Pliny the Elder, a Roman statemen and scholar who lived from 23 to 79 AD is credit with the Latin saying, ex Africa semper aliquid novi, translated as Africa is always producing something new. Of course, for the ancient Greeks, and Latins, the saying was commonly used to refer to Africa’s wildfire which were unique to Africa and sparked the curiosity of Western biologists.
As time went on ex Africa semper aliquid novi took on a negative anthropological (even medical theories) meaning to denote “Africa is always producing something evil”. The phrase ‘out of Africa’ is everywhere and has been used to justify slavery, colonialism, apartheid and in modern time Africans on Africas political violence. The idea is that Blacks are not part of the same human species, and therefore explains why Blacks dehumanize each other and deserve to be treated worse than dogs.
That brings me to the current HH treason case and the sight of police dogs as though we are in Northern Rhodesia. I will be the first one to confess that, I never in my wildest dreams ever imagined that I would live to see the Zambian government use dogs on its own citizens (HH), considering just how yesterday during colonialism, Civil Rights movement in USA and apartheid in South Africa, dogs were used to instill fear in Blacks. There is no recorded history under the sun where any group of non-Black people have been treated worse than dogs. So why would the Zambia government use police dogs, when we all should know better that the imagery of police dogs is a relic from the shameful and painful era of all forms of Black liberation movements?
It is your right as a Zambian to disagree with me. Those of you in the police force may disagree with my position. You might even not find the use of police dogs on HH offensive. But history is on myside that police dogs, seems to me, to be the most effective symbol white racists under slavery, colonialism, and apartheid used to convince us to believe that we are more genetically aligned in behavior to dogs than human species that are non-Black.
I am not arguing about the merits of HH’s treason case. I leave that to legal scholars, human rights activists and all Zambians of goodwill to argue why HH’s treason case is any different than Kaunda and Chiluba’s. Nevertheless, I will say this, publicly denouncing or saying bad things about the president (African context) is bad political etiquette if it is coming from head of the opposition party like HH, but it is not treason, especially if a Christian nation like Zambia upholds freedom of religion, it should in my view honor the notion of freedom of speech. Zambia doesn’t persecute non-Christian believers, so why should they persecute anyone who chooses to publicly refuse to recognize the president if that’s what he/she believes in her/his conscience, as a form of political speech?
Possibly the use of police dogs was well intended by the police, even though I don’t see any justification for their use at HH’s treason court hearing. You can say the dogs were under control so it was lawful to have them there. HH is not a flight risk to be pursued or tracked by dogs. To my knowledge HH has been attending court proceedings from jail, and therefore, he couldn’t have been carrying any bombs needing police dog sniffing. It’s not like HH will one of these days get lost in the crowd needing to be identified by his Chimbokaela scent. And as far I know, HH’s supporters have been self-controlled and in no need for police dogs control. So, let’s try to be honest and stop pretending, we are credibly our own worst enemies. We go overseas dressed in suits and ties to make an impression to white people (United Nations), and yet we have failed to admit that how we treat each other politically largely stems from a heritage of negative abuse at the hands of white racists. The use of police dogs on HH is a clear indication that not even the notion of Christian nation or national prayers have been able to erase or heal the physical and emotional scars from the shameful and painful chapter of colonial Zambian political history.
The only thing wrong with the HH treason is not what he has been accused of. In my view, the only thing wrong with HH treason is that from Kaunda to present President Lungu, treason has been used to dehumanize Zambian opposition leaders straight from the colonial racists playbook. If we don’t believe in “Africa is always producing something evil”, and we deeply believe that Zambia is a civilized Christian nation, then you can’t charge HH with treason and use the same judicial system to deny him the exhaustive legal due process legally challenge the merits of the 2016 elections, if he so wishes. As far as I am concerned, allowing HH to present evidence in Zambia’s highest court of law, of what he claims to be election rigging, has nothing to do with casting doubt on the legitimacy of President Lungu’s election victory. Such treason or election rigging revelations would actually help strengthen the credibility of all three branches of government, after all they are supposed to be independent and check the powers of each other.
But suppose that, after a thoroughly credible investigation, the proof just isn’t there that HH committed treason or Lungu rigged the elections, would such outcomes be good for Zambia? I would think so, and that would prove to ourselves and the global world, that we are indeed free (independent) and healed from white racist colonial era practices, and that the use police dogs on opposition leaders has no place in modern day Zambian politics.
By: Mr. Cecil Nsambila Mbolela, is a native of Mufulira-Copper-Belt, currently based in the USA, a founding member of Zambia Institute of Transparency and Accountability (ZITA). ZITA is a Zambian Think Tank non-profit organization based in Canada-Zambia, whose mission is to promote public debate and awareness on issues of good governance, democracy and free and fair market economy in Zambia and Africa as whole. The author is a regular political and economic contributor to this organization. http://www.zitazambia.com