THE MAN ON THE ZAMBIAN FREEDOM STATUE WHO BROKE THE CHAINS

His name is Mpundu Mutembo born in 1936 in Mbala where he is still living .

The Political struggle National Youth Chairperson Zanco Mpundu Mutembo explains that he was arrested and handcuffed with chains which he broke in the presence of 18 soldiers armed with guns.

Mr. Mutembo narrates that he was ORDERED TO BREAK FREE FROM THE CHAINS OR BE INSTANTLY SHOT DEAD.

Shockingly, he broke the chains in full view of soldiers and photographers who took shots of what seem like magical power.

He dropped out of school after his father’s death and joined the political struggle led by Robert Makasa and Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe .

In 1957, having already made his impact in Northern Province, suffering imprisonment and beatings in the process, Mutembo, along with seven others were sent to Kenya where Dedan Kimathi was leading a rebellion against the colonial rulers. Their mission was to learn how to carry out their own rebellion back home.

Before Kaunda and others would speak, Mutembo would go on stage first to tell the crowds how bad the colonial government was hence the importance to fight for independence.

Early 1960s, Kaunda wrote a letter to the governor, Sir Arthur Benson, to protest against a clause in the constitution that gave Europeans an upper hand in the legislature. Mutembo took up the task to deliver the letter to Government House (now State House ).

On his way out, however, he was arrested and tortured. At about 15:00 hours that day, he was taken to Kaunda’s office in Chilenje where he was celebrated as a hero.

About 03:00 hours the following day, Mutembo was taken to Cairo Road where he climbed a tree with a megaphone to denounce the new constitution. At 06:00 hours, he started proclaiming his message, but was soon surrounded by police who threatened to shoot him if he did not get down. He was arrested.

Today, the tree still stands opposite the Main Post Office and later came to be known as “Zanco Tree “.

Mutembo appeared in court after having been involved in a political brawl in Matero . He had been badly beaten in the fight and lost two of his front teeth, a mark he still bears. When the judge asked him to demonstrate to the court how he had been beaten, the young freedom fighter walked across the courtroom from the witness box and, reaching where one of the prosecutors – a white man – was standing, and punched him in the face, giving him a bloody nose. His action was a blatant show of rebellion in the face of the colonial government. At the end of the trial, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison plus four lashes for punching the prosecutor. He was sent to Livingstone State Prison where he was held in chains.

At Force Headquarters, after being interviewed, he was taken to a room where 18 military officers stood with guns at ready. He was then handcuffed to a chain and ordered to break free or get shot. Shockingly, he pulled so hard and broke the chains in full view of soldiers and photographers who took photos of what seemed like magical power. It was from these photos that the Freedom Statue would be crafted by casting experts.

Mutembo was also given an official vehicle – a Land Rover station wagon – bearing the initials of his status “SNNRG” (symbol of the nation Northern Rhodesia Government) and a Union Jack.

A statue was made depicting the scenario when Mutembo broke the chains in 1963. On October 23, 1974, during the celebrations of the 10th Anniversary of Zambia’s independence, the Freedom Statue was unveiled and became a symbol of Zambia’s freedom from the British colonial regime, and has earned its place on some of the country’s most important articles, including its currency. The statue is a reminder of Zambia’s fight for freedom. It is displayed at the Government Complex along Independence Avenue in Lusaka.

 

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31 COMMENTS

  1. But what has been done 4 this great man. Tears run through my eyes as I remember how these fought only 2 be 4gotten. Another great woman was Julia Chikamoneka whose children and great grandchildren we the Zambian people Dont know. I hope this man is well looked after and not just sculptured.

  2. We are supposed to honour such great men not just in words.i propose one of the shopping malls ,hospital or university be named after him and the govt should take care of him.

  3. Agony is to fight for independence and only to sculptured like a curio when those who were never even born starting looting from your sweat. Honestly speaking this gallant soldier should have been on a comfortable pension scheme and a house built for him .

  4. These are the real heroes who are supposed to be in the news.These are people who sacrificed their lives for me and you .This man is a legend and as a token of gratitude let the government give him a K5000 per month as an allowance and let him tour the country so He can explain more to us his grand children who can never repay him.Thank you Sir .

  5. HIS NAME IS MUTEMBO. At the tym kaunda wrote a letter to the last British Governor, the man sacrificed to take that letter. Prio to that incident, Mutembo was arrested from cairo road where he hd made an announcement from the tree which is still standing near the post office. He was driven in a Rand rover together with the said Governor along king George road which is now called the Independence avenue to service headquarters where he stood in front of 18 firing squad pointing fire arms at him in readness to kill him if he failed to break the chain. But God is not a failure, he made the man to break the chain and he was freed. When he was asked by the Governor which name the new state would b called. He said zambia, a name which was born from the name Zambezia derived from the zambezi river , the name which Zambia was initially called .In 1963 the same Governor asked him which day he wanted the new state of Zambia to b declared an independent country. He said 24 th october. He was then flown to Mbala where he was given a pieceof land in the middle of the place which stood the last combat of the first world war . On 17 th october 1964, Mutembo was brought back to Lusaka and dinned with the Governor in readness for independence the following week. THAT MAN MUTEMBO whose father died when he and his twin brother were only 17 years of age.

  6. It’s like he was overshadowed by the late mpundu mutale the singer. But God was to his side when state dignitaries sidelined him in Independence commemorations. Mutembo is still alive. viva.

  7. Mpundu Mutale never overshadowed him. It is lack of a policy framework to remember freedom fighters beyond mama Kankasa. God bless you Papa. Even my father died quietly but he left me with tonnes of stories about the struggle. Uncle Mutembo features very prominently.

  8. This is the History we should be teaching our children, the History we should have been taught, NOT a remote Mahdi, when we have our own heroes. That’s how skewed our curriculum is, divorced from our culture.

  9. THOSE WHO REALLY SACRIFICED AND SUFERED FOR THE FREEDOM OF THIS COUNTRY ARE COMPLETELY IGNORED AND LEFT TO LANGUISH IN POVERTY.. CRIMINALS AND FOREIGNERS HAVE HIGHJACKED THE GOVERNMENT AND PLUNDERING NATIONAL RESOURCES FOR THEIR SELFISH BENEFIT. COLLECTIVELY WE HAVE ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN.

  10. May God continue showering him with his everlasting blessings so that papa mutembo lives longer. Am sure now that it has been reported about him the government will come in and take care of him.

  11. A heroe of our nation and deserve to be rewarded by the state. If anything the state should keep him at some stately places

  12. That statue is just symbolic and depicts the time when Africans broke the colonial chains of freedom. The rest is just conjecture.

  13. I believe FTJ is to blame for all this. FTJ fought tooth and nail to have KK and his fellow freedom fighters forgotten. I hope Zambia’s seventh president come 2021 will right this wrong. Other countries have promoted their history to this day. For example, it is common knowledge that Thomas Jefferson is the father of the American constitution. But here we want to erase history for political reasons.

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