Part 2 – Publishing in Zambia – a Cornerstone to our future development and historical relevance




                                                             Taking Big Shots

(Lux, Eruditio, Gloria)



                                                                         Part 2

Publishing in Zambia – a Cornerstone to our future development and historical relevance

I must hasten to state that as a blogger, my objective is to bring about discourse on matters that are of interest to me and relevant to our Zambian context, therefore I do not suffer the weighty requirements of professional journalism.

Publishing in Zambia

In the 1995 book Authored by H. Mwacalimba and Christine Kanyengo titled; Zambian Books in Print and ISBN Publisher’s Directory (there have been further editions since then) they have endeavored to highlight the challenges that have beset our publishing industry compared to countries in the region such as Zimbabwe, suffice to say, it is a must have for anyone interested in Zambian published books. In my own reflections I do not know of any Zambian story books (I stand to be corrected) that are read in other countries as part of secondary school literature supplement books/African writer’s series the way we have ‘all’ read Chinua Achebe. Even a little Google search revealed that in Ali Mazrui’s; Africa’s Greatest Books of the 20th Century you will find Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Congo being mentioned under creative and Non Creative books, but no Zambian books have appeared. We have a lot of work to do as far as publishing and developing a culture of reading and writing books (our own books) is concerned.

Tipu Tipu meets Henry Morton Stanley

Not to include my anecdotal experiences in this very important write-up but I must state that one of the most prolific African history writers, in my limited exposure, is Martin Meredith (a bit oxymoronic seeing that I am championing ‘black panther’ writing and reading development, nevertheless…) In the book; Africa a 5,000 year history Martin Meredith cites an encounter between Tipu Tipu and Henry Morton Stanley that is very poignant as far as the importance of books are concerned, he said to Stanley:

You Wazungu are desirous to throw away your lives looking for rivers and lakes and mountains spending your lives for no reason and purpose instead of ivory and other valuables, look at the old man (David Livingstone)! What did he seek year after year until he became so old that he could not travel? He had no money, for he never gave us anything he bought no ivory no slaves yet he travelled further than any of us, and for what?

Well I hope Tipu Tipu got to learnt that, not long after the death of David Livingstone, the publishing of his diaries, books, by Morton Stanley and others, is what mainly contributed to the scramble for Africa were even King Leopold of Congo curved out for himself ‘the most precious piece of real estate’ in all the earth, present day Congo DR.

Of course the above narrative feeds into the typical insults that have been thrown at us as Africans, as far as books are concerned:

“If you have to hide something from an African put it in a book”

I would follow to say that if we have to continue lagging behind as a people (Zambia/Africa) let us keep reading other people’s stories, experiences and overlook our writers and thinkers.

Traditional Publishing

There is a difference between traditional publishing and social media publishing such as the one I am engaged in with this writing, through avenues such as blogger, word press or face book.

It is my argument that for our future development as a country and eternal relevance as a people we must encourage this form of traditional publishing as stated in part 1 of this article (even as we use blogging as a academies for harnessing writing talent) and make deliberate effort by Government of Zambia (Boma iyanganepo) to structure policies that encourage and reward authorship. This also highlights the difference between publishing and printing, I can jot down a bunch of unverified and poorly constructed material and pay a printing press to issue them out, for me that is what I term as printing, and  in our Zambia context I very much want to avoid use of  the word self publishing, as it is my view that this terminology is befitting a seasoned writer who may have gone through some process of review in the traditional context and for monetary or other reason decides to ‘feed’ their already established audience by doing an independent publishing and were all the rights and rewards accrue to them.





Intellectual Shilili

Shilili in our Zambian local language Bemba means tranquility or quietness and in this construction intellectual Shilili means the vacuum and lack of authorship by our Zambian educational elites to write books in the field of specialty or share the experiences in their professional lives. This leaves the many fields in our country difficult to be documented and followed for their development be it banking, football, business and other areas of professional authorship.  Is it not a wonder that even when there has been no other African soccer player south of the equator who has won African Footballer of the year award except Kalusha Bwalya’s 1988 performance, there has not been a sports writer or writer period who has sat him down and the few surviving KK 11 members and written a book targeted for the African and even global soccer audience (corrections are welcome). It is my understanding that the fancy letters   PhD   after an individual’s name stand for Doctor of Philosophy meaning a creator of new disciplines or knowledge. Where is the originality of thought from the last dissertation that you wrote for acquiring your PhD Kanabesa (eminent one)… Hmmm? This has left the Zambian publishing scene, public intellectualism to be engaged by un-intellectual individuals. Every chola boy with an accent can put up an intellectual symposium (disappointingly I attended my first ted talk were most of the people were sharing their Day Job experiences, the CSO workshop types, run of the mill corporate trappings braggadocios etc). For someone to befit sharing the story of their life, knowledge or experiences they should talk from originality of thought or should have unique ideas or national impacting experience such as a university lecturer or former bank governor talking on the economy or a high ranking bureaucrat or successful entrepreneur, to mention but a few, in light of that ted talk I attended,  there were quite a few who met the above criteria of what I believe to be the essence of ted talk franchise other than that I would urge anyone to have the decency of respecting the audience they are standing in front of and share only  carefully constructed ideas( of which I am emphasizing that there were a few), to come and share the story of your life and you are not any of the type of the people mentioned above only shows the level of celebrity we have in Zambia.

Black Panther a hullabaloo about nothing

I must hassen to say that the heading above is a bit too strong seeing that I am equally one of the people who had been looking forward to see the first all black superhero movie and I have seen it, a great movie. However my point is that even in the celebration of our own superhero movie, did they have to be owned and written* by Bazungu batu (our white masters) like much of our own history? In any case this is just a random thought by a mere blogger. In light of Black Panther Movie I want to give kudos to two Zambians; Kapasa Musonda and Patrick Shumba Mukutwa* our own super heroes.

The age of Motivational & religious salesmanship

Due to the intellectual vacuum left in our Zambian publishing  space by abama somo (the intellectuals) the space has been encroached by un-intellectually stimulating publications most of them self publishing’s or printings as I have tried to argue above i.e. without any professional reviewer -ships. The culprits have been the religious and motivational sector, some have had genuine and well meaning thoughts to do these works, it’s just that when you imagine the random thoughts that pass in our minds to be genius and rush to print without an independent examination or review, you end up producing information that is run of the mil (…I couldn’t help but use the term for the 2nd and I promise last time). Not to be too harsh, but some are the snake oil or is it anointing oil type of salesman-ship. A seasoned business Man or journalist, a seasoned politician like AB Chikwanda, and such can lecture to us Zambians on the thrills and challenges of Zambian politics or business. A seasoned preacher in the charismatic faith with many years under their belt, can lecture to us on the challenges and trappings of the cloth, so that the ones going in, should not be deluded that charismatic ministry is all about naming it and claiming it. In light of the foregoing; ‘RIP’ to one seasoned evangelist Billy Graham (1918 – 2018) who had given 80 years to the Christian Faith.


Post Script

  1. *I am aware that one of the script writers is African American
  2. *In light of Zed twitter trolls that have been on Patrick Shumba (strictly concerning the issue of his minute role in the Wakanda movie) I would like to opine that we should learn to celebrate even the little efforts that our own Zambians have done or are doing buche buche na fulunyemba alafika (translated to mean: slowly slowly even a snail/tortoise/ reaches its destination.)
  3. I would like to point out that this write up has delayed in publishing and was in draft stage for a couple of months hence the untimely reference to issues about Wakanda and Billy Graham( I seek your indulgence) .