Lungu and his friends

Kampamba Mulenga, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, says it is not wrong for Edgar Lungu to travel with his business associates and posing for photographs with them for as long as it was not the government paying their bills.

It’s difficult to believe Kampamba’s claim that the friends of Edgar who accompany him on official trips pay for themselves. Last month, we had Patriotic Front cadres accompanying Edgar to Kasama on Zambia Air Force aircraft. Did they pay for that? Are they entitled to travel for mahala on a Zambia Air Force aircraft paid for by the taxpayer?

The other week, Edgar was in Mfuwe in the company of some of these friends of his who don’t work for government. Who paid for their stay there? This is not in any way an attempt to choose friends for Edgar. It’s simply a matter of ensuring that Caesar’s bills are settled by Caesar and not the poor Zambian taxpayer.

What’s worrying many people is the type of company Edgar, as President of our Republic, keeps. Are these the type of people one would like to see with his or her country’s president?

It is said that if you hang out with chickens, you’re going to cluck and if you hang out with eagles, you’re going to fly. It is said that “birds of a feather flock together”. This simply means that people with common traits, interests and tastes tend to associate and congregate with each other, similar to how birds of the same species flock together. This is an ancient proverb, with roots traced back to 1545 when William Turner wrote in The Rescuing of Romish Fox: “Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.” And it is still very much in common use today.

While this phrase can be understood by simply observing human behaviour, we make the case that it is Biblical as well. Let’s first look at the parable of the unjust steward. In this parable, a rich man had a steward, or manager, of his goods. The steward did not do a good job and therefore the rich man was going to replace him. Upon finding out, the steward made deals with the rich man’s debtors thinking that they would help him in return after he was fired. Here was how Jesus viewed this behaviour: “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:8-9).

The steward was dishonest in his dealings, and when he was found out, he gravitated towards others who were similarly dishonest – birds of a feather.
The other side of the coin is how Christians should “flock”. And it’s no coincidence that they are considered to be in the “flock” (sheep flock, not bird flock) of God with Jesus as their Shepherd. In 2 Corinthians, we read: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). And further in the Book of Hebrews, we read: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
They are God’s birds, birds of light, and as such they should “flock” together and keep themselves out of the dark.

In Sirach 13:16-18, we are told: “Just as animals of the same species flock together, so people keep company with people like themselves. A sinner has no more in common with a devout person than a wolf has with a lamb. Rich people have no more in common with poor people than hyenas have with dogs. A man is known by the company he keeps.”

It is said that you can judge the character of a man by the company he keeps. A person tends to associate with people who are like him or her. A man is known by the company he keeps. If you want to know what kind of person Edgar is, look at his friends!

But should it be so? Is it fair to judge one another by the company we keep? Some very wise people have said so – “He who walks with wise men will be wise. But the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20).

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