Monday, 29 July 2013

Are African Names Embarrassing?

So the world was fussing about a baby born in England, first there was the news that some woman was in labour and after the birth, it was what the little chap would be called. The world press speculated, bloggers predicted, even my workmates too joined in the hullabaloo. Then the name was announced, the king to be would be called George Alexander Louis. You can imagine my disappointment, what happened to his middle name being Akakulubelwa?

African Names

We give our children the names of George, William, Charles, Harry, so why can’t the royal family for once bear the name Musonda, Dabwiso or even Hantobolo. Some of us if we have not been given the “royal” names we shall call ourselves that for all, we care. Therefore, to me, the full names of the soon to be king are George Alexander Akakulubelwa Louis. Please forgive my lunatic side. Even so, there is a serious point here. I have an English or Christian name as well as two Zambian middle names. However, there was a time in my early years when I didn’t like my Zambian middle names that much. It was nothing against the names per se just that the names could be twisted to mean something else. So to avoid being a joke of the classroom, I rarely introduced myself by my Zambian middle names. It was only later in high school that I decided to embrace them, and now they are my preferred names.

Due to all this naming debate that was going around it has left me wondering, why is it that we in Africa can easily embrace an English, American or even toss it far a Russian name, but we do not call our children by other African names? I am yet to come across a Kwame Chanda, Ayobami Muyatwa or Raila Zimba. You may go the length and breadth of this nation, and the Zambezi will run dry before you find someone with such a name. Why don’t we call our children by other African names? Is it that we do not think that the names are not good enough, or sound cool enough, maybe to put it simply we just don’t like African names. Naming our children, Michelle, Ashley, Otis, Nigel, or Beethoven is a much preferred options.

There is another thing that still continues to baffle me, up to this day. There are people who I have called by their Zambian names, all their lives and the moment they go abroad, I see a strange name on their Facebook profile. I would like to understand why some Zambians feel the need to change or have English names the moment they go out. It is one thing, if you have been known by your English name whilst here in Zambia, but to change your names just because you are in USA raises many questions. Are our Zambian names that hard to pronounce? Are Zambian let alone African names more difficult to call than Chinese, Russian, German names? Perhaps even though we may deny it, we may have some inferiority complex when it comes to Zambian names.

It is the parent’s decision to choose what they will call their child. Some parents would wish to have names that have meaning to them while others opt for the unorthodox names. I now have a bias towards Zambian names. For some of us who continue to embrace our Zambian names, I hope we may do so even across the borders. Before I sign off, should my son be born just after I finish reading Things Fall Apart, he will be a lucky lad if his first name is not Okonkwo.

Should Africans be embracing their names more?

Monday, 22 July 2013


Take a survey of the thousands of employed individuals in this country and you will discover that the majority of us are a bunch of frustrated job hunters. Forget about employee loyalty that was for our forefathers, this generation is always on the hunt for another job no matter what you offer us. We want more money, the better house, the bigger car, the glossy title and for all it’s worth the respect too. Dare to give us what we want now, and we will be out there seeking more. For we are the Job Hunter Generation and our thirst cannot be quenched.

Dear World, please understand us; we have bills to pay, people to keep up with and family to please. We are not an ungrateful, materialist, egoistic breed of job hunters; we just want what we believe we are worth. We do not claim to be the best neither do we suggest that we will settle for less. Deep down we wish and hope that there is a job out there that will truly value us for what we are worth even if it is for a moment. It is for this reason that we live for that day when we will walk into our boss’ office and gladly place that letter on his table with a smile and say, “I resign.” Until such a day comes we shall faithfully read every daily newspaper, purposely beef up the C.V, carefully signoff each letter with the words, “I am sincerely looking forward to hearing from you soon,” and prayerfully send out the applications.

Do not think of us as oblivious and unrealistic to the world around us. We are well aware, that somewhere out there, there is someone who is praying for a job, any job at that. For the one who struggles to make ends meet with a fraction of what we earn, or a person who doesn’t know what it feels like to have experience on your C.V. we do spare a minute for those. Charles Darwin said it best, “Survival of the fittest.” Do not blame us if we choose to take our opportunities and grab them with wide open arms.

If there is anyone to blame, the career choices we made are it. The paths we deliberately or were forced to take. We search for greener pastures out there, if ever they exist. Forgive us if we ourselves fail to define what greener pastures we seek. We masquerade around with ambitions that dig deeper holes that we think will be filled with more money, more time, more prestige and a better boss too. Yet we hide the truth that we are all striving for career fulfillment. Some will be lucky to achieve them, and the rest of us will die Job Hunters.

We are already resigned to our fate. We may never know what loving our job really feels like. Following our passion are dreams we have learnt to crush slowly. In the meantime, we shall pretend to love our jobs, and lick as many boots to get to the top. Smile and lie, that the job we left was worse than the one we have. Every interview, will be attended with a prayer to heaven. We shall not give up our desire for greener pastures wherever they maybe, after all we are serial job hunters.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

RIP Blue Bus

There was once a time when the public transport in this country was chaotic, and differentiating a public minibus from a private one was one daunting task. I cannot remember the number of private buses I waved down, only for the driver to give me a disgusting stare. The reality was we just could not tell them apart. Thankfully, sanity was brought to our roads when it became mandatory for all local public transport to be primarily painted blue. However, the days of the blue minibus are numbered.
Goodbye Blue Bus

 The eulogies for the blue public transport began to be written the moment the Government announced that they were phasing away the blue and replacing it with a strip. Yes that is correct a strip, different coloured strip for each province. What on earth was wrong with the blue in the first place? Well the explanation was that it was costly for bus operators to repaint their buses. In as much as this may be a valid point, my understanding is that when you go into a business you should have already calculated the costs of operation. Therefore, repainting the buses blue should be one of those costs. Besides this is a one off cost and it is not like it is an annual renewal.

I do not consider myself to be change averse; I like change that is good. I am against changing a good thing that has been working so well for so long. It is like the sayings goes, “Do not change a winning formula,” or “Do not reinvent the wheel.” You can spot a blue bus kilometres away, now try spotting strip kilometres away. Good luck with that. The blue was such a uniform colour that, all you had to tell a foreign visitor is any bus painted blue is public transport. It was so easy and hassle free. We must now brace ourselves to witness a kaleidoscope of colours that will be zooming our roads. I’m imagining what Kulima Tower Bus Station will look like in a few months’ time because from what I have seen so far things don’t look good.
The Rainbow has began
In my opinion, the major reason this change is happening is because blue is the colour of the once ruling government Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). They imposed the colour blue at the time because that was their party colour. These are some of the problems we face when governments think that they will rule forever. I reckon that if, green was chosen none of this would have happened because green would have been a neutral colour. Now we public transport users are at the mercy of the bus owners and their wild colour combinations and a strip.

I will not put out my verdict on the strip just as yet, but I am having strong inclinations that our roads will not be an impressive sight. I do not think I would have been the least bothered if the decision was to have another neutral block colour like yellow, brown, green or even purple for all I care. It needed to be something visible and easy to spot. I understand that painting the buses may be costly but I think that is one sacrifice that bus owners would have just had to accept to save us from the rainbow bus chaos that might be headed our way.

Do you think the change was necessary?

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Gabon Disaster Heroes National Stadium. Serious?

Old Trafford, Camp Nou, San Siro, Maracana, Royal Bafokeng, Allianz Arena, Nkoloma, then some genius just had to go and put Gabon Disaster Heroes National Stadium to this glorious list of stadium names.  I am still dumbfounded at how the new ultramodern stadium can be bestowed such a name. The naming of this stadium is a perfect example why God gave us different talents, the creativity of naming places was not given to the person who was responsible for naming this stadium. Honestly, of all the names that are out there why pick on this one, WHY?
Model of the Stadium

First we had 90 Days Legacy Swimming Pool, we forgave them for that. Now they are just doing this to annoy us, Gabon Disasters Heroes National Stadium is a joke of a name. Can someone please remind whoever came up with this that this is July and April Fools passed three months ago. I would really like to understand what goes on during the naming process. Do they just say mention the first thing that comes to their mind? Do you they say give us the most ludicrous name you can come up with or is it normal names are not allowed as suggestions? Because clearly the naming process of these venues is definitely in the wrong hands and for the entire cabinet to approve this name, I am very worried. There is no one in the entire cabinet who would have questioned the creativity, even putting the options to a nationwide vote was not considered. Maybe I should not wish to hear what the other options were if this is the best they could come up with.

The Stadium Next to Matero, (yes that is what I am calling it I will refuse to call it by that horrible name if it stays), is supposed to be a fortress, a pride of the City of Lusaka. It needs a name that rolls off the lips easily, one that has flair and for lack of a better word, one that sexy. Heroes Stadium, Heroes Place, Champions Ground, 30 Heroes Stadium, suitable names are abundant.  Imagine telling the other teams that they are coming to play at Gabon Disaster Heroes National Stadium; they will think they are being sacrificed. Do not be shocked if they come with holy water, and speak in all manner of tongues just before they step onto that pitch, even worse petition FIFA from playing in a stadium that bears that name, awe kwena Zambia get serious.

I fully appreciate the fact that we need to honour the players who served this country with pride. The Gabon Disaster was a dark cloud and please do not give us a constant reminder of that tragic day each time Chipolopolo plays in Lusaka. We could have definitely found a more befitting name to honor them than the one approved. We need to seriously petition this name, if other countries can take nationwide votes to name a ball, what more a stadium. Surely we have creative minds in this country that can come up with names miles better than what has been thrown at us. Until then I cannot wait to watch the first Chipolopolo game at the Stadium Next to Matero.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

If Mandela was Zambian

This week we celebrated Heroes and Unity days. It is meant to be a time at which we remember our heroes and also unite as a country. However, I am drawn to one African hero who is clinging on to dear life, former South African President Nelson Mandela. The world, including I hold our breaths waiting to hear any news of his health or sign that he will come to the balcony and do his iconic wave. Nevertheless, I like the rest of the world are leaving in denial and are failing to come to the terms that the hero we so dearly love is only a mere mortal.

Nelson Mandela

A few weeks ago, I read a beautiful article written by Marelise Van der Merwe titled ‘Madiba, I let you go.’ The author in this piece wonders why the rest of South Africa is holding onto Mandela and refusing to let him die in peace. She believes the reason South Africans want Mandela to remain alive is that they are unsure of the future after him. She really does make some valid points, and I would urge you to read her point of view. There is no African leader who is as revered and celebrated by the entire world quite like the former head of state. From queens to presidents, rappers to super models, everyone wanted a piece of him. Yes, after 27 years of imprisonment what the man did after his release was quite remarkable. He did not send the armies to charge on the whites and drag the apartheid perpetrators by the legs. If he had done that some would have argued that he would have been more than justified after all the torture he had to endure, but instead he forgave them and preached for reconciliation. He voluntarily handed over the reins to Thabo Mbeki when he felt it was his time to step down.

I cannot help ponder that if for a moment, we could just borrow Mandela and let him offer his wisdom on what is happening in Zambia. What would he tell us? Would he say that all is well and we are on our way to our promised land or we are headed the wrong direction and we need to change? So far, this nation has changed presidents four times. However, each time we have changed leaders, each time we have looked back at our past and refused to move ahead. We have blamed the previous governments for the wrong that currently happens. We have stripped and dragged the former presidents and their colleagues through the dirt that they no longer have legacies to boast of. Their flaws and shortcomings have been magnified a thousand times more than any accomplishments they achieved. Next to their names, we have intentionally put adjectives that have engraved in our minds that they once did us wrong.

Frankly, I am fatigued. I am exhausted. I am tired. I am stressed out, for how long will keep dragging ourselves back to the past hoping to find explanations for the current situations that we face in this nation. There is a reason it is called history. Yes, we as a nation may have been done wrong, yes we as a people may be justified to point a finger but when will it all end. Like Mandela, can’t we just say that we forgive you? We forgive you for sending this nation into the doldrums; we forgive you for the money you stole; we forgive you for the mistreatment; we forgive you for the injustice; WE FORGIVE YOU. And then may this nation begin to write a new chapter for itself. One that we would be proud of and will not involve digging up graves and looking for the flaws through a magnifying glass. I think if Mandela was Zambian that is what he would do. The man may be a mortal, yet he gave this world one important lesson that we can move on. But then maybe I should not be wishing that Mandela was Zambian, I should actually be wishing that the hero who will transform this nation may come from these soils.