Zambia’s earliest known millionaire Tom Mtine has celebrated his 96th birthday at his home in Ndola with call on youths to be humble.
Alderman Mtine, who used to manage 53 local companies in the 1950s as chairman of the Lonrho Group, on Friday turned 96.
Speaking when a group of journalists from the Ndola Press Association visited him, Mr. Mtine said perseverance, sacrifice and humility have helped him in life.
He also spoke against pomposity when asked about the secrets of longevity.
“To do anything good you have to persevere. And persevering is not a joke. When you persevere you meet a lot of people and there you have to go forward,” Mr. Mtine spoke with a smile.
Mr Mtine now leads a quiet life at his home in Northrise, Ndola.
“In our language we say, uzicepesa osati matukutuku ntawi zonse,” he said.
“Look, life we have got to realise that we have got to look at ourselves. Stop this stop that. Stop drinking; the door will open for you. Now, having sacrificed a lot of things, you go forward,” Mr. Mtine said.
Mr Mtine as a youth worked for the government before moving into the private sector and later on rising to manage a group of companies.
After completing school and obtaining a Cambridge certificate, Mr. Mtine and other young trainees at the time, learnt bookkeeping besides learning how to manage co-operative societies in Lusaka.
After managing cooperatives in Lusaka among them Chalimbana Teachers Training College he got a transfer to Ndola at the sunrise of the 1950s.
He used to operate in Ndola, Kitwe, Chingola, Luanshya and Mufulira.
Upon leaving the public sector, Mr. Mtine joined the Ndola Bazaar Limited where he was employed as a bookkeeper.
He later moved to another company and with his background of accounting and salesmanship which meant travelling a lot; Mr. Mtine landed a post at Heinrich Syndicate as a public relations officer.
While at Heinrich Syndicate, Mr Mtine was among the staff that moved to Lonrho Group after its acquisition and as luck could be, at the new company that bought off Heinrich Syndicate, he earned himself an executive position.
He was first managing director at Lonrho and thereafter he became chairman as he was in charge of many companies within the Lonrho Group.
Mr. Mtine was also the first chairman of Zambia Airways, first black mayor of Ndola around 1965-66 and the first black African to run the Football Association of Zambia after independence.
In the past, Mr Mtine has been recalling the time he was special envoy of then President Kenneth Kaunda to South Africa where he went to deliver a classified letter in a secret way for the release of incarcerated freedom fighter Nelson Mandela in the 1980s.
“It was not easy, it was a risk. I had to put that letter at the back of my head to pass through Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe was more frightening than South Africa. The letter was folded, placed in the collar at the back of my shirt and it was to be handed to state security officers in South Africa,” he told the Zambia Daily-mail in the 2016 interview.
Mr Mtine is an honorary member of the Confederation of African Football.
He was awarded by FIFA during the global football governing body at the centenary celebration in 2004 for his contribution to the sport in Zambia.