Sunday, April 14, 2024

Zambian Youth and Rise of Sub-Saharan Revolution


By Field Ruwe EdD

Get up and do something about it!

On August 12, 2021, Zambian youth shocked the world. In countless droves, this finest possession of the country queued duty-bound and resolved. One by one they entered the booth with ammunition stronger than the bullet and dislodged corrupt and incompetent politicians in black suits. In paying tribute to every Zambian youth for rejecting the Lungu regime in landslide style, I am inclined to remind the reader of the source of motivation for many lest it is lost in political arrogation.

Do the words “it’s amazing how you all sit there and watch yourselves die. Get up and do something about it!” ring a bell? The words struck at the heart of the Sub-Saharan Africa. I shared with the children of my motherland the resonance of the encounter in my 2012 article “Zambian Intellectuals Are Lazy” a.k.a. “You lazy (African Intellectual) Scum.” Within minutes of its release, social media exploded. Soon, anger, regret, shame, hope, and hopelessness left the Pandora’s Box and engulfed the entire world in its rainbow colors. The impact of the story was like an epiphany some said—like the wind of change, a tsunami, perestroika even, others mused.

Let the reader be reminded. It was New Year’s Eve 2011; I was already strapped in my seat. The plane to Boston was on the Los Angeles taxiway its large, powerful engines emitting waves of shimmering heat from the exhausts. I was angst-ridden because I was seated next to a brawny, fully bald white man with intense, steely eyes.

A few minutes into the New Year, we were up in the air when the American Walter went into a rant and called Zambia intellectuals lazy in my face. “You and other so-called African intellectuals are damn lazy, each one of you. It is you, and not those poor starving people, who are the reason Africa is in such a deplorable state.” The words uttered like the piercing of the sword struck at the heart of not only Zambia, the intended country, but Sub-Sahara, and left a hole only the beholder could seal.

For the Sub-Saharan intellectual from Angola to Zimbabwe, it was a shudder of dishonor, a Hegel moment. Georg Hegel was the German philosopher who excluded the African from world history stating; “This distinction between himself as an individual and the universality of his essential being, the African in the uniform, undeveloped oneness of his existence has not yet attained; so that the Knowledge of an absolute Being, an Other and a Higher than his individual self, is entirely wanting.”

Some people say I should have punched him in the mouth. My heart was bursting with the same temptation. But in honest, though a cry of unassuaged anguish, Walter’s words were delivered with a sense of truthfulness. To this, a reader wrote, “The ‘bwana’ is the least racist I ever heard of – only someone who has your interest at heart will tell you if you have mouth odor – the rest will just shy away and gossip behind you.”

A good number of Sub-Saharan youth were calm. They saw it as a calling by nature; a moment of reflection. One Ghanaian responded in verse: I’ve heard your voice; let my hands labor for my motherland; all the talent given me, I yield to her; so when she sees my fruit, she may say, “you woke up and did done something about it.”

The Technological Revolution had begun

In countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Gambia, Liberia, Angola, Senegal, Ethiopia, and South Africa, presidents and political leaders, some who had read the article, and acknowledged in their speeches, recognized that the only way forward was through homegrown science and technology. Some of the brightest and innovative minds took up the challenge, and with that, a technology revolution had begun:

Kelvin Doe (Sierra Leone) built a generator and radio transmitter; William Kamkwamba (Malawi) built a windmill from scrap parts; Arthur Zang (Cameroon) developed Africa’s handheld medical computer; Usman Dalhtu (Nigeria) invented a street sweeper; Maasai herder Richard Turere (Kenya) invented the lion light to keep predators away from cows; Therese Kirongozi (DRC) invented human-like robots to help control traffic; Makerere University (Uganda) students made the electric car Kiira EV, and inventions kept pouring in.

Most of the young inventors reached out to me to acknowledge the source of their drive. In December 2020, Tanzanian inventor Askwar Hilonga wrote: “I just wanted to let you know how much I was impressed and then CHANGED by your article…At the time I was doing my Ph.D. in South Korea. You really challenged me…I [also] invented a water filter called Nanofilter that provides clean water in Tanzania, and your own country Zambia.”

As for Zambia, Harvard graduate (2020) Sela Kasepa and thousands of others endowed with intelligence and natural talent for home-grown science and technology got in touch with me. In 2017, Kasepa raised funds through her initiative, assembled a group of Zambian inventors to participate in the Global Robotics Challenge in Washington D.C. For her work in Robotics, Queen Elizabeth II rewarded her with the Queen’s Young Leader award. In her native country Zambia, she received little recognition.

I do not say so to cast aspersions on their abilities, it would be as far short as the truth to label the “democratic” presidents as the men who sapped the stamina out of Zambia’s intelligentsia. They peddled and promoted only their archaic agendas, forcing many intellectuals, inventors, and innovators to retreat to the barstool, their sedentary seat of ruin. Like the sloth, in moving slowly they had no peers. They hang to a fragile branch in their drunken stupor while life below them scurried and escaped them.

A case in point, in 2013, Charles Mumba made a compressor to maximize the potential of hydro energy. The Sata government showed little interest in his invention just like the Banda regime did in 2010 when he invented a domestic turbine. It was a sorry sight to see young talented and brilliant Zambians trapped in a labyrinth of abject poverty, play into the dirty hands of unscrupulous heartless politicians at a time when other African leaders were making attempts to take theirs to a higher stratum.
As for the leading highest academic institution in the country, the University of Zambia, political maggots were eating at the heart. Professor Lameck Goma was long turned into a lake. The water so still it reflected the faceless graduates on their knees reciting S.E. Kiser’s poem:

“I have hoped, I have planned, I have striven; To the will, I have added the deed; The best that was in me I’ve given; I have prayed, but the gods would not heed. I have dared and reached only disaster; I have battled and broken my lance; I am bruised by a pitiless master. That the weak and the timid call Chance; I am bent, I am cheated. Of all that Youth urged me to win. But name me not with the defeated. Tomorrow again, I begin.”

The March to August 12, 2021

The above poem led to my writing of “Hunt for Successor 44: The Faceless Graduate” as part of the “Hunt for Successor” series. I slew myself with pen, staked my life and reputation amid arrest and death threats. I did so because I sensed neglect and mediocrity in governance. My writing was meant to mobilize Zambia’s elite youth and make them serve as a major engine for social and economic change. The ultimate goal was to snatch the mantle from the old guard and complete the unfinished work by God. “Hunt for Successor 1: Last of the Venerable Martyrs,” flagged off The “One-Million” March to August 12, 2021.

The title referred to middle-aged politicians who had dominated Zambian politics since independence to the point of decay. King Cobra for one, failed to recognize the downtrodden youth for their potent force for change. Instead, he took advantage of their gullibility and coerced them to do the dirty “kaponya” work for him. Consequently, during his tenure, cadreism became an endemic feature of Zambia’s political landscape. Each of the one hundred and eight “Successor” articles written in the Sata reign focused on paving the way for a youthful intellectual leader, among them the now president of Zambia Hakainde Hichilema who was heading UPND at the time.

King Cobra’s successor Edgar Lungu accelerated the march to August 12. By this time he had turned the country into Lake Zambia, that’s what Walter called our country. “You guys are as stagnant as the water in the lake. 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 catfish. I am the Bwana and you are the Muntu. I get what I want and you get what you deserve, crumbs.”

The words were lodged at the base of the Zambian youth’s mind as they turned the corner and finally, on August 12, 2021, at 6 a.m., reached their destination—the ballot box. On their way, many, among them graduates, could not afford a meal, their shoes, and clothes worn to the skin. All of them were overwhelmed by neglect by a leader who promised a paradise on earth. Some remembered the words: “As long as you are dependent on my plane, I shall feel superior and you my friend shall remain inferior, how about that?”

By the time they were casting their vote their country was on oxygen, its lungs filled with a litany of scandals. The economy had fallen into the abyss. Tribalism had reared its ugly head. Corruption had become deeply rooted in every alcove and recess of all sectors of the country. Violence had become an inevitable characteristic, claiming the death of 50 gassed people and many others. Arsonists were burning markets, and President Edgar Lungu had no clue how to heal the self-inflicted cancerous wound. The youth of Zambia showed him the door, shocking the world, and setting an example to their peers in the Sub-Sahara.

Now Shock Yourselves

It’s a delight to see a confident and eloquent youthful leader possessed and obsessed by a vision of an ideal Zambia take the youth, their parents, and siblings on the journey they seek. It is by far not an easy one. If he allows deeds to speak for him then we have the leader we’ve been waiting for. We fought for our independence. We have obeyed the laws of our country and kept our eagle flying. We’re by far not lazy people, but the most hard-working on the planet. We’re by far not dull people but the most intelligent in the universe. We have shown resilience in moments of hunger and disease. Many-a-time when the chips are down, we have come to the rescue of the other. We can be even better now that hope is beckoning.

Young men and women of Zambia: you have shocked the world, and now shock yourselves if in honor and glory you are to be remembered as the ones that changed our beloved Africa. Help the leader you have put in State House to leap the country from stagnation to advancement. You will be glad you did. Thank you all and God bless.


  1. We told lungu , you don’t have enough money to bribe all Zambians……..

    And those left out of the bribes , will sing……

    And they sang in the ballot box………

    Lungu used bribes and free handouts to bribe youth, unfortunately for him , he did not have enough and the majority were left out……….

  2. But the crux of it all is that many Zambians indeed are lazy: all those corrupt police officers, government officials, you name it; they rather get cheap or free money than WORK. And the August 12 election didn’t change that, the police is just as CORRUPT as they were before that date. And I don’t think Bally is going to fix that any time soon!

  3. Field Ruwe your time is up stop ranting…you’re useless and you try hard to sound relevant….but you just a piece of shiiiiiiit

  4. I always enjoy Dr Ruwe’s writings. They are a breath of fresh air in this day of naval gazing by so many Zambians. Indeed, the young people and old as well have now got a great opportunity to change the course of Zambia’s history and set the trajectory up-wards. There is a clear and present danger looming at the corner and it is the OIL PRICE. In 1973, Zambia faced such a crisis and from that year onwards, coupled with privatisation of the mines, we sent our economy on a downward spiral. History has brought us back to the cross road where we took the wrong turn. Choose well this time.

  5. What’s the point of spending all your energies persuing a defeated man?
    Shouldn’t we now be focussing on the party in power and keeping them on their toes so that they deliver on their promises?
    Ruwe you pursued ECL when he was in power and you are still writing useless articles even when he is gone. What’s the point?
    Double standards indeed! Start questioning why the dollar is appreciating against our kwacha when it was supposed to come down at 14 hrs on inauguration day.

  6. Let us concentrate on quality now that the stage is set for innovation. We don’t want any more excuses. Start with those confiscated Mukula logs, please send them to be processed for school desks across the country. We can use the logs to start building decent class rooms. No excuses, you may use part of the funds given to you by the British to uplift standards in our schools.

  7. My social science understanding of a revolution is a complete overhaul or the existing social, economic and political order which may come about through bloodshed. You can not talk about the August 12 elections as a revolution in the same way you talk about the Bolshevik revolution in the former Soviet Union. The August 12 elections have not brought about an overhaul of the existing social, economic and political order. We still have a multiparty system of rule and the concentration of wide-ranging discretionary powers in the hands of one person, the President. The mainstay of the economy, which is mining, is still very much in the hands of foreign mining companies. Under HH who is more capitalist-oriented, mining will be very much in the hands of foreign mining companies. Due to mining…

  8. …being capital-intensive, we cannot expect the UPND government that supports and protects mining rights of foreign mining companies to create more jobs from the mines for Zambian youths. A change in the social economic order of the country will only come about if UPND forges stronger forward and backward linkages between mining and manufacturing, as well as agriculture. Otherwise, a perpetuation of the mono-cultural nature of our economy through pure UPND capitalist policies cannot change the state of things in Zambia and it will be a matter of time before Zambians realise this. UPND is too beholden to their Western funders whose main interest is to take over the exploitation of the country’s mineral resources from the Chinese for their own benefit. It is a clear demonstration of the…

  9. …laziness of the African pettty and comprador bourgeoisie Franz Fanon talked about in his work The Wretched of the Earth. You only need a comparison of what Western imperialists invest in African countries and what they take out, as Walter Rodney demonstrates in his book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, to understand the West is not there to develop Africa.

  10. This Ruwe of a person is very much a wrong Zambian representation in the diaspora. I think your reasoning shows it all. Ever heard of “shallow minded people spend today talking about yesterday instead of tomorrow”? Were you told dull people like have only one thing in common..? Talking about others!
    We have all lots of issue you can highlight here.
    You and the editor’s brains are probably in stupor and lack reality stimulation.

  11. Another stellar article Field even your PF critics have scappered into hiding now using other bloggers aliases without shame.

  12. 1. Dr Field Ruwe – I edge you to become the change that transforms Zambia to new heights. The world is paying $Millions and $Billions of dollars to THINKERS & CREATIVE MINDS. In today’s age, KNOWLEDGE is the new currency. Academic qualifications are just Report Card. Education is an equalizer but what moves nations forward is the creative mind and having the intelligence to have an open mind.

    Genius is not putting a $10 idea into a $20 sentence. Genius is putting a $20 sentence into a $10 idea. In other words make it simple so that it can be accessed by a common person. Or break it down

  13. 2. You live in the USA, a nation that has $500 Billion sitting idle from hungry investors, just waiting for anyone from AFRICA that has the next BIG IDEA. You are a highly educated man that can easily tap into this $500 Billion by just using your mind and create wealth for Zambia. The very wealth needed to create jobs. And the very lack of jobs and reasons the youth turned up in millions to kick PF out.

    You are the reason why behind the doors – HH complains that Zambia has a lot of educated people who talk too much, desperate to look important and relevant, yet they have nothing tangible to show. And Yes, HH is 100% right

  14. 3. You have talked about how to access your VORTEX in the past, yet you are failing to utilize the POWER OF YOUR VORTEX to change Zambia. Come on man! Talk is cheap.

    The youth in dire situations, walking in the streets of Zambia are not here to help HH. The youths were crying to HH for help when they turned up on 12th August 2021. HH on his own cannot do it. It will require a person like you and myself, who have been privileged to see the world from an aerial view to step up and contribute to developing Zambia. So is every thinking and creative person of Zambia….

    This is because all WEALTH is in the minds of every Zambian. It just needs to be extracted mined out like Gold & Diamonds. In other words using the power of IMAGINATION to create PRODUCTS & SERVICES that create…

  15. 4. For those of us who are in diaspora, especially in western countries, we have an upper hand. Because we have easy and cheap access to knowledge, data to get funds that is needed to create Wealth & Jobs in Zambia….

    … All it requires is for one to Research, Consult, write a good Vision Plan and Investment Plan, then go and knock on the door of financial houses which are in abundance waiting for a person who has a hot product or service to sell to the world. And when accompanied with the WILL, FAITH & BELIEF. It works. We are the people Zambia is waiting for !!

    ++ Field Ruwe, in the meantime keep writing articles. Your efforts are appreciated. This is not an attack from me but just a realisation that we need to face in context.

    Enjoy The Day

  16. Independent Observer (14)

    Boy! this is inspiring and very motivating. If only we can all think in that manner we can take Zambia to the sky. Thank you for breaking the ceiling. You are an inspiration. Unlike these so called educated minds who just talk and talk posting articles all the time.

  17. Daniel Mwanawasa – But the issue here with Independent Observer is that he is prescribing medication to Field Ruwe which he himself should partake, He must be a lecturer, he always has a lot to submit in the comments. I have always stated that he should post articles in columns section.

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