Frustrations of an African Author: The case of Zambia

Filed under: Special Comments |

Dear Editor,

This is my public complaint against the Zambian mindset towards its own brand, its authors. As you may be aware, I have written several books for Zambia. I have written on politics, law, poetry and history. My book, Zambia: Struggles of My People, in its first edition was 1,100 pages, and became the largest book ever published by one single Zambian author. But here are my frustrations, and I hope you will find it adequate and prudent in your heart to publish my article.

First, I struggled to find a publisher in Zambia. In 2011 when I undertook to publish this magnum opus, there was no local publisher who could undertake such a large project. The many publishers I approached could not publish a book with 1000 or more pages. With the help of Maiden Publishing House, a South African printer was outsourced to print the book. Dean of Law School at Zambian Open University, Dr. Munyonzwe Hamalengwa, and I managed financial aspect of this project. It was in thousands of dollars.

Second, the corruption of mainstream Zambian media. At the time of the launch of the book, the main newspapers in Zambia were The Post,Times of Zambia and Daily Mail. The Post, at the time, was under Fred Mmembe. I had visited Zambia in 2012 and conducted a three-hour interview for the coverage of the book in the Post. That interview was not published. I later learned that Mmembe did not allow it because part of the dedication of the book was to President Frederick Chiluba. (I had dedicated part of the book to Chiluba because of his role in the reintroduction of multiparty politics in Zambia; and also, because he had just passed away). There was no political motivation in my dedication. The Times of Zambia and Daily Mail did not even entertain the idea of covering the launch. Other not-so-famous media demanded to be paid large sums of money for them to cover.

Three, the disregard for local authors. One of the reasons I wrote such a large and comprehensive book for Zambia was because of my experience while at the University of Zambia (UNZA) in the mid-1990s. I was disappointed that the UNZA-library carried obsolete books written mostly by non-Zambians. This informed why the nation produced intellectuals devoid of any ideas for nation change or technological prowess or just a sheer analysis of historical factors that have made Africa and Zambia continue to be under colonial shackles, even after 50 years post-independence.

Fourth, the negligence of Zambian authors by the Zambian Ministry of General Education (MGE). As of 2017, I have revised Struggles of My People, and a new copy with its Test-Bank companion are on amazon.com. However, efforts to get it adopted in colleges and universities by MGE have been met with demand for bribes and unreasonable excuses. I have been told that recently, MGE recommended a book for Zambian syllabus with an unknown author. I cannot believe that our talents are being wasted and rejected when a person without a name is allowed to shape knowledge.

Fifth, the West see sense in our brains. Recently, one of my manuscripts on Landlord and Tenant Law has been accepted to be published for colleges in Canada. I keep wondering – why is it that the developed formations value our works but our own native governments and people neglect it. Surely, it is not for lack of trying as it is for the corruption, disregard and negligence by our own African governments and people. I almost decided not to write for Africa (Zambia) ever again. But this article is my attempt to get our governments and people rethink the waste this would entail.

 

Thank you.

Charles Mwewa

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