This is a speech by His Excellency Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba, High Commissioner to South Africa, delivered at a dinner dance hosted on 7th November, 2015 in Johannesburg by the Zambia Association in South Africa (ZASA) to welcome him and Deputy High Commissioner to South Africa, Ms. Philomena Kachesa. The two recently took up their offices at the Zambian Mission in Pretoria. Mr. Mwamba took up the position after his appointment while Ms. Kachesa moved to Pretoria from Paris.
The High Commissioner urged Zambians to emulate other countries whose nationals were proud and always strived to speak positively about their countries unlike Zambians who seemed to celebrate the negative aspects.
By Emmanuel Mwamba
My thoughts today concern our story on Zambia.
We have not told our story. And we do not celebrate our achievements.
And when Zambia’s story is told, it’s usually told by outsiders that have no interest in facts that favour us, or that celebrate us as a people.
Let us take the case of South Africa as an example.
South Africa celebrates its achievements.
The people will tell you that:
It’s the largest economy in Africa (only comparable to Nigeria) with a GDP of over $500 billion.
That it’s the first African Country to host sports World Cups in Football, Cricket and Rugby.
That the country boasts of 10 Nobel Laureates; Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, F.W. De klerk, Nelson Mandela (for Peace Prize) Nadine Godimer and J. M. Coetzee ( For Literature ) and Sydney Brenner, Aaron Klug, Allan Mcleod Comark and Max Theiler ( in sciences).
That it has world and fashion global brands that can all be found in a square mile at Sandton, Johannesburg; that they have several billionaires and millionaires in United States dollar.
But South Africa will not tell you that they are struggling with many issues;
-that they are the highest most unequal nation in the world.
– that over 16 million live below poverty datum line,
-that their unemployment rate is at over 25.5%
– that they are still struggling to give the people adequate housing, or deliver a sustainable health care.
-that their young people have been burdened with unsustainable debts in an attempt to acquire tertiary education and if it were not for “#Fees Must Fall” campaign, you could not have heard about this national crisis?
-that their crime rate is one of the highest in the world.
So fellow Zambians, who will tell our story?
Or should we believe the definition given to us that we are among the poorest nations in the world burdened with poverty, unemployment, underdevelopment?
Why do we celebrate this negative energy; negative issues about ourselves?
Who will tell the story of Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe?
That although we are known for our copper, we are the largest producer of a rare precious stone- Emerald? After Columbia and Brazil.
That our emerald is the most flawless and prized?
Buddhism celebrates their revered gods through Emerald. Did you know that the recent curving called the “Sacred Bhudha” in Thailand is curved out of a large piece of emerald from Zambia?
That in 2014, one of the largest and flawless piece titled ‘Nsofu’ of over 6220 carats was dug out of Kagem?
Who will tell the story of the heroic sports exploits of Kalusha Bwalya and Samuel Matete?
Who will celebrate and tell the story our living legend, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda?
Who will tell our story of remarkable peace, a country that has never been at war with itself or with any other?
Who will tell our story of a friendly and jovial people.
Who will testify that we are a prayerful, fasting and God-fearing nation?
Who will change the narrative of Zambia and on Zambia?
Ladies and Gentlemen I challenge you. No one will do it for us unless we do it for ourselves.
It’s not that our poverty and challenges will go away the moment we begin to tell our story but our mindset will become positive and then we shall overcome and achieve.
So speak well of Zambia.
Speak well of her people
Speak well about your fellow Zambians.
ZAMBIA’S HIGH COMMISSIONER TO SOUTH AFRICA