Frustrations of an African Author: The case of Zambia

 

Dear Editor,

This is my public complaint against the Zambian mindset towards its own brand, its authors. As you may be aware, I have written several books for Zambia. I have written on politics, law, poetry and history. My book, Zambia: Struggles of My People, in its first edition was 1,100 pages, and became the largest book ever published by one single Zambian author. But here are my frustrations, and I hope you will find it adequate and prudent in your heart to publish my article.

First, I struggled to find a publisher in Zambia. In 2011 when I undertook to publish this magnum opus, there was no local publisher who could undertake such a large project. The many publishers I approached could not publish a book with 1000 or more pages. With the help of Maiden Publishing House, a South African printer was outsourced to print the book. Dean of Law School at Zambian Open University, Dr. Munyonzwe Hamalengwa, and I managed financial aspect of this project. It was in thousands of dollars.

Second, the corruption of mainstream Zambian media. At the time of the launch of the book, the main newspapers in Zambia were The PostTimes of Zambia and Daily MailThe Post, at the time, was under Fred Mmembe. I had visited Zambia in 2012 and conducted a three-hour interview for the coverage of the book in the Post. That interview was not published. I later learned that Mmembe did not allow it because part of the dedication of the book was to President Frederick Chiluba. (I had dedicated part of the book to Chiluba because of his role in the reintroduction of multiparty politics in Zambia; and also, because he had just passed away). There was no political motivation in my dedication. The Times of Zambia and Daily Maildid not even entertain the idea of covering the launch. Other not-so-famous media demanded to be paid large sums of money for them to cover.

Three, the disregard for local authors. One of the reasons I wrote such a large and comprehensive book for Zambia was because of my experience while at the University of Zambia (UNZA) in the mid-1990s. I was disappointed that the UNZA-library carried obsolete books written mostly by non-Zambians. This informed why the nation produced intellectuals devoid of any ideas for nation change or technological prowess or just a sheer analysis of historical factors that have made Africa and Zambia continue to be under colonial shackles, even after 50 years post-independence.

 

Fourth, the negligence of Zambian authors by the Zambian Ministry of General Education (MGE). As of 2017, I have revisedStruggles of My People, and a new copy with its Test-Bank companion are on amazon.com. However, efforts to get it adopted in colleges and universities by MGE have been met with demand for bribes and unreasonable excuses. I have been told that recently, MGE recommended a book for Zambian syllabus with an unknown author. I cannot believe that our talents are being wasted and rejected when a person without a name is allowed to shape knowledge.

 

Fifth, the West see sense in our brains. Recently, one of my manuscripts on Landlord and Tenant Law has been accepted to be published for colleges in Canada. I keep wondering – why is it that the developed formations value our works but our own native governments and people neglect it. Surely, it is not for lack of trying as it is for the corruption, disregard and negligence by our own African governments and people. I almost decided not to write for Africa (Zambia) ever again. But this article is my attempt to get our governments and people rethink the waste this would entail.

 

Thank you.

Charles Mwewa

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 53
  • Who is interested to read kalulu and tortoise???

  • kwati mwalisuba?

  • I have read most of your books, and have attended your motivation talks boss. But our young generation can’t read and they are full of insults. Just check here too and see how many have insulted you.

  • I thought I was the only one

  • May be u r just petty in my view…

  • Ba Charles Mwewa, firstly you shouldn’t have to write for Zambia, but about Zambia. No one should have have write for a country. I was at the launch of your book in 2011, at Inters to which both you and the book itself were not present – what was launched or presented was a heap of A4 computer printout and half volume of a single copy of the book. That was buzzard, a launch without a book to launch. I will not comment on the content because in the end the book eventually came out and did not buy it.

    While I agree with the challenges you have outlined, here is my advise to Zambian authors:

    1. Publishers rejecting to publish your work is universal. Thousands of manuscripts are rejected everyday by publishers world over. Publishing is a business venture looking for manuscripts that stand a chance of selling – it’s not an exact science but they want to invest in content which they think can sell. So nothing personal if they reject.

    2. Zambian authors must pay attention to many things. I am afraid people still judge a book by its cover. Volume is the last consideration – it is as much about aesthetics as it is sbout the content. The layout, the paper type the font and overall quality is very important. Your book Mr Mwewa has a massive picture of yourself, and the content printed on bond paper (white or photocopy paper) The volume unnecessarily massive. The cover is a major turn off! you could have chosen from a million breathtaking pictures on Zambia. Although you are the author, the book is not about you. Next time put your picture at the back and invest in high quality printing paper not white bond paper. Consider reducing the volume or make it two volumes. I, for instance, love reading from my bed, it’s hard to keep that volume open in a lying position with one hand. In electronic format to read from a kindle, that’s fine, but here we read paper than from kindles.

    3. Most authors these days write with a view together the ministry of education to adopt fir schools because it’s the easiest way to sell. That is a wrong approach and one that soon proves to be a disappointment. Rather than target MoE, just do a good book of high quality in content and design, the book will sell and might very well catch the attention of the above and will make it recommended reading.

    Lastly yes reading culture terrible in Zambia, But there is a good number of Zambians who read and can sustain the book industry. If there are as much as 5000 Zambians who read that’s a lot. A book selling at K250 will bring in K1.25m.

    Do your part as authors, we will do our part, but we will not buy a book just because it is written by a Zambian, we will buy and read because it is good reading regardless of the author. I think authors deserve better than alms, and Zambian buyers deserve the best.

  • Nomba alisuba amafuta

  • If you can manage to write and get your work published, just do it. Don’t write expecting to be appreciated, or praised, or recognised, because that might not happen. Write because you have something to say, teach or broadcast. If it is your gift to write and it’s written, eventually it will be read. I have read many books and remember many titles, but I recall very few authors. I dont know who wrote Rumpelstiltskin, Jack and Jill, Mulenga and Jelita, Executive Decision, David, Mortal Men, meaning, I don’t care much about the writers but I care a lot about their work.

  • My friend, corruption here has reached alarming levels! Imagine even after providing your services, a company wouldn’t pay your money until you give them something for their pockets!

  • DEAR CHARLES MWEWA IS VERY PAINFULL TO SEE HOW YOU ARE FIGHTING TO GIVE YOUR BEST IN THIS NATION BUT LET ME HELP YOU HERE NEVER MIND THAT THERE IS A ZAMBIAN HERE IN ALL PART OF ZAMBIA WILL HELP YOU EVEN K1 NOOO, THE CROOKEDNESS HAS REACH A VERY HIGHER STAGE EVEN IN BUSINESS, BIG VERY KNOW ENTERPRISES, COMPANY OR OTHERS ARE STEALING IN ALL AREAS AND LEVELS, 1 YEAR AGO I GAVE A DESIGNING AND COVER CONTRACT TO THE ONE OF THE BIGEST PRINTING COMPANY IN LUSAKA FOR MORE THAN 5000 MAGAZINES NAMED: VOICE OF GLORY & FAITH BELIEVERS THEN IT HAD FAIL TO DELIVER THEIR SERVICE AFTER MANY AGUEMENT THEY PAID AF MONEY BACK THEN UP TO KNOW I NEVER TAKE ANOTHER REMAINING AMOUNT, WHEN WE LIQUIDATED ALL OUR MINISTRY PROPERTY PEOPLE CAME WITH SHOTAGE AMOUNT PROMISING TO BRING ANOTHER & WE TRUSTED THEM BUT MANY OF THEM CHIFTED AFTER A VERY DAY & RUN AWAY WITH OUR MONEY, ZAMBIAN ARE NOT TRUSTABLE

  • ONE DAY I WENT TO ECO BANK TO OPEN MY ACCOUNT AFTER ALL SERVICES, I APPRECIATED THE BANK TO SEE HOW THEY ARE WELL ORGANISED BUT THE FRONT DISK MANAGER TOLD THANK’S DEAR STEPHEN YOU ARE A FIRST ZAMBIAN IN ALL THIS NATION TO APPRECIATE US, AGAIN I WILL BE IN MANY RESTAURANTS FOR TAKING MY LUNCH AND BREAKFAST AT HAALAL, HUNGRY LION, KFC WHEN I WAS IN LUSAKA, I USED TO SEE MANY LADIES ET MEN PASSING EVERY DAY LOOKING FOR WORK, SOME TIMES I USE TO BE WITH PARTNERS OF MY GROUP WORLD BUSINESS SERVICE SOLUTION THEN THEY USED TO WONDER THEN TODAY OUR NETWORK BUSINESS SAID WE WANT 10.000 PEOPLES WOMEN & MEN THEN WE SETLED THE REAL PLACE WE CAN LOCATE THESE PEOPLE FAST IS SOCIAL MEDIA UNFORTUNATELY PEOPLE STARTED INSULTING US, ZAMBIAN HAVE REACH DOGS BRAINS AND MONKEY FACES IN THEIRS OWN. EVEN HERE IN WATCHDOGS PEOPLE INSULTED ME ALOT;

  • HELLO DEAR CHARLES MWEWA REALLY YOU HAVE TOUCH A REALITY OF THIS NATION, IAM A VERY HIGHER PROPHET BORN IN ZAMBIA, I LEFTED MY 150.000 SITTING CAPACITY IN PAKISTAN(SEE MY PROFILE PICTURE) TO COME TO HELP MY FELLOW ZAMBIANS WHOM WERE GOING EVERY YEAR TO TB, SOUTH AFRICA & OTHER NATIONS FOR THEIRS PROBLEMS AS A VERY HIGHLY ANOINTED PROPHET, I WAS DISSAPOINTED, I PAID AN EXPENSIVE OFFICE FOR HELPING PEOPLE ALONE, PEOPLE RUN AWAY WITH MONEY AFRTER GETTING CREDIT FOR ANOINTING OIL, WATER AND MAGAZINES DESSAPEARED, PEOPLE REACHED EVEN THE LEVEL TO PUT NATE TO ME BY PUSHING A CERTAIN LADY NEAR TO ME FOR THEM TO SAY I HAVE RAPE HER, EVEN MEN OF GOD DID THE SAME, MANY PEOPLE AFTER GETTING MIRACLES, HEALING AND BREAKTHROUGH TURNED AGAINST ME AND GAVES ME NAMES AFTER MY SPIRITUAL HELP TO THEM READ TO MY PROFILE(ABOUT)

    • comment-avatar
      Charles Mwewa 2 weeks

      Prophet Kabesa, your story is very touching. Regrettably, we are wasting a lot of such brilliance as you. Hope you keep doing us proud!!!

  • My brother, I fully appreciate your concerns. There many factors behind the scenario you have just given, such as “Pull Him Down”,failure to appreciate others, jealous and this has led to some people to be hated and victimized. Zambians have a tendency of not supporting what is theirs, more especially genuine efforts. Worse still is the bad reading culture among Zambians. Let’s continue exposing the negative behaviors amongst ourselves, that’s the only sure way to correct the situation. My Brother,don’t give up.One you shall harvest from your sweat. God Bless!

  • This makes for sad reading. Corruption, greed and a lack of education in some of our leaders will surely cost us

  • Fred was very right not to allow ur interview to be published. If u can be ignorant about the cause’s of the reintroduction of multiparty in central & east Europe, Asia & parts of Africa in the early 90s than I don’t know what u wrong in ur books. Who told u ftj did anything to bring multiparty?

    • FJT may not be solely responsible for the return of multi-party politics, but he was certainly part of it. For one thing, I first heard a speech from him on radio live at the labour day gathering for that year. He was the first person I ever heard publicly criticizing the Kaunda government. So I was not surprised to see him adopted to spearhead the movement towards multi-party politics. And as Charles says, his was a mere dedication and dedication is by its very nature subjective, it was not a statement of fact or a claim which was up for debate. So I say it was very flimsy to reject covering him on that basis.

    • Mmm. Easy fungai. Multi partisan can be linked to many external factors such as the end of the cold war, but someone had to take up the mantra within. In my opinion FTJ took up that role

    • I don’t think any of you, including the author, knows what really took place at the time leading to multi-partyism. A lot of things took place from 1981-1990.

  • Many people in Zambia don’t read. They seldom pick up a book to read let alone support a local author by buying their book/books. Also u think the cost of buying a good book is more often than not beyond the reach if many of us whose priorities are basically taking care of our families.

  • My Friend They Did the Same to me at MGE on my Investion.I was given unreasonable Excuses.The time ICT Was introduced in Zambia I developed a delivery System but to my Surprise Some one tried to hijack my Software by producing same System which turned to be rubbish.The same person who tried to hijack my Software was even going around the schools selling imitated product with a letter of authority from ministry of general education demanding all the schools to buy @K700.i was supprised.For me I have vowed never to contribute anything positive to this country.thats the reason why I sell my Softwares projects online to foreign people./Companies

  • Zambia should be colonised again!

  • At least if you can’t read the books you can be a collector. Posterity will judge us for this. I always want to buy anything that any Zambian has written but as well there is no information about the books. I suggest that Mr. Mwewa let’s get in touch so that we work on a project with make these books known.

  • OK I don’t understand why this guy is complaining, you want to write a book and everything to be ok? People that liberated or Ushered change did not just sit on the computer and punch latters, they got involved. That’s why I love HH, and SATA they did not just sit and run their mouth, they started working on the strategy.

  • What a pity!! PHD syndrome is a nagging disease in this Country..

  • Time for local writers to come together…

  • At least I bought the book and attended the launch at intercontinental hotel.

  • Suppression by the powers that be is really destroying Zambia. Corruption is being embraced like an egg in a farmer’s hand. As long as such magnitude of corruption shall be terated, Zambia and indeed Africa at large will forever remain behind.

  • Mr. Mwewa I sympathise with you for sure. But apart from corruption one of the major challenges in Zambia today is that the young people don’t want to read anything that is longer than one sentence. In short we have a very poor reading culture which makes it very difficult for young people to appreciate Zambian literature.

    Zambia’s young people are unfortunately too much taken into unproductive entertainment such beer drinking and illicit sex. They have no time for books especially serious materials like yours. That is why even in politics we have too many empty tins who do not understand anything about the country’s heritage. They end up singing praises for individuals instead of the country.

    The way out of this ugly situation is for the Ministry of General Education to take the lead in encouraging reading in schools. In my view we need to buy more books than footballs and build more beautiful libraries than stadiums.

    Finally please don’t give up on us. Keep on writing. There are a few if us who will always read and appreciate your works. God bless you.

  • Your say-able minds? Peter Naloli Nawa Luka Mwango Kafula Mwila Jennipher Zulu Ingrid Nayame Teddy Andrew Mulenga

  • Keep promoting your works using alternate media. Social media is fertile to promote those works.

  • My dear I also have a similar situation. I have written 3 books and nothing has come out of it. Despite that I am doing my fourth

  • I thought u being Mwewa, things would just go smoothly without such challenges. Anyways keep it up with the good work soon it will balika.

  • Sky is never the limit.

  • Just like you have noted,”negligence”…

  • Great hindsight..

  • sorry dear to say that zambians value imports not local things for reasons i fail to understand.your challenges are huge but dont relent.make sure that your drive is not undermind.had the the media helped your ads and the launch,graceful readers like me could have had chance to be there for you.but as you mentioned mwandi,the zambian mindset…,i dont know.

  • In Zambia,theres little or no political will on literature,take for example the level of education in the PF,what help can one benefit?

  • In Zambia,theres little or no political will on literature,take for example the level of education in the PF,what help can one benefit?

  • very dissapointed to reject such author in africa particularly in zambian.