Saturday, June 15, 2024

It will take centuries for us to develop; we’ve no culture!


One of the greatest US presidents, John F. Kennedy, in his inaugural address to the nation, inspired children and adults to see the importance of civic action and public service.

“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” those were his profound words that helped shape the thinking of most Americans.

It’s now 60 years after our independence; what do have to show for our freedom? Zero! We can’t produce our own toothpicks; we’ve to look to China for simple things as needles, razor blades or matches! We can’t even grow our own food – Ukraine to grow us wheat for our bread, we’ve to wait for fruits from South Africa and let our mothers constantly travel to Tanzania for our potatoes and onions. Our university graduates can’t even manufacture a scooter or bicycle and yet you think we can develop!

In this country, we tend to think it has to take singular efforts of one particular individual sitting in State House to develop this country. Resigned to such warped thinking we don’t bother to do anything for our country at all. Shall we ever develop like this? Maybe in another 100 years! We’ve no culture at all. What is culture? It’s simply a way of doing things, which we pass on to generations to come.

Take for instance the “Keep Zambia Clean Campaign…..;” there’s no doubt there’s only one person in Lusaka, Simon Mwewa passionately doing something about it. Each day, he assumes the role of Sheriff around Simoson building area ‘enforcing’ cleanliness as well as educating the masses on the dangers of littering. And in case you are thinking it’s only those from the shanties who have this terrible habit of indiscriminate disposal of waste, then you’ve your bearings wrong bwana! Wait until you’re on the Highway……. you’ll see all manner of rubbish flying from the windows of SUVs, Mercedes Benz and Ford Rangers! Can we develop our country with this sort of behaviour?

We once had a privilege to attend a meeting at the Civic Centre where a Parliamentary Committee was gathering views from the public. As the enthusiastic small crowd was making submissions, you could see some of our MPs were fast asleep, yawning or busy fidgeting with their handsets. The moment the Chairman announced the meeting was now adjourning, their faces lit up instantly! They swiftly jumped to their feet; it was time to claim their allowances for them to go and enjoy gourmet menus at the hotel and, of course help themselves to countless gallons of alcoholic beverages and empty in the toilet afterwards. What sort of good laws can such a bunch of characters help formulate?

When introducing one of his flagship projects – the Constituency Development Funds (CDF) President Hichilema saud he was taking the money away from the big thieves in Lusaka and taking it to the people in the districts, shanties and villages. But lo and behold, it seems we equally have small thieves away from Lusaka. Reports of abuse of CDF in Kalabo as revealed by Finance Minister, Bo Situmbeko Musokotwane are quite heartbreaking. However, we aren’t perplexed. This is the order of the day countywide! Members of Parliament and their Councilors, District Education Board Secretaries and their Heads of Schools and Council officials and the contractors are all suspects! Daily they’re conniving with each other to ‘chew’ this money by procuring goods and services at inflated rates! And you think we can get anywhere as a country?

Consider the embarrassing conduct of our traffic police officers….. When they report for work each morning, what seems to preoccupy their minds isn’t what they are going to do for our country to ensure safety on our roads, but rather how much they’ll pocket in terms of bribes! They’ve even become more sophisticated now; when they slap you with any traffic offence, they’ll take you to an office where a person in charge will ask you whether you want a receipt or not. No receipt means paying a lesser amount which doesn’t obviously go to the government coffers, but ends up in their pockets to buy sausage or hungry lion! Is there any patriotism in this? Can a nation surely develope in this way?

Perhaps Cabinet ministers, Permanent Secretaries and MPs can learn one or two lessons from global revolutionary icon, Che Guevara! When the Bolivian dropped-out of medical school to assist Fidel Castro in the Cuban Revolution, he wasn’t motivated by material things. Once the country was finally liberated, he continued living in a modest house, driving a small car and pitching up for work in his military fatigues. When heard about the troubles in Angola, he resigned from his positions as Minister of Industry and President of the Bank to go and help out in the liberation struggle. Don’t be motivated by huge salaries and allowances, let the money go to the people.

One day, we found ourselves in the bathroom at a newly commissioned, One-Border-Stop complex constructed at a huge cost to the tax payers. It doesn’t matter whether the money was from within or abroad; what’s important is that colossal sums of money were spent to come up with such a marvel to watch. It was rather disappointing to find graffiti strewn on the wall using feacal matter while fittings such as door handles, latches and switches had all been ripped off! Can we develop with such a mentality?

Perhaps, the President should consider introducing a Department of Culture in one of the ministries as this will go a long way in inculcating good cultural values in our people. We also require our Ministers to be radical in their approach.

During era of MMD for instance, we had our people spitting anyhow in public, relieving themselves on every tree or wall fence or smoking indiscriminately. Immediately Micheal Sata, as Local Government Minister then introduced by-laws stipulating stiffer penalties for the culprits, all the nuisance petered-out!

Please, share your views.

Until next time……

Prince Bill M. Kaping’a
Political/Social Analyst


  1. With having demagogue leaders like HH plus our work ethics forget about development…..Africa will remain poor for eternity despite having abundant natural resources….the main reason is because of Demagogue Presidents and HH is one of them

    • We all can see that the article is written by a house nigger. Why cite the US president? Doesnt Africa have great presidents like Kenneth Kaunda, Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah etc? But he sees only his colonial masters’ presidents and believes their countries are also his.
      Then he dresses them in false robes: Ati”One of the greatest US presidents, John F. Kennedy….”
      Greatest? Greatest for what please? The man was only two years in office.

    • He is not talking about Africa you *****. He is talking about brainless people like you… always having someone to blame. Can you offer a solution for a change?

    • You can see how brainless you are. You cant even contextualise. He is not talking about Africa? Cant you read? Because you lack basic IQ you cant follow.

  2. A continent where most people aspire to be rich and not to be wealthy. Zambia is a country with the mentality of get rich quick at all costs. Leadership that does not care about it’s own people. We like to keep up appearances by appeasing those who steal from us. We have a rich culture but instead we look to those who have denied us our identity as role models. In much simpler terms, we are our own en3my.

  3. Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” those were his profound words that helped shape the thinking of most Americans.”
    To start with, this should applied to political leaders from councillors to the president.
    Since 1991 we have had only crooks as our leaders. Why should I suffer when a chap I voted for becomes millionaire overnight?
    I labour to grow maize and get only peanut rewards for the sweat?

  4. Really? Keep on cheating yourselves, a hungry nation is angry nation. Do you live in the same nation? See how pipo are angry & complaining. You pipo are sick to the core!!!!

    • Then why was Lungu kicked out by over 1,000,000 votes since you seem to claim Zambia was a food utopia where people never went hungry in 2021?

      Critical thinking is on zero level..

  5. Local govt, municipalities are dead, how do you clean up let alone build latest infrastructure? Cmon Zambia. Go to Ndola it is a sad situation. The nation is put on pause, taken 1 million steps back,mmmm. It is like we had civil war before.. shame on all leaders.

  6. Anger is not going to bring development. Hunger will end when you stop complaining and go to work. Emotions and laziness are not solutions. Work or die complaining. Simple.

    • Deja Vu


      You are a very bitter man……..

      If you are not complaining about tribalism in everything GRZ does you are complaining about suggestions of working for our communities and country because you can’t see any benifits………???

    • #Spaka it’s not about being bitter it’s all about being taken for a ride. HH lied that he had a solution to everything. But now he’s telling us that it’s impossible to clear the mess left by PF.
      Freedom… he’s taken it away from anyone who is opposition …a few days ago Edgar Lungu visited a priest only for the police to burst into the office and ordered the meeting to stop.
      Of course like PF you don’t see these as a betrayal.

  7. ……….

    I have being saying this from day one………

    90 % of Zambians have passed through primary education……..

    This is where you indoctrinate them with values of garbage management, patriotic values, hard work, anti corruption, and ………

    In my opinion, the most important value of all……..

    The knowledge That Everything needs maintenance,……..

    Buildings , marchinary, environment……..Everything

    because Africans don’t know what maintenance is, we dont have an equivalent word in our culture and languages……..

    teach them at primary school.

    Forwadee 2031……..

  8. Real, honorable culture is when we are proud of our traditional music, ceremonies, and practices. We get nothing from trying European or American cultures, we can never be like them. We can buy their goods, yes, because we are still developing, but their culture should be a NO! NO!

  9. Very good writing.I fully agree what development did we have,and what is culture?
    O yes we have roads, flyovers, shopping malls,(financed by whom) but is that development?
    The country is rich in natural resources but do we handle the affairs ourselves NO!
    60 years after independence still begging and asking for help.
    Singapore got independence in 1965 and see what happend.
    Please Zambians wake up,be proud and work hard to develop your country,I beg you!! Otherwise in another 60 years you are still the same.(Poor and beggers.YOU DESERVE MORE.

    • Singaporeans and other far Eastern nations indoctrinate their children from primary school in values of good morals, honesty, hard work , patronisim , cleanliness …….

      That is where the Zambian education system should be looking, this western one has failed us as Africans……….

  10. Bill Capinger speak for yourself. You have no culture because you borrow names like Bill from the colonialists. Im sure you wear ties and jackets even in your hot summer because you cant wear cultural dress and you even had a wedding with those white dresses from Victorian England

  11. One of the best & sensible articles by author. He is right, despite having one of the best presidents, the citizenry still think govt is their mother.

    I have never seen a country of people who can’t think, innovate even a toothpick like Zambians! But oooh they can win an Olympic medal in complaining.

    You can’t help such people, let them suffer hardships for their laziness, it’s fair trade.

  12. ……….

    Send our educators to China and other far Eastern nations to see how children are indoctrinated in honesty, cleanliness and hard work from an early age……….

    The western education system has failed us

  13. How can you develop a country with drunkards aspiring for leadership. Even our women are now drinking themselves to zombie status. Who will inculcate progressive culture in children. Adults have set a very bad example. Traditional ceremonies supposed to showcase culture are turned into $ex events. To much alcohol and fwendenge pa Zed.

  14. Wow! I was so sure the comments would be suggesting how we develop as a people. The comments is a reflection of what’s wrong with our country. If educated people here don’t offer solutions, who will? The story raises a very pertinent point: we all know what’s wrong and we should all be suggesting how we can correct what’s wrong with our country starting with our sphere of influence i.e. what we can control – our families, Neighbours and neighborhoods. For instance, start by cleaning around where you live. Others might follow and do the same. You may not be an MP, Minister or hold public office, but you do live in a community. Start there. A fire starts with a spark…

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