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Saturday, 2 November 2019

Zambia: I changed my mind (Michael Wright)

I'd seen this book a few times on eBay and formed a first impression of what it might be like. I was ready to be annoyed, and almost immediately was, but in the end the author makes some good points.

If we are any doubt as to the argument, the inset of Chairman Mao should help to set the scene. The author is concerned about the increasing influence of China in Africa, but actually the book is more about the failure of the political system and the steady erosion of democratic ideas as the one-party system takes hold in the late 1960s. The book leaves us in no doubt that the author considers Africa unready for democracy, that the Zambian constitution is a mockery of the real thing and that English policy towards central Africa is a failure.

Along the way we hear much about Wright's bewilderment with the way things are run and failures to tackle issues as they arise. Sometimes this is justified, other times I am reminded of a visitor who spent time telling everyone that they found an ant in their water, as if this was something to be remarked at.

Michael Wright came to Zambia in 1967 and spent three years lecturing in Economics and Government at Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka, a post advertised through the Ministry of Overseas Development.  He 'changed his mind' because he came from a liberal background, but after his experiences we wonder if he remained a liberal. In fact, he suggests that 'this catastrophe' should not be repeated south of the Zambezi.

You will not be surprised to hear that the book contains many examples of facilities that are not repaired and systems that are not functioning, and yet after three years in the country, and three years since independence, I feel it was a bit premature to trot these examples out as proof of the country's failures.  At the same time, we can see now the continuing failure to tackle major infrastructure issues, in particular water and electricity supply, with areas such as Makeni lately suffering daily power cuts spanning a half day or more, usually during working hours. Imagine the impact on your ability to pump water from your borehole, to flush toilets, to wash clothes, or to keep food in a freezer.  We are getting to the point where everyone will require their own generator.

We hear that on his arrival his disillusionment is still to come, and he hopes for a bright future, as suggested by the new currency names of kwacha (dawn) and ngwee (brightness is coming).

Wright spends a fair amount of time talking about Kaunda's philosophy (said to be developed through correspondence with Colin Morris) of humanism and how nobody can figure out quite what it means, although he asserts that the idea of the 'common man' is taken as meaning that a living is justified by one's position in life, rather than effort.  As the idea of humanism is put into practice it becomes about decent housing, a good diet and charitable effort alongside less helpful ideas such as Simon Kapwepwe's suggestion that English should not be taught in schools.  I remember the backlash against the mini-skirt in the press, as improper and not worthy of Zambian culture. I see this as Zambia finding its feet, deciding what it meant to be Zambian.

Of course, Kaunda was also trying to unite many tribal groups. However, later these worthy ideas are tarnished as it appears that UNIP membership is often a pre-requisite for employment.

There is mention of road renaming, and an attempt to name streets after two Africans who had been hanged for killing a European lady in her car (see elsewhere on this blog for more on this story). But this was rightly quashed, and we should not be surprised, as he is not, that we no longer want a Cecil Rhodes Drive.  On the other hand we have a declaration that Eveyln Hone College was built by the Zambian Government, when it was built by the British South Africa Company, as an example of a revisionist approach.


I was intrigued by mention of the Anglican Cathedral, because I think my father would have been there at the time.  Wright suggests that the church is regarded by the president as a natural instrument of his policies and that he holds sway over the clergy. By way of evidence that the Anglican church is losing its way he cites splitting from the church in Rhodesia, Africanisation, and relaxation of regulations covering marriage. He says 'the church in Lusaka contained some rather odd people' and tells us about a sermon in which the priest (allegedly) said that drug taking was quite acceptable, after all 'look how many people take aspirin or sleeping pills'. But surely this is wilful misinterpretation? Then he suggests that the priest has said the Ten Commandments no longer really apply. Hmm...

After the service, Wright talks to the priest, who defends his position and also military opposition to Rhodesia. Hypothetically speaking, Wright suggests an example of the Epworth mission outside Salisbury, should they be bombed? Regrettably, this might be necessary, the priest is claimed to have said.

I don't think I see my father in the first quote, though I can imagine him taking a strong line against Rhodesia, as I remember him going off to do broadcasts on Radio Freedom, which started with the sound of automatic gunfire, and songs of Umkhonto we Sizwe. I am left wondering if it was him.

Wright claims that the Watch Tower movement talked of the 'miraculous removal of whites and the discomfiture of the missionaries', not something I've heard before.

Living in Zambia

There's quite a nice chapter about living in Lusaka, touching on places like Munda Wanga and the drive-in cinema up the road, suggesting how nice it could be, but there is always an undercurrent of worry and trouble. For example there is the story of the white girl (unnamed) who, following a quarrel, was beaten so badly by daughters of a minister at her school (somewhere near Woodlands) that she was hospitalised. The minister's daughters were not disciplined afterwards, it seems. There are many such stories, so that we are left with the impression that life is cheap.

In the end I recognise many of the things that Wright says as true, but it still seems a harsh judgement for somebody who spent just three years in the country, however much truth there is in it.  I wonder what happened to Wright afterwards.

The book contains an appendix of references*, mostly from local newspapers, backing up the author's statements.

Most of the names in the book are government officials. I've tried to indicate some of them below:

Abrahams, Dr *
Banda, Dingiswayo? (Copperbelt and 'Zambians first' speech)
Banda, Hyden (Western province Minister)
Bennet, Mr (refugee in Lusaka prison) *
Bing, Mr G., Nkrumah's former legal advisor *
Boyd, R.N. (auditor)
Burke (Ndola Magistrate)
Chiabi, Dickson (loans board)
Chimba (minister)
Chyawa, Chief
Dake, Mawuse Dr (UNZA) *
Doyle *
Evans, Ivor (judge)
Fabian Society 
Ferrier, Mrs * relating to death of OG Wilkinson
Frobisher, Mr (Evelyn Hone)
Gascoyne, Mr *
Grieve, Mr
Holloway, John
Hyreck, Buhuslav (Czech press)
Japau, John (Minister)
Jennings, Mr (Tourism consultant)
Jones, Brynn (Australian librarian UNZA)
Kajuga, Mr (driving out evil spirits in Lusaka)
Kalengelesha, Michael
Kapwepwe, Simon
Kellock, Thomas (QC)
Lenshina, Alice (Lumpa church)
Macleod, Ian (British PM)
Mataka, Philemon (Bishop) *
Matanda, Mr (Kafue UNIP)
Mkandawire, Michael (TV announcer)
Molteno, Robert *
Morris, Colin
Mudenda, Elijah
Mumba, Eustace
Mumba, Laywell (DG)
Mwale, Matthew
Mwambulukutu, Mr. *
Nkama, Moto *
Nkandawire, Simon
Nkoloso (he of the space program)
Nkumbula, Harry
Ntambo, Jonathan (Choma governor)
Phiri, James (UNIP)
Ranger, T. O. * (African churches of Tanzania)
Rex, John (murdered)
Sell, Miss (Evelyn Hone)
Sharpy, Alex
Sidhom, Salih (Railways)
Skinner, James (UNIP)
Smith, Ian
Temple, Merfyn
Wheelan (Justice)
Wilkinson, Revd Oliver Green
Wina (information minister)
Zimba, Mary

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Lusaka Infants' School, June Kashita's book 'This was my Africa'

I was going to do a piece about June Kashita's book 'This was my Africa: Living with changes' (published in 2018), but as I read it on a Kindle I wasn't making notes as I went along.  Then I started making notes on another app, and lost them...

There was much of interest in it relating to early post-independence history, and many familiar names, as well as some nice old photos (which you can see quite well on a kindle, in colour, and enlarge quickly to zoom in on details, an unexpected bonus).  Of particular interest for this blog was the number of names relating to schools, since June was a teacher.  I thank June for reminding me of the name of my Grade 1 or perhaps Grade 2 teacher, Mrs Barbara Cook, at Lusaka Infants' School.

There is insight also for the outsider into the workings of the Convent School, and more names there too that I will try to add here some time.

 There's a memorable story about a visit to NEDCOZ (National Educational Distribution Company of Zambia) for teaching supplies. On one such trip they were buying blocks of paint packaged in sets of 6, but which were priced in tens, so they bought 10 packets to keep the arithmetic simple. However, rather than doing the maths of 10 x 6 = 6 x 10, the cashier insisted on unpacking all the packs of 6 and arranging them in piles of 10. Classic.

Anyway, without all the names in the book to hand, I am just going to dump some images in here that I've been thinking about for a while, particularly since we haven't gone long since the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and I knew I had this sketch in my Grade 1 or 2 NEDCOZ exercise book.  Plus there are a few names and other mentions here that seemed worth pulling out while I am talking about my early school days. I do not know who all of these people are, but maybe they do.

I guess I was in 1 Blue, judging by the sticker on this book.
And can I just point out that I got two 'stars' - see the clover stamps? Thank you very much. My artwork hasn't changed much since then.  Sometimes we would get these rubber stamps on a nominated part of our body as well, usually the hand, but I have to say they didn't show up too well on darker skin.

It's funny how you can go from looking at snails on Monday to men walking on the moon on Tuesday.  It certainly helps to date things though: 21 July, 1969.

On Friday 29th May, 1970, I recorded that On Wednesday we had a fashion show at school, and that a group of boys called the Rising Stars (anyone remember them?) had played some music. Tickets were 20 ngwee for children and the school PTA made over K200 from the event.

On Friday 5th June 1970 I wrote "We must not fight in the playground. We must play nicely and not spoil other children's games. Last night I saw Tamsin and Mark and Yvonne and Susan and Jaish on televiosion. They were making dragons."  This must have been on a children's TV show. I remember characters called Dizzy Lizzy (a dancing cow) and another cow, I think. Perhaps the show was sponsored by the Zambian Dairy Board? I was on it too at some point, and danced with those cows.

I am sure that Mark is Mark Appleford, as I do remember him. Son of Dean Patrick Appleford, they lived at the Cathedral deanery while we were in Victory Road.

I also recorded us going off on a sponsored 10km walk in 1970, but I should do a separate post for that.

I'll end with a couple of photos from a Lusaka Infants' School evening event, under spotlights, imagine! I have no idea what we were doing, but I do remember walking around in circles on the stage, and that our 'costumes' were pieces of card stapled around us at the last minute. I think I was a solider? Who knows.

 I don't even know if I'm visible in these photos, but if you recognise yourself, I'll be interested to hear from you!

Lusaka Infants' later became Jacaranda Primary School.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Scrolls magazine, Kabulonga Boys' School, 1977

I left Kabulonga Boys after Form II, in 1977, the year I paid the princely sum of 15 ngwee for this school magazine.

Back in 2009 I posted some pages on facebook (see some discussion on it at the Kabulonga Alumni page), but I hadn't included it here until now.

It sounds like this Vol 1, No. 1 was not followed by a No. 2, but kudos to the editorial board for making the effort all the same: Jophael Mbizure, Herrick Mpuku, Kennedy Mahupete, Peter Banda, Laiven Apuleni and Edwin Chirwa. Actually, they say that they had to raise the price to 15n (described as a 'melancholic situation'), so perhaps there was a previous issue?

Thanks were given to Barton's Cycles for their sponsorship.

There were also contributions from C. Mwanamcze (a poem), Robert Mbewe, David Katanya, Makuya Mbewe (Form IV D), M. Moyo, G. Ndhlovu, K. Sikombe (5A).

There are letters from Ignitius Kabwe (2S), George Zulu (1G) and Yunus Vally (4B).

H. Walia reports on the Debating Club and Squash Club (I'm not sure if I was in Walia's league at that age, though I spent many a lunchtime at the squash courts, leaving sweaty to go to afternoon classes). There are only 19 members, Walia says (sounds pretty good to me!) The school has no squash racquets.  The boys played the staff at the end of term I in 1977, and the boys were beaten.

The debating club has had two outings, one to UNZA and another to Southern Province. At UNZA Emmanuel Chifulifuli, Baldwin Nkumbula and Harvinder Walia spoke on "Africa cannot do without foreign aid".  It appears that we "universed the UNZA students very much." Not sure what that means!  Norman Sumbwe also took part in Southern Province, where they beat Kafue Secondary School and Canisius College in Monze.

Football: Morton Tembo leads the team against "terroristic" Copperbelt Champions Roan Antelope Secondary School in the Zambia Schools Floating Trophy.  Kabs had beaten Libala in the semi-finals. But no fear, because we have Jeffrey "Dribbler" Sakala and Stanley Chanda on our side. In defence also, Morton and Michael "Vandu" Mulenga will surely stop the terrorists.

The basketball team, led by Norman Sumbwe has beaten nearly all opposition. "If there is a game involving a trophy we hope the team [uses] Kasanda, Primi and Dingi to produce fireworks".

In volleyball, Shepherd Libebe and Mr. Filimonu are shaping up the teams. They have played at UNZA and beat all schools taking part, thanks also to Isaac K Kayula's efforts.

Patrick Unene and colleagues are "losing interest" in the boxing club because the new members are "boring". Come on new members...

We hear that the Red Cross Cadet Unit was started in 1973 and chaired by Gabriel Mtonga, later (1975) by Edward Soonga, with assistance from R. Mubamba. Now Herrick Mpuku and David Katanya are chairing it.

A letter asks: What happened to the General Knowledge Club? Since Mr Gupta left there has been no news of it. (Ediwn Chirwa suggests: why not start one yourself?)

There's some prose from Israel Phiri (4A)  and Brian Mhango (4A) provides a crossword puzzle on the back page. Clarkson Chisamu is memorialised by his friends. Edgar Chaponda and Paul "Jones Mandevu" Mwila are remembered as good 'contingent bosses' of the cadets, whereas current NCOs (Ba Nthepe) are rude to their lower ranked officers, shouting nyabwa and kwiyo at people (I am clueless, please fill me in...).

The District Governer Edward Limande 'blasts' youths for having an inferiority complex, and stresses the importance of introducing UNIP branches in institutions such as ours. "Young people have lost the spirit of togetherness as compared to the actions of our forefathers. The nation as a whole has undergone acculturation due to influence of western culture. We even use forks and knives to eat nshima. Just imagine."  Limande also suggested that students should be inventing new machines rather than relying on imported machinery, and not aspire to be engineers, which was not well received by students who planned on studying engineering.  Also those foreign dances like Cikokosh (again, I have no idea what this is, but apparently 'water-gate'?)... not a good idea.  Students asked him why he was wearing a suit rather than skins, but the DG did not explain, or pass comment on suggested ill treatment at National Service camps.

Herrick and Laiven interview acting headmaster Mr Kampata (In my next school I wrote an English piece about how Mr Kampata tried to make us sing the national anthem three times, because we weren't putting enough energy into it, and on the third attempt one voice after another dropped out until just Mr Kampata's amplified voice was left singing from his podium in front of the quadrangle.)

Mr Kampata had then been teaching for twelve years, and was previously at Namwala, Monze, Kalomo and Chipepo secondary schools.

Why, the interviewers asked, are the prefects wearing old ties? Are there no funds for new ones? It is true, the headmaster admits, the price of ties has gone up too much, we can't afford them anymore. (Some of them are wearing different coloured ties, purple, maroon... which is the official tie?)

The headmaster had recently also announced there would be no more free exercise books, due to lack of funds, something that apparently applied to most schools in Zambia.

Why not use the money from the production units (particularly metalwork, which made a lot of money selling 'triangles', presumably the kind you were then required to carry in your car in case of breakdown) to buy exercise books? Wasn't that what the government wanted from production units like these?

The headmaster suggests this is not really the case, but some boarding schools could grow their own vegetables or raise chickens. The PU relies on money from the PTA and there is a loan to be repaid.

It also sounds like students are having non-school garments confiscated, when found wearing them on top of uniforms, while in school. In future, anyone claiming for non-school garments is "going to pay a fine of 10 ngwee to collect them".

Old diving board structure?
The swimming pool is mentioned as another example of something the government said they could not maintain anymore. Funds were raised by students and parents to keep it open. That year we held possibly the last swimming gala at Kaboys, organised by those of us who were swimmers at the time, without staff involvement, my mother says (but my diary, which has a detailed account of the day, says Mr Potts was involved and the whole school came). Swimmers included Patrick Mulenga and someone called Dale, and a diver Harry Secombe (well, that's what I wrote).

This post was initially prompted by contact from Edward Simukonda, who is trying to rennovate swimming pools. Thanks to Edward, we can see the state of the facilities now at Kabulonga Boys' and Girls' Schools.

I remember my woodwork teacher, Mr. Antoine, chuckling over the discussion of the swimming pool he had been a part of. "Drain it and leave it", he said, in disbelief. "Drain it and leave it". I suspect that that is what happened next.

When I were a lad, this was nowt but swimming pool
Another letter in Scrolls laments the state of the ceilings and general outlook of the school. (I remember some very scary ceiling fans, which wobbled so much they could not have been safe to run, so we didn't, except to check that they still worked, and marvel that they remained attached to the ceilings.)

"Is this becoming a fee-paying school?", another letter asks. What is the difference between paying K40 to the school compared to providing my own exercise books, paying K3 for fixtures and fittings, K1.50 for the swimming pool (per term) and buying my own uniforms?  Anyway, couldn't the woodwork unit repair lockers and the like? (Ah, but you have to pay for timber, says Ed.)

And where did that production unit money go, asks another student in 3L. What is the balance now? Sorry, we don't know says Ed.  But maybe the accountant Mr S.S. Malambo in room 27 could help with this.

Changing rooms?
All in all there is a surprising amount of history in these 18 mimeographed pages.

I also had a dig through my personal diaries from that time and remembered a few names: Fr Norris (R.E.), of course. I particularly recall that his first question to the class was "what country do you think I come from?" I reasoned as follows in my head: he sounds American, but if he was he wouldn't ask, so he must be Canadian. "Canada," I replied, confidently. "Who told you?" came the surprised reply.  He was a good fellow, and organised our basketball tournaments, with "3 to make 2" on the free-throws. We were not very good....

The Form IU team in 1976 was: Wilson Shankaya, me, William Chewe, Boswin Kandawe and Stevenson Ngwenya with substitutes: Amitava Chaterjee and Don Mainga.

Also in my diary other teachers: Mrs Chantiliaskeram (? Science), Mrs Mukerjee, "Chief Kalaba" (can't recall his name, probably African Studies; that was his nickname after a long discussion of Chief Kalaba's area), Mr Nyirenda (Civics), Mr Koshy (later Civics, not a nice guy), Mr Nsamba (P.E.) and Miss Mumbwa (English).  I will probably have other names somewhere on exercise books.

I must especially mention Mr Mwilambwe (RIP), a Zairean who taught us French without speaking English.  We actually groaned when the class ended.

Most of these days I was hanging out with the squash court/swimmers gang, especially David Woakes, Patrick Armstrong and Dominic Goth (RIP). Dominic's sister Celia also sadly passed away a couple of years ago.

Also in my diary: Bhanu Nanduri, Bosco Britto, Justin Meyn, William Oglethorpe, Hitten and Dhimant (Patel? brothers), Hussein Mussarat, and others.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Index of Dutch Reformed Church Baptism Records for Lusaka 1915-1971

I've had a go at indexing the Reformed Church records for Zambia on FamilySearch, beginning here.

The citation for these records says that they are from the Dutch Reformed Church Archives, Potchefstroom. They are baptisms from 1915-1971, however, they are not only from Lusaka and it is not always clear where the baptism took place. Other places that are mentioned are Mufulira, Luanshya, Broken Hill, Krugersdorp, Livingstone, Kalomo, Bowwood, Chingola, Nkana, Zimba, Bulawayo, Chomo, Pioneers' Rest, and Tara. Some names seem to have come from registers in Rustenburg, in the North West province of South Africa.

I'm sure I've made many mistakes, and some transcriptions are just guesses, but this could give you the start you need to get into the register at the right place. If you have any corrections to my readings, let me know and I'll fix them, but I've tried to be true to what (I thought) I saw written down. (Earlier I did a rough trawl of names in these records, which I posted here.)

Image 21 in the FamilySearch records includes some duplicated records from the begining of the register as well as some baptisms that are not mentioned earlier, but also have no dates attached to them.

See the full list of names here!