DARLINGTON MWENDABAI, Petauke
THE presidential motorcade drove from Petauke Boma on a dusty gravel road for less than two minutes and arrived at Muzabwela Farm around 16:40 hours where President Edgar Lungu’s stepmother Ekelesi Nkhoma Lungu, brothers and a sister live.This is in Chief Kalindawalo’s area.
President Lungu had decided to visit his family after a three-day visit to Eastern Province.
He was accompanied by Presidential Affairs Minister Freedom Sikazwe, Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya, Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu and Petauke District Commissioner Velenasi Banda Moyo among others.
The media was obviously in tow.
This was last week Monday.
The head of State was welcomed by his brothers Fashion, Gideon, Ariel and the sister Bertha Lungu.
The women who were around led by his mother Ekelesi Nkhoma Lungu sang some traditional songs as a way of welcoming him while, a few children who were around sat on a veranda of a grass-thatched house trying to perhaps figure out what the hullaballoo was all about.
Many years from now, they will probably be able to put everything into perspective. For now though, they may be able to share with their friends at school that they had seen the President up-close. Some will probably go as far as boasting that the President is their uncle or grandfather.
Or simply put, they will start boasting that the President is their relative.
For Ms Ekelesi Lungu, the delight at the presidential visit was evident. She kept saying “my beloved son, my beloved son.”
With protocols momentarily put aside, Ms Ekelesi Lungu, who had embraced the President when she sighted him, said she was happy to have her son visit them.
The President and his mother exchanged pleasantries as they laughed while the brothers and other family members were being introduced.
Ms Ekelesi Lungu said Mr Lungu will always be her beloved son. But he reminded her that he is now President of Zambia, which obviously means he is now State property.
Few minutes later, President Lungu’s brothers led by Fashion Lungu took him on a tour of the farm and shared with him what they were doing as well as the challenges that they were facing.
After a brief tour of the farm, it was time to take family photos. These are obviously treasured photographs. But most of them were being taken by the presidential photographer Eddie Mwanaleza. Some of those photographs have landed in newspaper columns. The relatives should probably be advised to look for national newspapers and store them somewhere safe. You never know, many years from now, some may dispute that the President never visited them at their homestead.
But obviously, the President’s presence in the area was an opportunity to make a few requests. In any case, you never know when next he is going to come around. Muzabwela Farm is located in what is called the lime section in Chief Kalindawalo’s area in Petauke district.
Probably in a pre-arranged manner, Mary Banda was chosen as the spokesperson presumably on behalf of the women.
The list of the requests is almost predictable: the area needs a clinic, a school and boreholes to draw water from.
When the President asked the women one major thing that they wanted Government to do for them, they all said in unison that they wanted a school.
President Lungu in return directed the Petauke District Commissioner Banda Moyo to ensure that the water problem, lack of a clinic and school are all addressed.
After another round of family photographs, the President had to again drive on the dusty gravel road to see his father’s immediate younger sister Manesi Lungu, who is aged 86 in Mkwama Village within Chief Kalindawalo’s area.
There, scores of people were waiting for him.
Ms Manesi Lungu, who also described the President as his beloved son, was happy that the head of State was always thinking about the family.
President Lungu, who sat on a reed mat, jocularly told his aunt: “I have heard that you are from Malawi?” She then replied: “No, I do not know about us living in Malawi. We have never lived in Malawi. We hail from this village [Mkwama] where you are coming from. This is our home son, and you are welcome home.”
Ms Manesi Lungu then told President Lungu that she had prepared a bed for him to sleep in just like in the old days before he became Zambia’s head of State.
Of course it was all a joke.
The President told those around the room that “this is my sister to my father” but Ms Manesi Lungu interjected and said “my son Chagwa” to which he responded that “I am also Edgar”.
But she insisted: “But you are my son Chagwa!” as the two embraced each while exchanging warm pleasantries.
After chatting with his aunt, the President went to see an unfinished community school within Mkwama village. Obviously, unimpressed with the standard of the school, he directed the provincial minister as well as the district commissioner to ensure that a 1 x 3 classroom block is constructed as soon as possible.
Later, Mr Lungu’s presidential motorcade drove to Simambumbu Village within Chief Kalindawalo’s area to see Amai Jere’s [his biological mother] relations where he was also given another warm welcome despite it being late in the evening around 19:00 hours.
Like the say, there is no place like home.
DARLINGTON MWENDABAI, Petauke