In praise of Mother Zambia
Immediately after you land at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka, Zambia you are slowly swept into a wave of negativity and defeatism from every direction. In politics, for example, it's as if everything about the country is either tragic or comical; that nothing is running in the right direction and there is absolutely nothing positive about the country and its people – including a stable political economy and flourishing democracy.
In fact, it's as if there is a war or some terror attacks … yet we have been at peace since 1964 and we have never experienced any war or civil strife. Economically, it's as if Zambia were some poorest country in the world with inflation in the 1 000 digits; but surely, there is something happening if the economy is positive and growing at nearly seven percent, and when we are a middle income country!
People believe they are in Hell, and desire to get out, but forget that their country is the envy of Americans, Europeans and some Arabs who have lost the peace through Arab Springs (civil war,) or have no resources and space to speak of. Why are Zambians running away from their minerals – leaving foreigners to take all the land and reap gold, diamonds, copper and even uranium?
Why are Zambians running to live in a two bed-roomed flat in South Africa, or America, or England? Is it ice cream, or do they mean to make money? I shake my head, because I don't see anybody getting stinking rich in a foreign country. It's hard.
The other day, someone told me about blackouts – that ZESCO, the power utility, had failed; I smiled and asked myself if these people had been to Nigeria, where almost every household has a generator and the entire country has no reliable electricity supply.
Today, some rogue of a friend complained how he hated “the Zambian weather”. I looked at him and wagged my head: Go to Ghana, Jack, and feel the humidity and heat, or go to England, or Siberia, or Dubai … Then this crook of a guy (who was my course mate at university) complained about the Zambian women wearing “short skirts” in summer. I told him: Man, go to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, or Canada, the US or go to the nude beaches in Brighton, England, and see for yourself how respectable our women's dressing really is!
Speaking of women, I hear complaints how Zambian marriages are terrible and how Zambian women can't make good wives. Really? Go to Las Vegas, and witness marriages consummated today and couples divorcing tomorrow, or see same-sex marriages which, in my culture at least, are horrible and outrageous, but which are being blessed by men and women of the cloth and sanctioned by the law. I am referring to homosexuality, guys. And artificial fertility centres, and genetically-engineered children from test tubes…
And there are characters who are complaining about “falling soccer standards”, how they want to chase the coach, Herve Renard, how Zambia is a bad footballing country.
But how many countries in Africa (out of 55) have ever won the Africa Cup of Nations? There are less than 10, and Zambia is one of them! And lastly, I hear that there is an impression that Zambians are generally a bad lot; they are unkempt, illiterates, with poor breath; or in short – they are this, or that, and I shake my head in disbelief: Listen, fellas, I say, I have never met a warmer people than Zambians.
The more I travel, the more I really appreciate the few things we have here at home and feel like making the best out of my country. Heavens bless my land, Zambia.
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