A small boy stands on the aging Mwense bridge across the Luongo river (a stone throw away is the newly upgraded 10 MW Musonda Falls Hydro power station), his bucket only has three little fish. He recalls stories told by his now late grandfather of how once upon a time the waters of Luapula (Luongo included) possessed fish that seemed like it would last for eternity.
To the South of the Mwense Bridge lies Bahati constituency in Mansa district whilst to the North, Mambilima constituency in Mwense district. The contrast between the two sides of the bridge is so marked that recently a Chinese man working for Sinohydro compared it to the border between North and South Korea. In this case, Bahati represents North Korea!
On the Northern edge of Bahati constituency, at the popular Zambia-Congo bar in Chipongoma village, a clearly intoxicated man speaks in his native Ushi, “Move over Sesheke, you had your day. Its now our turn get a real taste of the national cake (or so we hope) for all the attention will be focused on us (and Roan)”.
Whilst the recent events of Sesheke have left a number of people afraid (including the author), Bahati is as Green as a leaf of Katapa! Whoever is standing on the ruling party’s ticket is guaranteed to win by a landslide.
That is not say the locals are happy or pleased with the perfomance of the Patriotic front entirely.
The previous MP for all his cool persona, maturity and civility did very little for his people, but as they say here “do not mess with Royalty” and him being a senior member of the Kalaba royal family meant he was almost unquestionable.
In all fairness, the PF government has probably done more for Luapula as a whole than any previous government. The hope of every Bahati constituent is that the incoming MP is as hardworking as Hon. Chilangwa, Hon. Chilufya and Hon. Chitotela.
For Bahati with all its Manganese, fertile land, heavy rainfall and waterfalls remains lagging behind in terms of development. From the sprawling Senama through Luamfumu to Chofwe and Mutuka, where katapa is eaten more times in a year than anything by the majority poor peasant farmers.
Where electricity is produced a stone throw away, yet many of the villages remain in the dark. Not to forget the Mansa- Luamfumu road stretch that keeps getting worse by the day.
On a personal note, i wish to make a special appeal to the incoming MP,
Kindly address the following;
a) The high drop out rates in the predominantly rural constituency.
b) Most of the schools in the area are understaffed.
c) Early marriages.
d) Lack of support for local farmers.
e) Lack of jobs!!!!
As the kid returns home with three little fish, he wishes he could just have a decent meal and prays that his uneducated Father gets a job. He hears some ladies whisper in the distance “The President will be coming to visit us and bring us development”. With a growing smile on his face he dashes home to tell his Father what he just heard, not caring the least that he dropped out of school just the previous day.
By S. Chionga
Author is a fish farmer in Ifumampelo area of Bahati constituency