By Namakando Nalikando Sinyama, B.Sc Forestry,BAHRM
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"The sweetest Freedom you will ever enjoy is one that you give yourself to Think, communicate and in turn, live as you please in your environment for its sustenance."- Namakando Nalikando Sinyama
I had some measure of difficulty heading this article as I tirelessly sought to aptly title it so as to attract significant readership. The above title I assumed would be catchy enough Considering the current levels of political euphoria in the country. I do therefore most sincerely apologize if I, purposefully of course, mislead you. It is just that the Zambian public is so apathetically indifferent towards matters of greater importance like the state of our living environment that if the word environment appeared in the heading, your eyes would have just hovered over this article without so much as a blink.
It has always been said that the city of Kitwe is not one of the best planned in the world. This is evident in that there is little or no significant stretches of undeveloped land or as I would say in the Latin Terra firma available for development in the Central Business District. What ever became of the suggestions of expanding the city across the Kafue River? Thwarted by bureaucratic inertia I’d bet! When the local government finally had a rare and to be honest, long overdue stimulus for real city infra-structure improvement they had to pick on the one place that made Kitwe worth living in for the few of us with ‘green hearts’. No need to fret, earth is safe, we’re not under invasion I’m no Martian. To be ‘Green’ means environmental consciousness.
The city truly needs greater amounts of investment in infrastructure development only this has to be real. You know, not the kind where an old derelict building is bought off then hastily followed by superficial painting or makeover job done on it. Certainly not the type I’ve noticed going on. This is spurred and augmented by corporate greed, municipal expediency and almost shocking levels of public environmental numbness. It is usually done at the expense of preserving sites with rich flora and fauna bio-diversity that should serve as a plethora of information for posterity. For a town to deserve city status, it should have such imposing and captivatingly distinctive structures like a cathedral (it does not have to be Gothic you know!) and a nature park at the very least. These to me are marks of a people steeped in rich tradition worthy of envy.
There are currently some arguments for and against the destruction of The freedom Park and the former Zoo sites that has trigger heated debates and attracted an exchange of a flurry of not so polite unprintable epithets. The question that may arise is, where are the so-called intellectual elite of the city as this debate rages on albeit only deep in the chambers of the hearts of the residents of Kitwe? A common argument for the destruction of the two sites is to replace them with an ultra modern ‘concrete jungle’ where employment could be created. When the places are left undeveloped they’ve only attracted hordes of deranged denizens who only help raise the crime and nitrate levels in Kitwe as they lose full control of elasticity of the anal and urinary sphincter muscles and go about randomly depositing bodily waste in the city especially in the park.
In retrospect, it should be realized that these people retreat to the park because they’ve had to suffer the misfortune of bearing the brunt of the country’s economic malaise. They turn to natural settings for solace, as you’d find them with sheer abandon peacefully strewn under a tree or on the grass. Only, this is done during the most awkward hours of the day like mid-day, so as to take refuge from the rain that sometimes pours down with biblical fury in these parts.
As to what extent this behaviour is a rare form of human momentary hibernation, so that when Day gives way to Night they turn nocturnal (active at night) is not for me to say. The question this school of thought would do well to ask itself is, ‘where would these, hobos, tramps, vagabonds or call them what you may, who to me are just unfortunates, be without the park? Right in your backyard raking havoc, on your door steps soliciting for crumbs and pinching your caboodle. So how about that for a pacifying effect of a beautifully well maintained park! So how’s the freedom lost then you ask?
Well, replace the park and the zoo sites with a multi-million dollar state of the art shopping facility and a high cost residential complex respectively, then these places would technically be out of bounds or out of reach, out of sight for the country’s poor majority. These two investment options in case people do not yet realize are fertile grounds for “ ZAMTROPPERS” to extend their claws of not so legitimate investment. This effectively defeats the very essence of The freedom that my forefathers fought for. Honestly, is it morally right if I’m going to be excluded from certain patches of ground in the country of my birth on account of my financial status? Where will political rallies be held now? In some isolated pocket of left over land in the corner! Look for once let’s be serious. Right now I’m having de’ja vu attacks of the sodding mess we made of privatizing some mines. “ The only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.”- Anonymous. Land is power without it life has no worth, pamberi achimurenga! (Ndebele or Shona for, ‘Forward with the Revolution’)
I really admire the almost naïve optimism of our city fathers who obviously envision Kitwe becoming an el dorado in the next couple of months. If what is happening to the mines and its effects on a town’s mono-economy is anything to go by, if these structures are put up, ‘Elephants will be White’ as I would say. A prophet of doom am I ? No, just being a realist that I am.
The park in its current state of utter neglect is more of an eyesore than anything. With a proper management plan, local government or private individuals with the financial muscle could take up this lucrative investment option. This done, maybe I’d land myself a decent job instead of languishing with a qualification. It is clear that volunteers, that is, environmentally conscious business houses, educational institutions and ordinary citizens would gladly come forward to contribute their labour and intellectual input on how to better manage the park.
We mustn’t so easily give away the only sites that for those who watch and appreciate nature contend that these are sites that help man hold on to their remaining ounces of sanity in this troubled world. In what ever we do we would do well to always remember, “Man is the only organism known that lives by destroying the environment indispensable to his survival. Parasites tend to do this but their destructive effectiveness is limited by the absence of intelligence. Man uses his brain to tear down. It s only rarely, geographically or historically that he has armed to stabilize or to rebuild and the more advanced he is, the more destructive he’s likely to become.” – From VOGT’S
“Road to Survival”.
It doesn’t matter if some contractual agreement has been entered into, or some shoddy Environmental Impact Assessment (E.I.A.) Has been haphazardly done or on-site development work has already started. All hope is not lost, we can still win our entire park back and not just the small piece of land that will be left over from the so-called job creating developmental project. Who ever said all development is measured in concrete form and glass structures? Always be wary of agreements you can’t get out of. It’ll take greater public resolve, sensitization and greater levels of esprit de corps to achieve this task of almost Herculean proportion.
Lastly, I would like to share this thought, “ Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps. Since he is the only one struck by the dramatic difference between the way things are and how they ought to be.” – HAZLITT, 19 th Century writer.
By using scientific knowledge and ecological wisdom we can manage earth.
Let us humanize earth.
Namakando Nalikando Sinyama
Barotseland, Central Africa
“I tell you a truth, liberty is the best of all things, my son, never live under a slavish bond.” – Sir William Wallace’s Uncle