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The lost Zambians in Senegal and Mali

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By Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba

Dakar-Tuesday, 14th January 2020

WHETHER you are visiting the African Renaissance Monument, Africa’s tallest statue, a 49 meter tall bronze statue located on top of one of the twin hills known as Collines des Mamelles, or you take a boat ride to Gorée, a tiny island and UNESCO Heritage site, off the coast of Dakar, known for its role in the 15th- to 19th-century Atlantic slave trade, you know you are in Senegal.

Senegal captivates as a thriving democratic state with a growing economy and a historical place in Africa.

Predominantly rural, and endowed with limited natural resources, the economy of Senegal gains most of its foreign exchange from the fishing industry, phosphates mines, agriculture, tourism, and services.

It is in this country where you find a rare story of Zambians, lost, forgotten and part of the Diaspora, like no other.

The tale started in the 1980s when young fortune hunters from Mali and Senegal West Africa, suddenly descended upon Kitwe on the Copperbelt.

Special deep green precious stones- Emeralds, were discovered aplenty near the Kafubu River, about 45 km Southwest of Kitwe, on the Copperbelt.

It’s unknown how such a discovery of these rare green stones attracted the young men from so distant countries such as Mali and Senegal.

But what was true was that, these green stones made these foreign young men, so rich, so quickly, that the sudden fortune acquired brought tales that attracted more and more youngmen from their countries who continued to flock to Kitwe in droves.

The green stones soon attracted diggers, speculators, buyers, smugglers, and they were was so well reputed worldwide, that they rivalled only Columbia’s quality emerald stones.

The story of “ama SeneSene” soon gripped the entire country.

Hated by Zambian men for grabbing all the beautiful women and for openly flaunting their newly acquired wealth from Zambia’s own grounds, but loved by some Zambian girls for the lavish display of this wealth and gifts showered on them, the story of Senegalese and Malians that had taken the social and disco life of the Copperbelt by storm, could not be ignored.

Identified by the purr of their Peugeot cars that made noise and signalled their arrival in the cities in the evenings, the Senegalese were in charge.

Government was slow to react but soon took measures and began to regulate the industry.

They started deporting these young men for anything from their illegal stay, to illegal sale of government trophy and by 1993, there were mass arrests and deportations of these young men back to Senegal and Mali.

But it was too late.

The Senegalese had become part of the fabric of our society.

Some were married to Zambians, some had children, others had long-standing relationships.

So the break up of families by the mass deportations brought consequences that has ended up in the tragic stories of Zambians now living and stuck in Senegal and Mali.

Senegalese treasure children as a matter of tradition and culture. So the many women that had married them were asked to join them back in Senegal and Mali.

There is a case of a plane that was sent as an emergency plane by Senegalese government to pick the men that were remanded in prison.

I was told that this group in some cases carried their family members even without travel documents.

This started the harrowing stories I heard when I met the leadership of the community of Zambians based in Dakar Senegal.

Some were stripped of their travel documents upon arrival, given new names and sent to live in the villages away from the Cities and towns.

Many found that the men they were married to, in almost all cases, actually had wives back home.

Imagine leaving behind the luxury life of Kitwe Riverside, or Ndola Kansenshi and finding yourself in a dusty rural village in Senegal or Mali, in a strange land, whose language you do not speak, whose traditions and culture are totally different from yours, and whose gods you do not worship!

Senegal is a sunni muslim, but non-arabic country.

French is the official language and Wolof, an indigenous and African language, is the most widely spoken language in the country followed by Mandinka and Jolof.

Imagine the emotional and social turmoil these women and their children found themselves in!

And there are recent cases of children who come to Senegal because of their passion and need to meet their fathers that were deported in the 80s or 90s.

They hope to meet and bond with their paternal family members but end up in a similar cycle, and a mere holiday visit turns to a horror story.

I felt their pain when they talked about the loneliness and isolation they suffered as the Senegalese men live and pursue a migrant life abroad.

So the wives and their children were dumped in villages and the men resumed the life of seeking fortunes elsewhere such as South Africa, Europe or United States!

One woman narrated how she only saw the husband for a few days in a period of twenty years!

I asked; “Would you like to come home?”

The answers were mixed and sad.

It’s a complex issue, connected to difficulties and challenges associated with marriage, children, lack of travel documents and suffering from the disconnection from Zambia.

I also was told of stories of children who returned back home in Zambia but have had difficulties in integrating in society as both authorities and the communities treat them as foreigners because of their language and cultural difference.

It’s been 25 -30 years since the mass deportations of this community.

The community however told me how they were elated when the First Lady, Mama Esther Lungu met them during her visit here in November 2018.

The Community also appreciated the role recently embarked upon by His Excellency Solomon Jere, Zambia’s High Commissioner to Nigeria and is accredited to Senegal.

Typical of the Zambian spirit that still sees hope amidst adversity, sees light in the darkest of places, soothing despite the pain, and cheerful despite the tears.

I struggled to understand, how a story started by fairy-tale love, love affairs born from riches and wealth dug from Zambia, threw away the promising lives of these beautiful ladies and their offspring, into desolate lands so far, far away from home.

Lifestyle

Three people die in road traffic accident along the Great East Road

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THREE people have died while others are battling for their lives in Nyimba district after a truck they were in failed in its uphill climb, veering of the road and overturning in the process.

The accident happened in Nyalungwe area, 70 kilometers from Nyimba town, on Great East Road and involved was a truck that was carrying fertilizer from Beria in Mozambique to Lusaka. The truck failed to ascend and rolled back before falling into a ditch.

Eastern Province Police Commissioner Lackson Sakala said yesterday that two female and a driver died on the spot.

“The truck belongs to Lift and Shift Trucking Zambia Limited of Lusaka and the accident happened 70 kilometers from Nyimba Boma,” he said.

Mr. Sakala who did disclose the names of the deceased, said the bodies were in Nyimba District Hospital mortuary while the two others passengers who were seriously injured, were admitted to the same hospital.

(Story : Times of Zambia, Picture by Tamara Nyirenda)

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Lifestyle

The Lion that escaped from Munda Wanga Captured

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AUTHORITIES have allegedly captured the Lion that escaped from Munda Wanga in Lusaka.

The lion was seen by various residents of Lilayi as it prawled the area.

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Lifestyle

Five passengers sustain injuries in a road traffic accident near ZNS Makeni along the Kafue Road, police say

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FIVE (05) passengers have sustained minor injuries while their driver escaped unhurt after a Toyota Gravia they were traveling on overturned near ZNS Makeni along the Kafue Road.

And Police Spokesperson Esther Katongo says contrary to what is circulating on social media that the vehicle flipped on a newly constructed Fly – over Bridge in Makeni, the accident near ZNS – Garrisons, away from the bridge, yesterday around 19:30 hours.

Katongo said the accident happened when driver of the Toyota Gravia registration ALR 965, Mulenga Mwape of Chilanga Parkland, lost control of the motor vehicle due to excessive speed and in the process went to hit into a traffic sign post and the motor vehicle later over turned.

Katongo said during the process of overturning, the vehicle subsequently hit into the flight liner motor vehicle registration number AEG 1154 which was being driven by Tapera Brian, a Zimbabwean national aged 36 years old.

And Katongo said the driver of the Toyota Gravia survived unhurt while five passengers sustained minor injuries.

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ZAMBIA: COVID-19 STATS

13 Aug 2020, 1:28 AM (GMT)

Zambia Stats

8,501 Total Cases
246 Deaths
7,233 Recovered

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