Stop shying away from Independence Day events


ON OCTOBER 24, 1964, the orations were delivered, bands played, the guns boomed and the flag of a new nation Zambia was raised. The words “Independence! Independence! and Unity” travelled fast across the land to the furthest, smallest Zambian village and there too the tom-tom took up the cry, “Independence and unity of purpose.”
We came across the above passage recently in our continued pursuit for knowledge about the history of our country in the book written by Frank M. Chitambala titled “History of the United National Independence Party”. We strongly share in the belief of Maya Angelou, who said that “You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been.”
In the book, Mr Chitambala explains how the stranger managed to colonise our country by destroying its culture and traditional village life and also sabotaging customs in the mines, farms and missionary stations. The colonialist changed the nomenclature to either Angelic, Scottish or Dutch depending entirely on their nationality.
“When he asked for your name and you answered ‘Kapwepwe’, he would tell you the name was too long for me to catch correctly or it was a bad name or indeed unchristian and … he will call you Simon and that is how psychological colonisation and demoralisation of the African was carried out.”
Mr Chitambala details how the missionary in mission stations would psychologically imprison the African mind by teaching them to believe in God, be tolerant to the coloniser and to look forward to a new world/heaven where they will all find a happy life. This philosophy was used to deter the possibility of African uprising against the strangers’ exploitation.
Mr Chitambala goes on to write extensively about our country’s independence and important role that UNIP played in achieving it, but we want to shift the focus of our commentary to the current situation in our beloved country as we are in the 54th independence commemoration season.
The trend of shying away from Independence Day commemorations has been on the rise over the past few years and if not halted will see our people lose the importance of this BIG DAY because of the selfish interest of some few politicians.
Yes, we have many challenges as a people, the cost of living is on the rise every day, corruption and unemployment are also soaring. We need to appreciate that these problems are not just common to our country, and as long as we take each and every day to fight these problems, we are destined to triumph.
We should never allow our current challenges in any way to belittle the efforts of our freedom fighters by staying away from the Independence Day celebrations because the independence of our country came at a great sacrifice on their part. They suffered and struggled against foreign domination and oppression for a long time.
We understand, like our freedom fighters, that political freedom will not give people more schools, hospitals, enough food, increased wages or the general improvement in the welfare of our country’s citizens. But if properly used in the interest of our people, political freedom can be a means of developing a life of dignity, happiness and progress for all of us.
Politicians will come and go but the history of our country’s independence will live on just like the Bible. A politician in the ruling party will today champion the commemoration of October 24 and will do the exact opposite once he gets into the opposition. The decisions lie with us as a people to realise and appreciate the price and sacrifice at which our country’s independence was achieved.
We should treat the people who encourage us to shy away from Independence Day celebrations with the same dismay we give to those that want us to disown our parents, for we know that even when they are wrong, our parents will remain the sole reason we are in this world.
As we proceed with the struggle of attaining a dignified life for every Zambian, we implore the leadership of this nation to look at the plight of a common Zambian and work hard to improve our welfare. Yes, there are many factors to look at but we appeal that Government should subsidise the cost of fuel so that there can be a ripple effect in the reduction of the cost of living.
We also ask Government to look to home-grown solutions to our economic growth as opposed to those imposed on us by foreigners and promote and protect the local agricultural and manufacturing industry from unnecessary competition from foreign products until they reach a stage where they can compete favourably.
May God bless our country.
The author is a political and social commentator.

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