A DRIVE to the north-western direction of Solwezi town leads to Kamatete, a traditional settlement under Kapijimpanga chieftainship where a subject, also recognised as Group Leader Mushiya, can be found.
It was amazing to find the group leader in his school uniform amidst pupils on their last day of sitting for the 2015 Grade Seven composite examinations.
The 44-year-old traditional leader is married with 11 children and four grandchildren. In 1989, he sat for the same Grade Seven examinations at Katandano Primary School but failed to make it to Grade Eight.
Many years later, he joined the Kamatete Adult Literacy education programme sponsored by Kansanshi Mine to promote education amongst elderly people in the community.
Adult literacy education is a life-changing intervention programme embraced by community members and local leaders from communities surrounding the mine.
In 2011, the mine and the government, through community development in Solwezi, got into partnership to roll-out an adult literacy programme to community members in Mushitala, Kabwela, Kabulobe, Kyafukuma, Kamatete and Wisdom.
The arrangement was that the mine would provide funding for the project whilst government (community development) provides materials in form of adult literacy guides and technical support.
It is the knowledge that the group leader gained from the adult literacy class that prompted him to rewrite his Grade Seven examinations this year at Kamatete Primary School after 26 years.
â€œI must thank Kansanshi Mine for introducing the adult literacy class here at Kamatete. This programme has been very helpful to me and many people in this community,â€ he says.
And now the traditional leader has contributed to an atmosphere dominated by learning at Kamatete Primary School through his friendly interaction with both teachers and pupils. And he is confident about the situation.
â€œI am happy that Kansanshiâ€™s corporate social responsibility team has helped many people in adult literacy schools to learn how to read and write in kiiKaonde and English, and how to tackle basic arithmetic. I find this education most rewarding,â€ he says.
The mine runs the classes in communities around it to enhance basic and functional literacy so that they too contribute to the well-being of the province and the nation at large.
Group Leader Mushiya stresses the importance of a traditional leader going to school: â€œA leader should be educated, otherwise leading people when you are not educated has many challenges, among them, children in the area not attending school. There are great benefits in having community leaders with education at heart.â€
Contrary to common aspirations of getting an education to secure employment, he says: â€œI do not have an intention to get employed, but to acquire enough education to sharpen my management skills in the village.â€
Group Leader Mushiya says the two years he has spent in pursuing adult education have provoked an appetite for further studies.
â€œGrade Seven examinations were easy because I was fully prepared to pass with the knowledge from my adult literacy teachers. I long to continue with my studies after the results,â€ he says.
He confesses that he comes from a family where no one is educated.
â€œThe absence of educated people in our family pains me a lot; and that is why I decided to go back to school so that one day I may lead the family towards education.â€
He has appealed for sponsorship from the mining firm to enable him proceed to Grade Eight, should he passes his exams. He has been inspired by famous Kenyan adult school entrants like late Kimani Maruge who went to school at the age of 84 in 2004 and died five years later. Additionally, 90-year-old Priscilla Sitienei went to school with six of her great-great-grandchildren.
Group Leader Mushiya hopes to spark a revolution where older learners who stopped going to school long ago opt to go back to the classroom.
He is a God-fearing leader who condemns common practices of witchcraft and beer-drinking.
â€œI canâ€™t join the sphere of wizards because practicing witchcraft has no future. And I cannot mix drinking [beer] with education. I shall remain a staunch member of the club of Christians and academicians,â€ he says.
He goes to Baptist Church, and for the past four years he has been a group leader, his charismatic leadership has been weaved by a mixture of benevolence and amity.
School head girl Bridget Kalota says Group Leader Mushiya is a role model in Kamatete area because he encourages everyone to go to school.
â€œWe love the group leader because he is a motivator and he advises us on school matters,â€ she says.
School head teacher Lemmy Miyanda believes that the group leaderâ€™s positive influence on education will produce a change of mindset among the people in Kamatete.
â€œIt is a great achievement for the group leader to go to school. He is the first parent learning among children in the history of this school which opened in 2000,â€ Mr Miyanda says.
Group Leader Mushiyaâ€™s commitment to fighting social vices that bruise the pride of women in Kamatete has helped the mine focus on the locality as a prime operation area for advocacy against gender-based violence and early marriages.
â€œChildren are usually alone in the villages whilst their parents are many kilometres away cultivating farm lands,â€ Mr Miyanda says. â€œAnd these children are exposed to all sorts of illicit acts. I am happy the group leader and Kansanshi Mine have agreed to work together in the crusade against these vices.â€
For Kamatete people, the long-awaited partnership with Kansanshi in the promotion of education and the fight against early marriages has just been born.