“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
– Kahlil Gibran.
SATURDAY, May 9, 2015 or there about. Lucky Mulusa’s posse drove into Ngabwe district, Central province. The whole spectacle was reminiscent of John Wayne riding into a new western country frontier town. I can imagine Mulusa sitting low in his brand new shining government vehicle, dreaming of the welcome he would get. Healthy looking school children with flags lining the neat tarmac road into the town; civil servants in double breasted suits ordered from Oxendales, eagerly waiting at the new district offices; and, a raised podium where he will deliver his speech. I further imagine Mulusa going over his speech, how he will walk up the steps to greet the District Commissioner and what jest he will utter to reduce the tension. There surely was going to be tension. After all Mulusa is a simile of the inspector general in that classic satirical play, Government Inspector, by Nikolai Gogol.
But unlike in the Government Inspector, there will be no Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky, rushing to inform the District Commissioner and his officials that they have seen the government inspector staying at the local inn.
Mulusa will enter the town in grand style! It’s a new town after all and he has to savour it first. There was no way Mulusa could not dream all this. After all, Michael Sata had said, let there be a Ngabwe district. And abracadabra, there was Ngabwe district!
But lo and behold! Mulusa entered Ngabwe and he wept. There was no new district called Ngabwe. Instead, he stumbled upon a district and a people living in Shaka Zulu times!
The question then is, why did Lucky Mulusa weep? Did he weep because of doubt about a truth he observed? That “abracadabra, and there was Ngabwe district” was a lie? Or did he weep because the reality he observed was surreal, to the extent that he was ashamed? We may never know the answer until we ask him, but the latter seems more likely.
Mulusa knew there was no Ngabwe. For him to have expected the contrary is foolery. And this is why.
On August 24, 2014 in a blog article titled, Be responsible voters, never be cheated again, Mulusa writes: “It is strange why the PF in its governance chose to adopt political methods that have been proven through scientific and social studies, that such methodology of governance makes development less likely. The PF from inception lied to the people about its 90 day deliverables…. As if to ensure that development should never be delivered to the people, the party adopted undemocratic and bad governance characteristics”.
He further observes that: “Both the PF and those that voted for the party are guilty of the calamity that has befallen our land. May be an appreciation of our challenges, would make us more responsible voters who in future, should get concerned, be responsible voters and refuse to be misled again!”
In another article, Mulusa writes: “Future generations will wonder how such an educated, experienced and exposed generation failed to take advantage of a wealth of mineral resource endowment, rich soils and great tourism potential. They will wonder why they were born in a country whose fore fathers left it in a mess several years after the dawn of civilisation – boy we will be cursed.”.
Clearly, Mulusa wept because he was ashamed. Guilty. He even wrote about it. Sic.
Perhaps, we should thank Mulusa for weeping? After all, when he shed tears over Ngabwe, we later read that government has disbursed 24 million kwacha for the construction of a district administration block and staff houses.
In hindsight, we can’t thank him. We do not want him to go and weep over Sioma, Nkeyema, Luano, Shiwang’andu, etc. He will surely run out of tears. I, for one, wouldn’t want that for my good friend.
But let us not deceive ourselves, it is not only Lucky Mulusa’s shame or guilt, it is our shame and guilt too.
Over fifty years after political independence, us the privileged. The ones who have never known the hardships of open defecation, the hardships of walking long miles to a health centre; and indeed, the hardships of watching our children die of curable diseases, choreograph our lives like that that is how all Zambians live.
Mulusa carries the shame of our governance irresponsibility. Like Mulusa wrote in 2014, our political governance choices are tragically becoming an incarnation of the unthinking. This, we need to free ourselves from.
Sophocles says, “if it were possible to cure evils by lamentation and to raise the dead with tears, then gold would be a less valuable thing than weeping”.
So unlike Mulusa, let us not weep. Weeping won’t help those we always leave behind. We can leave that to Mulusa for now. We can ease our shame, our guilty by always demanding of those we choose to govern on our behalf, to honour their promises. If they don’t, show them the door, as often in their ego trip they sometimes forget where the door is. Period.
Verbum satis sapienti – a word to the wise suffices.