Magande’s memoirs: My parents sold eggs to raise my school fees

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Ng’andu Magande

Former Finance Minister Ng’andu Peter Magande in his memoirs writes:

“I continued to do well in class and this greatly pleased my family, who successfully struggled to have money ready for school fees each year. I recall many times when they sold not only the eggs but the chicken as well to raise the required amount. A few times, I remained at the school during the short holidays to do some piece work and earned a little pocket money. However, in Standard VI, I got a government scholarship for good performance.
The ANC and UNIP formed a coalition Government after the elections in 1962. Kaunda became Minister of Local Government and Social Welfare and Nkumbula was appointed Minister of Education. The firebrand Mungoni Liso, who was parliamentary secretary for education and a member of the ANC, visited our school during the year and gave a fiery speech, in which he assured us that political independence was on the way.
Mungoni Liso prodded us to concentrate on our studies so that we would become the competent manpower that would propel a politically independent Zambia to economic prosperity. He informed us that a Lazarus Cheelo from Mapangazya area had just completed his degree studies at the University of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in Salisbury (Harare), Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). We were most encouraged by this news of the success of a local boy, who’d graduated from a university.
The new coalition Government introduced a programme of interchanging students amongst the provinces and schools in order to foster national unity. At Chikankata, we received three ‘foreign’ boys, namely Wisdom Chanda, Isaac Mambwe, and Joseph Mwale from outside the province. The boys were subjected to heavy bullying and mocking, especially since they could not understand nor speak Tonga, the local language. I took a personal interest in trying to protect them as I was interested in the ciBemba language, which I had never heard before.
Joseph Mwale happened to be a son of Dr Siteke Gibson Mwale. At the time, little did I know that Joseph’s father’s path and mine would cross some forty-two years later. When Dr Mwale was appointed as Zambia’s representative to the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGKR) in 2005, I worked with him to operationalize his office and to establish the Regional Centre for Democracy and Good Governance, later renamed the Levy Mwanawasa Centre for Governance in Lusaka.
Many students came from various schools and denominations in the province. Amongst them was Rueben Kapaale, meaning the ‘smart one’, who came from the Namwianga Mission of the Church of Christ in Kalomo District. Geoffrey Hamayobe nicknamed the tall handsome boy ‘Tallman’. By his noticeable height of over two metres, he could have easily qualified for a position in any basketball team.
Kapaale turned out to be very knowledgeable of not only local political issues but also the American situation. This could have been because of the exposure by the American missionaries who were running the Namwianga Mission. He broke the sad news of the assassination of President Kennedy to the students during lunch, which we abandoned, as we openly wept. He literally recruited most of us into politics and we would be glued to the small radio placed in the dining room at news time. Although much older than me, I spent a lot of time with Kapaale discussing diverse issues.
In December 1963, we sat for examinations after only six months of learning in Form II because the new Government changed the school timetable to follow the Gregorian calendar. This being a final class at the time, there was a lot of apprehension and fear amongst the students on the possibility of failing in view of the shortened learning time. At the end of the school year, I won a prize of an English dictionary as the ‘Most Progressive Student in Form II’.
When I went home for holidays, I discussed the matter of my future plans with my parents. As they were unaware of the different professions or careers in the modern world, they could not give me any guidance on careers. I told them that I wanted to be a surveyor and the entry requirement for the course being Form V, I will have to leave Chikankata for some other senior secondary school out of Mazabuka District. They were agreeable to my future plans as I was a pioneer in the family and any career of my choice was welcome.
When I visited Chikankata Secondary School to check for the examination results, I was informed that because of my good scores, the results were referred to the provincial education office for redeployment. I waited for some weeks before word came through the teachers at Namaila School that I had been accepted at the Munali Secondary School in Lusaka. My family and teachers were overjoyed with my achievement and I became a celebrity in the whole of Namaila as Munali was a famous national school.
I went to Chikankata Secondary School to collect my acceptance papers. I was informed that Arthur Bbuku, Geoffrey Hamayobe, Sandford Mweemba, and Rueben Kapaale had also been accepted at Munali. I learnt that Irene Kaumba had done well and was accepted at the girls’ national Chipembi Secondary School in Chisamba, Central Province.
I was delighted that my close friends Arthur and Geoffrey had also made it to Munali and we’d continue to be together. I went to lodge at Geoffrey’s home for the weekend so that we could plan our first trip out of our homeland”, from my Memoirs.

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One Response to Magande’s memoirs: My parents sold eggs to raise my school fees

  1. Go on our greatest finance minister ever!!!!

    Mwansa P
    March 20, 2018 at 4:55 pm
    Reply

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