@50 Jubilee Editor's Choice Features

Edmund Telya: Recalling the struggles of our forefathers

MUNIDE ZULU, Lusaka
AT the age of 25, in 1964, Edmund Telya, now 75, was old enough to fully understand the intricacies of the freedom struggle and what it cost our forefathers emancipate our country.
Telya explains how hard life was that time, especially when it came to accessing education, adding that it was a nightmare for many children.
Other children stayed away from school as their parents could not afford to pay for their education while others, due to long distances, decided to dropout.
But Mr Telya, born in Kachulu, Chief Mailo, in Serenje district, was one of the lucky ones who managed to get an education up to tertiary level.
He underwent training at Hudson Technical College in Lusaka from 1960 to 1963.
After completing his studies, he joined the Ministry of Community Development, where he worked as a community worker, a job he diligently served for 32 years before retiring in 1996.
He remembers that during his school days at primary or standard level there was segregation of African from Western children. He attended school for blacks only as whites had their own.
Mr Telya vividly remembers how black people were relegated to buying food and other products through a small window and how lives were lost during the struggle for independence.
He also recalls how people used to safeguard and respect their customs unlike now.
“Most people by then based their marriage on their customs and divorce cases were unheard of and if so, we would hear of such once after five years,” he says.
Mr Telya also states how people would marry from their homeland saying this contributed to having strong marriages unlike now when people marry before knowing the roots of their partners.
He stressed the need for people to go back to their roots instead of following foreign cultures as has been the case, which he says has brought more harm than good.
“It’s unfortunate that children of nowadays look at senior citizens like us to be old-fashioned. It’s not about that, especially when it comes to tradition,” he notes.
Mr Telya advises young couples to look up to people like him and emulate their way of living if they are to learn more and have a better life.
When it comes to transportation, he recalls how families would sometimes spend a week on the roadside waiting for transport.
“People used to carry food and they would prepare meals on the roadside whilst waiting for a bus to take them to their various destinations,” he states.
And Mr Telya’s wife, Elizabeth, chipped in and shared her experience on how she was traumatised after meeting half-naked Julia Mulenga Nsofwa also known as Mama Chikamoneka on her way to school at Matero bus station.
As her usual trend, mama Chikamoneka was on that fateful day on a mission to ferry pupils to the airport to meet McLeod from England at the now Kenneth Kaunda International airport in 1959.
“I lost my books that day and I ran home almost breathless before telling my mother what had transpired. As a young girl, I could not believe seeing a naked elderly woman with exposed big breasts standing before me and my fellow pupils from Matero Primary School,” she recalls as her husband glanced at her.
And 50 years down the line, Mr Telya can only thank God for giving strength, power and knowledge to our forefathers who fought hard for the country’s freedom which has also benefited the country’s economy.
Issues of communication and transportation which used to be a hassle have now improved as most people own cars and move with revolving technology, he adds.
Mr Telya, a father of three daughters and grandfather of six, is happy with what the Patriotic Front is doing in documenting the country’s rich history.
He notes that during the struggle for independence, people were not knowledgeable of what was happening in other parts of the country.
“We are learning other things now and we are being informed and educated. This is good and should be commended by all well-meaning Zambians,” he says.
He also stressed the need for Government to look after surviving freedom fighters who fought for a just cause.
He observes that many freedom fighters, especially in townships, are not well looked after hence the need for Government’s intervention.
“Government should also care for children who lost their parents and guardians as a result of their sacrifice during the country’s independence struggle,” Mr Telya states.
Mr Telya, a Catholic worshiping at St John’s parish in Kabanana, says Zambia’s Golden Jubilee celebration could not have come at a better time than now due to various developmental projects the Patriotic Front is undertaking.
“Most people’s living standards have improved and jobs are being created, what more can we ask for?” he asked.
He also brags of celebrating jubilee in style for being happily married with his wife of 43 years.

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