Sunday, February 6, 2011

If Not Us, then Who?

Every time we think of why certain things do not happen in exactly the right manner they should, or why a certain level of mediocrity holds in local and leadership, we must look inwardly, practice some introspection, and ask ourselves to rise to the challenge.

If not us, then Who? And since procrastination is the most stealth thief, it is best we also answer the following question with a definite amount of conviction, which would translate to a sense of pragmatism and urgency: If Not Now, then When?

Friend, if it concerns you, it is up to you!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What 3 Years Can Do...

I am amused at the fact that I have not blogged since 2007. Yes, it has been 3 years since I sat down on this spot and wrote. I wish I could feel terrible about that, but I think I do have reasons. Credible reasons, that is.

For purposes of self comfort and encouragement, my work evolved from a regular 8-hour day to an average 12-14-hour daily affair. In addition, I had school assignments and team projects to do with folks whose intelligence quotients ranged anywhere from stellar to "how-in-the-world-did-I-find-myself-discussing-school-with-this-nitwit?"

But, it was all good. I liked doing my best in those assignments, competitive as I am. I like to be on top of things. I think everyone wants to be first; they just won't admit it.

I will address that suject of ambition and drive in a totally separate post altogether.

For now, I will justify my hiatus with those activities--work and school. Well, as fate would have it, I faced the biggest battle of my life: Cancer. I think that cancer is a bully, one. Hence, it seeks to bend a person's mental frame so they give up before the fight even ensues. I am glad I flicked a finger (excuse me!) at the monster and stared into its fiery eye balls. I mean, I was supposed to live only a matter of months at the time of diagnosis.

This mutha was supposed to kill me that quickly.

Surgery, chemo, pain. That was pretty much my experience for the most part...

Anyway, I am now cancer-free. I do not, however, wish to carry a label of a "cancer surviver." I am many things to many people. I am a father and dad to 5 great children. I am a reverend to some, a science buff to others, a happy, upbeat, optimistic dude to many, and, to those who know me very well, someone capable of making capricious, unpredictable moves.

During the time I was "under the weather", I learned more about myself: I can take any dare, whatever the cost. I think that if I put my mind to anything, I can beat all competition. Therein, I surmised, lies my greatest disadvantage: I am easily drawn to try out different things because I believe I can make them work best. Trouble is I have only oe life to live... a conundrum of, and in, itself.

I mean, I am talented beyond the years I am expected to live. No, I am not talking about the truncated lifespan referred to above. I truly wish I could live to be a thousand in order to achieve some things I dream of. Again, I think that an elimination method will be my most successful tool right now. Eliminate certain projects for now, and prioritize on foundational, pilot stuff. Those should give rise to the rest of the stuff I have always dreamed of, and started to work on.

Of course, I LOVE helping others unleash their ow potential. I am glad I have helped educate my siblings, an undertaking that entailed I lay some of my own dreams on the side. I am glad that my family of 12 brothers and sisters is now self-sustaining. It is amazing what can happen over a decade!

Yes, I am all over the place, I know. But you know how it goes if you have been away for an extended period; you are overly zealous.

To end the 3-year-long hiatus, I am back to write a few thoughts now and then, as time will permit me.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Michael Sata and Zambia

There is no doubt that the persona of Patriotic Front leader, Michael Sata, has been called many things, ranging from being a maverick, to being unconventional, to repressive, to humorous, and to a strong leader. I will only try to highlight what is positive about the man and what I think is his passion for Zambia.

I imagine it is not easy being Michael Sata. First, he is true to himself; he does not pretend to be somebody he is not. Michael Sata is for "real". Second, he has a natural knack for the kind of mobilization politics as we know them. He has a skin rough enough to tough out some very trying times that African politics, in general, or Zambian political dynamics, in particular, can present. I have to really rake my memory to find, in our country's recent history, an occasion where an opposition leader not only dared the powers that be to put him behind bars, because they threaten it anyway if one has strongly dissenting views, but also backed up his words with action whenever the police showed up at his doorsteps. Sata does not back down in cowering fear of his political opponents.

Rightly or wrongly, the man is unarguably audacious!

And that is my cue: if any person will discover themselves, they will know what it is they are here for, and not let another human being--with two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, one mouth, two hands, two legs, five fingers on each hand, five toes on each foot, a birthday as well as a futuristic death day--to override them through coercive means against their will. People who have had a self discovery experience have no problems with respecting other people, on one hand, and expecting that same respect back, on the other. These people who have looked inside themselves and known their composite material, if you will, are true to themselves.

For the purpose of sensitizing and searching for authentic leaders, Mr. Sata serves as a shining example of resolve, determination and living out one's chosen path, as long as it does not endanger or harm others, per se. That is bearing in mind that with such a resolve, certain decisions will be made that will affect other people's lives in an undesirable manner. Yet, it is that same resolve that enables a leader to undo his or her mistakes.

For example, I was impressed with his pledge to re-nationalize our copper mines if he won the election last year, 2006. I felt he was original in his thoughts because there really is no reason for a country of barely 12 million people to continue wallowing in abject poverty when their national asset, copper, was selling at all-time high prices around the world. Coming right off the heel of the MMD's unrestrained "sell-all-assets" economic mantra and practice, the Zambian population had been both bewildered and dispirited to believe another political dispensation would jump-start our economy by taking advantage of this grand opportunity of nationalizing our copper mines.

I am aware that many had a ready excuse to further fuel the fears of renationalisation: the rise and fall of ZCCM. And, for that single reason, many people failed to speak up. At such fora as Zambia Online, for example, it took some of us to propose the renegotiation of our mines contracts with current proprietors. Such renegotiation would have entailed, at the very least, a thorough review of the tax incentives these "investors" were initially offered. It is simply immoral and unacceptable for foreign companies to come into a country, drain it of its resources without tangible reinvestment locally, while the true owners of that wealth--the Zambian people--are featuring at 70% living under the poverty-datum line.

If a government really cared, it would move and act on such advice, which it began to tell the nation, only months away from the election, that it was in the process of doing. Now that the election has come and gone, and the talk about contracts renegotiation is dead, it is clear that the MMD government used a very important issue of the nation's bread basket for election rhetoric only. It was spin material, period.

I am glad that Michael Sata stood his ground and kept pushing for an agenda that would enable ordinary Zambians to have a fair share in the national cake. This explains why PF trounced MMD on the Copperbelt and along the line of rail, where a history of mining and its direct benefit to the economy is a matter of possible reactivation.

I may not agree with Sata entirely about some of his personal idiosyncrasies, but, among the current crop of leaders, he exhibits more heart and the desire to speak his honest mind, no matter what the consequences are to his personal life.

If we would have more Zambians believe in their country and its infinite possibilities, and know, without a shade of any doubt that we, not other nations, have our future in our hands, and only we can make it beautiful, Africa has many bright prospects!

The new Africa is looking for an informed aggressiveness in our economics, politics, culture and the preservation of it, as well as our perculiar identity against the backdrop of the integrated global community.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Being An Authetic African

Throughout recorded human history, a lot has happened to the people of Africa. By "a lot", I mean, grievous, mean experiences. Whereas some suppose that the biggest human massacre happened to the Jews in Hitler's demented passion for the survival of the Aryans, it is heart-wrenching to realize they have ignored the fact that the slave trade involving the sons and daughters of Africa accounts for the worst record of mankind atrocities. Equally unfortunate is the view that to discuss the slave trade and its horrendous consequences on the African person is being backward; that we are dwelling in the past, which we must detach ourselves from in order for us to comfortably embrace the present and bright prospects in the future.

Sincerely, I appreciate the spirit of moving forward in which many say this, yet it is important that we remember we can not afford to be in denial of our own history and heritage. In most cases, many who wish not to discuss the negative mental and psychological effects that our invaded history has exerted on us, only wish to find an emotional escape route. But we must confront the demons of our past that continue to haunt us if we must have a true hope of mental and psychological redemption.

I submit that the greatest freedom an individual is entitled to is that of the mind. Captivate one's mind and you will have made a robot out of another soul. Slavery and colonization made an assault on the Africans' minds. First, to strip every man of the right to love his woman or women, and be able to run a family, was a psychological castration on us. In case we have forgotten, slavery, which for most of us in Central Southern Africa, did not interact with us on as heavy a scale as West Africa, for example, has had a telling effect through a process of osmosis across the continent. For, regions in Africa that did not feel an immediate pang and embarrassment of slavery were soon to be subjected to colonialism. The two shameful events are not the exactly the same, but they are Siamese twins in their operation with regard to Africa.

These two events, slavery and colonization, are responsible for the divisiveness we still experience among ourselves today. The cold-hearted Scramble for Africa mapped out bogus borders on the continent of Africa, primarily as a way to loot the wealth of Africa, and put her inhabitants under subjugation--whatever it took.

So, by iron and blood, the supplanters arrived on our shores and began to obliterate anybody, anything and everything that stood in their way. Strong-willed individuals gave up their lives through violent means, because the self-imposed master, the Western invader, did not really value an African's life. With the passage of time, the will and independent spirit of our communities was stifled. What began to characterize our lifestyles was a realization that our traditional rulers were intrinsically at variance with the concept of foreign servitude that the supplanters from Europe imposed on us.

Also, the supplanters' very strategic point of attack on us was exacted on our culture, identity and general way of life. The new master broke the spirits of our indigenous communities by convincing many that our names were pagan, and needed to be changed; likewise, our ways of worship and religion in general were supposedly misguided. Our entire existence, said the supplanter, was a disaster in desperate need of a major fix.

Hence, we became either Christian or Muslim, with accompanying names. Our history was not something we needed to be proud of. Rather, we needed to be so ashamed of it we needed to almost renounce. Our languages, traditions and culture were barbaric, but English and French traditions, culture and adopted ways of worship. The greatest harm was not doe us physically; it was to the mind. The supplanters succeeded in lying to us and convincing our people that they were really inferior to him.

"Well, that was a long time ago, Mulenga. Get over it, and let's be forward-looking!", many would say. That attitude may be only wrongly justified, owing, largely, to the fact that it has been a long time since we got brain-washed and now, we are so entrenched in falsehoods that we have become authentic-blind. If any group of people would live in a certain way, believing wrongly for a prolonged period, such as many did before Galileo Galilei announced his discovery of a round world (and they all believed the world was flat!), chances are that they will act sophisticated and educated in a lie that has been told them, and ignore what is really important and, in our case, authentically African. And, by the way, I, too, am forward-looking, except I see there is a prevalent mental blindness to what factors have molded our current frame of thinking and acting, especially among the so-called educated. I have only chosen not to be the proverbial ostrich which buries its head in the sand when flames of consuming fire approach. A problem does not disappear only by a single act of ignoring its presence, and assuming it does not exist. That is being delusional.

Sadly, even the majority of our highly educated have been largely mis-educated in untruths as far as our history is concerned. We have been told our history by others, and have accepted it as infallible, as something we can not challenge or rewrite. One example of a major lie is that Africans sold their nephews willingly into slavery, all the while underplaying the savagely brutal force that the supplanters used on our communities to take slaves against their will, thereby buckling the resolve and self-defense of our societies under intense and inhumane pressure. There was usually no option, but to give in, and seem to be willing to make certain deals with the least amount of damage incurred by surviving members of the community. No, we did not start selling our own people willingly; we had never heard of farming lands in the Americas. And, we, being a communal people, although slavery (servitude) was always present among us--and was chiefly for performing domestic chores by those who had failed to settle their debts, for example--never traded our people for pieces of cloth, salt and guns before the supplanters invaded Africa. This is one lie we must work to unravel, especially that it would help to bring healing between the Brothers and Sisters in Diaspora (in the Americas, the islands, and wherever our blood is spread abroad) and us, the continental Africans.

Today, we are divided because the system of rulership the self-imposed masters placed on our people was designed to divide and rule. Suddenly, a country of only 3.5 million people, such as Zambia was at Independence, was told we had as many as 73 tribes among us, and we believed it! Some of these dialects are only as varied as the accents of say upstate New York on one hand, and, say, Mississippi, on another. Not once in our lifetime would we ever consider the two accents in English "two tribes"! But, to the supplanter, that is okay for Africa because it just further divides us and creates chasms among us.

It is this long and painfully twisted history of constant mental bombardment that causes the majority of us to be more proficient in other languages like English and French, at a crippling expense of of our own. What is even sadder is people are even proud of the fact that they can not construct meaningful sentences to communicate in their mothers' languages! Talk about a complete brain-washing! That is why I say with absolute certainty that some of our most educated Brothers and Sisters represent some of the most miseducated beings walking the face of the earth today. For what is education if it strips one of his or her own identity? It then becomes an effective tool to sway the masses through the so-called educated, because these individuals carry a certain air of sophistication that their masters taught them.

There is a way that the painter's hand extends itself into the present and the future if certain measures are not corrected immediately. This sad picture of the great miseducation and colonization of the mind will continue unless we awake from our slumber, and come to grips with who and what we really are. In many ways, we are like a child that was delivered, brought up and groomed in an environment where they had never seen their own image in the mirror, because that privilege was denied them. Until such a person looks in the mirror and study and accept who they are, they will believe anything they are told they are. Many Black people in Africa today believe they would probably qualify to be of another light-skinned color. How else would you explain the bleaching of their beautiful dark brown skins? How else would you explain Michael Jackson's whiteness? Or, why are our women more inclined to straighten their hair than they are towards simply braiding it? Now we have lots of blonds walking around in Kalingalinga township! To quote the words of another blogger, even our own Zambian Justices wear blond wigs!

We do have a deep-seated desire to look the best way we have been told, chiefly through our painful history, and in the present day, through such things as subliminal messages. That is, to look as close as possible to the image of the white person. How is it that our own children are deemed intelligent and really smart if they speak English more than they would, say, si-Lozi or iciBemba, or ciNyanja or Luvale? It is because we want our children to be more like the master we secretly adore and admire. But this can change, with a strong resolve to reinvent ourselves.

I do not advocate that we ignore the challenges and certain technological breakthroughs that others have made. I do not try to disseminate an ideology of exclusivism or isolation of ourselves from the rest of the world. I only advocate that in the midst of all human diversity, we too, maintain our own and not be assimilated, because however hard we try, we will not be them or they us. We are unique, just as they are. We were born speaking our languages, which our ancestors spoke. We, being who we are, must perpetrate our own identity and uniqueness. Others will not do it for us all. The ball is in our court, right in our hands.

I have seen the Chinese speak their own language unashamedly, just as much I have seen the Germans, the Russians, the Indians, the Japanese, the Iraqis, ad infinitum, speak their languages with pride. They seem not as apologetic as a pretending voice I usually hear our people usually speak with if they must utter something in their mother tongue.

I conclude this posting with a lot of words still trapped in my heart, but I will provide some thought-provoking clues to themes highlighted above, hoping that they will be given due consideration:

  1. What are your real (authentic African) names?
  2. Do you ever introduce yourself to strangers by them?
  3. Would your great great grandparents almost bite their lips trying to pronounce their own progeny's name, only because it is foreign and is deemed superior to indigenous ones?
  4. What was (is) the religion of your ancestors, or do you even care to know?
  5. Do you believe your ancestors were pagans, and the supplanters were the holy guys with a true religion?

[This will be continued.]

Zimbabwe and The African Union

The Saturday, August 11, 2007 edition of the Zambian Post Newspaper carried a story of Reform Party President, Dr. Nevers Mumba, highlighting the need for our regional leaders to get involved actively in the resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis, and in helping to create a nucleus of the continent's integration. These are not partisan issues, but subjects that provide common ground for our different and often divergent views. If we have had divisive subjects, these two afford us an opportunity to meet at a common place of brotherhood and sisterhood.

We can not continue to cast a blind eye at the confusion going on across the Zambezi; we can not always expect the West to intervene in our matters, so that we attain a semblance of peace and stability. I believe Africa is both ready and ripe to take her destiny in her own hands. It is time we said "enough" and started to take responsibility of our own mistakes and misfortunes alike. Only we can fix our problems. Not the West, and certainly not the Chinese. We, not anybody else.

I wish that the subject of Africa's integration were not stalling as much as it has. All we are losing is precious time. In all reality, the time for Africa to unite is now. The time to bury all cynicism is now, all in the hope that we can harness our resources, secure our necessary peace, create one government--or something in the likelihood of the EU format--so that food security, health, mineral resources and the rights thereof, are truly and genuinely African. For far too long, supplanters from the West have looted the continent, with a minimum sense of reinvestment.

One would wish that proponents of the United States of Africa, such as President Gaddhafi of Libya, and, in this instance, Dr. Mumba, would not be met with such ambivalence from most quarters as they do, because, unbeknownst to many dignitaries, this is almost the only way we as a people will rise from the dust of defeat that we have always been so sadly accustomed to. We need to rise up from the abyss of depression, hunger, poverty, artificial divides shamelesly based on dialect and region, and a poor self image. Maybe we can take a leaf from the Chinese in whose steps, lately, I have noticed some bounce, because their country is the "in-thing" now.

There is something about utilizing one's potential and maximizing it that causes one to walk with their head upright. Africa, and Zambia in particular, can also put a bounce in her people's steps if we can tap our resources and be aggressive about our priority list.

To those who believe in effecting change, this is all too feasible not to comprehend, ins't it?