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The African idea of Africa A tribute to Kenneth David Kaunda of Zambia
THE historian Paul Tiyambe Zeleza depicted the time of struggles for independence in Africa as the “proudest moment in African history” predicated on “nationalist humanism”. Kenneth David Kaunda was a leading proponent and indeed an advocate of the philosophy of liberation underpinned by African humanism. Nelson Mandela was another who drew inspiration from the spirit of ubuntu.
Julius Nyerere embraced it as African socialism founded on African familyhood (ujamaa). Leopold Sedar Senghor combined Negritude and Marxism to advance African socialism. Kwame Nkrumah explicated a synthetic philosophy of decolonisation and the remaking of a new African personality in terms of Consciencism, which involved tapping into the best values from African, Islamic and Euro-Christian traditions.
With the death of Kaunda at the age of 97 at a hospital in Zambia this week, Africa has lost the last standing giant of the first generation of African nationalist liberation fighters. This point was delivered forcefully in a tribute by the former president of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo. In his tribute, Obasanjo wrote: “The demise of President Kaunda at the grand age of 97 brings to an end the pioneers and forefathers who led the struggles for decolonisation of the African continent and received the instrument of independence”.
According to Obasanjo, Africa must gain solace from the fact and knowledge “that President Kaunda has gone to a well-deserved rest and to proudly take his place besides his brothers such as Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, Leopold Sedar Senghor of Senegal, Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea, Felix Houphouet-Boigny of Cote d’Ivoire, Patrice Lumumba of Congo, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, to name but a few.”
What is noticeable is that Obasanjo never mentioned any of Kaunda’s “sisters”, only “brothers”! This immediately raises an urgent issue not about the departed Kaunda but about how the African nationalist pantheon is dominated by men. Women are often ignored.
This issue arises poignantly because such a moment as this one where we have lost a “father” of the African nationalist revolution, our duty is not to mourn but to reflect of what they stood for and assess the trajectory of the African nationalist revolution to which Kaunda sacrificed so much. At the very centre of the African nationalist revolution has been the making of the very idea of Africa and redefinition of Africanness.
From the idea of Africa to the African idea of Africa
The cognitive empire operates through aggressive invasion of the mental universe of the world and subjects its targets to its own ways of knowing and imposes a particular memory. “Discovery” is its key trope. What is claimed to have been “discovered” is conquered, named and owned. With specific reference to Africa, The Congolese intellectual Valentin Y. Mudimbe in two celebrated works The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge (1988) and The Idea of Africa (1994) wrote about how Africa was invented from outside.
The active inventers being missionaries, colonial/imperialist ideologues and anthropologists and others. However, Wole Soyinka in his book Of Africa (2012) posited that unlike other continents which were claimed to be “discovered”, there is no one who claims to have discovered Africa as a continent. Soyinka goes on to argue that “This gives it [Africa] a self-constitutive identity, an unstated autochthony that is denied other continents and subcontinents.”
It would seem the existence of Africa was known. How can it be otherwise, since Africa is the cradle of humankind! Of course, Soyinka accepts that the colonial paradigm of difference did not spare Africa in the sense that the Europeans claimed to have “discovered” ancient ruins, sources of big rivers, mountain peaks, exotic kingdoms and sunken pyramids—but no one claimed to have “discovered” Africa itself.
The African idea of Africa as compared to Mudimbe’s idea of Africa speaks to Africa’s self-constitution and self-representation by Africans themselves. It was Ngugi wa Thiong’o in Re-membering Africa (2009) who challenged Mudimbe’s idea of Africa and laid down “the African idea, as African self-representation.”
While Ngugi wa Thiong’o saw this idea as “forged in the diaspora and travelled back to Africa”, Ali A. Mazrui in his influential article “We Are all Africans” (1963) underscored how African leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda actively contributed to the making of the African idea of Africa. This agenda materialised within a context where colonialists were propagating the idea of a “dark continent” inhabited by a people whose humanity they questioned, and denied that they had any history and any role to play in human history.
Such intellectual-cum-ideological formations as Garveyism, Negritude, African Personality, Pan-Africanism, African Socialism, African Humanism, Black Consciousness, Afrocentricity, African Renaissance, and many others, were all initiatives aimed at making Africa from a Black and African vantage point.
What is distinctive about them is that they emerged from the battlefields of history and human struggles for re-existence and re-membering after centuries of being denied existence and being subjected to colonial technologies of dismemberment and dehumanisation.
At their centre were the overarching agendas of self-definition, self-representation, self-writing and indeed re-humanisation. Inevitably, they were confronted with limitations and even contradictions. Formations and knowledges born of struggle are never perfect and finished products. Without this background, African nationalism and African national revolution will not be fully understood and Kaunda’s legacy will not be properly comprehended by the present generation.
African nationalism and the African national revolution
Colonialists denied that African people were organised into “nations” and had national consciousness. In fact, Africans did not exist in the colonial imaginary and colonial practices. They preferred to define Africans as “tribes” — more specifically inchoate and contending “tribes” always fighting against each other. The leading Ugandan intellectual Mahmood Mamdani in his works Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and The Legacy of Late Colonialism (1996) and Define and Rule: Native as Political Identity (2013) have provided us with details on the logics and operations of colonial governmentality as well as the colonial invention of political identities in Africa. His core thesis is this: “Unlike what is commonly thought, native does not designate a condition that is original and authentic. Rather, … the native is the creation of the colonial state: colonised, the native is pinned down, localised, thrown out of civilisation as an outcast, confined to custom, and then defined as its product.”
This thesis dovetails with Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Osborne Ranger (1983)’s widely cited notion of “invention of tradition”. This became a key aspect in how Europe ruled Africa and how it actively made sure national consciousness did not develop among Africans using what Edward Said termed the “law of division” and Mudimbe termed the “paradigm of difference”.
But what must not be forgotten is what Homi Bhabha in The Location of Culture (1994) posited about colonialism, that despite its overwhelming presence as a modern power structure, it was simultaneously riddled with contradictions, internal instabilities, tensions, and incompleteness.
For example, while it was preaching and implementing the discourse of “tribes”, it was also making a few openings for African people to undergo modern education. It was the African educated elite who actively opposed colonialism and spearheaded African nationalist revolutions, of course mobilising peasants and workers as foot soldiers. Kenneth Kaunda was part of this African educated elite.
Their task was not easy. They carried a heavy burden. African nationalism had to be created within a context in which colonialism was sustaining African divisions for its own purposes. This is why Kwame Nkrumah posited that he was not born in Africa, Africa was born inside him. This must form the deepest understanding of the concept of “father of the nation”. It means conceiving the idea and making it alive.
Kaunda and his generation of nationalists created African nationalism. Of course, colonialism through its racism was already provoking “black consciousness”. Enslavement had already contributed to “black consciousness” as a transcendental identity. African nationalists contributed to the paradigm shift from the “idea of Africa” emerging from Europe to the “African idea of Africa” emerging from Africa.
The making of African nationalism involved the painstaking process of mobilising colonised people who were deliberately divided by colonialism into rigid invented tribal cages into “nations” worthy of the right to self-determination and self-governance. Kaunda’s book Zambia Shall Be Free (1962) was part of a resource produced in the process of making nationalism.
Therefore, what was revolutionary about African nationalism was its reinvention of a people who were reduced to “subjects” and socially ordered into “tribes” to united “nationals” fired up to fight and sacrifice lives for liberation from colonialism.
However, the phenomenon known as “tribalism” always haunted the African nationalist revolution with some who claimed nationalism during the day continuing to be entrepreneurs and advocates of “tribalism” during the night. What complicated the African national revolution was that there was always the power question.
This meant that while prosecuting the struggle against colonialism, African nationalists also fought among themselves for power.
The African people themselves also did not discard their other narrow identities for the bigger national identities easily. This is why one found such nationalists as Samora Machel of Mozambique positing that “for the nation to live, the tribe must die”. The leftists inclined African nationalists who thought that ethnic consciousness was a false consciousness that has to be replaced by true consciousness, which is class consciousness.
This did not solve the problem. Karl Marx had said it that workers have no country, hence he urged them to unite across national borders for a proletarian revolution. This implied that “nation-states” were under the control of bourgeois and the states were used for the oppression of class enemies. Indeed, post-colonial states were abused to even eliminate those considered as ethnic enemies of those in charge of them. Nation-building had to be done within this problematic context.
Nation-building and post-colonial patriotism
Kenneth Kaunda and Julius Nyerere are given as examples of successful nation builders compared to others who never even invested in the nation-building projects. Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, a leading intellectual from the Democratic Republic of Congo, posited that at the time of the attainment of political liberation in Africa, African leaders had three options to pursue.
The first option was just to inherit what was left by the colonialists and continue from where they left. The second was to look back to the pre-colonial times and try to rebuild post-colonial Africa using values and ideas that were considered African. The third option was to be creative and invent something new for Africa. This is the radical position of Frantz Fanon on decolonisation as more than a counter-force to colonialism but a creative one for a better world.
While many took the first option of taking over what was left by the colonialists, including state institutions, this easy option was the most problematic in terms of advancement of the decolonisation agenda and fulfilling what Issa G. Shivji termed the “great expectations” of the masses.
The first challenge was that the colonial state was nothing but despotic political formation which was bifurcated and used colonial law as an unmediated force of violence and conquest. How can such a formation be of use to deliver promises of decolonisation? It is not surprising that many of those who chose this path interpreted taking over the colonial state as an “arrival” and an end in itself and began to immediately use its despotic institutions to terrorise the population and even to commit genocide and ethnic cleansing. This option created what Achille Mbembe (2001) termed the “postcolony” underpinned by what he depicted as “commandment”.
The second option was also problematic in the sense that the wheel of history could not be turned back. However, there was a way through which the nationalist invention of post-colonial Africa could still draw positive aspects from African pre-colonial history for their purposes.
Unfortunately, most of what was claimed to have been borrowed from pre-colonial Africa was mixed with what was left by colonialists to create what became known as imperial presidencies underpinned by one-party state regimes. However, Nyerere, Kaunda and Mandela drew from African culture and history to layout a post-colonial nationalist humanism as a departure from colonialism’s paradigm of difference and capitalism’s naturalization of exploitation of people by other people.
It was also Nyerere, Kaunda and Mandela who embraced the third option and tried to create something new. Kaunda antagonised over how to translate popular anti-colonial nationalism into post-colonial patriotism and pan-ethnic comradeship. The glue for this became his philosophy of African humanism. He never degenerated into tribalism. His well-known slogan became “One Zambia, One Nation.”
Like Nyerere, Kaunda and Mandela can be best depicted as “Mwalimu” (pedagogical nationalist teachers who spent energy inviting their people into the nation and preaching the gospel of national unity). But the greatest experiment in creating something new in post-colonial Africa was symbolised by Nyerere’s Arusha Declaration: Policy of Socialism and Self-Reliance (1967). Here one sees an attempt to implement a philosophy of life. Mandela was creative in imagining a “rainbow nation” as a new political community borne out of the vicious system of apartheid colonialism, in which erstwhile enemies reconciled and lived together.
That these initiatives did not succeed as expected does not render them useless. There were many forces organised against their success. Neo-colonialism was one such major enemy of African progress. Invention of new post-colonial formations of service to the African without an epistemic revolution could not always work because old knowledges and epistemologies of equilibrium are always subversive against is new.
Nationalist idealism, which often predicated these radical initiatives on assumed change of attitudes of the people, was inadequate to the task. The reality is that old attitudes take time to die. For Mandela, the attempt to create a new political society without addressing the justice provoked new formations that are threatening his legacy to the extent of calling him a sell-out.
Kenneth Kaunda and the praxis of the “we” consciousness
If there is any African leader who embodied what Cornel West (2014) depicted as the “Black prophetic fire” predicated on a very strong “we” consciousness, it was Kenneth David Kaunda. West defines the “Black prophetic fire” as local in content and international in character. Kaunda’s African humanism was just that. It is a philosophy aimed at lifting one’s voice against all forms of injustice, violence and war.
Even if Kaunda is gone to his ancestors, his voice of justice and peace remains. Kaunda practically lived what he believed in. How would one explain his welcoming of Zapu, Zanu, and ANC as liberation movements into his country without understanding Kaunda’s “we” consciousness?
West elaborated that a “we” consciousness is concerned with the needs of others and is driven by the willingness to “renounce petty pleasures and accept awesome burdens”. This is what Kaunda did for Africa in general and for southern Africa in particular. In Kaunda, we indeed have a very “worthy ancestor”, to borrow a term from the South African sociologist Xolela Mangcu.
The “we” consciousness is opposed to the “I” consciousness laid down by Rene Descartes in his “Cogito, ergo sum”. Together with Nyerere, Machel, Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana, and Eduardo Jose Dos Santos of Angola, Kaunda built the Frontline States formation as a liberation front and risked being attacked by apartheid South Africa. The Frontline States matured into the Southern African Development Community (Sadc). All this was possible because Kaunda embodied true ideas and living theories.
Conclusion: Rest in peace KK
Let me end by joining Obasanjo is saying that the departure of Kaunda must remind us of the vision that his generation had for Africa and let us not compromise the principles of decolonisation. Colonialism, as Walter D. Mignolo warned us, “is not over but all over”. It is a pity that the African leaders of today seem to be suffering terribly from lack of ideology.
Most of them, if not all of them, have succumbed and capitulated to neoliberal capitalism and their refrain is about inviting capitalists to Africa under the name of foreign direct investment. African resources are exposed to external plunder as the elites in charge of our states have turned them into what the historian Frederick Cooper termed “gate-keeper” states.
Rents collected at the gates line the pockets of the ruling elites and their clients. Leadership has been turned into technical managerialism bereft of any ideology. The consequence is that post-colonial states in Africa are simply turned into problematic mini-corporations manned by a rapacious elite, which facilitate the movement of global capital.
Inevitably, rule of capital is naturalised and, as Ngugi wa Thiong’o once put it, “theft is holy”. The idea of revolution has been replaced by the neoliberal idea of “transitions”. This is why Obasanjo said that when he visited Kaunda in 2015 and asked him whether the Africa of today represents what he fought for, he simply “broke down and wept”.
About the writer: Professor Sabelo J Ndlovu-Gatsheni is chair in Epistemologies of the Global South at the University of Bayreuth in Germany.
Zambia's 1st president, Kenneth Kaunda, dies at age 97
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2015 file photo, former Zambia president Kenneth Kaunda, attends the inauguration ceremony of the Patriotic Front's Edgar Lungu, in Lusaka. Zambias first president Kenneth Kaunda has died at the age of 97, the country's president Edward Lungu announced Thursday June 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Moses Mwape, File)
LUSAKA – Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s founding president and a champion of African nationalism who spearheaded the fights to end white minority rule across southern Africa, has died at the age of 97.
Kaunda’s death was announced Thursday evening by Zambian President Edgar Lungu on his Facebook page. Zambia will hold 21 days of national mourning, Lungu said.
“On behalf of the entire nation and on my own behalf, I pray that the entire Kaunda family is comforted as we mourn our first president and true African icon,” wrote Lungu.
Kaunda’s son, Kamarange, also gave the news of the statesman’s death on Facebook.
“I am sad to inform we have lost Mzee,” Kaunda’s son wrote, using a Swahili term of respect for an elder. “Let’s pray for him.”
Kaunda had been admitted to the hospital on Monday and officials later said he was being treated for pneumonia.
The southern African country is currently battling a surge in COVID-19 cases and Kaunda was admitted to Maina Soko Medical Center, a military hospital which is a center for treating the disease in the capital, Lusaka.
Kaunda came to prominence as a leader of the campaign to end colonial rule of his country, then known as Northern Rhodesia, and was elected the first president of Zambia in 1964.
During his 27-year rule, he gave critical support to armed African nationalist groups that won independence for neighboring countries including Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Kaunda also allowed the African National Congress, outlawed in South Africa, to base its headquarters in Lusaka while the organization waged an often violent struggle within South Africa against apartheid.
Outgoing and ebullient, Kaunda lobbied with Western leaders to support majority rule in southern Africa. Famously, he danced with then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at a Commonwealth summit in Zambia in 1979. Although he implored her to impose sanctions on apartheid South Africa, Thatcher remained a steadfast opponent of those restrictions.
Kaunda was a schoolteacher who became a fiery African nationalist. Although he eventually ruled over a one-party state and became authoritarian, Kaunda agreed to return Zambia to multi-party politics and peacefully stepped down from power when he lost elections in 1991.
In Zambia's heady first years of independence, Kaunda rapidly expanded the country’s education system, establishing primary schools in urban and rural areas and providing all students with books and meals. His government established a university and medical school. Kaunda also expanded Zambia’s health system to serve the Black majority.
Genial and persuasive, Kaunda gained respect as a negotiator pressing the case for African nationalism with Western leaders.
Kaunda ultimately conducted negotiations with the South African government, despite domestic opposition, that is credited with helping to bring the apartheid regime to release Nelson Mandela and to allow the ANC to operate legally.
He remained lifelong friends with Mandela after the anti-apartheid leader’s release from prison, quipping that they shared the same bond of 27 years — him as Zambia's president and Mandela as a prisoner.
Even though Zambia was not spared occasionally violent political strife, Kaunda managed to foster peaceful coexistence between its 73 ethnic groups.
Kaunda was born in April 1924, the youngest of eight children to a Church of Scotland missionary and teacher. He followed his father’s footsteps into teaching and cut his political teeth in the early 1950s with the Northern Rhodesian African National Congress.
He was imprisoned briefly in 1955 and again in 1959, and upon his release became president of the newly formed United National Independence Party. When Northern Rhodesia became independent from Britain, Kaunda won the first general election in 1964 and became the first president of renamed Zambia.
Kaunda imposed a one-party state in 1973, gradually developed a personality cult and clamped down on opposition. He said the one-party state was the only option for Zambia as it faced attacks and subterfuge from white-led South Africa and Rhodesia.
Ruling at the height of the Cold War, Kaunda was a leading member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Kaunda’s popularity waned as the once thriving Zambian economy collapsed when the price of copper, its main export, plummeted in the 1970s. Corruption, mismanagement and the nationalization of foreign-owned companies and mines also contributed to the economic decline. Unemployment soared and the standard of living sank during the 1980s, making Zambia one of the world’s poorest countries.
The imposition of austerity measures proposed by the International Monetary Fund and Western creditors, with whom Kaunda had a prickly relationship, led to riots over price hikes and shortages in basic commodities such as maize meal.
Kaunda eventually gave way to domestic protests and international pressure in 1990 and agreed to multiparty elections. He lost the 1991 poll to Frederick Chiluba, and the two men became bitter rivals, with Kaunda dismissing Chiluba and his allies as “little men with little brains.”
Chiluba sought to ban Kaunda, whose parents had been born in neighboring Malawi, from running again in 1996 by a constitutional amendment barring first-generation Zambians from running for president. He also used a 1997 failed coup attempt to place Kaunda under house arrest, despite the latter’s protestations of innocence. Kaunda said he comforted himself while in confinement through music and poetry, and thoughts of the late Princess of Wales, who was killed in a car crash in 1997.
Despite his anti-colonialist struggles, Kaunda was a self-confessed admirer of Queen Elizabeth II and the British royal family. He was also an avid ballroom dancer and loved to play the guitar.
Kaunda was shot and wounded by government forces during a demonstration in 1997 and in 1999 escaped an assassination attempt. He blamed Chiluba’s allies for the November 1999 killing of his son and heir-apparent, Wezi. He lost another son, Masyzyo, to AIDS in 1986.
After his retirement from politics, Kaunda campaigned against AIDS, becoming one of the few African leaders to speak up on a continent where it is often taboo. He set up the Kenneth Kaunda Children of Africa Foundation in 2000 and became actively involved in AIDS charity work. He took an AIDS test at the age of 78 in a bid to persuade others to do likewise in a country ravaged by the virus.
Meldrum contributed from Johannesburg. Former AP Johannesburg Bureau Chief Christopher Torchia contributed.
This story was corrected to show that Zambia's president is Edgar Lungu, not Edward.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
Zambia's president mourns death of good-luck fish
Students at Copperbelt University (CBU) lit candles and marched around campus to mourn the big fish.
The hashtag Mafishi, as the fish was affectionately known, is trending on Twitter in the southern African state.
For the past two decades CBU students have believed the fish would bring them good luck in exams.
Mafishi, meaning "Big Fish" in the local Bemba language, was thought to be at least 22 years old and had lived in the university's pond for more than 20 years, student leader Lawrence Kasonde said.
His death was still being investigated, added the president of the Copperbelt University Student's Union.
"It is yet to be buried, we are planning on embalming it," Mr Kasonde told the BBC.
Some students used to pay homage to the fish before exams, believing it brought them good luck while others saw it as a stress-reliever, says BBC Zambia reporter Kennedy Gondwe.
Second-year student Edwin Nambo described the fish as an "iconic symbol of the university".
"Just watching him swim would bring healing to the soul before exams and during hard times," he added.
President Lungu quoted Indian anti-colonial campaigner Mahatma Gandhi in his message of mourning, saying on Facebook that "the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated".
"I'm glad you received a befitting send-off. We'll all miss you," he said.
Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema said: "We stand with the CBU student community, past and present, over the death of their iconic pet Mafishi."
In other comments on Twitter, @MoffatSamora said: "May his fins rest in peace. We have sent the best lawyers and accountants to come and aid the family in the preparation of his will."
The 28 year adventure – the Zambia Airways story
Zambia Airways. For 3 and a half decades Zambia had a national airline. It trained a highly skilled workforce and it connected Zambia to the world. It, however, was also a political football.
Its strong unions, even the pilots were unionized, its well-educated workforce, its elite position in the Zambian political conscious and the access it provided to certain things, meant it had strong vested interests. Interests who took positions for their own benefit to the detriment of the airline. For instance, its highly educated workforce, sometimes used their education and intelligence for selfish ends.
Right up to the end they would not let go of their perks and privileges which were costing the airline tremendous amounts of money and affecting its viability.
Several times, pilot strikes paralyzed the firm. Airline benefits were routinely abused, for instance the 10% staff tickets. There was also the overmanning. The workforce was stuffed with relatives of the influential and being a member of staff of Zambia Airways was a license to print money.
They lead a privileged life. It was not unusual for groceries to be bought in London or Johannesburg. It was also not unusual for you to buy your dollars from a member of staff of the airline. Zambia Airways also had a distinct disadvantage. Zambia has always had the most expensive fuel in Southern Africa and Zambia Airways had to use that fuel.
The other was the exchange control rules. Zambia Airways generated enough foreign exchange to pay its bills however it had to surrender all its foreign exchange and then apply for it just like any other company. This really crippled the airline.
Furthermore, the political interference led to some strange decisions as to who would run the airline. Both Presidents Chiluba and Kaunda decided who became MD with comical and at times disastrous results.
As we start another National Airline, I hope this cautionary tale is read by the powers that be.
So, let us begin. From the leftovers of the central African Airways Corporation came a new airline Zambia Airways. Its fleet consisted of 2 x BAC-1-11, 2 HS748s and 2 very old DC-3s. As usual with the division of assets during the Federation Zambia got the short end of the stick. Just like the Air Force which ended up in Rhodesia despite being bought using Zambian money, the airline’s main assets ended up in Rhodesia. Zambia got the left overs, and these formed the basis of the birth of Zambia Airways.
After the dissolution of Central African Airways, Zambia Airways was formed with the help of the Italian government. The Italians were to also help build the Zambian Air Force.
On January 1, 1968, Zambia Airways began operations. Its first board Chairman was dynamic Ndola based businessman Tom Mtine. The first Managing Director was Francesco Casale, on loan under a management contract signed with Alitalia, the Italian flag carrier. The airline almost immediately began international services. Employing a Douglas DC-8- 43 leased from Alitalia, Lusaka to London flights via Nairobi and Rome began. The BAC 1-11 flew regional routes to Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Mauritius. While the DC-3s, the HS748s and Beavers flew local.
Zambia Airways grew quickly and the Italians rapidly constructed valuable infrastructure including housing in the Longacres area, a maintenance base, a headquarters in Longacres and cargo handling facility at Lusaka International Airport. The reason for the concentration in the Longacres area was the airline flew from City Airport until late 1968 when the new airport, Lusaka International Airport, become fully operational. The airline by the end of the year had over 800 employees.
In 1969 the DC-3s were disposed of and fully replaced by HS748s. With inadequate pilots available, the Zambia Air Force has pilots and engineers seconded to the Zambia Airways to fly the HS748s. The ZAF pilots are to later rise high in the ranks of Zambia Airways as well as on the technical side infact one of them even becomes Managing Director.
In 1971 Tom Mtine is replaced as Chairman by Simon C. Katilungu, while Roberto Tarantino is the new Managing Director. Zambia Airways adds routes to Gaborone and orders its first Boeing 707 which iss used as a freighter by the freight arm of Zambia Airways National Air Charters formed in 1974.
In 1975 Zambia Airways acquires a Boeing 707 that flies to London direct and the BAC-1-11s are sold. Alitalia bows out and a new management team from Ireland comes in. The Alitalia management contract is replaced by one signed with Aer Lingus Irish Airlines, the Irish national carrier. Zambia Airways quickly adds two more Boeing 707s to the fleet and now has three 707s including the freighter.
In 1977 Zambia Airways suffers its first serious accident. A Boeing 707 freighter declares an emergency and makes an emergency landing a Lusaka International Airport. The pilot damages the runway in his efforts to save the plane. Zambia Airways also has a pilot strike that paralyzes the airline. Senior managers have to come out of their offices and get back in the cockpit and some ZAF officers are drafted in to fly as well.
In 1979 a new deal to help improve technical and regional operations is signed with Ethiopian Airlines. Zambian pilots and technicians fly under some very primitive condition in Ethiopia and realise that flying in Zambia is a piece of cake compared to the conditions in Ethiopia.
In 1982 ZIMCO takes over operations and Zambia Airways is converted from a Statutory Corporation to an ordinary company. Patrick Chisanga, director general of ZIMCO, on the direct orders of the then President Kenneth Kaunda becomes Chairman
Zambia Airways acquires its first Boeing 737 that year and it quickly becomes a firm favourite on regional flights. A HS748 is involved in an accident when it fails to take off and overruns the runway at Kasaba Bay. The plane is severely damaged but is eventually repaired and put back into service.
One of the Being 707s is retired and is relegated for use as a source of spares and for ground training and is parked behind the maintenance base. Zambia Airways is training its own pilots. The first go to Australia for the CPL and PPL training and then go to Lufthansa in Germany to train on 707s or to Aer Lingus for 737 training.
Zambia Airways now has 1,700 staff and now owns hotels in Lusaka and in Mauritius. Under Oliver Chama, the airline ambitiously decides to acquire a wide-bodied aircraft. In a powerful show of economic muscle Zambian banks like ZANACO, Barclays, Stanchart and Zambia State Insurance provide the finance for the aircraft with crucial financing also coming from Chemical Bank and the Export Import Bank of the USA. Oliver Chama is unable to savour his triumph as the man with the vision to acquire the wide-bodied aircraft as he is replaced by Lawrence Bwalya
The giant DC-10-30 is the second largest passenger plane in existence at the time and it allows Zambia Airways to fly to Paris as well as London. Zambia Airways is now flying to Bombay as well as to Mauritius.
That same year an enraged Director of Civil Aviation closes the airport for an hour causing flights to divert to Harare and Lilongwe. He is upset because Zambia Airways cannot hold a flight for him when he arrives 5 minutes late to board the plane.
Zambia Airways now has 1 DC-10-30, 3 Boeing 707s, 1 Boeing 737, and 2 HS 748s. Zambia Airways now has revenues of $40 million and is breaking even with a small operating loss of $150,000 although financing costs blow the loss to nearly $5 million.
Drastic action is taken with Captain Godfrey Mulundika, a former ZAF Pilot, put in charge and a comprehensive review by Lufthansa undertaken. Meanwhile a popular flight to Swaziland is inaugurated. Zambians fly to Swaziland using their US$300 holiday allowance allocation of foreign exchange and come back with goods for sale.
Zambia Airways begins to modernize its fleet and acquires to ATR 42-300s and disposes of the HS748s, it also puts up for sale its ageing Boeing 707s. Zambia Airways begins a flight to New York via Monrovia. In an embarrassing fiasco, the inaugural flight arrives in New York with all the VIPs and visitors including Transport Minister General Kingsley Chinkuli arrive without visas. Deft diplomatic moves by the Zambian mission in New York salvages a truly appalling situation.
Zambia Airways acquires a DC-8-71, the plane actually belongs to the government, but in order to keep it active and for easy maintenance, it is added to the fleet and places an order for an MD-11 as well as for a Boeing 757 freighter.
Zambia Airways is the first airline in the world to operate the 757 freighter. With 2,150 employees there is concern that the airline is overmanned with only 300,000 passengers and a fleet of 2 ATR42-320s, 2 Boeing 737s, 1 Boeing 757 freighter, 1 DC-8-61 and 1 DC-10-30. The plane to crew ratio is over 300, three times the ideal.
A crisis develops in 1991. Zambia Airways is affected by the Gulf War as the cost of fuel soars and Zambia Airways now begins getting fuel outside Zambia where it is cheaper. Meanwhile, the escalating civil war in Liberia means the New York flight instead uses Freetown as its base for the hop across the Atlantic on the flight to New York.
As losses pile up, Godfrey Mulundika is sacked, he is replaced by Luke Mbewe a turnaround specialist with a reputation for reviving moribund companies. He does not endear himself to the pilots when he tells them outside the intricacies of the cockpit, flying is no different to driving a bus. He cancels the MD-11 which was even painted in Zambian colours and nearly complete. The cancellation costs a very painful $2 million in penalties.
Zambia Airways not only flies locally but it flies scheduled international flights from Lusaka to Bombay, Dar es Salaam, Entebbe, Frankfurt, Gaborone, Harare, Johannesburg, Lilongwe, London, Lubumbashi Nairobi, and Rome.
True to his reputation, Luke Mbewe slashes 400 jobs and is chipping away at the losses. New York is making losses and the route is chopped. However, he is battling a very strong union and a new government is in place. His reputed family ties to the former President Kenneth Kaunda do not help. He is sacked and replaced by Peter Kaoma who continues to implement his restructuring program.
Unfortunately, the sacked employees are rehired due to political pressure and the airline headcount climbs and its financial status is still bad. By 1994 Peter Kaoma is sacked and George Lewis steps in. By now the situation is dire, Creditors are seizing assets and aircraft must be shuttled around to avoid attachment by banks.
George Lewis puts together a comprehensive resuscitation plan that involves asset sales, workforce cuts, closing of offices and rationalization of routes. He begins laying off employees. However, he is taken by surprise after being assured of the survival plan being put in place, on December 3, 1994, the airline is closed. Vice President General Miyanda announces the placing of Zambia Airways in liquidation.
Passengers are stranded all over the world. Staff are trapped in various offices around the world. The offices are surrounded and locked by armed police. 28 years of operation is over. 28 days before it was due to clock 28 years of operations Zambia Airways shuts its doors.
Its assets are sold off by the liquidators Price Waterhouse. The liquidator Jack Ward, becomes a very well-known person as the various controversies in the liquidation play out on the front pages of the newspapers. Sonny Mulenga the Minister represents the employees in their negotiations with the liquidator.
In a humane gesture Jack Ward, decides to sell the housing stock to the employees. Very soon SP Mulenga and the employees are embroiled in dispute as Jack Ward threatens to sell off the houses because the payments as agreed are not flowing in. It turns out well, S P Mulenga are behind on the payments while the employees in certain cases have even paid in full.
The Zambia Airways maintenance base is invaded by brokers from all over the world as they buy bits and pieces of a 28-year stockpile of spares and equipment. Its Christmas time for anyone who flies BAC-1-11, DC-8, Boeing 707, Boeing 737, Boeing 757, HS 748 and ATR-42. It’s an Aladdin’s cave for spares and sophisticated testing equipment and aircraft metal work shop. Lathes, drills, CNC machines. It all goes. Zambia Airways employees act as consultants to the vultures.
Very soon aircraft engineers, pilots, air hostesses, stewards, cargo handling staff, logistics experts languish away jobless. The lucky ones get jobs abroad. An expensive investment in manpower goes to waste. One Zambia Airways aircraft engineer pops up on BBC, he is now a taxi driver. A man must do what he must do to survive.
Meanwhile, Zambia becomes an aviation backwater. The local airports fall silent some of them for good and become derelict. Kasaba Bay, Zambezi fall into ruin. Zambians now have to go to Harare or fly to South Africa to fly out of the country.
In 1995 the DC-10-30, Nkwazi, is sold to Monarch Air, a UK airline. It is the last aircraft to be disposed of, it is a fitting epitaph.
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International Yearbook (The Encyclopedia of the Newspaper Industry) , 82nd edition. n.p., 2002.
Kasoma, Francis P. "Press Freedom in Zambia." In Press Freedom and Communication in Africa , eds. Festus Eribe and William Jong-Ebot. Trenton, N J: Africa World Press Inc., 1997.
Merrill, John C., ed. Global Journalism (Survey of International Communication) , 2nd edition. New York & London: Longman, 1991.
HISTORY MADE AS ZAMBIA HOLDS FIRST-EVER MISS PLUS SIZE BEAUTY PAGEANT
by Nancy Miti December 2, 2020, 8:13 am 315 Views
ZAMBIA has for the first time held Miss plus Size Zambia beauty pageant at Government Complex with the aim of spreading the message of esteem, confidence and self-love in the lives of the often-overlooked Plus Size Community.
Another aim is to celebrate African Women and with this plus size ambassadors will be brought on board so as to sensitize the nation on different body types and how people can embrace their bodies regardless of size and weight.
It is also there to help the plus-size community showcase their capabilities and creativity that may not be often seen by society due to their body size.
Adding on each contestant was given an opportunity to showcase their skills and talents among other things
Meanwhile, Beatrice Mulauzi took the day as she was crowned the winner of Miss Plus Size Zambia 2020 Beauty Pageant.
Lusaka woman among those arrested for murdering veterinary doctor
A 23-YEAR-OLD woman of Lusaka has been arrested along with three men in connection with the murder of veterinary doctor Evans Mwape Mwengwe over a week ago. Police believe Doris Nduba of Lusaka’s Ibex Hill area turned evil on Dr Mwape after offering her and her accomplices a lift from Kabwe, murdering him and making [&hellip]
Zambian History Comes Alive In Namwali Serpell's 'The Old Drift'
In her Anisfield-Wolf Award-winning novel "The Old Drift," Namwali Serpell charts the history of her homeland of Zambia.
Set primarily in the sub-Saharan African nation, Serpell's tale spans more than a century of Zambian history by weaving together the stories of three very different families - one Zambian, one English and one Italian.
Three generations of characters intertwine. Many of them are fictional, but a few are based on historic figures dating back to 1904.
For instance, at the center of the novel is a group of revolutionaries from the 1960s that became known as the Afronauts.
Edward Mukuka Nkoloso began a Zambian space program in 1964, the same year the Republic of Zambia gained its independence from the United Kingdom.
Edward Makuka Nkoloso (left) with fellow Zambian freedom fighter Andrew Mwenya [National Archives of Zambia]
Journalists from England and the United States traveled to Zambia to interview members of the newly formed nation and Nkoloso's burgeoning space program attracted their attention
"He was doing a kind of do-it-yourself training program. He was rolling his space cadets down hills in empty oil barrels to simulate anti-gravity conditions. He was swinging them from trees. He was creating what he called a rocket. Largely, the West did not take this seriously. They thought he was a quote, ‘amiable lunatic,'" Serpell said.
A newspaper photo shows cadet Matha Mwamba in training. [The Sydney Morning Herald, November 22, 1964]
However, Serpell took Nkoloso seriously and researched his earlier life as a political dissident and freedom fighter for the novel.
"The more research that I did the richer the story became," she said.
Serpell gravitated to the lesser known story of Nkoloso's protege and Zambia's only female space cadet, Matha Mwamba, who is at the center of the novel's narrative.
"According to everyone I spoke to and all of the records I managed to get access to in the archives, [Mwamba] was the smartest of the team and had as high an education as a young woman in Zambia could have as a 16-year-old in the '60s," she said.
Serpell imagines a full life for Mwamba in "The Old Drift" as well as for others in the family, like her grandson who helps take the novel beyond 2020 and into the future.
A newspaper photo shows cadet Matha Mwamba in training. [The Sydney Morning Herald, November 22, 1964]
"I began to think about other aspects of the near future that I was interested in exploring, particularly because people don’t think of Africa as a place where people have technological ideas. But in fact they do. There’s an immense amount of creativity that’s untapped, I think because of lack of opportunities and lack of resources,” she said.
As the novel looks at Zambia's past and imagines its future, it is still very much of the present.
Early in "The Old Drift" a British character speaking about Zambia's possible independence says, "A foot on the neck doesn't feel the cramp."
Despite the scene having been written a few years ago and it being set in 1964, it conjures images of George Floyd's death in 2020.
While it seems prescient, Serpell has been writing about this issue for some time as she's spent the second half of her life living in the United States.
“There were George Floyd protests all over the world as we know and there were George Floyd protests in Zambia, in Lusaka. People recognize what it looks like to have a foot on the neck, or a knee on the neck."
Serpell is proud "The Old Drift" has won Cleveland's Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the literary prize given to writers who address racism and diversity through their work.
“To me it is a great honor to be in such wonderful company, and it’s also very exciting to me to be amongst a group of writers who all have very different takes on race and culture and diversity.
The interview with Namwali Serpell is part of a series featuring the 2020 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award Winners.
Zambia’s history of copper production — Part 2
In Part 1 of Zambia’s history of copper production, we reflected on the country’s progression from the early days of large-scale production of the red metal almost 100 years ago, to the challenges that led to the re-privatisation of the industry at the end of the last century. In Part 2, we take a look at how Zambia’s copper mining journey continued in the years that followed when production levels and economic growth once again took centre stage.
Rising from the ashes
Once Zambia’s government had made the decision to re-privatise the country’s mining sector, the majority of the shares in the national mining entity, Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM), were unbundled and sold to private investors, in a process that was concluded in 2000. The government became a minority shareholder through the state mining investment company, ZCCM Investment-Holdings (ZCCM-IH) and, to this day, retains substantial shareholdings in Zambia’s biggest mines.
Zambia’s nationalised mining industry had been starved of investment for decades, which is ultimately what led to its demise. Much of the technology and machinery that was in place in 2000 dated back to the mid-20th century, with old smelters releasing unacceptably high levels of sulphur dioxide into the surrounding areas.
With the wheels of privatisation turning, foreign capital poured into Zambia’s mining sector. The new companies invested heavily in new machinery, new mining methods, and the latest mineral processing and metal-extraction technologies. Cutting-edge technology was harnessed in order to mine the low-grade copper ores that, due mostly to financial constraints, had been overlooked. Production levels shot up. In 2004, over 400 000 tonnes of finished copper was produced, rising from just 250 000 on the cusp of re-privatisation.
When the copper price did start to rise in 2004, this propelled an existing upward trend. More investment had been channelled into the mining industry between 2000 and 2004 than in the preceding decades combined. As such, Zambia was perfectly positioned to take advantage of the subsequent copper boom, which helped propel the country through a decade of economic growth.
A growth era
Two major greenfield projects were begun during this period of buoyancy and investment. In April 2005, the newly-commissioned Kansanshi mine in Solwezi — majority owned by First Quantum Minerals (FQM) — began production, yielding 70 000 tonnes of copper that first year. Construction of Lumwana copper mine (where mineral deposits had been identified but never exploited) began in 2006, with copper first produced in December 2008. In July 2011, ZCCM-IH opted to sell its stake in Barrick Gold Corporation, which became the sole owner of what is today Barrick Lumwana Copper Mine.
These investors brought the latest technologies with them, enabling the mines to process large quantities of low-grade copper ores. But the new mines were far more than a symbol of optimism in a previously capital-starved industry. The fact that they took root beyond the established mineral wealth of the Copperbelt Province, in North-Western Province, was a game-changer for Zambia’s economy.
Out with the old, in with the new
Meanwhile, in the Copperbelt, the operations that Mopani had bought from ZCCM in 2000 were in a state of chronic dilapidation. The company had no choice but to begin a complete overhaul of the mine workings — the smelter, the refinery, and the shafts — if operations were to continue beyond 2019. An initial US$ 500 million was spent replacing the mid-20th century smelter with a modern equivalent that transformed the efficiency and, crucially, cut sulphur dioxide emissions by 95%. By 2006, the smelter had been completed and the company turned its attention to the refinery, which — despite the unforeseen challenges of the financial crisis, and an attendant slump in the copper price — was completed a few years later, on time.
In 2010, Mopani began focusing on the most substantial phase of renewal: its underground mining infrastructure. The youngest of the antiquated shafts dated to 1971, with four others going back to the 1930s. Glencore, the principal investor, committed to a decade-long investment programme to completely replace the system of shafts that access the Nkana and Mufulira ore bodies. Billions of dollars have been invested during this twenty-year plan to transform Mopani into a world-class mine, extending its life far into the future.
Back in North-Western Province, in 2009 — just a year after the global financial crisis — FQM took the decision to make their largest Zambia-based investment yet. Approximately 150 kilometres away from North-Western Province’s capital, Solwezi — where Kansanshi mine was based — the company undertook to set up its Trident project, consisting of the US$ 2.1 billion Sentinel Copper Mine, and the Enterprise nickel mine. Zambia’s government saw the potential for FQM’s latest project to make a huge dent in the country’s post-crisis recovery, and it responded by tweaking the fiscal regime in a way that was acceptable to all parties and, most importantly, conducive to investment.
With the right conditions in place, FQM began pouring millions of dollars into North-Western Province. The building of Sentinel mine itself was a five-year process, in which thousands of Zambians were employed, and more than 265 000 tonnes of equipment was transported to the site. It was an enormously ambitious undertaking. At the outset, the rural area where the mine’s construction was planned was without an electricity supply, and an entire power grid had to be built. FQM laid 600 kilometres of power lines, traversing the country.
But the vision went beyond sustaining the mine’s operations. FQM began building a brand new town around the mine site, where employees and their families could live, and businesses could flourish, initially to service mining activity. Kalumbila town was built with solid infrastructure, a sewerage system, street lighting, and its own airport — everything that was needed to attract the many businesses that soon sprouted, from world-class commercial and leisure facilities to schools, medical facilities, and housing for its 5 000 residents.
Unlike so many of the world’s mining towns before it, Kalumbila was built to be an economic hub that will be self-sustaining long beyond the life of Sentinel mine. Building a town from scratch cost US$ 200 million, but the investment would be worth it, for generations to come.
From geographical to economic diversification
The investment was the order of the day. The owners of what had become Zambia’s four major mines — Barrick Lumwana, FQM Kansanshi, Mopani and KCM (Konkola Copper Mines) ploughed US$ 12.4 billion into the country’s mining sector between 2000 and 2014. A portion of this investment was used to modernise and refurbish ageing infrastructure at mines in the Copperbelt Province, but most of the capital was put to work expanding and building new operations in what came to be known as “the new Copperbelt” — namely, Northwest Province.
With copper output hovering at around 760 000 tonnes in 2013, Zambia had, essentially, regained production levels last seen in the late 1960s, with the new mining operations in North-Western Province fuelling this momentum. Direct employment in the industry had risen from 22 000 when nationalisation ended, to 90 000 by 2013.
As the centre of gravity of Zambia’s copper-mining industry radiated outwards from the Copperbelt to North-Western province, so prosperity spread too. The country now had a second economic hub in and around Solwezi — and, soon, Kalumbila too — in which employment levels and standards of living were higher than this relatively underdeveloped province had ever previously experienced. The mines in North-Western province created waves of economic activity, as new livelihoods were created in new sectors, and agriculture was stimulated to feed a growing population. It was the economic “multiplier effect” in action.
A watershed moment
When the US$ 2.1-billion Sentinel mine came online in August 2015, it represented the single-largest upfront infrastructure investment in Zambia, since the Kariba Dam. With a substantially increased capacity for copper production, Zambia was far better equipped to respond to global copper demand. In 2015, the World Bank predicted that Zambia’s copper production would reach almost 1.5 million tonnes by 2019, thereafter requiring a renewed surge of investment to continue on an upward trajectory. Tremendous growth was within close reach. It was a promise of growth that Zambians believed would not slip through their fingers again.