At a time when the institution of chief in Zambia is synonymous with stupidity, there is one who gives us hope that not all is lost.
His name is Fred Daka; an engineer by profession. He is the reigning Paramount Chief Gawa Undi of the Chewa people.
Gawa Undi (in white) is simply different from the current crop of traditional leaders in Zambia. There could be a few others who are like him somewhere in our villages, but Undi is a shining example of what a Zambian traditional leader should be.
From the time he ascended to the throne at Mkaika in 2004, Gawa Undi has remained a true inspirational leader who cannot be abused by these political misfits who are running Zambia.
Gawa Undi has always been neutral politically but very influential. When Gawa Undi speaks, he talks with authority about matters that affect his people. Gawa Undi never talks nonsense about opposition leaders. He never praises government officials unnecessarily or in order to be given money like most chief do.
Gawa Undi never follows politicians to State House. They follow him to Mkaika.
We have never heard Gawa Undi tell his people to vote for this or that politician. He instead treats every Zambia like his child – like the true paramount chief he is.
We have never seen Gawa Undi being paraded by some politician to utter some garbage in exchange for a second hand car from Japan or brown envelope containing stolen money.
Gawa Undi is a man and ruler with personal integrity and respect.
You cannot compare Gawa Undi with tuma chiefs like ka Mpezeni or chi Mwanachingwala or that Litunga with no backbone.
Interestingly, Gawa Undi oversees the vastest empire. He controls 42 Chewa chiefdoms in Zambia, 137 in Malawi and 33 in Mozambique.
Yet, he remains very humble and does not use his power for personal gain. We wonder what would happen if a character like chief Puta or chief Mukuni was to be given such power.
Gawa Undi’s exemplary personal life and leadership is a living rebuke to most traditional leaders in Zambia. Most of the people who call themselves chief in Zambia today are not even fit to be advisors to Gawa Undi. They fall far much below the calibre required of a traditional leader.
The behaviour of most chiefs in Zambia is embarrassing.
Nowadays, whenever you hear a chief speaking, it is either he has been given money by politicians or is trying to attract attention so that his hungry belly can be filled by politicians. This is how low our traditional leadership has sunk.
For Gawa Undi, we wish him good health in 2013 and many more years to come.
We pray that even when Gawa Undi sleeps, he shall be given a good successor who is like him. For, in this life, good leaders are often succeeded by living disasters. Look at Mpezeni.
The Paramount Chief who ruled before this ka hopeless current Mpezeni was a great man. But the moment he died, his successor almost tore the Ngoni Empire apart by raping a 14 year old girl. This is the man who would leave the palace at night to go and dance and ‘tow’from Chipata night clubs.
The current Mpezeni is not the kind of leader that inspires us. We hope that when the current Mpezeni kicks the bucket, a worthy Jere will take over that throne.