Zambia Airways

Click here for Part 1 or Part 2

Reuben Kamanga had life before he was Vice-President and life after he was Vice-President. Elijah Mudenda had life before he was Minister of Lands and Natural Resources and life after he was Minsister of Lands and Natural resources. Nalumino Mundia had life before he was Minister of Commerce and Industry and life after he was Minister of Commerce and Industry. There was life in Zambia before independence and life after independence. There is life before you are born and life after you are born. There is life before you went to boarding school and life after you went to boarding school. There is life before you discover Christ and life after you discover Christ. There is life before you eat and life after you eat. There is life before you own a car and life after you own a car. Most earth shaking for me, was my life before I met Linda Jitanda at Sinjonjo Bar and I was experiencing life now after I met Linda Jitanda at Sinjonjo Bar.

As the outside of myself was calmly sitting in the Zambia Airways plane that was cruising at perhaps 10,000 meters (35,000 ft.) over Choma as we were flying from Livingstone to Lusaka, no one would have known that my mind and my body were in turmoil. The passengers were talking in low tones and the muzungu tourist passenger sitting next to me was busy reading the latest Zambia Airways in-flight magazine. I knew my life was never going to be the same again. My meeting Jitanda was a big before and after experience.

My emotions, thoughts, physical fantasies, vivid memories and troubling what ifs, and what could have beens with Linda Jitanda flooded and tormented my mind and body. I took out Linda’s short letter from my jacket and was reading it for the tenth time. I read each word and broken English sentences over and over again as I slowly shook my head and tears glazed my eyes. I turned my head away from the oblivious passenger so he did not see my tears and wiped them away with the back of my wrist. I opened my briefcase. I flipped open my NAMBOARD note book that was full of the just written field reports all the way to the very last blank page and I wrote:

I want to walk
With my lover, Jitanda
In the bright soft moonlight
Of Savannah Zambia
Distant fading drums
Of the Vimbuza Dance
Walking to her village
At Chintele
We cross the
Denkhule creek
The cold water chills
Our bare feet
The sweet smell of
Fresh water softly lapping
Over ledges and rocks
Crickets’ sounds fill
The evening moonlit night
Jitanda bright night star
Gently leans
Her forehead
On my shoulder
Sweet intoxicating
Scent of her hair
Why is love so painful?
Why do good things
Good moments
Come to an end?

I tore the page out of the note book. Folded the poem and put it together in my jacket pocket with Linda Jitanda’s letter muttering to myself under my breath: “my darling Linda and I were now together.” That’s when I got scared as it suddenly dawned on me that my new wild love of Linda Jitanda was in danger of turning me into a Chainama case. I had to snap out of it and at least get some grip of myself. I had had girl friends in my life although nothing near to Linda. I had terribly bounced from so many good looking girls in my young man’s life when I tried to advance on them. But right at that moment I had a life and the real world to deal with.

What would happen if I arrived home to my uncle Tenson and aunt Nya Zghambo’s in Northmead and I was a love sick puppy and total basket case? And all because I was madly in love with a girl I only met twice while in Mongu? How was I going to handle the Tumbuka Zambian traditional custom of malonje that evening as a man and an adult; an elaborate greeting custom in which the guest systematically describes the purpose of their journey and the host describes the state of life in their family? I couldn’t just blurt out casually to my uncle and aunt: “I met this beautiful woman in Mongu. I am in love with her!” That would be committing munthondwe; an act that is unthinkable or breaks a traditional taboo in unimaginable way. After all I regard and addressed my uncle as “adada” and my aunt as “amama”; father and mother according to custom.

As the plane slowly descended to land at the Lusaka International Airport, I also knew I had to report next day to work and meet both Mrs Robinson the Chief Training Officer who was my immediate Supervisor. I also had to see the Head of the NAMBOARD Personnel Division. Of course I could not dare share with them any of my deeply personal experiences in Mongu. But just may be, my heart missed a heart bits with joy at the thought, by one of those most rare miracles, could I talk my NAMBOARD bosses into transferring me to Mwinilunga to the NorthWestern Province? May be then I could find Jitanda just in time before she married the wretched man she did not love and did not want to marry. Oh! How that could be like dying and going to heaven. I also had to start compiling and writing my NAMBOARD field report that was due that Friday.

I had to talk after work to some of my drinking friends like Wilfred Nyirenda and Latif Thorncroft, who was a colored, for their advice about how best to solve my love crisis. Who else could I talk to of the several drinking friends? Could I think of any relatives in Lusaka that I could talk to? I couldn’t talk to my uncle and aunt. But may be the next weekend I could go and visit amama a Nya Lundu who lived in Kanyama compound. She was a woman from my home village who was related to me through my mother and was slightly older than my mother. She could perhaps give me as a confused young man some wise advice about women and love.

I had to keep my precious Linda Jitanda love letter secret but I was mulling about doing something special about both the letter and my heart felt poem the next day at my office.

As I carefully descended walking down the small shaky stairs of the plane, my heart jumped with such joy that I even broke my first smile as the thought suddenly flashed in my mind that I could listen to ChiKaonde on my small short wave radio that I have always listened to all my life. This would be on the Home Service of Zambia Broadcasting Services on the radio dial. Why didn’t I think of it! I could at least listen to ChiKaonde that way my heart somehow would still be closer to her precious heart.

By Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.
Professor of Sociology

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Nalelo mwabwela tata, but tell us in advance how many parts the story has, its a nice piece but getting a bit boring by cutting it in small bits!!

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    • I told you to bring this ilyashi lya mutatakuya on weekends.
      We are too busy with likes of Patricia Scotland and saviour Chishimba.

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  2. I had to frantically look for part 2 which i somehow missed. What can i say? Thanks prof for sharing this beautiful part of your life. 🙂

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  3. He is like one of the African Writers Series… same as Dominic Mulaisho’s Ticklish Secession. or Before Dawn.. I liked reading these Zambian Books…Read them Pals?

    At least for a change on LT… than POLITICS… all time!!

    Thanks to Mwana wa Nya Zgambo!!LOL

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    • I love Dominic Mulaishos books.. We’ve had some real life heroes pa Zed..pity we dont even learn about them or their works in schools..

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    • @ nyamanyama buy a proper book and read something more meaningful. Just like most Zambian, we love free things!

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  4. Come on Prof… this was a little too short for me. I want more. Part 3 perhaps not my favourite part thus far (starting to feel a little more like an imaginary tale… please write some more Prof). Still more beautiful than the monotonous politics of LT.

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  5. This is a breath taking story and well written.
    It depicts lives of true son and daughter of Africa soil.
    Once again, I love your writing style and look forward to reading the entire piece.

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  6. @Juju, Mulaisho wrote “Tongue of the Dumb”and not “Ticklish Sensation”. Get your facts right. With technology today, you can just google what books Mulaisho has written. “Ticklish Sensation” was written by Gideon Phiri. Gideon Phiri also wrote “Victims of Fate”. I agree with you though that the story by Prof. Tembo is like Gideon’s or Mulaisho’s in genre. It would make a very good novel. But it would be interesting to know how he ended up with a Muzungu as his wife instead of this Kaonde beauty.

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