By George T. Sikazwe,
International development practitioner
I cannot write anything about our Paramount Chief Chitimukulu because that would be disrespectful as I am his subject, but the recent press revelations which indicated that the next Government intends to oust His Royal Highness from his reign over the Bemba people of this Republic, made me worried and must be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.
From our history, the Tonga speaking people are the true owners of our entire land. The rest of our tribes were welcomed to live on the Zambian soil by the Tonga speaking people who never fought back, unless provoked by the in coming settlers. Hence the Tonga speaking people are kind and welcoming.
To advance this argument with facts, we cannot forget that the late former Vice President of this great Republic, Late Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe (MHSRIEP) resigned from Kaunda’s Government on matters of principle. immediately after resigning, he became a destitute with no home to shift to in Lusaka, from the Vice Presidential Government House. At that time, all his political friends, including his own brothers from Lunga/Namwanga and Bemba land, abandoned him for fear of reprisals from President Kenneth David Kaunda.
No one offered him a home to stay in except the Late Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula (MHSRIEP). The brave Late Nkumbula among all odds, offered Late Kapwepwe a house in Libala township, where the former Vice President lived with his wife and children (source – Ms Chilufya Kapwepwe). This again clearly shows the bravery and welcoming kindness of our Tonga colleagues.
This gesture was a significant development on the relationship between the Tonga speaking people and their Bemba counterparts. Coupled with President Kaunda’s advocacy for One Zambia One Nation, today, so many Bembas/Lungus/Namwanga people are married to their Tonga and indeed other tribe counterparts.
To again advance the argument further, Late Baldwin Nkumbula, (MHSRIEP), the son of the brave Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, was a truly out going individual who mixed among all us Zambian people regardless of tribe. He was part of the young “Turks”, a group of young men who posed a threat to Late Chiluba’s rule. This group comprised among others Late Dean Namulya Mung’omba (MHSRIEP), Derrick Chitala and many others. Even in his death car, he was found to be with Late Castro Chiluba (MHSRIEP), the son of the then Late President Fredrick Chiluba (MHSRIEP).
Therefore the alliances we see today between Bemba Chiefs and their Tonga and Chiefs from all Zambian tribes, has a long lasting history which benefits the entire nation.
Zambia is lucky to have 72 tribes. What we have never tried is to carefully select say Economists from members of all 72 tribes to deliberate and plan an economic model for our country. This kind of bringing diversity of professionals together under one roof, would produce unique, hard to imitate, solid and a suitable economic model that can easily be assimilated for the benefit of the nation and the SADC region.
There is power in diversity and Governments needs to take advantage of this diversity that is endowed by our Almighty God. The current National Assembly is a good example of how we tend to have an increasing quality of debates by our members of Parliament, never seen before in the history of that August House.
Whether you look at the Public Accounts Committee, or the Economy and Budget Committee, there are exciting things happening and one can be sure that Zambia is headed in the right direction and an envy of many nations abroad, due to the unique diversity, that the National Assembly provides to the people of our great nation. But this alone is not enough to turn around this country in the direction we all desire.
Ten years from today, which is 2028, Zambia will be a true unitary state with people united in a manner, without thinking of tribe. This will result from many inter marriages that have taken place amongst all our people and which will continue to happen.
To consolidate this transformation, I suggest that all public institutions that disseminate public information, be manned by a diversity of tribes. If Bemba news or program is broadcast on TV or radio, that news or program must be read by a competent person originating from any Zambian tribe other than from Bemba land. The same should be applied to other tribes and languages presented on public media.
Let us also revert back to a system of meritocracy where all systems are based on merit. To pass and go to university on a Government scholarship, a computer based system must be used to select individuals on merit, as President Kaunda did. All those who think they qualified, must be allowed to lodge in their complaints, if left out by the computer system. To get a job or a scholarship, it should no longer be on which politician in the ruling party you are affiliated to, but purely on merit. This will consolidate our One Zambia One Nation vision and motto.
The embracing of this diversity remains a challenge to President Lungu and many Governments to come after him. In conclusion, Tongas and Bembas are one great people belonging to this great nation called Zambia.