We are at that time of the year again, the flags come out, ZNBC brings the people who were around during the independence struggle, the freedom statue has the spotlight and there is all this patriotism in the air. Every 24th October is supposed to evoke feelings of the price that was paid during the struggle for independence from the British colonialists.
The fact that I was not around to experience the injustices that Zambians faced during that era, I find it very difficult to relate to the independence celebrations in the way people want it to be celebrated. Perhaps I am just too detached and for me 24th October is another public holiday and time to wake up late in the morning. These sentiments are usually shared by people of my generation and those born after 1964 and did not witness the struggle.
Then you have sections of society who believe that we are not really independent. They claim that we are still in some economic bondage and until we are economically free, then we cannot be celebrating independence. Well, if this is the case then I will not be around long enough to see Zambia become truly independent. The current political situation in Zambia, leads one to wonder what the freedom fighters would think of the present scenario. There are political leaders like Hakainde Hichilema who stated that he will not attend the Independence Day celebrations and there are reports that Barotseland will not partake in these celebrations too. They both have their reasons why they will not be part of the celebrations.
Zambia has been blessed to be peaceful for as long as it has been in existence. Part of this is attributed to the fact that we have been able to live together in harmony despite our differences. However, recent events are proving that we are not as tolerant as we used to be. Some African countries are only healing from the wounds of tribal divides that have scared their nations; here in Zambia this is when we want to begin the journey along that path. This was something that our founding father Kenneth Kaunda under the slogan, ‘One Zambia, One Nation’ was attempting to avoid.
However, it seems that each day that passes by there is some prejudiced tribal statement in the press that clusters a certain tribe into a group or train of thought. The fact that Hakainde Hichilema is not going to celebrate independence it would be utterly wrong to assume that every Tonga in this country thinks like him. In the same vein, because Barotseland may not take part in the independence celebration does it give anyone the right to cluster all Lozi’s as in agreement with them? I certainly do not think so. If it is not people who have their own agendas of dividing people along tribal lines, it is in political affiliation. There should be nothing wrong being United Party for National Development, Patriotic Front or Movement for Multiparty Development. It’s a choice that someone makes and they should not be victimised to belong to one of them. We should come to a point where UPND and PF can get together without fists and kicks being exchanged. Is it so hard to have discussions without bringing in personal issues and truck loads of emotions? I strongly believe we can and our leaders can be examples to show us.
I do not know if such thing as an independence wish exists, I will make one either way. My independence wish is that we may learn to respect different views. Let’s debate issues and not people. We should also not forget the peace tag we so proudly assign ourselves because it can so easily change. All you have to do is watch the news from around the world to know what I am talking about. Happy Independence, whatever it means to you.