By Field Ruwe EdD
Bishop Trevor Mwamba President of the United National Independence Party (UNIP)
Ten Years after Walter
Walter curled his lips into a smug smile. “Lake Zambia that’s what we call your country. You guys are as stagnant as the water in the lake.” He said on my fateful flight from Los Angeles to Boston on New Year’s Eve 2011. “We come in with our large boats and fish your minerals and your wildlife and leave morsels—crumbs. That’s your staple food, crumbs. That corn-meal you eat, that’s crumbs, the small Tilapia fish you call Kapenta is crumbs. We the Bwanas (whites) take the cat fish. I am the Bwana and you are the Muntu. I get what I want and you get what you deserve, crumbs. That’s what lazy people get—Zambians, Africans, the entire Third World.”
The words stirred rage in many a reader, including a Zambian, Musonda Trevor Selwyn Mwamba who was the then Anglican Bishop of Botswana. When he read the story in its entirety one could tell each and every word had pierced his heart and that of Zambia’s literati. The American Walter had called Zambian intellectuals lazy, stating: “I saw with my own eyes a bunch of alcoholic graduates. They were at the Lusaka Golf Club, Lusaka Central Club, Lusaka Playhouse, and Lusaka Flying Club. Zambian intellectuals work from eight to five and spend the evening drinking. We don’t. We reserve the evening for brainstorming.”
The above stereotypical pejorative comment left a tinge of discomfiture in not only the aficionados of such watering holes, but all Zambian intellectuals, many who were calling for Walter’s head. They felt humiliated. Some were quick to defend themselves more so when Walter decried: “Poor and uneducated Africans are the most hardworking people on earth. I saw them in the Lusaka markets and on the street selling merchandise. I saw them in villages toiling away. I saw women on Kafue Road crushing stones for sell and I wept. I said to myself where are the Zambian intellectuals? Are the Zambian engineers so imperceptive they cannot invent a simple stone crusher, or a simple water filter to purify well water for those poor villagers? Are you telling me that after thirty-seven years of independence your university school of engineering has not produced a scientist or an engineer who can make simple small machines for mass use? What is the school there for?”
Bishop Trevor Mwamba responded in the affirmative: “Your article was brilliant in analyzing the political landscape with an insightful understanding of what is needed- viz, inspired leadership. This is vital in developing the country and uplifting the welfare of the people.” He did not end there. He sent me a copy of his address on leadership development made in Hertfordshire the June prior, titled “The Art of Leadership: Revealing God to Others” in which he quotes from his father-in-law the late President of Botswana Quett Masire’s retirement speech: “The older order changeth, yielding place to new; And God fulfills himself in many ways; Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.”
In Search of the Holy Grail
Greatly affected by Walter’s evisceration of Zambia’s literati, I took it upon myself to search for a transformational youthful leader—the Holy Grail; one endowed with the talent to look into the future; one possessing an unquestionable authority in economic and political events and in strategizing events on the ground—a JFK, Barack Obama, a creative producer of knowledge; a leader fined with a vision for change. All the while, my eyes were fixed on the 2016/2021 presidential elections.
My list included Hakainde Hichilema who was already a force to be reckoned with at the time, Elias Chipimo Jr., Miles Sampa, Clive Chirwa, Chibamba Kanyama, Kenneth Mwenda, Godwin Lewanika, Dambisa Moyo, Robert Sakulanda, Moses Banda, Mulenga Chibiliti, Killion Munyama, George Samiselo, Chuma Himonga, Charles Banda, Maurice Mubila, Kaluba Chitumbo, to mention but a few. I exchanged notes with some and remain in touch with them. I also added the current president of UNIP Bishop Dr. Trevor Mwamba to my list.
I first met Trevor Mwamba in 1976 in the ZBS television studio when I was a producer and he was a student at Kabulonga Boys. Growing up in Lusaka’s Northmead, Mwamba incarnated an exemplary adolescent leadership and an increasing commitment to education. A holder of a PhD, he has studied theology, law, and anthropology.
I have kept in touch with Mwamba since 2012. What has emerged out of our several discussions is an intellectual, god-fearing individual who believes Zambian politics require a different perception of the Office of the President; that it should not be simply providing political leadership, but should be the brain-room from which innovative ideas originate. The office bearer should be the practitioner of statecraft, the oracle to whom the nation depends. I was therefore elated to see him return home to participate in the forthcoming presidential election, even at the eleventh hour.
Why Zambia needs Bishop Dr. Trevor Mwamba
In March this year, Mwamba left his home in Germany, and returned to the same Zambia Walter talked about ten years ago. The Zambian intellectual is still where Walter left him, on a bar stool in self-deprecation, living under the nominal sovereignty of Zambia, stunted by mediocre leadership. Highways built, bridges laid, airports renovated, buildings erected, not by him but the Chinese. His degree on the wall, he is unable to make a lifetime impression, create sustainable life for himself and the people around him.
Lusaka, the seat of the country’s future, the headquarters of Zambia’s intelligentsia and home terrain of some of the most talented people is a city of redundant ideas. Poor leadership has turned its residents into a non-productive people incapable of initiative; and the laissez faire culture has spread to all four corners of the country. Remove the Chinese infrastructure and Zambia is stuck naked—to the bone. If not careful, the Zambian intellectual together with his fellow citizens will be tenanted by the Chinese, and the country they call home—their only land will be lost.
Zambia urgently needs the likes of Bishop Trevor Mwamba. Nothing has cost us dearly than a non-transformative president. Last year, Zambia’s most notorious cabinet minister Bowman Lusambo said and I quote; “Because of Lungu, people now mistake Lusaka for Los Angeles.” Such are words of a lazy and improvident politician who is so unintelligent he is blinded by beauty in a devil’s dress. President Lungu himself basks in the Chinese infrastructure reaping where he did not sow and often sounding like Lusambo.
The visionary and transformative Mwamba believes Zambia has enough intelligent and skilled people who can band together to get the basics right and turn the country into an astonishingly successful modern nation. This is precisely what the Singaporeans did under the relentless guidance of Lee Kuan Yew. It is what the Jews did in their effort to build a modern and powerful Jewish nation. It is what Paul Kagame has done for Rwanda. With the direct support of the uneducated and the poor, the educated led the way in the building of their nations from the scratch.
Bishop Musonda Trevor Selwyn Mwamba’s journey to State House has just begun. It is clear that if he is elected president, he will excel where previous presidents have failed. He is a man of God sharpened by study and obsessed with success; he is not only a degree holder but also intrepid, creative, daring, cunning, self-denying, and self-devoted in a crisis; and yet august, generous, hospitable, modest, and commonly chaste in peace. He is a one-off charismatic presidential candidate who can convince marketeers, street peddlers, laborers, and the rest of the country, to join him on a painful but rewarding journey to recovery.
Why you should Vote for Bishop Dr. Trevor Mwamba
Celebrate not the Chinese infrastructure, it is not a Noah’s Ark, it is a paradise built in hell. President Edgar Chagwa Lungu has sold the country for a pound of flesh. The unredeemable massive debt of $12 billion is an incurable cancer rapidly spreading. We are at an inflection point in Zambia’s history where China could take over our assets for failure of redeeming the debt, and acquire full control of our lives. Mwamba, with the help of the Zambia’s literati can stop the cancer from spreading. “Integrity” is Mwamba’s key word. The word embodies what we believe in as Zambians—respect for others, kindness, empathy, and compassion. His role as a clergyman takes care of that. As president, Mwamba will stand for our poor and our middle class. He has taken over UNIP because he wishes to serve the country under the banner of “One Zambia, One Nation.” Come August, give him the vote he rightly deserves.
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