Friday, March 18, 2016

My grandmother is in putrefied power

“Sometimes I think the world is divided into those who have a comfortable relationship with power and those who have a naturally adversarial relationship with power.” - Arundhati Roy

Saturday,March 12, 2016, set my grandmother on an unfortunate pinnacle of joy. “If I was there, I would have spat on them. Huh! We are in power and they can not embarrass us like that.” Would not really imagine her thick foul tobacco sputum landing on anybody. But that is my lovely grandmother. Always, willing to die for her belief in a friend in leadership. In her unfettered support, which is simply a façade of an uninformed error, that her friend is in power always makes her believe she is in power too.

In truth, in the January 2015 elections, my grandmother crossed out the person she disliked the most. She claims that is what she was taught during some so-called voter education community workshop. We have never believed her, as she has as a minimum a Form 5 certificate, and before retirement she was a head teacher of English. Could be, she is just used to crossing out wrong spellings in English!

I have never really understood how she is in power. All I know is she spends her days, sweating in the heat of the noon day sun. The steaming vapour from her seven-days cooking drums covering her, like the morning mist in the valley. Those that imbibe in her product often extol her brewing skills, but they never ask themselves why they always have to immediately run to relieve themselves in the bush. Her calabashes are putrid. She never bothers to clean them, before she refills them.

Perhaps, that is what power does. Putrefying the others, for gain at all costs!

Anyway, at the end of the day, she sits lonely on her three-legged stool counting the little coins she has made. And, in the solitude of her Tshaka Zulu – like dwelling, a tear falls as she realizes she seldom makes enough to met her livelihood needs. In the rainy season, her sleep is always disturbed, not because she is dreaming of the happy days of her youth on the Copperbelt. No. It is simply because she has to find a position that is not directly below the rain falling through the old thatch roof.

When morning comes, to the phone she takes. Like the swallows take to the skies after a rain storm. And we, the grandchildren, have a disturbed day. The demands and requests for assistance are uttered faster than Usain Bolt runs.

Yesterday, I had enough. I simply told her that she is in power! So she surely should be the one ensuring that we do not have constrained livelihoods. She should allow us to parade in the regalia expressing our political choice and not delighting in wanting to bath us in thick foul tobacco sputum.

Well, that got to her. In her attempt to soothe my anger, she went into a delirious single-person-audience oratory of how her friend will soon be organising a conference to reaffirm his abhorrence of political party violence. She, further, said that he has also demanded that opposition party leaders emulate him in controlling violence. Adolf Hitler would have been proud. Sic.

I listened to her unthinking wisdom, the wisdom of putrefied power, with ears requesting me to shut her up. I could not do that, however.

The public know, sincerely hope they do, that they cannot emulate a State president when it comes to matters of law and order.

In hindsight, was her friend talking as a State president or a party president? If the latter, it is understood and welcome. However, I am not going to start a sermon on the mountain over it.

If the former, it is unfortunate. He is a State president, and there is nothing to emulate. He should simply have categorically stated that the State of Zambia will not tolerate political violence and chastise those that stripped Priscilla Mwiinga naked, the police officers that did nothing about it, and the head of the police. Period.

What happened to the State shall protect its citizens and all those presently resident within its borders? Inarguably, if the State cannot do so, then this brings into question the State’s allegiance to protecting its citizens and all those presently resident within its borders through just maintenance of law and order.

The bottom line is. A State president or any third party, conceiving an idea of a conference to iron out political party violence is simply a deliberate invalid argument displaying assumed political ingenuity in reasoning. It is a delusional hope of deceiving the public. So too, is a State hollering out to the multitude to emulate it.

A democratic State exists as a body of humans with defined means of equitable social and political regulation. The State affirms adherence to the norms actualising these means. It cannot request others to emulate it in maintaining law and order with respect to violence arising from political competition, when it is evidently shows favouritism. That is a recipe for State decay.

Clean the calabash, remove the maggots first, then I will not run into the bush after imbibing your rhetoric.

I could not tell my grandmother all this. I love Nana dearly. She typifies the many of us that exist in limbus factuorum. Those that are in putrefied power. Moreover, I dread the thought of that sputum or her friend falling on me like a ton of bricks.

O temporal! O more! What times! What manners!

(First published 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

From prayer, churches to ‘ukutumpa’

"The vision of one man lends not its wings to another man.” -  Kahlil Gibran.

OCTOBER, to November this year has been a rather Byzantine time for Edgar Chagwa Lungu, and God just had to be a national agenda. Some rat somewhere must surely have been messing up our beloved leader’s acumen to solving problems. Well, that is what my grandmother told me in defense of her good friend.

Seems the severity of socio-economic and political governing fell on the man of the “An officer, gentleman, lawyer and politician“ acclaim, like a ton of bricks! Our beloved president’s recourse was to call for national prayers, and later proudly telling us he is going to build us a very big cathedral!

Our beloved president did this, because he knows life is now frighteningly scorching for the majority of us. Whenever, we go to the katemba to buy tupamela or a tot of cooking oil, we only just come back with the pamela or nothing. We prayed, but the katemba chap still increases his prices. The first day the chap claims he increased the price, because of the dollar, the next day the excuse was load shedding, then later, he said God did not answer our prayers. The Halo sun was fake, the opposition put it up there.

Well, yesterday I lost it. “ukutumpa[1]. And careful, I can nationalize you,” I told the chap.

Sorry, this is about Edgar Chagwa Lungu. In the run up to the January 2015 presidential elections, we had a profile that sought to educate us on Edgar. “An officer, gentleman, lawyer and politician”, so it pronounced. This profile told us a lot about the man we have for president, but in the end told us a hidden truth. He is wanting, is the conclusion those that read would have derived.

 This profile attempts to unravel the mystery and enigma that is Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the Minister of Defense, Minister of Justice, until recently, Chief Executive Officer of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and President of All Political Parties in Africa to mention but a few”, the profile reads. (I wonder which political parties in Africa, Edgar was president of).

The most discerning on how Edgar is wanting as a president are the accolades in the profile.

He bagged his legal practicing certificate without trouble... Many lawyers have to sit for the Law practice certificate exam, a dozen times before they can get the legal practicing certificate because it is not the easiest exam to take… As a former military officer, Lungu is sometimes likened to others such (as) Ariel Sharon of Israel who served with the Israeli military from 1948, rising through the ranks until retiring as a Major-General in 1973, became defence minister in 1981 and elected prime minister in 1999 but was initially a Lawyer” (not forgetting we are never told what rank Edgar attained, what prominent law firm he run or even what publicly cited case or precedent he set in Court, since he was so good at law). 

Edgar should surely have not allowed such unsubstantiated toadyish accolades. But he did, because he knew the majority of our people easily believe.

Edgar is undoubtedly a good lesson in the fundamental failures of judgment we make in choosing our leaders. In hindsight, we need to forgive ourselves for lack of foresight. Could be we look at ourselves as humble individuals. And we know God more than God himself. But of course! Poverty, misfortune is often the humble mask for some of us.

But, when suddenly political or economic power befalls us, it is “Abracadabra!”

We become the kind of individual that takes to heart Saville row suits, Stetson hats and ‘break-dancing’ at foreign international airports, short of scribbling “Mbinji was here” in the loo of the Emirates Airbus flight to New York. Not forgetting, we always assume a posture that shows our shinning handmade Italian shoes. We also now glow in being the talk of township weekend binge and admiration. “Wachimumona, Mbinji? Mujoza boyi. (Did you see Mbinji. He is the guy). Simplistic, in its purity.

Predictably, Edgar is today failing the nation simply because the high acclaims and accolades were inane, unfounded, and most of all toadyish.

If they were not toadyish, why else was one of his first major proclamations admission of a lack of vision. An officer, gentleman, good lawyer and insightful politician cannot, first, tell us his vision is that of the dead, then seek asylum in prayer, a church, and now telling us ‘twalitumpa’. Sic.

“Ba Edigar” (as we are told he is fondly called) was never up to the challenge of leadership. His stay in office is simply that of like me writing “Mbinji was here” in an Airbus loo. I do that because, being in the Airbus is a black swan event. It may never happen again.

Edgar's glow in the talk of township weekend binge and admiration has been checked. The verdict from a growing majority, teachers, Unions is, “failure”. 

Things are not looking good for him anymore. Our socio-economic abnormalcy is self imposed, and he knows he has no solutions but take popular asylum in God.

Edgar knows God on October 18, and the building of a church is a façade. An attempt to hoodwink us that he is indeed a God fearing humble individual, like us. Seems he forgets that, we know that sometimes the run to God is libidinous when the dark closet in which we are hiding our deficiencies is opened.

The unsung Edgar in the sycophantic acclaims in the run up to the January elections has come to roost. Political grandeur is now a very threatened illusion, and he won’t allow that to happen. He will seek recourse in what he knows best. Threats, undignified and uncouth language. And of course, the mangy dog eared promises, we believed before.

“I have not failed. I just came into office. (Thought he is PF?). Anyone, who says the contrary, Kutumpa”. How godly!

In retrospect, the journey from prayer, churches to ukutumpa of the unsung officer, gentleman, lawyer and politician and his eventual choice is simply a dialectic of the unthinking.

We think. And, clearly, it is time we said, “Sorry, your Excellence, chachine twalitumpile, nomba ta twakatumpe nafuti” (we where stupid then, we won't be stupid again)! We are not entrapped in a degenerate state of democratic irresponsibility. A leadership should respect us, work towards sustainable livelihoods, and not insult us.

Verbum satis sapienti - a word to the wise suffices.

[1] Ukutumpa is ichibemba, in this context meaning don't be stupid

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Unlawful assembly, unlawful cops

just, watched the video of GBM arguing with cops in Kasama on what constitutes unlawful assembly. The argument really cracked my ageing ribs. GBM clearly put unlawful assembly under the microscope. And I no longer have doubt in my mind that the police in the country of my birth do not only misapply archaic colonial statutes, but they also simply do not understand them. Can’t blame them anyway, the British colonial masters that understood them left a long time ago. Sic.

I have here transcribed the argument.

Cop: You are addressing the people. You are addressing the people. There is a gathering there.
GBM: If you see. How many people?
Cop: There are many. Because if….
GBM: How many? What is a rally?
Cop: Unlawful assembly
GBM: Unlawful assembly?
Cop: Unlawful assembly. Three or more than people when they assemble.
GBM: When they assemble?
Cop: Yes.
GBM: So I will not be greeting people even right now in the hospital. Even if they greet me I won’t stop.
Cop: If it is greeting people, you can greet people. But not mean gathering people like that.
GBM: But its you, you are saying I am a public figure. So wherever I stop, even now wherever I will stop they will come. So what should I do? So I should lock myself in the house?
Cop: No, no. You should not lock yourself in the house.. Any way let it be off camera. What time? Maybe we move to the office.
GBM: No. I am not coming.
Cop: Because I am trying to explain…
GBM: I am not coming to your office. If you want, come and arrest me at my house. Thing is that I know that addressing a rally without a permit is an offence. But going in a market to go and buy, I am not supposed to get permission.
Cop: Buying honourable is something which is different.
GBM: Yes.
Cop: That is what I am trying to say. But where you carry, you have a very big following, people. All these people are following.
GBM: Precisely, its only under five minutes now. Even wherever I will go. Unless, maybe I should ask for fifty permits, because even (muffled) if I go to Shoprite now it will be the same. But people want me to greet them, so I should just say no because of..
Cop: No. Honourable greeting is different. Where you go and just greet someone, but here you were addressing people, you were talking to them.
GBM: Yes.
Cop: Yes, that is unlawful assembly.
GBM: So I should just say hello and off I go.
Cop: Yes. Better that way.
GBM: Okay. We will do that.
Cop: But, not now, here you know
GBM: No, no, we are going.
Cop: Yes, honourable.
GBM: We are going somewhere. But the gist of the matter is that we are going to stop where we feel, because I feel that it’s my birthright to stop wherever I want to. No one will stop me. If you want, you arrest me for stopping where I want to stop.
Cop: And that is what we are saying about (muffled), not assemble and start addressing
GBM: Yeah, but I am going to, no I won’t address people but I will greet people.
[End GBM remarks part inaudible]

Something about this conversation was clearly odd, if not absurd. So I decided to revisit the law on unlawful assembly. And here is what the law says:-

Section 74, The Penal Code Act CAP 87 of the Laws of Zambia
Definition of unlawful assembly. (1) When three or more persons assemble with intent to commit an offence, or being assembled with intent to carry out some common purpose, conduct themselves in such a manner as to cause persons in the neighbourhood reasonably to fear that the persons so assembled will commit a breach of the peace, or will by such assembly needlessly and without any reasonable occasion provoke other persons to commit a breach of the peace, they are an unlawful assembly. It is immaterial that the original assembling was lawful if, being assembled, they conduct themselves with a common purpose in such a manner as aforesaid.

The key terms in this law are threefold: - intent to commit an offence; intent to cause fear as a breach of peace can be likely; and, likelihood that the assembly will provoke others to breach the peace.

On all three counts, the senior police officer did not at anytime in the conversation allude to how in talking to people or addressing a gathering, GBM intended to commit an offence, intended to cause fear or that there was a likelihood that the assembly would provoke others.

 Exactly, why didn’t the officer do so? Is it because he does not understand this law? Or perhaps, he knew that GBM did not commit an offence, but was simply acting on instructions. And in his rush to please, he got confused and cited the wrong statute.

The correct statute he should have cited is the section in the Public Order Act which regulates the right to assemble. The Act, as now amended, provides that any person intending to assemble a public meeting, or procession, should notify law enforcement authorities in writing of such intent seven days before the meeting. This GBM knew and he ably educated the police officer. Though, he too, misinterpreted “notify” to mean “seek permission”!

In retrospect, this issue is a travesty of reason and simply a case of police harassment of opposition political party leaders. It was the perfect evidence of the unnecessary batrachomyomachia (silly altercation) from State agents that individuals in this country frequently face.

My verdict - The police were unlawful.

Pax vobiscum.