Dr Joshua Lawson Kanganja was born on 10th July, 1948 as a first born child of Late Mr Lawson chimanga Kanganja-(popularly known as wusoku) of Mwinilunga district north western of Zambia. The father to Dr Kanganja- Mr Lawson Kanganja was one of the prominent persons and elders in the Christian missions of many lands Church-CMML in Mwinilunga and also a businessman involved in construction. The construction business profession has to date spilled over in the family to yet another of Dr Kanganja’s brothers- Musa Kanganja.
He was from a family of four girls –Doris, Rebecca, Enid and Alice and five boys Himself, Fooster Mathew, Danny, Kakoma and Musa. He attended primary school from Mwinilunga primary school and later on went to Solwezi technical boys Secondary –SOTEC. In 1966, two years after Zambia’s independence, he completed his secondary school level of education at Solwezi Boys and obtained a division one Cambridge school of education. He qualified to University of Zambia great east road campus and studied Law.
He met his late Wife Elina Chilemu who was then at NRDC and later on, she also went to study at University of Zambia. After her degree completion, they got married and lived together in Lusaka.
Dr Kanganja was first appointed by President Dr Kenneth David Kaunda to the ministry of Legal affairs as Permanent Secretary. Apart from Dr Vukani Nyirenda, Dr Kanganja is one of the longest serving permanent secretaries in the history of civil service in Zambia.
At the age of 45 years, Dr Kanganja was appointed as Judge of the High court of Zambia to which he declined the appointment by Dr K D Kaunda. I remember him saying “I am not prepared to send any human being to hang by the neck”.
At the time of multiparty politics was being introduced in 1991, he was approached by some elders from Mwinilunga so that he could stand as a Member of parliament in then Mwinilunga west constituency. He declined this offer and opted to continue serving in the civil service and not politics. This, I was privy to the discussion as he had just signed my passport papers to go and study Chemical engineering in Russia at that time.
He was then moved to Party control commission as PS. When multiparty party politics unfolded in Zambia, he again chose to remain in the civil service and not UNIP party wing of governance. During the movement for multiparty democracy-MMD era, he was appointed as Principal of National Institute of Public Administration-NIPA. He later served as PS-Public service management division- PSMD, then PS-Special duties Cabinet office. He reverted back to PSMD on promotion as Chairman. When the Secretary to Cabinet Aldridge Adamson left, it was rumored that he had been appointed to that position.
Later on Mr Lesly Mbula was appointed as Secretary to Cabinet. He was then appointed to the chief Civil servant, Secretary to the Cabinet in 2004 until 2011. He opted not to renew his contract upon completion as Secretary to Cabinet in 2011.
He did not work well with then leadership of Micheal Sata. This type of fall out emanates from when MMD under President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa won elections and it was, before election result announcement, it was perceived that Micheal Sata was heading to victory. He barraged into his office at Cabinet and asked him to invite the Taiwanese ambassador based in Lilongwe to his inauguration ceremony as President in 2006. Dr Kanganja explained to Mr Sata how the operation of invitees to such a ceremony is done, to which he was very displeased. He could not invite the Taiwanese ambassador at the last minute even if he won the elections. From the time President Sata won, nearly at most public functions at state house, the president accosted him for much of being too professional.
After the Patriotic front-PF under President Michael Sata won elections, he had a rough time in the civil service as the head. I remember at a swearing ceremony that was hashed not according to timetable, Dr Kanganja had not arrived then because they was still an hour before, President Sata held the swearing ceremony and again lambasted the absence of Dr Kanganja at the function. I remember I telephoned him and discussed the issue in detail to which he explained how it happened in a professional manner.
Apart from the civil service, Dr Joshua Kanganja served in several commissions appointed by most Zambian past Presidents namely Madrax Commission, Human rights Commission, Mungomba Constitution Commission and also led the civil service in the discussion of emoluments increments with trade unions. He only had one driver that he used from the time at Party control commission up to the time he was Secretary to Cabinet -Mr Mbao. Dr Joshua Kanganja gave a lot of professional advice to various Zambian’s across the board on issues involving jobs, academic enhancements and family values.
Dr Joshua Kanganja patronized the NIPA club and enjoyed being there after working hours for his loved drink Castle. I remember when he introduced me to one person that had an impact in my life, Mr George Kawatu, while a NIPA club.
He asked me if I knew that man, to which I said no. He introduced me to him and the rest is a historical memory. I remember when we attend a funeral in Lusaka west for a good friend Gladys Ichidi, who was working for ZRA, we went there together in his vehicle because I did not know the funeral house.
We had to drop another relative late in the night after the funeral and decided to pass by a social joint in Makeni to have one for the road. We got ourselves two beers each and by the time he was finishing the second one, I was still struggling to complete the first one. I attend a funeral in Roma at Dr Kanganja’s place where I meet my current boss Elijah Manunga of MOF HQ and also the current Police IG when he was still Eastern Provincial CID Chief.
We discussed various family issues and joked on issues relating to our traditional church CMML.
Dr Joshua Kanganja enjoyed being in a company of his nephew Kayombu Kanganja, whom he regarded as his friend. This is the son to his sister Enid Kanganja.
After, leaving the civil service, Dr Kanganja relocated to his farm plot Kabangwe area along Kabwe road apart from still owning house number 405 independence road. He was a family man and enjoyed being with all children and made sure they got the much needed education for their life. One of the children Yihemba Kanganja Chirwa has taken up the late fathers Profession –Law and is working for the Civil service in Lusaka.
I am very close to the Kanganja family as Dr Joshua Kanganja’s first wife, late Elina was a direct and first cousin to my late Father Mr Ntana Johnson Chindefu.
When there was a memorial service at UNZA Chapel for late auntie Elina Chilemu Kanganja, I remember my Uncle Dr Valentine M Mwanza was asked to be master of ceremony as Dr Kanganja wanted a close family member to be MC in church during the service. I was asked to be Master of Ceremony at the memorial service of my late auntie Elina Chilemu Kanganja by Uncle Dr Valentine M Mwanza.
He is survived by the children namely: Victor, Kahinga, Kalenga, Yihemba, Belita, Musoli, Yilunga, Brian Simuji and Kutemba.
Today, Saturday 15th October 2016, there will be a memorial service at St. Andrew’s United Church of Zambia along Independence Avenue at 0900 hours and thereafter, the unveiling of the tombstone at Leopards Hill Memorial Park. Dr J L Kanganja died on 18th October, 2015.
We shall always miss you DR JOSHUA LAWSON KANGANJA may your soul rest in peace.