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Farewell great hunter

I PICKED up an empty cartridge. It was from the Sellier & Bellot bullets, a couple that went off a W.W. Greener shotgun during a salute for late conservationist, hunter, educationist and traditionalist Stephen Kalembwe Sakabilo, who was put to rest in his home village of Lifweko in Mongu last Saturday.
The last born of Sakabilo (father) and Namucana (mother) in a family of seven, Mr Kalembwe was born on January 27, 1937.
He had his childhood on the west coast of the Barotse Flood Plain, on the terraces of the Kalamba forest.
Mr Kalembwe attended elementary, standard one up to four at Kama and Ndau Primary in the late 1940s before proceeding to Lukona Mission for standard four up to six in the early 1950s.
Between 1958 and 1959, he went to Lukulu Mission to train as a teacher. During the course of training, Mr Kalembwe revealed his potential and was elected a students’ representative.
He was posted to teach in Kalabo district upon completion of the course. He was promoted to the position of head teacher after two years of service. Mr Kalembwe did several head teachers’ courses at Chalimbana In-service Training Institute.
His first contact with wildlife was natural in his early life because the flood plain was haven for different bird species, fish and reptiles, large and small mammals that provided the much-needed protein for the locals.
He told a lot of stories of how abundant the resource was during the time he was growing and he bemoaned the bad harvesting practices by the current generation of youths.
In 1960, Mr Kalembwe married Catherine, the first-born daughter of Maimbolwa Sakubita, an educationist-turned politician at independence in 1964.
Mr Sakubita was Member of Parliament for Kalabo Central before becoming Eastern Province permanent secretary and later Southern Province minister.
Mr Sakubita owned a few guns for hunting and security when Mr Kalembwe had his first son, named after the grandfather-Mr Sakubita, who handed the grandson one of the guns, a W.W. Greener shotgun, as a gift.
It is this shotgun that gave birth to Mr Kalembwe’s hunting prowess. Being head teacher at schools on the terraces of the Liuwa National Park, Mr Kalembwe worked well with the then Wildlife Services during harvesting quotas.
With time, he improved his shooting accuracy to what one could simply call a ‘sniper’.
He is one of those hunters who would spot some wading birds and say, ‘I will pick those three, I want those other two to go and lay eggs for the next season,’ and he would achieve just that.
Certain times, he would start debates about the difference in taste between fish and game meat, and would provide the fish and meat the following day for the family.
Mr Kalembwe was a disciplinarian and traditionalist. He held the Lozi culture close to his heart as much as ever. He was known for correcting people’s broken si-Lozi (spoken).
Many speakers of si-Lozi know Mr Kalembwe. He is the man behind the bellowing voice of praise for the Litunga in the original Luiana dialect on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC’s) Radio I at the start of all the Lozi programming.
He was first recorded eulogising the late Litunga, Ilute Yeta, under the recording titled ‘Isikuubili’ in 1984. He was the Ingenda (village headman) of Lifweko.
He battled with cancer until the ‘mighty ox’- death, met him at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka on October 30 this year.
Rest in peace, great hunter. Farewell dad.
Till next week, I sign out.
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