Dear Kenneth Kaunda: “I was There…”

Since 70% of Zambia’s population is below 30, it means a majority of Zambians were born after 31 October 1991.

Here is my side of the story.

I was there when civil servants were personal servants of Nkwazi House and at midnight they could be transferred to another district or another town or another province. This was simply because the Ward Chairman so wanted.

I was there when our women, with

babies on their backs, would wake up at 01:00hrs to go and line up at Mwaiseni to buy a bottle of cooking oil.

I was there when the journey from Lusaka to Kasama used to take 3 days, with a long wait at Mpika in a UBZ bus.

I was there when the State controlled all companies that never made any profit for decades of operation.

I was there when our young girls used to be raped while on the queue trying to buy mealie meal.

I was there when the Zambia Airways stopped flying people for profit and became a personal private flying company for the party and its government.

I was there when people’s movements and liberties were restricted. You couldn’t move from one house to another without first getting permission from the Ward Chairman and his stalwarts.

I was there when people’s liberty to worship was severely curtailed and churches had to register as companies in order to operate and worship God.

I was there when sugar was as rare as a diamond and salt was as scarce as platinum. I was there when the people who used to sell small packs of sugar were known as “ba Choir”, because at the Twatasha market there was no freedom to sell or to buy. The market had to be controlled by Nkwazi House and its tributaries.

I was there when entrepreneuring Zambians were treated as de facto criminals by the State. I was there when trade was severely restricted.

I was there when school children would miss school in order to go and line up the streets to dance for the only Man there was. This feat would be repeated each time that the Man and his loyalists were around.

I was there when you needed permission from the party and its government for everything.

I was there when soldiers would enter your house, without your permission and do a “clean-up”.

In 1986, as a child I saw a soldier slap and abuse the government driver who was transporting us from Chipata to Chililabombwe since my dad had been transferred by the State. His only crime, was that he had not stopped by one of the many military stops that dotted the route to Chililabombwe.

I was there…and the very thought that Zambia is returning to that state.

Makes me sad!


  1. Was there when I only paid K1.00 as school fee for the whole year, when after completing Grade 12 or Form 5 I add job offers from two Banks upon writing an application from comfort of my chair and not necessarily knowing someone in the Bank. When I had three course meals at UNZA for lunch, supper. I was there when selection for scholarships abroad was pure merit. Indeed when millers couldnt wake up to increase price of mealie meal or bread anytime. Was there when MDs GM top Managers were Zambians and excelled, when Govt was constructing affordable housing – WELL that was Africa then at the centre of the cold war fronts. There were good side to it as well. To me he didnt fail but that was the leadership of the time.

  2. Let’s not forget the period of history we’re talking about here. Zambia during KK’s days hosted four African Liberation Movements (ANC-South Africa, Zapu-Zimbabwe, Zanu-Zimbabwe, Swapo-Namibia). With an economy based on a single product (copper) the Western powers made sure that Zambia paid dearly for its support of Africa’s Liberation.

    Not much KK could do about the price of copper, which was mined by Western companies, consumed in Western countries, and had a price that was set in London. Let’s not forget these important facts. No need to tell Zambians how the price of copper was deliberately kept at a low price to feed the Western economies and to punish Zambia for daring to help liberate their fellow Africans. The economic malaise was not all KK’s fault.

  3. I was there when a long queue would form at Kalomo NIEC stores only to realise you were queuing for Ebu and not Saladi as earlier announced

  4. I was there when my Brother tried to enterprise by selling ‘saladi’ and was taken to court for that. I was there on the streets lining up for hours waiting for the President to pass with his white hankie only to wave and not stop. KK, don’t think you are the only one who was there and still alive. We are still alive and still remember even when you disciplined your mischievous boy Sata. We were there and we still remember.

  5. I was there in 1964 to 1978 when our schools looked excellent and I beniftted from it. In fact I was awarded a PhD from Newcastle Upon Tune University in 1982. I was there in 1983 when I started teaching at the University of Zambia. In 1985 the Kwacha became useless and I was there. This was the turning point for collapse of Zambia. I was there.

  6. Indeed we were there when all these were happening and we have not forgotten but moved on and appreciating the changing times! That time when going to chipata would take u 3 days in a UBZ bus.
    KK must be told we don’t want UNIP again!

  7. I was there when one morning women lined up for hours at ZCBC on Cairo Road caught wind that there was a Zambia Sugar truck that was reportedly headed to Chilenje ZCBC with a delivery. Many travelled on foot and by the time they arrived there, there was no sugar.

    That’s the humiliation we were made to live with. I will not accept a white washed version of history by anyone. I was there…

  8. Thank you for this! People will have you believe that all was well in the KK era. While I believe in the power of transformation and respect him for the nation building he done subsequent to 1991 – I too was there…

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