Storytime Under The Mposa Mabwe: WinterABC2022 Stories Of Home

So I decided to take part in this year’s WinterABC Storytelling Festival organised by afrobloggers. This is my first experiment with blogging events and festivals. This will either turn out right or make you go like, “riigght”.

This story is a mixture of fictition and facts as recorded on the kitweonline. The story happens in my home town of Kitwe, Zambia.

The M’posa Mabwe

A familiar song caught my attention. I raised my eyes from my phone and saw an old man under a statue, singing with street kids. A crowd that included street vendors (hawkers) gathered and demanded that the man tells them the story behind the M’posa Mabwe. It was at this point that I realized the statue was actually called “Mposa Mabwe” which means “Stone thrower”.

At the end of the song, the old man smiled at the statue and begun talking.

There was a time in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) when white rulers treated us, the owners of the land, like we were nothing. They came up with laws that prohibited us from mixing with white people. We could not go to the same schools. The business area we call second class today was where black people did their shopping. Our jobs were different from those of whites because they were supposed to be our masters. The only jobs for us were being maids, cooks, labourers, and other less dignified duties.

At this point someone from the crowd asked if they ever organised themselves to fight back. The man continued with the story…

The general leadership of the liberation movement was also busy mobilizing support to fight racist laws and practices like carrying of an ID by Africans, and marriage IDs by anyone above 18 years of age. They told us of the civil disobedience and vandalism plan to be carried out by local youths. Top leadership of the liberation movement was to mount pressure through negotiation meetings. These meetings needed resources that were contributed by those Africans who earned salaries. If these failed, domestic workers would be required to poison white people through food. Guerrilla warfare was also on the table.

A day came when our leaders called for energetic youths to have lunch with. The venue for lunch was Regent Cafe (now Chermophar Chemist), a ‘whites only’ eating place. This shocked and annoyed white guests who called the police on unarmed africans. The police came fully armed, ready to harm and arrest. We came armed with bags of stones and a strong will to cause damage and havoc. We fought running battles with the police until they retreated to their station.

This guy you call Mposa Mabwe symbolises the courage exhibited by youths like you in freeing our people. He is facing west because that is the direction of the station where the police retreated. His uncuffed right hand represents the victory of the youth while showing a defeated police force who failed to complete arrests. A stone in each hand shows the only weapon we had against a well funded and armed police force. Our hands, energy and stones are all we had to offer towards the fight for freedom. The song we just sung is not just a Boy Scout song. It is a painful song we used to sing to our mothers when going out on national duty.

The man went back to singing that familiar Scout’s song as he waved goodbye to the crowd.

Shalapo mayo naya mukufwa (Farewell my other. I have gone to die)

Kunkondo kunkondo takuya ‘babwela (None comes back alive from war)

Nshishibe nshishibe nga nkabwelako (I do not know if i will come back alive)

I remained thinking about the genius of the liberation leadership who organised people of different abilities (maids, labourers, garden boys and school going children) to work for the common good. Various occupations that would have meant nothing to the struggle, if they stood alone, found value in working as a team. Talk of teamwork and leadership.

A stone in each hand shows the only weapon we had against a well funded and armed police force

unknown freedom fighter

No matter how insignificant you think you are, use whatever you have to fight a good fight. A school drop out can still use the little knowledge gained to push them ahead in life. What is that in your hands? Find a way to use it.

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