Tuesday, 10 May 2016


It has been some time since the flitting and that was the last time we posted, over a month ago. Much has happened nationally, locally and in our lives and work in Lusaka. Nationally the economy is still in poor shape with inflation at 20% and a static job-market with 60% of the population living on less than $2.00 a day.

The IMF have ominously paid a visit, raising the spectre, once again, of ‘structural adjustment’ in order to meet the terms of another bail-out. This will mean even greater austerity as government spending is cut. Public debt is heading towards 60% of GDP and so the IMF are apparently concerned about Zambian Eurobond borrowing and budget deficit. There are moves afoot to remove subsidies on fuel, electricity and fertiliser but this is unlikely to happen till after the election, set for August 11.

The Kwacha has strengthened from K16.00:£1.00 to K14.00:£1.00 and from K12.00:US$1.00 to around K10.00:$1.00. This is said to be due to some recovery in the copper price.

There have been violent outbreaks of xenophobia against Rwandan refugees and migrants who were living in the high density settlements in Lusaka. They are mainly Hutus who left after the genocide. Many had ‘leaked’ from refugee camps and had settled informally and illegally in these townships. These new-comers were hard-working, enterprising and self-employed starting mainly retail businesses and taking the same place in Zambia that many first generation immigrants to the US or Europe take, opening the corner shop or the Mom and Pop Store.

Unfortunately the disorder escalated into targeted looting of shops and houses by opportunistic mobs. There has also been a spate of rather grizzly ritual killings recently.  These murders are to source body parts for sorcerers. With the murders, the increase in poverty and rising prices, the Rwandans became the scapegoats for all these ills and were blamed for the murders, although of the 12 people arrested, only 2 are foreigners. The police and military have restored order, arresting around 260 people involved in the disturbances, while those who were made homeless and were victims of the unrest, around 300 people, were accommodated at St Ignatius’ Catholic Church.

Those refugees who were found to be in Lusaka illegally were returned to Mayukwayukwa Refugee Centre in Western Province between Kaoma and Lukulu. There have been complaints about the lack of security and care at the refugee camp. It is reported that 67 Congolese refugees, men women and 27 children, have set off on foot for Namibia after officials said they were free to move to anywhere else they wanted outside Zambia if they did not want to stay at Mayukwayukwa. It is a distance of over 400km from Mayukwayukwa to Katima Mulilo in Namibia.  The Congolese reported the challenges of having no water, no food and no medicine. Their children were suffering from malnutrition. They complained that the Zambian Government were failing to offer protection and care in accordance with UNHCR guidelines.

Ida visited the Musada family last Saturday at Mayukwayukwa and what she found there on the ground chimes in with the The Post article summarised above. Our friends have been there for just over a year. On arrival they were put into the transit camp where they were fed but no extra clothing or bedding was given. They were given a few used corrugated iron sheets to build two small daub and wattle (pole and daaga) houses which are a tiny bedroom for the parents and baby, and a tiny kitchen which doubles as the boys’ bedroom. The boys sleep on a raised bed made from twigs and sticks. The parents have the only single mattress. These buildings the family built themselves.  They were given K60 per month ($6.00) for a year. This has now stopped. They were allocated a field some distance away and given maize seeds to plant. With the poor rains this year there has not been a good harvest but they are expected to keep themselves from it. They too complained of the lack of water . The actual settlement is very crowded and densely packed with neighbouring houses cheek by jowl. The whole family cannot go to Church or the field together, as someone must always be at home to guard their meagre possessions from theft by neighbours.

The family are making the best of the situation and the boys are doing very well at school but this formerly middle-class family is finding this impoverished life under such abysmal and pitiful conditions in the camp soul-destroying and it is upsetting to find that these people are forgotten and are living in conditions that fall far short of minimum humanitarian standards. We as a family have helped them financially from time to time to meet their individual needs as a family but such conditions should not exist anywhere.

While the Euro-centric media rightly turns the world’s eyes at the moment to the border between Macedonia and Greece, it should not forget the marginalised and side-lined people in Sub-Saharan Africa where migrants and refugees too live in very difficult and what to us would be intolerable conditions. The United Nations, Regional Governments, NGOs and Churches all need financial support to undertake this refugee work so that humanitarian assistance and support can be given to those in such desperate need.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Flitting

It was on a Monday morning and weel I mind the scene,
That my Granny Fraser flitted frae Aboyne tae Aiberdeen.
The village folk they a’ turned oot, tae see her on the road;
The horse that couldnae pu’ the cairt, ye should have seen the load.

There was airmchairs, bath chairs, rookin’ chairs as weel,
Cradles and ladles, a pram without a wheel.
Woolen shawls, moth balls, jeely pans and jars
And Grandpa near collapsed aneath my grannies chest o’ drawers...

My brother-in-law, to encourage us, no doubt, sent us the whole ballad ‘Granny Fraser’s Flitting’, for us to read and recite as the Waddell faimily prepared a few Monday mornings ago to flit frae Mwandi tae oor Synod hoose. I can tell in our case the verses were uncannily prophetic!

For the previous few weeks we have been collecting cardboard boxes and old newspapers to wrap and pack our possessions, trying to fill a couple of boxes a day with books and the various personal items we have accumulated over the years. Two local shops and the Hospital Pharmacy were much appreciated sources for the boxes.

We could not have accomplished what we did without the help of different people. Isabel’s husband boxed up the swimming pool and all the books from the shelves in the TV room

Erin and Toni arrived on the Saturday morning and were brilliant too; they went ahead and packed up our kitchen and scullery for us, taping the boxes and labelling and neatly stacking them for us. Our sitting room for the last week or so became a store with furniture, boxes, rugs and pictures piled, stacked and amassed within.

We had ordered from Livingstone a 15 ton truck with a 40 foot container attached, the same company that moved Ruairidh and Fiona to Lilongwe. We had Florence Bridget and David’s katundu as well as they all wanted to stay with us after the transfer. The truck managed to reverse as far as the double gates at the end of our drive. Only two branches needed to be carefully lopped from the muhonono tree to give enough headroom!

On Sunday afternoon, the choir arrived, to take the furniture out of the house and carefully fill the container so that its volume could be used to greatest effect – not unlike a 3-D puzzle moving and trying different shapes and sizes to see which fitted the available space best. We were thankfully spared the rain until after 1800h when we called it a day. Lawrence kindly and considerately invited the four of us to supper to save us having to cook. Unfortunately, Mwandi is still woefully deficient in take-aways!

The next morning after a picnic-style breakfast the beds and last of the furniture were loaded. Friends and neighbours came to “kulaeza” (bid us farewell), this punctuated the final touches to the loading with cheek-to-cheek embraces, lump-in-throat handshakes, tearful smiles and prayers.

After seeing the truck off Florence, Bridget, Mubita and Ellie climbed into the car with Ida and me. The back loaded with especially fragile things and the things needed immediately at the new house. We stopped in Livingstone for the bank, at Monze for chicken and chips, and got to Lusaka around 19 hours, dropping Bridget and Florence at Bridget’s sister in new Kasama. We then spent the night in two rooms at St Paul’s Woman’s Centre arriving at the house in good time to prepare for the arrival of the truck at Synod. David and Junior travelled up on the overnight bus

The unloading and depositing of boxes and furniture in the new house began after breakfast on Tuesday. Again headroom was a problem. The truck reversed carefully to get as close to our gates as possible. An overhanging electrical cable had to be simultaneously lifted over the cab and container roof. The Synod ancillary staff, friends and other members of the Mwandi diaspora in Lusaka all put their shoulders to the wheel and the truck was emptied of our possessions before lunch. It then set out to deposit Bridget and Florence’s goods at their house in Libala and David’s at Kabwata.

As we hit the street running we have both been outside Synod working, and renovating the house at the same time, most of the furniture is in situ but the spare bedroom and laundry are still storing yet-to-be-tackled boxes and suitcases. But we’ll get there eventually!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016


The record low rainfall and high temperatures being presently experienced in many places in Southern Africa, including here in Mwandi, are threatening crops and bringing food insecurity to around an estimated 30 million people. This has sent alarm bells ringing at the World Food Programme. Last year’s harvest in our region was also poor, so this crisis is likely to continue well into 2017, as stock-piles fall, food prices rise and people starve.

South Africa, the region’s agricultural giant, had a harvest last year that was a third down on the previous year, so it will need to import maize. Last year Malawi’s harvest was a quarter less than usual, with a similar proportion of the population now going hungry. Around 2.5 million people, at present, are reckoned to be in crisis and in need of some humanitarian intervention.

Traditionally Zambia has been a maize exporter to the region, but last year's production was 21 percent down on 2014. Zambia's surplus stocks has allowed us to export to neighbouring countries, but this has led to some concern as close to 800,000 Zambians are estimated to be at risk. The Government has assured the public that stocks are adequate to see us through the year.

While we in Zambia are still suffering from rolling power-cuts, due to falling water levels in Lake Kariba, in Lesotho, 650,000 people - one third of the population - do not have enough food. Water rationing in several districts too, is severely impacting agriculture, industry, schools, and hospitals. All the SADC countries are affected to some degree

The rains which usually begin at the end of October or the beginning of November began around 6 weeks later than normal and have been up to 80% less than expected. This will drastically affect this year’s harvest, will lead to higher food prices in Zambia and all our neighbouring countries and increase substantially the number of food insecure people in the region. High prices, because of increased demand, higher production costs and inflation,  have eroded the purchasing power of poorer households throughout the country.

In our area food insecurity is expected to reach crisis point for even more people in the first quarter of this year, with livestock prices decreasing and other food prices rising. With these adverse conditions, planting was delayed or crops re-sown with recycled seeds, the area sown was reduced, meaning a smaller harvest. The lack of surface water and dry seasonal water courses has led to livestock being moved greater distances to find water.



The map above shows how poor the agricultural season has been across the Southern Africa, largely due to the El NiƱo effect. The rains came late to South Africa, Southern Mozambique and northern Namibia and to parts of central and southern Malawi. This period has been the driest on record for parts of central South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, central Mozambique, and central Zambia. The above-average temperatures have also affected vegetation cover, now at its lowest level for 15 years.

The current food insecurity situation is expected to deteriorate further in the near future, though the harvests in April or May might offer some short-term relief. The harvest is likely to be consumed by July and substantially increased numbers of malnourished people will be needing help by the new year, the numbers probably reaching 2002/2003 levels.

So how is this affecting us here on the ground in Mwandi. A Vulnerability Needs Assessment Report has been undertaken and its findings tend to confirm that Mwandi is part of a fairly similar overall picture. The World Renew Food Relief Programme suggests that this year will be similar to last year with over half the subsistence farmers having used up this year’s harvest by July and 90% by November. Below is a table with some rounded figures:


25 000
5 000


From World Renew’s distribution information the following table has been compiled:


Households Moderately Food Insecure
Households Severely Food Insecure
Total Households
Grain needed from Aug-Mar 16
338 mt


This is the number of times people are reporting they are eating each day at the moment:


Thrice Daily
Twice Daily


As expected statistics suggest that households with members living with HIV/AIDS, child-headed households, households with larger families and the elderly are the people eating mostly only twice per day.

This is being addressed partially by infant, supplementary and therapeutic feeding programmes at the Hospital. Mothers and children’s body mass index are being monitored at Under 5 Clinics and unfortunately after admission to hospital.  This is why we appreciate so much the support we receive from the Church of Scotland HIV Programme and Impact AIDS Edinburgh to supply much needed nutrition to these especially vulnerable people.

In the longer term work is being done  using appropriate technology to encourage conservation farming with crop and food diversification, trying to lessen overdependence on carbohydrates (mainly maize).

Water management is being addressed as well so that the most is made from the water we have, such as by monitoring and maintaining existing boreholes and water sources.  Linked to this, sanitation and hygiene enhancement is underway but much still needs to be done to stop open defecation and using untreated drinking water.

So far this has all been very rational but living amongst this injustice also invokes an indignant and emotional response aroused by continual exposure to the sights, sounds and smells of human need: wasted mothers with stunted children, children scavenging in rubbish pits like dogs, the outstretched hand with the word “Tala” (Hunger). It is so demeaning and undignified for those affected, who because they are powerless, do not have the right to food.

To quote Pope Benedict: “The right to food like the right to water has an important place within the pursuit of other rights, beginning with the fundamental right to life. It is, therefore, necessary to cultivate a public conscience that considers food and access to water as universal rights of all human beings, without distinction or discrimination.”

This cannot be done by the Church alone, as Psalm 113 makes it clear:

He raises the poor from the dust,

And lifts the needy from the ash.

He seats them with princes,

With the princes of their people.

This surely suggests that Government has a role to play too.

Friday, 22 January 2016

All One in Christ: the closing service of the UCZ's Golden Jubilee

The United Church of Zambia held the closing service of worship for its Golden Jubilee Celebrations at Nkana Stadium, Kitwe on Sunday 17 January 2016. The weather was gracious to us on the day. On Saturday evening, Mindolo Congregation hosted an Evening Prayer Service at the place where and on the anniversary when the UCZ came into being on 16 January 1965. This was led by Rev Kazovu, while Bishop Sinkala offered the prayers and Rev Silwenga preached on Visions and Dreams. The meeting continued amidst loadshedding and a heavy much-needed and much-prayed-for downpour of frontal rain.


We had left Lusaka on Saturday morning in the Synod Bus together with many of the Synod Secretariat including Mr Lee Holland, a former Mission Partner and Africa Secretary of the United Church of Canada and the Synod Advisor, Mrs Victoria Silutongwe. We were accommodated at a local guest house.


After breakfast on Sunday we were transported to the stadium and having cleared security, (my Sgian dhu remaining undiscovered!), we were directed to the Synod part of the stand at the Callow Pavilion. A comfortable black leather-padded three-piece suite and side-tables had been arranged for the President, First Lady and their entourage. They were to be the guests of honour. For the next hour or so the stadium gradually filled up until a congregation of thousands had assembled.


The service began just after 0900h with a March Past by the Combined Boy’s Brigade Band and the Girls Brigade Majorettes. The salute was taken by His Excellency, the Republican President, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu and the Synod Bishop.


Rev M B Silwenga opened in prayer followed by the BB Band who then struck up the National Anthem. Rev B S Kazovu constituted the gathering to officially close the Golden Jubilee Celebrations, which had reminded us of our oneness with God, each other and in Jesus Christ, and had led us to recommitting ourselves to proclaiming the Gospel and further unity in the fullness of life. It commemorated the comings together of the Church of Scotland and London Missionary Society at Chitambo on 1 December 1945; they were then joined by the Union of Churches on the Copperbelt on 26 July 1958  at Mindolo. Finally on 16 January 1965 the United Church of Zambia was formed at Mindolo with the Church of Barotseland and Methodist Missionary Society entering the then United Church of Central Africa in Rhodesia.


Deaconess Mabel Sichali together with 4 representatives from the Boys Brigade, Girls Brigade, Men’s Christian Fellowship and Women’s Christian Fellowship, as a sign of commitment to the proclamation of the Gospel for the next 50 years presented a Banner, a light and a Bible to the Synod Bishop and General Secretary. The Copperbelt Presbytery Bishop, then offered a Prayer of Thanksgiving.


The Call to Worship came from Isaiah 43:18-19, Nehemiah 1:18 and Hebrews 6:10, Rev Jane Kaluba and Rev Dr R Chimfwembe read these verses. The opening hymn was ‘To God be the Glory.’ After this Rev Bishop C Nkonde gave a Prayer of Praise and Gratitude for our many blessings in this life. A time of musical ministry then followed; we enjoyed praise and worship songs from the voices of the WCF Copperbelt Choir and Mount Sinai. Then the Rev J Matembo led us all in the Prayer of Confession. The Administrative Secretary Mr Rodger Ng’ambi welcomed all the various parts of the Body and read the Intimations. Rev Bishop Martha Siame, splendidly attired as one of Mpezeni’s Ngoni Chiefs, and guarded by an Impi of similarly-clad Church Warriors offered the Prayer of Intercession before the General Secretary Rev Dr Peggy Mulambya Kabonde framed the UCZ Agenda for the next 50 years.


The main strategy would involve Missional Congregations with a strong ministry for children and young people. Economic justice and climate change were other areas to be addressed. However, the Church’s core-activity was evangelism, sharing the good news and affirming life and life in abundance for all. In all of this Worship and Discipleship were essential to a public and private life of obedience and devotion to God. To fund this by faith and be sustained, the Church needed to be self-sustaining, self-propagating and self-governing and to rely on the overflowing grace and peace beyond human understanding, that which the world cannot offer.


Rev Bishop Mwape Chomba then led an Affirmation of Unity with responses from the congregation. A Prayer of Thanks was then offered for the opportunity the occasion afforded for a deepened spirituality for us all. This was followed by three representatives from the youth, MCF and WCF declaring in a prayer with the congregation a renewal of commitment.


The offering was then received and the Offertory Prayer given by Rev Bishop Edward Musonda. The Old Testament Reading came from Jeremiah 7:1-7 and was read by Deaconess Zulu.


Mr Holland then spoke on behalf of the UCZ’s Partners in Mission. He was followed by the Synod Bishop Rev Mutale Mulumbwa who stressed the necessity of remaining united and spoke of the biblical mandate to pray for our leaders. He appealed for greater openness and opportunities for the Church and Government to meet and talk with each other.


The President appealed to the Church to help keep the peace and maintain national unity, living up to the motto of All one in Christ. He paid tribute to the Church’s role in providing moral in-put, ministering through health and education facilities nationwide and its contribution to the gallery of national heroes and heroines. Zambia was founded on the principles and values they acquired at Mission Schools


The Rev H Silishebo, after leading the Congregation in a moving rendition of ‘Tiyende Pamodzi’ thanked the President and First Lady for gracing this historic occasion, wished them every blessing and stated that the Church was ready to play its part when called to.


The Rev K Kondolo, the Rector from the UCZ University College read the second reading from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 10:25-27.


Mrs Esther Lungu, the First Lady, read the third lesson which came from John’s Gospel 10:7-10. These verses include the UCZ’s Theme for 2016, “Christ lead us to fullness of life” Here the Good Shepherd asks his flock to contrast the life he offers with that offered by the thieves and robbers.



The Rev Benson Chongo was supported and encouraged before preaching by the congregation singing and dancing him into the pulpit. In his sermon he called for the  Government to address the people’s social and economic concerns and the Church would pray for the Government in this in all of its arms.


Rev L Chibuye then gave a Prayer of Dedicatiom to a Life of Perfection and Service.


The Service quietly moved into Holy Communion where the celebrant was Rev Chrispin Mbalazi. Teams of Ministers and Elders then distributed the bread and wine to the Communicants seated in the stands.


The winning ticket was drawn by the Republican President who graciously handed the Mini-bus prize to the UCZ University College. It was gratefully received by the Rev Kondolo on behalf of the College


The Closing Hymn was: The Church’s One Foundation, and Rev Bishop Patrice Siyemeto gave the Benediction and thereafter the Synod Bishop dissolved the Assembly.


A late buffet lunch was arranged at the Edinburgh Hotel for the Guests of Honour and other invited guests. As she was leaving the first Lady who had visited Mwandi last year greeted Ida and asked about the trafficked children we had been looking after, she had met them on her visit to the Mission. We then left Kitwe and set off back to Lusaka in the Synod bus, arriving both safe and well tired and elated around 2330h.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


In Mwandi District of those holding senior positions of responsibility, only the District Commissioner, the District Education Secretary, the Deputy Commander of the local Police and the Hospital Administrator are woman. The Barotse Royal Establishment’s Mwandi Kuta has three women Manduna amongst the 16 members.

In the recently published Mwandi Chiefdom Strategic Development Plan the following gender considerations were raised:

·         Do girls get equal schooling opportunities?

·         Do women have equal access to microfinance, agricultural in-puts, marketing and value-addition opportunities?

·         How can women be more meaningfully involved in political discourse so their needs and issues are taken into account?

·         How can female-headed households be made more food-secure, educate their children and remain economically stable?

Regarding schooling opportunities, I have taken these ‘snapshot’ statistics from local schools and suspect that similar figures would be found at any other similar schools anywhere in Zambia.


MALE            19         83%
FEMALE        4          17%
TOTAL         23


MALE           9           26%  
FEMALE     25          74%
TOTAL        34

Interestingly while Secondary staffing is overwhelmingly male, in Primary it is female.


  BOYS       229           61%
 GIRLS       144           39%
TOTAL       373


BOYS           707         49%
GIRLS          728         51%
TOTAL       1435

This looks promising as parity between boys and girls is reached. This seems to suggest that strategies against early marriage and school-girl pregnancies at this level seem to be working. This is despite the high poverty levels which have in the past led to high drop-out rates here


BOYS                      GIRLS
50%                          50%
51%                          49%
45%                          55%
60%                          40%
73%                          27%
75%                          25%

The Grade 7 figures pretty much reflect the ratio of boy to girl births, but there is significant girl-child attrition in Senior Secondary especially between Grades 9 and 10 and G10 and G11 From parity in G7 the number of girls in education is halved by Grade 12. This is an obvious area for research and attention.

Related to this and other gender concerns, World Renew is undertaking a gender analysis through its Southern Africa Ministry Team to assess gender dynamics and relations in households across Zambia Malawi Mozambique and in the communities and local organisations with which they work.  Its purpose to ensure that development programmes takes account of gender and other socio-economic factors so that all members of the community participate and benefit equally. The Church recognises that gender equality and women’s empowerment are necessary components for the success of any development programme concerned with Church, Community, Livelihood, Food-Security, Education or Health.

If we raise our eyes higher an interesting table was published in an insert called Gender Focus of December 2015, distributed recently by The Post newspaper. It was from a Gender Audit carried out in Zambia and published in July last year. It dealt with women in Decision-Making Positions in Government. This was the Cabinet:

No            %
No             %     
Position Holders
0                0
1             100
0                0
1             100
Cabinet Ministers
4               20
16             80
Deputy Cabinet Ministers
5                13
22              87     
7                17
35              83
Provincial Ministers
1               10
9                90
Directors Line Ministries
23             23
77              77
Deputy Directors
13             18
58              82
11              31
24              69


The political parties have all paid lip-service to increasing the number of women they will field to contest Constituency and Local Council seats in this year’s tripartite elections. President Edgar Lungu has said that he wanted to see at least 40 per cent of party positions held by women, arising from the Party Elections ahead of the August 11 National Elections. This was during the swearing-in ceremony of six male officials, deployed to various wings of Government.
This is not something peculiar to Zambia, a few countries such as Canada and Scotland have achieved gender parity in their Cabinets. In the Canadian Cabinet of 31 there are 16 men and 15 women and in the Scottish Cabinet of 10, 5 are men and 5 women. The European Country with the highest number of women in the cabinet is Sweden with 56.5%. Greece is the lowest with a cabinet that is only 5.3% female. Another poor performer is the British Government at 7th from the bottom with 12.5% of the UK Cabinet being female. Work still needs to be done everywhere to bring greater gender balance to Cabinet Committees and public and private boards so that the gender imbalance is addressed at least in public life.