Godfrey Mumpanshya, also known as Freshboy M’candrey, now producing music as “Freshboy” has a piece of music now available on the internet, titled “Mulikwisa”. This piece features King Dandy. I find the music well organised, its instrumentation a beautiful fusion of current synthetic sound laid out on a rich traditional kalindula background.

The vocals are melodiously mixed and synchronised – proving that some of our young musicians do have excellent voices which need not all be drowned out byhip-hop. It is a good dancefloor song too.

It is the combination of humorous presentation of the current conditions of our young people with, and without university degrees, that immediately caught my attention in the song.

This piece of music powerfully opens with the lines below:

“Atimulikwisa, mwebama degree, degree? Nalefwayukupwisha university nemwine, nshalefwayaukabeilofwa awe!” (Where are you, you with degrees, degrees? I wanted to finish university, because I did not want to be a loafer).

And then King Dandy’svoice, which leaves me in stiches: “Ichalenganichiticha, chalenchongaamazilo, ichalenganichiticha, chalefyopoleifibwembya!” (Is this a reference to a particular teacher? Politelytranslated this says: “It is because of the teacher who used to give me zeros, and whip me.”).

Listen to the song at https://audiomack.com/freshboy_mcandrey/song/mulikwisa

Knowledge is a guarantee, but it is not wealth. It is not enough to have been passing number one at school, or to complete university education. Dreaming when in school to be a pilot may miserably translate into becoming a toilet cleaner, in work life. Those who were passing and went to university and successfully finished their studies, may end up as the loafers, and scrounge for alcohol, from school mates whom they looked down upon in class.

The comical humour woven into the song does not conceal the suffering the song portrays, especially for young people who work hard at school, complete university studies, and find themselves permanently out in the streets, moneyless and jobless. Nor, for that matter, does the song minimise the hardships those who somehow make it without degrees go through. Freshboy confirmed this understanding, to me.

Zambia is at a historical cross roads, we must choose which way the country must take: invest massively in our youth to give them the schooling, education, skills, secure decent work and real economic opportunities they need in life or continue to offer them false hopes and political lies about their true conditions. The first option is the path out of Zambia’s current miserable impoverished state of affairs, and the second option leads straight to hell.

We are not able to modernise our entire education system so that it may prepare our children and young people for the challenges of a hi-tech, 4th Industrial Revolution, post coronavirus pandemic, post Ukraine War and money dominated world. We are unable to guarantee a school, college and university place for every Zambian child. We are unable to feed our children and young people when in school, colleges and universities, so that the best in them may express itself.

More dangerously, we undermine the value of formal schooling and tertiary education when we let millions of graduates from colleges and universities roam the streets, jobless. And when they do find a job, they are paid poverty wages, further devaluing education and the sacrifices such young people make, to complete their education.

Currently we have dangled the tantalising lie to millions of Zambian young people of becoming rich if they can access CDF money, either as individual small businesses or as co-operatives. We have also dangled the myth that we can employ 1200 public health workers and 30 000 teachers, and this will contribute massively to resolving the unemployment crisis of college and university graduates. Both are lies, dangerous lies which plant painful false hopes in young people.

There is actually something akin to sadism in such promises and offers of false hopes to the majority of Zambian youths whose lives daily verge between suicide and madness, because of acute suffering, largely as a result of the critical shortage of meaningful work and viable economic opportunities.

HH and his government are pursuing an IMF Programme whose central plank is massive government austerity to release fiscal space to ensure debt sustainability. “Debt sustainability” means Zambia must tightly manage its budgets so that it can confirm that it can sustainably pay its debt, not develop its people first. In fact, to save some money, the government for example has removed subsidies from fuels and we are all experiencing the suffering this has unleashed, kicking the cost of living out of the roof. The few who will manage to get any money from the CDF must factor in the ever-rising fuel costs.

The CDF gamble is a poorly thought out, unplanned, and thoroughly incoherent way of displacing central government’s responsibility to plan and execute at scale, national development programmes with impact, to move Zambia out of its socio-economic crisis and release the creative potential of Zambians throughout the country. This is decentralisation of the socio-economic crisis, not a solution. As Winter Kabimba has correctly said, this is simply decentralising and distributing corruption evenly, throughout the country.

As for the promised 43 000 jobs or so, the confusing statements and “methodical” delays in starting the processes of recruitment are a clear indication of the unsustainability of this false promise. It is impossible for the IMF to give a miserable country like Zambia a loan and at the same time encourage it to expand its public service. This is not the way the IMF works with countries like Zambia. To pre-empt this charge, our Minister of Finance, in a moment of naïve innocence has actually conceded that we have handed over the running of Zambia to the IMF when he said the IMF has accepted that Zambia must employ these civil servants! The fundamental question is: where is the money today and in future going to come from to sustain these jobs in government, if at the same time Zambia must be on an IMF austerity programme?

Unemployed Zambian youths include young people with many skills, educated in more professions than education and health, and some are illiterate and unskilled. They all urgently either need to be employed or require conditions to be created for meaningful economic opportunities.

There is also the thorny matter of UPND youths who believe their time to eat and get a job has come. The UPND, now that its leaders are in government, wants to pretend government responsibility is to all Zambian youths, equally. Unfortunately, the UPND is not expanding employment and economic opportunities for all Zambian youths currently; HH is waiting for the IMF programme hoping then foreign money will come into Zambia and somehow, employment will appear! This is a phantasy very hard to sustain if you have not eaten for some days.

Zambian young people, educated or not, like all young people in the world have talents, ambitions, want to succeed at whatever they are good at, can make necessary sacrifices and love life.

Our history and its unique settings demand that politicians elected and paid by Zambians urgently create conditions for the massive number of jobs and economic opportunities required to move millions, not thousands, of Zambian young people out of poverty and into the real economy.

The current chaotic non-response to the crisis of employment and absence of viable economic opportunities generates anger, among Zambia’s youth. At some point the floodgates may be opened. The flood will drown us all.

(Send comments to: kalindawalo2010@gmail.com)