KNOW YOUR DISTRICT with STEVEN MVULA, Kasempa
DATING back to 1904, Kasempa district in North-Western Province is probably one of the oldest in Zambia.
The district, which is surrounded by hills, measures about 21,000 square kilometres, making it one of the largest in the country.
Although it is graded as urban, it is typically rural and poor. But the potential for development is there.
In fact, there is potential for lodges in the district which lacks any form of shopping malls or tourist amenities.
Little known to many people, Kasempa is a tourist attraction hosting the larger part of the Kafue National Park.
There are about 63,000 people in the entire district, but only about 3,000 live in the urban area. The rest are dotted in the villages.
It neighbours five districts namely Mufumbwe and Solwezi in North-Western Province, Mumbwa and Kapiri Mposhi in Central Province and Lufwanyama in Copperbelt Provinces.
Council secretary Evert Ngâ€™andu speaks at length when given an opportunity to discus Kasempa.
Mr Ngâ€™andu said in a recent interview that Kasempa is the â€œjewelâ€ of North-Western Province, home of the Kaonde-speaking people.
He disclosed that Kasempa is home to other tribes such as the Kaonde-Lamba, Luvales, Lundas and Mbundas.
The district has two traditional rulers: Senior Chief Kasempa and Chief Ingwe.
There are three traditional ceremonies that are observed each year.
These are Nsomo Ya ba-Kaonde, Lwandela and Nsakwa Ya ba-Kaonde.
Mr Ngâ€™andu said the district boasts of cultural diversity, which is also a tourist attraction.
â€œThis is a society on the move. It is a diverse society. And for your information, this is the only place in the country where yam is grown. But we also grow maize, groundnuts and sweet potatoes,â€ he said.
Mr Ngâ€™andu said the district has a good rainfall pattern because it lies in the Congo basin, thereby making it the food basket of North-Western Province.
Kasempa is also home to the great Kafue River, Ilunga River, Lufupa River and many numerous rivers making the land arable.
In terms of location, Kasempa is about 550 kilometres from Lusaka, hence the cry by the people for the tarring of the Kasempa-Mumbwa road.
â€œActually, this place is closer to Kapiri [Mposhi] than many people know. It is also not far from Lusaka. In fact the people of this place have prioritised the Kasempa-Mumbwa road because once the road is done, people will even do their daily shopping from Lusaka,â€ Mr Ngâ€™andu said.
He said the Kasempa-Mumbwa road will add economic value to the town because Lusaka is a huge market, which the farmers in Kasempa can tap.
â€œOnce the Kasempa-Mumbwa road is worked on, people here will cut down on expenses on fuel and time when getting to Lusaka. Presently one has to drive all the way to the Copperbelt to get to Lusaka. This has made the cost of living very expensive,â€ Mr Ngâ€™andu said.
The other priority roads which Government has earmarked to work on under the Link-Zambia 8000 project are the Kasempa-Kalulushi road and Kasempa-Kaoma roads.
Apart from being a food basket for the province and hosting the larger part of the Kafue National Park, Kasempa also boasts of mines – gold mines.
Kutoka Mema Gold Mine and several copper mines are a source of livelihood for many people in the district.
Cobalt is also mined in the area.
â€œThere is extensive mining and exploration,â€ Mr Ngâ€™andu said.
On matters of health, Mukinge Mission Hospital is a household name, but the residents still want a district hospital as Mukinge is a faith-based institution that has served the area for many years.
â€œWe are grateful to Government for the nine health posts that are under construction here. But people still want a government-owned district hospital,â€ Mr NgÃ¡ndu said.
Government has also acquired three ambulances for the district, which have played a big role in helping the sick in far-flung areas.
A cervical cancer clinic has also been set up at the Kasempa Urban Clinic, which has reduced the distance women were taking to get to Solwezi even for mere screening.
â€œOur women now can access cervical cancer services nearby. This has been a great boost,â€ Mr Ngâ€™andu said.
On education, Kasempa has several schools.
Several community schools such as Kamusongola and Kalengwa have been upgraded into conventional institutions and are being run by the government.
Politically and in terms of local government administration, Kasempa district has 22 wards.
Majority of councillors are from the former ruling MMD, while the Patriotic Front (PF) has five and the United Party for National Development (UPND) two.
In terms of telecommunication, only five wards out of the 22 have mobile phone masts.
This has left many people cut off in terms of mobile phone communication.
On the social side of the town, the council has not registered any marriages in the last six months as many people prefer traditional marriages.
â€œIn the last six months, this council has not ceremonised any marriage. People are of course getting married in a traditional way. But marriages area supposed to be one of our sources of revenue as a council,â€ Mr Ngâ€™andu said.
Despite all the challenges it is facing, Kasempa is surely a district on the move.
KNOW YOUR DISTRICT with STEVEN MVULA, Kasempa