Africa: Out Of Zambia, Yet Zambia In My Mind

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Growing up was characterized by so many books to see and to read irrespective of the relevance these books may be to your age or your current academic pursuit.

We did not like this part of my Father, who was a Secondary School teacher and constantly felt we must almost know as much as he knew even in our very early years in life. By this quest of my Father, I came across a book written by Kenneth Kaunda titled “Zambia Shall Be Free” and this was the first time I came across that name “Zambia”.

As I grew older, I began to hear some other pleasant stories about Zambia but little did I know that being in the leadership of OSHAfrica will afford me the opportunity to visit Zambia just as I did in December 2018 for the country’s launch of Vision Zero.

For over two years now, I have been so fortunate to know a number of people from Zambia through OSHAfrica and there exist a very strong connection between us all each time we have time to talk. While at the country launch of Vision Zero in Ghana, I met Dr. Elizabeth Nkumbula, Chansa Kapema and a number of other colleagues from Workers Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB) Zambia, I did not know that singular meeting will be leading me into visiting Zambia for the first time.

The Director General, Lagos State Safety Commission, Hon. Hakeem Dickson and I proceeded on this journey to Zambia together in same flight where we sat side by side. We discussed all through this flight with our minds open and not really knowing what to expect or look out for in Zambia, we have both heard of Lusaka but Livingston was not popular to us but we kept hope alive that it could be a great city. We eventually landed at the Livingston airport at about 2.30pm to the scourging of the sun, it was really hot and we quickly noted that.

As we went through the Immigration checks, we noticed a number of people waiting to receive us with Vision Zero flags and in the midst of these people we were quick to spot Justin……. who was also in attendance of Lagos Vision Zero Conference held in Nigeria in June 2018. We were received and treated with so much respect and honour, had sessions of photos alongside two other delegates from ISSA Mining and Construction who were also coming to Livingston for the first time. There were arrays of immaculate white vehicles all branded with the Vision Zero logo, as soon as we got into those vehicles to drive to Avari Resort, we had a sense of feeling that we were in for a good time in Zambia.

We drove through the stretch of reserved land with the kind of vegetation and topography that you may not easily find elsewhere in the world, Justin was kind enough to respond to our series of questions and kept telling us the history surrounding Livingston and we were so thrilled and awed. We got into Avari Resort totally blown away over the closeness to nature and the presence of animals some of which we only read about in our secondary school readers or watched in discovery channels, here we were seeing them live.

We got into our rooms, had cold showers, rested and the moment we stepped out for a meal and drink at the bar, we met a couple of OSHAfrica members Mowa Zambwe and co who took us out to visit the David Livingston Museum. To be honest, we felt so proud seeing a very young African boy who works at the museum sharing with us a very strong and deep Zambian history, I was totally blown away and learnt a lot. The question I left with was, will I be able to tell the Nigerian story the way this young boy shared the Zambian story? Obviously no, now I am worried and looking out for what to learn and looking for books to read about the history of my country. We met Dr. Elizabeth Nkumbula and others members of the WCFCB later that evening before we went to bed.

On arrival at the venue of the Vision Zero country launch the next morning, we saw a totally transformed environment with a population of very colourful and well-dressed men and women, dignitaries from different organisations and government agencies, flashes that came from the cameras of photographers present were running endlessly shooting photos of people as they come in. We all took our seats and waiting for the event to commence.

Honestly we saw a procession that could be likened to what the bible may describe as triumphant entry and these procession was led by 3 beautiful, amazon-looking ladies from WCFCB, they were like “guard of honour” holding high the WCFCB flag as they led each dignitary representing WCFCB, ISSA and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security into the stage for the opening ceremony. This very creative procession was one of my favourite highlights of the event, it came with a very positive energy.
The event started with a well delivered welcome address from Dr.Elizabeth Nkumbula and this was followed by many other speeches and papers that were worth our coming, we were so excited about these all.

I was also very impressed to see that Zambia has a country Vision Zero Ambassador, a Humanitarian Neuro Surgeon, Dr. Kachinga Sichizya, an honest and very dutiful Physician that I have adopted as my brother. It may also interest you to know I have adopted a Zambian name “Kambukani” it means “you must remember” in Tonga language. So the name reminds me of this very visit to Zambia and I remember daily that firstly, I am an African.

Most amazing was the artistic expression of a Zambian musical group who took “Vision Zero” and created a song out of it, this was strong in both content and lyrics. Hakeem Dickson, not wanting to forget this song, recorded it with his phone and has been playing it for me to listen to each time I visit his office. I may not have known what the copyright law of Zambia says, but you need to keep Hakeem Dickson in mind…….. We had a number of drama group, local dance troop and these were all very exciting and driving home one message “Vision Zero”.

The Vision Zero launch was eventually completed leading to a precession for a session of lunch which we hope could be repeated again soon. There were such a display of continental and local delicacies, we had lots to eat and drink. We rested for an hour or two afterwards before we were conveyed to a water front where we proceed on a two hours boat cruise on the Zambezi River, an experience I do not want to forget in a hurry.

We had lots to see, eat and drink at this cruise, now everyone got more relaxed, dressed down and freely we played, laughed, networked and got to know ourselves even better. It during this cruise I met people who made very good comments about the paper I presented and today we are all friends championing the Africa course.

I saw a band of Hippopotamus, an elephant and others for the first time in my life and I still live with that memory till date. We had another very versatile tour guide at the cruise who had a lot of stories to share about the Zambezi River. The cruise ended slightly late, we got back to our rooms, rested for an hour and proceeded for another banquet where another sets of delicacies and drinks were in excess to eat and drink after giving out awards to companies and personalities that have done well in workplace health and safety in Zambia. We all got back to our rooms a little over fed with a feeling of sadness that we will be going back home the next day.

I woke up the next morning, and went to visit the much talked about Victoria Falls which was just behind Avari Resort, though it was not the best season to visit Victoria Falls but it was still a beauty to behold.

Now we were all packed and ready to leave with the 2.00pm South African Airways Flight to Johannesburg, emotions began to build up gradually while friends hug us and wishing us a safe journey. As I turned to advance to the waiting vehicle, I realized how much I have fallen in love with Zambia. Again I remembered “I am only an African born in Nigeria, even Zambia is home to me. I have long returned to Nigeria, yet Zambia is still in my mind.

By Ehi Iden

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