Category Archives: China and Africa Research

My Tribute to Professor George Clement Bond, my Beloved Doctoral Adviser

My doctoral adviser spent over five years living in Muyombe. I visited his village in 2010 during preliminary fieldwork in Zambia. He is beloved and respected there. Nearly everyone I spoke to remembered him fondly. I cannot help but respect and admire his anthropological work and the relationships he built in the process. I have written a tribute to my beloved doctoral adviser below.


This is where we stayed most of the time, with the nephew of the Chief of Muyombe. He was a dear friend of Professor Bond.


This is where my professor stayed when he last visited in 2002. This house is adjacent to the health clinic.


The Chinese government funded the building of a new secondary high school. When my professor lived in the village, there was no high school.One had to travel four days to the Copperbelt to attend high school, as some of the villagers did.


The Vinkaka ceremony, which was held every year and intended to have the elders guide the youth, was on Saturday from morning until evening. The entire village gathered to watch the performances. 

A view of Muyombe on our last day, as we prepared to depart. It was a brief visit, but intense and full of rich experiences.

My Tribute to Professor George Clement Bond

My first encounter with Professor George Clement Bond was in his seminar on race and labor relations at Teachers College, Columbia University. From the beginning, he had a commanding presence, from his razor-sharp intellect and unparalleled command of vocabulary to his consistent method of Socratic questioning. It was clear that he was intellectually curious about our thoughts and ideas, and our initial answers proved to be for the most part, inadequate, as he probed further and asked, “Yes, but why?” or pointed to a different angle to elicit a deeper analysis of our views. He never placed himself on a pedestal or superior to his students; he genuinely wanted to understand our views and contextualize our perspectives in relation to our experiences, where we came from, and in relation to our kin and family members.


Professor Bond believed that we are not isolated individuals, pulling ourselves by our own bootstraps, but people who were situated within a family, a kin order, friends and communities. That was how he saw himself and framed his own past and present — always in relation to his remarkable family, including his grandfather, who was a freed slave educated at Oberlin College; his father, who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 1931, was a respected diplomat and was appointed head of the USAID education in Africa and founded the University of Liberia; his mother, who so believed in the power of education that she pursued a doctorate and used her intellectual prowess to meticulously examine her children’s school assignments; his brother, the prominent architect whose name lives on at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, like George Bond, harbored the belief that people’s needs come first and he designed several buildings in Ghana with this value in mind; and finally, his sister, who was also an academic and professor of French history at the City University of New York. His family was devoted to the ethos of serving humanity.


Professor Bond spoke fondly of his childhood and how he learned from observing his father in leadership positions. In a similar vein, he sought to instill intellectual curiosity in his own children by involving them in his research and teaching and inculcating in them a dedication to fulfilling social justice goals of creating a more equitable world. He often reminded me that his grandfather was a slave and he grew up in a time when he was prevented from participating in certain projects or was challenged just because of his race. He also liked to remind me that he grew up in a household where they regularly hosted scholars, activists and people from different walks of life and backgrounds, who came together to debate and recommend solutions to societal problems. Social justice was the debt he sought to pay forward and he encouraged those values in his students by exemplifying them.


One way he paid it forward was by his generosity towards his students like myself. When I went to Zambia for preliminary fieldwork, Professor Bond sent me with abundant support, including his contacts, his home phone number, materials he had accumulated over the years from his extensive research in Zambia, language assistance, as he was proficient in Bantu languages and had a keen memory for linguistics, and stipends. He made sure that his contacts took good care of me when I arrived in Zambia. He consistently emailed me to make sure that I was doing well. I had the fortunate chance of visiting his village, the village where he liked to joke, was his “home” and where he “grew up.”


For many anthropologists, fieldwork is a milestone, a rite of passage, and one never forgets the village or place where all of this takes place. For Professor Bond, it extended beyond a rite of passage, for he routinely returned to his village, Muyombe, even 30 years after he completed his fieldwork. He was passionate about the well-being of the people he studied; this was clearly evidenced by his return during a famine, when he said, “during that time, people were starving to death,” and he was determined to collect data that he hoped would help prevent future famines.


He was as detail-oriented and methodical as he was passionate. I was in awe when he showed me his detailed maps of the village, the lineage maps he drew of every single person he talked to, and his extensive surveys, which included enormous amounts of data he was going to put into his next book. When I visited Muyombe, the Chief praised Professor Bond. Everyone I encountered spoke fondly of him — not one bad or even neutral assertion was made. He was regarded as someone willing to learn from others. The villagers remembered Professor Bond as the person who became one of them. He learned the Tumbuka language fluently and immersed himself as one of the Tumbuka people. Outside the village, his closest friends now living in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, praised him for his humility. They knew that he was so accomplished and brilliant, but he never wore it as a badge. As they explained to me, Professor Bond was a good listener, a truly humble man, who was more interested in others than his own trailblazing achievements. At the University of Zambia research center, Zambian scholars also spoke of Professor Bond fondly and recounted the times when he felt such urgency to go back to the village that he went without waiting for the others and slept on the side of the road when he needed to. When I say he was an extraordinary person, I mean it, for he had that rare combination of intelligence, fearlessness, kindness, and tremendous resilience.


Visiting his village was a defining moment for me. I already knew that I was in the presence of an intellectual giant, which I recognized from the moment I met Professor Bond in our first seminar. After the visit, I recognized that he was also an expert fieldworker, who had gained the deep respect and affection of those he studied and sought to give them a voice. He was also supportive of Zambian and African scholars, whom he thought should be given a prominent voice in “Western” academic circles. These were huge footsteps to follow for Professor Bond had the rare combination of being an innovative academic, shown in his own work in his use of rich data to derive fine-grained theories that were specific and localized to the context, a fieldworker par excellence, evidenced by the glowing regard the people in Muyombe had for him, and a nurturing educator and mentor to his students.


He liked to give credit to his superiors, including Lucy Mair, St. Clair Drake, and Elizabeth Colson, scholars he admired for their intellectual prowess, fortitude and resilience, among others, as well as colleagues, also anthropologists, who would visit him and his wife and they would continue debates and conversations well into the night. I rarely heard him speak of himself as an individual because I think that he viewed himself and others always in relation to others. He attributed his own accomplishments to those who walked before him, and to the individuals and institutions that granted him unique and valuable educational opportunities.


When I heard of his passing, I immediately thought of his contributions to me as a person and to my work. I have started to adopt his perspective in terms of seeing myself as the locus of contributions by others. I am the product of my parents, my sibling, my ancestors and my mentors, including Professor Bond. When I was writing my dissertation, Professor Bond provided guidance and encouragement that I needed. Although it was hard for me to believe, he revealed to me that he also had a hard time during his write-up as well — without doubt a sentiment he expressed to comfort me, but it still meant a lot to me that he cared enough to make me feel better. He went through my draft countless times, first when they were shoddy chapters filled with scratch, and then later, when they started to take shape. He made comments on nearly every single page, demonstrating to me that he was engaged in my work and was heavily invested in my future. In the margins, he questioned some of my ideas, always pushing me to question my own assumptions and challenge generalizations.


He himself defied categorization or generalizations and did not like to be pigeonholed — an African American elite who spent his formative years all over the world, with a Southern influence but was strongly shaped by British culture and education, an anthropologist who studied in the tradition of Malinowski, whose work built on the Rhodes Livingston Institute anthropologists, and was shaped by Marx and Gramsci, and had friends and colleagues that transcended racial, ethnic, and regional boundaries. He eschewed adhering too strongly to any ideology, but rather preferred to pragmatically incorporate ideas and approaches that made sound sense,. Although he had a complex identity and detected ambiguity in situations and people when it mattered, he also had a clear sense of where he came from and his dedication to improve the lives of those less fortunate. That was how he approached my dissertation, as he read through numerous drafts and wanted me to delve further into those moments during my fieldwork when I witnessed injustice. I tended to reflect upon them in my footnotes and he would tell me, “Ms. Chang, move them into the body paragraphs. They are important. They tell me that you, the anthropologist, were there!” He challenged me to challenge generalizations and showcase the details. I recall a turning point I had in his office when he said, “But people can act differently than what they tell you. Tell me, what did you observe? Go back to the notes and diaries. Compare your observations against the conversations and interviews you had.” I was concerned that I did not have enough data, but he assured me that it was there. I just had to go back and scrutinize it. The ethos of serving humanity through social justice ran rampant in Professor Bond’s research, teaching and mentorship of his students and in the way he lived his life.


Professor Bond had a powerful presence as a scholar, anthropologist, educator and mentor. He challenged me to do better because he had high standards for his own work. After all, he was a full-time professor, in addition to heading the Institute of African Studies for many years, and also doing consultancy work for international agencies. He was an academic and practitioner that believed in applying his research to improve the lives of the people he studied.


He was also a magnanimous spirit. I have already spoken of the myriad ways he helped me, including providing stipends while I was abroad, making sure that I was taken care of, and going above and beyond to encourage, mentor and guide me. I could not believe that someone as accomplished as he was, who led such an extraordinary life, would take the time to get to know me and my family, what brought me to Columbia and to graduate school and read all my papers as thoroughly as he did. Yet I was not the only one. I know that he touched the lives of so many students. Upon his passing, we have since formed a support group to help each other grieve for such a generous, giving and brilliant man. We have all concluded that Professor Bond embodies the kind of educator and scholar we would like to be. I am so fortunate to have him as my adviser and to have known him these past few years. I wish I had expressed more to him my immense gratitude for his mentorship. He has shaped me in more ways than he could ever anticipate. He has left an indelible mark in my life and in the lives of so many students. As a beneficiary of Professor Bond’s generosity and kindness, I can only hope that I can pay it forward. I will be forever indebted to the legacy of the exemplary and phenomenal leader that is George Clement Bond.

To learn more about his remarkable life, please visit the following links:



Professor George C Bond: The New William F. Russell Professor in the Foundations of Education

His Incredible Life and Work

Video of Professor George C. Bond

Professor Bond’s Faculty Profile

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AFRICA RISING – FUTURE LEADERS: My Experiences as a Journalist by Charity Musa

Charity and I worked together at a Chinese telecommunications multi-national company in Zambia. Not only is she an astute business-person and a rising star in the company, she is also a professional journalist. She juggles it all, and very successfully! It is truly an honor to feature her story here on my blog as well as a sample article she wrote about a farmers’ workshop sponsored by USAID and Agritech Expo below.

My Name is Charity Musa, a Journalist from Zambia. I have been practicing Journalism since 2004. Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to become one because of the journalists I used to see on television. I guess I would say that I was fascinated by them.

During my childhood, I had a powerful fantasy of being a journalist and my role model was the famous Zambian journalist by the name of Maureen Nkandu. Whenever I would see her read the news on television, in my mind I would think, “I want to be like her” — an influential journalist.

I envisioned my future. I guess what they say in the famous Video ‘The Secret “Thoughts become Things” worked for me. “I BECAME.”

Writing stories has always been my passion because it brings me inner joy to my soul, I have always wanted to tell a story and be heard. When I do not write, I feel like something is missing and writing stories energizes me. I get excited like a little kid that is about to be given candy by her beloved aunt.

So let me tell you a little bit about my journalism experience, I worked for Zambia Daily as a part time journalist from 2004 until the beginning of 2008. While working there, I did my freelancing for Sila Press Botswana as well and I appreciated the experience because people in Botswana read stories about my beautiful Country Zambia.

And in 2006, I did a Southern African Media Training Trust (NSJ) journalism exchange programme with Namibia Press Agency (NAMPA) and I did an internship with New Era Newspaper for two weeks. It was a great experience. I got to learn more from the famous Veteran journalist who hailed from Zimbabwe, the Late Farai Munyuki, who was in charge of the programme at NAMPA for the Journalists from different African countries.

After 2008, I freelanced for UKZAMBIANS magazine writing mostly entertainment Stories and wrote a few articles for Huawei People Magazine and The Post Newspaper.

While I was working part time for Zambia Daily, I was trained by the best journalists like the Late Nigel Mulenga, Newton Sibanda, Joy Sata and Steven Phiri, who made sure I wrote stories well.

Nigel made sure I had a first lead story in the paper. I was so excited and honored. Here I am, a part-time journalist working for this National Newspaper. I wrote a lead crime story, which was read by millions of people that day. I like to imagine that more than a million read the article. After all, we can always dream, as we are so great at fulfilling our dreams through our visions.

That day was one of the most exciting days of my Journalism Life! Subsequently, I had the privilege of covering the Late Zambian President Dr Levy Mwanawasa. Can you imagine how I felt, a junior reporter being tasked to cover the President of Zambia? Those assignments were usually given to senior journalists with more Experience, but they trusted me enough with my colleague Barbara Mukuka to do the assignment and we did it with perfection. I think we wrote better articles than any other media outlets that day!

In conclusion, I would say, writing keeps me sane and happy, as it makes my mind more active and creative. I cannot imagine myself living a life without ever penning down a story because am very passionate about it and I believe that I make a difference with this passion.

Finally, below, I have included a sample article that I wrote about a farmers’ workshop held by USAID and Agritech Expo. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me via email: charitymusa@hotmail.com.

AGRITECH EXPO AND USAID TO HOLD EMERGING FARMERS’ WORKSHOP IN ZAMBIA

By Charity Musa

US. Agency for International Development (USAID) says Zambia is becoming a real hub for emerging commercial agriculture in southern region.

Due to its commercial agricultural sector development, Agritech Expo in conjunction with USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub is holding an agriculture Expo in Zambia.

USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub Director of Agriculture Robert Turner said in a statement that the two- day free technical workshop programme will take place at GART research centre in Chisamba, Zambia from 4th to 5th April 2014.

Mr Turner said about 50 emerging commercial farmers from Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique are expected to attend the workshop.

He further said the workshop was designed particularly for small holders and emerging commercial farmers to provide them with the basic information and context to better understand the technologies that would be available and on display during the workshops.

According to Mr Turner, “the Southern Africa Trade Hub is part of the US government’s Feed the Future Strategy, and our focus is both on the competitiveness of regional agriculture and on food security. As part of Feed the Future, the US government is focusing support on the following countries under the Trade Hub’s umbrella: Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. In all three of these countries, small holder farmers make up the majority of staple food production, but they all suffer from very low productivity. Our support to the Agritech Expo is part of the Trade Hub’s regional approach to improving productivity among emerging commercial farmers and small holders.”

Mr Turner said it was important for the farmers to attend the workshop for them to adopt new agriculture technology.

“This includes improved seeds, fertilisers and mechanisation, and the Agritech Expo represents a sustainable, commercial mechanism to allow farmers access to these technologies. Because of Zambia’s commercial agricultural sector development, a wide range of companies representing a range of important technologies will be at the show. These technologies and services are needed throughout the region, and we want to support the show to be a regional resource.” He said.

Most of the emerging farmers, from the three countries, that have already signed up for the programme where eager to broaden their knowledge and make contacts at the Agritech Expo in April.

   

China-Africa Knowledge Project Resource Hub

I just received some exciting news about a new project that will benefit researchers and practitioners working on the China-Africa relationship. The China-Africa Knowledge Project was started in June 2013 and includes the China-Africa Knowledge Project Resource Hub, a website that connects scholars across disciplines and regions working on China-African relations. 

The Social Science Research Council states that  “in this initial phase, the CAKP Hub provides information on research centers and institutions working in the China-Africa space, features key researchers and their work, maintains a rolling list of useful online resources, and collects information on upcoming conferences, calls for papers, and other happenings. As host to the Chinese in Africa/Africans in China Research Network, it also widens the reach of existing cross-regional communities. In due course, the hub will offer a database of China-Africa scholars, a moderated digital forum for timely discussion of China-Africa events and findings, and a virtual research forum for graduate students.”

The CAKP will create programs and activities related to the Working Group on China-Africa, the Chinese in Africa/Africans in China Research Network and China, Africa and the UN. The Working Group members consist of a talented group of leading scholars, whose research have greatly informed my own work. 

The project is funded by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, with support from the SSRC’s Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum. 



 

Reflections on being an anthropologist…

It’s almost taboo to broach “what is anthropology” so far into my research as I prepare for some closure on my doctoral project. Seven years later, I should know what makes something “anthropological.”

I start with Jonathan Inda’s introduction in Analytics of the Modern for some guidance.

He writes: “[This book] has two general orientations. One is anthropological. What this means, simply put for now, is three things. First, it means that the essays gathered here treat modernity not in abstract terms but tangibly as an ethnographic object. Their aim, in other words, is not to come up with some grand, general account of modernity but to analyze its concrete manifestations. Second, it means that these essays examine the materialization of the modern not just in the West, as tends to be the case in most disciplines, but worldwide…Finally, to be anthropological in orientation means that at the stake in the analysis of modernity is the value and form of the anthropos or human being (Collier and Ong 2003; Rabinow 2003). Said otherwise, the book is centrally concerned with the modern constitution of the social and biological life of the human.”

When I was studying for an M.A. in sociocultural anthropology, terms and phrases like “ethnographic object” and “modern constitution of the social life” and “concrete manifestations” really confused me because I could not conceive of the opposite. What is a non-ethnographic object or an ethnographic non-object? What does it mean for social life not to be constituted? Besides citing the “right” people and reading different claims to the definition of anthropology, I don’t think I arrived at an understanding of my discipline until fieldwork and post-fieldwork. The defining feature of anthropology, I believe, is fieldwork. 
Bronislaw Malinowski, named the father of fieldwork, was given credit for establishing it as a systematic method for collecting data. For Malinowski, the anthropologist had to have a scientific goal, collect data such as genealogies, choose key informants, analyze the data, participate in activities with the informants while taking extensive notes, and be aware of one’s emotional state during fieldwork (Thomas Weaver SfAA Malinowski Award Papers 2002). When I read and taught Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922), I was perpetually in awe of the details of his observations (some of it veering into gossip territory), his crystal-clear writing and conclusions that challenged assumptions about an economic system like the kula exchange among the Trobriand Islanders that relied on status, symbols and networks beyond the self-interested and rational individual. Malinowski defined anthropology as a science based on the systematic method of participant observation and other ethnographic methods used to shed light on and possibly, solve social problems. He was also a champion of practical anthropology (or applied anthropology) and stressed the intended use of knowledge for practical purposes. I am fortunate to have been trained as an applied anthropologist with the major aim of applying it to social problems and the world at large.


Anthropology’s defining feature is fieldwork — coming into close contact with the people we study. What separates us from other academics is that we must toggle between the introverted, analytical and isolated existence and the thick-skinned, extroverted and adventurous self. Even the shy or reticent anthropologists I’ve encountered have been adept at establishing rapport in the field and actually caring about the people they study. There is an element of empathy and natural curiosity about people. Some anthropologists do fieldwork domestically and others do it abroad. I think it is fair to say that many of us (myself included) were drawn to the discipline because of the lure of fieldwork. I was drawn to anthropology because of an ethnography I read written by an anthropologist/journalist and because I wanted to go back into the field. It’s the field that continues to beckon me. I spent 13 consecutive months in my fieldwork from 2011 to 2012 in addition to three-month spurts in 2007, 2008 and then 2010. Like the great Dr. Elizabeth Colson and my inspiring dissertation committee-members, I would like to spent a lifetime in the field — and with the practical aim put forth by Malinowski and anthropologists interested in addressing social problems.


The aim is a significant one. Many of my fellow anthropologists may be eccentric, a bit macho, and even hard-nosed, but they also tend to have tremendous empathy for others and a sensitivity to suffering, pain and injustice. Most importantly, every anthropologist I have met have a keen interest and curiosity about people; they are some of the most astute observers of human behavior.


That is why our methods have been used by so many other professionals and in the service of advertising/marketing, medicine, development work, social work, and in my research, business and the corporate setting. One can come to a better understanding of a problem or phenomenon by using the anthropological method of becoming an insider, gaining rapport from the people one is studying, and collecting all sorts of interesting and useful data, from what they eat to their responses to certain colors, smells and products to gathering their stories, backgrounds, family trees to observing and participating in their everyday lives. Any suggestions or recommendations made in a report using anthropological methods will have the advantage of having insider knowledge about human behavior. This ensures better decision-making at upper levels and where it matters.


And for my fellow anthropologists and myself, we get to do what we love. It’s fieldwork all over again — with its nascent discoveries, the close-knit relationships formed, the ups and downs of being an insider and outsider at different times, and the glimmer of hope that what we do will be of use and make a difference in people’s lives in some way.


AFRICA RISING – FUTURE LEADERS: My I.T. Aspirations by Thabale Ngulube

My good friend Thabale wanted to introduce himself on my blog. We worked together in 2012 in Kitwe, Zambia, where I was conducting research and working for a Zambian-owned mining construction firm. Thabale is a skilled website programmer and worked for a popular company that assisted us with website design, among other tasks. It truly is an honor to feature his story on my blog.

Thabale Ngulube: I’ve loved Information Technology from a very young age and have always believed it to be the “future”. I first started learning  I.T at ZCAS (Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies) where I did IMIS (Institute for the Management of Information Systems) and worked for almost 4 years mainly doing data management at CHESSORE (Centre for Health, Science and Social Research) and sometime later worked for Talktime Multimedia were I mostly did web page designing and some office administration.
Currently I’m studying BIT (Business Information Technology) and hope to become a software developer so can fully grasp Application Development and I have a few ideas of how I can contribute to the development of my country by mainly streamlining how things are done. One time I helped design a prototype database for storing hospital patient records which basically was computerising the input and storage of data thereby, minimising the paperwork needed for the same task and saving costs in terms of stationery but unfortunately I didn’t get to fully finish it as my work contract was expiring. Now that I’m working with fellow students, I have encountered many inspiring ideas like for example one of my friends wants to do a food management system which could assist his mum run her business more efficiently. He’s thinking of developing a tuck-shop software program to calculate: 
Management of activities mostly involving 
Keeping track of profits 
Inventory checks to ensure the accurate number of items in stock
Knowing the amount of ingredients used in making foodstuffs
Sales for future projection and therefore limit uncertainties on the direction of the business
I was thinking about the tenant – landlord relationship which can be quite rocky at times especially in low cost urban areas especially it comes to paying up and what the exact amount owing is. I thought of building an app which can send monthly reminders to tenants to automatically alert them in good time to make the necessary arrangements to pay up their rents with the stated due amounts and would also allow for mobile-payments if the tenant happens to be away. However, on this side of the world smartphones are out of the cost range of most people who would probably utilise 3% of the phone’s capabilities and therefore see it unnecessary owning one. 
But the same app could still be developed on the already existing cell phone platform. Tenants can be reminded via the SMS facility which a lot of people are familiar with. The challenge is that not everyone is well-educated or literate as in, they are unable to read or write properly. In order to overcome this problem, I’d recommend a voice-messaging approach in a local language which the person can understand. Much like the way how the mobile service provider, MTN for example, currently sends random special offers to their subscribers using this technique by calling the subscriber.
Another situation I hope to address is the agriculture sector when it comes to fertilizer distribution by the government or some farming cooperative. Most of the time when farmers come to get their bags of fertilizer they have to wait many hours or even days when making follow-ups which mostly leads to them sleeping over at depots or other places longer than they have to.
Again I’d propose the SMS-alert app which would select registered farmers in a batch-processing technique so that the number of people coming over is controlled and farmers can make the necessary arrangements. For those that cannot manage to make it on the expected day, they will be carried forward to a free pickup time-slot after the second batch of farmers is dealt with and so on.
The challenge I see here is how these small scale farmers will reach the pickup point because most of them stay in far flung areas where transportation is difficult in terms of distance. As a result most of them may come late only to be told to turn back because they missed their slot. Also, mobile phone network coverage in some of these places is non-existent and these farmers may get their SMS alert when they move to where there’s a signal and by then it may be too late.
This is possibly the area Chinese investment can address in terms of I.T. infrastructure i.e. platforms  and equipment which will enable communications instead of retail businesses which have flooded the market. However, that may not eliminate the problem fully because there’s also the issue of I.T education because most people here feel intimidated by I.T technology when they don’t understand how it works or how they can benefit. There are places offering I.T knowledge but he way how its marketed usually does not take into account the common man who doesn’t live in the posh suburbs.
Another one of my friends’ hope that one day when he’s started his own firm, he’ll give back to his community in the form of Corporate Social Responsibility with the aim of educating and empowering people to reach their full potential. If I.T investment is made a priority, Zambia could be a technological wonder much in the same way South Korea is. Obviously that won’t happen overnight but like everything that has a beginning, things have to start somewhere with the first step.

Inspirational Life Story of a Zambian Entrepreneur

I just re-connected with a Zambian friend, whom I met when I first came to Zambia in 2007. I met him when he was a budding campaign manager for one of the presidential candidates. Now, he is the owner of three businesses, looking to start a new venture in the broadcasting business and is as passionate about his work as ever. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the concept and practice of emotional resiliency. What makes someone resilient, despite the daily challenges they face? How do they re-interpret difficult events in their lives to motivate them to persist and continue to achieve their goals, even when it involves taking paramount risks? In Zambia, I constantly encounter individuals who possess this strength, a testament to their ability to bounce back even in the face of economic and social vicissitudes. Most often, they start with nothing or very little and build an enterprise for themselves. I have captured the life story of one of the most resilient people I have met in Zambia. He has dictated to me his difficult childhood, his political involvement, his belief in entrepreneurship and his life philosophy.

Background

My dad was a agricultural officer also a preacher man, so he volunteered part of his time for God’s work. I was brought up in the church. At the same time, my father moved from [my] province to about 160 km from Lusaka and he settled there without any relatives. He married my mother. We grew up in a village where Dad was helping farmers selling produce. The road networks were bad. We had no vehicles; we used to walk to school barefoot. I remember crossing a stream and we had to cut a tree so we could create a bridge to walk to school everyday. My father repeatedly lost jobs here and there. Where we lived, there was a marketing company. My father was marketing grain on behalf of the government and he later lost his job at one point and that company changed into a new cooperative. He joined the cooperative movement and that closed down, so he changed and went to a different company. He was retrenched and this is the sad part of my life.

My father was retrenched when I passed from grade 9 to grade 10 in another district far away from our home. My father suffered meningitis and he lost his memory and he lost his speech and he couldn’t talk. He was admitted to the hospital for a long long time. One time my brother was taking care of him, and I remember he jumped from the top floor and he hurt himself on the spinal cord. I continued with my schooling. It was a difficult time that when we closed schools, I would not get any transport money so I had to go on the road to hike from truckers or I would jump on the train TAZARA to get transport. By that time, my dad had died. My mother was a housewife. I had challenges to go to school so I had to cross the border to Tanzania to buy plastics to come and sell here to raise money to go back to school. It was difficult to continue. I couldn’t concentrate properly in school. I had to try and ask to put with family to continue with school. I dropped out for some time, but then I continued. I was associated with NGOs and the Young Farmers club and this enabled me to further my education out the country.

Political Activities

Because of my troubled background, I didn’t like the suffering I went through and what I saw in my siblings and other people who were equally underprivileged. I thought there was a way to fight this. This inspired me to join the NGO sector, the civil society. But I saw there was limited contribution one would make from NGO sector and I needed to jump in mainstream politics to change the status quo. I started my political career while at school and I worked closely with UNIP and I learned how to organize at the local level and participate and critique policies which I can help to fine-tune and deliver the interests of the masses.

When I graduated grade 12, I went to university and decided to stop. I had a challenging time. So I started an organization called Lusaka School-Leavers Self-Help association. With that, I always believed that when people leave school, most who are underprivileged, that’s where the breakdown of life begins. To the contrary, I thought we should keep these people and bring this organization to the Lusaka City Council. I thought we shouldn’t sit at home doing nothing; let’s go clean our cities. In order to keep ourselves active, we participated in the Keep Lusaka Clean Campaign and I remember going to the radio to speak about that campaign. This informs you that I never believe in self-pity. Self-help means that you get up and do something. Don’t let your life pass you by.

I later continued my civic and political involvements by joining UPND when we were just starting in 1998. I was involved with the youths. I thought they should speak out against joblessness by participating in the electoral process to cast their vote where they think their hopes and aspirations lie. I was already politically active. From there, my political career just continued.

Motivational Philosophy

My entrepreneurship spirit comes from always want to see a better situation. I’ve always liked to innovate. I don’t like to do what someone is already doing. What excites me is doing something new and changing lives with it.

I’m an enemy of self-pity. I don’t like people who pity themselves. I always feel that a human being shouldn’t say I can’t do anything. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I feel that I must do something unique to change lives and I hope that I can remembered as someone and kept on trying until my last breath on earth.

You see, I grew up in a family where our firstborn was not that successful. And I didn’t like that the this person I looked up to as his sibling. after my dad has passed on, was not doing so much. I felt like somebody must fight for this family as well. The way to fight is knowledge, secure education. And not education in the literal sense. I see the entire world as the largest classroom ever on earth. This is where you learn about life and I believe in the principle that South Africans say umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, a human being is only a human being when he cares about others. So really, I have a socialist approach to issues because I find that very close to my African setup. And so right now, at my home, I take everybody who wants to come and visit me. I take care of my nephews. The extended family to me is not a burden. I can give them shelter, food and take them to school, and with education, they can open their own horizons. One day, they can be successful, more than myself. I believe the best is yet to come. No matter what I succeed myself, I have not arrived at the best. The best is yet to come.

On Resiliency and Entrepreneurship

I grew up in the village. My grandma lived in game management area and we grew up in wildlife arrangement where lions, hyenas, elephants were story of the day. By that, I had a lot of lessons from my grandma who said, when you are walking along the path, you meet a lion, don’t show it you’re scared because it can eat you. You must show the lion you’re not scared of it. That’s teaching on self-esteem.

I was also taught that when you go to the river and a crocodile attacks you, if you can find the tail of the crocodile and lift it above the water, you can drag the crocodile to the surface to the banks of the river because I was told that if you let the tail of the crocodile, it will defeat you. If you lift it up, you can struggle to the banks of the river and when you’re at the banks oft the river, get a stick, stick it in the nostrils of the crocodile and you’re safe. That’s survival skills.

Coming to my entrepreneurial spirit, whatever any man does to live, I too can do it. So why should I go to look for someone to create a job for me? Why can’t I create a job I’m looking for and employ somebody. Further, I have come to understand from my travels abroad that what makes the best way out of poverty is production – meaning entrepreneurship, and any form of production. My friend told me I have so much potential and that any human being is an unfinished product with room to improve everyday. That has been my principle all along. Whatever I’m doing, if it’s not good today, it will be better tomorrow.

Michael Sata Declared Zambia’s Fifth President

Note: Picture of Michael Sata was taken from Lusaka Times, which counts as public domain.

After much anticipation, Michael Sata was declared Zambia’s fifth president today. There were reports of violence in Solwezi (northwest), the Copperbelt (northern) and even Lusaka in the past few days since Zambians went to the polls on the 20th of September. Riots erupted over the delay of election results leading to suspicion of rigging. Yesterday, there were two power shortages where I live near the university. Even before the power shortages, the main television stations updating us with election results had stopped reporting due to an “exparte injunction imposed on three privately-owned media houses” to withhold publishing anything concerning the elections until results had been verified and finalized. By evening when electricity came back on, it was clear that Sata (and his party, PF) was in the lead. Though there were still 34 constituencies remaining to be counted, he had already obtained 40 percent of the votes while the incumbent Rupiah Banda trailed behind. They had not counted many of the constituencies in Lusaka yet. It was common knowledge that Sata had overwhelmingly swept the urban areas by huge margins. When official results were announced late into the night, immediately, we heard shouting, cheering, people running into the streets to celebrate and dance. Sata had won.

According to Lusaka Times, “Justice Irene Mambilima announced early this morning that with totals completed from nearly all the country’s 143 constituencies, Sata had won with 1,150,045 votes, representation 43 percent of the total. President Rupiah Banda had 961,796 votes, representing 36.1 percent. Eight other candidates shared the remainder.”

Now, what of President Michael Sata, otherwise known as “King Cobra”? He was a minister in the governments of both Kaunda and Chiluba. He used to be in the United National Independence Party (UNIP) under Kaunda and then changed to the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) under Chiluba so some see his move to the opposition Patriotic Front (PF) as simply opportunistic and disingenuous. Yet many Zambians consider him as someone to gets things done. He’s known to look out for Zambians. They remember the time when he was a minister of health and they never ran out of medicines at the clinics or hospitals. Detractors, however, worry that his reputed lack of tact and “political thuggery” will cause embarrassment at home and abroad and in dealing with foreign investors.

There is no doubt Sata is a polarizing figure, especially when it comes to the thorny issue of foreign direct investment. Sata has been known to run on an anti-Chinese platform, allegedly heavily supported by Taiwanese donors. Although this claim has been circulating, it has never been substantiated. When I asked an official whether it was true that the Taiwanese were donating campaign money to PF, he replied with a resounding no. It was to the benefit of Sata to tone down his anti-Chinese remarks, which he followed through this time in his campaign. Many of his supporters perceive him to be their defender, one who looks out for Zambians at a time when it seems investors reap all the benefits at the expense of locals. One thing is for sure: Sata has promised to change the way negotiations are done with the Chinese and work to ensure better work conditions, pay and benefits for Zambians.

However, targeting one group of nationals with xenophobic remarks may backfire. Many Chinese may pull out. Already, I have witnessed and experienced elements of xenophobia among Zambians — a strand of “Orientalism” that once plagued (and still exists in parts of ) the United States. Sometimes, I hear Zambians yell out “ching chong” or ask “why are your eyes like that?” Though there are Japanese aid workers and students and South Korean students learning the local languages — I’ve been told Japan and Korean companies are looking to invest in Zambia as well — the common response among Zambians is that “they’re all Chinese.” I have found myself often having to explain the differences among the nationalities and describe the diversity among Chinese themselves in terms of provincial origin, ethnicity, class, profession, and other ascribed attributes. The British colonial legacy has also influenced many to disparage those with non-European features and what they perceive to be “poor English manners” and English language skills. It seems, in general, one’s fluency in English is a marker of status. Thus, it becomes one of the most significant factors in their perceptions of the Chinese in Zambia. Perhaps, a type of racial hierarchy, maybe not the kind operating in the US but similar, is in effect as well, no thanks to Hollywood.

Of course, the discontent with the way many Chinese investors have handled labor matters is legitimate due to poor compensation and treatment of local workers. It is also undeniable that the majority of Chinese individuals and families in Zambia remain physically isolated and less socially and culturally integrated. However, it is curious and telling that the magnitude of emphasis placed on the Chinese (as an abstract, homogeneous entity rather than a group of individuals with diverse interests and origins) in comparison to the emphasis on the actions and often times, complicity of local officials and elites working in partnership with the Chinese is so much more severe. Why? The glare seems to me quite misplaced. It’s also alarmingly reminiscent of the historical racism against the “inscrutable Orientals” in the United States enshrined in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Why Hilary Clinton and Michael Sata, among others, have chosen to emphasize the role of the Chinese in Zambia and on the continent of Africa also raises a few eyebrows. There is a joke among my Zambian friends that Lusaka has turned into a “province” of South Africa. It’s taken over by South African shops, malls, and companies. In the same vein, India has pledged $2.2 billion dollars of FDI in the next several years. Though China is currently one of the top investors in Zambia, labor issues have emerged in South African and Indian companies as well. It seems these problems are symptomatic of the way laws and policies (including tax benefits) have been implemented to give greater advantage to foreign investors and little or none to locals. One piece of evidence is the exorbitant rates at which local micro-finance firms and banks charge Zambians if they want to borrow money to start their own business — often times at 50 percent interest. Thus, if Sata delivers on his promise, he will work to ensure that Zambians themselves give each other the opportunity to become business-owners and stakeholders.

Only then will the rewards of increasing foreign direct investment ultimately and justifiably flow to Zambians themselves.

Election Day in Lusaka, Zambia

The mood is tense today. People are anxiously awaiting election results as they slowly trickle in from the nine provinces. Few buses are operating and most stores in town are closed for fear of outbreaks of violence. Election day, however, proceeded smoothly.

**Note: This picture was taken at 7 in the morning on election day at a local market polling station near Mulungushi Village in Lusaka.

Election Day

Polls opened on September 20th, 2011 at 6 in the morning. By the time I reached one of the polls at 7 in the morning, there was a long queue of about 100 people. I visited three polls in Lusaka until they closed at 6:30 in the evening. The polls were located in relatively middle class, suburban neighborhoods. I use “middle class” loosely because even well-to-do Zambians with stable jobs, residing in a gated home, may find themselves living from paycheck to paycheck because they have to financially support 12 to 14 people in their family. However, they are “middle class” in comparison to those who live in compounds and some villages beset by immense poverty. I was warned by my Zambian friends not to enter the shanty compounds to observe the election process for fear that some of the young men would become violent since they started drinking beer early in the morning.

Voting Process

One of the polls I observed was located on campus at the University of Zambia (UNZA). The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) officers, dressed in bright orange vests, allowed me to enter the voting stations and take observation notes. Around 10 to 12 election monitors from various NGOs, transparency organizations and political parties were present to ensure fairness in the voting and tabulation process. At the university polling station, voters were divided into 12 streams by last names in alphabetical order. They stood in queues and waited. For every 10 voters, around seven were men and three were women. Although demographics show a 1.01 sex ratio and total voter registration was split equally among the sexes, this was not reflected in my observations of the election process. From experience, I have noticed that discussion of politics is a male-dominated activity. Many times when I have visited Zambian homes, as soon as the discussion turned to politics, the women either remained silent or left the room. The exceptions are the younger generation (the few teenagers not influenced by MTV and American pop culture) and UNZA students, who tend to be politically vocal and active.

Over 50 percent of the voters I saw were “youths,” – the “youth” bracket in Zambia encompassing age 18 to 35. It must be noted that “youths” comprise about 30 percent of the total population. Around 50 percent are 14 years old and under, constituting the next generation of voters in 2016.

Voters reached the front of the line, where their voter registration and national registration cards were verified against a list of Zambian national names with accompanying photos. The ECZ officer doing the verification loudly announced the voter name, NRC number and page and line number of their location on the list. Voters then proceeded to the next ECZ officer who prepared their ballots and stamped them. Voters were given three ballots – presidential, parliamentary and local council ones. The ballots included names and colored photos of each of the candidates. After receiving the stamped ballots, voters proceeded to voting booths which ensured that their votes would be cast in private. After casting their votes, they then proceeded to place each of the ballots in one of the three large plastic bins. The plastic bins were sealed on all sides.

Voices of Contention

Printing of the ballots, which took place in South Africa, and the provision of colored photos on the ballots proved to be a major source of contention among the voters I talked to. I stood around at each of the polling stations (100 meters away per ECZ regulations) to listen to conversations and talk with friendly voters. A group of men gathered near the UNZA polling station. They had voted and were complaining about the process. I approached them and they revealed skepticism of the election process. One man said, “Why did they have to go print the ballots in South Africa? Why? They could have done it here in Zambia. You just photocopy the ballots. What’s so hard about that?” Another man argued, “We don’t have the capacity to do certain things here.” He was interrupted by a third man who replied, “What do you mean we don’t have the capacity here? It’s a photocopy. You see, this is the problem with our leaders. We have a leadership vacuum here in Zambia. They give everything to foreigners. We’re a rich country with everything we need, yet there’s nothing left for us Zambians.”

They then complained about the printing of colored photos. The first man asked, “Was that really necessary? Why did they waste money on colored photos?” The two men in agreement insisted on the problem of the leadership vacuum in Zambia while the third man pointed out that there was a serious lack of human and technological capacity. They continued to argue while I asked questions and took notes. Three hours later, this small group had become a large crowd of 10 to 12, as more men (mostly UNZA alums) joined us in the discussion. Several of the men insisted that they wanted to stay at the polling station until it closed to guard against any suspicious activities. They were already informed of an incident in Lusaka where a man had been caught with pre-marked ballot papers. Locals reacted and stoned, burned and destroyed five vehicles.

Voter Stories

One general pattern I observed all three polling stations was the huge voter turnout. At the third polling station, which was at a local basic school, queues had dwindled but that’s because it was evening and polls were about to close. Overall it seems, in Lusaka, Zambians were exercising their right to vote. Later on, when I took the bus and walked home, I greeted and asked each pedestrian I encountered, “Did you vote?” Every single one, except for one older man on a bike, said they voted. The man, a bricklayer by profession, said he did not vote because he did not trust any of the politicians. “They never fulfill their promises,” he told me.

Repeatedly, voters told me, “We’re ready for change. Our people have been suffering for too long.” In the morning, I met a young lady who told me she wanted to become a teacher because she had a passion for teaching and inspiring young children. She was born with HIV and lost both parents by the age of 5. She lives with her grandmother and revealed to me that life had been one struggle after another for her. She told me she was not planning to vote, but changed her mind because she thought it might make a difference. “I want change. That’s why I’m here,” she said. Another young man I spoke to said the same thing. Over and over again, people talked about the suffering and hardships they have gone through. High rates of unemployment, not having enough money for school, not having three meals a day, lack of sanitation, electricity and clean, running water, and having to wait at the clinic for seven hours to be seen are pervasive problems they face on a daily basis.

One of the most memorable conversations I had was with a young man, an UNZA graduate, who could not find employment. He worked on a contractual basis, occasionally writing articles and selling them to newspapers. He said, “You know, we Zambians, they say we’re peaceful. I don’t know why, we’re too accepting. But this time, people are fed up. People are tired. We have been suffering for too long. I’m telling you in Lusaka, especially in the Copperbelt, people there have nothing to lose, things will happen if this election turns out badly. We’re fed up and we’re ready for change.”

Zambian Presidential Debates 2011

We in Zambia are bracing for presidential, parliamentary and local elections on Tuesday, September 20th. Just from talking to my Zambian friends, it seems the attitude towards elections are mixed. Some have expressed apathy concerning any possible change resulting from elections. Especially in Lusaka, it seems many of my Zambian friends are resigned to a kind of bleak fate: “We already know who will win; what’s the point?”

As I’m writing this post, two days before elections, a group of boisterous men have gathered outside the Internet cafe to watch and cheer on a soccer match. I initially thought they were standing around to talk about the upcoming elections and gave myself mild chiding for not suspecting that it was soccer! Of course!

On the contrary, my host family in Chongwe, a village one hour away from the capital city, demonstrated enthusiasm, meticulously planning out their day to include voting and other activities. One family member was selected to man the polls and was particularly passionate about enforcing all the stipulations set forth by the Electoral Commission of Zambia. My Chinese friends, on the other hand, exhibited fear and slight curiosity as they discussed recent and potential outbreaks of violence caused by political party cadres. Gently admonishing me, my Chinese friends encouraged me to stay home on election day. “Be careful,” they said. “Don’t go into town!”

Their attitudes stand in sharp contrast to researchers who have come in the last two weeks to witness various facets of the election process. Like me, researchers have a hunger for the experience — it’s really a privilege to witness such a momentous occasion. Although researchers arrive with a focused question about one facet of the election process, overall, we’re curious about the whole experience. I want to know, how does the election process work, who will vote, what will Zambians talk about before and after voting, and will University of Zambian students stay up all night, as I am told, and what happens in the aftermath of the elections? I will be at the polls, bright and early on Tuesday with my notebook, recording details as the ever-vigilant anthropologist.

I have been following televised parliamentary debates and posted two of the transcripts here and here. The presidential debates held on September 12th and 13th were also lively and engaging. I have transcribed, summarized and posted the highlights below. There are ten candidates running for president. A majority of the candidates, but not all, were present for the televised debates.

**Disclaimer: Mistakes or inaccuracies made in the transcripts are mine. Also, the picture of the liberation statue in front of the government building was taken from the Wikipedia page on Zambia, which constitutes public domain.

General Introduction

Forum for Democracy and Development (Edith Zewelani Nawakwi):

  • Believes as a political party that Zambia is in a deep social crisis, the most vexing problem being the deep poverty people in Zambia are faced with

  • Believes that poverty arises due to two factors: 1) the over-centralization of government, which enables the government to make decisions on behalf of he people and 2) the exclusion of nationals in the mainstream of our economy.

  • If you discuss those two issues you’ll find that if you’re talking about corruption, poor governance, a constitution that is not respected, you will discover it’s all centered around over-centralization of government. To eradicate poverty is to decentralize political and economic power. The first task at hand is to have constitution agreed to, the system must be agreed to and that the country as rich as this before us, cannot be called a middle income without a middle class.”

Alliance for Development Democracy (Charles Milupi):

  • Believes that poverty and increasing suffering of Zambian people and “chronic underdevelopment” especially in high density township and rural areas must be fought and eradicated

  • Founded on seven pillars, accountability, wiser management of our resources in order to create wealth and also in order to create employment for the Zambian people, among other pillars.

  • Also focused on quality education and health nation as well as the section that includes retirees.

  • We’re looking at creating adequate and adequately-funded social security system, including adequate pensions and above all, we also believe we need sustainable agricultural sector and make sure this will be put in place. We believe that Zambia is very rich. All statistics show this. Therefore, it is anomalous that in such a well-resourced country, we have this suffering, this poverty.

Zambians for Empowerment and Development (Dr. Fredrick Mutesa)

  • Academic turned politician
  • Believes that decentralization of government is key. This involves devolving power to the districts.

  • Believes job creation is key to role of government and the main target is the emerging youth, which constitute almost 70 percent of the population. Focus needs to be on young people.

  • Believes in aiming to improve public service delivery, which involves a two-pronged strategy outlined in the manifesto.

Heritage Party President (Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda):

  • Has a website: www.godfreymiyanda.ws.

  • Was the former vice president of the Republic of Zambia, a cabinet minister and later a minister of education

  • Believes that the most serious issue that requires attention is the problem of poverty.

  • I think that all the parties are talking about this poverty. In our case, we have identified that this problem arises from disparity from urban and rural centers. That’s why we focus on the village. We refer to this as a village concept. At the beginning of our time in government, we want to introduce a very unique concept, a village trust development fund. This is because we do not accept suggested decentralization, which decentralizes current systems to rural areas. We think that will decentralize corruption which we are against. Zambians should be treated as shareholders and it’s about time they should directly benefit and get dividends.”

United Party for National Development (Hakainde Hichilema):

  • “Why in a rich country are so many people poor? Answer this question, why are people suffering. Over 70 percent of our people are poor. There’s no debate about that. The missing link is the quality of leadership. Run government affairs and party in efficient manner that will advance agriculture, mining, health, education, tourism and others and work in these sectors to exploit the resources to benefit the lives of people in Zambia with specific policies under each of these sectors.”

National Restoration Party (Elias Chipimo Junior)

  • Elias Chipimo – 46 years old, a lawyer by profession.

  • The deaths of his mother and father while traveling to the village where they were registered led Mr. Chipimo to run for president.

  • “It was the tragic accident of my mother and father that helped me see that the suffering of the people especially through health sector. It was not enough to complain. I needed to do something. I made a decision to run for president of the country. As party, we believe one thing is critical. Put in leadership that will stand on platform of values we have a bold and radical vision. Three outcomes – to make Zambia an energy superpower and continental breadbasket.

National Movement for Progress (Ng’andu Magande)

  • Established by ordinary men and women scattered throughout Zambia

  • Believes that this country has gone into a slumber.

  • Achieved growth in early 2000, in 1998, Zambian’s growth rate was minus 2 percent. The growth has been at 6 percent in spite of abundant natural resource and technological growth.

  • Believes that using advancement of technology in the world and natural resources can help move this country much quicker and get to as much as 10 percent growth. National unity and identity must be present for this to occur.

On High Unemployment Levels and Poverty

ZED (Dr. Mutesa): In 2011, the number of people inf ormal employment is 490,000 out of 13 million ctiizens. And to remind audience, in 1964, when we achieved independence, we had 300,000 people in formal employment. In terms of question about taxes, if you look at the 2011 budget, there are few workers who are carrying the heaviest burden….What we need to do is reform the tax law. We need marriage allowance, children allowance…

FDD (Madame Nawakwi)): We believe fiscal policy must be distributed and the burden must be on rich. Working poor are becoming more poor because of…We must use fiscal policy to redistribute income and taxation as far as mining is concerned and support the local people. Here if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re treated as criminal as far as taxation is concerned. We must focus on creating a middle class. Zambians must begin to be given an opportunity to enjoy wealth at the household level.

ADD (Mr. Milupi): We believe that one way to create jobs is to decentralize government because the moment the power is devolved to districts, you’re automatically creating number of jobs in different categories – administrative, technical, service, and basically, the money going to outlying areas will create demands for new goods and services and market will broaden. In addition to that, the workers need tax breaks in this country. The workers should not be taxed on allowances and they should negotiate the tax increments so they take home something on payday.

UPND (HH): On the issue of diversification, why it is not working, it’s very simple. It’s an issue of leadership and vision in this county. We have not utilized revenue form mining sector, especially when there’s a windfall, 4 trillion kwachas and use it to allocate to other sectors. The money from the mono-economy must be used to grow other sectors. What will we do next? We cannot talk about income redistribution before you make income. Economic growth is too low. Politicians must bring understanding, not just hearsay. We are going to create jobs, because it’s directly related to poverty. If people are employed, they’ll be less poor. We are going to focus on job creation. this is probably where we should spend more time….

We will also focus on value addition. If you sell your resources in the raw form, value is less. If you process, you add value. Make sure you can process your raw materials. If it’s copper, you must be manufacturing wire. In doing that, you will invest in manufacturing process which will create more jobs as opposed to selling raw cooper which is what is happening now. You see trucks carrying our copper going to south Africa. Why would you do that you’re damaging your own capability to add value addition if you are producing groundnuts, substantial groundnuts, why are you selling them rather than processing them? Every time you fly, we’re eating groundnut from other countries. Then we go on South African Airways, we’re eating our nuts that’s roasted in our country. Its’ a question of having leadership that does not understand the basic responsibility of leading the country. we need breed of different people, this is right timing to make that decision and choice. We’re very clear about that. We also talk about education .you need education. Someone said education is expensive. Try ignorance if you think education is expensive.

NAREP (Mr. Chipimo Junior): We have written a paper called NAREP economic summary plan which defines how we want to diversify the economy. First, let me talk about why we’re a mono-economy. The problem has been we have been focused on line of rail thinking, where if we look at our economy, it was built on the mining sector, specifically along the TanZam railway. There’s been no development in other areas, except in these areas. Now Zambia has large arable land. We don’t have a infrastructure access.

That’s why we decided we need to focus on building a new economy by creating energy superpower out of what we have. If you speak to directors of energy, the ministers will explain, but they have not been adopted by the current administration. You have 2 and 5 percent of petrol that are consumed in vehicle which have to be made out of bio diesel, made out of crops grown locally. You create demand in rural communities. If you had right policy in place, you can expand, you can do bio fuels with just about anything. That can create economic justification for putting in infrastructure which will access the arable land…Our goal is to develop Zambia as an energy independent nation in the next 20 years so we can achieve full rural development. There’s a tree called longwe tree, after 5 years will achieve forestation, has flower to enable us to have beekeeping, produces seed which when you squeezed produces diesel which you can put straight into your vehicle. These initiatives which can alter Zambia into an energy superpower, can also bring meaningful development to rural areas.

What we’re saying is 1 million new jobs in 5 years and 10,000 business owners in each province. You have to have the right policy in place to support local manufacturing. But you need to invest in people. Our manifesto is focused on investing in people secondly, you need to import the right technology to revamp the sector and product things in smarter and efficient way.

HPP (Brigadier General Miyanda): In my day, manganese and groundnuts and coffee was processed in kateshe. Pineapples in a project which I was involved in, was processed at the pineapple plant in _. it’s not because old timers did not know what they wanted. Economists have jargon, and they said liberalize, let everyone liberalize, let them do anything. This was from socialism. When we liberalize, what was dismantled was when we used to process meat in the southern province for export.

NMP (Mr. Magande): Why has Zambia been mono-economy? Because it was designed to be that way. I think that the colonial system – and I don’t mean it in bad faith, they identified what they wanted to do. They used Zambia to do what they want to do as good solder. I take my hat off. They built the infrastructure that still exists to take things out and build in other areas. We don’t need to speak so many issues about this mono economy. Just to identify. When we are talking about building Zambia,we’re building it on the economic wings of colonialism. Retrace the steps.

On Retirement and Pension Plans

UPND (HH): We must accept that the current system has failed the people of Zambia. The first issue is to clear all outstanding payments the first year. It’s doable. Number one, clear all outstanding pension payments and here I include retrenchments, retirement benefits, I’m talking generically. Obligation number two is to keep them current. Those that may be retiring in a particular year they’ve notified in time and when that time comes to retire, they’re given the package. We want to enhance the value of the pension to address issue of challenges faced in collecting it. Finally, we want to decentralize payment of pension. If you live in _, you will receive your pension there. You don’t have to get on the bus and risk accidents to get your pension.

NAREP (Mr. Chipimo Junior): This is a major campaign issue. We’ve indicated that we want to make sure that parliamentarians do not get paid their gratuity before the pensioners are paid to them. The timing of the payment. If its’ paid late, you’ll find that person who was entitled to the pension has died. It’s important the these pensions keep pace with inflation we have to be smarter about how we manage the rate of inflation. The third is the logistics of payment. There are payment schemes that can be set up to prevent people from having to travel long distances. The fourth thing is we want to improve the quality of management of the payment of pensions themselves. The quality and oversight of these schemes must be addressed.

HPP (Brigadier General Miyanda): The policy already exists though it can be improved. When people work for the state or any company and they’re contributing to a pension scheme it’s expected that as soon as they retire they will get their benefits. There’s nothing to debate about. It’s inhuman to subject any retiree to wait indefinitely to be given what is due to them. This is their money, they’re contributing to it. From our point of view, what it requires is to be paid and to improve package itself.

NMP (Mr. Magande): We intend to collect information, all public workers who have not been paid their terminal benefits, these are in different categories, in our office, we have a group of pensioners who were retrenchees when we had the structural adjustment programs. There were 170000, now 11,000. in our manifesto, we will pay all who have to be paid. We will resolve the cases within the fist budget of the NMP government. Their former secretaries, their former technicians, engineers getting as little as 100,000 kwachas. We want to limit pension payments to inflation rates and also current salary scales.

On Gender Equity

UPND (HH): Equity is important. Our society has disadvantaged women. We need to lend support to the fundamental belief individuals must have that women and men are equal. We need proportional representation in parliament. Women who are disadvantaged in employment must be given equal footing. Start on girl-child education to make sure she’s not forced to stay at home. It starts from here. We also negate love for the women in our families, so this has to start at home.

NAREP (Mr. Chipimo Junior): We must give presidential tax rate for women to have people prefer to hire them and support them in rural community to help them.

NMP (Mr. Maganda): Allocate adequate funds to empower women and youth vulnerable and disadvantaged and rural areas. Those will be targets for empowerment programs.

HPP (Brigadier General Miyanda): We need a period where we dialogue together, provide leadership, domesticating laws, provide guidance for exchange. Debate first. Encourage dialogue first in the house.

Zambian Parliamentary Debates 2011 (Roan Constituency of Ndola))

In the spirit of open dialogue, the debate for Roan constituency of the Copperbelt province (in northern Zambia) was one of the more lively and engaging ones. This particular debate also illuminated how concerns and issues surrounding foreign investment are framed in public discourse and used in political platforms. Thus, I have included an excerpt of the debate below. To learn more about Luanshya and Roan constituencies, situated in influential mining centers, visit the Norwegian Center for Human Rights. Also, the list of Zambian parliamentary constituencies is accessible here.

Mr. Siwakwi (Forum for Democracy and Development)

Mr. Kanta (United Patriotic for National Development)

Mr. Mulubwa (Multiparty Movement Democracy – the ruling party)

Mr. Mwaba (Independent)

Mr. Kambwili (Patriotic Front)

Mr. Kambwili: The question was how do you create other employment apart from mining industry? The answer is simple. To create, for instance, we need to attract investors who can make cornflakes. We can talk to investor who make cornflakes in South Africa and ask them to set up factory in Luanshya so people can get jobs. We can ask people in South Africa to set up mango juice factories so that people can get jobs.

Mr. Mwaba: You have been running parliament for five years, where are the factories?

Mediator: He’s just asking.

Mr. Kambwili: I have been trying to bring investment by MMD.

Mediator: He’s trying to…

Mr. Kambwili: Don’t interrupt. Let me finish. We’ve been meeting the vice president.

Mediator: The gentlemen don’t agree with you.

Mr. Kanta: Yes, Mr. Kambwili was there. Let’s be frank. One, I’ve been saying get donor attachment. Two, declare __ constituency. When we do this, we will attract investment.

Mr. Siwakwi: It’s very unfortunate sometimes to discuss on programs when you can’t offer solutions. The role of the MP is to advocate, negotiate, use as a mouth piece and make sure the development in your area comes. When you talk about development, you ensure investors. I want to disagree with the former MP. He’s been there for five years, what does he have to show. See, you’re supposed to negotiate. If you’re there, the problem we have had, is that our former MP has been banging the table every time he wants something. You need to have negotiating skills to get government to help you.

Mr. Mulubwa: You know, some people are clever when they’re talking.

Mediator: Let’s stick to the issue. The issue is whether you can bring in investors to make cornflakes.

Mr Kanta: Okay, yes, I”m agreeing with my friend here. The fact is that he’s been there for five years. Being a leader, like I agree with my friend here, when we have a problem, for instance, in the mines, 15MCC, when they have a problem, as a leader, you have to _.

Mr. Kambwili: Attraction of investment is government policy. If you deal with government that doesn’t have the policy to attract investment, as MP you can’t do anything. The government must accept views from opposition.

Mediator: We need to move on. How will you improve lives of people in Roan and Luanshya. Sanitation and health.

Mr: Kanta: Now, what the Chinese have done is that they have given the people two hospitals to use and the other hospital is for the mines. Now we have a situation where one clinic is in section 9 and other clinic is in _. When you’ve got a patient, it becomes difficult to transport patient from section 1, for example [interrupted by Mediator].

Mediator: So how will you improve the situation?

Mr. Kanta: I will talk to investors so that they can allow patients to use section 5 clinic, or we speak to the government to build a clinic in the _ hospital so that people in section 4 can go; they’re traveling too much. So I’m going to fight for the clinic to be open 24 hours.

Mr. Siwakwi: Currently, we need to have a clinic that will run for 24 hours. We’ll reason with the govt so that it’s revised. Also we have section 5 clinic, which to me, I want to at least support my MP, he’s tried to make it a hospital but the authorities have not been able to help. That place has got sufficient space, even for us to mortuary, so that people can have access to resting place in peace. For now, that clinic is being used by some people who are not using it the way it’s supposed to be.

Mr. Mwaba: I will make sure that the clinic operates the way it’s supposed to operate. And I will ensure that all clinic operate 24 hours and we’ll get ambulances work 24 hours. And section 8 and section 9 will have maternity wings. Let me just say this, the wards will help, committees, people in the wards will have access to CDF, CEC, youth empowerment funds and women empowerment funds to help communities move out of poverty.

Mr. Kambwili: Sharice [mediator], health and sanitation is the responsibility of the central government. As I’ve already said, when you speak out of ignorance, this is what happens. We have less than 50 percent of nurses in Zambia and that’s why section 7, 8 and 9 don’t run for 24 hours. So what will the people do? How can we keep the clinics open? We need the government to train and look after nurses and pay them well so they don’t leave the country and work in other countries. But you just say I’ll open these clinics in the sections. What I’ve done in the health sector is I’ve brought three state of the art machines, beds, equipment, worth 4 billion kwachas, and you know what happened, Sharice [the mediator], the MMD has..[interrupted by Mediator]

Mediator: Okay, thank you so much, I’ll let the others speak.

Mr. Mulubwa: Look, as MP you have to manage the constituency. My brother is claiming that he’s bought all these machines. I’ve been to the hospital. The machines don’t even work. I’ve been to the church where he’s bought computers. They don’t work.

Mediator: Wow will you address the issue of health and sanitation.

Mr. Mulubwa: That’s what I’m saying. Even from local resources, how much has been given? If you add up the figures, it’s a lot of money.

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Mediator: Mr. Kanta, would you like to address issues?

Mr. Kanta: The most important thing is that one, our focus is to create and ensure that miners will create their own companies. They can work in their own communities. When water and sewage is sorted out, they will need repair. Local contractors, we’ll sort out that.

Mr. Simawki: You see, creating employment is the responsibility of all leaders. When you look at population, I want to emphasize it’s not only mining where you can create jobs. We need to overhaul as it has been alluded to, that jobs should be given to local so that they can also benefit. The second one is that we should be able to make sure that people of this constituency diversify. I mentioned agriculture. It’s where we can create jobs.

Mr. Mulumbwa: There’s one question , he says how many people have you employed. I’ll answer that question. ¾ of people who are working for me, I would say more than 600 people.

Mr. Mwaba: In _, I haven’t employed many. But I want to talk about the question about the Chinese, people are painting the Chinese badly. The Chinese are not bad in business. Let me talk about, in South Africa, the Chinese have been [interrupted by Mediator].

Mediator. Mr. Mwaba, let’s bring the issue home. Bring it home.

Mr. Mwaba: I am bringing it home. Who are we wrong to say, they cannot work in mines, they can’t look after our people. You know I’ve seen these shafts. That’s what they’re getting their incomes from. We need to sit down and support them [the Chinese]. Look at the equipment they’re bringing in. See the other companies – they don’t do anything, they don’t bring in the equipment, they don’t help our people.

Mr. Kambwili: Nobody is saying we should chase the Chinese. All we’re saying is that the miners you’re employing, pay them well. What we’re saying is some Chinese investment, pay our miners well. If they’re not prepared to pay the miners well, let them get out of Luanshya.

Mr. Mwaba: You know what Mr. Kambwili is saying, he’s been barred from entering the place there. We need to sit down with investors and discuss. The conditions for the miners.

Mr. Kanta: You know, these mines, I’ve got a vast experience in mines. Once upon a time, all the mines in Luanshya were closed. This time, the only one producing copper is P__. Come two three mines from now, the miner will employ 2 or 3000 people. Let me explain something coming back to the Chinese, that when we are building, they’re building the mines. Once effected, it’s a done deal. People will be paid a lot of money. As a leader, I’ve seen this, where the leader is pushing them to go on strike. And I’m saying [interrupted by Mediator]

Mediator: We’re winding down. Please 30 seconds why we should vote for you.

Mr. Kambwili: I’m the best candidate. Chambishi [mines] was open ten years ago. They’re still paying poor salaries. See for yourself. Choose the best leader who will represent you effectively, articulately your issues and seek results. Trust your leadership, and believe in me.

Mr. Mwaba: We’ve seen what people have done to this constituency. They’ve run it down because they don’t trust investors. We will work with investors. You have to work with whatever is there. If you don’t work with investor, how will you work with your people?

Mr. Mulubwa: People should vote for the MMD, RB [Rupiah Banda] is true leader. We don’t want leader who insults every time he is on platform. Every time he [interrupted by Mr. Kambwili].

Mr. Kambwili: Please let me finish.

[Mediator also interrupts and tries to mediate among arguing candidates]

Mr. Mulubwa: So let people vote wisely, a leader who does well.

Mr. Kanta: I’m saying, you know we have achieved a lot together. We will work together to drive ourselves out of poverty, please vote for this man because you know him, you know that he’s an achiever, a team worker and also a team manager.

Mr. Siwakwi: I want people of this constituency to vote for me, just me. Give it to the right person because I’ve been with you, I understand your problems, and I’m here representing you, so make sure on that day, 20th September vote for me because I’m able to argue, advocate and negotiate for you.

Mediator: Thank you for coming to the program.