Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Zambia: A Beacon of Democracy in Africa and the Death of Mama Betty K

When the revolution occurred in Zambia it was peaceful. No tribes fought against each other and none fought the British. And, last year, a peaceful change of power occurred when President Sata won election. Indeed, the former British colony of Rhodesia had grown the roots of democracy.

Each day has been very eventful as I am here at a time of events. Mama Betty Kaunda, wife of former president Kenneth Kaunda (KK) died last week. In her eighties she leaves a grieving nation and a physically drained husband who has been hospitalized while trying to take part in the decision of where the body will be interred, the capital or the home province.

After meetings I donned a wrappa (colorful material worn around the waist and long to the ground) and joined my new friends for the drive to the former president's retirement residence which over looks the savannah outside of Lukasa.

Zambians morn until the body is buried. I arrived to see several large temporary shelters set up to protect mourners from sun and rain.

I walked up very wide entry steps and signed the guest book. I removed my shoes and walked in to what looked like the living room with furniture removed. Mourning songs were being sung with perfect African harmony by women seated against the wall with legs straight out facing the room. I took my place on the floor. A woman sobbed in the corner, another woman nursed her baby. The music was something I didn't want to leave.

Outside again, a humble student group played a faster paced music. the drum and guitar were handmade. a shoe polish can was used as a fret on the base.

I met Mama K's fourth born son, a doctor. The press had followed me there by separate car. They listened as I offered condolences on behalf of myself and all Americans. We sat under the awning on a couch and talked for 10 minutes. I was then interviewed by the press. My attendance was reported on national television, ZNBC.

Taking pictures of this kind of experience is not something I feel comfortable doing. But, a friend did take a couple which, if discrete, I may post later.

The people will come through the night to pay respects. The next da
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Location:Lukasa, Zambia

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