Oct 24, 2010

Still shackled

"On a hot cloudless late October night in 1964, a young and vibrant Kenneth Kaunda, clad in a Kente cloth Toga, took the stage at the Independence Stadium in Lusaka. His eyes were as clear as the sky despite a sleepless night of trepidation.  The stars reflected brightly in the eyes of an anticipatory crowd. Some eyes were wet with tears, others crinkled at the corners with smiles.  School children performed calisthenics on the field under flood lights.  Kenneth Kaunda, trademark white handkerchief clutched between the fingers of his right hand, raised the hand to officially reclaim Zambia from the British." 
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Theresa Lungu paints a vivid picture of what is must have been like at the inaugural independence celebration in 1964; the sense of elation and hope that was sweeping the nation. As look back at the 46 years of independence, what exactly are we celebrating?

Sure enough with self rule came the possibility for every Zambian to dictate his or her life without prejudicial restrictions imposed by the colonial masters - the ability to walk into a shop using the front door, to buy a home in any neighbourhood, to send your children to elite schools, etc.

For these things and others I am eternally thankful, and they cannot be overlooked. Thank you to all the freedom fighters for what you did.

As Lungu notes in her essay, the job is not completely done. We are still shackled in many ways:

- our reliance on foreign aid to balance our national budget, 
- our poor sense of self-worth that seems to look abroad first for solutions that can easily be sought at home, 
- our inability to prepare future generations to take over leadership roles,
- our inability to harness and nurture local talent, skills, and ideas on a large scale.

Zambia needs to grow, and continually focusing on the glory years of the 60s and 70s won't get us there. We must be focused on learning from our mistakes but most importantly on the road the lies ahead.

We need to start holding our government accountable for their actions, and remaining steadfast in our commitment to getting answers and solutions. Until then they will continue to take us for granted. Let us make the dream of independence worthy of the fight that was fought. 


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