The 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. But 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.
Author: Zambia – Struggles of My People