Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Kabompo House And Its Significance In Zambia's History

The Kabompo House -Pictures by Paul Shalala
By Paul Shalala in Kabompo
The independence of Zambia can not be complete without highlighting the role former President Kenneth Kaunda played. 
Dr. Kaunda's history is not only confined to his childhood town of Chinsali or Lusaka where he has spent most of his adult life.
Kabompo District in the North Western Province is dear to Zambia's founding President.
A visit to Kabompo is not complete without a visit to the Kabompo House where Dr. Kaunda was incarcerated for four months in 1961. 
In March of that year, Dr Kaunda was arrested at his Chilenje House in Lusaka and he was later transferred to Kabompo were he was held until July 1961.
Katiki Sakufola (left) after the interview
This blogger has travelled to Kabompo to track down people who saw Dr. Kaunda while he was in detention.
In a small village, five kilometers away from Kabompo town, i managed to locate Jonas Sakuwaha, the cook who used to prepare food for the then independence leader.
His story is interesting.                                    
"I lived on the Copperbelt with my uncle who was working in the mines in Kitwe. When i returned to Kabompo in 1961, i spoke a bit of Bemba and the British colonialists hired me because they could not understand local languages in Kabompo. I started cooking food for President Kaunda and he was a jovial man," said Mr Sakuwaha while seated on a stool.
The old man, who lives alone in his grass thatched house, added that the former President used to appreciate his food.
"After eating, he used to tell us many stories. He used to assure us that one day Zambia will be free and all of us will have a better life in future. He promised me a job but to date he has not returned, am still waiting," said Mr Sakuwaha.

Mr Sakuwaha also talked about Dr. Kaunda's choice of foods.

"In the morning, he used to drink tea with lemons. He used to refuse coffee or coffee."
Two kilometers away from Mr Sakuwaha's village is the residence of Katiki Sakufola who was a messenger just before Zambia's independence in 1964.
Jonas Sakuwaha (left), the cook who served Dr Kaunda in Kabompo
He and two other messengers guarded Dr Kaunda in his Kabompo House 24 hours a day because at that time, the colonialists had no Police officers in Kabompo.
"We used to take turns in guarding our future President. He used to read a lot and told us too many stories. Whenever we took him to the Kabompo river to work, he would take cover whenever he hears a plane flying past. He was scared of being bombed," said Mr Sakufola.
Mr. Sakufola said he was present when a huge snake is said to have passed in between Dr. Kaunda’s legs as he rested under a huge tree which still stands today near the Kabompo House.
"On a Sunday in March 1961, we did not take Mr Kaunda to the river. So he spent the day under the tree, reading his books. As he sat there, a huge snake came and it passed between his legs. I then whistled for my fellow messengers to come so we can kill it but it ran away," he said.

The tree under which Dr Kaunda used to seat
The National Heritage and Conservation Commission has taken care of the tree where President Kaunda used to rest from.

A Plaque has been placed there with an inscription explaining its significance. 

The Kabompo House caretaker Jean Chipita says youths of nowadays must be grateful to the forefathers who fought for our freedom.
"This house must inspire the young ones to work hard and cherish the freedom that they currently enjoy. Imagine the sacrifice President Kaunda made when he spent four months here just for the sake of our freedom. That was total sacrifice," said Mrs Chipita.
Kabompo may not feature much in the history books but it also has a mark on the freedom struggle.
Despite there being few visitors to this house on an annual basis, its significance is larger than the size of the structure.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Source of Zambezi River Dries Up Due To Climate Change

This is the point where the Zambezi river starts from and
it is totally dry -Pictures by Paul Shalala
By Paul Shalala in Ikelengi
It has never happened before, at least in living memory of this life……as we know it.
In fact no one remembers such a thing ever happening.
And this has happened at a time when, water levels are supposed to be at their highest on account of the good rains experienced in the past six months.
But this is not so.
This blogger travelled over 500 kilometers from his mining town of Kitwe to the border town of Ikelengi in northern Zambia to verify reports that the source of the Zambia river had dried up.
What the blogger found on site was shocking.
Geologists believe that the Zambezi river starts from the Kalene Hills and it flows underground for some kilometers, only to appear in Mukangala area where the official source is.

A dry patch now meets the eye from the spot where the source is, where the Zambezi river used to ooze from.
In happier times, that was the first sighting of the river as it creeps from the undergrowth to form a rivulet.
And then it disappears and creeps back in visible patches here and there.
This dry patch is also the reason why this place is protected by the Zambian government.
First site of the Zambezi river, 300 meters from the source
It is also the reason why beautiful walk-ways were made for people to easily walk around and see the phenomenal spot.: the source of the Zambezi river
This same spot is also the reason why a nice visitor center was constructed by the Zambia government to provide information for tourists.
So what could have happened here?
Even Willy Chiwaya. the conservation assistant who has been taking care of the Zambezi source for the past 10 years has never seen anything like this before.
"I have been working here for 10 years and this is the first time ever seeing the source drying. We did not just have enough rains this year that is why it is dry," said Mr. Chiwaya.
And the traditionalists also have an explanation.
"The forefathers are annoyed that is why the source is dry. They are annoyed with the white people who have encroached into our land and chased us from the source. We are asking the government to allow us resume the musolu ceremony," said Senior Headman Mukangala, a local Lunda leader who lives less than two kilometers from the source of the Zambezi river.
The source of the Zambezi river is protected by the National Heritage and Conservation Commission.
The Visitor Information Center at the source of the Zambezi
The area, which is 36 hectares, has been declared a national forest in order to preserve the source.
However, this year has been full of surprises.
"The water table has really gone down. We have not had enough rains this year like we have had in the past. But there is still water here, though its 300 meters away from the actual source were we are standing," said Mr Chiwaya.
The Lunda speaking people are the owners of this land -  the source of the Zambezi river.
The Lundas called the river Yambezhi but the white man opted to call it Zambezi.
Actually, the Republic of Zambia derives its name from the Zambezi river.
In the years before the source of the river became a national heritage site, the Lundas considered the area as a shrine.
They used to come to this area to perform rituals.
And then came the white man.
"Where there is a monument, that was some kind of a hospital were the sick were brought for healing. What used to happen is that the ancestors would come here, get few leaves and trees to mix together and give the herbs to the people who were at the camp and they would get healed," revealed Mr Chiwaya.

He further explained about the restrictions which were followed religiously at the shrine.

"There are some restrictions which are currently not being followed thats why this place is no longer a shrine. Only circumcised men where allowed here and women who did not have sex during the day time were also allowed to come." 
Senior Headman Mukangala lives a few kilometers away from the source of the Zambezi.
During the colonial error, he used to be Chief Kabanda but in 1947, he was de-gazette on account of not having enough people in his chiefdom.
Senior Headman Mukangala
The British colonial government claimed his villages were scattered and he would not manage to hold his chiefdom together.
Today Senior Headman Mukangala feels the drying up of the source of the Zambezi river is a curse.
"The decision to stop us from celebrating the Musolu traditional ceremony at the source of the Zambezi is what is causing problems and the drying up of the source. The spirits are annoyed," said the traditional leader in an interview.
Before the whites started visiting this area in the 1920s, the villagers used to perform a ceremony called Musolu.
In this ritual, they prayed asking the gods for good rains.
But now they no longer perform it.
"During the ceremony, we used to start by praying to God for good rains. All Headmen under my leadership would gather at the source of the Zambezi. All people would be happy because they would be talking to God directly," he said.
The Musolu ceremony, like many other cultural activities of this nature, is performed once a year.
Senior Headman Mukangala now recalls how it was done.
Throwing some seeds on the ground, Senior Headman says: "Once we paint our faces with white powder, we would then ask God that whatever we have planted, let it germinate so that next year we can have enough food for your people."
But all is not so dry at the source of the Zambezi.
Three hundred meters away from the actual source, there is some activity.
A local tourist at the Chavuma Falls
A small brook of water coming from an underground fountain, is the first sign that the Zambezi river still runs here.
And it is as they say that big things, sometimes start very small.
These are the humble beginnings of the Zambezi  before it starts its long, winding journey to the Indian ocean.
The Zambezi river grows in size and flows west wards within Ikelengi District before it crosses into Angola.
While in Angola, the Zambezi,  grows in size and stature as more and more rivers and streams pour into it.
And for flowing for 240 kilometers, the Zambezi river gets bigger and bigger before entering Zambia.
A few meters after entering Zambia, the Zambezi passes a place called Lingelengenda in Chavuma District.
Here there are rapids and natural swimming pools popular to young people.
Some boys were spotted by this blogger, swimming at the rapids without the fear of being snatched by crocodiles.
The Zambezi river as it enters Zambia from Angola
From here, the Zambezi flows swiftly and southwards towards Chavuma town and forms another set of rapids which plunge into Chavuma falls.
The Zambezi then continues on its southern journey to the Western Province, down to Mozambique and finally into the Indian Ocean.
All along its 3, 540 kilometer stretch, the Zambezi is a lifeline for millions of people in Southern Africa.
But it is the new developments at the source of the Zambezi that are worrisome.
Does this drying have any effect on this mighty river?
"I must believe that we haven't just had enough rains, because if you can see the status of the road we used when coming here, it is still very good, but usually around this time, there is a lot of trouble getting here due to too much water.  But its still okay because there are no enough rains," said Mr Chiwaya.
Despite this climatic phenomenon, the Zambezi is giver of all things.
The river is a source of transport, food and employment in Zambia, Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique.
It is also a major source of electricity for these countries due to its many water-falls and dams which produce hydro power for domestic and industrial use.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally aired on TV1's Newsline program on 19 May 2017 and the video can be watched here.