Zambia: a kind country in southern Africa. SJ Dodgson. MJoTA 2016 v10n1 p0402
When I first prepared this page, my Quaker friend Chris Roberts and South African leader Nelson Mandela were both alive, and I had recently returned from my first visit to South Africa, where I interviewed 20 good men imprisoned because of a net that was supposed to sweep up opposition to President Kabila of DR Congo. Nelson Mandela was ailing, and not expected to last long, which I hoped would cast light on the 20 men, detained in the same Pretoria jail as Nelson Mandela decades previously.
Chris Roberts was a Welsh civil engineer, who married a young New Jersey Quaker, and their 2 children were born in Zambia. He always said good things about the country, and his time there. That should have been a clue.
Chris Roberts died in Dec 2013, 2 days after Nelson Mandela, a day after posting a tweet calling for more civic engagement by women. This is a theme of the current government, and president, of Zambia. President Lungu called for 50% of elected politicians being women by 2030. I like that.
From the first minute I stepped onto Zambian soil, I was treated with kindness, and before too long, I realized that Zambia is by nature a kind country.
From 7 in the morning to 8 at night, I saw children in school uniform, schools do not have enough seats for children to all be in school at the same time, so classes are given in shifts. This seems to me a kind solution to a problem, and this gives children a chance at education.
Not every child goes to school in Zambia, for some, grinding poverty makes modest school fees completely out of reach; these children probably included the young boys I saw standing by the road with bodies of small animals on sticks, selling them as fresh meat to passersby.
During March 2016, I was the guest of the Greater Lakes Women Refugee Association of Zambia aka GWRAZ, an extraordinary group of women which started when Veronica, refugee from Burundi by way of Rwanda, Congo and Tanzania, was inspired by Nelson Mandela. She joined with 3 other women and they formed a company registered in Zambia in 2008 which is run without jealousy, without anger, without violence, without favoritism. The need for peaceful co-existence is deep in the DNA of these women, they have created a peaceful collective that looks to me, as a Quaker, to be a prototype Quaker community.
GWRAZ are kind women, all refugees from war, about half are widows, most left their homes with nothing other than their babies in their arms. Kind women in a kind country, whose main drive is to make sure that Zambia stays kind.
They have organized a peace seminar with 100 women coming together to ensure the national elections are peaceful this year, and every year.
I broke my leg to maintain peace in southern Africa click here