ZUMANI KATASEFA, Luanshya
AT 96 years old, he vividly recalls how a very young German fought him and injured him dangerously although he later managed to kill his young attacker.
This is Benson Nkonde, who fought in the Second World War and he is still alive and resides in Luanshya.
Mr Nkonde was born in Chinsali district on November 7, 1921.
He was recruited in the army when he was 18-years-old when he went to the market in Chinsali to get his identity card. A military vehicle driving through Chinsali spotted him and picked him to be a soldier to fight in the Second World War.
He says all young men seemingly looking fit were forced to jump on to the vehicle. Her mother, concerned over his fate, followed the vehicle that had picked him but the threat of a gun made her to abandon the chase.
He says that they were later taken to Chalimbana from Lusaka and proceeded to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania where all recruits from Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland were given skills in warfare including how to handle 303Nfield rifles and machine guns and how to be fighting as snipers.
The war veteran was later sent to Mogadishu in Somalia and Ethiopia to fight in the Abyssinian War against the German army.
“The incident I cannot forget, is when a very young German fought with me and injured me dangerously near a clavicles and I managed to kill the blond youngster,” Mr Nkonde told the gathering that turned up at the Luanshya Civic Centre where they conferred him with Free Man of the municipality of Luanshya.
Local Government permanent secretary Amos Malupenga, who was the guest of honour at the occasion, appealed to public service workers to be passionate and committed to duty if they are to succeed and emulate the ex-service men who fought in the World war.
The honorary freeman of the municipality is an honour bestowed upon any distinguished persons in recognition and appreciation of their long and faithful public service.
Councils confer the title of freeman on people for their notable achievement and contributions to the community.
And Mr Malupenga said one needed to love what he does if he or she has to be effective and contribute effectively to public service.
He said if Mr Nkonde was not passionate about his duty, he was not going to effectively fight in the Second World War.
Mr Malupenga said skills alone are not sufficient if one has to be effective and productive, but one has to love his work.
“If we do not love what we are doing we are not going to be effective, let us be passionate about what we are doing, skills alone are not sufficient, let us emulate those who loved their work,” Mr Malupenga said.
He added that it was good that Mr Nkonde was honoured when he was still alive saying that it makes sense to honour people who had excelled in their duty while they are alive and not when they are dead.
Speaking at the same occasion, Luanshya mayor Nathan Chanda said that the local authority will be calling upon the senior citizens, whenever the council needed their counsel on civic matters.
Mr Chanda said the municipality was excited to have men around who had sacrificed their lives to public service.
He appealed to young men to emulate those who had passion for duty in their lives.
The function was attended by the army, ex- soldiers, the police and heads of government departments.
After being conferred with the freeman of the municipality, the nonagerian was driven past the Luanshya Post Office opposite the civic centre where the people waved at him.
One of the residents, who witnessed the colourful ceremony, said there is need to honour such men who greatly and selfishly contributed to the liberation of the country.
“These were real men, who served the country and the world without being selfish,” John Tembo commented as he pointed at Mr Nkonde who was clad in a white suit.