Sunday, October 16, 2016

Two wasted decades of my borrowed life... (A fiction Story)

Growing up in the streets of Kitwe, the only City with a surname in my great nation Zambia, Nkana-Kitwe, I had it all; a good Life, a caring Family, a Great School and great friends. As misfortune would have it, I aligned myself with a seemingly great group of boys and girls. This my new gang of friends was dubbed “The Gumbos” by all group members. Joining the group was informal but strict, all one needed to do is show an intense desire to do everything as the norms of the group demanded. Most outsiders envied the love, the unusual friendship, the nice clothes, the money, that was characteristic of members of “The Gumbos” but outsiders never understood what being a member of that group entailed. Once you became a member and became aware of what was expected of you, all new members tried hard to leave including myself. But one untold rule was that once one became a member, one couldn’t get out of the group, not without fatal consequences. And thus started my sorry journey in “The Gumbos” at a tender age of 18, right out of high school. I tried to get out of it at the beginning and every time I would get a severe beating because no one was allowed to leave at their own accord lest they divulge the secrets of the gang to outsiders. This caused all group members to be scared of leaving. To those who weren’t members, we were just another group of friends, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Let me give you some insights into what this group “The Gumbos” was. It was a group of drunks, smokers, and thieves-we were young hardened criminals. To make money as a gang, we were required to go out and steal, from innocent  people’s homes including our own, from unsuspecting shoppers in the town centre and from just anyone passing us by alone who was weak enough but appeared to have money and valuables on them.

Our young lives were being threatened daily and we couldn’t bring ourselves to tell anybody outside the group, not even our parents for fear of being branded snitches. With time beer drinking, smoking, promiscuity and stealing became a daily and normal part of my life. I became so used that I never saw the wrong I was doing, when my parents would sit me down to talk to me, I would just sit there pretending to be listening, I was deviant, I was happy, I was scared but the group’s ways of life had became internalized in me. It felt great not being broke all the time and being a part of this group which felt like my new family, where everyone gave each other a warm attention and affection.
One afternoon, an afternoon like any other, a year after I had joined “The Gumbos” as we sat smoking cigarettes with my friends, a beautiful woman with a laptop bag and expensive Gucci handbag passed us by. Her beauty was not what attracted us to her but what she carried appeared very valuable to our thieving eyes. And so in our own language we communicated. Jayjay and Sincha my friends started following her behind with me and TomTom ahead of her. We had kind of enveloped her minus her even suspecting from the nice clothes we wore.

She took a corner and and JayJay and TomTom pounced on her, she tried to fight them off, she dropped her laptop bag and ran towards me and TomTom not knowing that we were together. TomTom then started dragging her into a nearby bush, I froze. From the time I joined “The Gumbos” it was my first time I actually saw a poor weak woman being overpowered and dragged on the gravel road like a pocket of sand. Sincha and JayJay hit me hard to reawaken me to the danger we were in. we needed to finish quickly and run away. I grabbed her handbag, looking inside I saw a lot of batches of money. We heard someone approaching, looking behind us, we saw two men; we needed to scamper in different directions to make it hard for whoever was coming to find us. I ran with all my might, bag in hand but they caught up with me. My friends never came back for me. They overpowered me and called the police.

When the police arrived they handcuffed me and threw me in their car, and I saw an ambulance stop behind the police vehicle for the bleeding woman, I pleaded with her but she was in so much pain to even pay attention to me.

I was put in cells and later moved to Kamfinsa prison. My case did not go to trial until 1 year 9 months later, I pleaded guilty and was slapped 15 years rigorous imprisonment. My supposed gang friends were never found and they never even once visited me in prison. My own birth family scarcely visited. I had disappointed them, they had abandoned me. They had great plans for my life, plans to go to college and make something of my life but I never listened.

But I had one interesting visitor every other weekend, my victim. The same woman who happened to be the reason I was behind bars. She encouraged me and helped me to look at my life differently. I served my term and now I have to start from scratch.

A new beginning awaits me. I have another chance to prove to my family that I am worth something. Being accepted back into our society, the real society isn’t easy at all after serving time behind bars. Starting over, much less getting a job is so hard, but I will not give up. I’ll do my utmost to never return to my life as I knew it 15 years ago.  A lot has changed from the time I walked these streets. I wasted almost two decades of my life all because I wanted to belong to a group that caused many a heartache.

I do not have everything figured out yet, but I can confidently say-STILL! I STAND! That is my motto now to be able to get through each day. I long to pay back to society for all the evils, all the heartaches, all the tears and misery I caused. I am a new man, if only everyone can look at me in that way. I have changed, I’m turning my life around, please forgive me and accept me and most of all help me to be a better man.

I urge all my readers never to get trapped in a life of shortcuts. Whatever you do, put in your level best. Even if you are a sweeper let people say, there goes a great sweeper. Do not be like me. Time wasted is never recovered. Trust me, I know. Honesty, truth, sincerity and love are the virtues that you should always strive to possess. I went into prison a young lost man but now I have found myself. Still! I Stand.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lazarous Banda my best friend finally said “I do”

Lazarous Banda
Let me begin my blog by apologizing to Lazarous for revealing hidden pictures from way back that were in my archives down memory lane. I am sure even Mrs. Julie Banda has never seen some of these pictures... May this be a wedding present for you as I promised to reveal these pictures once we are both married so that our wives can see where we have come from and how God has been with us thus far! 

It was indeed a privilege to be the chief Best Man on my best friend’s wedding last Saturday the 27th of September ,2014 in Lusaka. Preparations for the big day were underway many months before the wedding itself and pressure kept mounting for the groom to be as the Chief Best Man (myself) was working about 350 km or so away from Lusaka. I gave him my word that I will be in Lusaka for rehearsals on weekends and get leave for the week of the big day. This I tried to do and my employer agreed to give me days off so that we can finalize on logistics in Lusaka in readiness of the big day.

From L - R: Jessie, myself  & Lazarous
in grade 10
I have known Lazarous for over 14 years now; I came to know him for the first time in school in our 10th grade when we were very young and energetic boys. He went by the name 'Lazzy' and I was called 'Obvi'. My dad, having changed his carreer from a teacher to Pastor, moved to Choma to take up full time ministry at Choma Central Baptist Church and eventually we all had to relocate from Kitwe to Choma, it was a wonderful experience for me as Choma is the place where I was born 31 years ago and it was my first time to get back to Choma, not so with my siblings, they never liked Choma but with time they liked the quiet town. It was not easy for me to adjust academically as I had just passed to grade 10 and then in the second term at Kitwe boys High School, I had to get a transfer to Choma High. Kitwe boys High School was a boys school while Choma High was a Co-education school, I was a shy boy when it can to talking to the opposite sex and for once in my life time I had been put in a class full of girls. It was indeed a hard time for me to adjust

I started school at Choma High School in the second term and I was in the same class with Lazarous, he was our class monitor in 10B and he is the one who made me feel loved while being a new boy in our class and school at large.  In those days, grade 8s and 10s were mocked a lot and called (Quiyoz) especially if they were experiencing boarding life for the very first time. Lazarous was at Choma High from grade 8 and so he had enough knowledge on how to do things the right way and handle difficult situations.

From L-R: Myself, Lazarous, Robbie, Bob, John, Roma, Muswacha, Kelvin & Kanji in the Luangwa Dingo
This was the Sugo table in our final year at Choma High School - 2002
As time went on we became good buddies and during our holidays, away from school work, we started spending time together and visiting one another. Since he was familiar with Choma than I was, he took me to places and we developed same interests. I liked playing the Guitar and the piano, he also developed interest and I taught him some basics. May I state here that Lazarous is the one who taught me how to drive a car and he used his father’s mini bus to teach me, it was hard for me to learn because it was a champion gear bus.

Teaching each other music in Choma
When we went back to school in our final term of grade 10, I began to be too familiar with him and I thought that by bending the rules he would tolerate me but that was not the case with him, he knew that the role of leadership had to go with courage and discipline, I remember appearing on the list of noise makers not once but almost all the time, I kept thinking to myself "how can a best of my friends do such a thing? Making me look foolish and being punished because of my actions?" I took it as a betrayal but then came to realize that he had courage and never at any time compromised. A friend is there to correct when he sees something wrong.

We moved on to grade 11 and one of the interesting things that happened this year was when we were both chosen to take up some leadership roles in Scripture Union. It was indeed a blessing to share the word of God amongest our fellow students and live lives as examples of those that are saved. After completing high school in 2002, we kept the fire burning and we still continued supporting the Scripture Union at Choma High School as Senior Friends of the fellowship. Lazarous was from the Reformed Church in Zambia (RCZ) and I was from the Reformed Baptist. Njase Girls High School, a boarding school in Choma also extended invitations for me and Lazarous to go and share the word of God at their Brethren in Christ Fellowship (BIC) and Scripture Union Fellowship, since the distance was quiet far, we would ride on Lazarous’ bicycle the two of us and ride back after sharing the word with the girls.

In Lazarous' room at CBU in Kitwe - 2009
During our High School days in Choma
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       I moved back to Kitwe to pursue a program in Marketing under the Copperbelt University at Zambia Institute of Business Studies & Industrial Practices (ZIBSIP) while Lazarous remained in Choma. We continued communicating via letters as it was rare to find a student with a cell phone in those days more over, I couldnt afford one. I would visit my family back home in Choma during holidays and get back to Kitwe for school. Lazarous had applied to do a business course at the Copperbelt University but was not selected due to the high number of students that are normally enrolled yearly at the University in business Programs.

Lazarous at RCZ in Kitwe playing the Key board
After completing my studies at ZIBSIP, I started work with Zambia State Insurance Corporation (ZSIC) and it so happened that Lazarous was finally accepted to study a Bachelor of Science in Agro forestry at the Copperbelt University. We had a re-union once again and we kept visiting each other. At this time Lazarous was very good at playing the piano and he was in charge of the music ministry at RCZ in Kitwe.

I moved from ZSIC and joined C&B Engineering Limited and after 4 years relocated to Lusaka where I joined Tata Zambia. Lazarous and Racheal in December 2010 organised a surprise farewell party for me and invited a number of family and friends to come to my flat for the same. I moved to Lusaka the following week. When I started a relationship with Racheal while in Kitwe, Lazarous was the first one to know and he was happy for me. After sometime later, he also introduced me to Julie via phone as she was in Algeria for studies at the time; I later on met her in person when she came to Kitwe to visit Lazarous at CBU. Lazarous completed his studies at CBU and started looking for a job; I invited him to stay with me in Lusaka while he was job hunting. When I married Racheal in November 2011, Lazarous moved out to stay with another friend. He was my chief best man on my wedding, he then found a job with Airtel Zambia and we continued being friends though it was not as good as it was before because I had a wife and I was busy with work at Tata Zambia.
In Kitwe at New Ek Park Flats - 2010

Late last year, I got a job back at C&B Engineering and started work sometime in October 2013. Lazarous also found a job with Concern Worldwide and he was posted to Senanga. I kept my ears to the ground to hear when the wedding bells will ring and after some months of waiting I received a call from Lazarous informing me that he will be marrying on 27th September 2014, he asked if I could be his chief best man. I agreed as I had promised him that his wedding was the last one I was going to dance on.

Me with Mr & Mrs Banda
Well, Saturday was the big day and it was a successful wedding, met old mates from our Choma High days and also re-united with family and friends from all the four corners of Zambia. We thank God for being with us throughout the preparations and all those that contributed the financial and material support and may God who inhabitheth all understanding bless you and may He guide Lazarous & Julie as they start a journey together. 

Lazarous & Julie's Wedding with me as their Chief Best Man - 27th September, 2014

Our wedding with Lazarous as my Chief Best Man - 26th November, 2011
Lastly, My Wife Racheal and Lazarous' wife Julie share a lot in common the first thing is the same birth date which is 14th February (Valentine's day) and the second is that they are both humble, loving and understanding ladies, I bet valentine babies are always humble and loving. What a coincidence on the birthdays, this means that we have to spend more time with our loved ones on their special days to make their birthdays worthwhile... 

Racheal and Julie when they were young ladies
This was before they both got married
One thing I have learnt about ladies is that they really get upset if we forget events like birthdays, wedding anniversaries and just surprises. These things are so dear to them. I was once told by my former workmate that if you have a bad memory, put reminders on your phone or write down important events in your diary. This is free advice I got and it surely works. To God be the glory.


When we were young boys and girls at Copperbelt University

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My work experience with Tata Zambia Limited (2010 - 2013)

Tata has existed in Zambia for over 50 years. Today, Tata is the market leader in Zambia in the medium commercial vehicles (MCV) segment, and its LPT 1518 model has had a significant presence in the Zambian market. Tata Zambia has contributed significantly to expanding the Tata group's business activities in other African countries, such as Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Namibia, Uganda, Mozambique, Malawi, Ghana and South Africa. Zambia was the first country in Africa to start the Tata operations; it has vehicles ranging from small commercial vehicles (SCV) to heavy commercial vehicles (HCV).  
Tata Zambia Limited (2013)

 I was privileged to work for Tata Zambia Limited for 3 years from 7th January 2010 – 30 September 2013. Our then General Manager was Mr. Joseph H. Mutale and he was a good and reasonable man to work with, he oriented and introduced me to a lot of customers that Tata had done business with in the past and he did a one-on-one product training with me. I was the only one in the vehicle sales department and I had the responsibility of initiating sales up to the time of delivery. My three years at Tata was indeed a good experience in my personal life and it was good working with the Indians.

I was employed as a Vehicle Sales Executive and I worked with Patricia Zulu who was in charge of the registration process of the vehicles once they are sold up to the point of delivering them. She was assisted by Sungwe Siame who was in charge of the clearing of vehicles once they were about to expire from bond and also clearing vehicles once customers paid for the same. These two workmates were reporting to me and I was also reporting to them. Communication is a very important tool in any organization and so I had to communicate to them whenever I collected a pay cheque from a customer on a particular vehicle. Patricia had to allocate a vehicle from the bonded warehouse and Sungwe would proceed with the clearing of the vehicle. It would take us about 10 working days to finally have all documentations done and a white book ready before the customer could come and collect it. The sales team comprised of 4 people, Mr Joseph Mutale, myself, Patricia and Sungwe.

Vehicles displayed at the 2013 Agriculture & Commercial Show in Lusaka
The Executive Director Mr Sudhir Arora was a strict man and I really liked his way of doing business and sorting out issues. He interacted frequently with his fellow directors at his level intelligently and kept business booming in terms of motor vehicle sales, he was also the Director of TAJ Pamodzi Hotel which is one of the best Hotels in the capital city of Lusaka. His office was open to everyone that needed to air his/her view in line with work or other issues that were relating to personal and moral living… the ‘open door policy’ was practiced at Tata.

My probation period was for 3 months and by the grace of God I managed to sell 9 vehicles in my first month and 7 trucks in my second month when the Target was to sell at least 5 vehicles per month. I was reporting directly to the General Manager as we did not have a Sales manager at the time. I was later on confirmed after three months.

Patrick and Ivy my workmates
I learned so many things while working for Tata and time came when I was being stretched a lot and thus another Sales Executive was employed to help out… Tito Ngoma came at the right when I was trying to push in a leave form for my wedding on the Copperbelt. He had a background of Information Technology and very well acquainted at innovating and learning new things. I had the challenge of orienting him of which I think I did a good job. We worked together as very close pals for over a year until management saw his skills and decided to take him to another department Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

There I was again, back to square one and reporting to the General Manager again. After a few months Charles Katunga was employed as a sales Executive shortly after he finished his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at the Copperbelt University. I oriented him and we were slowly getting along together. Our General Manager then made a few changes and divided us according to products. Charles was given the small commercial vehicles (SCV) and low commercial vehicles (LCV) and on the other hand I was given the medium commercial vehicles (MCV) and the heavy commercial vehicles (HCV).

Vehicle Display at Makeni Mall - me and Obino Salasini
Patricia got a better offer from another company and she pushed in a resignation letter. Management tried to plead with her not to go but she insisted on leaving. This came as a blow as her job was a bit tricky and needed someone who was sharp. Mr Arora our Executive Director also retired and for some reason I began to think that it was a down fall of Tata. Thank God that when people leave, God raises others to continue where things were left.

From left to right: Edward, Conrad & Chimuka
Another young lady by the name Thokozile Jere joined to fill up Patricia’s position, she once worked for Tata in Ndola but left because she got married to a man who was working Lusaka so she had to resign and relocate to Lusaka. She was doing the same things that Patricia was doing in Lusaka, so she quickly fit in Patricia’s shoes and work continued to move on. Mr. Pankaj Khana who was the General Manager in Ndola moved to Lusaka to be the country head of Tata Zambia. A big party was thrown for Mr Arora and a few speeches were said to wish him well. He also said a number of somethings and encouraged us to continue working hard. The coming of Mr Khana as the new Executive Director effected a lot of changes. He employed more sales guys in the vehicle sales department and increased the sales Target. Our sales team grew with Chimuka Chibawe and Edward Musukwa joining the team. After some time two more Sales Executives were employed; Conrad Kafwanka and Obino Salasini. We used to hold a lot of promotion activities namely; motor vehicle displays, road shows, Show exhibitions and many other activities. Mr. Khana also implemented the ‘Open door policy’ and we started having sales meetings with him every Thursday

At the Lusaka Agriculture & commercial show with my bosses (2013)
 in the evening to discuss sales and review our daily performance. Conrad resigned as he found a better job somewhere else and so did Obino.

Jaguar Land Rover PLC is a British premium automaker headquartered in Whitley, Coventry, United kingdom and has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Motors since June 2008, when it was acquired from Fold Motor Company. Its principal activity is the development, manufacture and sales of Jaguar luxury and sports cars and Land Rover premium four wheel drive vehicles. It also owns the currently dormant Daimler, Lanchester and Rover Brands. 

Me with Ian at Yeti Motors launch of a latest model
Ian from Britain came as a consultant into Zambia and played a vital role in establishing the offices and improving the infrastructure in Lusaka.This  came with a new company under Tata Zambia called Alliance Motors and it deals in the Jaguar/ Land Rover and a number of people where employed in all departments from workshop, vehicle sales, cashier and General Manager. Alliance motors Limited is under the care of Tata Motors and their offices are now established in Lusaka.

Tata Show Room with the luxurious Jaguar & Land Rover
Chimuka and me in the Show Room in Lusaka
In my final year at Tata, I was sent to Jamshedpur India to visit an assembly plant as there was a new product to be launched in the Zambian market; Tata Prima Horses and Tippers. I was the only one selected from Zambia to go and visit the assembly plant in Jamshedpur and be trained on the Prima and how it is operated, it was yet to be launched in Zambia at the time.

Jamshedpur Assembly Plant in India (January 2013)
While in India, I met a lot of people from different parts of the world with different cultures. Some of which I used to just communicate by way of e-mail and so seeing them face-to-face was such a great privilege. I had a good time learning from others and it was a fruitful trip for me as I learnt a lot of new sales techniques and increased knowledge in the products and many other branches that Tata has. It was really a challenge to hear how our friends in Iraq were able to sale a lot of vehicles in one month despite the war that has been going on there. In Africa we had representatives from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Nigeria.

My visit to one of Indian Mines where the Tata Prima was working
When I came back from India, I began to market the heavy commercial vehicle (HCV) which includes the Prima and Novus; I hardly sold any of these models despite my vigorous customer visits and display promotions. My boss Mr Mutale kept encouraging me and said with time I will sell. Most customers were looking at the price and preferred going for used heavy duty vehicles on the Zambian market as they were far much cheaper than the brand new trucks 

Well, I think time for me to leave Tata drew near as I began to sense a call back to the company I worked for in Kitwe for Four (4) years. I was interviewed by my previous employer C&B Engineering limited and my last day at Tata Zambia was on 30th September 2013. I then started work at C&B Engineering on 7th October 2013 as a Product Manager.  

Receiving a participation certificate at the Lusaka Motor Show from Bobby Singh

Friday, June 20, 2014

My surviving grand mothers

In this my blog post, I want to spend some time just to talk about my grand mothers who are still alive today by God’s grace. Both my grandpas are late; I never met my grandpa on my mother’s side as he passed on way before I was born. On the other hand, I thank God for allowing me to meet my grandpa on my father’s side; he passed on in the recent past after a long illness in Lusaka.

Matildah Munthali Sambo
Micah with grandma
My mum’s mother lives in Mazabuka and her name is Matildah Munthali Sambo, she used to visit us from time to time when I was living in Lusaka. She fell in love with our first born son and I could see it in her eyes when he held Micah in her hands, this took me back to my childhood times at a small little house in Kitwe at Scripture Union house, my grandmother used to visit us a lot and times spent with her were worthwhile as she treated us like little angels even when we did silly things. My wife Racheal fell in love with her when she first saw her (love at first sight). It’s a pity she did not attend our wedding in 2011 as she had problems with her legs and was failing to walk at the time. I remember asking my grandma what she wanted me to buy her and all she said was ‘the battery of the phone you bought for me is dead, if you can replace it,  a chitenge material and a pair of canvas will be enough’.

Lucy Kamanga
Dad with grandma in Petauke
My dad’s mother is one kind of person who is strict and to the point, her name is Lucy Kamanga she raised my dad and his siblings in Eastern Province, hearing stories of how she used to discipline (beat) her children, when I see her – I fail to believe it, she does not look like one who would beat a child. She used to beat especially my dad as he is the first born. I thank God for her because if it was not for her, my dad would not have been where he is at the moment. She stays in the village in Petauke and it’s been a while since I visited my village, she visited us in Lusaka last year and she is just too tradition and takes everything very seriously. When I asked her the same question I asked my other grandma on the things she wanted me to buy her, she said ‘a dark material of 6m chitenge and black canvas size 4’, you can see her really specifying so that you don’t buy what she doesn’t want. My youngest sister, Phoebe took this picture below when they both visited our home in Lusaka last year.

My two grandparents in their 80s
These grannies have lived for over 80 years and they call me ‘muzukulu wasu’ meaning our grandchild. I don’t know their exact years as they say that they have forgotten when they were born but it must have been around 1930s or so. Most of us children, you will agree with me that we get spoiled by our grandparents as they don’t want to see us cry even when we get a good spanking from mischievous behaviors. I remember when I was a young boy; grandma, whenever she visited our home; she would protect me and my sisters from being beaten by mum after we did something that upset mum and dad… We always ended up being in trouble when our grandma would leave and go back to the village.

Mum & dad with the two grannies - 2 May 1981
I wish there was a day like we have today – mother’s day and father’s day in which we are to remember our grandparents. We ought uphold and remember our grandparents if they are still alive. Let me just call this day “Grandparent’s day”.

Childhood memories with grandma - 1986

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What a living testimony - Charles Bota

Elder Charles Bota

08:30hrs yesterday (Saturday), the driver of the traffic car in the picture parked right in the road to get the car washed. When I asked him why he was breaking the Law he told me to drive around and vamoose. When I took out my iPad to take this pic he quickly jumped in and arrogantly said, "Kulibe kwamene mungani peleke. Palibe chamene munga chite" and he drove off! Who do I report to and who can track this driver by the log book, date and time? I want to testify against him.

I called RTSA and the told me it was a Police and not a RTSA vehicle and I should report to Police. Fortunately, I called the Director of Operations and he called me back and told me he would be in his office just after 14:00hrs. I took my letter of complaint detailing the date, time, car number, nature of complaint with the picture to boot, asking that I be called when the driver was summoned, and trusting they would track him via the log book. The Director was in a meeting so I left the letter. Dropping off copy to Lusaka traffic chief and Police PR person. As I left the building I saw a similar car, but it's number plate was ZP 911B. My offender's car was 919. Obviously "the game is afoot" as Sherlock Holmes would say!

The Police Director of Operations traced the car as belonging to Muchinga province. The driver was called and informed of my picture and admitted my report was true. He will now be asked to call me to admit to me and apologize. What they do to him after is their internal disciplinary process.
Received a call today from the Commanding Officer Traffic for Zambia. He had my letter of complaint on his desk. Told me they have internally charged the man. He is a lowly constable from Muchinga traffic who was taking a boss to Mazabuka and spent a night in PHI hence the early morning car wash in PHI. He thought he would not get caught being from the bundus of Muchinga. He is badly shaken. The matter is to go to Court as it is a traffic offense and I would be required to be a witness which I don't mind. However, because the man is now clearly badly shaken if not remorseful, and has admitted the traffic offense as well as being arrogant about it, they are mulling over charging him what the Court fine is likely to be and letting him pay that with the record on his file and end there. He will write me a response letter about all this.

Finally, here is closure on this matter: The High Command came to see me with the erring officer today. I was shown the charge and an official receipt for the penalty paid of K300 for admission of guilt for the offence. The erring officer apologized profusely for his arrogance as did the Senior officer and both said that they had learned something from this. I was thanked for being upstanding. I said I was more than impressed by all this and especially the way the Command had consistently followed up justice. We shook hands. I did not ask about the accident.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Meet our former Teacher and Deputy Headmistress of Choma Secondary School

Ms. Ruth Hamunyanga
Mr. Raphael Kumwenda
Ms. Ruth Hamunyanga (1968 – 1979; 1981-1996)
Interview report compiled by Hachizibe Raphael Mudenda (former pupil of 1988 – 1992)


Ms Hamunyanga did her form 1 and 2 at Chipembi Girls Secondary School in 1958-1959. She later trained as a Primary School teacher and she taught at Jembo and Siachitema Wesleyan Mission Schools. Having been an intelligent and dependable lady, the Wesleyan Church sponsored her to do a Bachelors’ Degree in the USA in 1964 just before Zambia’s independence. She majored in Geography with a minor in Psychology. The church wanted her to teach at Choma Secondary School upon completing her training. She started teaching at Choma Secondary in 1968.
A number of times, government wanted to move her from Choma Secondary to Curriculum Development Centre in Lusaka but she rejected the offer because of her compassionate for young people. Helping young people through teaching and ensuring that they grow as responsible and well behaved citizens of Zambia was her desire. She felt she was needed most at Choma Secondary than at Curriculum Development Centre. She was also in the group of the first Zambians involved in the examinations marking.
In 1979 she went to do her Masters in Geography in the USA. She also studied administration while in the USA. She taught for one year in the USA but she says she never enjoyed teaching there because young people didn’t seem to appreciate the help offered to them of administering discipline for reformation and good behaviour. She came back to Choma Secondary in 1982.

She liked the unity that existed between the two churches running the school (Brethren in Christ Church & Pilgrim Wesleyan Church). She also liked the cooperation and the working together among teachers and the administrators. This cooperation among teachers resulted in good class performance and good behavior of pupils. Ms Hamunyanga thinks one of the reasons why, many government ministers, senior government officials, prominent business people in Choma and outside Choma including Asians and Whites brought their children to Choma Sec Sch was because of the excellent class results and well disciplined pupils due to good administration. During her time there was a mixture of teachers (Whites, Blacks and Asians). 
However, Ms Hamunyanga remembers some teachers who gave her a lot of problems whom I will not mention their names. She thinks some teachers didn’t have the skill to teach therefore they just spent time making jokes in class for time to pass. She also had pupils that gave her real hell such as Victor Mbindo and Raju Nayee (Choma Garage). Victor gave her a lot of problems in school, but she is happy that Victor is now a born again Christian and doing very well in life. Raju Nayee used to miss her geography class by hiding in the bush until when the geography class was over. Raju now is a prominent businessman in Choma and very responsible.
Ms Hamunyanga regrets that some parents never appreciated the disciplinary measures taken against their children because they thought their children were just being harshly treated, but could not understand the rational for disciplining their children, to help them reform and become better and responsible citizens. 

Ms Hamunyanga says she moved with a shambok to ensure young people were well disciplined and adhered to regulations of the school at all times wherever they were in school. When beating a pupil she didn’t mean to “kill” but to help reform or remind a pupil of the school rules. She thinks the shambok in a “kirk” envelop helped many.

Her best times at school were when she helped a young person reform or change for the better. She decided to remain at Choma Sec Sch to just help young people receive the best education and help they needed. 

She hated standing in the sun waiting for the former President (Dr. Kenneth “Wamuyaya” Kaunda) to come and visit the school. She feels this was a great torture on teachers and pupils.

She is so grateful to God for the love He has been showing her and for how much he has been blessing her life. She also appreciates the cooperation given to her by all teachers at Choma Sec Sch when she was a teacher as well as Deputy Head. She also appreciates the love and care shown to her by all her former pupils.

1.     Iron Lady – for being tough on offender pupils
2.     Sunday Girl – for being clean and smart (always looking beautiful)
3.     Margret Thatcher – former British female president (for being sharp)
*If you know any other nickname for M Hamunyanga, please feel free to share with us*

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ray Munsaka's life at Choma Secondary School - 1984 to 1988

Ray Munsaka
It was afternoon. The day, a Monday. The date was 5 March, 1984 - 30 years ago! That was when I arrived at Choma Secondary School with my suitcase to begin my secondary school course. As the photo shows, I was a then a cool young dude. Wasn't I cute then? Twaali bantu asweyo. Don't be deceived by what time has done to me.

I had never been away from home before and even if Choma Secondary was very familiar territory for me, there was a sense of deep anxiety within. Among other pupils who arrived on this day was Luundu Mwaanga, who by this time I had known for over five years. This gave me some moral boost and we started chatting right away. A few days later I met Austin Bhebe. Luundu and Austin became my close friends in the last three years of my stay here. 

I paid ZMK105 (unrebased kwacha) which covered school fees, boarding fees, 2 pairs of uniform, a hymnbook and a bit of toiletry. Later on one of the prefects, Saboi Lufwendo (now a prominent lawyer) took me to his hostel and later on to supper (nsima with boiled kapenta!). This was in the Zambezi dining hall. The following day, supper was much more pleasant - nsima with kasune (beef). After supper that Monday, he took me to my assigned bed space - 3rd Hostel Junior Wing, Luangwa House. This was to be my "home" for two years before I moved to ZALUKA (ChomSecians know what this is) at senior level.

There are many ways in which Choma Secondary is special to me. At least three of my sisters and a brother went to this school long before I did. My father preached there from time to time before 1984. The Pilgrim Wesleyan Church would hold its national conferences here and I remember attending one or two and hearing various singing. We would come for CYC (Christian Youth Crusaders) every Sunday where I learnt a lot of spiritual truth in song and teaching. We would also come to see my sister, but more interestingly the motorcycle race by Brooks farm (Mambushi Motor Cross). 

My memories of this great school as a student are still fresh and warm. It was a place I learnt to look after myself. I knew how to do a lot of things for myself but now I HAD to. I even learnt some trade - selling sugar at 1n/teaspoon!. I was introduces to menus, some of which I had never imagined before. Cigolo (sugar-water solution), mixing that with roast peanuts, kago (crust at the bottom of the pot after cooking nsima), adding a bit of sugar to beans to make taste like baked beans,... Needless to say, I cannot stand these dishes anymore. I quit some of them even before I left the school (by grade 12, I could only take cigolo if made with hot water). 

I enjoyed the lessons from A to Z. Deciding, at the end of grade 8, on whether to take up commercial subjects or industrial arts was a tough choice but settled for the the latter. I loved TD! Then at senior level doing the pure sciences! Sometimes I think I learnt all the physics I know at Choma Secondary School. University was just repetition with depth and application. Of course other subjects as well but I mention physics because my career is built on it.

Of all that I got from this great school, none is as glorious as the the experience of the night of Friday the 13th in 1987. It was at this school on this day that I was converted. And you thought Friday the 13th was bad! If this experience of God's salvation is all I had got from this school, it would still have been worth an infinite amount of all the money that was spent on me there. 

Not only was I brought into the kingdom of God's Son at this institution, but also learnt to be active in the church here. I was part of the student church leadership of the PWC and also in SU leadership. I preached my first sermon at Choma Secondary School. A number of Christian disciplines were inculcated in me at this school.

I will always cherish my time at Choma Secondary School.

By Ray Munsaka