MRS Esther Nyawa Lungu, Zambiaâ€™s First Lady, has opened up a rare chapter of President Lungu, a â€˜soft partâ€™ that many Zambians have probably not been privy to since he assumed office over a year ago.
Mrs Lungu has described the sixth President of Zambia as a â€˜kind man, a loving man and a man who resents segregation, based on tribe, creed, religion or colour.
â€œYou may know him as the President or the Commander in Chief, but to me, he is just Edgar, a very loving and kind man whose heart bleeds a lot at the sight of human sufferingâ€¦he strives to have a just Zambia in the midst of huge challenges and that is my greatest admiration of him. Edgar is a great dad and grand dad too.â€
This is the first time Mrs Lungu was speaking openly about her husband whom she simply calls awisi Daliso meaning, the father of Daliso, whom she has been married to and partnered with for more than 30 good years.
President Lungu became the sixth Zambian head of State on January 25, 2015, following the unfortunate demise of President Michael Sata, but he has remained, â€œmy same loving and caring husband, keeping his old friends and assuming new ones with the same ease old Edgar ease.â€
Mrs Lungu reckons, â€œEdgarâ€™s humble beginning I think makes him the kind and loving man that he is and also his strong Christian background dating back to childhood crowns it all. He is an extremely generous man.â€
The first family are staunch Baptists, albeit President Lungu in his formative years was a member of the United Church of Zambia (UCZ), while Mrs Lungu was initially of Catholic faith. She still cannot get enough of her husband and herself meeting the Pope at the Vatican.
â€œWhen we first met, Edgar had his UCZ hymn books while I had my catholic catechism books, until we eventually found common ground in the Baptist faith. Christianity is something very very dear to Edgarâ€™s heart. It is perhaps why I love him so much. He hates injustice and he takes his God and Saviour Jesus Christ very seriously in all his work. He believes in equality for all, regardless of tribe or gender.â€
Mrs Lungu says the presidency is something the family never expected but nevertheless, it enhances her faith in God saying, â€œEdgar Lunguâ€™s presidency to me is testimony that leadership comes from God. Of course, the Zambian people voted for him because the good Lord led them to believe that he (Edgar) is a good and just man. I personally never tire to thank God for the blessings he has given my husband, the blessings my husband passes to the nation selflessly and tirelessly.â€
Mrs Lungu says the good grace the family has had since President Lungu assumed office last year, â€œled me (Mrs Lungu) to start charity work barely two months after my husband Edgar became President. I want to help vulnerable women, girls and children in order to compliment my husbandâ€™s huge task of governing the nation.â€
Mrs Lungu says, â€œEdgar has a tough and lonely job, but I want to make sure that the family helps him out as much as possible as he delivers this task given to him by Godâ€¦leadership comes from God and so does justice. Edgarâ€™s belief in God helps ease the heavy national burden that he always carries.â€
She recalls how â€œtoughâ€ it was when the family first entered State House and were suddenly thrown onto the local and international spot-light. To have the whole nation suddenly practically depend on her husband to steer the nation in the right direction.
â€œIt was tough, we did not know how people would perceive us, there were low supplies of medicine in hospitals, a climate change induced drought, short supplies of fuel and electricity among other things my husband had to immediately grapple with,â€ Mrs Lungu says.
But like a Duck to water, President Lungu, according to his wife went around the business of stabilising fuel and medicine supplies, and investment into the energy sector immediately. He was President on day one, Mrs Lungu says.
She recalls how in the first year in office, President Lunguâ€™s government invested more than US$4 billion in the energy sector that had been neglected for more than 40 years, expedited the signing of a new constitution and continued to roll out the infrastructure programme unseen in Zambia again since independence.
â€œI think my husband has under quite harsh circumstances, done a commendable job and I believe he will do even better once he is given a full five-year mandate instead of just a year and half. I am a mother and I know that it is practically impossible to achieve much in a yearâ€¦even a child is not fully functional in a year,â€ she says.
What about on a personal level, how is Edgar Lungu?
In the words of his wife, â€œhe is a simple man with simple tastes in food and in dress. As a wife, I take personal interest in what he eats or drinks including what he wears. He is a national leader and a person who is supposed to inspire young people and make them believe that they can achieve anything they want if they put their minds to it and get an education.â€
She is alive to the fact that President Lungu has developed a cult figure around himself as perhaps, the â€˜best dressedâ€™ President Zambia has ever had, which she laughs off and says, must be that way.
â€œI look closely at what he is going to wear, what he is going to eat today and tomorrow so that he exudes the national leadership and confidence a leader must exude under normal circumstances. I actually would like to advise young women to take very good care of their husbands and young husbands to take very good care of their wives,â€ Mrs Lungu says with a smile.
Like President Lungu was born Edgar Chagwa Lungu on November 11 1956. Mrs Lungu is a simple woman too whose main task right now is to ensure that the head of State gets an opportunity to be a normal person when he takes off his presidential jacket. That he gets time to play with his grand-children and still counsel his children without getting lost in political translation.
Mrs Lungu was born of parents from Eastern Province, a father named Island Phiri and mother Agnes Phiri, while President Lunguâ€™s father was Mr Padule Saili Ranger Lungu and his mother was Tasila.
Mr Lungu has had a remarkable political life, starting off as a junior minister in the Office of the Vice President in 2011 and rising a year later to become the Minister of Home Affairs.
President Sata, noting strong leadership traits in him including humility and caring heart moved him to the Ministry of Defence before finally recalling him from an international trip in Angola to act as President before Mr Sata died.
Mrs Lungu says she will vote for President Lungu in Thursdayâ€™s elections together with the rest of the family because, â€œhe has a big heart, he is a tested leader and a God-fearing humble but tough man.â€
President Lungu himself has told Zambians at a recent presser that, â€œI may speak with a small voice but I carry a big stick.â€
He has vowed to ensure that anarchy does not reign before and after the crucial poll this week as he remains a front runner in the crowded race that has attracted nine candidates.
Quick Edgar Lungu facts
â€¢ January 25, 2015, became sixth President of Zambia
â€¢ November 11, 1956 Edgar Lungu is born at Ndola Central Hospital
â€¢ More than 30 years ago, married to Esther Nyawa Lungu
â€¢ Father Ranger Padule Saili Lungu, mother Tasila Lungu
â€¢ Children six
â€¢ Grown up in Chimweme Township in Kitwe
â€¢ Attended Mukuba Secondary School
â€¢ Graduated UNZA, October 17, 1981
â€¢ Past positions, Minister of Home Affairs, Secretary General of the ruling PF, chair of PF disciplinary committee, president of all African parties, Deputy Minister in the Office of the Vice President
Milestones as President of Zambia
â€¢ Infrastructure roll out of roads, bridges, universities and airports
â€¢ Signing of a new constitution that allows dual citizenship and 50 percent plus one
â€¢ Re-affirming Zambia as a Christian nation and turning to God every time there is a national challenge
â€¢ Open and public rejection of tribalism and embracing Christianity as a core value.