Features

Our cry after joy

Left to right: Martin Malama, chairperson of the Bangweulu Wetlands Management Board; Jean Kapata - Minister of Tourism and Arts; Davies Mwango - MP for Kanchibiya; and Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks.

IT’S WILD with SAKABILO KALEMBWE
ARE we ever going to enjoy the Golden Jubilee glee? When we thought we had something to rejoice for, the next day we are covered in tears.
But why are things happening this way? Are we going to find answers to many of these questions obscuring our minds right now? President Sata died after massive celebrations of Zambia’s golden jubilee of independence.
I covered the official handover of wildlife species at State House in 2011 soon after the Patriotic Front came into power.
I learnt how President Sata loved wildlife through his speech at the handover, especially that this was not long after his predecessor had evicted monkeys from State House grounds.
Charles Dickens in his Great Expectations wrote that, ‘Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before – more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.’
I thought October, being Zambia’s hottest month, would this time be ‘cool’ because of the fruitful hosting of the golden jubilee celebrations that integrated people from far and wide.
Even cooler, when conservationists’ dreams are slowly being attained; as a long-term agreement for the management of the Bangweulu Wetlands is signed.
The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), African Parks and the six Community Resource Boards that make up the Bangweulu Game Management Area have sealed a deal.
The signing ceremony took place in Lusaka on October 15, led by Tourism Minister Jean Kapata, and deputy ministers, the permanent secretary, their royal highnesses Senior Chief Kopa, Chief Nsamba, Chief Kabinga, Chief Bwalyamponda, Chief Chitambo and a representative of Chief Chiundaponde as  well as members of the Bangweulu Wetlands Board.
The Bangweulu Wetlands is situated in the upper Congo River Basin in north-eastern Zambia comprising the Bangweulu Game Management Area (GMA) and encompassing the territories of six chiefdoms. The land is community-owned and held in trust by the chiefs.
According to African Parks chief executive officer Peter Fearnhead, the conclusion of the new legal accord represents a collective desire to enable the Wetlands to realise its conservation, tourism and economic potential to the benefit of the communities living in and around it. The new management contract also provides clarity on previously outstanding matters such as the setting of quotas and the collection and distribution of revenue derived from hunting licences and fees.
African Parks is a non-profit organisation that takes on total responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities.
The organisation operates seven national parks in six countries: Zambia, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Chad.
May the Almighty be with all Zambians during the period of national mourning and may the soul of our departed President rest in peace.
Till next week, bye!

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