House No 1159


By Mbinji Mufalo

“Xenophobia is a tragic failure of reason of which mixed space it is after all, we even kill for.” – God, Life & Reason

OFF late the residential address, House No 1159 has been on my mind, and I wondered why. But now I know. It is all because of the rantings from some assumed man of the cloth.

House No 1159 is where we resided in New Ndeke, Kitwe from 1969 to the early 70s. This is after we moved from an old colonial very tiny house in what was then called old Ndeke. We had moved into this colonial very tiny house that had a toilet provision for banyamazai in 1968.

From House No 1159, I could always see the Catholic Chapel at the end of the road. Come Sunday, literally everybody in our neighbourhood would be at the Chapel. This was a time before the “nisanga naiwe kuti wansaga” yellow preacher howlers, a time when church was a sincere and non-threatening affair. There were no threats of eternal damnation. In hindsight, I really don’t understand why these fellows had to howl that, they have found Jesus, and we could also find him. We did find him, else we would not have been trooping to the Chapel.

House No 1159 was the birth of awareness of neighbourliness and togetherness, and the church at the end of the street was the concentrate of this awareness. In House No 1159 and in all the houses in the neighbourhood there was no tribe. Of course our parents, when socialisng together, always made snide remarks of which group of people were the nyamazai the most, who was insolent and uncouth the most, who downed lion larger the most, or who sent children to have their willies cut the most. Didn’t bother us much as kids. After all, we all admired Shumpi irrespective of her tribe, we all marveled at the driving exploits of chabwela kumanda, we all wished we could also go to mukanda as it seemed a nice break from school (we really didn’t know at the time that, that is where willies were cut. If we did, I don’t think we would have wanted to go)!

 

Huh! Come to think of it. Most now do chilanga mulilo, matebeto. Wonder if the assumed man of the cloth ever thinks of this. I doubt it.

 

Sorry for the digression. These now very aged parents are excused for their expressions of xenophobia at that time. But the assumed man of the cloth cannot be excused.

 

We should understand that for most of these now aged fellows, this was the first time they were living in a space populated by people from different cultural heritage. To them that the other behaved differently was as confusing as being told you need to find Jesus when you already found and knew him. The assumed man of the cloth cannot be surely confused in these days and times. Sic.

 

The now aged fellows learned to co-exist. They were in the same space and for the pursuit of their professional endeavours, perhaps there was nothing they could do about it. The only option they had was to crawl back to whatever village they came from. Most could not take this option, not because they were scared of being bewitched as they were now comparatively wealthy (as it was thought then), but because learning to accept the cultural differences in this new socio-political economy provided a future for their children that was deemed far much better than the village.

 

They also accepted their cultural differences, principally because of their firm determination to move the country forward. Most of these fellows were strong idealists, nationalists. Cultural differences were conquerable, and in it they saw a potential for development.

 

In the memory of House No 1159, I know that not all of these now aged fellows accepted the reality of cultural mixing. For some, tribal supremacy was their mantra. Lately we have witnessed some of these fellows rear their ugly heads. And perhaps, it is such aged fellows that the assumed man of the cloth is trying to emulate. He surely must be living on a different planet.

 

Happily for most that dwelled in houses like House No 1159, they know that only a hungry mangy dog when beaten does not snap at its master, instead it puts its tail between the legs, and licks the master’s feet.

 

That the word tribe is now vogue, simply because some politicians in some assumed dominant party had precarious hang on the pendulum side of defeat is tragic. It defeats reason. Clearly, the assumed man of the cloth is championing a logic distant from House No 1159. The term tribe has historically often used to refer to colonised, oppressed, or subjugated groups of people. The term tribe has a negative connotation. It is a term that historically was used to refer to what was perceived as inferior groups of people.

 

The assumed man of the cloth is desecrating House No 1159. We refuse to be deemed inferior. We are not hungry mangy dogs, we refuse to be. We grew up in culturally mixed spaces, we loved each other and we still do. Deep in our conscience we still live at House No 1159.

 

Well, perhaps the assumed man of the cloth does not know the sanctity of House No 1159 or that under the Penal Code Act of Zambia his rantings are seditious intent[1].

 

Thus, it must categorically be understood that when a people are pushed to be mangy dogs, like the assumed man of the cloth seems to be doing, many will seek refuge in the comfort of their heritage, and not lick the master’s feet. There will be no culturally mixed space.

 

Think again. Verbum satis sapient – a word to the wise suffices.

 

Ora pro nobis.

 

 

[1] Section 60(1) Seditious intention, (e) to raise discontent or disaffection among the people of Zambia; or (f) to promote feelings of ill will or hostility between different communities or different parts of a community; or (g) to promote feelings of ill will or hostility between different classes of the population of Zambia.

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