Co-Responsibility in Education, case of gross sexual scandals in Kasama Girls Secondary school, Zambia.

Social Commentary by Venerato Babaine, M.Afr

captureA few weeks ago, a girls’ Secondary School in Kasama District of the Northern Province of Zambia got into the media, in public buses, local market areas, beer-halls, official fora and places of worship. This is a story about the forgotten and vulnerable youth. When the news burst-out that there is gross sexual scandals in Kasama Girls Secondary school, the media got into action and a number of people namely; school authorities, education department, security bodies, parents, politicians, civil leaders and people of goodwill got vigorously concerned. It’s a moral issue and a criminal offence that has drawn-in various people according to their responsibilities. This is evidence of poor discipline in institutions of learning, poor parental guidance and insufficient supervision by the Education Department.

wolf-sheep-s-clothing-cartoon-pngThe Ministry of General Education has intervened through its procedures, the police is making investigations and parents are waking up to the scandalous news about their children. The blame of physical sexual activity with the learner-girls at Kasama Girls Secondary School apparently rests on the shoulders of some male teachers and security guards. Security, disciplinary and legal measures are in process as investigations continue. This scandal has awakened a number of stakeholders to their responsibilities well done or neglected. People now feel more concerned about their children in learning institutions than before. The fingers are being pointed at the school authorities, the ‘ravenous’ teachers and security guards; those men, “wolves-in-sheep-skins. Trust betrayed, guidance, security and safety denied of the female learners.

However, there is a group of people who might walk-away freely in this situation without taking their share of blame. These are: parents, police, Education Department, churches, business community and cultural leaders. These people are partly the causes of this scandal because they failed to play their part and fulfil their responsibilities. The burden of responsibility rests on these stakeholders. Beyond media sensationalism, there is a responsibility to bear as a matter of justice and integrity. Little or nothing is questioned on the leadership & management of the school; the parental guidance, Parents’ & Teachers ‘Association, Management Committee and the Board of Governors.

It is parents’ responsibility to be concerned about the affairs of their children when they are at home and away at school. How many parents sit down with their children during holidays to ask them the state of affairs at school? How many parents come to school to visit their children or have a conversation with the class-teacher, matron or the Head Teacher regarding their daughters? Some parents wait for the holiday period to end, do the children’s shopping, throw them on the bus and wave them goodbye. Then parents sigh in relief as the children depart. At the end of term, the return the children is bad news. A child lives an independent and unchecked life at home, at school and in Kasama town. The school authorities do what they can but the girl is her self-mentor and her own superintendent.

In such moments of scandal, the police becomes vigilant. Some police officers are parents. They may even have some children in Kasama Girls Secondary School. It would be appreciated that safety and security checks are undertaken regularly in such an institution. Police Service is not an Emergency and Crisis Management Institution. It has to prevent crime, enforce law and order, educate people, advocate for social sanity. Our men and women in uniform fail the public so often; their duty seems to rush where there is danger, crime and break down of law.

Sex abuse has been cited in some institutions of learning and professional training. A visit to any learning institution during normal time by a District Police Commander or his/her personnel would assure security and show interest in the school. It would create a stable security relationship between the school, the public and the parents. That is co-responsibility at its best.

Such a sexual scandal is in the realm of morality. This attracts religious leaders; the men and women of God. Soon pastors will start vigils of prayer for the school. Some may subject the girls to healing and cleansing sessions. It is a shame that this taken too long before pastors, priests and prophets have acted. How many pastors or priests visit the school for spiritual guidance or counselling? The Sacred Scripture says: “If I go into the field, behold, those pierced by the sword, and if I enter the city, behold, diseases of famine! For both prophet and priest ply their trade through the land and have no knowledge” (Jeremiah 18:14).  Good shepherds or mentors have to be where things happen, in real life to mitigate damage and loss. They say that “A stitch in time: saves nine”.

Responsibility and education of the youth as the future of a nation applies to district education authorities, cultural leaders of the land and some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) concerned about the welfare of people. Authorities and bureaucrats ought to leave their offices and palaces and go where the people are, where the messy life is. This is stewardship. In such cases we seek integrity to do our duty faithfully, humility to be servants of the vulnerable and peace that creates an environment of learning, for development and prosperity. People in Kasama and every one of goodwill must go out to attend to the neglected children. Educators of our learners must be vigilant and creative in their delicate role of nurturing youth by being role models and mentors.

2016 Zambia Elections- the aftermath

Venerato Babaine 2016_JPEGBy Venerato Babaine, M.Afr

Kwachaaa, kwachaaa! Kwacha na ngweeee! This was a motivating slogan for matches and rallies during the making of the modern Zambia nation acclaiming a new dawn. We expect another dawn after election and the declaration of the winners in the elections. There are wild jubilations and anger and agony in some corners of the nation. An election is a political game whose referee is the Electoral Commission instituted to foresee the entire process. So, we have winners and losers on Zambia political scene. The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) chairperson Justice Esau Chulu, in the afternoon of Monday August 15, 2016 announced the results. The political atmosphere is charged by joy or anger. During campaigns and shortly before elections one would suspect some violence after elections. During elections and after elections I travelled a cross-section of almost 700km. It has been peaceful. However cases of violence have been reported. Whichever violence and consequential arrests by the law-enforcing institutions like the police and military, would be a matter of lack of personal discipline due to human nature which one would personally be held responsible and face the law. In some quarters especially some compounds in urban areas violence was reported, but again this would be indiscipline in whichever mode it took.

Presidential results Zambia 2016

During the campaigns various candidates traversed this land in search of support for their success. Each candidate tried to do as much political mileage as possible to sell his/her manifesto. The nine presidential candidates did their best and indeed the electorate rewarded them accordingly. Not all could emerge the winner. Patriotic Front (PF) headed by Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu took the lead of 1,860,877 votes (50.4%) against the main opposition party of Mr. Hakainde Hachilema of United Party for National Development (UPND) with 1,760,347 votes (47.6%). There was one female contender for presidency, Edith Zewelani Nawakwi of Forum Democratic Development (FDD). I opine that she had the best campaign record in manners of debate, political discipline and party manifesto.

During campaigns the electorate kept asking themselves who the best candidate is or who will take it, at whatever level it was. So we have the reality in front of us. The declaration of the winner in presidential race has not gone without dispute. The UPND leader on Friday lodged in a petition in the Constitutional Court of Zambia demanding the nullification of the declaration that President Edgar Lungu and Vice-President Inonge Wina were not validly elected as President and as vice-president- elect of Zambia in last week’s polls. UPND in their petition urge that the president and his vice-elect “did not receive more than fifty percent of the valid votes cast”. Farther that “a declaration of voters’ register was not credible and its non-availability before the election compromised the transparency of the electoral process”. So, Mr. Hakainde Hachilema demand-grain of petition is “a recount, verification and scrutiny of the votes cast in the general election to ascertain the winner of the election and also in order that the same should be done with the rejected votes”.

On Friday, August 19, 2016, the Constitutional Court postponed the scheduled inauguration of the president-elect. The petition and postponement are measures of democracy and good governance.

Many state governments and diplomats have sent in their congratulatory messages to Edgar Lungu as a president-elect of Zambia. The Church Council of Zambia (CCZ) and the Conference of the Catholic Bishops in Zambia (CCBZ) has endorsed the results and appreciated the peaceful atmosphere during elections.

It is a bold record of the Zambian political landscape that politicians and the electorate are excellent at “shifting cultivation” or “nomadic pastoralism”. This means one quickly shifts to where there is likelihood to harvest better or to graze where there are green pastures. The political scenery is marked by political nomads; there has been a lot of moving from one party to another in Zambian party politics. The “Musela pakaba” (those who escape when it is too hot), as the Bemba say, are many in this land. These people have given-in to the “chameleon challenge” as one author recently termed it.

Since Zambia’s growth as a nation, there has been some traces of tribalism or regionalism that affected party loyalty and the pattern of voting for candidates. The political history of Zambia records varying political parties in 1960s. For President Kenneth Kaunda the solution was to enact the one-party political system. Which is he did and ruled the country for 27 years until 1991 when he lost to Fredrick Chiluba in elections. The ever emphasis on unity in Zambia, as evidenced in its motto: “One Zambia, one nation”, alludes to the fact that there is a struggle to unite the citizen. Thus the motto is the urge to that effect. Recently ZNBC, the national broadcaster, adopted the motto as the opening phrase before casting the news. A good reminder to all viewers; unity is essential for national identity and development. The recently ended elections fell into the trap of “regional and tribal voting”. President-elect Edgar Chagwa Lungu during his thanks-giving speech at Woodlands stadium last Tuesday, silenced the “Dununa Reverse” PF propaganda song and stopped mocking the losers in any form, at any time and in any place. This is a sign of a statesman whose agenda is to build a peaceful country, and to unite all citizens irrespective of their political affiliation and party loyalty. However, it remains a political challenge for the PF as a Ruling Party to bring on board the people like those of Dundumwezi in Monze district which honoured Lungu with 252 votes compared to Hakainde Hachilema who got 30,810 votes. Lungu’s message is loud and clear, “No single vote is too small and two wrongs do not make a right. We have to go back there and give them the reasons why they should vote for us in 2021”

Many citizens and well-wishers of Zambia are concerned as to how the “regional and tribal voting” will be curbed, a recipe for good democracy and national development. An informed concerned citizen, Job Lusanso (Zambia Daily mail 20/08/16), counsels thus:

  1. By both our political and traditional leaders to change the mind-set of both their political followers and subjects especially in peri-urban and rural areas that every Zambian has a right to be voted to for presidency despite regions or tribes where they come from.
  2. Both our political and traditional leaders to embrace every one and educate their followers and subjects that Zambia is one and everyone has equal rights and freedoms of association and assembly in all parts of Zambia.
  3. Our citizenry to accept every person to be freely voted for without looking at the tribe or region where one hails from, just like the case was in 1964 to 2001.
  4. Our political party leaders to take similar measurers as above.
  5. All peace loving Zambians, the Church and Civil groups to preach similar message as above.

It is an essential political barometer that elected leaders at any level must be seen to serve their people and know what affects their lives. Politicians show interest in the citizenry, especially the people in the rural areas, only during campaigns. They must be servant-leaders; people who listen to the needs of the people and respond with development programmes to alleviate their plight.  The citizens have to develop an attitude to own their country. They are the country; it is not the counsellors, parliamentarians or the president who are the country!

For a better Zambia, politicians and everybody concerned about this country has to re-read ingeniously Zambia political history so that we can build a more admired democracy in Zambia. The economy of our country is another challenge.  The in-coming government has to have equal development plans for all the regions of Zambia and its tribes and language irrespective of their recent voting pattern and party loyalty. Politicians have to stop using violent language, segregating attitudes and hurling insults to opponents in public. The completion of the mega projects littered across the country will be a litmus-paper for PF government to “walk the talk”.  The citizenry is anxious to see regular supply of cheap mealie-meal.

We thank God for peace that reigns in this land, and we continue to campaign for peace in work and prayer.


Farewell to Emmanuel Mambwe, M.Afr, in Saint Peter’s Parish, Serenje.

Farewell Mabwe Feb 2016 02bBy Innocent Majune, Stagiaire

On the 5th February 2016, the community of the Missionaries of Africa in Serenje organised a farewell party for Father Emmanuel Mambwe. It was a happy moment shared with confreres from Kasama, Kasamba, Lusaka, Chipata and Ndola.

On Sunday 7th, a farewell Eucharistic celebration was organised by the Parish Council. Among the invited guests were the leaders of the parish, Christians from the United Church of Zambia (U.C.Z) and Reformed Church of Zambia, local government authorities and M.Afr confreres. In his farewell homily, Emmanuel Mambwe expressed his gratitude to the parishioners and people he worked with in Serenje. He underlined the virtue of humility and the attitude of reconciliation with one another as elements that build a good society.

The Christians were sad to see their pastor leaving. Many shed tears of sadness. The Delegate Superior of Zambia, Father Venerato Babaine, asked the people to understand his departure as a response to his missionary commitment; we come and go to where God wants us to attend to his flock. He further emphasised the need to work in harmony with the new staff. The Delegate Superior introduced new members of the community; Innocent Majune (stagiaire), Deacon Douglas Ogato and Frather Saju Akkara as the priest-in-charge. He promised that when the Bishop of Kabwe has appointed the Parish Priest, the parishioners will be informed.

Many thanks to Father Emmanuel Mambwe for his dedication. We wish him a blessed renewal in Jerusalem where he will follow a session in the coming few months. We wish him also a happy apostolate wherever he will be appointed. May the Almighty God bless him!

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NO RAINSouthern Africa countries are experiencing a worried time as the rain pattern has been disrupted. Except few showers more than three weeks ago, since then, NO RAIN! Venerato Babaine is sharing his thoughts about it. Feel free to add your own thinking.

“NO RAIN!” Our mother earth is exhausted, tired and depleted. The human beings and their fellow neighbours; animals and insects have eaten all grass and cut most trees, AND POISONED WATERS. Our mother earth is suffocated by carbon, garbage, drained wetlands and pit lands. She normally would co-operate with aunt sky and uncle wind to make rain and send it to us.

Mothers are never angry to the extent of punishing children; she is just exhausted. We need to care for her so that she can care for us. The Bemba say; “Mayo mpaapa: naine nkakupaapa”, meaning; “mother care for me dearly, I will care for you in your old age.” Humanity and his fellow animals, insects and fish have turned to eat-up the mother who brought them to maturity, cared for and has been sustaining them. C’est la vérité!

Visit to the Queen of the Lozi kingdom, Zambia

Mongu-Nov-2014-03St. Gabriel’s Parish, Namushakende, Mongu, Zambia

Wednesday the 19th of November was a memorable day for our Namushakende Parish. That was the day when we had organized a visit to the Queen of the Lozi kingdom, the female Litunga or as she is refereed to, the Litunga of the Southern Lozi land, at her palace in Nalolo, across the great Zambezi River. Litunga means the owner of the land. We the staff of St. Gabriel’s Parish, Namushakende, accompanied by Fr. Venerato Babaine who was visiting at that time, two religious Sisters working in the parish, a few leaders of the Parish, and a group of the Catholic Women’s League from some Parishes in Mongu and some from the Centres in our parish. We were all together 36 people.

We started off from Namushakende around 07:00 hours, drove to Machapa Centre just at the edge of the Zambezi plains, and from there drove 15 km through the Barotse flood plains to the bank of the Zambezi. The boat “driver” took us in 3 loads across the river, and from there we walked to Nalolo village and the palace of the Queen amidst great jubilations and excitement.

The Manduna (the traditional elders and council of the palace) and the staff of the palace received us well and organised the place where we could celebrate Mass with the Queen, in front of her royal palace. It is interesting to note that almost all elders (Manduna) and the court of the Queen are not Catholics. In the presence of the Queen, our choir was mainly made up of the Catholic Women’s League who offered us a good and prayerful liturgy. The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Robert Lavertu who was to offer his farewell greetings during the same visit, and he was accompanied by Fr. Alfred Awogya. We seized the opportunity of our visit to introduce to the Queen Fr Christian Muhineza and Joseph Kakule who have arrived to work in Namushakende,

After the Mass, we were allowed inside the palace to meet the Queen in two groups, first the Priests and the Sisters, then the CWL and the other lay people. It was a warm welcome that was offered to us, and the Queen offered us delicious snacks of her own. In our conversation, the Queen, who is a committed Catholic, emphasized how much she appreciates to be visited and to pray with groups like ours; she invited us to visit her again. After a long time at the Palace, we made our way back to the river to be taken across in 3 trips as previously.

The whole ceremony and visit was coloured by deep cultural reverence and display. For us as missionaries working here, it was a great lesson on culture and insertion in the rich and profound deposit of the Lozi cultural heritage. We had a great day, and all the participants expressed their joy and satisfaction, and their desire to repeat the visit some time later.

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