Woman sentenced to 17 years…Zambia

So my sister told me about a woman in Zambia who was sentenced to 17 years for murder…did a quick search in google and found a Lusaka Times article about it. From the news report, it seems the woman acted in self-defence. The story can be accessed here, if you want to see the context of the case. It is said that the woman was beaten by the man and she grabbed an alternator cover and hit him with it. He died and now she has been sentenced to 17 years behind bars because of the “seriousness” of the crime and apparently after taking into consideration, the events that led to the death.

I’m no lawyer but from my understanding, for someone to be convicted of murder, intent to kill has to be established. This particular case sounds more like a case of self-defence and not murder. Apparently Zambia is a Christian nation, governed my Christian values, yet despite the fact that even in the old Testament, God made provisions for those who killed someone unintentionally. There were cities of refuge, to which they could go and be provided with safety incase the family of the deceased wanted to take the law into their own hands. They were by no means thrown into prison and the higher penalty for murder was not applied.

In the Christian nation, however, the judge states that “You killed your own husband whom your children called father, and now your children will no longer have someone to call father,” making me wonder, who is fighting for the cause of the woman, where is justice for the children?

These children now have lost both their mother and father. With the current state of prisons, it is more likely that this woman will not exit that prison in seventeen years and even if she does, she has little chance of making a decent life for herself afterwards. I hate to think what will happen to her children.

Isn’t it funny that when a young girl was charged and was facing possible jail time for pornography charges, which according to the law, she was guilty of, people were rallying behind her, calling for her to be freed? Yet here’s a woman, who in self-defence kills her husband and no one is standing behind her. How many women are going to have to die before we stand up and stop men abusing their wives???


Respect, a perspective on Zambian culture.

Respect…I’m sure many would agree if I said that respect was earned, but this view for me was challenged and has been challenged many times. I used to think myself a very respectful person but every time I think “I’m there”, I’m convicted about seemingly small things be it respect for others or even myself, the call on my life and any number of things.

I remember a vague conversation with one of my brothers (One of the few wise Zimbabweans I know…jokes!)a few years ago and for some reason respect became a topic of discussion. I expressed the view that respect needed to be earned and he didn’t accept that. I was so shocked and asked if he would still respect me if I went around doing things that for some reason or the other are unrespectable. I remember giving an example, possibly something morally “rather –  rather”.

He told me respect was not dependent on whether someone showed themselves to be respectable. That was an “ahhh…” moment for me. I couldn’t argue with him when he asked what the world would be like if everyone disrespected each other because the other person did something unrespectable.

Looking back, I have disrespected the people in my life at one point or the other  and more frequently than anyone else, I’ve disrespected myself at every turn but more importantly every time I show disrespect, for either myself or others, it shows a disregard for God. I disrespect for the Judge who always sees what we do.

There are a few Zambian, more accurately, Bemba sayings that come to mind when I think of respect. One, makes up the words of a very well-known Zambian song…to Zambians, that is. “Mayo wanjebele, uko waya uko, wika tuka ba noko”, which pretty much means, directly translated, my mother told me, where you’re going, don’t insult your mother. Pretty much the meaning is wherever you go, don’t insult your mother or father. It’s a song that calls for us to respect every elder, which is anyone older than you pretty much. The song goes further and says even if a person is a fool, treat them as you would your own parents.

Another saying would be “Kwapa ta cila kubeya” which means, the armpit will never be above the shoulder. My grandmother, loves using this one on me when I complain about her sending me to do something every time my elder sister who’s only a year older than me is around…she just doesn’t seem to send her. Sometimes I can be a nut head! but even when I’m upset with my elder brother and sister…there are things that they don’t tolerate and a lot of the time, I have to submit. And it’s not a case of them “lording it over me” but them making boundaries clear. It should be noted that they are very reasonable individuals who generally respect me too.

Now for many, it might seem like African culture is very “disrespecting” of children, however, I choose to differ. I’m reminded of sayings like “imiti ikula, ee mpanga.” which means, the trees that grow, become forests. This talks about children of today being tomorrow’s leaders. But how does that fit into my argument on respect? Another saying “Amano ya fuma mwi ifwesa, ya ingila mu chulu” which translated is Wisdom went from a mole hill and entered an ant hill much means that a young person can advise the elder. They can give words of wisdom too.

Now, the best way to teach values is to embody them… so what better way is there of teaching a Child, who will one day lead a nation to respect others than to respect them? If a child can offer advice, the person on the receiving end has to respect the vessel from which it is coming for them to value it. And the child who is offering it must do so in a way that recognises that this person they are talking to is older and more experienced and should be given a level of respect too. Without respect and consideration for the other party, we start wars where mere dialogue would have offered a more favourable outcome.

When did the whole world go crazy?

When did the world go crazy?
it seems we are now changing the meanings of things, including legal definition to suit our preferences. Since when did it become fashionable for people to drink till they pass out? Children roam the street late at night, children have no respect for adults or authority and they behave like fools all in the name of rights! We have people who have never had children calling themselves child experts and calling for the change of laws to stop parents disciplining their children. No two children are the same and not all parents are the same. Not every parent is out to harm their child and I think most are discerning enough to know better than the “experts” what is good for their children.

We have taken private intimate acts and put them out for public viewing in the name of  adult entertainment and told our boys that it was okay for men to indulge in pornography and now, as a result, we have raised and are raising men who call themselves “Bitch slayers” and have no respect for women. In a world where it seems people want equality for men and women, isn’t it funny that we then turn around and offer people a commodity that objectifies women and tells men not to respect them? We then give out contraception and condoms to kids and tell them it is okay for them to have sex with whomsoever they choose, when they choose and wherever they choose but are shocked when the age at which children first have sex reduces.

We tell pregnant teens that abortion is okay that “it’s just tissue” but neglect to tell them there is a greater price to pay. How can it be okay to pull a child out of its mother’s womb and before the head exits the womb, puncture the head and suck the brains out? If the child had been born 2 days earlier it would count as a person. So what separates a human being and tissue is whether or not it is wanted or whether or not it exits it’s mother’s womb before it is killed? How can we live with ourselves when we can leave a child to die, alone, crying, in a pile of dirty linen because it was born as a result of a failed abortion? Can that ever be justified? Should a child ever have to pay for our mistakes or those of others? In today’s world it seems a tree has more rights than an unborn child.

In today’s world we compare the fight for homosexual marriage to the civil rights movement of the 50s when the two have nothing in common. People go around killing each other because they don’t agree; people rape homosexuals to get them to go straight, worse still, others burn them. Paedophiles also want a cut in the sexuality debate and so do the polygamists…where do we draw the line if right is only determined by what we feel? Men and women fight to be above the other and in the end both lose out. People walk out of marriages because they have “fallen out of love”, “found someone else”, “come out of the closet” with no regard for the vows they made. In today’s world people’s word counts for nothing and people use “love” as an excuse to follow after selfish desires when deep down it is lust that drives them. Have we forgotten that love is selfless?

Scientists can not explain how they gave evolution “theory” status and yet most defend it as if it were proven fact and treat anyone with a differing view with contempt and a lack of respect. Tolerance…funny how it was never a complement to the tolerated but now has become the word everyone throws around, asking that we accept all world views and yet the minute our views differ from theirs, we become high and mighty and demand they change their “narrow-minded” views. That is the world we live in. Where definitions don’t matter, where truth is relative…

When did the world get this crazy?


I have been very quiet of late on this blog. I recently started working and have been struggling to get posts out on a regular schedule. I pretty much need to organise myself and get a schedule going. I plan on expanding what I post one my wall to include Zambian cuisine, culture and also how to speak one of our 72 languages, called ici Bemba, while still keeping short stories and the things I’ve been writing about a big part of the site. I think this is still in line with what the blog is about. Things that I am passionate about.

The Pangaea Prize

Just thought I would tell you guys about a poetry competition that is open on the Poet’s billow website. Anyone around the world can enter and you stand a chance to win a $100 and an interview to be featured on the website. You also stand to have one of your poems (if you win) nominated for a pushcart prize, among other things.

If you are considering making money out of writing or just want to start putting your poetry out there, this could be something to consider. Finalists will also get feedback on their poems so that’s something to consider because it gives you the chance to improve on your skills.

There is a $10 entry fee for each set of up to seven poems. For all other details visit http://thepoetsbillow.org/poetry-awards/the-pangaea-prize/ . The site seems genuine and I’m a regular visitor but please check for yourself before entering as I do not want be held accountable for any thing that might arise if you do decide to enter.

things I like about Zambia

We all have to admit that there is no perfect country, and I think I have written a post too many about the things in Zambia that don’t quite fit. Time to celebrate the things that can be celebrated.

1. The family system

Okay, so I, like many Zambians grew up in a large family. Culturally, the notion of extended family for us is none existent, or at least, used to be. With us, your mother’s sisters are your mothers and your dad’s brothers your fathers, and their children are your siblings. To put things in perspective, growing up, I knew I had more than one grandmother (sisters) but I never actually knew which one was my mother’s biological mother, nor did it bother me. That was just the norm, they were, plain and simple, mum’s mums. The interaction of the siblings was one where no lines were drawn between children belonging to one person or the others and for me they were all just siblings. My childhood was so much richer because I had the privilege of having met five great grandmothers, One great-grandfather (they were siblings); numerous grand parents, numerous mothers, Aunties, Uncles and a lot of cousins, sisters and brothers. I remember one of my great grandmothers telling me, when my daughter was born, that a child only belongs to the mother before he/she is born, after that, she belongs to the family.

2. The people

Zambians are some of the most beautiful people I know. If you’re in crisis, there’ll be family and friends to help. I think we can be a bit placid at times, but when you cross the line, we’re generally sure to put you straight, that’s usually after you have really pushed it. I think that no one person is perfect, and yes, that goes for Zambians too but what I love most I guess is the sense of community.

3. The food

My sister refers to me as “Kawa mwana wa bwali”, meaning “Kawa the child of ubwali”, ubwali being the food most of us eat. It has many different names but I won’t get into those. Its made out of mealie meal and water and to be honest is “tasteless” but there’s something tasty about it…That doesn’t make sense, but you would have to taste it to understand.

Then there’s the wide variety of vegetables, my favourite being Kalembula, a.k.a sweet potato leaves. There are Casava leaves, Bean leaves and pumpkin leaves, the latter, in my opinion, only tastes great when cooked with groundnuts; and many more. There’s also Chikanda (yum yum, my mouth is watering just thinking about it) which is cooked using groundnuts, water, soda and the main ingredient being the powder form of a certain tuba but I wouldn’t be able to give an English name.

I could never forget the variety of fruit and mushrooms…then there’s delele/umulembwe, in which category, okra would fit. The general point is we have a lot of good food.

4. The climate

It doesn’t get too hot, doesn’t get too cold! Yes, we Zambians love to complain about how hot it gets but seriously, until you’ve experienced Australian summer, you cannot appreciate just how blessed we are…Our temperatures are mild. It does rain cats and dogs though, but I have to say, I actually do miss the thunder storms. It was in those times that we got to share a lot of folk tales, a.k.a utushimi.

5. The land/environment itself

We’re a landlocked country, but we have sandy beaches in the North of the country on the banks of lakes. I have never visited them, however and hope to soon. We are the home to the mighty Mosi oa tunya, commonly known as the Victoria falls and many more other falls that are not as known like the Chishimba falls and Mambilima falls. We have amazing animals, landscapes and a lot of tourism potential. Even our back yard has a “mini falls”. That’s how amazing this country is

6. Ama pinda and Utushimi

Amapinda are proverbs. My grandmother uses them mid sentence and they just fit. I’m more familiar with Bemba sayings, but I have heard some in other Zambian languages too.  They are used to teach and correct. One of my favourites would be “imiti iikula e mpanga” translated “The trees that grow become forests” meaning, todays children are tomorrows leaders/future.

7. Simplicity of life

We are very laid back in the way we live. We don’t complicate matters that need no complications. If it requires the use of common sense, by all means it doesn’t require legislation. “Balanced” laid back is always a good thing. We don’t have people dragging each other to court at every turn. We don’t mind sharing our homes with uninvited guests, or even sharing a meal with them. You go to someone’s house while they are eating, you pull a chair and join them.

Precious…the birthing of a dream

she walked out of the house, throwing the blue new tropicals to the floor, she slipped her feet in and ran towards her grandmother who was walking down the dust path that led to away from their house and onto a dusty road. It was an hour’s walk to Chinfinsa congregation of the United church of Zambia. She could make it in 30 minutes if she picked up the pace but that was not going to be the case walking with her grandmother. she pulled the worn skirt made of chitenge material, to cover her belly button and walked beside her grandmother. She couldn’t hide her excitement at going to church today.

“natwendeshe” her grandmother called picking up pace. she wanted to make it to church before the St Marks Choir arrived. She never complained about the distance from Luano to their Church, which was in Munsenga, on the other side of the Chingola-Kitwe Road; a trek from where they lived.

“But mama, “she replied, “our service never starts on time.” Her grand mother insisted they get to church early every week. she had no watch but they always made it on time. Precious had never heard the St marks Bemba Choir sing, but her grand mother had told her,  how beautiful they sounded. her grandmother had heard them sing many times and had even visited the “mother” congregation. The announcement was made a week ago and everytime she thought about it, she felt her heart skip a beat.

they soon met other people headed in their direction “mujibi yepi?” the woman called walking towards them.

“emwani,” her grandmother extended her hand, clapping the other womans hand and touching her chest and repeating the gesture again in greeting; Kaonde greeting. She had grown up speaking iki Kaonde but now mainly spoke ici Bemba despite being in Lamba country. she greeted the woman and run ahead, knowing her grandmother would be fine with her walking companion for the day.

She didn’t care for the dust that was gathering on her legs with each step she took; the faster she run the worse it got, but she would be at the church in no time. She was out of breath by the time the Kitwe-Chingola rd was in sight. On the other side was the Munsenga junction. A small dirt road that meandered from one end, forming a loop and coming out the other. It was mostly bush on one side of the dirt road and houses on the other. she slowed her pace as she came to the road. It wasn’t as busy on Sundays, but she made sure there weren’t any cars coming before running across. There were other people walking down and she walked with them, not quiet feeling at home, she talked with them, maybe if she showed her excitement at what was happening at church today, no one would see the discomfort she felt.

*                                  *                                  *

Jahdel was glad she had made it to church on time. Her 2 friends Limpo and Mwansa were coming to church with the visiting chior. She was excited. Her and Limpo had become close friends, despite her vow never to become friends with men. He had reintroduced her to Mwansa who she had previously known but had not talked to in years. She walked to her sister Karen and the woman she was talking to. She watched as the young girl walked away from them. Her clothes were worn. Her skirt, made of chitenge was not as bright as it had obviously been before. she kept pulling the skirt that kept riding below her belly button.

“You see that girl.” the woman talking to Karen said, “takonfwa.”

Jahdel wondered why the girl was said to be naughty, she seemed so full of life.

“she sleeps around with different men,” the woman shifted the baby in her arms from one side to the other, settling her on her hip and leaning in closer “Bonse bali mwishiba.”

Jahdel was too shocked to respond, did this woman just say everyone knew her? She watched as the woman clapped her hands, as if shocked at what she was relaying, “ka moneka kwati kalonfwa, kanshi….”

“You honestly think that it’s her fault?” anger rose in Jahdel, “How do you decide she’s naughty on the basis that grown men sleep with her?”

“All I know is they pay her and if they pay her, it can’t be that bad. And she’s so young, imagine what she will be like when she grows up.”

The way she said it only infuriated Jahdel more; worse still, Karen seemed almost ready to agree until Jahdel spoke up

“So all you adults know about it. Even her grandmother knows about it?”

“it’s no secret, and her grandmother has tried to talk about it with her to get her to stop but she just doesn’t listen.”

“So you even know which men sleep with her?” she waited for the woman’s self-righteous yes before continuing, “and all you do is talk behind her back?”

“Yes but what are we supposed to do if that’s what she’s chosen.” the woman didn’t look upset at the challenge rather ashamed and disappointed that Jahdel did not share her enthusiasm at the gossip she had to share,

“No! you fight for her!” Jahdel could almost feel herself shaking but kept her voice calm, “grown men, should know better. It’s not her fault that they can’t control themselves!” she looked at the little girl who was walking towards them

“Anyway, that’s that little girl you see.” she clapped her hands and walked away.

“Baunfwa nsoni.” Karen chuckled to herself.

“she SHOULD be ashamed of herself.” Jahdel felt her whole body shake

Karen chuckled again, “they love gossip.”

“Niwebo nani ishina?” Jahdel asked turning to the girl. She didn’t look older than eleven.

“Precious.” she replied with a big smile,

Jahdel smiled at her, heart breaking, knowing this girl had no one to fight for her. Precious, her name spoke of how God saw her. She was precious in His sight, Yet to men, she was “easy pleasure”. Something they could ride, no strings attached. They talked for few minutes, Precious pointing out where her grandmother stood, when asked who she lived with. She was a bubbly little girl. Some thought her insane.

Just then the small Canter made its way onto the church grounds. Precious ran towards it, Jahdel waiting for the boys to disembark. She said hi to both Limpo and Mwansa and introduced them to Karen. Karen left them as they chatted for a while before they had to go into the church and sit in their designated areas. The men sat on the left hand side and the women on the right.

Jahdel was in a haze; her mind fixed on Precious. Would she make it,or would abuse devour her like it had Jahdel. She knew all too well the horrors it brought, the guilt, the suicidal feelings, the shame and pain that just made no sense. The feeling of being in the wrong body, unwelcome in your own flesh, feeling like dirt had made it’s way under your skin. As the service went on, she found it hard to concentrate. Those men, deserved death! She looked at Mwansa and Limpo and remembered Limpo’s words, How could he expect her to trust any man, when his species could be so heartless and selfish. She had to admit though that both young men were different. They seemed sincere; different, they spoke kindly and offered respect even when she was undeserving. But she couldn’t help but wonder.

After service, Jahdel talked to precious some more, hoping that she could find hope in words that didn’t raise her apparent failings. She talked to Mwansa and Limpo more as well before they all had to go.

Every time she saw the little girl after that, she talked to her, but with exams looming, Sundays at Chimfinsa became a rare happening, St marks or not attending church becoming the options because of the extra lessons she needed to do in order to get ready. Hope reigned still, Precious, was the birthing of a dream, just maybe, Jahdel would one day fight what many refused to see as present. Zambians frowned when they heard about paedophiles in the western world, yet in their own world, this child, had no voice.

Years after meeting that precious soul, reading another story of a girl used by her step-father, Jahdel remembered, knowing there were many such stories. burying her head in her hands, Jahdel wept. She would never forget Precious, she hadn’t the means to help her, but one day, she would fulfil a dream.

Ponderings brought on by a book

Some times, you read a book and find yourself the centre of the story. It puts what you have never been able to articulate, into meaningful sentences, leaving you feeling exposed and raw. It leaves you in tears and tears open the bandages you’ve covered over the wound that have not allowed it to heal. It has festered, and where you once had soft tissue, your heart has hardened. You find yourself in pain again, only you know it’s always been there and sometimes you’ve acknowledged it, but most times, you push it down. In trying to escape it you find you lose yourself and the confidence you once held. You don’t know the person you’ve become and you wonder when the struggle for peace and sanity ends. The book makes you realise that you might never totally heal and the things you are holding on to are things you know are choking the life out of you but you are not willing to let go because you don’t really know what else you have left. That’s what Francine Rivers’ Her daughter’s dream did for me and God I pray that somehow, you soften this heart.


There are times I find myself angry at what happened during colonial times, but then I know we have come a long way, and we cannot treat people a certain way because of mistakes made by previous generations; look beyond the skin and you find we are all just people…People with fears and dreams, you find that we are all capable of untold evil but that with Christ, we can change this world and make it better. In Christ, there is neither Greek nor Jew. That does not in any way diminish the wrongs done, nor should it ever be said that people “should just get over it” but reverse racism, creates a never-ending cycle.

When we are hurt by a group of people or person, for some reason, we see the difference between us and make it the reason for the offence and yet the reason we hurt people isn’t even our difference, it’s not that we are white or black; Chinese or Zambian; Lozi or Bemba; male or female; the reason is our one common denominator, we are all inertly evil.


This week past, has been a huge blessing for me. Monday to Wednesday night, we attended the Influencers conference in Perth Western Australia. It happens every year in Adelaide and Perth in January.

I was deeply challenged, convicted and encouraged to be more than I am now. One of the greatest questions I was asked amidst all the teaching was “Am I carrying my share of the burden?” Its a question worth asking any one of us, Zambian, Australian, those countryless…anyone. As a Christian, am I carrying my share of the burden? As a family member, am I carrying my share of the burden? As a Zambian am I carrying my share of the burden? As a person living in Australia am I carrying my share of the burden?

We all have something to offer even though we think otherwise, but it’s time we got over ourselves and lived for Someone greater than ourselves. Dr Ravi Zacharias said, it takes one man to lead people into untold evil but it also only takes one man to change the world for good. What is your contribution to this world? When will we stop waiting for someone else to bring change and be the ones that stand for truth and justice?

I was convicted because I know in whom I have believed and yet do not live my life as one with conviction. I am not a source of hope for broken people. There’s a need in the world, we are meant to meet. As Zambian’s what are we doing but sitting and waiting for change to come or seeking to better our own lives and not the lives of those around us? As people, we uproot boundaries wanting to live free but true freedom has some boundaries. The consequences of removing those boundaries will be devastating. When will we stand up for what is right and true?

I was challenged to live out my faith, to get over my small life, small world and focus on Christ and live for Him. I was challenged to forgive and move on, to not let the past determine where I am going; I was challenged to let go once again.I was encouraged because I have great dreams that I believe were planted in me. Dreams that seem impossible but I know that the one who placed them in me, will fulfil them, if only I believe. In the end, it’s all for His glory