Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Kabompo House And Its Significance In Zambia's History

The Kabompo House -Pictures by Tigana Chileshe
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.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This blogger also produced a TV report from this story and it was aired on TV1 on 25 May 2017 and the YouTube link of the video is here.

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