Friday, November 22, 2013

My life: A symphony of beatitude?

“Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth - more than ruin - more even than death.... Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man."
- Bertrand Russell 1872-1970

If today, I stood in the light of him and he asked me why I should walk by his side forevermore. I really do not know what reasons I would advance. But again, need I do that? I thought when I was a child, I was told he keeps a little black book on us.

Anyway, let us say he indeed asks me. Well, perhaps now that on May 30, this year I turned fifty (50), I have enough years of looking back and searching wherein my existence there would be answers justifying my walking by his side forevermore.  

Looking back, it has been a tortuous 50 years of existence, a time of dancing with the devils. The salient features of these times are the governance impunity and developmental ineptitude I have witnessed over the years; and of course, the evidenced failings in academia, an environment I have known for half my life time. A disjuncture in the latter can have dire consequences in attempts to correct the former. Hence, the two are interlocked and mutually self reinforcing.

That I have witnessed many of my fellow humans failing to walk with me, and falling before me, is often because many a time our primal behaviours are those of self-absorption and self-aggrandisement. We delude ourselves that we exist as “me” and/or, and “mine”. In our delusions, the boundaries of our existence are most often defined by how I am going to be there with me and mine. And when I arrive there, our minds now shift to how I am going to protect the there for me and mine. Arrival syndrome, I often call it. “I have arrived, it is me, Mbinji Mufalo, and I am not coming down soon. I will fight for where I am.”

Of course, it is you, you have arrived. But did you really get to your there by yourself? The answer is no, as I know when I stand in the light of him, he will remind me that if he really wanted to be only me he would have created only me. But he did not. He created me, you and those multitudes we watch failing to walk with us, and those who have already fallen before us.

On academia, and the witnessed governance impunity and developmental ineptitude, surely, here I know I will be nailed. This is because deep in me, I always doubt that there has been a symphony of beatitude[1] in my life. I really do not think I can claim an existence in a state of supreme happiness. How can that be when I know I have not done enough to mitigate the effects of inertia in academia, and impunity and ineptitude in governance for those who fail to walk with us and indeed those who fell before us?

Academia in my motherland is an affliction. It is an environment of great suffering, distress due to adversity and indeed self-absorption and self-aggrandisement. Criticism and reasoning are mostly conceived as transgressions.

If I may digress. This, however, seems to pervade our everyday existence. Someone does something or presents something that is surely hogwash, we still start by saying “that was very good”. And in rare occasions when we seem to be forthright we are apologetic about it. In such rare times, we again start by saying, “that was very good, but I am sorry…”.

In academia, it is a common occurrence that academic staff think students are dodos, and also think anyone outside their field of study is a dodo, too. Hence, over time the essence of academia as a principle change agent always dissipates in the evening wind.

I work in this environment, and I am culpable of its inability to have changed the circumstances of the majority of our people.  The definition of the country we desire and/or the change we need to uplift many of our fellow humans that fail to walk with us is no longer evidenced in academia. Our research agendas and discourses are often driven by being me, and more so being me in the eyes of those who do not exist in our spaces of influence. That is, those who merely use us to understand spaces that they seek to influence tomorrow.

How it be, that fifty (50) years after independence day, our children still do not know why they are citizens of the country we call Zambia? Exactly what are our individual characteristics by which we are recognised as Zambians? I know there are some who will say, we are identified as a people because we are a Christian nation. Lest we forget, when I stand in the light of him, he will definitely ask me, what Christian values have we adhered to? Do our children know these values? 

Well, and I also always ask, do these values have any evidenced developmental stewardship?

We have failed, I have failed. Academia has failed.

Identity defines a people. It defines their aspirations and the change they desire. Identity inherently is determined by shared values. Decades ago such attempts were made, much more with the interrogation of humanism as a national ideology and also these values created a national identity. Problem was, the man at centre was not me. It was him. The other him, during those times. I always remember how my lower primary school teacher nearly tore my ears off my head when I once said, “when I grow up, I want to be the president” (With hindsight this still happens today. You cannot aspire to be him without any serious consequences). The man had asked us what we wanted to be when we grow up. He never told us which ones where the don’ts.

Anyway, humanism was not sustainable. After that, what next should have been the question?

Clearly, academia did not and has not answered this question. An example that comes to mind is how with the demise of humanism in our education curricula we have continued to have a void with respect to what values define us. We are teaching our children zilch!

We are not teaching our children that freedom is inviolable; that wealth creation is the pinnacle; and, that the public good (i.e., services and delivery commodities) is sacrosanct.

To which end, whatever research we do or works we do, without any defined identity, these can seldom serve to change the undesirable circumstances the majority of our people find themselves in. Many will still fail to walk with us, and many will still fall before us. We can have some walk with us, we can have a few fall before us, if we introspect and start to define ourselves, and not me, in our academic pursuits.

For many, the witnessed governance impunity and developmental ineptitude is a state that politicians are ultimately responsible. Well, I always agree and disagree.

I agree because a politician is me. He or she is also soaked in self-absorption and self-aggrandisement. To expect anything different is merely sophism. We change me, then we can change the politician’s governance impunity and developmental ineptitude.

If we grew up, the children grew up being taught or knowing that freedom is inviolable, wealth creation is the pinnacle, and the public good is sacrosanct, then surely the politician will not be what he or she is often today. And this is why I also disagree that the politician is responsible for our retrograde state. Perhaps, it is time we accepted that instilling identity and values in our people can intrinsically serve to create a population that provides better oversight on its leaders.

In conclusion, therefore, If today, I stood in the light of him and he asked me why I should walk by his side forevermore, I would simply tell him: “I am sorry, my life has never been a symphony of beatitudeI have failed you, please let me just walk past you and continue dancing with the devils”.

Ora pro nobis.

[1] State of supreme happiness

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tomorrow a hundred of us will be killed

- Reflections on the PF intra-party violence of November 7, 2013

“No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” 
- John Donne's Meditation XVII - No man is an island

The brutal violence of November 7, 2013 involving youths from differing opinions on leadership in the Patriotic Front (PF) Party is tragic. There have been various comments on the incident in multifarious social media, and indeed from stalwart political players. Of concern to me, are the unfortunate comments used to describe the villains and victims of the brutal mayhem. 

“Thugs, mad people, uneducated youths, criminals”, are but some of the comments I find wanting. In addition, we have had words of solace from some political stalwarts at the eye of the storm. 

I here argue that to call the villains and victims of the November 7 PF intra-party violence as thugs or criminals merely serves to minimize the underlying reason any group of individuals can decide to butcher each other with machetes like pigs in a slaughterhouse. We must accept that these youths have souls as beautiful as we have. They are humane and they can reason. The problem however is that, the practice of their humanness and reasoning is constrained by the very people they dance for euphorically during elections, and more so on September 20, 2011. 

We should not, today, bury our heads in the sand, and pretend to forget that the youths we are calling “thugs” had their hopes raised by empty promises by those in power today. 

“More money in the pocket, enough employment, et cetera”, were the hit lullabies at the time. Lest we forget, not long ago we had a brave political office holder curtly tell us that the promises made were mere political rhetoric. In short, Miles Sampa told us that the promises sermonized during the 2011 political campaigns, were just meant to lure votes. Nothing else. Sic.

That the youths in most of urban Zambia are desperate, disgruntled and hungry is a fact only those who live in ivory towers can deny. This is chiefly due to unsustainable high levels of youth unemployment. News of youths stampeding for jobs (with occurrence of death as in the Mpulungu fishing factory saga mid last 2012), is clear evidence of youth desperation in this country. In addition, our pursuit of a rather archaic education system that does not prepare our children with appropriate life skills when out of school has also continued to merely serve to increase the numbers of desperate and hungry youths.

This has been the case before, and it is the case now. The only difference is that, the Patriotic Front in 2011 gave them what they deemed infallible hope that their misery will now end. I know there are some who will counter argue that surely the youths should have reasoned that the political sermons were merely water in a reed basket. However, we must often realise that poverty, desperation renders reasoning worthless. 

Youth is a virginal experience. It is highly susceptible to experimentation, peer pressure, and more so exploitation by those that realize their vulnerability. When youth is imbued in desperate poverty levels, its susceptibility is even higher. This is the state of the youths that today without shame we are calling thugs, criminals or whatever derogatory term that we can conjure. 

Someone comfortable, someone who never thinks of where his or her next meal will come from knows the objective susceptibility of the urban youth in this country. It is he or she that we should be calling a “thug, criminal”, not the youths. He or she, exploited their desperation, armed them with machetes or perhaps instructed them to find any weapon that can cause serious injury or death to another human. 

My sincere plea is that we should be demanding that the Zambia Police investigates, arrests and prosecutes whosoever is behind the use of vulnerable youths for political dominance. Simply arresting the youths involved in the mayhem is not the solution its in entirety. Tomorrow, there will still be more youths to prey on. 

In any case, it is folly of us to believe that these youths can waste their own money buying machetes, axes, knives, knobkerries, if someone somewhere is not promising a better tomorrow in the long term, or mostly likely some coins to fender off their immediate hunger needs in the now times!

If we so choose not to reason and mitigate the vulnerability of the youth to political hegemony in our country, then we should not be surprised if tomorrow a hundred of us will be killed.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Any life unnecessarily lost diminishes our humanness

My sincere condolences to the family of the reported youth that died in the PF intra-party violence yesterday (November 7, 2013). We must always remember that any life unnecessarily lost diminishes our humanness. 

Hence like, John Donne writes, "any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

And I here wish Julious Komaki a quick recovery. My plea is to the Zambia Police. They need to tell us who is getting these youths to start butchering each other, and who is supplying some of those new machetes alleged to have been observed. 

The question going through my mind is – when are the police going to investigate and establish the source of these machetes? Doesn’t the police surely realize that these machetes may one day be used on political opponents. I sincerely hope the police gets to the source of these dangerous weapons. Someone is surely distributing them.

We need answers. It is our right.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A meaningless phrase?

Today, a phrase I have heard and still hear often has been frustrating my start to what was supposed to be a good day. I really can not still get to grasp the meaning of the phrase, "I will support the government of the day". This is a phrase most used by chiefs and opposition politicians of all miscellanea. Chiefs like Nkomenshya, Mpezeni use it quite often. 

Exactly, why would anyone who is not a public official use this phrase? I thought as ordinary citizens we always "support the government of the day" by religiously paying our statutory dues like taxes. Don't we also "support the government of the day" when we do not break the laws, unjust or just?

And don't chiefs implicitly "support the government of the day" by maintaining order in their serfdoms? 

Or is it only valid when one realises that they are standing on quick sand, and hence the need to holler out - "I support the government of the day"?

Perhaps, tomorrow I should tell ZRA I will no longer meet my PAYE tax dues, and instead call a press conference to say, "I support the government of the day"! 

Well, just a thought.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Just a thought

Every time I read about some Donor countries yapping about our circumstances, my BP shoots up. Really need to control the thinking side of my brain. It gets charged up very quickly. 

Of course, we are poor. And that we need change, is irrefutable. But change is not a process whose ownership is a bunch of countries that have a holier than thou attitude, whilst at the time sending armies and tanks to annihilate populations that seek to change their own existence.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Why we are killing the children

For many long years now I have been wearing spectacles with clear lens. Every time the lens shattered, I would hurriedly replace them. If it so happened that at the time I am broke, I would send a myriad SMS’s to friends and enemies soliciting their intervention as I believed I can not do without clear lens. Today, they shattered, and surprisingly, my reality looked much clear. I had peace of mind. I was no longer worked up over what earlier had looked imbecilic. With a shattered lens, I now could understand why the apocalypse of our providence[1] lies in our inability to separate bounded and rider reality from our obtaining providence.

Our obtaining apocalypse of our providence is such that we need to re-interrogate our own existence in today's global context.
Who are we? Is a question, which lately depresses me. We are neither white, oriental, nor black. We are indistinguishable as our reality is a messy mosaic of other people's reality and aspirations. Take our conceptualisation of the institution called marriage. We first marry within our ancestral heritage, then later walk under the arch to marry within the rider's ancestral heritage or what in this backwater country I exist in, they call statutory marriage (sic)!
The other question is: what exactly do we seek as a people? Whose reality are we going to continue existing in? Ours or theirs? Inarguably, the answer is theirs. Period! We see it in the four walls of concrete we call places of education and learning. We even see it in the aspirations of the persons that stand on the podium of these four walls. Their aspirations are mere recognition by them first, and then us.
If we seek to change our despicable and imbecilic providence, it is now and not tomorrow that we should start walking into their world. We can only walk into our world, if and only if we can change the global context to suit our own pursuits. Which we do not even attempt to do, anyway.
Fact is, the bounded, anachronistic and dual reality in which we exist does not really provide understanding and solutions facing most of our people wallowing in an abyss of poverty and despondence. This reality does not help that child dying in a neighbourhood near you as you read this article.
We are poor as countries; the children are dying, not because we lack technology, fiscal resources or human capital. Neither are we poor solely because of explanations provided in liberalist, Marxist, development or imperialist theories.
We are socio-economically and politically poor in today's global context because we seldom take time to interrogate the inconsistencies and variance in our providence. We are also poor because we exist in the rider's bounded reality that we still do not understand! And even if we so proclaim we do, we always still run to the village (as a scapegoat) when it suits us.
The tragedy of our providence lies in our inability to realise that we are poor simply because our existence is dualistic and anachronistic!
It must be understood, that the predominance of a particular rider reality in thought (political or developmental), in our ignorance and understanding is so inbred that what ever knowledge we claim to seek within the bounded reality is in the end ultimately a part of that reality.
Consequently, whatever human development or progress sought, acts within the reality, and will inevitably simply lead to the perpetuity of that reality.
That reality is a foreign reality. If we can not change it now, let us start thinking and acting within that reality. After all, the knowledge we so claim to acquire within the four walls of concrete we spend years in is foreign! How come in our providence we have never come across the dictum - to catch a thief, one has to think like a thief.
Today, the backwater country I exist in is at the crossroads, and yet many of its population do not seem to think so. A country's fiscal resources have and are still being appropriated for the preservation of political hegemony, and a people continue on with their miserable existence like the god of Jesus has come to visit.
People I once respected as independent-minded, people who have the written word on development dialectics on myriad pieces of paper, are today hopping around like monkeys. They are even defending individuals and policies that rape the existence of the children.
It is in times like this, that I sometimes believe there is truth in what we are sometimes called. We are all hopping from a rider reality to a dualistic and anachronistic reality whenever it suits us. The consequences of such behaviour are seldom considered. Do we really realise that we are killing the children?
Children have been dying of hunger and curable diseases, have been mis-educated. Yet, like we did then, and we are doing now, we sit back and marvel at the ingenuity of the rape of the children. I am not an anarchist, but surely if it be that we were in the reality whose providence was a colonialist, many would stand on the watchtower of reason and dissent.  
That Africa and this backwater country I exist in, is today in an abyss of despondence, is indicative of the fact that we did not and still do not take time to unravel our own reality. What horse have we been riding? What horse are we going to ride?
In retrospect, the tragedy of our providence (why we are killing the children) lies in the fact that we have no known reality at all. And this is whether socially, politically or economically. We exist in a vast emptiness of reason, thought and realism. We want to be riders, but we do not even know what a horse is or even what it looks like! Is it white? Is it oriental? Or is it black?
Pax vobiscum.

[1] Providence is here used to mean the prudence and care exercised by someone in the management of resources (which includes the population).

It is in the eyes

It is in the eyes.., that is where the story lies.., in the eyes. You walk into distant places.., the stale smell of poverty hanging timelessly.., in the market place.., in the shebeen.., in the Hotel.., you hear the laughter.., you feel the laughter.., and you feel their warmth. On murky.., muddy streets.., the kids play.., on street corners.., the youths hang.., the smoke thick and pungent.

Africa.., a beautiful continent.., a beautiful people.

But.., the eyes, they tell a different story.., hope lost.., time lost.., a future smoke it embraces.., this is just another sad story the eyes tell. Africa.., it is in the eyes.., you will seek its understanding in books.., in Marxism, imperialism, in church, in the temple, in the mosque.., but there the story of this continent you will not find.., for its story dwells deeper in the eyes.., so deep.., its depth you can discern.

An aeon of innocence

“This is my testament. Tomorrow I may not walk among you. For I man, like many before me have to pass on.  I am not immortal, and this I have always known. As celestial is the eclipse of the end of time, tomorrow, I will walk away, far beyond the future. A distance, the past can not equal.” He paused, and I looked searchingly into his eyes. Trying to understand, a lesson I knew may be the last. He sighed, and I sat up.  Yonder into the deep blue skies, his eyes locked. Mine too, sought the depth of the deep blue skies. It can not be. It surely can not be. But it was. In the deep blue skies, I saw him.
“I may not have lived my existence to the fullest. I may not have been as good as many may have expected. And, indeed, I may not have achieved what many thought I would achieve. But, in my heart I am contended. I walked in meadows, dry brushes and patchy sands attesting to the footprints of those who heard my cries. I sought not echoes of understanding from others. But, if it be there were echoes of understanding, and nought was learnt, then let it be known, I too have my failings.
In this testament, I seek that you not look to the heavens seeking that which afflicts you, I seek that you look closely into your shadow, look over your shoulder and seek my understanding.
If it be that you relate to my understanding, I am sad. For how it be we continue letting a truth that should create deeper blue skies for the children be shrouded in our own inability to walk among the free.  Didn't, you hear that child yesterday calling out for someone to reach and touch her hand? You heard, but just like me, you said it is not my child. If it be it is not your child, how it be you too where a child.  Look inner yourself and reflect on whose child you were, then you will surely find whose child it was that yesterday was calling out to you. 
If these be my last words, I seek not to say to you whose child it was that yesterday was calling out to you. For if you do not know, then I say this to you - you know not humanness. And it was you that walked beside me, yet I never knew you.
If it so be that you do not relate to my understanding then I am happy, as out there, there is not one, but many that still need to look at their own shadow and see who else walks with them.
I am not entirely a pessimist. I am not absolutely saying the human race is irredeemable. There are still some few good humans. If I say things that you might find offending to your sensibilities as a human, then I am happy you at least do agree with me. Often, that which we find offending is the truth.  The tragedy is we have been led to believe in vain and worthless politeness' definitions of what is offending and not offending.
If these be my departing words, then it be that it is an aeon of innocence.
The aeon of innocence evolves out of the desire to understand the seemingly inexplicable. Why a people can allow themselves to slide into the murk of existing on the edge of existence. Seemingly existing without desiring to walk deep greener green meadows of hope and timeless rainbows.
Yes, existing without believing we can walk in exotic gardens below which rich ancient streams flow. This is an existence where a people seek sanctuary in the illusory belief that the politician understands their aspirations and will one day, build bridges on which their posterity will flourish. An existence where a people wait for the politician like they are waiting for the messiah.
Resilience, is a word I have endless heard repeated. The African is resilient and will overcome all! Resilience, my foot, when a people are reduced to existing on the edge. But who exactly is to blame for our woes? For now I will not answer this question, instead I will slide myself into an abyss of nostalgia. And I do this, by looking wherein in my existence, things started to slide, and indeed what lessons if any did my parents impart on me in preparation for what evolves today.
I grew up in a rather moderately well off family. In the early years, we did not lack for anything. We grew up as most urban kids did. The tribulations of our parents were their own. After all, there was always food on the table. That a people could go hungry was alien, until in later years. But then, it really did not happen to us. This I only witnessed. Could be if I too had been hungry, may be I could understand why a people can let themselves slide into an abyss of despair. Yes, why a people can let themselves slide into abject poverty, while the very people they voted for to govern and realise their aspirations line their pockets to utterly contemptible levels.
When, I was of school going age, again their was nothing lacking in my existence. The politician was there, but really the politician was merely the person who at Independence Day celebrations delayed the fun. The politician always seemed to enjoy talking to himself. It was mostly a him, then.
I never really could understand why the people afforded this fun-spoiler so much time. There they were looking up at the podium, gobbling even the foulest words that fell out of the foulest mouth. And did they clap!
Like thunder the ovation always was, and the birds the skies they took. I guess the birds too really did not understand why a people could disturb so much peace just because the politician has opened his mouth. It never really occurred to me that this person who the people seemed to love so much could be the very person who in time the people come to hate so much. I believe I was one up from the people. After all, I already hated this person. But I guess it was all for the wrong reasons. Surely, I could have had more reasons, but really it did not matter. The politician I recall used very strange words. Humanism, man at centre, was rather prevalent those days. Words that had no meaning to me. I was innocent as all children are. Then, there were the times, a new tall building came up, and the politician would again make an appearance. Of course, having a two storey building in your town was something exciting. And if it had lifts, then you should imagine how much fun us kids had!
Yet again, there would stand the politician. Talking and the people awed into silence, then thunder. Never really bothered me much as long as the new watchman would not mind us riding up and down the lift. It is just that I could never fathom a reason why the politician was liked so much. Yes, my father would also often be there. Being a somebody in the town, he somehow had to make an appearance. And did we glow. That is my father up there.
Looking back, I believe I never really witnessed my father smile whenever next to the politician. Could be he always knew something. Must have been a secret. For why else did he not tell us what it is about the politician’s presence that did not make him smile.
Looking back, perhaps it does know matter anymore as I was only living in an aeon of innocence. But, however, now it matters.

Ora pro nobis.

How it be - Mbinji Mufalo

kupuzo - Mbinji Mufalo

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Where angels walk among us

- A reminiscence on Kasisi Children’s Home and me
April 28, 2013

It is Easter, and after a stressful fortnight of marking and processing my University course exams, my BP reaching a crescendo, I decided to pack my bags and head for Kasisi Children’s Home.

This one Easter, I had a welcome that evoked in me a sense of realizing my place at Kasisi. Often the Sisters would, with bewitching joviality and love, jokingly rebuke me for having been away too long. Could never get to understand their conception of time. Their concept of "too long" seems to be a translation of a week being equivalent to months. In my opinion, I am never really away that long. I have come to learn to never mind them. I always tell them I am a prodigal son. I am always back anyway, whether it takes me a week or months.

This Easter had a resonance that was different. A resonance that painted a picture of my beginnings at Kasisi.

In the glow of the setting sun, as the girls opened the gate for me, one of them said, “Welcome back home, Mr. Mbinji”.  Well at least, she pronounced my name correctly, though the “Mr.[1]” always makes me think I am bĂȘte noire. I prefer being called, Mbinji.

Over time, the children have had different variants and pronunciations of my name. “Mr. Mbinji”, the older ones would get it correctly. As for the little ones, it is always hilarious. “Mr. Beans, Sister.” I wonder when they ever did see me in a blue habit! And of course, there is, “uncle, daddy” too.

Anyway, back to the welcome. I felt sad and happy, at the same time. Sad, because perhaps, I had stayed away too long. But mostly happy, because, indeed I was home again. That the girl welcomed me back home, is simply a loving acknowledgement that I and her belong in the same place and time.

Often it is said, home is where when you go, you are welcome. But Kasisi has taught me differently. For Kasisi, home is where when you go, you belong.

How then did it happen that I belong?

Well, it is a very short story. Mamusia (Sister Mariola), Mayo (Sister Jolanta), and the other Sisters all have a similar story of my first appearance at Kasisi. Rather devious of them, but pleasant and memorable. Not very different from mine, anyway.

This Easter, sitting outside, watching the brilliant stars and the clearly visible Milky Way, I went back into memory lane. Why did I come into Kasisi? Why did Kasisi come into me? Is there a difference? It has now been slightly over 16 years, and I will tell you how. Perhaps, the how will answer the question, why.

The year was 1997. The place was Kaapstad, iKapa, or as it is commonly known – Cape Town, South Africa. I was by then a year into maintaining the website for Afronet (the Inter-African Network for Human Rights and Development) which was based in Lusaka, Zambia. And it was one of those days when my wondering mind, reached deeper into realms I had never thought of before. The internet for charity!

In the cold wet days of July 1997, I searched for children’s charities back home in Zambia. I sent emails to about five or so charities. All I wrote was that I could develop and host a website for them as a means of helping them have a wider reach in terms of intending donors and sponsors. I also did indicate that I will be doing it at no cost to the charity. At the time I was sending the emails, I really did not have any reserved domain for such a project. The idea was to piggy-back the charities’ websites on the Afronet domain. An idea which thankfully the head of Afronet went to the moon over. After all, it would add to Afronet’s image. Well, it did.

As an organization concerned with human rights and development, Afronet recently added to their website an advertising window for Zambia's largest orphanage..,” acknowledged at the time.

Of the five or so charities I had emailed, only one responded. And it was Kasisi Orphanage, now commonly known as Kasisi Children’s Home. The Sister-in-charge, who I did not know at the time, but who signed herself as Sister Mariola Mierzejewska gave me the green light. Her last name was a mouthful to me, and I did at that time wonder what kind of name it was. Couldn’t wait to meet this nun with a rather strange name.

Anyway, in 1997 Kasisi Children’s Home was born on the internet under the domain name, Later it moved to its own domain name,, donated and hosted by Craig Anderson in the UK. Somewhere in end 2008, we lost the domain, and all efforts to buy it back failed. Fortunately, in 2009 Thierry De Jonghe registered in Belgium, where it is currently hosted. Thanks to these guys. I am just still the tardy webmaster!

In 1998, when I briefly visited Zambia, I decided to visit Kasisi Children’s Home. I needed to understand more about the place. I really did not even know where exactly in Lusaka it was located. I had to ask around for directions. I hit the road with apprehension as I had now learnt it was way out of town. And the road was a mess! Kasisi River, I remember calling it for some years to come. Rainy season, was a think-twice road to use.

When in Kasisi Mission, I got lost and had to ask for directions, again. Finally, I located the place. It was ethereal love at first sight. The front had (still has) well tendered gardens, with breathtaking flowers. And there is 1956, inscribed on top of the main entrance door. A rather halcyon welcome to the place.

I strutted in like I was entering my own home. And this elderly Sister followed me. “Who are you,” she asked. “I am Mbinji,” is all I said as if my name was a valid visa to the place. She really did stare at me. I think she was not charmed at all. I did look like a lost street adult. Torn Levis, untucked Che t-shirt and wild-west boots, I guess I did not cut a sight she was used to at the Home. Especially when such person seemed to want to roam around, like he belonged. Later, I learnt she actually did think I was a lost street adult seeking sanctuary at the Home.

That first day was spooky.

“Hi,” a smiling youngish looking Sister says.
“Hi,” I say and I ask where I could find Sister Mariola. She walks me to the office. Behind followed the elderly Sister, still sizing me up. Well, this one is seriously protective of this place, I thought. The younger Sister quickly left before I could enter. Guess, she too was wondering if I was indeed a street adult.

I knocked, and the same Sister who just led me to the office opened the door.
“Hi,” she said, again. I do use expletives quite often, and I nearly mouthed one. But well, this was a place run by nuns, I had to be modest.

“Welcome to Kasisi,” she said.
“But we already met.”
“No”, she replied. Well, I think she must have used a rear door after leaving me at the main office entrance. Kind of weird of her, I thought. Fact is, I had not met this one other Sister.

I entered, and there was Sister Mariola. A Sister I had only met through emails and website update pictures. She was rather different from my mental images of her. In my mind the Sister-in-Charge, was a stern faced nun in a dull blue habit. A no-nonsense type. Reminiscent of the Catholic brothers that taught me at lower secondary school.

That in the pictures she sent, she smiled; I thought she did that just for the website. Up to that point, I really had never interacted with nuns. The only nun I think I knew then, was Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Sister Mariola in person was describable only in two words. Awesomely magnetic! With time, I came to learn that all of the nuns and Kasisi itself are actually awesomely magnetic.

With a smile on her face, that reminded me of mom before chiding us, Sister Mariola really did size me up, too. Looking back, I really did not cut a figure that was commensurate with the project I had just started for them. I, in person and I, on the internet was incongruent!

Then the elderly Sister, Sister Jolanta, and the spooky ones walked in. Well, they were identical twins. Or the twin angels of Kasisi as one local newspaper once dubbed them. These are Sisters Janina and Maria.

That first day, I was appraised by Sister Mariola, Jolanta, Catherine, Christina, Janina and Maria. They were surely doubtful of this scrawny looking young man in torn jeans, and who drove in with a very noisy car (as Sister Catherine later described my Ford V6). Years later, Sister Mariola and Jolanta did own up to their apprehension of the intentions of the scrawny looking young man in torn jeans. Today I am humbled they did give me a chance. Could be it is divine providence.

Or perhaps, they believed in Mother Teresa’s saying, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

Indeed, they were kind not to have judged me harshly from my looks. That day, I left Kasisi knowing I will be back and back again thereafter. Thus, when I finally returned home, in the year end of 2001, Kasisi was the first place I visited even before settling down.

In the years after that, my bond with Kasisi strengthened. I do all sundries of voluntary work for the Home and some benefaction for them. I even managed to get Afronet to be a benefactor for Kasisi. But this did not last, as Afronet folded up in 2004. Yet, I continued, as my belief in Kasisi was not inspired by Afronet, but by own beliefs and the Sisters themselves. Their laughter, jokes and love would always resonate around me whenever I thought of the Home. And of course the little angels that dwell there! “Mr. Beans, daddy,” are sounds that are always musical to me.

Looking back today, there is no regret, no worry, and no questioning why Kasisi came into me. This is because, in giving myself to Kasisi, Kasisi has also giving itself back to me a thousand-fold.

There have been dark periods in my life, and Kasisi has always been there for me. The darkest was, when I was nursing my HIV+ younger brother. I had nursed one already nearly a decade before then. He later passed away. For this one, I told myself, not on my watch again. It was psychologically trying for me. But, Kasisi and the Sisters stood by me. They nearly brought me to tears with the unwavering support they gave me. Till today, I feel I will never be able to thank them enough.

In other dark times in my life, I have had to remind them that they really should not be concerned with me, the street adult or prodigal son. Like the time I came back from South Sudan sickly. They picked me up from the airport straight to the Home. In the sick bay that day, I shed tears of my taedium vitae (weariness of life), and mostly love.

I reminded them that they have two hundred and something children to look after, but there was no negotiation. Huh, Mamusia can be stern!  Often it is like I am talking to deaf persons. Gosh! They never listen to my protestations. Sometimes, I think they have connived to make my life beautifully miserable, theirs too. Some celestial conspiracy!

Well, perhaps in ending my reminiscence, I should answer the question, why I came into Kasisi and Kasisi came into me. The answer is simply that through no predetermined design, I had just simply walked into a place where angels walk with us. Ora pro nobis.

[1] Mr. always evokes in me a sense of master and slave.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Delusions - A journey into a world of the righteous: Part II - A Pale Misty Horizon

Kupuzo ya mutalahali muyeni aka Walubita

To the memory of 
my younger brother Walubita 
– who’s freshness I dearly miss
that unknown beautiful black African child 
- the surrogate for all those children
whose horizons are always pale grey and misty.

End of the year 1984 Anno Domini.
They are happy. They are laughing. Gosh, now they are arguing. These days they are always arguing. Boring, no punches at all!
“I do not like it, him going back to Zambesia, alone.”
“He will be okay, after all, he has been offered a job he can not be offered here.”
“Still I do not like it, he does not belong.” Now she has stepped on his cones. He doesn’t like it.
“How can you say he does not belong, he is Zambesian, you know?”
“And Britannia.” Sorry, but one that never feels Britannia.
“So what?” Wonder why they are quarrelling over something they can simply ask.
“Mom, dad, please stop it.” They look at me, startled. Can never understand parents. They were discussing my future, my life, without having the courtesy of asking me. Was with them, yet I was like a piece of antique in the room. Don’t look forward to being a parent. Too possessive. Too argumentative.


‘A’ levels over, should have been the end of the problem. But no, one walks in arms akimbo.
            So what are you planning to do. Does not wait for an answer.  
            You should study economics so that later, you do an MBA.  
Another one comes.  
            Ngana come over here. Sprawls in the sofa, smiling benevolently.  
            Scribing isn’t bad you know.
Well actually I was thinking of Mining Engineering.
Mining Engineering! Darling, that is too risky. Just the other day I read that coaliers had been trapped, then there was…
Scribing would be exciting, son. Not an MBA.  
They all had their interests, I had mine.  Did Mining Engineering and gave each a present.  A Scribing diploma, an Economics degree and an MBA. Thought they would show appreciation, but no. Then I was living in limbus factuorum.
Am not surprised how as kids we used to plot how best to kill them. Problem is we never killed them. They are just too precious, when not thinking for us.


“What is it now?”
“I just wanted to say, I have already made up my mind.”
“So you are going?”
“Yes, mom.” She does not like it. He is enjoying himself. She walks out, blabbing about fathers and sons.
She packed my bags, all the same. Kissed me goodbye, wished me well. What could she do, it was Christmas!


Friday, December 28.
Three days to a big job.  Assistant manager, Operations. Hope it comes with a Lexus V12 motor, it had to. They love big motors here.
On the way from the airport, I even saw a civilian manoeuvring a tank into his lush yard.

Sunday, December 30.
Can not wait. Assistant manager - Operations, Zambesia Oil Company, Backwaters Branch. Wonder why anybody would name a town Backwaters.
Any way does not matter much to me. The gods of my grandfathers must have been smiling. Wonder though if dad has any.
Have an English whitey for Boss. At least he has somebody with whom to share the humorous queen’s jokes. He fancies the queen. Strange!
Strange indeed. The man does not know that, today, the queen's kingdom is just a little piece of islands.  No more continent's, only football.


The year 1985, Anno Domini.
            Need to have a testament. Will call it the Chronicles of the Fourth Dimension, could be famous!
            Already, seeing millions queuing up to get a copy. Pharisees, running in circles trying to see what the excitement is all about. Frustrated, they can not read. The millions now speak in tongues. The Pharisees walk into the darkness, tails between their fat legs.

Wednesday, January 2.
Still waiting for the excitement to wane. Lodging in a 5-star hotel. It is no Hilton.  Now realise coming here was the best decision ever.
Dropped the ruins of the first world war a line.
You sure everything is okay. Well I am not surprised, still can not believe I am safer away from her.

Friday, January 5.
            Can not seem to be able to just watch the waitress walk by. If only she walked properly. Too sexually rhythmic. My hands are getting longer.
            They don’t know the Lib anthem here: That is sexual harassment.

Monday, January 23.
I paid for being mischievous, wallet evaporated. Think the mouse should not have danced a whisker away from the cat.
Beginning to think otherwise. May be I am safer near mom.

Friday, February 1.
Moved into thy dungeon. Not enough room to romp about. Too constrained, more like a pigsty. Think marrying will force the Company to give me bigger accommodation.
Marriage, no, not me. Marriage is simply the inability to find companionship in oneself.  I love myself and enjoy inner companionship.
Well could be an attempt to avoid being classified as a parent. Not too classy. What with your children plotting to kill you.

Tuesday, February 5.
Got an eye for one of the nubile secretaries.  
What a musically loud name! Walked home singing, beautiful African woman, here I come. You got rhythm, you got soul.

Monday, February 11.
            Now what is that? Parking reserved for the Chief Executive Officer General Managing Director. Wait!
            How are we supposed to enter the building?
            Interesting number plate ML 63 AMG. Of course, it is a Mercedes Benz ML 63 AMG. It says so on the damn car.
            Well, he never read that, poverty of creativity is customising your car licence plates to simply amplify the manufacturer’s model identity of the car.
Wednesday, February 13.
            Who the heck is he, too upright. Must have an iron rod in the backside. What happened to the whitey?
            The reserved parking for ML 63 AMG.
            How nice!
            Symbolising what is in short supply upstairs!

Thursday, February 14.
Was not surprised today, Mr. ML 63 AMG wants to be called sir, when I called his predecessor by the first name. After all they are one of a kind.  
Wont change a thing in my case. What inane cast, he turned out to be. Guess, he does not know that we are respected more because of our conduct than the label preceding our name.  
Reminds one of the native commissioner.
Perhaps, I need to remind him that it is not the title of an office that matters, it is how its functions are realised.

Friday, February 15.
Consolation, got the car, not a Lexus V12 motor. A rusty beaten up Landcruiser short wheelbase.
Wonder, where it crawled from.
Anyway, still, it seems to have rubbery circular feet. Yeah, the damn thing moves.  and did I burn Company gas.  Felt like Christopher Columbus. A pity he never had chance to roam around efficiently.
Wonder what he would have discovered then.
The gods’ dwelling place, surely.

Tuesday, February 19.
The evaporation process did not scare me enough. Listening to the chatter of women, could end up in the arms of amiable folks. Did not turn out that way.
Learnt a lesson. Make the ground safe in every turn. Being assistant manager, took things for granted.
            It is the pocket man, not the damn label.
            Could not agree any less. They take labels so serious here, I thought it would work for me.
            Every door has a label, and even names have labels. Dr., Honourable. E.E, Ecclesiastic Excellentia.  My foot!

Wednesday, February 20.
Woke up feeling pissed, wonder what I will do today. Sitting about tossing and turning in the seat, it occurred to me that after all the world is neither flat nor round.       Little did I realise that descriptions of the shape of the earth are relative. Strange, the extent to which we believe our reality.
            My world is oblong, slowly becoming foggy!
            The places, the realities people dwell in, makes the Sahara look like heaven. The taps are dry, but they still queue for water.

Thursday, February 21.
No oil anywhere in the ground. Luck seems to be running out, without striking oil, no big job after all.  Company definitely headed for boggy ground.
Mr. ML 63 AMG  has stopped smiling. He grins. Now he has a stiff upper lip, he is scared. Soon no big job for him too.
He is scared, no many women around him too.

Friday, February 22.
On the look out for silver shadows. Heard somebody singing that oil reflects silver shadows in the skies. Never turned out to be any, may be tomorrow.

Saturday, February 23.
Working one's hands to the bone is not as romantic as portrayed in novels. In reality it is dehumanising. What with, some folks looking down upon others simply because they are up there.
That is my nice Mr. ML 63 AMG. I love the fellow, so much that I could bed his spouse. Just hope she has a good bust.

Sunday, February 24.
            The belief in God should not narrow our inquisitiveness in the likelihood of the non-existence of God. If you are a believer, then you should accept the possibility that you could be wrong.
            It is bemusing when watching Africans during the holy day. Cant help think that God is black.
            They love him! Thought he came with the colonial masters.

Monday, February 25.
Though one may be of a different shade, one should always realise that we harbour the same feelings. Be they of greed, hate or love.
At times I wonder if I can last in the company of fellowman, am being looked at as a mascot.
Thanks to having a compatriot for a Boss. Miss that old whitey, if only he had stayed longer or I was born earlier, may be we would have struck oil.
Damn him, he left. Can't stop thinking he used a magic wand to make the oil disappear, or may be he took the oil with him to Little Britannia. How come it is always flowing that end.

Tuesday, February 26.
Got pissed again, could be, it is a hereditary trait. Seem not to be able to help it.
Mr. ML 63 AMG  not happy that I am chatty to a secretary. Not good for Company image, he says, and loudly.
Smells of, do as I say, not as I do. Only if  he knew her name is musical.

Wednesday, February 27.
Feel like patting the one who sang that song `pat the beads’. In this living hell you no longer pat beads, you kick them in hard. Could be more like it, where somebody is expected to make virtue out of inconsistency.

Sunday, March 2.
If only I could promise myself not to, but that would rob that genius of his entry into the Guinness Book of Records.
Ah! They surely do not have to speak in a gibberish language. God understands their language.

Saturday, March 15.
Nice working week, but turned out to have no disciples at all. All faked out. May be I should not have told them the oil went with the ancestral gods. Am not surprised my childhood priest said these gods were evil.

Sunday, March 16.
Patience is like wanting to scratch one's rump in public, but courtesy forbids.  Could be more like it in real life, with the oil at a distance, really need to scratch my rump in public.
But no, this is classy reality, class forbids not courtesy.

Saturday, March 22.
What a bloody weekend! Just holed up like a pig in a pigsty. Things not working out too well.
Strange, yet the Pharisees in the Temple are always laughing. Wonder whether we worship the same gods.

Tuesday, March 25.
You've got to have the drive to do something worthwhile in this land. Am in dung.  Mr. ML 63 AMG reprimanded me for hanging too close to his secretary. She shouldn't show too much leg.
Think she is a teaser. Tell that to the Lib.

Friday, March 28.
Now, I am convinced his spouse does not have a good bust. He warned her! The man just has no guts to admit he also fancies her.

Wednesday, April 3.
Where is the damn oil, that is Mr. ML 63 AMG. Loud and clear. Now he uses a megaphone, lo.
Strange, thought it was his ball game. Always wonder why when the team is losing, the coach blames the players. The players blame the pitch. The crowd blames the referee. That is humanity at its best.

Friday, April 5.
Dropped the old folks a line. Everything is exhilarating, could not tell them it is getting mirky.
Monday, August 3.
One of the darkest periods in my life. Tea boy tells me to make him a cup of tea. Filthy sandaled feet on my desk. A smirk on his face.
He hails from Boss’ uncountable hamlets. Boss is away. He is boss, he thinks. A sad reality!

Thursday, August 6.
On the verge of a demotion. Should seriously consider my predicament. Boss, says I insulted acting Boss!

Friday, August 7.
Boss still sings the same old song. Find the damn oil. Can't you ever manifest what you learnt at University.  
Thank you very much.  I also have a Scribing Dip.  MBA.
Hey Boss, I thought that Challenger is for aerial surveys. Can not tell him. He is too educated. He has a label in front and at the end of his name.

Saturday, August 8.
At this rate one will just end up a destitute. Poverty, disease are the worst scourges of mankind. Whoever said poverty and disease fornicate, and procreate rapidly could not have been more perspicacious.

Monday, August 10.
It is really true that you can only appreciate the light after you have been through the darkness. Will I ever appreciate the light. I have never really been in the darkness. The ugliness of well off parents.

Sunday, August 16.
They came armed to the teeth. Moses could have been proud. Rammed Jesus down my throat. Well my ancestors' sins are their own, have enough of my own. They argued. Whoever told them I need the man.
Chased them round the corner. Satan, they ranted. Didn’t know god’s people can be so ugly.
            Felt sorry for them for they know not that God dwells not in a building or religion.  God dwells in you, but you can never be God.

Monday, August 31.
He rubbed my nose in the mud, I rubbed his, too. That is my nice Boss, I should show my love by bedding his spouse.

Monday, September 7.
            She had used the word love. Well. Indeed, love is the most inappropriate word characterising human power and exploitive relations.

Tuesday, September 8.
            Woke up on the intellect train.  Love, infidelity are words many grapple with. The simple fact is, infidelity is a function of the misconceptions of love. Infidelity's synonym reduces to one word, unfaithfulness. But, have you ever picked up a lexicon, and looked up the synonyms of the word love.
          Synonyms of love, be intimate, bed, bonk, dear, dearest, enjoy, get laid, fuck, know, passion, screw, affection, devote, adore, and a litany of absurdities. The end result is a dichotomy.
          Love is a dichotomy. You either claim to be in love, simply because the victim of your love arouses your soul and intellect, but such victims of your love often fail to arouse your body.
          Or you claim to be in love, simply because the victim of your love arouses your body, but again such victims of your love often fail to arouse your soul and intellect.
          If you so understand this dichotomy, then it should be that you should understand that love is an act of psychological and, sensual or physical reconciliation. Infidelity, then, is simply discordance in understanding love's dichotomy and an inability to reconcile the competing spheres.
          So tomorrow, when you proclaim your love, you should know that all you are proclaiming is either infidelity or reconciliation.

Wednesday, September 9.
Never in my life did I fathom being in such a pitiful state. Tell it to those who care. They will certainly howl: get back son.

Thursday, September 10.
Missed the oil. Came across it the other side of the river. Could have been the turning point in my life. Well, will continue waiting for that distant silvery streak on the horizon.  
Sincerely, if only  Boss could…

Saturday, September 26.
Happy birthday. 25 years old. Boy have I come a long way. What a pity that on one's birthday, the day starts with the gods of the stomach running a riot. Assistant manager not worshipping the gods of the stomach. Hope one day I will tell it to those who will find the oil. No, not the distant folks. They will only rave.

Monday, November 9.
Tea boy has a label. And it is on my door!
I knew it was coming, yet I did nothing about it. The door, my foot. Shouldn't have just advised them to remove it, the hinges and frame should have been removed as well.

Tuesday, November 10.
The new found road West. Taught me some hard lessons about life. Never take what is not yours for granted. At least they are human, let me stick in the dungeon for another six months.

Wednesday, November 11.
Now a piece of hot coal. That is the way with women. Cannot stand a loser. Guess it is all about the perpetuate of the aggressive genes. No hard feelings. She even softly gives a piece of advice.  
Go back.  Blimey!  Just go give it to The Viking!

Friday, November 13.
Had to vent my anger. Got drunk and ended up at Boss' mansion. Well, former Boss. Felt like screaming. Remembered dad's wisdom. Son, let them enjoy their sleep for they know not where we sleep.

Wednesday, November 18.
I hate the postman. Feel like killing him. The Temple, too, is headed for the door.  Ugh! The ruins of history. Still at war.

Friday, November 20.
When you are at your nadir even that which is forthright wont be forthcoming. The fallacy of education. Work mobility, what utopia!
When I have the time, I will give a guest lecture to that damn lecturer who talked about education and social mobility. I think he never heard of the Greater Idiocratic Republic of Zambesia. And the thorns on the road West!

Sunday, November 29.
It really must be some new pastime. I hate intrusions. Told them to go to hell, asked me if I knew where it is. How should I know. They are the ones that always talk of hell.

Thursday, December 3.
They threw the crumbs at me. Got pissed. The good thing about getting pissed is that it keeps somebody else happy for longer than the pissed.

Friday, December 4.
The challenge lies in looking ahead and not reminiscing about times long gone. It is very disheartening to continue the way one's ancestors did. There is really no excuse for doing it

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