasting solutions to the challenges the industry faces.
He said this entails initiating a workable and effective Book development policy with Government.
Dr Kaunda also said while Zambia’s population has been growing, the country has not witnessed a corresponding increase in the number of bookshops.
Dr Kaunda expressed concern at the number of mushrooming bars and taverns while there is hardly any increase in the number of libraries being built.
He, however, urged Zambian authors not to relent in writing.
“Let us continue to write good books and explore the possibility of marketing them through the internet as other writers elsewhere are doing. The 21st century has many exciting and challenging business opportunities which we must grab with both hands if we are to succeed in this highly competitive environment,” Dr Kaunda said.
He described the book as impressive, saying it has appropriately infused traditional adages from across the country.
And Mr Sibale said the book, his fifth, is based on his personal reflections and vision of a better Zambia.
This week’s down memory lane is not confined to one period but highlights up growing up in Zambia.I have added some pieces from the 80’s and 90’s.
Let’s ride together in the IFA truck as we listen to Zangalewa.
1. We played Chimpombwa or ichifulukutu-home-made balls made from papers, plastic bags, cloths held together by strings. We played rival teams from other townships and to identify each other one side would not take off their tops while the other one remained shirtless. We had what we called 5 change goal, ten finish ball or we would settle for a higher figure and change goals at half of the number. Sometimes we competed for money donated by the competing sides. It could be 60 Ngwee or more. The winning side would share the money or buy food to celebrate the victory. It was common for a player from the losing side to signal to the one holding the money who would then bolt with the money ending the match abruptly. Sometimes we would play a store-bought ball with brand names like Wembley or -a hollow-less rubbery ball we called Chikanda named after a traditional delicacy. These ‘Wembley’ balls never lasted long because we played barefooted and our uncut nails would deflate the balls. The self-appointed Captain would inspect all the players to ensure their nails were cut before the match. The rules for the matches were based on mimicry of real matches. For penalties, one would count eleven steps from the goal post and put the ball down. We shouted ‘hans ball! each time a player consciously or accidentally touched the ball.
2. We imitated adults during ukubuta-mock home keeping. We would take the roles of a fathers, mothers or children. We even had someone playing a Cock or a hynae to wake up or frighten the family. Weak or dull children were always assigned roles of Cocks or hynaes. It was during Ukubuta that we first experimented with the mysteries of sex.
3. We played with amalegeni-catapults made from an elastic rubber band tied to a forked hard wood and an oblong-shaped leather end. We trapped birds with ubulimbo or gondwa- made from a milky, sticky sap from certain types of trees. We made our toys like car wires. Sometimes we would go to the council dumping ground called Marabous named after a scavenging bird of a garbage collecting name of the same name to forage for useful things we could use. We lied about the number of the girls we had slept with or talked about the colour of their knickers. Our girlfriends whom we rarely slept with except on days like Christmas loved us just for who we were. We would wear Bata shoes named after a real Italian proprietor who visited Zambia in the 80’s. We would go to fields of sweet potatoes and make Uvuni,a- corruption of oven- by roasting potatoes in a mini kiln-like, dome-shaped structure of heat earth. Sometimes we would fight dogs. The dog fights ended up with fist fights between the owners of the dogs. We also enjoyed watching a dog mating with a bitch and laughed our heads off when they got locked. Public buildings would have cartoon-like drawings of a named boy linked to a girl by a line connecting their groins. This meant they were suspected of having sex. The drawing would be accompanied with the words like ‘John and Susan.’ We would jump rope to a rhyme or play piggy back. We would sing One ngiya,ngeni,ngeni -a corruption of an early English nursery song ‘one gear, engine, engine.’ We would write to pen pals abroad pleading with them to buy us things found in Europe.
4. We watched boxing matches beamed from America early in the morning. We would wait for the match. We were disappointed when Lottie Mwale who was at one time the Commonwealth champion was beaten by Mustapha Muhammad.
5. The UNIP government introduced several programmes to enhance the Humanism philosophy. We had Humanism week when citizens would paint mental wards or help vulnerable groups. We also had Youth Week. The government introduced many security and agrarian programmes like Zambia National Service ZNS, Rural Reconstruction, Home Guard and Go Back To The Land.
6. Form Five school leavers were put in lorries and taken to ZNS camps strewn all over the country in places like Kafue, Chishimba, Mansa and Ndola. Here the recruits nicknamed Malyongos were given military training. Many former ZNS recruits have fond memories of the training which also prepared them for life in society with civilians. The recruits were given K 5 per month for their upkeep. This was a handsome sum at the time. The recruits had a better lifestyle in camp than other security personnel like the Army, Police and Prison warders. The instructors were illiterate or poorly educated and treated the educated recruits whom they considered to be arrogant rather harshly. Some of their attempts to speak English have gone down in ZNS memories. An instructor talking to his better educated superior who had asked him were he was taking the recruits answered ‘I am coming them to you sir.’ An instructor asking recruits who ate rice and those who ate nshima called out loudly ‘those who eat rice this side and those who eat food this side!’ An instructors commanding a cook to give two recruits two portions of nshima with beef shouted ;Give this Malyongos two food with two animals each!’
7. Early 90’s saw an influx of Senegalese from Senegal somehow changed the social face of life in Zambia. The Senegalese derogatorily called Amasenesene were attracted by emerald that had just been discovered on the Copperbelt. The Senegalese flashed money at a time when the economy was nose diving. Indigenous Zambian women married or dated Senegalese for money. Many women started wearing Boubous and gave their children born from these relationships names like Diallo or Sambo. Needless to say indigenous Zambians hated Senegalese with a passion. Women started using Senegalese as a measure of how a boyfriend or husband should lavish money on his female partner. I remember a nasty incident in Kitwe at a pub called Tito’s restaurant when several Senegalese were badly beaten by Zambian men who caught them washing a car with Mosi beer just to show how affluent they were !The showdown had little to do with the washing of the car with beer but deeply-entrenched hatred that only needed a spark to flare up. Indigenous Zambian who were into mining were called ba Kagem after an emerald mine of the same name. Like Senegalese, they were equally showy and boastful. The stereotype of Senegalese being crooks remained long after many had gone back home. A case that received much publicity in the Press of a certain Dr Tall, from Senegal who could not be accepted to practise in the country because many believed his degree as a medical doctor was fake. It was unclear whether he was genuine or not.
8. Their trademark dressing for Kagems was a stonewash jeans trousers or tops which was the in-thing at the time.
9. Sometime in the mid 80’s, there was a rumours of a wearing disease called A.I.D.S. The awareness campaign was painfully slow in comparison with the number of people who got infected from the new diseases. All of a sudden, there were fewer reports of traditional sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis and Gonorrhoea. The disease which many people wrongly thought would go away as quickly as it had surfaced became almost a permanent feature killing a significant number of the youthful population spawning orphans and infected widows and widowers. Myths about the diseases abounded in the early days of its emergence included the belief that you could be infected by hand shakes, wearing second-hand clothes-Salaula or kissing.
10. The government ordered blue trucks from Eastern Europe called IFA’s. The trucks were soon nicknamed Infa-ci-Nyanja because of the record number of accidents involving the trucks. At the same time vehicles called Arrow were ordered to be used by the Police.
11. TV aerials were conspicuously displayed on roof tops to announce that someone owned a T.V set. We watched TV programmes like Mc Guiver, Knight Rider, Different Strokes, The Flip Wilson show, Soul Train, Reggae Sun Splash or Hammer House of Horror.
12. Having a pot belly was prestigious to show that someone was well of. People with pot bellies were called ba Chinondo -big bosses.
13. It was fashionable to pose with a music album like by artists like Shalamar, Eddie Rabbit, Smokey (containing the song Living Next Door To Alice),Jimmy Cliff or any other popular musician of the day.
14. In my opinion, Jimmy Cliff was the most popular artist from the late 70’s up to the mid 80’s. However, the artist visited Zambia in the early 80’s when his popularity in the country was waning. A headline in the National Mirror entitled The Star Who Came Too Late highlighted this fact. Cliff was hosted by Kenneth Kaunda at the State House where he played Bongoman. He later went to Luapula with some sex workers. Jimmy Cliff visited Zambia on a non-musical trip and met this writer in Kitwe where he has a daughter by an indigenous Zambian woman.
15. In the 90’s, a Cameroonian Army musical group called Zangalewa took Zambia by storm with their hit song Tsamina or Zangalewa. The comical song about Second World War African soldiers is sung in Fang, a Central African language and it’s lines ran like this :
Tsa mina mina eh eh
Waka waka eh eh
Tsa mina mina zangalewa
Ana wam ah ah
Zambo eh eh
Zambo eh eh
Tsa mina mina zangalewa
Wana wa ah ah
The Columbian pop Star Shakira is engaged in a serious plagiarism legal case after she sang lines from the hit song without acknowledging the original singers. The internet had been inundated with buzz about the new song by Shakira titled “Zaminamina” which was rumoured to be the official anthem for the FIFA 2010 World Cup.
(C) Simon Kapwepwe.Answer to last week’s question During the claim that the eastern province of Zambia belonged to Malawi by Kamuzu Banda, whom did the Malawian president refer to when he said :’I have no time to quarrel with cobblers and tanners.’ Kapwepwe had just returned from India where he studied tannery and working with leather, a course which the snobbish and arrogant Malawian president felt was not compatible with being a leader.
This week’s question : On what programme was this famous lottery song played.
Sometime last year, we had a heated debate with some Zambian friends at a London pub. The discussion was on what it means to be Zambian.
We all drunkenly defined what it meant to be Zambian but even in our drunkenness we realised that all our definitions fell short of what really defines a Zambian.
Understandably, it is always difficult to define the characteristics of a nation without stereotypes clouding one’s definition. Sociologists and other social scientists have hotly debated factors that define a group of people as a nation, tribe, race or clan. Since society changes calling for redefinitions, coming up with a neat and acceptable definition of a nation remains tricky.
Long after the drunken discussion on what it means to be Zambian, I came on a site debating what defines Britishness- a multi-cultural society almost representing nationals from all over the world.
Writers defined Britishness in different ways each coming up with his own view of what the term entails.
Britons and sociologists have failed to define what defines Britishness just like it is impossible to define what Zambianess means.
It is like the famous Hindu fable I read in an Oxford Reader back home of six blind men and an elephant. All the blind men touched an elephant and came up with different perspectives of what an elephant looks like.
On the site everyone agreed that it is impossible to adequately define what it means to be British. They agreed however, that it is rather easier to sum up things that define Britain.
One writer came close by listing things that define Britain below :Red Post boxes. Red buses. Number 10. The Queen. British Bull dogs. Sunday Roast. Black Cabs. The Beatles. Bowler hats. Loral and Hardy. Stiff upper lip. London. The Union Jack. Parliament. Guy Fawkes. British Ale. Margaret Thatcher. Charles Darwin. The internet. Britannia. Fish and Chips. Seaside Holidays. Blackpool. The BBC. The Church of England. Churchill. Lord Sugar. Sir Paul McCartney. Queen. The 80’s. CHAVs. Council Estates. Patrony.
The argument has continued with people supporting the writer while others differing with the selection. Well coming back to Zambia, I will use the same method to list things that define Zambia knowing that it is almost impossible to define neatly what it means to be Zambian without the definition applying to Malawians, Zimbabweans or even South Africans.
So what defines what is Zambian?
My list of quintessentially Zambian things and activities will include :The Mosi-Oa-Tunya falls, the Copperbelt,Lusaka, Heavy beer drinking (bottled beer like mosi or opaque brews like Chibuku and local brews like kachasu,sipeso,katata), cooking on a brazier-mbaula,Cairo road, charcoal burners-ba Kamalasha, Ngw’angw’azi’s - call boys, Kaponyas’ hawker, swearing chitenge materials, eating chikanda, Nshima (especially with kapenta, ifishimu,hopane,mbeba) discussing politics or soccer, using the word Chipolopolo for the national soccer team, Kalusha Bwalya, Kenneth Kaunda, using Kaponya patois, speaking vernacular, wearing the Zambian flag badge or scarf, speaking English with minimal distinct African accent, Zambian music, Pentecostal churches, avoiding violence, desire for interacting with Zambians when abroad.
Already the list above calls for more questions than answers.
Different people would interpret what is Zambian and what it means to be Zambian in their own way.
However, the best yardstick of determining what defines a Zambian or Zambianess is meeting Zambians in person especially when they are partying. With no research to fall on to understand what it means to be Zambian, we could have a myriad of definitions.