Learn to Speak Mandarin!


The world over, forward-looking parents are enrolling their children in Mandarin immersion programs. They are hiring tutors, some spend hour’s skyping with Chinese Language instructors in Beijing not to mention the iPhone applications aimed at making people into Mandarin speakers.

The need for workers with knowledge of foreign languages and cultures not only to market products to customers around the world but also to work effectively with foreign employees and employers has never been greater.

Richard Dowden in a book called, Africa, altered states, ordinary miracles, says that at one time coca cola was the only product that reached every corner of the continent. Now it is the Chinese and their products who reach everywhere.

It is indisputable that the number of Chinese people coming into Zambia has increased greatly in the last ten years. Some estimates put the number at 80,000. This means the level of interaction between the local people and the Chinese has gone up too. Most Chinese have conversational English skills but anyone who has had a lengthy interchange with one saw how difficult it can get to communicate effectively.  Sometimes their English Lnguage skills tend to be extremely limited and at times the way they pronounce common English terminologies makes it hard to decipher the meaning.

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Me my Chinese Language teacher and classmates in 2014.

One of the ways by which this Language barrier can be broken is to encourage the Chinese to improve their English skills but also by encouraging host communities to learn to speak Chinese. Investing our time and money to speak Chinese Language will enhance the quality of interaction and enhance business transactions.

Currently one of the most widely spoken Languages in the world with its users estimated at about 15 percent of the global population, Chinese, commonly referred to as Chinese Mandarin is the official Language of mainland China and Taiwan and is also one of the official Languages of Singapore and the United Nations.

In Zambia Mandarin Lessons are offered by two institutions, the Confucius Institute at the University of Zambia and the Chinese International School located along Lagos Road in Rhodes Park.

What are some of the interesting aspects of this ancient and fascinating Language?

Mandarin is a tonal language. This means that the pitch of any syllable will affect the meaning conveyed. And since many Chinese characters have the same sound, the tones are what differentiate words from each other. There are four tones, named according to the rise and fall of the voice when pronouncing them. The first tone has a high even pitch. It is important to keep ones voice even, almost monotone, across the whole syllable when pronouncing the first tone. The second tone has a rising pitch and may be harder to master. In English we sometimes associate this rise in pitch with a question. The third tone has a falling and rising pitch. When pronounced clearly its ‘tonal’ dipping is very distinctive. The fourth tone starts out high but drops sharply to the bottom of the tonal range. English speakers usually associate this tone with an angry command.


Rehearsing a chinese song ‘dance of the youth’ in 2014.


Because Chinese Language does not use the Roman alphabet, Pinyin, a standard for romanizing the language was introduced in the 1950s. This was to help foreign learners of Mandarin to pronounce standard Chinese correctly. The first few Chinese lessons will focus on learning the tones and pinyin. For example the Chinese character for mother is written as 妈妈and the pinyin for this particular character is māma, the little line on top of the first ma indicates the tone, which in this case is the first, high even tone. Apart from mother the word ma might mean a number of things such as linen horse and the verb scold depending on the tone used. So just by saying ma in different tones you can ask the question, did mother scold the horse? (mā mà mă ma?). As observed from the sentence the first ma uses the first tone, the second uses the fourth tone and the third ma uses the third tone which falls and rises. After practicing pinyin with a number of verbs and nouns short sentences such as Hànyǔ bù tài nán (Chinese is not very difficult) will be introduced. Mastering the tones poses a challenge to non-tonal language speakers when learning Chinese but Chinese language teachers understand this so well and a considerable amount of time will be dedicated to learning and differentiating the four tones. This is very cardinal because using a different tone for a particular character will completely change the meaning conveyed. One could effectively end up saying I’m looking for my horse in place of I’m looking for my mother. A common advice for Chinese language students is that pinyin is not used much in China. Although some signs might be written in pinyin you should not expect the Chinese to understand pinyin as they would characters. After some pinyin practice Chinese language students are expected to start learning characters otherwise known as Hanzi. To an untrained eye the little dashes strokes and boxes might appear indecipherable in pretty much the same way a Chinese might puzzle over a Q an H or indeed a ‘funny’ looking W.


The chinese spring festival temple fair  celebrations at Levy Park in 2014

There may be no way of predicting the sound and meaning of an unknown Chinese character with any degree of accuracy but this does not mean that there is no system behind the little ‘sticks’ at all. All the characters contain at least one of the component parts known as ‘radicals’ and almost all radicals have an element of assigned meaning. Looking at the character for the Chinese verb that means to eat (吃) otherwise pronounced as chī (noticed the line above for the first tone pronunciation), will reveal the radical called mouth on the left. It sure does appear like a mouth albeit with corners, which you will likely notice in most characters talking about food. These characters range from simple ones with a single stroke to complex ones with up to 13 strokes. This maybe where your Chinese lessons start to get challenging but even more fun. There are a number of ways through which one can practice to learn characters and online resources abound in this area. One that teaches characters in a very funny way is chineasy.com The character for rén which means person is written as (人). That surely appears like a standing guy except he has no hands. The pinyin  for follow is cóng written as (从) and appears like two people following each other. Now get another rén to sit on top of two companions and we have crowd (众) pronounced as zhòng.

Not all characters are actual pictographs that reflect the meaning of words but those that do reveal an interesting cultural aspect of the Chinese Language.


Another interesting facet of the Chinese language is the mandatory use of measure words known as classifiers. These may not necessarily be unique to Chinese because you see them in English too, for example a gaggle of geese, a shoal of fish a piece of cake and so on. In English they do not occur that much but are completely obligatory in Chinese when giving a number of nouns. You have to ensure that you get them in and right as there are a number of them. Different classifiers are used for a number of things. When you are talking about flat things such as sheets tickets and tables the classifier is Zhāng. Shuāng is used for things in pairs such as socks chopsticks and so on. Bĕn is used for books e.g.      Wǔ bĕn shū means five books.

Without a doubt all this pinyin, tones characters and classifiers might seem a little daunting in the early stages but this cannot be compared to the joy of being able to speak the Language.

I like to compare it to a bug, once you get it you are in. Every time you ran into a Chinese you just want to say Nǐ hăo and practice a few more words. Like Esther Tyldesley of Edinburg University put it, not only is Mandarin Chinese an intriguing and absorbing Language which can express both brutal frankness and extreme delicacy, it also brings us the chance to learn about a new and very different country and culture.




Zambia celebrates 2014 World Tourism Day.


Tourists buying paintings at the celebrations


Norwegian Ambassador to Zambia Arve Ofstad at the celebrations.


Maiko Zulu(in dreads) a reggae musician hanging out with reporters from Muvi TV at the celebrations.

The 2014 world tourism day celebrations held at Kabwata cultural village in Lusaka attracted a number of stakeholders in the tourism industry besides a sizable audience that included the elderly, youth’s, tourists and some local celebrities.
Held under the theme, ‘tourism and community development’ and commemorated every year on September 27 since 1970, the day is a culmination of seven days of tourism related activities at international, national and community level.
The event which was organized by the Ministry of Tourism and Arts in collaboration with the Zambia wildlife Authority (ZAWA), Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) National Arts Council (NAC) and Hotel and tourism Institute sought to highlight the accomplishments and the vision for the future development of the tourism industry in Zambia
Graced by the Minister of Tourism, Jean Kapata, the highlight of the event were the beautifully choreographed dance moves exhibited by various dance troupes that included Africa directions.

In her speech the Minister drew attention to the importance of the day saying it is the day on which the statutes of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) were adopted. She said that the United Nations body by consensus decided that in order to highlight the tourism sector and its contribution to social economic development a day be set aside to create awareness of the value and importance of the Industry.


Tourism Minister Jean Kapata delivering her speech.

She also bemoaned the proliferation of organizations’ and private sector tourism companies purporting to be local community and claiming to represent their interests. She called for increased participation by local communities both in rural and urban areas in community tourism.

She encouraged all communities represented to approach the ministry to see where and how the ministry can help to provide developmental assistance in order to enhance their activities.


Levy Mall hosts the second Chinese Spring Festival Temple Fair.


Amb Zhou leading Dr. Christine Kaseba to the main arena.

On January 25 2014, well over a hundred Chinese as well as a handsome number of Zambians gathered at Levy Mall to usher in the Chinese new year.The year of the wooden horse according to the  Chinese Zodiac, 2014 was welcomed with dance and song.

The fair  was graced by Zambia’s’ First lady, Dr. Christine Kaseba and first republican president, Dr.  Kenneth Kaunda. Showcasing a variety of Chinese traditional performances as well as products and cuisine the show offered Zambian attendees a rare glimpse into the Asian giant’s diverse culture.


Chinese International School Stand.

Chinese ambassador Zhou Yuxiao arrived around 09:15 while the first lady together with Dr.  Kaunda joined him some 30minutes later. Amid a sea of red  green and purple believed to be the lucky colours of team horse Amb. Zhou led the first Lady  to the Malls inner parking lot where the stage for the celebrations was erected.

Anchored by Vincent Liu who spoke in Chinese and Wendy Wen who interpreted for non-Chinese speakers the fair opened with a dance called ‘bright star’ after both the Ambassador and the first lady gave their speeches in which they highlighted the mutual relations that exist between Zambia and China.


Show Anchors Wendy and Vincent.

According to Amb. Zhou, the second Chinese Temple Fair in Zambia was intended to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, to promote cultural exchanges, to celebrate the achievements China made in 2013, to join Zambia in the celebration of the Golden Jubilee and to mark the 50th Anniversary of China and Zambia diplomatic relations which had been further strengthened by H.E. President Sata’s historical visit to China in April 2013.


A Zambian cultural performance by Africa Directions.

Apart from Chinese performances which included Kungfu, Chinese fashion show and Tai Chi among others, Africa Directions Cultural group of Mtendere also showcased some beautiful Zambian dance performances which included infunkutu as well as akalela. It was also an opportunity for Zambians to taste Chinese food from a variety of Chinese restaurant stands such as dong fang and wolong. Zambians tasted spice crawfish at Henan Center restaurant stand.


Spice Crawfish at Henan Center restaurant stand.

Here are some quick facts about the Chinese Zodiac and the year of the Horse.

1) The Chinese zodiac – or Shēngxiào – is a calendar system originating in the Han dynasty (206-220BC), which names each of the years in its 12-year cycle after an animal: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, in that order. According to the system, the universe is made up of five elements – earth, water, fire, wood and metal – which interact with the 12 animals, resulting in the specific character of the year ahead.

2) People born in the year of the horse are said to be a bit like horses: animated, active and energetic – they love being in a crowd. They are quick to learn independence – foals can walk minutes after birth – and they have a straightforward and positive attitude towards life. They are known for their communication skills and are exceedingly witty.


Bob Marleys ‘three little birds’ inspires Instruments for Africa(IFA)

Every little thing is gonna be alright!’ is no doubt one of the most hopeful and optimistic choruses in the pop catalogue. What is unclear however is if Marley knew the lines from his hit song, three little birds would help inspire good-will endeavours long after his death. For music students from Linda High School in Livingstone a simple rendition of the 1980 single has changed the complexion of their music classes. Some say that the inspiration for these prophetic lines was three little canaries that would come singing by the windowsill at Hope road, Bob’s residence. As I learned, the lines are as inspirational as when they were written.DSC_0568

The story began in December 2012, when Todd Snelgrove, a guitarist and music teacher from Canada took a trip to Africa. He was carrying with him a guitar that was given to him by Ottawa Folklore centre. His hope was that he would find a good home for it along the way. After passing through several countries in Southern Africa that included South Africa and Namibia, he had not found a home for the guitar. Deciding to spend the last week of his vacation in Livingstone, Zambia, the bespectacled Canadian did some digging and learnt that a nearby school was in need of music instruments. That School was Linda High School. Opened in 1963, the School lies some 2km South East of the tourist capital. What surprised Snelgrove was how an entire music department in a large School in one of the country’s major cities can operate without a single musical instrument. He wanted to leave the guitar right there and then but the school teachers had a better idea. They requested if he could give the instrument to the students directly. Arrangements were made for him to return to the school the following day.

‘When I arrived the following day I was brought to an outdoor auditorium. Rows of hard wooden benches sat before a small stage under a large thatched roof. The seats were filled with kids in their school uniforms and as I entered with the teachers the room fell obediently silent’, recalls Snelgrove.

‘I started to play the syncopated chords that open Bob Marley’s three little birds  and was blasted with perfect on-the-beat clapping ‘ he recalls. What amazed Snelgrove was that when he sang the opening lines don’t worry ‘bout a thing all the 300 voices sang the next line back to him in perfect unison.DSC_0546

This little episode inspired Snelgrove to want to do more for these kids who he figured could do a lot if given a chance in their music studies.

After travelling back to Canada Snelgrove put out a passionate appeal for donations of instruments. ‘I propose a collective effort to equip the Linda School with adequate musical instruments and instructional material. These kids deserve the same musical opportunities that you and I enjoy. Africa is the heart of the world’s music, and it’s almost criminal that so many have access to so little’ read the appeal. Soon after instruments started coming out of the attic, basements and out from under beds, dusted off and donated to Snelgrove for the cause. And shortly thereafter instruments for Africa (IFA) was born.DSC_0542

Since then IFA has donated over 200 music instruments to more than five schools in Southern and Lusaka Provinces.

On October 16 2013 IFA was in Lusaka to make donations to Roma Girls, Parklands School and Lusaka Secondary School. At Lusaka Secondary School pupils gathered as early as 8 am to receive the music tools.  An assortment of instruments enough to compose a symphony was handed over to the School at a serene and quite function I was privileged to witness. Boys and girls from the music classes were on hand to receive as well as try out their skills on this collection of instruments. Forming neat lines with shiny flutes and clarinets in their hands the excitement on these students faces was apparent. They might not have been able to play sound-perfect rhythms but the pride they exuded should inspire their teachers to do more for them.  Among the tools given were one keyboard, four flutes, four clarinets, two saxophones, three trumpets, one bugle, two trombones, one tuba, one drum set, one electric guitar, one amplifier including ten music stands 150 music books as well as different accessories. One only hopes that these instruments will not only help the teachers deliver their music lessons effectively but also that the interest generated by these prized possessions will help inspire the next generation of musicians just like Bob Marley was inspired by the three little birds when he wrote the hit single more than three decades ago.


From Abercorn to Mbala, the charm still lives on.

Tucked away in solitary splendor some 40km from Mbala town in Northern Zambia is world’s No 12 highest waterfall. On the continent only Tugela of Kwa-Zulu Natal passes its 222m height.

Beaming with holiday excitement, a few kwacha’s to spend and a brand new Nikon it was easy to pick on Mbala because I had never gone there before. I would also get a chance to visit my sister who was recuperating from a leg operation after surviving a fatal car accident on her way back from Kasama with her husband a few months back.

With hopes of going to the falls dwindling owing to problems organizing transport, Julius a local biker I ran into in ten kwacha bar agreed to take me after a lengthy bargain. The sky was angry, looming nimbus washing the town in an intermittent light drizzle. With only three days left of the visit, the feeling was one of apprehension as I continued contemplating the list of unticked places in my diary. It was 4th January and the popular bi-monthly open market known as umunada was taking its turn. As Julius filled the gas tank, I kept mulling over going to see umunada and shoving the visit to the falls to another day. But he had picked on this day as the most convenient for him and I had no choice but to ‘ride along’.

The trip to Kalambo Falls

We hit the road and thankfully the clouds embarked on journeys of their own. During the rainy season, Kalambo road turns into heavily-rutted and pot-holed mud pits. This makes  you feel you really have to earn sighting the falls. The road serpentine in and out of jungle into open tracts of grass as the valley rises and invites above the horizons. Taking a corner on our left, a billboard with white letters welcomed us to the Kalambo Falls National Monument with viewing fees in Kwacha, Tanzanian Shillings and American money.

At the Kalambo Falls. Picture by Julius

The entrance to the Kalambo Falls, from here the foundation for the information centre NHCC is putting up is clearly visible. Picture by Julius.

We were welcomed by a lone keeper who enthused throughout the inter-change that I was just too willing to pull off as the lapping, whooshing and pounding sounds of the falls rose like a Waltz. Taking a side-railed pavement path down, I sensed the air change to a crisp breeze. As though it were charged with negative ions you couldn’t help but succumb to that wonderful nature- induced euphoria. From where I was perched I saw the water come up in froth and looked to wonder for a bit, as it gracefully bended to begin its 222m journey down the quartzite rocks.  A near perfect view of the waterfall is not entirely a given. A small tree growing by rocks on the side proved a strong temptation. I was also told I could take a small path that meanders through Tanzanian territory for a good view , except it teems with vicious reptiles. The area is so untamed. It inspires every form and shape of imagination. Julius told me that if you looked at the point where the water lands to ‘walk’ to the lake you will notice shapes of banana plants with what appears like ripe fruits on them.

Kalambo Falls. Picture by Mukafya Kayula

At 222m high only Tugela of Kwa-Zulu  passes its height. In the whole world it is the 12th highest waterfall. Picture by Chibamba Kayula.

Sitting on the Kalambo river which is pretty much the ink that defines the Zambian border with Tanzania all the way into lake Tanganyika which is shared by a four-some of countries (DRC, Burundi, Tanzania and Zambia) the falls is two times higher than the Victoria falls, Zambia’s other cross border waterfall. The waterfall is in high flow around May-June when the width of the falls climbs to about 15m from around 8 in the dry months. But the shrinkage comes with its own attractions. I’m told you can stand atop the falls with one foot on the Tanzanian territory and the other in Zambia. Unlike its sister falls, viewing is the only charm so far but this is about to change as the government of Zambia through the National Heritage and Conservation Commission (N.H.C.C) is putting up a lodge and an information Centre. The foundation for the two installations is clearly visible.

Archaeological sites

Homohabilis might have contemplated the powerful scenes when he made his home around the falls some 200 000 years ago. Evidence of his home here is buried in the riverbed some 20 minutes’ walk from the falls. Together with Julius we relied on victor, the keepers’ 16 year old son to walk us to the ancient sites.  We hobbled through dambos cultivated with cereals as the path is unmarked. On reaching, there are few leads that these are sites of first importance for the pre-history of central Africa.  Dr. J Desmond Clarke carried out excavations along the riverbeds from 1956 to about 1966. Results of these found evidence of an almost complete succession of fossils from early stone times to the beginning of the Iron Age. The oldest evidence of the use of fire by man south of the Sahara was unearthed here.


Homo habilis made his home around these river beds some 200 000 years ago, this is according to evidence unearthed by Dr Desmond Clarke in the 1950s. The sites are also famed for showing evidence of the first use of fire by Man south of the Sahara. Picture by Julius.

We ambled around, digging through the washed sand and picking up pieces of stones. Victor even dug up a small dark ancient-looking piece of pottery which I thought was a very free gift for my memento.

It was time to say our goodbyes to victor and his dad. After signing in the visitor’s book we paid the mandatory 5 kwacha viewing fee as the now darkening clouds prepared to match us home. I know my legs will never thank me for the trip but my memories certainly will.

Lake Chila

One cannot talk about Mbala without mentioning the tiny but picturesque lake, known as Chila. According to ‘Umutomolo, on the banks of Lake Chila’ a book written by Samuel Puta, elders have stated that the formation of the lake occurred after Chila (a person) and other gatherers of wild fruits called Indo refused to give some of that food to an infirm and hungry woman when she begged them to do so.DSC_0164 Apparently, the earth opened up swallowing greedy chila and the entire village. The lake is less than a kilometer long and 800m wide. Despite the size, it sparked interest in historians because its riverbeds have an assortment of historic military wares dumped at the end of the First World War when soldiers from German East Africa surrendered to the Northern Rhodesia Rifles. With changes in climate, the lake has twice disappeared and reappeared fuelling more mystery amongst the local Mambwes and Lungus. The last time it dried up was in 1955. On the shores of the lake is Chila lodge, where I caught up with the town’s popular music ensemble, the Kalambo Hit Parade famed for their hit, “Mpanga Yamambwe.” It was a somewhat laid-back and exciting way of welcoming 2013.

Moto Moto Museum

The visit to Moto Moto Museum preceded my visit to Kalambo Falls and is always a good place to start. It is a refreshing 30 minute walk from Mbala’s CBD and it really helps to put the town’s history and significance into perspective. Opened in 1974, Father Jean-Jacques Corbel named it Moto-Moto in honor of Bishop DuPont.  DuPont had invariably attracted the name because of his skill in “making fire”. With the bulk of collection in the fields of Ethnography, Arts, Pre-History, History and Natural History, it has the second largest assemblage in the country after Livingstone Museum.  Father Corbel put together an extensive array of tools, craft instruments and items from traditional ceremonies and witchcraft.  These items are still exhibited in the galleries. After paying 10 kwacha for entering plus another 10 known as camera fee I could Nikon almost anything I admired from inside the galleries. The History Gallery has information about Mbala’s role in the World Wars.  Names of natives who served in the British army are clearly eulogized. These  include Mr. Noah Mulenga of Londe Village, the frying pan that he used for cooking is displayed near a German military helmet. Some, like Daimoni Mweete, went on  to fight for the British in Burma. The Museum displays a picture of Mr. Mweete sitting on a giant turtle in the Burmese jungle. In the Ethnography section is a traditional kiln known as Ilungu which was used to fashion iron tools. Moto-Moto has wonderful guides who are keen to share knowledge about all the artifacts and objects on display.

Tanganyika Victoria Memorial Institute, (T.V.M.I)

Ambling from the museum I swung by the Tanganyika Victoria Memorial Institute (T.V.M.I) which is located along President Avenue. T.V.M.I was built in 1902. Named in honor of Queen Victoria, the building was gutted by fire a few years later and rebuilt between 1949 and 1952. As a social institute meant to provide recreation it served as a point for social games.

Tanganyika Victoria Memorial Institute. Picture by Mukafya Kayula

Tanganyika Victoria Memorial Institute. Picture by Chibamba Kayula.

It is a sturdy multi-walled structure built to withstand the shocks of time. Now under the care of the Municipal Council, T.V.M.I has a public library. The reading material includes old journals, such as 1930s Black Woods’ Magazines. The building also houses a nursery school and a conference room. One oddity of the building is a circular piece of metal mounted on a piece of wood in the library.   I was informed that it is a propeller from the SS Good News’.  After dislodging the dust from the propellers metal plate, I learned that the SS Good News was the first steam ship to be launched on Lake Tanganyika. Further investigation informs that the ship was built on the Rofu River under the direction of Edward Coode Hore, and launched on March 3rd 1885.  It continued service on Lake Tanganyika until the First World War broke out in 1914. A visit to the T.V.M.I is not complete without viewing this propeller.

Mbala Old Prison.

Spurred on by the amount of historical information I had gotten, I started my hunt for Mr.  Sosala a researcher my sister informed me had once worked with the Moto-Moto museum. It was difficult to land an appointment but with a little cajoling he was willing to offer me a few moments. Together we ambled towards Bavika supermarket and grabbed empty chairs as we relaxed over sodas. It was here where I was taken on a thrilling history lesson about what I can only refer to as Northern Provinces most exciting tourist destination. According to Mr. Sosala the town is also home to one of the oldest prisons in Zambia. Called Mbala Old Prison, some of the people who served time in the prison include late freedom fighters: Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, Isaac Sikazwe Masaiti, Abel Mwanakatwe and the still living Zanco Mpundu Mutembo.

Mbala Old Prison Picture by Mulenga Kalolo

Mbala Old Prison Picture by Mulenga Kalolo

But it is not just the prison, as I learned, an old disused Victorian Brick building standing naked along President Avenue that conjures up memories of a young and troubled town. When its sons were rolling up sleeves to fight alongside Europeans in the World Wars (where they were conscripted to work as porters, laborers and scouts) the town of Mbala was just being born.

Called Abercorn, British interest in the town grew following travels by David Livingstone leading to the onset of the town’s colonial era as early as 1893, making it one of the oldest towns in Central Africa. War time trenches dotted around town bear witness to the hostilities the town witnessed (between the warring factions in the First World War), being on the border of Zambia and Tanzania the two former British and German colonial territories. The town became a key outpost in British colonial control of South Central Africa. Mr. Sosala also believes that as a British fortress, its status could have been preceded by Zombe a town which was located too close to Tanzania. It also once served as a locust control center in the 1920s when East and Central Africa was ravaged by the grasshoppers.

I caught up with Zanco Mpundu Mutembo, a former inmate of the old prison and freedom fighter in Zambia’s Independence. Conferred with the status, symbol of the nation, his image cast in stone stands defiantly as the freedom statue in the nation’s capital. On October 24 1984, President Kaunda honored him with the companion order of freedom. At 79 he balances his gait so well with the staff which Chief Mpezeni gave him back in 1958. He starts by recounting about the time he was incarcerated in the Old Prison with his friends who included Bwalya Kenani, Benson Mumba, Andrew Mwenya, James Chapoloko and John Chalele besides those mentioned earlier. Mr. Mutembo is the only surviving member of that group. He also had places he wanted to show me. Together we visited Lumumba house, located at 214 Bwangalo Road. It is an old-looking medium-sized building near Barclays Bank. It was built and used by the colonialists as a communications center. Sir Evelyn Hone, the last governor for Northern Rhodesia handed over the structure to Mr. Mutembo in recognition of his status. This is according to Mr Mutembo. At the rear of Lumumba house are two smaller structures that were toilets for colonialists. They are not latrines. They did not use water. They were bucket toilets. As we ambled around, Mr. Mutembo told me about the times they would come to pick up the dirty buckets as inmates. It’s a long time but the memories are still clear to him.

Heroes Cemetery

Together with Mpundu Mutembo I also visited the Heroes Cemetery, the burial site for soldiers killed in the World Wars. It is a kilometer from town along Kalambo road .There are English, Polish, German and Zambian names on the epitaphs. A nearby stump indicates the presence of a house a long time ago. “This is where the home of Hugh Marshall who doubled as DC and Postmaster was located”, Mr. Mutembo tells me. DSC_0653He was infamously named Mutambalike (meaning to stretch on the ground) by the locals because he was known for stretching Zambians on the ground for canning. Apparently the locals were very creative with names for Europeans who had peculiarities. A white man who drank lemonade could be called Bwana-Mandimu. As mentioned before, Bishop DuPont found himself with the tag Moto-Moto.

The world War Memorial Stone.

Lastly Mr. Mutembo points me to the cenotaph situated at the towns’ roundabout.

The Cenotaph in Mbala. Picture by Mukafya Kayula

The Cenotaph proclaim tributes to 1467 men of Northern Rhodesia who served in the British Army as carriers and were killed in action died of wounds or sickness. Pic by Chibamba Kayula.

The cenotaph proclaims tributes to the 1467 men of Northern Rhodesia who served in the British Army as carriers and were killed in action or died of wounds or sickness. It is also near this cenotaph, on November 25th 1918, that the Germans commanded by General Von Lettow Vorbeck laid down their weapons before General W.F.S Edwards. The cenotaph is near Arms Hotel, an inn established during the Wars. The hotel has undergone renovations and is in private hands. It has rest rooms and a bar. After booking a seat in the Power tools coach I strolled down its corridors and was greeted by that almost unmistakablefeeling that I had taken a trip back into time. Travelers waiting for their buses are quietly sipping lagers in the hotels bar.

You almost can’t help but imagine General Vorbeck raising a glass of whisky to Edwards and proposing a toast, ‘To our newly-found peace, cheers’!


Zanco Mpundu Mutembo, Symbol of our Nation.


On December 31 1963, Zanco was ordered to break the symbolic shackles or get shot. Pic by Chibamba Kayula.

It is a commonly known fact that the Freedom Statue standing defiantly along Independence Avenue in Lusaka represents our freedom earned with sweat and blood, sometimes literally. For Zanco Mpundu Mutembo, the flesh behind the stone, the statue represents his life. But the knowledge that a real human person stood for us and physically severed the chains, or even that the man is still alive is not very common, at least from what I have found out.
I remember my Social Studies teacher in fifth grade remotely referring to the Freedom Statue and I think the name ‘Mposa Mabwe’ came up now and then in the discussion. But he failed to mention that the act depicted by the stone figure at the freedom statue is a true life event that got captured on camera and frozen solid by casting experts. I have tried once or twice to search for his name on the internet but I only land two stories that the post and daily mail did on him. That is all. It says quite a lot about how much of our history is inadequately documented.
The story of the Freedom Statue all began on December 31 1963- with Zambia’s independence now imminent when – Sir Evelyn Hone, the last governor for Northern Rhodesia as Zambia was called then asked Kenneth Kaunda for a symbol the new nation would be known by. Would it be the Victoria Falls or perhaps the Muchinga Escarpment, or any other important natural resource? Kaunda however had other plans on his mind. He called Mpundu Mutembo a strongly built teenaged freedom fighter from Mbala who had earned himself a place among the ranks of freedom fighters such as Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe and told him that he had been chosen to die for the nation and told him to be strong.


The author with Mpundu Mutembo in the heroes cemetery. Pic by Julius.

Who is Zanco Mpundu Mutembo?

Born in 1936 in Mbala, Mpundu Mutembo and his twin brother Arnold got involved in the freedom struggle for independence when they were just teenagers. This was after dropping out of school following their father’s demise.
In 1957 having already earned his place in the political struggle in Northern Province which was led by Kapasa Makasa and Kapwepwe Mwansa, Mutembo along with seven others were sent to Kenya where Dedan Kimathi was leading a rebellion against the British. Their mission was to learn how to carry out their own rebellion back home.
When he returned, Mutembo worked closely with Kapwepwe and Kaunda, following them on their campaign trails.
On October 24 1958 at a location in Chilenje Mutembo got his pet name ‘’Zanco’’ It was also here that the unborn nation was christened.
Apart from pet naming the handsome looking young Mambwe the meeting also named the anticipated ‘new’ nation. The nations name was proposed by Kaunda and Kapwepwe.
‘‘We had wanted to call it Zambezia, but we settled for Zambia. When we chanted the name ‘Zambia Zambia!’ it sounded very nice and we all started dancing like little children,’ Mutembo recalls.
According to Mutembo the motto ‘’One Zambia One Nation was also coined at the same meeting which also marked the birth of the Zambia Africa National Congress (ZANC).


Mpundu Mutembo outside his home in Mbala. Picture by Chibamba Kayula.

Later on on 31 December 1963, after Mpundu was chosen by Kaunda and the UNIP Leadership as the symbol of the soon to be born nation he drove with Sir Evelyn in his official vehicle with a mounted police escort down King George Avenue (now Independence Avenue) to police force headquarters. At force headquarters after being interviewed, he was taken to a room where 18 military officers stood with guns at the ready. He was then handcuffed to a chain ordered to break free.
‘’Zanco break the chain. If you fail we will shoot you’’ the soldiers were shouting. Someone was taking pictures of the freedom fighter. ‘’it was hard and I was sweating. After pulling so hard the chain snapped and the governor raised his hands’’ he narrates. ‘’You are now the symbol of the nation’’ the governor announced._
Unveiled on October 23 1974 the freedom statue has come to symbolise Zambia’s freedom from the British. The statue has also earned its place on some of the country’s most important articles, including its currency.
How I got to meet him.


Zancos home in Mbala,its located on a piece of farmland that the colonial authorities gave him before independence. Picture by Chibamba Kayula.

I caught up with Zanco earlier on in the year when I made a trip to Mbala. To get to his house, I’m directed to take President Avenue. Rounding a corner, kids are engaged in a game of street soccer and I have a tough time getting any of them to help with directions. Finally one reluctantly separates from the group and points his dusty finger in a general direction. As I approach the house I’m greeted by the sounds of Angela Nyirendas ‘’Malo Abwino’’ as the stereo pounds above the chatter of young men enjoying some local brew in a traditional hut overlooking a small old White and blue house._
His wife welcomes me and leads me inside the house as I’m told Zanco would see me in a few minutes. Clearly, the old man with a staff making his way into the room holds no resemblance to the image at the freedom statue….time has separated Mutembo from the ageless youthful figure cast in stone. I had a lot of questions for him, but being a politician, he stirs the conversation in a direction that answers questions unasked but that he feels were important to the whole struggle. Together we visited the Heroes cemetery located some 10 minutes’ drive from town, as well as Lumumba house located at no 214, Bwangalo Road._
The house was given to him by Sir Evelyn Hone. He gave it to the party (UNIP), which used it as a district party office. Right now it looks disused and he tells me some people are using it as a carpentry workshop.The house is located near Barclays Bank and after withdrawing some newly rebased notes, the guards at the bank notice Zanco and one of them tells him that his image has been maintained on the new currency,but also tells us that the friend he is guarding with did not believe him when he explained to him earlier that the man walking down the street was the one pictured with chains on the nations articles.Zanco just smiles.
It is  apparent his contributions to the countries struggles are immense and he feels the country has not done much in appreciation.He has his own demands,but it is his claim of five per cent of every national budget that raises eyebrows,an amount too big for an individual by Zambia’s standards. Maybe he uses that figure symbolically, because after all his life is full of symbols.