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Reliving Mwinilunga, Ikeleng’i sojourn

NELSON Samakayi, 45, a ‘prophet’ who runs Jordan Holy Spirit traditional hospital hosts more than 500 patients occupying over 50 huts in one compound called Chilombo.The Prophet claims that he heals patients using anointed water from the Zambezi source in Ikeleng’i-. The hospital is specialised in witchcraft, reproductive health and all strange ailments. PICTURE: BRIAN MALAMA.

BRIAN MALAMA
WHAT was planned to be a five-day trip to North-Western Province with a view to profiling two constituencies and three districts resulted in an epic journey to remember.
My trip to Chingola was somewhat smooth, but no sooner had I left the once-upon-a-time cleanest town in Zambia en route to Solwezi than my nightmare began.
I was on the notorious Chingola-Solwezi highway making my journey on the road which despite being a mere160 kilometres-plus lasted close to three hours bcause of its deplorable state.
The asphalt has slowly been eroding because of immense pressure from heavy trucks ferrying mineral ores, equipment and all kinds of cargo to the mines in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Other than that, the route has not received much attention from past governments over a very long period of time.
However, the good news is that President Lungu last week commissioned the reconstruction of this economically viable route.
My drive on the road was at the proverbial snail’s pace as I tried very hard to negotiate the potholes and heavy goods trucks driven in a rough manner with little regard for other motorists.
Nonetheless, I managed with great difficulty to reach the bustling town of Solwezi and made a reservation at a local lodge.
I checked in around 01.00 hours.
Although I had somewhat a peaceful night, I noticed lots of cobwebs in my dingy room.
There was no television, clean linen and other essentials that one would expect in a hotel room.
However, I endured the ordeal till I moved to another hotel on the second day.
Though Solwezi hosts Zambia’s largest mines, it is still poorly designed with only one main road with the rest of the roads being untarred.
The haphazard structures and businesses dotted around the town centre give the provincial headquarters an unsightly image.
Despite this, many people I spoke to expressed excitement at the economic and social activities that have transformed the mining town into a bustling place.
Local authorities have a lot of work to do in terms of setting out a satellite town and putting up well-organised suburbs, a central business district, industrial parks and shopping malls.
Kansanshi Copper Mines has taken it upon itself to transform the place into a modern city.
Among plans to upgrade the place is the project by First Quantum Minerals (FQM) which is putting up housing schemes in Kalumbila and Kabitaka, while the mining firm has so far spent US$3 million in upgrading the Solwezi airport.
Soon FQM will be commissioning its smelter.
The local authority should also think of setting up a decent bus terminus befitting the status of the town.
On the third day I set out to Ikeleng’i where President Lungu charmed villagers when he touched down at Kaleni Hills just before 12:30 hours on Friday May 15, 2015.
Mr Lungu received a thunderous welcome as scores of villagers and civil servants thronged Kaleni Hills Secondary School to catch a glimpse of the head of state; the first to visit the area in 50 years.
President Lungu was showered with blessings by traditional leaders and a local missionary and philanthropist Peter Henry Fisher, who is a household name in the area.
“President Lungu has scored a first for being the only sitting-in President to have visited his people here in 50 years, a development we are very proud of,” Mr Fisher said.
President Lungu was in the area to check on development projects such as the first government district hospital under construction, building of a boarding school and council staff houses.
The President announced that Government will soon construct a road from Mwinilunga to Jimbe border, which leads to the DR Congo and Angola.
Before my trip to Ikeleng’i, I spent a night in Mwinilung’a and interacted with a number of local people and night lovers.
I came across a man who told me about a sect that addresses members by numbers and does not administer conventional medicine for health problems.
I got interested in the story and elected to investigate this cult or sect.
However; I was warned to be very careful as the group was somewhat intolerant of strangers.
However, I could not be dissuaded and cranked my engine at 05:00 hours, but as the vehicle worked the terrain, a big sound popped up rocking my car off the road.
I had just cleared 25 kilometres.
At the crack of dawn I got stuck and discovered there was no mobile network coverage and it was getting dark.
I gingerly walked off the car to have a look. Upon checking, I discovered that a ball-joint was broken.
I quickly ran into the car and waited up to 07:00 hours.This time I chanced a government vehicle from the office of the permanent secretary.
I forked out some unbudgeted-or money for the ball-joints.
In the interim, I hired a motorbike to ferry me to the religious sect called Yerusalema Yayiha K [New Jerusalem Kingdom]. It cost me K200 to return to where the vehicle had broken down.
The man I hired was apparently a council security guard from Mwinilunga.
The ride was exactly 92 kilometres; we spent one and half hours one way.
We were warmly received by members who announce themselves by numbers.
The two said they were number 46 and 47 and were the last surviving sect members.
However, the revelation of the two sect members is another story.
After so much exhaustion I retired myself from this epic journey which took me 10 days.
My car was fixed and I safely drove back to Lusaka incident-free.
I passed through the Chingola-Solwezi road once more and sighed with relief at the fact that the government will soon work on the ‘mini-hell run’.
Then I remembered the sect members who choose to address themselves by numbers.

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