Editor's Comment

Happy 50th birthday awesome Zambia

TODAY Zambia is 50 years old as an independent nation.
Citizens, their leaders and invited guests are attending celebrations in all the 10 provinces of the country.
The road to the golden jubilee has been rugged, hilly and long.
Since October 24, 1964 so much has happened in every sphere of life that if anyone had to write a book it would actually feel the room of an average house.
We are celebrating 50 years of peace, economic development and personal progression.
What a journey it has been!
Every citizen should rise and shine.
Let us celebrate our independence from Britain because it has enabled us to shape the future of our nation.
The freedom our forefathers and matriarchs fought for has enabled us to rule ourselves: make our own laws, mobilise our own resources with some help from co-operating partners and choose our own leaders.
We need to toast our resilience, the virtue that has helped us to weather numerous political, social and economic storms to be where we are today.
For those who were not there, who may be tempted to take the freedoms we are enjoying today for granted, the people of this beautiful nation lived like refugees in their own land.
Before 1964 it was not easy to travel to urban areas from the village.
And for those who were in the urban areas, especially mining towns, moving around was a risky undertaking.
Yes, it was risky because Africans were required to move with the obnoxious pass to justify their presence.
The pass served the same purpose as the national registration card today.
The only difference is that whereas the latter is used as confirmation of a person’s citizenship status, the former was used as an instrument of oppression.
Being found without a pass at any time of the day or night by the cruel colonial police meant detention and subsequent ‘deportation’.
Africans were not allowed to enter stores. They were to buy everything they wanted through a window where as white people were allowed inside and treated to royal hospitality.
Some parts of towns were designated as for whites only, and Africans who dared violate this discriminatory requirement were arrested and sent back to their chiefdoms of origin.
There was no freedom of movement.
Today someone can just wake up in his thatch-roofed hut in the village and travel to the Copperbelt, Lusaka or any other urban settlement without any fear of being harassed by colonial police.
Today, one can walk in and out of any departmental store as many times as one wishes without being asked to buy from the window.
Zambians are in positions of leadership in politics and government. They own cars and houses.
Many citizens are owners of companies that have employed hundreds of compatriots and foreigners.
Zambians are driving some of the trendiest motor vehicles.
We have indeed come a long way.
Of course there have been, and continue to be, challenges at individual, household, community and national levels.
But should we allow these challenges to deprive us of an opportunity to celebrate our golden jubilee. Nay.
We should pause, look back at the journey we have travelled and look ahead at the opportunities lying in our path.
The nation has seen five governments since 1964 under Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda and the incumbent Michael Sata.
Each of these gallant men has made his unique contribution to the development of this country.
Today, Zambia is a lower middle-income economy. Ten years ago it was wallowing at the bottom of the global development index as one of the poorest countries.
The whole nation has turned into a construction site as the new government races to deliver real development and pull millions of its citizens out of poverty so that they can celebrate independence with a meaning.
We should all work even harder to make this reality.
Let us remain a united nation, a beacon of peace and a shining example to others surrounding us and beyond.
What a country, what a people!
Happy 50th birthday Zambia. You are simply awesome.

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