My SPECTACLES part 6
By Miles B. Sampa
So last week I ended reminiscing my first encounter with then Mr Michael Sata. I was only 8. He came to my father’s funeral in Matero. He and my mother were relatives that great treked from Mpika to Lusaka City (Kukalale) looking for good living that at the time was measured by easy access to Fanta, polony, biscuits and milk.
The cause of my dad’s death is a topic for another day but needless to say that it was some traumatic ordeal for me and the family. I will detail my dad’s death in my life history Book if I decide to write one.
Mr Sata took me and my brother Peter away from the funeral house to his home for comfort until the burial day.
I was mesmerized with his Upstairs House in Seval road of Kabulonga. Other than via escalators at Mwaiseni store in town, my first time to be in a double storey home.
As I have now come to learn, Seval road in Kabulonga was and still is for the “Who is Who” of the Capital City.
Then Mr Sata’s neighbours included a Mr Rupiah Banda (later to become President). Along the way the road around 2004 housed late President Frederick Titus Chiluba (FTJ) and about same period Opposition Leader Hakainde Hichilema lived and had a house there.
“Retired” opposition leader Elias Chipimo lives along Seval road last I visited him a few years ago. Todate, our founding Father KK’s official office is in Seval road.
I must recommend Seval road to be recognised by the Genius Book of records.
Back to my first drive on Seval road to Mr Sata’s house. We found
peer cousins Mulenga and Zina (late) were not there as they were abroad for school. Chilufya (late) and Kazimu were there but toddlers to hang out with.
That night however, I did not sleep as was scared of both the bedroom height and this bedroom gadget in the wall that kept making some scary sounds like a gun. I asked and later told that it is called Aircon-lol.
Todate; one of my dreams is to build an ‘Upstairs’ house. Pakafye, in memory of that night episode at ba Sata’s house in Kabulonga.
Three days later on burial date for my father, Mr Sata drove with us from his house to then Ambassoder funeral parlour in town on Chachacha road next to then Town centre market.
Mr Sata paid all the expensive funeral costs for a funeral out of Matero. A black Maria Belmont carried my dad’s expensive casket for church service at St Ignatius Catholic church.
The convoy then proceeded to Leopards Hill cemetary which is now commonly referred to as Old Leopards Hill to differentiate it’s entrance to that of the now New Leopards Hill further down Leopards Hill road.
The sad part here is that as we were all relatively young 9 children and also because of cost issues from Matero to Leopards Hills, none of us took time to visit or ensure a tombstone was installed at the grave of our dad.
Boom; his grave inside Leopards Hill is lost and we can’t trace it. LCC records show dates and grave number but after several rain seasons or petty thieves, the metal tag with the recorded number cannot be located. My old mother tells of remembering it was near such and such a tree. Lol; the cemetary has thousands of big similar trees. I or We have tried several times over the years to locate it but to no avail.
I wish I could go visit his grave and tell him that it’s now my paid up job to ensure that he and others resting there have their graves well secured from vandals and other illicity activities. I would have told him that I am currently undertaking a DIY project to ensure the cemetary has both a wall fence and entrance gates for the first-time ever.
I would hardly get to see Mr Sata thereafter but he paid most of my school fees from primary to University.
After our bred winner father died we became very poor and struggled with only our mother selling mostly rape and tomatoes in Matero market to fend for 9 children.
I can remember walking in dust roads to Matero primary school bare foot as mom had no money to buy me shoes. Worse off, the safari khaki school uniform of shorts and short sleeved shirt has a mandatory red tie attached to it. The uniform short used to double as a jersey for after school time football with neighborhood peeps. So I would normally be in the skins team (shorts only with no tops) and the other team would have tops to differentiate teams. The ball was makeshift made out of used plastic bag (chimpombwa). As a result of over use, my school uniform short ended up with 2 holes behind (magamba).
Imagine the school uniform outfit on me with magambas, dirty bare feet and a red tie on. Lol. I hate ties since and only wear them when have to.
In 1990 I had been awarded a Government scholarship to go study Civil Engineering in the city of Kiev in then USSR (later split in to Russia, Eukraine and others).
I was in the USSR province of Eukraine for 3 months but sooner heard that my grade 12 results were good enough and I had been accepted at the University of Zambia (UNZA). I sold all my clothes to my lecturer ( a Mr Kleb), quit school and bought a plane ticket back to Zambia. Everyone thought I was crazy to do that but posterity like it always does, proved me right in my actions.
Anyways UNZA demanded 20% self fees payment before enrolling.
I remember going to Farmers house several times to seek the almost K5000 equivalent UNZA entrance fees from Mr Sata. He kept telling me to come next day and next day next day again. This I seem to have caught on early and I hardly say No to financial or other requests but keep saying ” come tomorrow” with hope tomorrow will be better on my pockets.
One day I appeared and sat as he wrote a Cheque to UNZA. He took out his fountain pen and started writing but before he could sign, he posed and looked at me above his big glasses. “…but why did you decide to come back from Moscow…” lol.
“Sir; I think UNZA is better than Moscow universities”. He signed the cheque and off I went to begin my UNZA life.
Little did he know that with that signature on a cheque, he had set me free on a path for poverty liberation. We both did not know that one day many years later I would be back in that same office and across the same desk, handing over cash from my salary to him on several occasions as gratitude for his generosity to me, my siblings and my mother.
I was raised to always show gratitude to someone that has done good to me. I feel guilty when I don’t.
This is far contrary to the modern millenial tuma bookface nephews. They hardly pronounce ” Thank you”. I had a one I helped after his father died when he was also very young. He used to live in my house and would help him with school fees and upkeep. Later years he finished school and started working. He asked and I agreed to “sell” him my broken down open van at a token price.
He got it fixed and was back on the road.
During my Mayoral campaign, I asked to borrow and use it for my campaigns. I was to meet all operation costs.
Guess what..the guy said No to my request.
I also remember that when Council Police would come evict us out of then Matero council house for non payment of rentals, my mom would rush to Mr Sata’s office at Farmers house for timely SOS. We would normally be back in the house by night time same day.
To be continued next week…