An unedited Excerpt from my soon to be published book!
“The University is a Closure” – There is no “ANKOMMODESHION”
I was in my fourth year at the University of Zambia when students gathered at the graduation forum singing songs denouncing the then ruling party – United National Independence Party (UNIP) and its leaders – members of the Central Committee (MCC) led by the Party and Republican President Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda. Under mob psychology, we matched through the streets of Lusaka, – Great east road, Cairo road, church road, independence road going to State House via Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education, to petition and picket the President at State House.
The University of Zambia Student Union (UNZASU) had been banned since 1985 and we had no Student Union or Leadership. From nowhere, some students volunteered to speak on behalf of other students. Chileshe Sefuke, Muhabi Lungu, Fabian Mumba, Kafula Mwiche, Martin Kalungu Banda, Muyunda…Arafat… and several others emerged to be interim students’ representatives. ……From state house, we went into Kalingalinga and Mutendere shanty compounds conscientising citizens to rise up and fight the removal of the UNIP government and Kaunda who had ruled Zambia for 27 years by then. We demanded the return to multi-partysim and free democracy.
We assembled at Goma lakes, went to the road side and “captured” or illegally impounded one of the Zambia Electricity Corporation (ZESCO) company vehicle, instructed the driver to run for his dear life before burning him alive. One of the Salati boys, a freshman by then drove the vehicle in gear two from the great east road into University campus premises. We pushed the van into the Goma lakes and on a second thought, we retrieved it from the Goma lakes and mob psychologically agreed to burn it to ashes.
Playing music was discouraged by one Mr. Mutale my former St, Clement’s Secondary School Agricultural Science teacher who was pursuing his Degree at the University by then. The reason he gave was that one of our colleagues Chilenga Chama – a fine and cool younger man from St, Clements pursuing his Degree in Agricultural Sciences at the University had been shot in the leg by the “Anti-riot Zambia Police Force” who had been hastily mobilised by the then notorious “Wazakaza Nguni” who was the Lusaka Commanding Officer to quench the perceived riotous behaviour instigated by the University students within Lusaka.
The random protests filtered through the Lusaka shanty compounds and the situation just became uncontrollable. Several students were identified and several of our colleagues among them Mwelwa Mulenga, Kafula Mwiche, Martin Kaulungu Banda, Chileshe Sefuke among many others were “sold-out” and whisked away in the middle of the night and were detained at Nkoloma Stadium where the fellows were commanded to lie down and Zambia Police recruits with their boots were asked to run over them, with military boots stepping on their chests and stomaches.
The University was declared closed indefinitely in the middle of the term. The government quickly mobilised United Bus Services of Zambia (UBZ) buses to ferry all the students to their respective Provincial Cities, Towns and Districts.
In the early hours of 1st July 1990 a young Zambian Army Officer identifying himself as Lieutenant Mwamba Luchembe managed to find himself in public studio and had intermittently broke into the soft music broadcast of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) Government radio station where he announced that Zambia Army had taken over Government. He cited as the reason the riots of the week, in which close to twenty seven people had been killed and more than hundred wounded.
Although the Zambian people rose against the Kaunda reign as early as the mid-1980s there was no one who dared challenge the Government although there were some riots that were easily stopped by security forces. Despite the people expressing discontent with the Government for years, Dr Kaunda held a firm grip on the affairs of the nation and was viewed as not tolerant to any divergent views, making it impossible for anyone to think otherwise.
As Students were being dispersed, we heard from Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) news announcing coup d’état. Lieutenant Mwamba Luchembe’s action came at a time when Zambians had risen against the Kenneth Kaunda administration and as soon as news of his takeover of government filtered through, there was jubilation among the people.
As students we particularly celebrated the downfall of one of Africa’s longest reigning Presidents. We celebrated and sang songs of jubilations and foot stomping the UBZ buses and waving at almost everyone along the way to Mansa. Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda had been in power as Zambia’s first Prime Minister and later President of Zambia since the Central African country gained independence from Britain on 24th October 1964. The man had been praised abroad by the anti-apartheid movement for his outspoken stance on South Africa but increasingly derided at home as incompetent and autocratic. Many University students viewed him as a Dictator.
Alas the jovial mood was short lived when we reached Samfya Town. The mood then changed to disappointment. The so called coup had been squashed. Although Mwamba Luchembe’s action can be described as a failed coup attempt against President Kaunda, it certainly weakened his political muscle which was already shaky after three days of rioting. A failed coup attempt against President Kenneth David Kaunda appeared to have further weakened his political standing, already shaky after three days of rioting and Students demonstrations by the two Universities and Colleges which had joined.
Unknown to us and with the usual student naivety, the Government had placed some special security officers on each and every bus to identify rabble rousers and those who were perceived to be over-excited were again whisked away and detained in Provincial Centres. One of those colleagues who suffered that fate was Mwewa Shamenda who later worked in Botswana and Ministry of Lands in Lusaka, Ndola and Mansa.
When the University reopened in September 1990, students were under very intense pressure to cram and study for final examinations. A sigh of relief came to all of us who had managed to complete our University Bachelor of Arts program with only one closure in between…..
This will surely be edited …….the flow, the structure, the content, the events, the order…
An unedited Excerpt from my soon to be published book!