“Even if I have lost some important parts of my body, I still want to get rich,” these are the words that were uttered by Chamangeni Zulu. This is a man who just had his manhood and three toes eaten by a hyena after a witchdoctor advised him to do so. The witchdoctor apparently told him to go into a bush, strip naked and wait for a hyena to come and eat part of his body. Ku nkala chipuba siti lesa koma chipubidwe. This is a story that borders on the ridiculous if not the insane. In the quest for riches, I guess some people sail the seas looking for lost treasure; others strip and wait for a hyena to chew what they wish.
Now that I am done venting, there is a small portion of me that is trying to empathise with Chamangeni. He is originally from Malawi and for the past four months had been working in Chipata before he decided he had it will all this poverty nonsense. The man had probably tried all avenues available to him but he saw no hope of escaping the chains of poverty that are gripping many. I know it is easy for people who bought the newspapers to read his story while sipping coffee in an air conditioned office to find Chamangeni mad. Some would say that why didn’t he work hard if he wanted to be rich or just be content with his portion. It could be easy for someone like myself to say that, after all my parents were able to educate me, I have opportunities at every corner, I type this blog on a laptop and I have access to the internet anytime I please. Dreaming of being rich is not a farfetched.
Here is a man who perhaps only has primary education at best, maybe not because he did not want to go school but his parents could not afford to keep him in school. Then he is taken to work the fields so that his family can get food on his table. Hypothetically he marries early and has two children one year in between because he does not know what family planning is. He finds a job working on a farm just to prevent his family from starving, yet he still dreams of becoming rich. He does not know how that will happen because life did not give him an easy hand. He knows he cannot till the land fast or strong enough that his labour will be rewarded to make him live the lavish life he envies. He will even be lucky if he even gets the crumbs of the rich.
There was no one available to offer him a solution on how to become rich. I have Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad to read, there is a Mubita Nawa motivational conference I can attend, I see GBM get his wife a Range Rover on Facebook to emulate and I have the qualifications to help open doors. Chamangeni does not have this privilege. Therefore, should we blame him for taking a solution offered to him by a witchdoctor? When no one was showing him the path to the riches that he desired the witchdoctor showed him a way. Chamangeni may have tried the conventional route and it failed, so it was about time he used the unconventional route- Strip and wait for a hyena.
Chamangeni’s story is that of many people in poverty in Zambia, even though some may not push the boundaries like he did, they too still dream to be rich. For us who read the story in the papers and posted it on Facebook may consider ourselves lucky. We too could also have been in Chamangeni’s position, wishing to be rich but not knowing how. We would have shouted in Marie Antoinette fashion, “Why doesn’t he just work hard if he wants to be rich.” Yet we forget that we neither provide the tools nor the show him the route to get to wealth. Still on his hospital bed no one was able to show him the first steps towards riches, hence he boldly declared his determination, “Even if I have lost some important parts of my body, I still want to get rich.”