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Monday, June 7, 2021

Running with the President

Columns Running with the President

By Nicky Shabolyo

Perhaps one of today’s most trending topics in Lusaka, if not the country, is the one on the early morning workouts led by Zambia’s President, His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu. A good number of individuals of various standing in society have by now had an opportunity to be part of the ‘Presidential Keep Fit Runs’ which are held twice a week.

It would be usual to assume, on first instance, that these are probably just some of those casual exercises taken by the affluent or the bourgeoisie where no form of vigorous activity is entertained. Just a pass time activity of some sort. You would even be inclined to conclude that the intensity of the workouts should be reduced to even lower levels particularly for the reason that it involves the Head of State. I mean, who would want to subject the entire President to some activity that would leave him panting and sweating. This is not a sight we can easily or want to imagine.

To the contrary, President Lungu is one creation of a very physically fit person. During the now-popular morning jogs, he is one who even takes the lead in rallying everyone else to keep up pace or do a particular drill the right way. Basically leading from the front.

This was my recent experience when I was invited to be part of the ‘Presidential Keep Fit Run’ on 2nd March, 2019. It dawned on me soon after I got the details of the event just how early this had been scheduled for. If we were to start at 05:30 hours, it meant that some of us had to get out of the house by about 04:00 hours in order to get to the starting point on time. I almost relaxed on the need to observe the 05:30 start-time as I thought no one would be on time that early. Just then, I realised that several other sessions had been held prior to the one I was to take part in, and have also started at the same time.

With this, my mind was set and focused on my next day’s early morning mission as I went to bed.

As I drove through the deserted streets of Lusaka the next day to find my way to State Lodge, which had been appointed as the venue, I noticed the darkness of the morning and thought to myself if indeed there was any other person who had sacrificed their pleasant early morning sleep for what could be a ‘torturous’ early morning workout.

It was only when I was a few metres from the venue that I realised that it was actually myself who had nearly been overcome by the negative energy of being less ambitious. The premises were already streaming with other participants while some were dashing out of their vehicles, as they eagerly jostled to join the rest of the group.

As I was finding a spot to park, I briefly raised my eyes and even in the not-so-well-lit morning, I could not fail to make out a towering figure in the centre of the crowd which I quickly established as that of His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu. He was ready and raving to go.

On this morning, the President had also invited doctors and lawyers to join him. Also in attendance were Minister of Health, Dr. Chitalu Chilufya; Presidential Affairs Minister, Mr. Freedom Sikazwe; Special Assistants to the President for Press & Public Relations, and Legal Affairs, Mr. Amos Chanda and Mr. Sukwana Lukangaba, respectively; Lusaka Province Minister, Mr. Bowman Lusambo; Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Kennedy Malama; Attorney General, Mr. Likando Kalaluka; Solicitor General, Mr. Abraham Mwansa; the President’s Senior Private Secretary, Mr. Daniel Siwo and Lusaka prominent lawyer, Mr. Dickson Jere. The President’s daughter, Tasila, was not to be left out.

There were also other senior government officials from the Health and Justice ministries as well as other prominent citizens.

A certain air of excitement filled the space with a lot of zeal expressed in most of the participants as they hit the road, with a good number wanting to show-off their prowess. It was not long that I noticed that a couple of those who had given a head start were slowly beginning to fall back. I tried to keep on with the President’s pace for most of the time although I must honestly point out that this was not an easy accomplishment.


A few times, I did pause from the run and break into some brisk walks just to catch my breath. In fact I was not the only one; there were several others, who also carried bottles of water for rehydration along the way. I had to tack mine away when I realised that the President actually did not have anything. In fact I recall noting that the Head of State did not take a sip of water during the entire close-to-three hour workout session.

The hardest and, I think the most dreaded stages of the workout, are when you do the ‘Reverse’. This is when you approach ascending terrain and are required to go up hill facing the opposite direction. And this is still in jogging mode. This was, of course not an easy one for the majority as for long stretches, most could be seen breaking off and turning to face the direction in which they were going. But not the President! On several occasions, I took an interest to check and I never found him in any other position apart from the ‘Reverse’. The procession would go on like this until the terrain flattened before reverting to normal. This sequence would repeat each time we got to a hill and went on until we finished the three-hour or the close to 14 kilometre stretch.

An interesting feature, which I thought I should not end without mentioning, is the ‘choir’. From observation, this is a group made up of those who have now become permanent companions of the President during his runs. They have a way in which they keep you entertained and motivated through song as you push that extra mile. Taking the front position all the way, they would go on chanting some humorous songs. Similar to those done by the military during their drills. This would be spiced up with calling out of names of those in the crowd. Interesting how they get to identify individuals. Quite entertaining!

It takes a disciplined person and requires a lot of sacrifice for one to adopt such lifestyle, let alone to sustain it. President Lungu, himself, has been going on these runs every Saturday and Wednesday since 2015. He believes that exercise is an essential requirement for one’s well-being. The President is on record as pointing out that about 23 percent of deaths where as a result of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart attack, and that routine exercise was one of the best ways to curb this. The President is hopeful that his morning jogs will serve to sensitise people in communities on the best health practices.

One can never cite a better way through which to encourage or motivate the nation into taking up routine exercise as a healthy lifestyle. Despite possibly being the busiest citizen, President Lungu has made it a point to find time and be an ambassador of healthy living through his morning workouts every week. It will be important for us to individually and, eventually collectively as a nation, emulate the President and make routine exercise a part of our lifestyle. It is for our own good!

The author is Counsellor at the Embassy of the Republic of Zambia in Stockholm, Sweden


    • Unfortunately the all thing is about 2 things:
      – loyalty to almighty and his party
      – women going to show how $exy they are.
      2 free holidays, bet nobody, absolutely no one go to work after that early morning show time.
      The serious ones we work out after work, then go for beer.

    • You can’t jog on when u are starving, surviving on 1 meal per day or if your salary hasn’t bn paid.
      Majority of those attending jogging sessions are attended by those eating/stealing with Lungu or bootlickers & job-seekers wanting Lungu to notice them. Even the writer himself, Nicky, is an embassy employee whose contract renewal depends on how well he bootlicks.

    • He is writing an article about himself getting to the starting point as if he has to walk miles and cross croc infested rivers…sounds like something written by a bootlicker as some people dont have the energy to jog as they have not been paid since February ..some like Zampost staff have gone 6 months.

    • Kwena mwe such a long article just on the president running???????? Can Shabolyo write an equally long article on the rural kids who run 10km to and from school every day ?

  1. This running with the president is another way to abuse funds the country doesnt have. Have you told the country that people you invite to run are being paid to be part of this? I was shocked to learn officers invited to run were being paid allowances for this. Austerity measures my foot. I know you mean well mr president but this whole venture is being abused now and this on your part will be perceived as being wasteful

    • @Esnart; if the officers are being paid it’s because they are on duty. That crowd needs to be contained and the president protected. So even if it seems that the officers are running with the president, they are actually working.

    • 2.0. Your mental status needs to be examined. Look at the excitement surrounding the Trump Russian collusion and the results that have come out after 2 years of investigations. Zero.

  2. Nice one Nick! I can’t however find you in all the photos. Your’e probably at the back given you were late anyway. lol

  3. the mother fcuker should become a gym instructor if he so wishes, not intelligent enough to president, very low IQ with this useless drunk

  4. There will always be negativity in whatever the president will do. I find it strange that some people will always find faults in something which is positive to the nation. A negative mind will always be regressive and will not find good in others. Yes the economy is biting but let’s not be fault finders even in positive things. It is a spirit of witchcraft!!!

    • These people lied to us that they would put more money in our pockets yet they meant NO MONEY in our pockets. So we have no kind words for them. Will jogging put more money in people’s pockets? Preventing communicable diseases my foot! Them they go for medical check ups abroad. Just for medical check up they fly abroad. Let the privileged few continue jogging and live longer to continue plundering the country and the poor ones die prematurely.

    • As long as the economy continues going backwards while this lazy thing you call a president continues smiling and doing aerobics without giving economic recovery direction then yes negativity will continue.

    • @sad patriot yeah the writer wants to make it look like Lungu did some extraordinary feat yet some of us run every morning. It’s a mountain he has made out of a molehill. You don’t need special powers to run. Shambolyo reserve this pampering for when the president reduces unemployment to 5 percent and all roads have been repaired

  5. why cant he jst for once find time to hold a press conference and talk to the pipo of this country and give them direction on the happenings like he finds the time to jog.problems are mounting things are not so well in this country the pipo want to hear that which he has for them twice weekly not not even jst once its almost three years now.

    • Ba muntu so dull always crying this crying that. Kwena this negative vibes about keeping yourself in shape is so backward. Elyo ninshi those condemning this move are writing proper English so, meaning that some who have acquired some decent education and yet doesn’t know the importance of exercising for a good health. Your health is very important people, please take a leaf. For those that are participating and those that have been doing in their own time, keep it up. A health nation is a productive nation, please come on board.

  6. Mbaluso you spend your time running at work if it’s not in your job description and see how long you last. Your boss will fire you because you’re taking time away from important stuff and using it for personal things that benefit you alone. Same here, the country benefits nothing from this, the costs of security protection, disruption to traffic and inconveniencing the locals far outweigh the benefits. Besides all those people tugging along have work to do and now they can use this as an excuse not to get work done

  7. The keep fit exercises were initiated by the youthful Burundian president encountering his citizens to exercise for fitness daily just as he did for a day of general cleaning! I hope its with honesty those joining ECL for morning jogs and not “bu fuzii!” It’s good to be copycats and I hope those who run with the president it’s not for show but self conviction for fitness and maintaining a devoted schedule! GBM has done it with own schedule and is testimony for total wellness once he’s toned to the new trim Mr Handsome surely a pride to his family and he also earned my admiration for determined weight loss! Oh! Not to forget mention of Ms Dora Siliya who also is a fitness fanatic! Let’s all try to devote a 15 minute daily to exercise not necessarily running or gym for even a brisk…

  8. The best innovation of the century in Africa! Keep it up Mr President, take time to listen to the ordinary after the workout session and am guaranteeing you a 100% turn out in 2021 all in your favor and the PF. Thes active minds will soon see the opportunities that your Government offers and let the armchair critics d1e complaining with their idle minds. Next time you visit Copperbelt your excellency, please allow us also to run, jog and workout with us. You bond very well with the masses. Keep it up once again SIR.

    • @malinso thats a good idea. Better he runs with people from other provinces when hes already on a trip visiting those places. Do that sir instead of making them travel to Lusaka they start getting per diem thats so wrong and unnecessary

  9. This is part of the PF elite bonding together so that they can loot. Going to the gym is left to individuals to decide where they go. This group thing is trying to check who is on their side and people go there to be accepted in the PF elite that is eating and looting the country.

  10. How can you run nan jala, these jogs are for the President and his fellow mwibala colleagues, for the rest of us we will continue trying to find food for our children in these harsh economic conditions

  11. @the real olivia pope…when i say officers i dont mean police. I mean people working in public service aka civil servants who dont necessarily have to mean officers. People from other provinces have been ferried to run with the president. Isnt it cheaper if they run from their respective places and send videos if u really want to see them keeping fit? Lets be serious for once bane!

  12. If the nation needs a fitness trainer believe me,we know where to find one,right now we need someone to sort out PF mess…..

  13. Not fan of anybody but we must give credit were it’s due. Why complain of hunger? If you’re not motivated because your excuse it’s hunger, how would be motivated to look for work. This president should be recommended for the initiative. To change your circumstances you should be motivated beyond your imagination.

  14. Ba muntu so dull always crying this crying that. Elyo ninshi those condemning this move are writing proper English so, meaning that someone who have acquired some decent education and yet doesn’t know the importance of exercising for a good health. Your health is very important people, please come on board. A health nation is a productive nation, take a leaf and join it’s for your own good

  15. What a sycophant? If the president is doing something he then does it. That’s why he was appointed?
    Ati I had to tack mine away when I realised that the President actually did not have anything.

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