Woman Made me Love Zambia PART THREE

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Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Reuben Kamanga had life before he was Vice-President and life after he was Vice-President. Elijah Mudenda had life before he was Minister of Lands and Natural Resources and life after he was Minsister of Lands and Natural resources. Nalumino Mundia had life before he was Minister of Commerce and Industry and life after he was Minister of Commerce and Industry. There was life in Zambia before independence and life after independence. There is life before you are born and life after you are born. There is life before you went to boarding school and life after you went to boarding school. There is life before you discover Christ and life after you discover Christ. There is life before you eat and life after you eat. There is life before you own a car and life after you own a car. Most earth shaking for me,  was my life before I met Linda Jitanda at Sinjonjo Bar and I was experiencing life now after I met Linda Jitanda at Sinjonjo Bar.

Zambia Airways flight from Lusaka to Mongu.

As the outside of myself was calmly sitting in the Zambia Airways plane that was cruising at perhaps 10,000 meters (35,000 ft.) over Choma as we were flying from Livingstone to Lusaka, no one would have known that my mind and my body were in turmoil. The passengers were talking in low tones and the muzungu tourist passenger sitting next to me was busy reading the latest Zambia Airways in-flight magazine. I knew my life was never going to be the same again. My meeting Jitanda was a big before and after experience.

My emotions, thoughts, physical fantasies, vivid memories and troubling what ifs, and what could have beens with Linda Jitanda flooded and tormented my mind and body. I took out Linda’s short letter from my jacket and was reading it for the tenth time. I read each word and broken English sentences over and over again as I slowly shook my head and tears glazed my eyes. I turned my head away from the oblivious passenger so he did not see my tears and wiped them away with the back of my wrist. I opened my briefcase. I flipped my NAMBOARD note book that was full of  the just written field reports all the way to the very last blank page and I wrote:

I want to walk

With my lover, Jitanda

In the bright soft moonlight

Of Savannah Zambia

Distant fading drums

Of the Vimbuza Dance

Walking to her village

At Chintele

We cross the

Denkhule creek

The cold water chills

Our bare feet

The sweet smell of

Fresh water softly lapping

Over ledges and rocks

Crickets’ sounds fill

The evening moonlit night

Jitanda bright night star

Gently leans

Her forehead

On my shoulder

Sweet intoxicating

Scent of her hair

Why is love so painful?

Why do good things

Good moments

Come to an end?

I tore the page out of the note book. Folded the poem and put it together in my jacket pocket with Linda Jitanda’s letter muttering to myself under my breath: “my darling Linda and I were now together.” That’s when I got scared as it suddenly dawned on me that my new wild love of Linda Jitanda was in danger of turning me into a Chainama case. I had to snap out of it and at least get some grip of myself. I had had girl friends in my life although nothing near to Linda. I had terribly  bounced from so many good looking girls in my young man’s life when I tried to advance on them. But right at that moment I had a life and the real world to live in.

What would happen if I arrived home to my uncle Tenson and aunt Nya Zghambo’s in Northmead and I was a love sick puppy and total basket case? And all because I was madly in love with a girl I only met twice while  in Mongu? How was I going to handle the Tumbuka Zambian traditional custom of malonje that evening as a man and an adult; an elaborate greeting custom in which the guest systematically describes the purpose of their journey and the host describes the state of life in their family? I couldn’t just blurt out casually to my uncle and aunt: “I met this beautiful woman in Mongu. I am in love with her!” That would be committing munthondwe; an act that is unthinkable or breaks a traditional  taboo in unimaginable way. After all I regard and addressed my uncle as “adada” and my aunt as “amama”; father and mother according to custom.

As the plane slowly descended to land at the Lusaka International Airport, I also knew I had to report next day to work and meet both Mrs Robinson the Chief Training Officer who was my immediate Supervisor. I also had to see the Head of the NAMBOARD Personnel Division. Of course I could not dare share with them any of my deeply personal experiences in Mongu. But just may be, my heart missed a heart beat with joy at the thought, by one of those most rare miracles, could  I talk my NAMBOARD bosses into transferring me to Mwinilunga to the NorthWestern Province? May be then I could find Jitanda just in time before she married the wretched man she did not love and did not want to marry. Oh! How that could be like dying and going to heaven. I also had to start compiling and writing my NAMBOARD field report that was due that Friday.

I had to talk after work to some of my drinking friends like Wilfred Nyirenda and Latif Thorncroft, who was a colored, for their advice about how best to solve my love crisis. Who else could I talk to of the several drinking friends? Could I think of any relatives in Lusaka that I could talk to? I couldn’t talk to my uncle and aunt. But may be the next weekend I could go and visit amama a Nya Lundu who lived in Kanyama compound. She was a woman from my home village who was related to me through my mother and was slightly older than my mother. She could perhaps give me as a confused young man some wise advice about women and love.

I had to keep my precious Linda Jitanda love letter my deepest little secret but I was mulling about doing something special with both the letter and my heart felt poem the next day at my office.

As I carefully descended walking down the small shaky stairs of the plane, my heart jumped with such joy that I even broke my first smile as the thought suddenly flashed in my mind that I could listen to ChiKaonde  on my small  short wave radio that I have always listened to all my life. This would be on the Home Service of Zambia Broadcasting Services on the radio dial. Why didn’t I think of it! I could at least listen to ChiKaonde; that way my heart would somehow be closer to the precious heart of my Linda Jitanda.