As averred by Lao Tzu (1945) that ‘a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step’, I argue that a journey to slipping off the main way starts with one step and a journey to returning to doing good starts with one step. This is also true with national development and growth much as it is with economic freedom of our country.
Dignity is defined as the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect. It can also mean ‘the calm, serious, and controlled behaviour that makes people respect you’ (CAED, 2021). With reference to the subject matter, I would like to add that ‘dignity is the importance and value that a person (chief) has, that makes other people (subordinates) respect them or makes chiefs respect themselves.
A chief is the head or leader of an organised body of people; the person highest in authority (Caristas, Zambia 2011). A chiefdom is one where different people of different cultures live together for common goals. A chief is a person who presides over a chiefdom. In Zambia, a tribe that all of us know is being Zambian; one Zambia, one nation. A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. In the chiefdom, there are so many subjects that pay homage to the chief. The chiefs have autocratic (highly respected in the land) type of leadership. In other words, they are not elected as politicians do. Politicians are actually subordinates of these chiefs. This is why we see that even the presidents give homage to the chiefs. Chiefs are actually gods. Their rule lasts as long as one is alive. This has its roots way back before Christ was born.
The primary duties of chiefs in Zambia include the distribution of communal land, the administration of justice, and the organisation of communal projects, all of which make chiefs powerful leaders in Zambian communities (Caristas, Zambia 2011). Chiefs champion peace, love and unity in their chiefdoms. All of us in Zambia belong to a chiefdom and are free to go and stay in any chiefdom that one wishes to as long as it is in Zambia. Justice is their daily bread for their people as they do not need any one bringing confusion. Bringing it down to the family level, chiefs are parents and all of us are children.
It is with regret of late we have seen, heard and read how some of our parents are slipping off the main reason they are supposed to champion. Some of our Zambian parents (chiefs) are beginning to be segregating us the children. Parents have now started choosing their favourites among us the children and this is paining us as children who are not being given the same favour with every other child as it was during Jacob and his children where he loved Joseph more than other children. This resulted in hating Joseph by his brothers to the point of killing the favoured, thanks to the Egyptian buyer and ruler. Some of our chiefs are siding and massaging the wrongs done among us the children, at the expense of admonishing them. It is with dismay that some chiefs are acting as if they are political cadres. Instead of being referees in a game, they have decided to take sides, the unfortunate thing to do of a dignified person.
Chiefs have the duty in entirety, like that of God, to unite all of us regardless of our ethical background, language, race, education, rich/poor, political or sexual orientation. A chief, like a parent in the house, must show love to their children; without favour, fear or ill-will. When children fight, parents (chiefs) should be there to remind them that they are actually brothers and sisters, they need not fight (kill) one another.
We cry to you chiefs and all traditional leaders to unite us. Hate speech, tribalism, favouritism, bad mouthing your own children shouldn’t be in your thoughts, let alone your mouths. Unity can be well achieved if you (chiefs) play a major role, which you were enthroned for. If one of your children has missed a step, be there to bring them back on the track to prosperity. You are our parents and shall continue to receive whips, corrections, admonishments, controls and all that pertains to achieving one family, one Zambia, one nation (this should not be in mouths only but action).
In Holace’s (1962) writings, he elucidates that he who has begun, has half done, have the courage to be wise’. It’s time we start to have the courage of getting back our wisdom; our dignity back as a nation. As children, we may disrespect your chieftaincy if you don’t guard it. Children will begin retaliating to your mischief if your parenting is compromised. You don’t need to be partisan, let your children do so and give wise advice to all of them, bringing them together by reminding all that they are brothers and sisters because they have you as parents. Zambia will/can be a haven of peace and stability once chiefs unite us all as their children. Politicians (your children) go and others come, but your chiefdom is infinite, it’s everlasting, a prototype of God’s Kingdom.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1982) puts it ajar that, ‘the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams’. This is the dream of all Zambians, regardless of our political inclination. We know and are sure that a beautiful Zambia is achievable and it all depends on our parents (chiefs). Yes, in one womb, comes different characters but all are children from it. We can work together as chiefs in helping Zambia to be the best we dream of. After all, a child of one parent is a child of all parents. You deserve and need that dignity our chiefs.