File:Teenage girls pose for a photograph at Chinzili village with their babies

By Henry Kanyanta Sosala

On the face value, it seems a lot of Zambians are very highly educated, however, to me it appears that the greatest amount of intelligence exists in that country where people are best able to defend their moral values and liberties as against anything desirous of undermining them. And in addition try their best to solve their own national problems. I believe that any knowledge, and especially at this critical period in Zambia which does not come down to try and break the vicious cycles of youth unemployment, early marriages, street kids and high poverty levels especially in rural areas, no matter how brilliant is just an illusion. Education can only be valuable to us and to those around us when we grasp its essence and properly apply it to our daily realities. It is not the acquisition of book knowledge, but the application of that knowledge to serious national issues at hand that counts.
Former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere wrote that learning has not liberated a man if all he learns to want is a certificate on his wall, and the reputation of being a ‘’learned person; a possessor of knowledge………..The accumulation of knowledge, or worse still, the accumulation of pieces of paper which represent a kind of legal tender for such knowledge is nothing.’’

What is heart-wrenching is that our newspapers are just full of stories of people insulting each other and totally blind to such national challenges as youth unemployment, street kids, early marriages etc. And Zambian politics does not induce any sense of reality and one current notable feature is that politics is based on reactions to issues and not on principals or on sound reasoning. The political scenario appears to bear hallmarks of simple blind and personal struggles and hence with no ideology to sustain it except the monotonous recitation and of trading insults. And someone crudely put it: ‘’We just keep on barking at each other like mad dogs.’’ Ngande Mwanajiti wrote: ‘’Those who resort to unpalatable language and insults are just not capable of dealing with issues at hand in a reasonable manner. It is not any different from the case of war lords or terrorists who measure success by the number and level of destruction.’’(Daily Nation 1st July 2015).

Ba Sikota Wina hit the nail on the head: ‘’We inflate little things and pretend they are big…. Our complaints and our controversies, our commotions and our causes have grown ridiculous and we have all of us, become specialists in transforming the trivial into momenta. Even deeply personal matters have become public debate, even President Mwanawasa’s baptism can cause political controversies.’’ (The Post 15th March 2005)

And we are just slowly recovering from ‘’a political tsunami’’ that took the entire nation on edge in which Swazi King Mswati had given land to President Lungu. And on which few people thought was the King’s reciprocal to the same gift that his Royal Highness Senior Chief Mujimanzovu had earlier bestowed on him. And when such ‘’great controversies’’ appear on the scene and especially when they concern the head of state, politicians compete as to who will become the champion in doing more damage on character assassination of the President. And in this instance a opposition presidential hopeful took the lead and after hard work and sleepless nights of perusing various law books, the Anti-Corruption manual and various previous constitutions. And he jubilantly announced to those whose ears are always itching to hear bad news on President Lungu. He came up with sections in the Anti-Corruption Commission Act that President Lungu had breached the Act for receiving a land gift. However, the Law Association of Zambia found no merit and simply rubbished it off.
All those fighting President Lungu maliciously must bear in mind what Eckhart Tolle wrote: ‘’Whatever you fight, you ignite and strengthen and whatever you resist persists.’’

What is the problem? The power of the spirit of hatred and jealousy can easily distort a person’s way of thinking where one can even go to the evil extreme of claiming that people are praying for President Lungu to die. Does one really pray to God for a person to die or do you pray to the devil since he is the master of destruction and here is what Katherine Ponder wrote:

‘’When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. The release of the supposed ‘victim’ is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.’’ And unfortunately there is only one Presidential vacancy and which is not so easy to fill and that is why the Americans say: ‘’Unum Pluribum Est’’ i.e., ‘’Out of Many One.’’

The problem of irresponsible child marriages is a very serious and complex issue since it hinges on the moral fabric of our very existence as a nation. Sex drive is very strong in teenagers and sex is something very difficult to be reasonable about. And even the apostle Paul had to warn Timothy, ‘’……. avoid the passions of youth and strive for righteousness (purity)’’ (2 Timothy 2: 22). And one fact that our ancestors were aware of it and I only learned of it through Mr. Colin Cunningham, the best lawyer this country has ever had, when he was defending a rape case. He emphasized on the point that the tropical climate like ours is a catalyst for sexual arousal and according to him was compounded by the use of ‘’roots.’’ And our ancestors made sure that a boy and a girl should never be at close contact with each other and especially in isolation and hence the saying, ‘’Cikwi tapalamana na mulilo’’ i.e., ‘’Don’t put a petrol-soaked cloth near the flame of fire.’’

It is, however, saddening to note that we as a nation and to borrow Mwine mushi’s expression have not critically tried to dig the ‘’root causes’’ of child or early marriages since we only look to the investors to solve all our problems. However, this is a worldwide problem that includes even the western countries. The only feeble and monotonous pronouncement that we daily hear from the crusaders against early marriages campaigns who are sponsored by foreign-funded NGOs is: ‘’the girls are being married off.’’ And by which they imply that parents ‘’sell off their children,’’ to anybody who can give them some cash. And they usually end up by condemning the parents who ‘’sell off’’ their children in marriages! And threaten them with imprisonment.

It was recently reported in the Zambia Daily Mail that about 500 school girls got pregnant in Eastern Province in 2017. If one follows this shoddy, shallow, disgruntled, distorted and perverted reasoning, of the foreign-sponsored crusaders means that the parents ‘’send off’’ their children to commit adultery and thereby get pregnant. However, in our African cultures, if they get pregnant, then they automatically declare themselves ready for what I refer to as ‘’shot-gun marriages.’’ And in this case, we as un-sophiscated parents can no longer accept them back into our homes since it now becomes the responsibility for their ‘’husbands’’ to look after them. And we are very poor to keep the girl who is pregnant at home. And so we ’’do not marry them off,’’ but they themselves ‘’marry themselves off.’’

The first major problem is the abandonment of our rich African cultures for the western cultures and which means, ‘’sex has now been liberised.’’ And we are actually face-to-face with the bitter consequences of fleeing to what seemed the attractive sex restriction-free western cultures. In fact the then Secretary for African Affairs, R.S. Hudson, distressingly noted as early as 1930s that ‘’when an African settled in town, he ultimately ceased to belong to a tribe and no longer fitted into the native authority system.’’ And other colonial officer Orde-Brown sadly wrote: ‘’A disquieting feature of compounds of all kinds is the large juvenile population without occupation or control. Children and adolescents of all ages throng the vicinity, finding amusements as they can and devoid of training or teaching. In native villages this would not be the case, since almost all the tribes have very definite arrangements for training the young people according to their ideas.’’

David Punabantu added: ‘’ In other words, children were being born in towns without any knowledge or concept of village life. These children produced other children ____ compound kids and their concept of development at that time was to follow the white man into shops. These compound kids then, became compound adults and ended up, as street vendors, while others became street adults as seen today. And against this, Zambian rural culture in the colonial era was seen as the only tool to deal with this cultural genocide that occurred in urban Zambia.’’ (The Post {supplement} 24th November 2004).

On the other hand, in this liberated sexual scenario, we see teenagers publically kissing each other and they even go out to dances, cinema shows and other entertainments and bring back the girl later in the night and that is now accepted by the girls’ ‘’modern, educated and civilized’’ parents, since this is within the context of Children’s Rights in accordance with the Human Rights Charter. However, there is the problem of peer pressure within the liberated sex scenario because if a boy takes a girl out for three or four times without any attempt whatsoever to have ‘’ a go,’’ since other ‘’couples’’ are doing it, then the girl might begin to think her partner ‘’is not man enough,’’ and could eventually if it continues be declared impotent.

We must also critically try to find answers to the fact that girls reach or attain ‘’womanhood’’ at the age of 13 years and in whatever culture as soon as they reach the stage of ‘’womanhood,’’ they are ready for marriage. However, the determination by the authorities at the age of marriage, for example 18 years in this country is only meant for the physical maturity of the girls. The difficulty arises especially in rural areas when they drop out of school, should they just be watching stars for five years until they attain the age of 18 to get married! I have recently heard that they want to make 21 years now as the year of marriage. The problem is that we are indeed blind to our own realities because those who tell us to make such decisions are able to keep their children up to 25 years because they are in universities or colleges. On the other hand, the flowery beauty of a woman is from 14 to 20 years that is when they are at their peak of beauty and then at 21 years their beauty slowly begins to fade. And do you expect our young men to be marrying finished women? ‘’Wailasha kwa Zecco.’’ And surprisingly some of these useless suggestions come from our womenfolk themselves!

In rural areas and unlike in urban areas there are no social amenities to keep both boys and girls at least somehow busy and a result the boys resort to heavy drinking of alcohol. When I visited Swaziland (now Eswatini), I learned that girls in rural areas have sex experiences at the age of between 6 and 7 years while in urban areas, it was at the ages between 9 and 10 years.

In one neighbouring country, prostitution has been legal since the colonial rule and a social scientist told me that in order to protect school-going girls from being victims of sex abuse, the colonial government introduced tough deterrent measures for those who impregnated school girls. They could be sent to jail for ten years and received ten strokes of a cane every Saturday. He told me that they have now increased to twenty years imprisonment since they are no longer subjected to be caned. I think we should think in terms of deterrent measures to protect the school going girl-child. For example, it was reported in Zambia Daily Mail of 31st May 2018: ‘’The Court of Appeal overturned a 25-year jail sentence slapped on a 40-year-old defiler by a lower court and replaced it with 45 years imprisonment with hard labour.’’ I believe, it could also help if some punishment could also be effected on the parents who fail to report such a defiler to the authorities.

Dr. Kaunda has a penetrating insight: ’’ …educational institutions turn out streams of technical, professional and scientific people required in central areas of national building….yet the nation that lacks a firm cultural structure is jelly-built and though the people have title deeds to the property and the key to the front door in their pockets, they are still homeless.’’ Dr. Sishuwa Sishuwa in a paper: Chinese Confucius Institute and the Cultural War in Africa wrote:

‘’Culture is the invisible thread that ties people together or separates them…….. the effectiveness control of the world; that is to truly control a people, one must influence the cultural habits, language and belief system of a people _____ that is why they have established Alliance Francaise, British Council, American Cultural Centre etc. All imperialisms recognize that it must empty Africans of their independent human essence if it is to thrive and defeat existing patterns of social practices that inform the locals’ knowledge and understanding of the world; how they engage in that environment and how they re-create and interact with it through customs, moral norms, laws, beliefs, art or other forms of cultural expressions.’’

It’s unfortunate that today many so-called Zambian intellectuals wrongly believe that their cultural heritage is derived from their education and conscious approximation to the western living standards. For example, in an article African Culture and development, Simeo Siame wrote: ‘’Culture for what?….it is futile to mobilize thousands of manpower to paddle a big boat or spend days and nights dancing round a bonfire, when such manpower should have been at points of economic production….this culture can no longer be a tool for modernization and economic development..’’

And cultural genocide was endorsed according to the Report of the Technical Committee of the foreign-drafted Zambian Constitution. In Part V on Bill of Rights, Article 63: ’’Language and Culture states in 63 (3): A person shall not be compelled to- (a) perform, observe, participate in, or be subjected to, any cultural practice or rite; or (b) form, join, contribute, maintain or pay allegiance to any cultural, traditional or linguistic association, organization, institution or entity.’’
It is general knowledge that no one forces the other to do what have been itemized above i.e., who goes overseas to force the tourists who flock to watch the Kuomboka ceremony? The chiefs should particularly note: ‘’….NOT to maintain or pay allegiance to any cultural, traditional or linguistic institution..’’

In fact the Members of the National Assembly have surrendered their powers of decision to the civil society groups. The former Germany envoy, His Excellency, Erich Kristof pointed this out when he was leaving the country that the National Assembly was his major disappointment and he went on to state that since his arrival in the country, it was strange to observe that the National Assembly didn’t play a major role in many national matters despite of being elected representatives of the people. ”I wish the National Assembly being elected representatives of the people can be proactive when dealing with national matters instead of the civil society. The civil society is not elected….the chiefs should also play a major role in areas where government is not present.” (Sunday Post 10th July 2005)

Of course, no one can overlook the fact that the white man has brought a lot of good civilization to Africa, but it comes with a sly danger, because while celebrating the generous donor aid such as the distributions of free skippers and such privileges as learning and enlightenment, it can easily blind us to who we really are and come to the fatal conclusion that the white man is the measure of all things. The truth is that you can never outperform the self-portrait you have of yourself. We have been taught never to see beyond the white man. This hypnotizing mentality has subverted the African personality like no other ideology.
And in closing I want to state that the issue of early marriages is the challenge of all Zambians and we should try to put our heads together and try to find viable ways of at least bringing the scourge to the minimum.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. What is needed is strict enforcement of the law.

    Anyone that marries an under age girl should be caged for a minimum of 25 years

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    • I need never had sex until I was 20. Why don’t men just wait for all
      Women when they are able to make informative decision.

      To me women sex before 20 should be illegal.

      The body doesn’t fully develop for women until one is 21.

      These are facts.

      Thanks

      BB2014,2016

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    • @Mushota even at 20 years old with that old man is still a child. You were molested.
      But if kids are of same age it’s ok.
      I brought a girl to my parents in grade 1, first day at school. As story goes. I don’t remember her well. But stayed with us most of time until my father got transferred.
      But I remember from grade 5 until I went to boarding school in grade 8. I felt married to that Mary.
      King is wrong.

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    • “….. the tropical climate like ours is a catalyst for sexual arousal and according to him was compounded by the use of ‘’roots.’’ interesting quote from Collin Cunnigham… I’ve never heard of it but interesting nonetheless….
      The Chitimukulu has touched on a number of interesting things, we can surely learn from out traditional leaders than blindly transplanting western norms which can not work in our settings and context. I also wish our MP’s in National Assembly actually proactively addressed issues that affect us in a Zambian way than always flying to Turkey,Japan,Brussels etc for insights

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    • Nostra

      right now, a Zambian man can NEVER satisfy me, NEVER, I dont think so anyway

      Thanks

      BB2014,2016

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  2. I know “King of Bembe people of Zambia” is educated, but is classic way of research make me doubt he writes these stuff.

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    • His research methods are very sound. His writing is like that of a Literature Review you would find in any research paper in any peer reviewed Journal. He cites his sources and builds the argument with evidence very well. It is okey to disagree with his views but his research methods are solid.

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  3. Traditional leaders are a curse to Africa. How many centuries have we had chiefs? What positive, tangible contribution have they made to our societies?
    Is it not our chiefs who sold our brothers as slaves to the arabs and Europeans? Are they not the ones whom the colonialists used to control our people and grab our land and natural resources?
    Sosala must sit down and keep quiet. His forebearers are guilty of many crimes against their own and other people. If he wants to speak, let it be to repent of the evils of the ancient chiefs.
    No room for “chiefs” in modern society. Your days are numbered. The day is coming when Africans will realise that we don’t need you. We already know that we don’t want You. But the veil of the lie that we still need You, keeps us from abolishing you…

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  4. This article is dangerously written. It appears to waffle in a lot of directions. Chitimukulu must avoid being political and stop blaming foreigners for our problems.

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  5. This article is dangerously written. It appears to waffle in a lot of directions. Chitimukulu must avoid being political and stop blaming foreigners for our problems.

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  6. Always a pleasure to read one from Your Royal Highness. As ever, simple but well researched and presented. I am not usually one to read long pieces as i get bored a couple of paragraphs in and run to the conclusion bit and forget.. Your pieces are just so irresistibly well laid such that i keep going on and before i know it, i am at the end. God save our Chief!!!

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  7. Yes chief. Education is essential to stop children being dragged into early marriages. Polygamous marriages which produce lazy bum insolent children are also to blame.

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  8. Sex is complex and morally very paradoxical, perhaps the more reason why the chief seems to suggest that the legal minds strive to bring their faculties to the fore. Why shud defilers go scot free in emswatin while they go in for 45yrs in Zambia?

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