By Davies Chilufya
Beyond the Obvious is a series of satirical articles that make us to laugh at ourselves as a people by asking those nasty question that the many shy away from. It goes beyond the official pronouncements from those in authority to take a probing stance in the hope that we as a people can start asking tough question. Things are not always the way we see them. The articles will be written from an independent and unbiased angle so that as we laugh at our shortcomings, we may as well hold to account those who hold the instruments of power in our society. From one series to the other, I shall endeavor to be objective but not bigoted. I will be far reaching but not necessarily overboard. In this manner readers will have a well spiced news free from official propaganda.
Lusaka, a City of sickening contrasts
ANYONE who has ever walked the streets of Lusaka, the capital city, will, without any doubt, be awed by the massive construction taking place everywhere. If it’s not a private individual building a family property, then it would be a firm setting up a shopping mall or a team of Chinese in the company of locals building a road. For certain, that is as it should be, because it goes to show that the economy is doing fine and people are getting employment from these building projects everywhere. But is it really so?
Depending on which side of political spectrum that one is, one would say that the country has seen unprecedented development and signs are everywhere for everyone to see. But this can be countered by the fact that even as we can daily see many people building and shopping malls coming up everywhere, much still needs to be done, especially for real and sustainable jobs for skilled manpower and young people leaving colleges and universities. You cannot walk a mile and not meet a qualified teacher, nurse or an artisan without a job. Most of those people you find at construction sites or paving a road are none other than cheap labour, or at best; semi-skilled workers managed by foreign supervisors. That’s why it’s not uncommon in our very capital city to see a high-rise building casting a shadow over street children who have been spewed into the streets because their fathers have no jobs. It’s not uncommon in Lusaka to find nursing mothers walking long distances in search of some form of livelihood. That’s why our shop corridors and streets are clogged with nothing but vendors trying to make a dime.
If the economy is really growing, which those in power would want us to believe is, why are we still seeing unemployment at all-time high and poverty still ravaging our population? Why are teachers, trained at high cost still unemployed?
Or let’s contrast it this way. Why is it that it’s in this same Lusaka City where you find the stinking rich and the starving poor? The disparities are sickening. The rich shop from shopping malls scattered all over the place. They go to private clinics at the slightest pain, or fly out of the country for specialist treatment if the case comes to that. If they die, God forbid, but if they die, they have pristine burial graves for their pleasure in the afterlife. The latter, who in this case are the starving masses of the capital scrounge for survival from makeshift stalls and queue up for scarce medical supplies. They can’t afford to go to private clinics. They combine their medication with prayer and the unlucky ones die and are piled up in stinking morgues at our hospitals.
In Lusaka some people have three course intercontinental meals while the majority don’t know where the next meal would come from. It’s here where Chimbokaila is full of petty thieves while criminals and the well-connected get away with heinous crimes.
Don’t you wonder, the Anti-corruption is in Lusaka, but corruption which they are supposed to fight continues to soar? The Ministry of Land is here, but land wrangles are the order of the day? The Examination Council of Zambia is here, but come exam times, exams leaks are found all over the country?
Now the sickening contrasts of Lusaka don’t end here, because there’s more than what meets the eye. For example, here, the plushest buildings of New Kasama compete with a ramshackle of Ng’ombe or Chibolya. A drug-pin of the inner city will get away for dealing in cocaine while a poor youth will be paraded to the press when found with a ball of dagga.
Much, much more than all the above, continues to happen here. And if you don’t look beyond the obvious and you trust everything you hear from those in authority, you can’t see all these ironies. You’d think it’s cool for someone to defraud government and hide the proceeds of crime right under the nose of the inspector general of the police. It’s simple. In Lusaka all things are simple, especially if you are aligning yourself with the powers-that-be. It enables you to dictate matters. You can even be adopted for a political position.
So the sickening contrasts of Lusaka remain to be told for another day.