Review of Zambia: The freedom struggle and the aftermath by Sophena Chisembele

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Chisembele_Zambia Book coverThe book is the personal story of one of Zambia’s greatest freedom fighters, Silvester Mwamba Chisembele, narrated through the tongue of his surviving wife, Sophena Chisembele from the United Kingdom.

Chisembele has penned, perhaps, one of most pertinent books on the political history of Zambia. The best catch-phrase for the work as a whole should appropriately be termed, “She was there before, during and after the reconstruction of the territory we now proudly call Zambia.” In this regard alone, Chisembele is a vetted pioneer of the creation of the nation of Zambia. Mr & Mrs S ChisembeleBut this book is not about her. It is not about the later Sylvester Mwamba Chisembele and his activism as one of the most formidable Zambian political freedom fighters. It is not about Zambia, either. It is about all and everything Zambian – its people, their political struggles and the present and future of the nation’s young democracy. It is a book for all of us – Zambians at home, abroad and all those with interest in the development of the Zambian political process.

I first became acquainted with the story of Sylvester Chisembele in Toronto, Canada through sheer inadvertency. Dickson Eyoh, a professor of African Studies at the University of Toronto had bequeathed a collection of papers and newspaper cuttings to Dr. Munyonzwe Hamalengwa, a prominent Zambian-Canadian lawyer and author. These materials became a significant part of my book, Zambia – Struggles of My People. But unlike my book which only gives a cursory view of Chisembele’s story, in Zambia – The freedom struggle and the aftermath, Chisembele, his surviving wife, gives us an holistic dissertation of the life and agitation that were lived and spent for the formation of the nation of Zambia. She is cogent, historically correct as well as poignant.

Like many inquisitive Zambian authors and thinkers, I have always bemoaned the lack of a finishing eulogy to the Zambian freedom saga. When I read this work, I immediately knew that, finally, the missing piece in the Zambian historical chess has been found. This book will make it clear that the story of Zambia is a celebration of men and women other than only Kenneth Kaunda, who have gone incognito. It is the narration of great sacrifices of men like Chisembele who gave all to the cause of freedom.

Yet, the story of Chisembele is one that transcends the assumption of self-rule by the Zambian government after 1964. In the context of Zambian celebrating its 50 years of independence, Chisembele’s book is a reminder that true independence is hard to acquire. In his life, Chisembele had continued to seek for true independence including when in the first decade of the 2000s he canvassed for reparatory compensation from the British Government against the atrocities he and others had suffered during the struggle for independence.  In this vein, too, Chisembele is an epitome of vigilance and conscience with regards to the future relationships between the former colonial masters and what has become of the territories they looted and impoverished, territories like Zambia.

I recommend  Zambia – The freedom struggle and the aftermath, to all, and especially to those wishing to understand and learn about neglected history of the Zambian people.

Charles Mwewa

Author: Zambia – Struggles of My People

Toronto, Canada


5 Responses to Review of Zambia: The freedom struggle and the aftermath by Sophena Chisembele

  1. I really need to more things like this. It’s a bit sad that not ALl our history is not taught in schools.
    Thanks for the recommendation

    July 4, 2016 at 12:17 am

  2. For me the best catch-phrase is where Chisembele says freedom struggle is about our political struggles and the present and future of Zambia’s young democracy. Indeed this is a book for all of us – Zambians at home, abroad and all those with interest in the development of the Zambian political process.
    This therefore means that in whatever you say and do, as we get closer to the elections in August, if you are a true patriotic Zambian, reflect on the tenets of democracy and what it stands for.

    Democracy means a government governed by the people. It also means a form of government in which the supreme power is within the people of the land. So to make things simpler, democracy means that the people within the states or country choose who will represent them in the higher courts and then they vote who will be their representatives.

    Dr Imasiku Liamunga
    July 4, 2016 at 4:53 am

  3. The problem I have with this kind of story is that it comes in fragmented form. if Zambia was known as Northern Rhodesia how was it changed to Zambia and why choose the name Zambia . How was the financing of the political movements up to the time of independence how about one Zambia one how was it coined. Isamu lyamoomba contribution to towards independence who were the main contributors? . Barotse agreement how did come into Zambian political matrix . slowly people who know the story better are doing and people want to share the glory they did not participate in. Is this not shameful.

    July 4, 2016 at 3:22 pm

  4. @Mwaba, all the answer to your questions are covered in my book, ZAMBIA: STRUGGLES OF MY PEOPLE. The book is available is every Bookworld stores in Zambia.Get yourself a copy.

    Charles M.
    July 4, 2016 at 5:21 pm

  5. I like this book. There is no last word on anything. Chisembele was a well known name among early generation nationalists. The book coming out now presents voices of many generations.

    Ackson M. Kanduza
    July 6, 2016 at 1:30 pm

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