Some Bemba-speaking people in Lusaka and the Copperbelt provinces have turned the tribal remark in which PF Secretary General Winter Kabimba likened the Bembas to dogs barking at an elephant into a political tease with serious potential to weaken support for the Patriotic Front.
On Sunday November 11, 2012, Mr Kabimba was quoted in the national media as saying that people supporting defense minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba were like dogs barking at a passing elephant.
The Bemba-speaking people are disappointed because Mr Kabimba was referring to a group of people from Mr Mwamba’s constituency in Kasama which is the cradle of the Bemba kingdom.
According to Emmanuel Shikamutumba, a member of a group calling itself True North, the Bembas say they do not want to be upset by any unreasonable politician and are very happy to be called dogs because a dog is considered to be man’s best friend while the elephant is associated with destruction of human habitat and fear. Even the dung of an elephant is useless. It is only eaten by beatles.
“In the wild, the elephant is feared and respected by other animals. In contrast, in human mythology, the dog is considered a friend to man and it protects its owner and property from thieves and wild animals,” Shikamutumba said.
Mr Shikamutumba said the elephant is one of those animals which feature prominently in human animal conflict problems. He said when an elephant invades a maize field or any area planted with crops, it destroys everything in its path and causes hunger and anger.
“Even in the wild, the elephant is known to cause a lot of destruction. Wherever there are elephants, you will find fallen trees, soil erosion and massive habitat destruction,” he said.
“In the same vain, we should be very careful with this human elephant called Winter Kabimba. He will cause a lot of destruction if he is not controlled in good time,” Mr Shikamutumba emphasized.
He went on to warn that the PF, especially Mr Kabimba, will regret very soon if they do not change their approach to party and national governance because Zambians will base their judgment of the party on its performance and not on mudslinging or childish rhetoric.
“Zambians can no longer be taken for a ride. They are very articulate and can tell good leaders from bad leaders and good intentions from bad intentions. If the PF does not deliver, there is an array of parties to choose from,” the True North strongman said.
Mr Shikamutumba added that Mr. Kabimba should realize that Zambia is no longer a one-party state and that fighting for positions in the PF is meaningless if the party does not deliver.
“Zambians are not very interested in cartels that want to control the country behind closed doors with malicious intentions or protection of past corrupt activities while putting up a false face of cleanliness. They know the thieves,” he said.
On the issue of the Bembas barking like dogs, Mr Shikamutumba appealed to the powers that be to trust the dog more than the elephant because dogs can be very loyal and protective if properly looked after. On the other hand an elephant, even a tamed one can go wild and become uncontrollable without warning; and this seems to be happening already with the Zambian human elephant. His mouth just opens even when there is nothing to say.
True North is going round singing the popular Bemba dog song which says: “Kuteka imbwa mano, ayabula mano, watekela imbwa mu chipyu yaya” which primitively translates to (“keep dog sense, without sense, you keep dog cruel gone”).
A dog can disappear if it is not properly kept according to True North. But the group further said this saying actually refers to human beings especially in marriages. If a man is cruel, the wife will run away from him. In politics, crude anger for power can scare away potential supporters.
According to Mr Shikamutumba, Mr. Kabimba’s statement that an elephant ignores dogs is not true. He said the elephant actually hastens away from backing dogs or even tries to scare them while it is retreating. In the wild, the elephants are very jittery when wild dogs are nearby especially when there is a calf in their midst.
The dogs Mr. Kabimba is talking about like peace, but he should not tempt them into going wild, because the elephant may find it difficult to contain them.