Thursday, June 13, 2024

Zambians are not IDIOTS: A defence of Kelvin Mambwe


By Julius Kapembwa, PhD

I apply a little logic or critical thinking to see if UNZALARU Secretary General, Dr Kelvin Mambwe insulted anyone as has been asserted by the Patriotic Front (PF) through its vociferous deputy secretary general, Mumbi Phiri. The first thing to do in assessing whether Kelvin is guilty of insulting is to be clear what the terms or words mean. ‘Idiot’ and ‘insult’. Let’s see what the words mean.

There are several ways of defining a word, for example, ostensively or lexically. Let’s take the word of the moment, ‘idiot’ (one of Kenneth Kaunda’s favourites). An ostensive definition would be to point at an idiot or give a list of people known to be idiots. A lexical definition is one we get in a dictionary. I know one or two idiots, but I don’t want any trouble. So, a lexical definition it is: An idiot is a ‘stupid person’ and a stupid person is one ‘lacking intelligence or common sense’. Does this sound like an insult to you? Oh, wait! First we need to know what an insult is. The dictionary to the rescue again: To insult is to ‘speak to or treat someone with disrespect’. To avoid a vicious circle of definitions, I will just assume we all know what ‘disrespect’ means. So, did Kelvin speak to someone with disrespect? We will see. But here, first, are our parameters. To have insulted a PF voter, let’s call her Rose, it must be the case that Kelvin called Rose an idiot and that to do so is to treat someone with disrespect. I will start with the first aspect. Unfortunately, we have to wade through some logico-linguistic jargon.

Allow me to paraphrase what Kelvin said: If any person votes for the PF in the future, she is either a (hopeful) beneficiary from the PF or she is an idiot. This statement is a conditional, an ‘if …, then …’ or hypothetical statement. But there is a little devil in the detail. As we know, a conditional is binary, containing an antecedent and a consequent. The consequent is a little complicated because it contains a disjunction, a statement containing two parts connected by ‘or’. A conditional statement is always true unless the antecedent is true and the consequent is false. A disjunction is only false when the statements on either side of the ‘or’ is false; otherwise it is true. With these basics in place, one can proceed to use propositional calculus to determine whether a statement that is insulting follows from what Kelvin said.

When your cries fall on deaf ears every year, every month, you must shout louder. Kelvin represents the largest collection of intellectuals or academics in the country who have been reduced to begging for their salaries, gratuities, and pensions.

Those familiar with sentential logic can go on and apply the method to the following argument containing three statement: (1) If Rose votes for the PF, Rose is either a beneficiary from the PF or Rose is an idiot. (2) Rose votes for the PF. (3) Therefore, Rose is an idiot. If the first two statements (premises) are true but the third one (conclusion) is false, then the argument is invalid. An invalid argument is one in which the conclusion does not follow with strict necessity from the premises. It does not follow from Kelvin’s statement that he called Rose an idiot. The only time the argument is valid is when we change the third statement by replacing it with Kelvin’s original disjunctive consequent viz. ‘Rose benefits from the PF or Rose is an idiot’. Then the argument is valid and is called modus ponens or affirming the consequent. Since Kelvin did not say ‘Rose is an idiot’ but instead he said, ‘Rose is a PF beneficiary or Rose is an idiot’, it follows that he did not insult Rose. If someone tells me that ‘You are a philosopher or you are a monkey’, I wouldn’t feel offended. It’s different from someone calling me a monkey and certainly different from someone telling me ‘You are a rat or a pig’.

I have been assuming that to call someone an idiot is an insult, that it is disrespectful. But I am now about to tell you why it’s not necessarily an insult. Daniel Munkombwe said he was in politics to eat. The Lusaka Province Minister, Bowman Lusambo, has said he is in politics to enrich himself unlike Kaunda’s ministers. President Edgar Lungu has said uubomba mwibala, alya mwibala. When Antonio Mwanza, the PF media deputy-director, was in FDD, he would not have voted for the PF. But in the blinking of an eye, things have changed so much. He is now mwibala. Would it not have been disloyalty or idiocy for him to vote for the PF before he started eating from their palm? Nga taulekuta mu chipani, kufumamo!

When the PF, FDD, NDC, UPND are campaigning, what do they tell their supporters and those they are recruiting? They say to them that you will eat with us or we will benefit you. When I voted for the PF in 2011, they were promising to be pro-poor, fewer taxes, and more money in the pockets. I got enticed with very many other Zambians and together, we ushered Dora Siliya’s MMD out of government. But, some people, after seeing they are not benefiting from the PF as promised, have started fleeing to other parties or to apathy. This is called rational choice and democracy permits it. So, Kelvin was saying only the very obvious which PF acknowledge even as they campaign. They tell people about the benefits they have created for the voters and on that premise, they say, ‘Please, re-elect us if you want more’. President Lungu has openly cried about some of his Ministers not doing enough telling voters what benefits the PF has created. That is also Kelvin’s reasoning.

Now imagine someone telling Davies Mwila that ‘I have not benefitted from the PF, or the PF have denied me such and such which are my due entitlements, but I will still vote for the PF.’ The PF SG would be perplexed initially before concluding that he is listening to an idiot or a liar. He would say, ‘This person is lacking intelligence or common sense’ which is the definition of an idiot. They say respect is earned and if a normal adult evidently lacks common sense, he hasn’t earned his respect. You can only lose what you have. And so, a person voting for a candidate who has not benefited her, given her hope, or has denied her something duly deserved is indeed an idiot and is not disrespected when referred to as such. So, tell me now, where is Mambwe’s insult even if he called someone an idiot (which I have argued above he did not do)?

However, in my little court of reason, I find Kelvin guilty only of using strong language. However, the circumstances warrant such strong language. When your cries fall on deaf ears every year, every month, you must shout louder. Kelvin represents the largest collection of intellectuals or academics in the country who have been reduced to begging for their salaries, gratuities, and pensions. Even when UNZA has produced many eminent people in PF including the Minister of Higher Education himself and some former lecturers, there is a perplexing cancerous anti-intellectualism that is very alien to Michael Sata’s PF. UNZA was very PF during the 2011 campaigns and the PF must not blame the victim for crying out when she has been stepped on for so long.

A word of advice to the PF. You do not like to be insulted so much so that you react sharply even to an imaginary insult. What about treating others the way you would like to be treated? Did you see the video of the elderly woman wailing over her unpaid dues for many years? Have you seen how many people working for government have become destitute with shylocks waiting to bleed them dry because of the PF failing to honour their contractual obligations while they themselves wallow in wealth and luxury? That to me and my dictionary is what an insult and disrespect is. Instead of fighting or deregistering UNZALARU, the PF must take a positive lesson from Kelvin’s statement. Increase the number of beneficiaries from the PF government in the remaining 20 months; give people their money based on principles of justice and not wako ni wako. Do not rely on idiot votes. Zambians have shown, when they made RB weep in 2011, that they are not idiots. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Dr Julius Kapembwa is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Zambia


    • The f00ly of learned crooks.

      What stupidity!
      I can sense the 1d10cy coming from this extremely learned f00l.
      Infact this article is hogwashic.
      Not getting paid on time must not lead you to stooping low to use derogatory language.
      I did not insult you.
      But we pay you through our taxes. Watch your tough school boy!

  1. Okay Dr Julius Kapembwa, now take your arguments into a court of law and see if philosophy or law will carry the day.

    I too am using the word “if” philosophically. The truth is that the current crop of your “lecturers” comprises cadres grown from drunk, indisciplined, lazy, riotous students, who have been smashing innocent citizens’ cars as part of their curriculum since they entered university.

    • Julius you can’t give a lecture to PF idyots like Mumbi Pubic.
      One idyot just insulted Lusaka residents that city flooding is caused by themselves. That minister said that some idyots block drainage so the streets can flood to make money by charging people to carry them on their backs.
      If such minister can go and break down houses with bulldozers, why can’t he use the same bulldozers to empty drainages? PF is indeed full of idyots.

    • Firstly Mambwe’s sentence as I heard him on TV wasn’t what this fellow academic is quoting. Go listen again. But then ***** is an insult in Zambia. Try asking your dad “are you an *****?” even if rhetorically you will probably be disowned.
      That said however it is true that politicians should not be crying about being insulted. Their business is of insults and all of them should develop thick skins. This is why I don’t understand why our presidents have to be protected by an anti defamation law. Any president who is a democrat would refuse that silly protection. Here Mambwe wasn’t insulting the PF.
      He was insulting those who voted for the party. So we Zambians will take issue with him not the PF

  2. A good communicator understands the audience she is addressing. If you are addressing a Phd class and you tell them that they are all id!ots because the had failed your exam, that may be ok. Now the same Kelvin Mambwe or Julius Kapembwa goes to his village and tells the villagers there that they were id!ots if the stop their children from going to school. How will the villagers react?

    • The villagers will act like *****s! By the way is telling someone in relation to an incident thus “Nga ukabwekeshapo uli chipuba!” being insulting? During campaigns that ousted MMD in some part of Zambia a VVIP told supporters “Vioneni vipuba!” Obviously in Zambia many common use words are interpreted for insults because we put the acquired adaptation with the British language as primary while relegating the mother language to secondary. So very “silly!”

  3. Dr ‘Gulio’ Kapembwa article well put and balanced. The logic of structural linguistic hypothesis well articulated and validated. Nevertheless, Dr Mambwe is still not guilty in the assumption of ‘role model’. By predictive modelling the best fit line for Kelvin is Kenneth Kaunda who was well known for such coefficients of expressions “st1upid 1diots” under some characterized circumstances.
    Actually Dr Mambwe’s is timely advise, deliver campaign promises….”more money in pockets”. I am not saying there’s alternative to PF because PF is winning next election and I am worried.

  4. We can as well define democracy to be government of the ***** by the *****s for the *****s, In democracy the majority rules and *****s are not in short supply pa Zed..

  5. We can as well define democracy to be government of the id!ots by the idi0ts for the idi0ts, In democracy the majority rules and !diots are not in short supply pa Zed..

  6. Truth id1ots are not in short supply and they are responsible for the destruction of this country handing it over to thieves now electricity and water is a luxury. They show you roads instead of feeding you. Only id1ots can vote for someone even after he warns them about having no vision now we have chipante pante

  7. Both Dr. Julius Kapembwa and Dr. Kelvin Mambawe, who consider themselves as clever academics and prefer to scorn the majority of Zambian voters as “I.D.I.O.T.S” are challenged to list their post-doctorial (i.e. post-PhD) publications as their contribution to the body of knowledge worth accession into Library archives. The pride that Drs. Kapembwa and Mambwe often float about with merely serves to intimidate drink-mates in pubs, lodges and hotels. In real life the most educated persons are humble souls who apply their knowledge to improve the quality of life for the ordinary people.

    • @Mwansa Kabimga. When I see that the author of any article on social media has a PHD, I always rush to Google, and that motivates me to read. Even in my office as a civil servant, I always enquire on the credentials of anyone who bears the title ” Dr” and I have saved Government from crooks. On this gentleman, I did and I have verified and I have read this theoretical piece. Sir, I would urge you to research about anyone rather than expecting credentials from social media

    • @Mwansa Kabinga. Well put! Add to that list Lampi.

      @Sense. It’s not only about the number of papers one has published but the quality and the number of citations their publications have had. Between the two of them they’ve had only 13 citations from 5 outputs over a period of over 5 years! That in itself should tell you the caliber of academics you are dealing with.

      Surely who has any use for a paper on ‘Nicknaming in Football’?

    • @IwillSayWhatIwant . I hope you know the quality of our academicians in our University Education. Majority of our academicians fall in this category or worse.

    • The two stupid educated !d!0ts should take a leaf from fellaz like Galileo Galilei, Michael Faraday, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin to name a few in the scientific relm and a few Technologists like Bill and Jobs who escaped the nonsense from Phd quakes to follow their dreams on the path of innovation thanks to the above listed 5 and many I did not named.
      As a tax payer, you most likely paid for the duo’s University studies and they are still drawing salaries from you paid tax. Then they turn around to insult you because Sec to the Cabinet delayed their pay.

  8. The first few comments are a good examples of 1diots. They are the ones eating and defending mediocrity. They expect those owed salaries and pensions to worship those responsible for their stress. I would call you names too if you not paying me what’s due to me phd or not it’s just wrong not to pay people. Kaunda was out because of such

  9. The truth really hurts but it’s a fact that Zambians are generally *****ic! Look at the fire engine scandal, the 49 houses scandal, the fire engine scandal etc, what manner of people would resort to such kind of lethargy amidst such ravaging from their own elected officials? Mu lyanganu bo naminungu tuni!

  10. Very true, an educated *****,this doc says from the head line “Zambian’s are not *****s” he goes to write a very long article clarifying that indeed Zambians are *****s.Failing to accept diversity of thought is one attribute of an *****.Yes the two docs are educated *****s.

  11. Ba Kapembwa,

    We all agree that government should pay all UNZA employees like yesterday.

    But your analysis is quite embarrassing. You are saying Zambians do not understand what ba Mambwe was saying but you do! Really? May the Lord forgive you. Anyway context is important. We all know what he said and understand the context in which he said it. IT WAS WRONG. A simple, “sorry it’s just that I was so angry” wouldn’t do him any harm.

    One of my favorite quotes goes like “you may be cleverer than other people, but don’t let them know”.


  12. The words we say means very little to our actions , any word you can say can mean how you behave towards anyone you are addressing ,someone said actions speak louder than words. .

  13. But who does not know that the whole bunch of PFs are idyots. We all know that thats why we have loadshedding 24/7. Now thats being an *****.

  14. The current leader ship of the country is made up of *****s who came to power from *****s voting amongst them selves to elevate the biggest *****s to lead them.

  15. What those in leadership need to know is that there are a lot of angry people in the country. The UNZALARU SG is just one example…

  16. A clear case of “Lost in translation”

    Dr Kapembwa of all people should be aware that all foreign words when given their literal or purposive meanings carry different connotations. This is why jokes in Cimambwe, Citonga etc, fall flat when repeated in Russian, English etc. Human anatomical names of the genitalia are for example not insults in Latin, English etc but are very offensive in Zambian vernacular languages.
    I need not go on. It’s obvious your defence of Dr Mambwe is extremely frail.

  17. Stop taking advantage just because you know some English,the fact is this chap insulted Zambians.If in our culture some one disrespect you then that person is insulting you period.Fine let me say Kapembwe you very stupid you are an ***** does that sounds good? If to you that is not an insult well and good to you.Very disappointing that even insults can defended were please on Earth.On this one bo doc sure it is a frail.

  18. awe kwena tuli fipuba ngati twaba votela after making us suffer. loading shedding, drugless hospitals, too many police road blocks, delayed salaries & no pension!

  19. It is both the intelligent and the non intelligent that has failed this country, maybe we are all a bunch of *****s. Infact we are all fools, logically I would put this in form of a Universal proposition and say All Zambians are fools. We are fools because we all seem to have failed developing this country and depended much on the outside. People not in power can do as much as it can take to move this country forward, what we need is that one voice focused on developing and sustaining this country. Instead our politics are not about developing the nation but about power. As long as we all focus on power politics, we are not going anywhere. The PhDs guys and those in power should put their heads together and forge a way and think of ways to break the economic dependency on the developed…

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