Leadership positions in most African countries end up with the bad, selfish and greedy individuals, whose primary intent is to enrich themselves at the expense of their people. This is more evident now than ever because the intelligent good, those noble men and women with impeccable character, are increasingly being intimidated out of taking up the leadership challenge.
Truth is there’s quite a lot to lose, especially in present day Zambia, where people’s rights have been diminished. One’s freedom and security to engage their key constituencies is not guaranteed, and with the erosion of a democratic ideal, political retribution is at its peak – businesses, jobs, families, and even the lives of those who vie for public office are invariably put at risk. In view of the aforementioned, the good are usually afraid to lose, and sadly, most of them would rather play it safe and watch those with insatiable greed loot the country. Do I blame them, Absolutely not, considering the high cost of living and other prevalent economic challenges across the country today.
Let’s put one thing into perspective – our forebears fought colonialism so that we can be free. But as the years after the liberation struggle extend into decades, and as the memory of their sacrifice fades into the gray haze of twilight, bad governance and mediocre leadership have compounded the injustice of the colonial legacy. Just look at how the Chinese are treating us in our own backyard, shouldn’t that be reason enough for any patriotic Zambian to take up the leadership challenge? Because I am persuaded to answer that call, of serving a cause greater than self. Am I concerned about the risks involved? It would be a lie if I said no, but in spite of that daunting reality, I am not afraid. I will fearlessly take up the challenge, irrespective of the consequences.
Everytime I read about the stories of colonial Zambia, I am encouraged by the courage of those freedom fighters, the young men and women who stood up for our rights, and won freedom’s fight against insurmountable odds prior to October 1964. They too were aware of the risks involved, but boldly took up the challenge for the greater good of their country. They clearly understood one thing that most people are failing to conceptualize today, as asserted by Dr. Martin Luther King, “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
I was born in Matero in the mid eighties, and raised by a single mother who worked as a teacher, and would sometimes struggled to make ends meet. Those that understand the plight of civil servants in Zambia know that I was not privileged enough to live in a house with running water growing up. As a kid, my daily errands included going to fetch water using a wheelbarrow laden with twenty liter containers. I would walk a considerable distance – usually past “Kwa Shadreck” to my east, and Lilanda to my west – for those familiar with Matero. In my preteens, I did what would be deemed child labour in some societies – but those activities were justified by necessity.
What’s been breaking my heart through the years however, is that the unpleasant part of my history has continued to repeat itself – people are struggling with water in Matero to this day, and children are still pushing heavy twenty liter containers in wheelbarrows, just as I did. And this is happening in the twenty-first century, in a country that affords to extravagantly spend millions of dollars on a fleet of overpriced Landcruisers for it’s government officials. This is still happening in a country that inconsiderately spends $42,000,000 on a fleet of old rugged fire trucks that are not even a necessity. And I can boldly say that the happenings in Matero are a microcosm of the nation, and those born in my generation can relate, regardless of where they were raised. But the time for change is upon us, to lift communities like Matero out of the depth of despair and lead them towards a hopeful future.
I am pursuaded to take up the leadership challenge, not out of personal motives, but because the forces changing our country today are historic. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the canyon of dispair. I am ready to help build a society based on freedom and self determination.
As a true patriot, I will not let evil and injustice continue to reign. I will stand for Matero, and my beloved Zambia – so count me in.
Andrew Zyambo for Matero