Saturday, September 8, 2007

Weekend treat - Intambi! (Morality)

Mwankole brought these two interesting news items for Kashikulu, as a weekend treat.
How interesting to note that , while desperation threatens morals back home, to the point that a Zambian would accept a job to kill people abroad, in the US this week , evidence that perhaps morals at least in matters of dressing, are beginning to come back to the western world.

In a country where most people have no job, and those who do are rarely paid, you would expect a horde of applicants for an occasional position that requires only basic skills and pays US$3,500 a go, plus a nice house to live in and a Lexus to drive.
But the job's been vacant for 12 years. Finally the government has given up searching for an applicant at home, and has gone abroad to find someone. And its search has been successful.
From this week, Mr Jonas Chilembe, 34, of Zambia, is the official Zimbabwean State Executioner.
Mr. Chilembe will not find himself that busy. There are only seven condemned men on our death row at present, even though no-one has been executed here since 1995
. Source The First Post ( )

Kyla Ebbert, 23, was about to board a plane to Tucson from San Diego when a Southwest airlines customer representative approached her. He told her that she would have to change her outfit before boarding.
Ebbert, a Hooters waitress was wearing a mini-skirt and a tank-top covered up by a summer sweater.
She explained to the representative that she had no clothes to change into, that she was heading to Arizona for a doctors appointment. Still, they insisted that her outfit was inappropriate.
What was inappropriate, she asked. All of it, he replied.

Abc15news ( )

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Therapy of Music

Yesterday, humanity lost a voice of exceptional depth and quality. The tenor voice of the late Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti struck, even in Kashikulu’s heart, that rare resonance of the understanding of human pain, anguish and sorrow that only music can relate, across diverse people, language and culture.
It struck me also, how music invigorates and soothes the troubled lives of so many people that live in poverty or oppression, around the world. In Zambia, the lyrics of Chibaya baya by the late P.K Chishala come to mind;
Nangu Bali nechlilo tukaya basansamunsha (even in mourning I’ll entertain them)

Oh how many hungry souls those therapeutic words have soothed to sleep, under the skies of those dark African nights, light up only by the brilliance of stars in the heavens.

Last May, my wife and I attended a concert given in Chicago, at the Allstate Arena by André Rieu a gifted Dutch violinist. It was evident at this concert that even here in the land of plenty, there are still many suffering anguish and sorrow that only music can help soothe.

Mwankole assures me, there has been a renaissance of Zambian music back home, this is very good news indeed. And I hope, even the Lusaka Music society that I was a member of, still manage that occasional concert especially for Christmas.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Hidden Costs of Doing Business with China

The scene when Kashikulu walks into the Wal-Mart store in his neighborhood in Chicago USA, may be far cry to scene the Kashikulu would encounter, when walking into City Market in Lusaka a few years ago. The origin of the majority of the products on sell in both markets however, is ironically the same; they all bear the famous Made in China label.

In the past weeks, Wal-Mart has pulled hundreds of thousands of toys with the label made in China- off its shelves. Mattel the largest, US toy distribution firm has recalled the toys supplied to Wal-Mart stores, because their Chinese manufacturers used lead based paint on the toys. Americans are so fearful, of the serious threat, lead poisoning poses to their children; they have spared no effort to curb this threat.
My former roomie in Lusaka reliably informs me, there is no talk or action on such fears in Zambia. In fact my roomie continued, our President Mwanawasa has created such an enabling environment that, Chinese businesses have taken on every manner of commence and trade including mines, shops, roads repairs even poultry farming. POULTRY FARMING!!! Kashikulu exclaimed, yes said ba roomie - bafya abantu naba Mwankole kumushi! Kashikulu responded.
Am, no expert in poultry farming, but don’t poultry farmers use hormones and steroids on chicks to enhance growth and prevent disease?
The international media is awash with reports of some Chinese doctors manufacturing and administering fake hormones and anti biotics to human patients. Is there a chance, some of these Chinese poultry farmers in Zambia, might source and use these fake and dangerous Chinese hormones or anti biotics on the chicks they are raising in Zambia.
Think of the impact and threat this would introduce, to Zambia’s food chain. I do not mean to alarm anyone, but the medical symptoms of exposure to such factors may take a long time to manifest and our hospitals may not even have the expertise to correctly diagnose the cause.
Its not just humans at risk in Zambia, Mwankole your life is also at stake here- you eat chicks too. Please tell the Zambian Government there is a global buyer beware advisory for Chinese products, they need to begin looking into the safety of Chinese imports into Zambia.

The Odd Politicians!

Last night, the Republican presidential candidates for next years US elections, held an interesting debate on the Fox news network. I could not help but, notice how similar the business of politics, across diverse cultures - The old proverbial Bemba saying, pansaka tapabula chiwelewele has some application even, in the grand old USA.

The leading candidate Rudy Giuliani outlined strong and popular views on US national security, the economy (taxation), civil liberties and immigration. However just like our Newstead Zimba he struggles on family values. Like Mr. Zimba in that famous ZNBC news exposé by Lackson Nthani (I wonder how he’s doing these days), Giuliani is on his third wife. When a young man sitting and having a meal, in a restaurant asked Giuliani a question on family values - via live TV feed linked, to the venue of the debate, University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore center (My good Zambian blogger Cho, will love the role ICT played here) you could sense the man’s anguish and frustration, at having the substance or his lack of family values been brought up in a public forum.

Then there is, the always odd but sometimes wise Ron Paul, he some how reminds me of the late Zambian politician Mr. Chama Chakobomka. Ron Paul has as bad a chance in wining the US presidential elections as had Mr. Chakobomka in that Zambian election. And yet, one can not help but pay attention to what this man is saying. Though he holds pretty radical and unpopular views such as abolishing or reducing the role of the FBI and CIA, curtailing presidential executive privileges and ending the war in Iraq, immediately. In last night’s debate, he probably drew the most applause, especially when he said;
We have warrantless searches, we’ve lost habeas corpus. We’ve had secret prisons around the world and we have torture going on.
That’s un-American, and we need to use the power of the presidency to get it back in order, in order to take care of us and protect this country and our liberties. (,2933,295886,00.html

Does that not sound like the views, one late Chama Chakobomka would hold (God rest his soul), what do you think?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Zambian Government turns down US base – Missed opportunities Part 2

My favorite English teacher at Munali secondary school once admonished me to avoid using flowery and complex words in composition – I am still trying madam. In honor of her timeless advice - let me attempt to explain the opportunity, Zambians have missed, in terms perhaps, every Zambian will understand by using a simple hypothetical example;

If the management of Manchester united and Arsenal football clubs in the UK, decided to build a stadium in Lusaka Zambia, the size of old Trafford. When the stadium is complete, they then, fly half their combined English fans to Zambia, to watch the two teams play a game every day for the next twenty years.

Is there anyone in Zambia that would object and resist this?

Does anyone in Zambia, see National Airports Corporation hiring more traffic controllers to deal with the numbers of flights, that would land at Lusaka international airport?

Does anyone see the car hire and hotel businesses in Lusaka, make a kill and expanding their capacity to meet customer demand?

Does anyone see producers of food, bottled water, beer etc increasing their production and employing more Zambians?

You can replace the stadium and fans in this example; with a holy shrine and the heaven on earth crew, if you like ,the fundamentals will still remain the same, the turned down US base was an opportunity lost!

How I wish, one Kashikulu had said, wait a minute Zambians, lets analyze this idea- when the guy that talked about oil from grass came to Zambia in 1980’s. Biofuel is now, big business. Our friends in Brazil are no longer dependant on Middle East oil, while our Indeni fuel refinery is rusting for want of crude oil, that Zambia can no longer afford to buy.
See this video Virginia Farm Bureau - Biofuels in Virginia about farmers in Virginia, USA benefiting from bio fuel production-

Mwankole tells me, Bashikulu has weighed in, on the topic. I hope Bashikulu’s advice to Zambians this time will help, redeem the lost opportunities that have earned our once proud nation the titles of the World’s poorest and now because of Kabwe lead poisoning the most toxic.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Kashikulu on Mwanawasa' Challenge to Zambians Abroad

President Mwanawasa has called on Zambians living abroad to consider investing back home to help boost the economy.
Mr. Mwanawasa said Zambians living abroad should help improve the country's foreign exchange earnings by sending financial capital resources into the
national economy.
The President challenged the Zambians to emulate other foreign nationals living in Zambia who are externalizing resources, to their countries of origin for investment.

Today marked the official end of summer in the US, it has been so hot this year, temperatures have scaled beyond previous records of summer highs. I was just beginning to calm my nerves and catch my breath, after discussing how Zambia missed an opportunity when our President refused to host a US base – when Mwankole brought news of this challenge from President Mwanawasa.
I am beginning to get really concerned, about the perception back home; about the life Zambians in the west live. I won’t speak for every Zambian abroad, but I have been in the US long enough to capture this general scenario.
So, after saving money over many years of working for the Government of the republic of Zambia at pittance; might I add that they could not even pay the poor salary on time, sometimes for months on end, one uncle western-union managed to buy an air ticket to America. Upon arriving in the US, uncle western-union had to navigate the lengthy and elaborate immigration process to acquire a work permit. This process would have been easier, maybe shorter if uncle did not have to repeat himself four maybe ten times to immigration officers before they could understand what he was saying. You must understand English is not uncle’s first language, his poorly paid primary school teacher (am still very grateful Mrs. X) made things even worse by teaching uncle the wrong pronunciation of very useful words like queue (she would say it as kwe -oo).
After getting through immigration, uncle had to find a job fast; he is the only Zambian in this strange neighborhood. The landlord would not buy his promise, to pay his rent the next month; bills were quickly piling up on him. Fortunately, uncle had learnt how to survive on very little while working for GRZ; he soon got his welfare improved. The day he bought his first TV, changed everything, as he was flipping through the channels he saw a report on Zambian orphans by World vision. They showed this young girl in Kasama that relies on the sponsorship of a US family to make ends meet- uncle was so moved. He picked up the phone and called his extended family in Zambia to inquire on their health. Since that call his phone has never stopped ringing, his cousins, nieces and nephews use their Celtel and Cell Z mobile phones to page his home phone. They don’t even care about the time difference, they just want uncle to go to Western union and send them money for food, uniforms, transport you name it!
Unless our President wants Zambians abroad to emulate other Africans, running internet fraud scams, that trick Americans into wiring money to their countries - Mwankole, please tell bakateka Kashikulu is already sending more than 50% of his income to Zambia.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Zambian Govt turns down US base - A Missed opportunity!

The Zambian government has turned down a request by the United States to establish a military base in the South African country."As Zambia, we will not be giving sanctuary and I think I can speak on behalf of the SADC region that none of us is interested,' said President Mwanawasa, while rejecting United States' plan to establish a military base in his country.In addition, as the chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), The Zambian president however added that each country has its own authority to decide on strategic matters. Source
Is it just me or does anyone out there sense the folly of that statement by our President. Are not these words from the same mouth that was just recently in Washington and London, desperately begging for any kind of foreign investment into Zambia. This in my view is talking from both sides of your mouth and I think Zambia just missed an opportunity for long term investment and the needed attention of the World’s greatest superpower. (Apatebeta Lesa Tapafuka ichushi).
I feel the President, his cabinet and the Zambian people should have given this request a sober reflection perhaps in the old traditional setting of an Insaka. In this insaka setting, am sure strong voices would have been raised in disgust, at the US created nightmare in Iraq by zealous middle aged men, recovering from the hangover of the failed grandeurs of the old soviet era. This opinion maybe legitimate in the interim, as survey after global survey shows more people in the world are less favorable and fearful of US dominance and increasing presence in the world.
Then a much younger, but even more zealous loud voice high on the toxic lyrics of Kanye West, T.I, T-Pain and Beyonce would rise in praise of the good old USA. How the US is the most beautiful country in the world, where every dream comes true. This voice would rant about the beauty of democracy, how free people are more successful in governance, business, education and live happier lives. In fact the young voice would continue, so many people want to immigrate to US, so much so the US government has reasoned it is cheaper and perhaps better to bring the US model to the rest of the world than have everyone come here - this is exactly what the US is doing in Iraq.
After an earful of the two voices talking, an older and much wiser voice, would rise from near slumber and ask the all important questions;
What would a US base in Zambia, really mean for the average Zambian?
What long term benefits would this base bring?
What threats would Zambia face if this base was built there?

My dear young and middle aged voices, our country Zambia, was once strong and important. In those days, before you were both born, the world was at war, as it is in a way now, our copper sold for a lot of money- believe it or not a single unit of our currency was even worth two British pounds. So much has happened since those glorious times, our country is now afflicted by a debilitating poverty that threatens so many lives. Our once productive industries have collapsed, businesses are choked by high interest rates and inflation - public institutions are under funded and overwhelmed by a growing population.
A US base may not fix everything but the presence of 20,000 to 50,000 US servicemen in Zambia would generate a lot of business. These servicemen would need so many services food, fuel, telecommunications, roads, hospitals and schools for their families. They would employ so many Zambians directly, and many Zambian businesses ranging from building, repairs, cleaning etc would suddenly have more customers. If our government, negotiated the contract in the interest of the Zambian people, the US base would continue to use Zambian businesses for many years to come. Our economy would get the constant push it needs and the benefits would be felt everywhere, even in Solome village in Mpika.
Would Zambia then, be the target of Islamic fundamentalists burnt on hitting US interests anywhere, maybe but rememmber because Zambia is a declared Christian nation, they already hate our nation. The benefit the base would bring to our nation outweigh any threats out there, in fact the real threat, poverty that this base would assuage, kills so many Zambians daily.
I only hope, the mwankole(bird) that brought this news of this missed opportunity to my house in Chicago, makes another fly by State house in Lusaka and gives President Mwanawasa, Kashikulu’s reaction to the news from home.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Factors of Zambia's Settlement decisions

These two articles on Afrigator Zambia caught my attention.

1) Chief Sandwe appeals for help on roads, water By Christopher Miti in Chipata Thursday August 30, 2007 [04:00] CHIEF Sandwe of the Nsenga people in Petauke District has appealed to Msanzala Member of Parliament Peter Daka to help address the problem of roads and water in the area. In an interview, chief Sandwe said his area had a lot of problems that needed to be addressed by the government….

2) Sinazongwe hunger could worsen - chief Mweemba by Tovin Ngombe in Sinazongwe Thursday August 30, 2007 [04:00] SENIOR chief Mweemba of the Tonga people in Southern Province has said the hunger situation in Sinazongwe District could worsen next month if the government does not send relief food….
Chief Mweemba said Kafwambila, Siampondo, Muuka, Denganza, and Kanchindu were the most affected areas. Chief Mweemba said people living in Siameja had no land to cultivate on because the area was too rocky
. Source Afrigator Zambia.

Reflecting on what factors determine the choice of population locations in Zambia, I found myself musing over our history. There are several diverse population groupings across Zambia, with a dormant tribe in each region, the Lozi in the west, the Tonga in the south, Ngoni in the east, and the Bemba in the north. The ancestors of these major ethnic groups settled the regions they dominate in the 18th century with initial intentions to;

i) Escape other warring tribes
ii) Acquire virgin land.
iii) Establish their own traditional administrative system consistent with their custom.

Since then population growth, interaction with other cultures, adoption of western values, systems of governance and land administration, advances in education, technology, agriculture and information sharing have changed the dynamics. Now, more than 80% of the Zambian population lives, in or near urban cities. Why then do some still choose to live in areas that are too remote - cut off from easy reach of public service infrastructure, that in some cases, areas that can no longer sustain safe human habitation.
Resettling people from some of these areas that are too remote, to other safe and available locations closer to public infrastructure would make it easier for government to provide basic services and emergency interventions when needed. It would also enhance national development by leveraging governments costs for providing basic universal services such education, medical, agricultural etc to large concentrations of population vs. remote, diverse and sparsely distributed populations. For example Govt recently allocated ZK 24bn to build two high Schools in the eastern province. In Chama there was debate among two remote population groups (Mangwere and Manga) on where to build the schools, in the end the population in Manga won the debate, they argued that Mangwere is more remote and is inaccessible during the rainy season ( The impact of this decision on the population in Mangwere is continued isolation and further marginalization.
Would you support a move by the Zambian government to resettle people from locations that are too remote, whose only valid reason for staying there is their sentimental attachment to their traditional land against constant threats of starvation caused by non arable lands, constant disease, lack of water, medical and education facilities?