Matero is the place where struggles are born and won! Dr Fred M’membe
Moni aMatero! Mulibwanji!
Greetings to you all! We appreciate your attendance at this rally.
It is wonderful to be in Matero – a place known for many things!
Matero was headquarters, cimake, for our country’s independence struggle.
Coming to Matero therefore feels like we are here for political blessings, for the revival of our political values, principles and revolutionary spirit; for the renewal of our political ideas.
This is much more so because political ideas are worthless if they are not inspired by noble, selfless sentiments. Likewise, noble sentiments are worthless if they are not based on correct, just, fair and humane ideas.
New ideas are urgently needed to get ourselves out the current despair and suffering; a new awareness is needed to prepare ourselves for the future that today looks so sombre.
A very complex era like the one we are in today requires strong principles, malamulo, than ever. It requires more strong values. It requires more broadmindedness. It requires listening to every one, kuika nzelu pamodzi, without thinking that we are the owners of the absolute knowledge and truth.
To get ourselves out of this misery will require the work of many of us, thousands of cadres and leaders. It can never be the work of a single person no matter how talented, no matter how intelligent, no matter how knowledgeable or meritorious one may be.
However, it is a sacred duty for each one of us to do that, which can be done within our individual reach to put our country on a brighter path.
We have to everyday meditate on the future of our country, truthfully delve deeply into it; to help build a more just, more fair and more humane Zambia for our children and our children’s children.
Revolutionaries and all other selfless people work for the future. Revolutionaries have always worked, struggled for the future.
But the future is not built in the future; it is built on the threshold of what we do today. By coming here to Matero today to share ideas, to mobilise for revolutionary change in our country, to recharge our revolutionary batteries, we are contributing to the building of a future nation that will be more just, more fair and more humane.
Dear comrades and fellow citizens, why must we continue to endure hunger, unemployment, early death from curable diseases, ignorance and all sorts of human and social afflictions 55 years after attainment of independence?
Why should a tiny minority continue to access better education, health, housing, water and sanitation while the biggest majority don’t?
Why should so many Zambians go to sleep on empty stomachs while the rich people throw away food?
New ideas are needed that can make it possible for the masses of our people to get out of this poverty and avoid this impending armageddon.
It is not possible to build a more just, more fair and more humane society – a socialist society – without paying attention to the values of honesty, equity, humility and solidarity.
If you are honesty, truly honesty with yourself and with others, you cannot be corrupted, you cannot steal and you cannot humiliate others – teti mulesebanya abanenu.
It is not possible to build a more just, more fair and more humane society without equity. There can’t be socialism without equity. And here we are talking about equity in terms of access to education, health services, housing, food, clean water, sanitation and all the services required in an organised society.
To be discriminated against, to count for nothing is a very painful thing in life. Some of us who were brought up by people who were not our biological parents know very well how painful it is not to be treated in an equal way. The people who brought us up might have been very generous human beings. But they might not have treated us in an equal manner with their biological children.
They might have taken their biological children to better schools, gave them money for transport and lunch, bought them new clothes while we had none of that. How did we feel?
Today we live in a country that is divided into two nations – not on tribal basis but on class. We have the Ku and Kwa nations, the haves and the don’t haves, the rich and the poor.
The well-to-do live Ku and there they have no problems with water, sanitation, schools, health services, food, jobs, housing, roads. Everything there is plenty and nice – vonse vili mbwe mbwe mbwe.
Even their churches are very nice compared to those in Kwa.
Those in the Kwa nation have to endure poor housing, water supply, sanitation, education and health services, roads, nutrition and joblessness.
Even families have been split. Those who live in Ku don’t usually associate with their relatives in Kwa. They only deal with those, who like them, live in Ku.
If you are born in Kwa your chances of marrying someone from Ku are near to zero. Where are you going to meet someone from Ku to marry? You go to different schools, churches and hospitals! Even when you are in the same hospital, you are in different sections of the same hospital – low cost and high cost. You shop in different places! On a Saturday like today you go to different places for entertainment, to drink and dance!
If you are born in Kwa your chances of moving to Ku are near to zero.
There was a time, once upon a time, when it was very possible to move from Kwa to Ku. All you needed was to work hard in school and go to college or university. After that you got a well paying job to enable you live in Ku.
Today hard work in school doesn’t guarantee you living in Ku. You can pass your exams with flying colours but still fail to go far in your education because of having no money for fees.
I was among the first children of this country to start school after independence. Those who started school before independence had to pay. For us it was all free. We were given free uniforms, books, pensils, crayons and all the other materials we needed. We did not only go to school to learn but also to eat. We were fed at school. We were given milk and milk biscuits at school.
We were very happy children. When our president, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, came to our district we knew that there was no school on that day. We didn’t need the teachers to tell us there was no school. We went home washed our uniforms, pressed or ironed them well. We went to the airport or aerodrome early in the morning to welcome our president. When Dr Kaunda’s plane landed and he was waving his white handkerchief, we waved back vigorously.
You felt as if it was you alone he was waving at.
You felt very happy and proud of being Zambian.
We loved our leaders because we felt that they also loved us. Indeed they loved us, they cared about us. They gave us a better life.
For all their deficiencies, inadequacies and shortcomings we cannot accuse them of not caring.
When we went to secondary school it was a paradise. Most of the secondary schools in those days were boarding schools. We slept in nice dormitories, on nice beds which most of us didn’t even have at home. We had very clean toilets, clean showers. We ate in nice dining halls. We had good classrooms and very good teachers.
Above all that, we went to school with the children of our leaders. Dr Kaunda’s children slept in the same dormitories with the children of humble workers and peasants.
Can your children today go to the same schools with the children or grandchildren of your presidents, your ministers?
What did that do to us, the children of the humble workers and peasants? It gave us a lot of confidence, our self-esteem increased. And we started doing better than the children of our leaders.
The year I finished secondary school, 1976, the best student the whole country in the Cambridge ‘O’ Levels we used to write those days, was my classmate – Charles Malata – at St Francis Secondary School, P.O Box 49, Malole, Kasama, Northern Province. He was son of a humble mineworker from Luanshya.
We came to the University of Zambia with Charles where he pursued medical studies. Later on he got a scholarship to do his PhD in England. Today Charles is Professor Mister Charles Malata. He is one of the top ten best plastic surgeons in the UK. A son of a humble mineworker from Luanshya! Can a son of a humble mineworker from Luanshya achieve that today? The chances of achieving that are near to zero.
That is what equity in terms of access to education can do!
In that same year the best student in geography the whole Commonwealth, the whole world was a small boy from Kalabo Secondary School in Western Province near the border with Angola. His name was Cosmas Musheke Musumali.
We came to the University of Zambia with Cosmas. After second year he got a scholarship to go to West Germany to study economics. He did his bachelor’s degree, masters degree and PhD in economics there. And he has done work for almost all the leading international agencies in the world. Cosmas is now Dr Cosmas Musumali, the General Secretary of the Socialist Party!
Can a son of a humble peasant from Kalabo achieve that today? The chances of achieving that are near to zero.
Another needed value in the building of a socialist society is humility.
We cannot build a more just, more fair and more humane society without humility. If you think you are more important than others because you live in a big house in Ku; because you drive a big car; because you have a lot of money in your bank accounts and a chain of degrees to your name, you can’t be of value in building a more just, more fair, more humane society. Without humility there can’t be socialism.
Thirdly, we cannot build a more just, more fair and more humane society without solidarity.
And solidarity is the ability to feel the pain, the suffering of another human being inside your own ribs. It is the ability to tremble with indignation at the suffering, humiliation of another human being – to feel the hunger of another human being inside your own stomach even if you have just finished eating. If you feel this way you will be moved to do something about the suffering of others.
And this solidarity is international, it extends to all human beings on this planet. It’s not confined to our small locality. All human beings on this planet come from one source. Biblically we would say we are all children of the same mother and father. If this is so why shouldn’t we care for each other as siblings in a family do?
The Zambia we live in today is not anchored on the socialist as well as Christian values of honesty, equity, humility and solidarity. It is anchored on the capitalist values of individualism, of greed, of competition and of unbridled consumerism.
From the day you live your mother’s womb you are inculcated with the values of individualism, you are taught that you are an individual. Collectivism is not taught to you. You are told ziba zako, ulipalobe!
There’s a problem of water in your neighbourhood and a meeting is called to address it, individualism does not encourage you to attend that meeting. It encourages you to look for money and sink a borehole at your house. And you will go around boasting about how you are the only one in the area with water. Something that should make you sad becomes the source of your happiness, your pride!
Our current society, the capitalist society we today live in is anchored on greed. Everything of value must belong to you. You don’t care about others.
We are sitting on a time bomb. Within the next 15 years the population of Zambia will double. Today we are 18 million, in 15 years we will not be less than 32 million. If today we are crowded in Kwa what will be the situation in 15 years time?
In the meantime government forests are being de-gazetted and plots are being shared by our leaders and their friends – 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 hectares muntu umozi while those in Kwa, fellow citizens are crowded, squeezed in small plots!
No one in Kwa is ever allocated a plot there. They don’t want to live with you poor people as their neighbours. They would rather go to the national parks and collect wild animals to live with as neighbours!
How will life be like in Kwa in 15 years when the population doubles? How will the housing situation be like? What about water and sanitation?
They tell us that competition in everything is what brings progress! Yes, competition may lift a few people up – above others – and enable them to live better. But what lifts more people up is not competition but kugwirizana, ukwikatana, kwashamukwenu!
We live in a society that encourages you to buy, buy and buy everyday. You are made to buy even things you don’t need. You have to buy and buy everyday because if you stop buying they won’t make money. If you haven’t been to a shop for two or three days unvela monga wadwala.
Nyumba ya zula navovala – 200, 300, 400 pairs ya nsapato! Uzazivalila kuti? There are only 365 days in a year!
They are ready to even poison you so that you buy what they are selling.
Coca Cola! What is in it? Caffeine! A drug! They make you a caffeine drug addict so that you continue buying Coca Cola everyday!
The nutrition value of Coca Cola is near zero, it’s negligible. But there are more litres of Coca Cola sold everyday than of milk, which has a higher nutrition value!
They don’t care if that poison they are selling you kills you because they will still make money even from funerals. You have seen how expensive these funerals are becoming! The dressing! Nice and expensive black shoes, trousers, skirts or dresses and white shirts or tops, navisote so…
These are the values of the society we live in. Can we build a society full of justice, equity and peace with such values? The answer is a categorical No.
New values are needed. But they won’t come on their own, they have to be nurtured.
Beginning today we must start building a new awareness. To deal with the complex problems we are facing today will require a lot of awareness; it will require more principles than ever before.
Where are these principles, values going to come from? They will come from adding together the best of our political teachings, religious teachings and ethical and humane ideas.
Who will bring about these principles, values, ideas? Who will sow them, cultivate them and make them grow? You will – you yourselves, we ourselves because it is objectively inevitable and there’s no alternative to it if we have to harbour any hope of a better life, a more just, more fair and more humane Zambia.
It’s impossible to build a better Zambia without strong principles, values and new progressive ideas.
The individual does best in a strong and decent community of people with principles and standards and common aims and values.
It is time for us to break out of the past three decades of neoliberal capitalist degeneration and break through with a clear and radical socialist vision, programme for Zambia.
Our politics should be about social and economic progress, about helping our people to give themselves a better and peaceful life.
But we cannot buy our way into such a society. We have to collectively work for it; we must plan for it together. It can only be achieved if we work together. Leaders lead, but in the end the people govern.
And this has to be our starting point!
And what can be a better place than Matero to start this this struggle that will get you into power in 2021?
Matero is the place where struggles begin, where struggles are born.
And Matero is the place where struggles are won!
Thank you very much!
I love you all!