Monthly Archives: December 2013

In the Name of the Clan: Is Bemba-Supremacy Behind GBM’s Resignation?

By Elias Munshya, LLB(Hons), MA., M.Div.

September 2009 on Radio Mano 

It is September 2009. In a few weeks, the people of Kasama Central are supposed to be voting in a by-election. The key candidates in this election are Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (PF) and Burton Mugala (MMD). Mwamba comes from the ruling family of Kasama. Mugala, on the other hand, is a Namwanga. His home village is in Northern Province but is outside of the town of Kasama. Kasama is the capital of Northern Province. Northern Province is home to over 20 of Zambia’s 73 tribes. While most of the tribes are Bemba-speaking (Bisa, Lungu, Tabwa), there are some like the Namwangas and the Mambwes who are not Bemba-speaking and do in fact follow a patrilineal system.

Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba

Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba

Appearing on radio Mano that September morning, guest GBM makes some remarks that perhaps gives us an idea of who he is and the philosophy of his leadership. GBM remarked that the people of Kasama should vote for him in that by-election because Kasama, in particular, and Northern Province in general belonged to the Bembas. Casting his MMD opponent in terms such as “foreigner”, GBM made it clear that as a Namwanga, Mugala had no place in the political future of Kasama. This statement from GBM was seriously problematic.

I do commend GBM for having resigned from PF’s cabinet in 2013. But without him addressing what he said in 2009, I find his move to be extremely grim. In this article, I wish to interpret GBM’s resignation from the PF cabinet and cast it in light of his remarks in 2009. I do this for the following reasons. First, I do this to highlight the guiding attitude of Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba. Second, I want to have GBM to quickly address this so that he can perhaps atone for this cancer. With penitence, I think GBM can form a formidable antidote to the careless leadership of Michael Sata and his Patriotic Front. Third, I want to reiterate the ideal that should be important in our subsistence as a nation. These values invite all peoples of Zambia on a journey to create a common destiny. While our excitement is fresh with the courage of GBM’s resignation, we must hurriedly invite him towards redemption so that Zambia as a whole could benefit.

Mugala, GBM & Mambwe/Namwanga Rivalry

When GBM remarks that Mugala is a foreigner he is playing into the common stereotypes and historical rivalries that have existed between the Namwanga/Mambwe peoples and the Bemba-proper. In history, the Bemba-proper people through their chiefs had dominated the Namwanga/Mambwe people. According to historian Rotberg (1964) what actually saved the Namwanga/Mambwe peoples was their quick conversion to Christianity. Christian missionaries helped to keep the Namwanga/Mambwe safe from Bemba interference and skirmishes. However, closely connected to this, is the general distrust between these peoples which has unfortunately survived to the present generation.

However, Kasama has now grown into a modern town. That being the case, it was bizarre to have a person aspiring for a parliamentary seat to use tribe as the reason why Mugala should not be elected for the Kasama seat. Indeed in that by-election, Mugala lost to GBM by a wide margin.

Munshya wa Munshya

“President Sata can’t win the fight against the Bashilubemba” – Munshya

I have written on the absurdity of President Sata’s interference with the Bashilubemba’s decision to elect Chanda Sosala as their Chitimukulu. In the article, When a Cobra Spits at Crocodiles: Why President Sata Shouldn’t Fight the “Bashi Lubemba published in the Zambia Daily Nation and currently featured on, I had explained that it is the Bashilubemba who have the power and authority to determine the ritual fitness of any one to serve as Chitimukulu as determined by Justice  Silomba’s court. This is not President Sata’s job. I have advised in that article that President Sata’s fight with the Bashilubemba is not necessary. In fact, I put it very bluntly: President Sata cannot win the fight with the Bashilubemba.

The Effect of the  Sosala Dispute On Sata’s Popularity

However, in view of GBM’s resignation, I have read of several insinuations from various sections of our society, that in fact, GBM’s resignation might affect Sata’s popularity in the Bemba-speaking areas. Some are in fact, predicting that Sata’s quarrel with the Abena Ng’andu Clan and the Bashilubemba could sink the PF in the Northern and Muchinga Provinces.

If this is what GBM had in mind when he was resigning from the Cabinet then he could be in a rude shock. From his 2009, statement, GBM might be laboring under a very mistaken burden that the Bemba-proper are the defacto owners of Northern (and now Muchinga) province. This is a huge mistake he could be making.

A distinction should be made here. When Sata fights with the Bemba-proper, this battle is not a battle with all the Bemba-speaking peoples of Northern and Muchinga provinces. In fact, some Bemba-speaking peoples such as the Bisa, the Lungu or the Tabwa might not be affected a bit by Sata’s skirmishes. In those areas, Sata could in fact maintain the support he already has. Additionally, with the non-Bemba speaking peoples, Sata’s support might not be negatively affected either. I do not think that the Namwanga or the Mambwe who support Sata will suddenly stop supporting him simply because Sata wants to impose a different Chitimukulu in Kasama.

Defending the Crocodiles

This, therefore, brings us to GBM’s so called resignation. According to GBM he resigned because he is a family member to the current Abena Ng’andu who are the rulers of the Bemba-proper. Sata on the other hand does seem to desire that a different clan, Abena Ngoshe Mukote should take their turn in ruling the Bemba-proper. This proposition is a far stretch. I do not see it happening. President Sata cannot bypass a hundred years of history that favours Abena Ng’andu with the Abena Ngoshe Mukulu nonsense.

However, this is where the subtlety remains: if this fight is between the two clans claiming leadership to the Bemba-proper throne, then it should be characterized as such. While President Sata’s interference is uncalled for, chieftainship disputes are not new in Zambia. In fact, not very long ago, there were issues in Mongu when Lubosi Imwiko became Litunga. The Mbikusita-Lewanika families were not well pleased. To date, there are reports that the Mbikusita-Lewanika royal branch does not have a great rapport with the current ruling family of the Imwikos. But these internal politics of the Lozi ruling dynamics never affected other tribes within the Lozi commonwealth.

Why then should a dispute between Abena Ng’andu and Abena Ngoshe Mukote become an issue that consumes the whole nation? How did we even begin to believe that actually, Chitimukulu dispute would affect all Bemba-speaking peoples? This is not the first time that Sata is quarreling with Abena Ng’andu. Shortly before the 2011 elections Sata is reported to have uttered some words taken as insulting to the Chitimukulu. The Bashilubemba summoned Sata. He refused to go. He claimed that he was a subject of Chief Chikwanda and not Chitimukulu. In that 2011 election, the Bemba-proper gave Sata almost a 100% vote in spite of his alleged disrespect to Chitimukulu.

If GBM’s decision to resign from Sata’s cabinet is about maintaining the supremacy of the Abena Ng’andu, it sits within his own philosophy of tribal superiority that made him to regard Mugala as an outsider to Kasama. It is the same dynamics at play here. If GBM really did not like Sata that much, shouldn’t he have resigned without making it appear like a tribal or clan issue?

There are better reasons why the whole cabinet should resign from Sata’s clueless PF leadership. Ubunga nabudula. Wynter Kabimba is becoming a small despot. There is a huge debt owed by President Sata’s close confidantes. Zambia is accumulating kaloba at unprecedented levels. These are more legitimate reasons why someone should resign from the PF government.

An Invitation

If GBM is serious about what he is doing, he must consciously challenge this tribal picture. He must distance his resignation from internal Bemba-proper ruling dynamics and show us that he has a passion for the whole country. The idea that it is “family that makes him leave cabinet” only goes to play into what I believe is his weakness as a political leader: the elevation of tribe and family above national interest.

Wynter Kabimba might not have been completely off the mark when he suspected that GBM could be an alleged tribalist. There is 2009 tribe issue reinforced clearly by 2013. I still remain unconvinced that GBM means well in this resignation. To convince me otherwise, he should retract his remarks against the Namwangas and invite them to a table of common destiny in their country!

Let us continue conversation on twitter.

Beyond Africanism: A Critique of Joshua Ngoma’s Book “The Rise of the Africans”

 Munshya wa Munshya

“Unless the lions learn how to write”, asserts author Joshua Ngoma, “the hunters will always write their stories.” With this Kenyan proverb, Ngoma begins his 138-page book The Rise of the Africans (2012, Seaburn Publishing). This book, among other things, explains the four principles that Africans should coalesce around to ensure the inevitable and imminent rise of their continent. These pillars are not new. Ghanaian Kwame Nkrumah was among the first to espouse them. These ideals formed the basis for what would later become the rallying cry of Pan-Africanism. Other African leaders and academicians parroted these ideals as well. It is, therefore, quite interesting that half a century later, Ngoma would still find these ideas relevant.

Author Joshua Ngoma

Author Joshua Ngoma

Ngoma is telling a story from his own perspective and the perspective of many Africans. We must all find this positively praiseworthy as a way to begin a conversation on important issues affecting our continent. The author explains African history in a clear and concise manner. He also attempts to explain difficulties Africa faces. Ngoma also deals with the hopes and dreams of Africa’s one billion people. In this book, we see the important imprint of his father, his friends and his brief involved in Zambian politics. He has also done well to do some comparative analysis of both Africa and Asia. His research is impeccable. Certainly, Ngoma’s passion for Africa is unquestionably sizzling.

However, we must join a conversation he has started. For the most part, the four pillars he is espousing as the foundation to direct Africa’s rise have now been discredited. Nkrumahism is no longer defensible. The basic foundation of Pan-Africanism, the perspective from which Ngoma writes, is no longer relevant to 21st century Africa. Africa does not need ideals predicated by futile Pan-Africanist doctrines. Africa needs newer and fresher outlook on its role in the global village. Having been frustrated with pan-Africanism, we must go beyond it and perhaps coalesce around post-Africanism (see Denis Ekpo). Post-Africanism seeks to redeem the African from the illusion of comparison. It interrogates the cracks in the shaky foundations of pan-Africanism. It sees no reason why Africa’s development should be predicated upon definitions imposed by the very people she claims to be free from.

Cecil Rhodes is the patron saint of Pan-Africanism

Cecil Rhodes is the patron saint of Pan-Africanism

The fear of Imperialism?

The first of the four pillars is predicated on the idea that there should be a new Africa, independent and absolutely free from imperialism, organized on a continental scale”. This does sound very good and attractive. However, it is rhetoric loaded with no practical value. As an ideological pillar it flops very miserably. In modern Africa, the Africanists and the Pan-Africanists would like us to believe that European imperialism is Africa’s number one enemy. This might have been the case in 1960 but it is certainly no longer the case. Africa must bury an incessant obsession with the fear of imperialists. Modern Africa cannot claim to be free while at the same time being possessed by an irrational paranoia of the motives of the White skin. I see no connection, whatsoever, between Mugabe’s fear of Europe with his desire to assault his political enemy Tsvangarai using state police. I just do not see the connection between imperialism and the senseless killing going on in Juba, South Sudan today. It would be ridiculous to claim that all the problems in Africa are as a result of the imperialists. Is it the imperialists spending on Zuma’s Nkandla estate? What about the arbitrary arrests of Zambians for possessing Vermox? Is it an imperialist move too?

A modern African is not going to tolerate the nonsense of the fear of imperialism as a way for African leaders to deny basic liberties to the people of Africa. The blame game should end, and Africa should take responsibility.

The idea that Africa must be one and united is perhaps the greatest falsehood Africa has inherited from the colonialist. - Munshya wa Munshya

The idea that Africa must be one and united is perhaps the greatest falsehood Africa has inherited from the colonialist. – Munshya wa Munshya

One and United Africa?

This then should bring me to my next objection to Ngoma’s Africanism: the idea that Africa must be organized on a continental scale, founded upon the “conception of a One and United Africa”. The idea that Africa must be one and united is perhaps the greatest falsehood Africa has inherited from the colonialist. The Africans, themselves, never conceived a united Africa and they never needed to. It was a zygote of European imperialism. It is Cecil Rhodes and King Leopold II who hallucinated of a united Africa “from Cape to Cairo.” For one thing, a united Africa was and still is, far easier to exploit than independent states. Africa as discovered by the colonialist was too volatile to colonize. It had to take some form of “unity” to easily exploit African resources and the Africans themselves. Before Africa jumps on this united Africa bandwagon, we need to ask ourselves how we came to believe that we must be one and united. Africa is not a country and should never be one. We were never meant to be a country. As stated by Ngoma himself, Africa is a complex continent with different cultures and countries. How then did he come to conclude that a united Africa is in Africans’ best interest?

An African science and technology?

The third, pillar is indeed powerful. Africa must draw its strength from modern science and technology. It is quite interesting though that the first casualty of African independence was science and technology. Ngoma highlights the importance of science to the development of Africa. But what he needed to stress even more is the fact that personal apprenticeship is the only way we can actualize the strength of science and technology. To have this strength, Africans do not need to reinvent the wheels of science. Africans must learn from those with strengths in science and technology. This is what Africa needed. But instead of keeping the European innovators in Africa, most of these so called founding fathers of Africa, hounded away Europeans and claimed that they would instead grow their own indigenous “science and technology”. This was disaster, and it showed. Within the decade of independence Kaunda “Zambianized” and “Africanized” by giving crucial science and technology positions to our people who had no clue about science and technology. That is not the way to grow innovation. In a globalized world, innovation in science and technology belongs to everybody. No one country should regard themselves as inferior simply because they have borrowed or stolen technology from others. As noted by Ngoma himself, South Korea is what it is today due to its liberal use of Western technology and patents. Africans must admit that the 1970s and 1980s folly of chasing Whites out of Africa was unreasonable and was a direct attack on Africa’s own opportunity for innovation. Africa needs to be freed from this belief that in order for us to have value, we must make better and newer discoveries than Westerners. Borrowing from Denis Ekpo (2005), there is no need for an African formula for making cement if a Germany has already discovered one. And copying this cement formula from Germany is not a sign that Africa is weak!

The individual and the Community

The fourth pillar should be challenged as well. How did Africa come to believe the idea that “the free development of each individual is conditioned by the free development of all”? What does this even mean? Post-Africanism challenges the misunderstood idea that to the African the individual is not as important as the community. Africans must come to an understanding that they are a “person” first before they become a community of “persons”.

The Rise of The Africans by Joshua Ngoma

The Rise of The Africans by Joshua Ngoma

Africa has been misunderstood as loving community so much as to obliterate the personal value of an individual. The idea that a human being, as a single African being, is important and has personal value should be the bedrock of African development. It is individuals that form a community and not a community the individual. People should not be used as sacrifices at the altar of an abstract nation-state or community; rather it is the individuals whose value should predicate community vision and value. A Post-African society takes the view that Africa must respect the person in order to sustain the community.

Ngoma has started a worthy conversation. I have joined in it. And I hope that many Zambians and other Africans will buy his book and read for themselves why Africa should rise. For me, however, Post-Africanism is newer and fresher to help Africa’s rise. The era of pan-Africanism is over.

Copy of Zambian High Court Decision in Austin Liato v The People (HCZ, 2013)

Copy of the High Court Judgment of Austin Liato v The People (HCZ, 2013). Click on this link and let us know what you think about the reasoning employed by Judges Siavwapa, Mchenga and Sharpe-Phiri.

Austin Liato vs the people-2

Elias Munshya

The Austin Liato Case is an important decision with regard to what should constitute “reasonable suspicion”.

The End of Pan-Africanism: Post-Africanism and the Re-imagination of the African Myth

 Munshya wa Munshya

The era of pan-Africanism is over. Pan-Africanism has flopped. And it has flopped very miserably. It needs to be replaced, as it is no longer appropriate. Whatever is still alive in the beast of pan-Africanism should be exterminated. Africans must give up this dream and replace it with a vision that is more compatible with African realities. The ideology of pan-Africanism, as a template, has failed to help spur the imagination of Africans. It has also failed to realize even the most basic ideals of our people. In earnest, Africa must begin its transition from a pan-African view of society to that inspired by better ideals found in what I would call “post-Africanism”.

Pan-Africanism is that ideology attributed to Kwame Nkrumah (1909 – 1972), which basically states that Africa is one unit and must unite politically and economically to create a world powerhouse. This ideology has found itself recently in the ideals and tenets of the so-called African Union headquartered in Ethiopia. Interestingly, some of the leaders that promote this abstract idea have the worst human rights record. The capital of the African Union itself is host to one of the world’s worst repressive regimes imprisoning journalists and other activists.

Post-Africanism on the other hand is a reimagination of pan-Africanism. Through post-Africanism we question the major premises upon which pan-Africanism is founded. Post-Africanism deconstructs both “Africa” and “Pan-Africanism” to assert that these two concepts have the same colonial source. To realize the dreams of Africans, the individual, the African must form the basic unit of any hopes or ideals of the continent. Specifically, the following are some elements comprising post-Africanism.

First, post-Africanism assumes that the best gift that Africans have, is the gift of the African being – the reality of the African human. This is not to say that the African is different from other humans, but a mere recognition that the African is a human being. And as a human being, the African must be given the chance and opportunity to be just that – human. This assumption is important as it helps the African to be under no pressure to conceptualize herself as more or less than other human beings. This, in many ways delivers the African from the delusion of attempted superiority or inferiority. In this new conceptualization, the notion of Ubuntu expands from the emphasis of only the good virtues to a more realistic assessment embracing the whole compass of the African human – both the good and the bad. In our reassessment, we must not be guilty of the same mistakes committed by colonialists who held to their own version of racial superiority. The African should not overcompensate her emphasis on goodness in order to eradicate historical racial injustices.

Second, to be an African being should also entail a guarantee of basic “humanness.” Unless every power structure anywhere, in Africa and beyond, is able to guarantee basic human value, any collective vision of Africans will only remain but a pipedream, a daydream, or perhaps a fantasy. Recognizing the humanity of Africans means that the people should drive any political change within any African political organization. It is the individuals, the people, who should own the African processes of statehood and its antithesis. It also means that political leaders should desist from treating Africans like animals. You cannot preach independence from Britain in 1964, only to imprison innocents in 2013 for possessing Vermox. You cannot claim to be free from Britain in 1964 when in 2013 the don’t kubeba apparatus continues to intimidate Zambian journalists. In the same week Nelson Mandela died, the Zambian regime found it appropriate to intimidate journalists at the Daily Nation Newspaper for doing their job.

Third, in post-Africanism we claim that the current African tendency to promote a united Africa is disturbing. How did we even come to learn that for us to be a force to be reckoned with, we must transform this continent into a united country? The Pan-Africanist dream of a united Africa is itself a concept that was never born within the unique position of the African reality. When Nkrumah set out attempts to unite Africans as one people, he was merely mimicking the colonial dream. The first pan-Africanists were, in fact, never Africans themselves. And from the time that the colonialists dreamed of a united Africa, African political leaders have been trying to chase this dream that unfortunately should never have been theirs in the first place. The first person to want to unite Africa from Cape to Cairo was British businessman Cecil Rhodes (1853 – 1902). To Rhodes, the saying divide and rule quickly gave way to unite and rule. He knew that to colonize an expansive and massive land such as Africa, unity was far more appropriate to achieve this purpose than division. Hence, he initiated the Rhodesian dream of uniting this virgin continent into one big orchard for the amusement of European voyeuristic conquest. Cecil Rhodes’ royal colleague King Leopold II (1835 – 1909) of Belgium also subscribed to this same dream of a united Africa. Leopold wasted no time in uniting disparate tribes in Central Africa to create his personal massive plantation he bizarrely named the Congo Free State. To this day, in trying to live within the ghost of Leopold this massive Congolese orchard tries to cover-up some of its atrocities by hiding behind curried nomenclature. It is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is even if it is not democratic, not a republic and just which Congo it is nobody knows. African political leaders have carried on both the Leopoldian and the Rhodesian templates of a big and united Africa without asking themselves whether this dream is indeed worth the effort. What is even more worrying is that many ordinary Africans have bought into this hype. And I see views from imminent Africans recycling the Leopoldian ghost that Africa’s rise is deeply buried in its unity.

"The era of Pan-Africanism is over."

“The era of Pan-Africanism is over.”

Fourth, in post-Africanism we seek to deconstruct the modern African nation-state. This deconstruction does not mean that these states should be dismantled, but rather that the African must redefine the birth defects that prevailed at the founding of these states. The African, must desist from looking at the nation-state as the cause of the African being, but rather that it is the African being that creates the nation-state. The African must also deal with the possibility that we need new myths to create cohesion within these nations. We must acknowledge the flawed logic upon which nation-states were formed in Africa. Once this is done, it will become far much easier for Africans to then replace these flawed myths with newer myths. I have listened to many of my people who praise the Zambian nation, and yet have never paused to ask themselves just how we became Zambia and for whom? To answer this question, we might need to be invited on a journey beyond pan-Africanism to post-Africanism.

(c) Elias Munshya & Munshya wa Munshya, 2013




Nurses, Strikes and the Don’t Kubeba Economics of False Promises

 Munshya wa Munshya

Just when you thought the don’t kubeba government had exhausted all of its chaos in its arsenal; it comes up with something even more bizarre than previously thought. It seems in all probability that the PF government has an irresistible penchant for self-sabotage. And the events of this week when they fired nurses go to confirm this. The firing of nurses is quite odd to say the least. Dismissal letters stated that the Public Service Commission, following directives from the President, has fired them for participating in an illegal strike. This is strange because the Public Service Commission does not function at the mercy of the president. In fact, the president is not the supervisor of public workers. The president does not hire and neither can he fire public workers in his own name. The Supreme Court of Zambia settled and checked the president’s role in such matters in at least two cases involving a teacher (Kang’ombe) and a soldier (Miyanda). As such, the fact that President Sata allowed his name to be included in those dismissal letters goes to show the chaotic ethic behind the firing of these nurses. But this should be expected, the don’t kubeba government is one of the most disordered governments we have ever had in recent history. And by their fruits we have known them.

It is quite absurd that while President Sata and his don’t kubeba government have increased their salaries four times since assuming office, they have found it rather insulting that the nurses should equally demand some form of reparations. What this PF government should have done is to show sympathy towards all public workers by showing that they are equally committed to the same sacrifices that the public workers are being subjected to.

The firing is also improper due to the impact it has on the public service itself. Zambia runs a severe shortage of health care workers. We have about 0.7 nurses per 1000 of the population. If this is not a crisis, I do not know then what else would define one. With these numbers it is prudent that the State exercises both wisdom and diplomacy in the way they attend to sensitive professionals such as nurses. As mentioned above, had the government shown some restraint, I have no doubt that the nurses would have gone back to work as negotiations continue. What we need from this government is not how many nurses it is going to fire, but rather how many nurses it is going to hire. And at the rate we are going, we could as well wake up one day with all the nurses gone. It does seem that this government only cares for the stomachs of politicians, and does not care for the health workers in our country. And when you have no plan on the table for good leadership, the words “you are fired”, become the easiest thing you default to.

This government created the crisis among the health workers, and it has to be this government to resolve it. The nurses are demanding, simply, that the government pays them what is already due to them. This government promised and it has failed to deliver. But that is not the primary problem. We are all human and to err is human. But instead of meeting this with humility, the Michael Sata government has refused to accept responsibility for these misapprehensions and has instead resorted to threats and more threats for the men and women in white.

"Zambian nurses need our support" - Munshya wa Munshya

“Zambian nurses need our support” – Munshya wa Munshya

This firing is also surprising in the sense that just a few weeks ago, it was the President himself who was threatening KCM with unexplained sanctions if they fired even a “single miner”. And yet today, the same president has caused to be written, on his behalf, over 300 dismissal letters to helpless nurses. I think if this government truly believes in employment for citizens, it is bizarre that with one tongue it would be fighting for miners, and yet with another go ruthlessly against the nurses for demanding that which was promised them.

Perhaps the don’t kubeba government need reminding that they should stop making empty promises. You can’t run a modern government based on promises and more unfulfilled promises. Do not promise all this stuff you keep singing about. Making all these outlandish promises is good, only for a week. When the time to fulfill the promises comes, you get to be labeled a liar. But instead of heeding to this advise, I know what this PF government will do. It will even promise more stuff that it cannot deliver. Currently, the president is all over the place promising the building of new universities, new tuntembas and new roads. I have even lost count of just how many so-called link fimo fimo roads President Sata has been “commissioning.” But the question is, “does he have the cash to do all this”? Of course he doesn’t, and the shylocks from New York will soon realize our economic folly and the little kaloba we keep borrowing might dry up as well.

In moments like this, we need level headed leadership. Level headed in the sense that the leadership will be able to tell the truth. But more than that, these times demand a leadership that can show some restraint and sacrifice. As mentioned above, it is not good that the president and his cabinet would always find the money to increase their salaries and yet they go mute when it comes to delivering their salary promises to the nurses.

Our nation has seen the difficult conditions under which nurses are working. The nurse to people ratio is just too high. This is unacceptable. As such, the nurses should be in our thoughts and prayers. To demand that this government does the right thing should not land nurses in trouble. As a people we have to exert the necessary pressure on this government so that those fired among nurses are reinstated. Reinstating is just the right thing to do. In the meantime, the nurses’ fight for better conditions of service is a noble fight and the whole country should rally behind them.

In the meantime, when the chosen few in the PF government fall sick, they runaway to South Africa to seek medical help. There in South Africa they pay heftily to have South African nurses take care of them. And when they are lucky to return alive, they return with vengeance, not to hire more nurses, but fire even more. Absurd it is, but it is definitely not surprising. This is the don’t kubeba way of doing things.

(c) 2013, Munshya wa Munshya

Chibamba Kanyama’s Controversy: A Review of “Business Values for our Time”

Munshya wa Munshya

Business Values for our Time is an over 300 paged book authored by consultant and entrepreneur Chibamba Kanyama. It has four parts spread across twenty-one chapters. Part one of the book focuses on Zambian tribal cultures as well as Indian and Jewish cultural ethics. In part two, the book deals with mainly mechanics and dynamics of investments, loans, borrowing culture and most interestingly chapter nine deals with the question of managing relatives. In part three, the book takes the stories of various Zambian entrepreneurs and derives various theories and values that have made them successful. In part four, Mr. Kanyama discusses various issues to do with attributes and culture for the business entrepreneur.

Chibamba Kanyama

Chibamba Kanyama

This book has generated a lot of discussion and controversy in academic as well as business and cultural circles. Following the advice of the author himself when answering some of his critics, I waited patiently to acquire a copy of my own which I could read and verify for myself whether the criticism levelled against the book are fair or not. I ordered the book through, and after a total payment of about $57.00 my book was couriered to me.

The Book’s Virtues

This book has undoubtedly several virtues. First it is a very personal book. Mr. Kanyama takes his personal, professional and even family life to teach and illustrate important business principles and values that are so critical to the success of the entrepreneurial spirit among Zambians. It is these personal stories, and illustrations that make the book so clearly relevant to all. The reader would see himself in the stories about credit, loans and the everyday struggles of having to finance small-scale to medium scale business.

Second this book is motivational. While Mr. Kanyama has rightly and frankly lambasted some bad-for-business qualities such as laziness, after reading this book you get motivated to begin working on your dreams. In his own words he says, “I want all those who have gone through the pages of this book to start making those critical decisions in their lives. I urge everyone to investigate and assess the various business opportunities that are before them.” This is exactly how I felt when I finished reading this monumental work.

Third, this book as its name suggests is truly loaded with business wisdom. By addressing issues of loans and how they can affect business, Mr. Kanyama pinpoints an important element which confronts most businesses and most of our people today. In this book, Mr. Kanyama teaches the role, the dangers and indeed the blessing of borrowing. He goes into principles of how one can assess his business financial needs and the needed due diligence necessary before approaching a lender for credit.

Fourth, this book is great in that it translates what business students learn in class into everyday language. Mr. Kanyama takes some of the language he used from years of study in economics and corporate finance and translates them into everyday language that ordinary folks may understand. In this book, principles of finance, entrepreneurship, and to some extent corporate accountability are given their needed bridge into the hearts and minds of ordinary folks.

Fifth, the book goes against the current in the sense that it identifies and attacks some elements within African culture that make us perpetually dependent and poor. He aptly addresses matters of extended families and how an unbridled cultural desire to please all family members may be bad for good business. Mr. Kanyama mentions how many businesses in Zambia have failed simply because of excessive and perpetual dependency from extended family structures.

Sixth, the book is also biographical in nature. In addition to its discussion of Mr. Chibamba Kanyama’s own family background, the book also mentions the likes of Mr. Bwalya Chiti, Mr. David Nama, Mr. Costain Chilala, and many other Zambian entrepreneurs. The stories of all these people show the effect that values of integrity, foresight, vision, courage and resilience have on success. There is nothing that is as inspiring as reading about the everyday struggles and triumphs of successful people. Generally in Zambia, very few successful people write about their stories. There is a dearth of biography in our country. And as such, a book such as this one helps to fill that gap.

The Book’s Controversies

Notwithstanding these virtues that Mr. Chibamba Kanyama’s book has, it is rather unfortunate that it equally contains controversial notions. These controversies do have the potential to make an otherwise good book seem flawed. I must confess that in its entirety, this is a good book and every Zambian should buy and read it, but it does contain some concepts that are not only erroneous but also prejudiced. Most of these controversial ideas are found in Part One of the book. I wish these controversies were small or minimal, but unfortunately they are not. As such, my suggestion to Mr. Chibamba Kanyama is that he removes these controversial passages from the future editions of this great book.

These controversies have unfortunately become the mainstay of various book reviews. This has created unnecessary distractions from the most important aspects that Mr. Kanyama may have intended for this book.

Part one is essentially, a part of the book where Mr. Chibamba Kanyama has gone to take some cultural characteristics of various cultures in order to derive out of these cultures principles and ethics of business. The part has four chapters: the first chapter deals with what Mr. Kanyama calls a focus on Zambian culture, whereas chapter two deals with Indian business values and influence, in chapter three he then addresses what he calls the “levers of Jewish Success”. Chapter four, a personal family story of Kanyama’s is good and it is here that his book should have started from.

I must now then turn to these ideas and try to, as much as possible, give reasons why Part One of “Business Values for Our Time” is flawed and why it should be removed from the future editions.

Chapter one of the book focussing on Zambian tribes, assumes that there are 73 tribes which can be narrowed down to seven tribes. This is simply not the case at all. The many Zambian tribes cannot be narrowed down to seven tribes. The seven languages on radio were not done to narrow down the tribes to seven. It was more of a political decision than clear cultural or tribal considerations. Further, it is equally inaccurate to portray that some Zambian tribes are offshoots of some bigger tribes. Mr. Kanyama may have needed to shed further light on this point. What he writes here is tantamount to assuming that because much of Luapula for example is Bemba speaking, the Luapulans are therefore offshoots of the Bemba tribe. This is just like thinking that the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh are the offshoots of the English simply because they use the English language. But why should this matter? It matters because it is this seed of thought that Mr. Kanyama uses to classify, categorize and then label the tribes. Additionally, already in a book about business values and entrepreneurship the reader gets bogged down into rebutting these inaccuracies instead of focussing on important business principles. Chapters one to three are unnecessary distractions.

The book, in both Chapter One and Chapter Two, makes several claims based on prejudice. For example, when discussing the Bembas Mr. Kanyama claims that the Bembas are risk takers by nature who are good at networking skills and pro-activity. The difficulty here is that these qualities attributed to the Bembas could be equally attributed to some other individuals in Zambia. Additionally, without clear controlled studies of how many people and how many tribes have invested in the stock market it is wild for Mr. Kanyama to claim that “the Bemba have eagerly participated in the stock market, and most of them have offshore investments”. Where did he get this information?

He also claims that the Tongas are the most accommodating peoples simply because most white farmers have settled in Southern Province more than any other province. I thought most white farmers could have settled in Southern Province due to several other factors such as availability of water, good climate, fertile soils and proximity to Lusaka. About the Lozis, he labels them as a people who “exert a lot of authority with margins of domination and superiority”. According to him, they are proud and do demean other cultures and tribes. Really?

On the Ngonis, he labels them as fair, tenacious and trustworthy peoples. He makes a quite wild insinuation that once you enter into a business with a Ngoni, you do not need to spend money on contracts, because they are trustworthy people. The best way to approach these matters is not to attribute such moral qualities to a tribe but to mention that there are some among the Ngonis that are trustworthy just as there are some that are villains. Trustworthiness is a personal quality and not a tribal quality. Further he paints the Ngonis as fair people in the way they treat their neighbours. Mr. Kanyama even attempts to use history to boulder this fact. But historically, it is clear that as settlers the Ngonis were not benevolent people sharing resources with their neighbours. When they marched from the Zulu empire to modern day Zambia and Tanzania the Ngonis were not in thoughtful business negotiations, they were about war! And the ChiKunda peoples received the brunt of their brutality.

After going on, making all these unsubstantiated prejudicial claims he reserves the bitterest analysis for the Luvales. I must mention here that when the North-westerners met in Solwezi a few months ago and derided Chibamba Kanyama, I could see the reason why. He links the Luvale tribe with witchcraft and even ritual murders. He claims that, “ritual murders are always associated with business interests of either Asian or Luvale entrepreneurs.” I am again forced to ask the question, where did Mr. Kanyama get the “always” from? Additionally, he paints the Luvales as people lacking academic sophistication. Granted that he praises them as a people with “cultural values of honesty, integrity, love and hard work”, the damage has already been done by his prejudiced view of a people.

On the Indians in chapter two, he praises their hard work and family commitments. But he nevertheless finds opportunity to paint them as flouters of labour regulations and even tax evaders. Immediately following this observation he then puts a disclaimer and says, while tax evasion should not be generalized as descriptive of all Indians it is nevertheless the way they are perceived by the government. It is not right to paint a people in that light. Mr. Kanyama should have been more discerning and sensitive to a people. There are several prejudices and innuendos that fly by in society, but once you publish them, they are given the force of authority. In this case regardless of the moral ineptitude of Indian businesses, publishing such innuendos as fact is not fair.

Why Every Zambian Should Read It!

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

I am sad that in reviewing, Mr. Chibamba Kanyama’s book I have spent a lot of time, critiquing the detriments of Part One. This should have been avoided. Mr. Kanyama should see that this Part One has had a very negative effective on his otherwise great book. He should not have included it in the book in the first place. It is demeaning, outlandish and prejudicial to say the least. As such, Mr. Kanyama’s book should start at page 43. Everything before page 43 does not help bolster his arguments for Business Values for our Time. Except for what lies from page 1 to page 43, I greatly recommend the rest of the book to all Zambians.

NOTE: This book review was originally published in 2010. (c) Munshya wa Munshya 2010, 2013