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Monday, May 23, 2022

Hunt for Successor 49 Chirwa: The killing of unique species Part I

Columns Hunt for Successor 49 Chirwa: The killing of unique species Part I

By Field Ruwe

Please Note: The credibility quotient for this article is this: If it deals with politics it’s a fact; if it is dramatized it’s fiction; if it is outrageously unbelievable, it’s a fact. While the names of the characters are true, the impact of the story as it unfolds involves my imagination, deductions, and surmise.

Face-to-face with death

jail
courtesy: wired.com

God please tell me I am dreaming!”
When Clive uttered the words, he thought he heard a voice. He looked around the cell and saw no one, not his wife, not his children. He threw his head back and closed his eyes, Oh Please! He admonished himself. I’ll not become mad. Now I’m hearing voices. I must be strong. He drew himself together and took a deep, controlled breath.

“Guilty!” the word echoed at the base of his mind. “You are guilty of abuse of office and failing to disclose interest contrary to the laws of Zambia.”

He exhaled vigorously to discharge the dismay that was slashing his soul like a scythe. He wondered how vindication had eluded him.

“I should not have accepted the job,” he muttered, his heart caught in this throat. “I should have listened to Elena.”

Tears welled in his eyes, but stayed there, held by emotional numbness.

By lunch, the news was already sweeping across the nation. The media frenzy surrounding his corruption case had gripped the entire country with ZNBC running the verdict every hour:

Former Zambia Railways Executive Director Professor Clive Chirwa was this morning found guilty of corruption…

Television stations carried the image of Clive being led out of the court building into an armored police vehicle, his hands cuffed. There was pandemonium as a multitude jostled to catch a glimpse of him.

“We love you Clive!” someone shouted.

The camera caught Clive looking up in the direction of the voice. He waved at a group of young men and women holding placards reading, “Intelligentsia Beware;” “Inventors for Chirwa.” There were other placards: “Chirwa in the wrong place at the wrong time;” “Diasporans return at your peril;” “Sata you duped Chirwa;” And one read “Chirwa for President.” The picture on television moved in a pan to a group of PF cadres at the bottom of the stairs. They were chanting: “Chirwa, kuya bebele!”

The Morgue

jail door
The door of a cell at Lusaka Prison with only small holes for ventilation and light, tuberculosis spreads rapidly.© 2010 João Silva

Inside his cell, an oppressive odor of feces and urine hung in the recycled air. It was not the jail cell he had seen on television or in movies back in England. It was a 10×10 cell the Human Rights Watch called a death trap. Inmates referred to the cell as “the morgue.” Others called it the “TB incubator.” It offered no windows, no beds, no pillows, and no mattresses. The only light was coming from the steel bars at the top of the green metal door.

Clive hopelessly watched as men around him violently coughed, sneezed, and spat heavy sputa. It was said that anyone who spent a week in the cell was assured of the drug-resistant tuberculosis, and a possibility of perishing within three years

Overcome by claustrophobia Clive could hardly move his legs in this cell meant for four. He was the fifteenth inmate—a replacement of an inmate that had died the previous night.

Seated next to him was a man covered in scabies. He was staring at him with fierce eyes. Clive ignored him.

Setting the bait

Still in disbelief, the emptiness continued to overpower him. He closed his eyes and replayed a montage of his ordeal, beginning with the day the president called him:

“Chirwa, I want you to come back to Zambia and help fix the country.”

“Sir, I am honored, but I have contractual engagements with …”

“Did you hear what I said iwe professor,” the president cut him shot. “I have a job for you at Zambia Railways.” He jokingly added: “You have been boasting to be a genius. You say you can make a rocket. Well, why don’t you come back and make a train. I need trains to move goods and people in the fastest and safest manner possible. I am appointing you the Chief Executive of Zambia Railways so that you can show us what you can do. I will go by your conditions as long as they are within my power.”

“Sir, I will need to consult with my family and get back to you as soon as I can.”

“I want an answer by tomorrow,” the president said.

“Yes, sir.”

The clairvoyant Elena

Clive recalled the discussion he had with his wife Elena that night:

“Careful, this could be a trap,” Elena cautioned.

“I don’t think so,” Clive said. “The president sounded as serious as he could be. Maybe this is an opportunity for me to serve my country. You know how I have tried.”

“Yeah, but it has not worked,” she said. “We’ve lived in Zambia, and nothing good has really come out of our stay. In 1981, when we first went there, you achieved nothing and I ended up doing nothing.”

“Well, times have changed.”

“But it is only three years ago you said the same thing. You were treated like trash when you tried to become president of MMD. Your idea of becoming president of Zambia did not sit well with some of your so-called friends. You created even more enemies when you left the MMD to join the UPND. By the way isn’t the president the same person you worked with when he teamed up with the UPND?”

“Yes, it is.”

“I have heard people say he is unpredictable. Some of your friends say so. That he is a snake.”

“I doubt he still is,” Clive said. “He is now the head of state. I think his attitude has changed. There are a lot of learned people who are helping him. I would like to join them. I will not be doing it for him, but for my people. I mean, you know how I love my country. It pains me to see it in such a deplorable state. People are suffering. They still live like they did many years ago. I want to help put a stop to it. I want to take my country out of poverty for good. I mean, I came here for education and work so that someday I may return to help Zambia occupy a place at the high table of international society. The advancement I see here can be applied in my country. I believe I am the one who can make things happen and Sata is giving me an opportunity.”

Elena shook her head. “I don’t know. I just have a strange feeling about this. You’ve tried and tried, it has not worked. No one wants to listen to your proposals. So why are you bothered? You will go there and get frustrated. We are fine here, Clive. We have all we need. How much…”

Clive interjected. “Elena, I’m not in it for money. They won’t give me the kind of money I get here. It’s a sacrifice I’m making. I want to go back to Zambia and deliver the development goals that I have put on paper. I’m tired of working for other people. I’ve been drawing development policies for other countries. I have put cars on the street, trains on rails, aircraft in space and combat machines in theatres. I want to do the same in my country. I want to show the world that Zambia has geniuses. I want to show Zambians that we can do it, that we can live as an intelligent developed nation. I’ll use Zambia Railways as a model, as an instrument for innovation and economic growth. I will reconstruct the company from the scratch.”
chirwavision

Recall Zambia’s literati

“How are you going to do all the wonderful things in your head without money Clive? Elena asked. “You’ll need billions of dollars, money your country does not have.”

“Zambia is not as poor as you think,” Clive said. “It is just poorly managed. We make billions of dollars from copper production and other resources. Zambia Railways will give me access to all the mines in the country. Here is what I am going to do. First, I’ll tell the president that I’ll accept the offer only if his government can invest in the company. I’ll need about a billion dollars to fully recapitalize the company. I’ll use part of the money to recruit technologically advanced Zambians here, in the U.S., Canada, and the entire Diaspora. They will go back to Zambia and help rebuild the railways system and improve production in the mines and other industries. It will be the biggest recruitment in Zambia.”

“You sound as if you are the president.

Clive smiled. “I could someday soon, who knows? Then I can realize even more dreams. I can improve the education system and make Zambians fall in love with mathematics and the sciences. I can build more hospitals and entice Zambian medical doctors to work for their country like the Cubans do. I can make Zambians love hard work. And perhaps most important, I can wipe out corruption. Corrupt Zambians are killing our country.”

Elena was thoughtful. “Well, let me tell you what I think. I think it is not a good idea. I’ve lived in Zambia long enough to know the country’s politics. As long as you are politically appointed, your survival will depend on how long your president is in power. If he is defeated in an election, we’ll become homeless, and you will be applying for a job. I’m also worried that since the president and the people around him know that you aspire to become president, they will treat you as a threat and try to silence you.”

“I’m not going in to become president, that’s for later,” Clive said. “I’m going to work as Chief Executive of Zambia Railways under the president’s leadership. How can he betray me?”

“Well, you seem to have made up your mind,” Elena said. “So, since you badly need to go, and there’s no way I can stop you, why don’t you go first. I’ll stay. When you settle down and you are assured of a long-lasting job, I’ll come and join you.”

Clive reflected on the conversation he had with the president the following day:

Sir, I’ll take up the offer if my conditions are met.”

“Just jump on the plane,” the president said. “You’ll be glad you did.”

“I need a contract that will last beyond politics,” Clive insisted. “I say this because I’ll be leaving my current job and all the projects. I’ll be abrogating long-standing contracts worth millions of dollars.”

“Do you want the job or not, if you do, come here.”

Skinning the professor

african_narco_news_cocaine_gambia_2
Courtesy: African Narco News

In the cell Clive cringed as sharp pain wrenched his stomach. He sat as still as he could and closed his eyes while holding himself to keep the pain at bay. When he looked up, the man with scabies was still looking at him.

“Iwe pompwe,” the man called. “Hey, ma galasi iwe.”

Clive was still doing battle with insanity, trying to kick out the feeling of literally going mad.

The man continued. “Kambwanga, naiwe wali ipaya umuntu.”

Clive paid no heed.

“Taumfwa ichibemba? Kodi una paya muntu? Are you a killer? Answer iwe kolwe!”

To be continued…

Permission is granted to republish with acknowledgement.
Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner, historian, and author. He is a PhD candidate at George Fox University and serves as an adjunct professor (lecturer) in Boston. ©Ruwe2012

46 COMMENTS

    • This is brilliant staff from field Ruwe. You can see from this article that Field has an understanding of what it would take to transform Zambia into a prosperous country. I can’t wait for part 2. Though Field left us hanging with the other series he did. I don’t think he concluded that one, or maybe I missed it.

  1. After reading this I don`t know whether I should feel sorry for Chirwa or the author Ruwe for thinking this is funny.The bembas say that “Ichili pamunobe.” It is a good attempt at Satire though.

    • @Ulabwata Sata…this is satire.The principle behind it is to convey a message using humour and you can`t tell me Ruwe wasn`t having his Hahaha moment while typing this.He has done a good of it I should admit.

    • @Sauliso, You and those who are alluding to satire are failing to read between the lines. This is not funny stuff. It is what can happen to any of us in Chirwa’s predicament. Ruwe is portraying the danger of being thrown in some of the worst cells on earth. As much as it is fiction, it is great stuff.

    • @ Ice Cube…I don`t think you understand what Satire is.Google the definition if you have to then you won`t see any reason to argue with me. This is similar Roy clark`s stuff(Kalaki).Remember the Satire that Kalaki wrote involving Masumba when he just resigned from parliamentary position to join PF ?

    • @saulosi,
      ignore some of these characters who just rush to comment without grasping what one has said.
      maybe satire is an indian robe to them.. lol!

  2. Batrayal cheating & envy from the one who telephoned Prof to come to Zambia. Elenor a concerned wife tried to stop Prof but to no avail pity. Now, mu Chitakataka TB Scabies 4 by 4 room.. that scabied man is definatly Geshom (gay) that was bad! The vision of the prof was powerful but all waisted.

  3. Clive bamugwila ine Chipoka nchili ndesheta umuzulu wapazedi. During the ka lunch we had naka bevula with Clive at Soweto market when he just landed kuma UK, I advised mufana ati you chew zedi money quietree and don’t talk too much especially if you lived muchani umu ati mu diaspora. Him he was ati me I want to change ZR, so and so, I want to improvu siansi in Zambia chakuti na chakuti. I told him that look yanga man, no one cares about ifyo anymore. Mona ine, I have been in this cantri for almost 2 years — zaka zibili so- and yet I get paid more than ma ministasi and aba madokotasi. I live vere vere gudu for doing nothing and all becosi I eat quitree bati mufana didn’t want to listen ati awe ine nine plofesa. Manje plofesa ba babagwila after working onile for 6 mants. Me vere shockod

  4. Only a dull Professor could think he would make it in a failed country with a president no one knows which school he went to….

    Wise people learn from history

  5. This makes interesting reading. Lets wait for part 2 where Clive was demanding for ridiculous emoluments but ya…great stuff!

  6. Field Ruwe is a great writer of political satire; he knows how to convey a message in the most humourous way.The article shows that one has got to consult widely before dealing with Michael Sata.
    Professsor Clive Chirwa is a naive intellectual-cum-politician; apparently his wrong judgement will cost him a lot in terms of freedom and reputation.When he was in UPND,before the 2011 tripartite elections,many of his party colleagues were sceptical about cooperating with Sata in the short-lived opposition pact but Professor Chirwa was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the pact.UPND opponents of the pact carried the day before the elections.

  7. Field Ruwe tyou will never change, you are a born- comedian and story-teller just like you used to tickle us at school from Form one to Five with your imaginary tales. So after your failed proposition of yourself, you thought Clive would be the alternative successor? You will be next to be charged for corrupting our minds with your comedy!

    • Innocent, what’s up with you and Field. You seem to be fighting him all the way. We as classmates should appreciate the achievements of others. If you have done well for yourself well and good. Surely, you can’t say you are perfect. You have your weaknesses. In class you were an average student. Field Ruwe is entitled to his own opinion and aspirations. You may portray him as a comedian, so what. A comedian is not a leper. Ruwe’s achievements should make you and I proud. It makes me feel sad that you have continued to attack him. You are the one who is now looking bad. Debate the issues he is raising and not become personal. Come on now!

    • @Innocent. True. You are being unfair to Field. Classmates are like people who grow up together. They may differ in their academic performance, but they learn to respect each other. You seem to be worried that Ruwe might be aspiring to become president. There is nowhere he has said that. Even if he did. We all crave for greatness. If he thinks he can become one, why should you stand in his way? Please Mwana stop. It is too much and people are seeing your hatred fro him. Hate will only hurt you. Stop. Next, we shall start exposing you instead of living in harmony. Ruwe mwana don’t let Innocent deter you.

  8. Ruwe ulimwaume, I think may be ulabailamo when writing this…….lol But this is bad for Clive. I know Mmembe is involved in Clive’s sufferings and hindering him to continue with this project, but God will deal with him.

  9. But how can be viewing new post by you Mr Ruwe through the phone? Which online media should I constantly be checking?

  10. I for one am in tears right now! Honestly speaking who does that to a fellow human being, can someone change against a friend within a blink of an eye?
    They say heaven and hell are right here on earth, i just believed it now after reading this article, i have tried so hard to get to the end of it, believe me you it was not easy, oh my God am at a loss of words, how do these people go on i mean sleep at night and wake up the next day as if nothing transpired after passing such cruel judgement?
    And the fotos in this article….. this world is really something i never imagine in my daily life, waoh you are really children of men….. so evil!

  11. An interesting literary pursuit of a rather dramatically gloomy end to what could have become the best success story for Zambia by a Zambian in Diaspora. Whatever he did or did not do, I must say credence goes to Prof. Chirwa for abandoning his obligations in the UK and taking up the challenge when he accepted the job offer.

    Power is given only to him who dares to stoop and take it … one must have the courage to dare.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky

  12. Up to now field ruwe is still persuing a PHD. i remember this man at ZNBC when i was in primary school in the mid 80s.

    What is the point of introducing yourself as an adjunct professor -lecturer in boston? Clearly you are seeking attention like kachepa360.com

    You wouldnt write this if you were in Zambia. Thats the problem with zambians in the diaspora. When they cant listen to u abroad because they know u are useless, u start applying your rejected knowledge at home. Shame!!!

    • At least you have vindicated me. I do not hate Field, he was my personal friend at school. I patriotically abhors what he writes about Zambia and our President, especially that he is a Zambian of Malawian heritage. He actually insults Zambians in his manner of writing. God forgive him and bring him back home safely some day!

    • @Innocent,I doubt Field was a friend of yours. He is a personal friend of mine. I was with him from Form 1 to Form V. Our group comprised me, Chama Mutashala, Lloyd Nkandu, and Allan Gondwe. You have made this claim before and it is false. Classmates are beginning to come out and the truth shall be exposed. One classmate said you were an average student, I would put you below average. I have been reading Field’s articles, there is nowhere he insults the president. You mention one article and let’s review it. If you claim Field to be your friend, then friends of Innocent be afraid. This person is dangerous. He is a bad classmate.

    • @Bankupi. Of course he wouldn’t write such articles in Zambia. People like yourself and Innocent Chifu–would lynch him. You do not understand the meaning of democracy and freedom of the press. That has been the failure of Zambia, more so now. PF cadres like yourself and Chifu–are employed to go after any critic of your party, simply by discrediting one with opposing views. For your own information a PhD can be attained at any age in life and an adjunct professor is not confined to one college or university. It is clear you have not reached the PhD status–the level of your argument is clear. Debate issues. If you knew Ruwe in the 80s, you are just a baby. Stop crying.

  13. Field ruwe cant even mention the name of the university/college/school in boston. We have been abroad and we know these small jobs u get to buy a mcdonald meal and unfortunately u even put in on your profile without shame.

    Field can only impress some illiterate zambians and mostly those that respect things that are foreign as most zambians are well known for.

    Abash armchair critics. come home and show us what u have done for america? any impact that side. If not, then u are still a factory reject – most but not all who sought greener pastures abroad were usually rejects in their own countries. Americans know that, they are not stupid.

  14. This should be an eye opener for most people and should learn to listen to your wives. Sata enticed Chirwa to go back to Zambia, this was a planned scheme to lock him up and thrush Chirwa’s aspirations for presidency.
    Please, listen to your wives, otherwise you might end like Professor Chirwa mu chimbokaila.

  15. Classic satire! A good piece which should be recognised as such. It provokes the insides of both those in the know and the fools.
    A good read.

  16. Chirwa’s vision was good. But unfortunately, we shall forever remain a developing nation. Our focus is now who stands in 2016 instead of life improvements like Kaunda used to do. MMD never left a single building for 21 years of their painful existence. Chirwa was duped. He is now in a Spider’s web..!

  17. Allan Gondwe was my primary schoolmate and neighbour in Isoka. I can’t find him on social forums, may you connect me to him or may I have his contact lines? Cisuma, mumuposheko!

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