By Field Ruwe
I was about to press the “send” button for my latest article bearing the above title when my son Dalitso called to inform me of the president’s passing. I may have been the president’s harshest critic, but my heart is burdened with sorrow. It is with profound sadness that I join the people of my beloved country Zambia in mourning the death of President Michael Chilufya Sata MHSRP.
Please don’t stop here. Keep reading. This article addresses, in particular, those born after independence. You are on your own now. Those who made independence possible are on their way out. They may have faltered, but they have made it possible for you to have a country of your own; one with abundant wealth.
With the passing of president Sata, you face an uncertain future, a future that will test you in ways that you cannot fathom. You are alone in an ever-changing world, one for which you will need to expend all your effort, energy, and intellect for survival; indeed, one for which you will have to make the right decisions. As you search for a leader the next 90 days, bear in mind you have learned enough from presidents Kaunda, Chiluba, Mwanawasa, Banda, and Sata. Their wisdom and that of their peers has come to pass. It is orthodox and antediluvian. You will emulate them at your own peril.
Pause here. Take a moment to look through your window of life. Do you see how you are surrounded by the worst killers on earth? Some are knocking at your door—Ebola, AIDS, Cholera, Malaria, Meningitis, TB, cancer, poverty, corruption, disunity, illiteracy, ignorance, exploitation, oppression, and racism. A good number of these calamities have already found their way inside. Some have just claimed the president’s life three years in his reign.
Just imagine, while life expectancy of developed countries is soaring above 80 years, yours is hobbling between 30 and 40 years. If you don’t do anything about it, it will soon go down to 20 and 0. To think some of you and your children will not live beyond fifty should worry you indeed.
I know I am writing to a people that hate to face realities and have a problem to accept the painful truth. But I dare say if for the next fifty years you do not pluck out the courage to face realities and in your usual inertia inclination continue to make wrong decisions, you will be wiped out from the face of the planet. It is no joke when scientists say it is during this period that you shall face extinction.
As you reflect on the life of President Michael Sata, use the occasion to take your own personal inventory. Ask yourself bold questions like: “What is the purpose of my being on earth?” “What can I do to save my countrymen?” “How much am I worth on this planet?” Also, add supplementary questions like “Why me, why am I portrayed to be at the bottom of humanity?” “Why do I have to work so hard to impress others?” “Why do foreigners take advantage of me?” Why am I so dependent on others?” “What am I doing wrong?” And then ask yourself this question: “Am I cursed?”
Of course you are not cursed! Contrary to what colonialists told your parents and grandparents, you, black-skinned, flat-nosed, with woolly hair reading this article are not cursed. You are loved by God. You are equal to all. Always remember, it is not God who divided the human species into races and selfishly created different traits, abilities, qualities, morality, and other cultural behavioral characteristics, it is a fellow human. It is him who portrayed your parents as natural inferiors and subjected them to racial prejudice. It is him who denied them a better education because he was afraid they might exceed his expectations.
In the past fifty years you have seen what lack of education has done to some of our leaders. Not even populists could fill the gap created by moderate or poor academic credentials. It is this handicap that has made it difficult to drive modernization and democratization to its logical extreme.
Fortunately, Zambia now has a good crop of young and energetic academics, thinkers, and graduates from the University of Zambia and other institutions of higher learning at home and abroad. There is an urgent need for you the learned to come to the rescue of the Zambian people. You need to appoint yourself an AGENT OF CHANGE, increase your political awareness and take control of how and who should govern the country. Do not leave this beautiful country to party cadres and manipulators, never!
Here is my advice. As an Agent of Change you first must tackle the most important question of your inventory: “Why me, why am I portrayed to be at the bottom of humanity?” The reason is because you are mentally indoctrinated. Even with your academic achievement, you see yourself as a person with the lowest intelligence on earth. It is this that has created low-esteem in you. It is this that has caused you to lose your scholastic motivation. It is this that has resulted in your lack of invention and innovation. Had you acquired self-confidence of the highest order, you would have found a cure for the president’s illness, and treated him in your own environs.
Your lack of motivation has subjected you to economic stratification, social segregation, and exploitation. Yet you can’t do anything about it because you have surrendered your self-worth and lost your sense of survival. You have absolutely nothing of your own on which you can depend. In the next fifty years, you the Agent of Change must become strong-willed, most intelligent, audacious, cunning, and remove all cultural and traditional barriers.
You, the Agent of Change, must discard the present Zambian culture of dependency and replace it with the culture of self-reliance. You must replace old leaders with new young ones. With immediate effect you must cleverly and intellectually identify and expose psychological manipulative campaigns aimed at leaving you controlled and dominated by foreigners. Self-empowerment is the only way you will build your self-worth.
You do not have much time. You, the Agent of Change, need to start NOW to create a theory of development as experienced by the West and the Chinese—one of technological achievement and capital buildup. This will require rapid behavioral transformation. First, shade off the rotten attitude of failure; of “it’s too difficult I can’t do it.” Here is a quote by Yamamoto Tsunetomo to help you: “Nothing is impossible in this world. Firm determination, it is said, can move heaven and earth. Things appear far beyond one’s power, because one cannot set his heart on any arduous project due to want of strong will.”
Second, you possess the most important drive of your existence—survival instinct. You have not used it the past fifty years because foreigners have done everything for you. This has affected how you think, how you make decisions, how you apply your time and energy, what emotions you experience, and the way you interact with others. These experiences have reduced your pressing need for survival. You simply cannot survive without help from others. When faced with a challenge, you apply your usual “flight” reaction and take off.
As the nation prepares to give President Sata a sendoff, you should lock horns with the future. You should pluck enough courage and change your reaction to that of “fight.” Declare war on every situation you perceive as a threat to your existence. You can only do that by choosing the right leaders. Most of all, you should take keen interest in studying innovators and inventors around the world and copying their ideas. Strip the radio, computer, cellphone, plasma television, car, and try to make your own.
Pause here. Take a deep breath. Are you mentally strong for the fateful future? Are you ready for the fight of your life? Are you ready to fight the dependency syndrome? Are you able to change your attitude and think in depth and with foresight? Are you prepared to put your brilliant mind to good use? Do you refuse to be cowed or intimidated? Are you, as an Agent of Change, prepared to lead the Zambian people to a long-term destiny? Look at your motherland in the face and say “Yes I am!”
Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner, historian, author, and a doctoral candidate. Learn more about him on his website www.aruwebooks.com. On it you shall access his autobiography, articles, and books. Contact him, blog, or join in the debate. ©Ruwe2012.