Satisfying Zambian hunger for culture

Satisfying Zambian hunger for culture

By Mwizenge S. Tembo

Zambians today are experiencing rapid social change, cultural tensions, and sometimes confusion.  What is Zambian culture in our society of 13 million? How should girls and boys be raised into women and men? How did we as a nation come to identify ourselves as Zambians form the 72 tribes? Is nshima with relish the best meal in the world? Should we eat nshima all the time or include some modern processed Western supermarket foods? What are our eating customs? What is good about our tribal traditional customs in sex and marriage compared to our modern lives today in Zambia and in the diaspora abroad? Where did all these changes in sex, technology, witchcraft beliefs, marriage, family, religion and Christianity, languages come from? How are we supposed to live our lives today following our Zambian culture with so much pressure from globalization and rapid social change? Is there anywhere to get all this information about Zambian culture?

If you are a Zambian you may wonder about these and many other topics that  involve you prrsonally and your family about our Zambian culture and technology. Dr. Mwizenge Tembo and 3 other Zambians have just completed writing the manuscript of a book that will be published in Zambia soon: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture”. The 3 other contributors in the book are Ms. Ruth Mugala in Zambia, Ms. Claire Miti in the United Kingdom, and Mr. James Mwape in the United States.

They are looking for a publisher in Zambia as you read this although they do not have even one pin to print the book.  The book has 16 Chapters which include how girls and women, boys and men were brought up in traditional Zambia. How Zambians identify themselves and name customs, Zambian traditional foods and meals including nshima and various relishes, Zambian Traditional dances, Zambian traditional Medicine, causes of disease, illness and Healing, the role of religion, witchcraft and spirituality. All of these topics are explored with discussions on how Zambians can lead better lives today using some of the traditional culture and technology and combining them with what is positive from modern influences.

Zambia has experienced tremendous social change during the last 46 years. Many people migrated into the cities and professionals immigrated and scattered abroad in a growing Diaspora. Many Zambians have intermarried among the 72 tribes and have married partners from abroad from different races and ethnic groups. The diversity of the Zambian culture has created a cultural crisis, a void, tension, ambivalence, and turmoil among most Zambians and especially their younger children. The disorientation and cultural confusion that started during  British colonialism in the late 1890s  have been worsened due to the demands of globalization and rapid social change. There is not one popular book that comprehensively describes Zambian traditions, culture, and technology from some of the 72 different tribes and ethnic groups and possible ways Zambians can lead their lives today.

The Zambian are very educated elite or intellectuals both write and have access to many books and articles on Zambian development, political change and democratization, global change, poverty reduction, gender development, and many other fields. But there is not one comprehensive book that explores many important dimensions Zambia  culture. The book: “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture” is not intended to simply sit on the shelf after reading it but to provide broad guidelines to improving the lives of adults, children, and families of Zambians and all the people who have a deep interest in Zambian culture and life. The book is meant to encourage and provoke Zambians inside and outside the country to hold family and community conversations about Zambian culture and technology.  For example raising Zambians from girls to women will involve the ChiNamwali or Chisungu puberty rite of passage ceremony which will be organized by Ms. Ruth Mugala in Zambia and Ms. Claire Miti in UK. The two authors will invite older Zambian women to organize ChiNamwali or Chisungu rites of passage rituals for girls and young women in Zambia and in Zambian communities abroad in the diaspora.

The raising of boys to men will include the Zambian mukanda circumcision rite of passage ritual of puberty for boys in rural, urban areas in Zambia as well as among Zambian communities in the diaspora. I have personally volunteered to be the first to undergo circumcision to provide moral leadership and support for all the Zambian young boys and men who will undergo this puberty ritual in Zambia and abroad. Many older Zambian men will be asked to get involved and volunteer in men’s groups all over Zambia and abroad. The book also encourages Zambians to get involved in traditional dances and to try eating some of the neglected but quiet delicious and nutritious traditional Zambian relishes with nshima. There are many other recommendations that will interest most Zambians.

You can contact the authors using:

Mwizenge S. Tembo is a  Professor of Sociology at  Bridgewater College in the United States of America

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