THE TALE OF MY BIRTH, CHILDHOOD AND UPBRINGING,HOW FTJ GOVT BROUGHT DOWN MY LATE GRANDFATHER – Royd Moonga
So many years ago, in the small community famously known as Ku Gundu but in the vast village of Simunkombwe somewhere in the Southern region of the Republic of Zambia..on a rainy day of MARCH 10th , as Taicy Sinyimbwe Muleya Moonga , experienced cramps and it was the starting point of a seemingly short but long journey..
Being young , at age and never experienced anything of that sort, she staggered from the fields going home ..She called out for help, in no time elders of the community rushed and assembled a Team of village experts to asses the situation ,because at first reaction , they thought she might have been bitten by a snake , among them, the first wife to the Great Man that ever walked the soils of this Land JULIUS MOONGA SIDDAMBI fondly called INKUNI LYA BALEYA literary meaning “THE FIREWOOD OF THE BA LEYA CLAN” blessed by God where wealthy was concerned especially farming and pastoral farming of cattle.
By the grace of God 🤣🤣🤣 God blessed him with 12 beautiful wives 8 living right at his Palace while the rest were dotted around various schools and clinics working as Teachers and Nurses but officially married to him…Thats my grandfather , Dad’s father …and his first wife Jane Malawo who originated from a neighboring community ,in a village called Siasikabole,together had My father as their first son Pinock Moonga Simacembele famously calls himself “Bbunta Macembele” on his happy days ..
My grandmother Jane , a retired trained midwifery from a local Clinic (off course she went on early retirement from her nursing career to enable her concentrate on rising a family and help her exceptional husband manage the maize fields and large heads of cattle ) that’s how much our forerunners never respected a payslip but respected farming and NOAM BOARD pay cheque for supplied thousands of 90 kgs bags of maize grain…
My grandmother Jane led a Team of village experts and quickly established that my mother was in labour ..as a career midwifery , she was able to tell , that , getting to the health centre Masuku mission was a non starter as such , she advised they keep her in her house. hearing of this, her ever smartly dressed husband came running from the fields saying ,put her on a Tractor and let’s go the fields so that bumps can help her have a quick and safe delivery.
Unconvinced with the idea, his numerous wives rushed to pull out my mother from a house to the Tractor and placed her on a pillow , the driver started the Tractor , but for the first time ,the newly acquired Tractor failed to start , while Mum stayed on it in with labour pains..that’s how my grandfather’s idea was aborted and but insisted she jumps down on getting off the Tractor without assistance , as an obedient first daughter in-law she obliged and jumped down, OMG…. she immediately went into labour , such that, her Mother Inlaw’s house that was initially prepared for her which was staring 20 mitres away looked far and they just sneaked her in a hat ..10 minutes later THE PRINCE was born…I WAS BORN from a small hat without proper walls but with dusty .
The first grandson to Mr Julius Moonga Siddambi was born , he named me after himself and pulled out a Greener shotgun (Gun) gave 20 gunshots in the air signifying that ” His first grandson has been born and now he was grandfather ”
My birth was celebrated in my grandfather’s large family community . After 1 week , I was to be given a name , he called his friends , his many wives and gathered, I was brought out , he made me touch his greener shotgun , pointing out to a head of cattle and a cow , others pointed at goats and chickens and said, this is your gun, “YOU SHALL FEAR NOTHING AND NOBODY WILL INTIMIDATE YOU IN YOUR JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE TO ADULTHOOD ” he showered me with blessings. While his wives offered prayers for me as they were so spiritual despite being in a polygamous family .
My childhood to adulthood was so fast but extremely interesting. I was never bullied by anybody including the time i enrolled at a nearby Govt school because just the school had over 30 of his children , I was surrounded by a Uncles and Aunties that meant 100% protection for me..
I grew up in a rural community ,doing everything rural community children ought to do. Until when I grew up when those in town started inviting me , because I was the first grandson, nephew and son ,I was liked and generally my likeable character has not started now , I grew up as a likeable boy and it meant moving from town to town courtesy of extended family relatives . Through these visits or tours ,I was never abused especially that hosts knew I lacked nothing . Even in the village , I had trademark biscuits boxes that never ran out . I was a little spoiled village boy.
Because of my grandfather’s nonsense character when it comes to working in the fields ,he showed no mercy even the heavily pregnant would gijima ,run in the fields and he would shout at anybody any time . Untill his wives nicknamed him Saddam Hussein without him knowing, but the most outstanding nickname was ” MUNYEME ” simply a person who is ever upset or annoyed which they cleverly gave to me as his namesake .
MUNYEME became my most used name without really understanding why my grandmothers called me “OUR HUSBAND MUNYEME” not knowing it was an indirect dissy to my grandfather their husband and he too joined calling me MUNYEME without knowing it was in fact his own nickname ,I was just being used an easy target.
My grandfather was a feared and respected man, at some point he was made a life PTA Chairman because of his massive contribution to the school not only by having many children ,but supplying food to Pupil Teachers famously known as UTs or Untrained Teachers those day mostly school leavers got enagedd into teaching by the Ministry those days ..
During sports games ,if there is a fight involving any of his children , rule no#1 was all his children ,nephews and nieces regardless of gender , must join that fight while he will stand on the School Desk and praise the his children as they scatter the opponents …he would praise himself in a poetic songs of “KUYABILA” as the dust of the fight rages on with various trading shelters being broken down getting sticks for beating opponents.
We were a large bonded and united big family ,very happy ,Such that it was sometimes difficult to tell who was whose brother ,sister from the same mother biologically. My grandfather had atleast over 10 children who were pupils at each neighbouring secondary schools in Choma Districts and beyond looking more of the same ages… The village and family was outstanding and outspoken in the entire community. Very unique and on point on every thing they did. Very solid and established family with full of life and prosperity.
Each time his siblings or nephews , nieces visited the village especially during Christmas , we expected nothing may be just clothes ,but money was not coming from town but from the village to town . He would give them money to establish businesses ,buy plots , slaughter animals so that they carry meat , bags of maize to take to their homes in town . With his trademark saying when teasing his educated brothers , sisters , cousins etc that lived in town saying ” GOOD ENGLISH BUT SOKWE ” literally meaning ” EDUCATED BUT VERY POOR ‘MONKEY”
Talk about the Christmas Days or Independence Days, we grew up believing those were grandfather’s personal days because he put in way too much in celebrating them , cows would be slaughtered and everybody would feast and drink regardless.
He was known and famous for being smart ,sharp and loud voice extremely vicious and stubborn , he feared nothing and feared nobody , I remember how he once caused a stir at the Bank in Choma when he walked in with his wives instead of joining the existing que in the Bank , he made his own que with his wives and older children each carrying a cheque. Demanded that the Bank Manager sets teller for him, on top of his voice shouting , how can i be on a que with farmers depositing and withdrawing coins ? Manager , I have come with my own sisal bags ,to carry my money and I will bury it at home because i don’t trust you. How can i trust my huge money with poor boys and girls working in the Bank ?
Ministry of Agriculture had to set up a maize Depot at his farm for buying maize meaning he didn’t need to move his maize to anywhere , his chucks of maize was produced by 30 average farmers .
Our Community had big and great farming Dons like the Simaambo and Sindebuka brothers who migrated from the valley with thousands of animals to the plateau , these were big time herdsmen that owned animals ,Yes my politician grandfather from my maternal family of my mother Mr Milumbe Mwiimbu , the man that served as Siasikabole Ward Councillor in both regimes …These were in the league of my grandfather who would decide to go to town to just enjoy Tea at Choma Hotel , send a waiter down the Bank Manager to get money in a bag. Argue the whole entire day on who had the biggest bull and who will produce more maize bags next season including laughing and mocking a friend that got stuck on the Bank queue for a long time. These are men that graced my childhood. THEY WERE A PRIDE OF BIG BOYS THAT SIMPLY DOMINATED THE TOP OF THE FARMING FOOD CHAIN ..
My grandfather was a handsome , well built gentleman, extremely smart man, he wore white short sleeved shirts and neckties even in the maize fields .He had hundreds of workers mostly his relatives who failed to establish themselves elsewhere ,his wives and children. A man who drew attention where ever he passed. Very socio and intelligent but very intimidating .
Because he was UNIP , when Chiluba came into power , he made sure my grandfather was brought down by sabotage. He produced a lot of maize in a year there was drought for other farmers.. and there was an arrangement to supply farmers with Tractors, they made my grandfather sign a consent form he didn’t understand , meaning the model of buying tractors was simply calculate your money for the supplied maize , then calculate how many tractors you get ,no hard cash transactions simply butter system whatever that was..anyways that’s what brought down my grandfather because years past nothing was fruitful and denkente (animal diseases ) ravaged the region and massive drought .
My grandfather engaged various means and methods to either get his money ,tractors or his maize back as hunger was equally ravaging the communities in the country. Among them going black magic , I remember granny going to town Govt offices and NAM BOARD with a tortoise with a note , delivered it in the Managers office demanding for his money.
Out of fear , the only thing the Management to calm him down was they delivered Trailers of Tractors and some equipments and drums of diesel but without actual Tractors promising the old man Tractors, were still being shipped from abroad . They asked for people from the farm to be trained on how to drive and operate Tractors , grandfather’s nephews ,his older sons and some workers were taken on Govt sponsorship to learn driving in readiness for the arrival of new brand Tractors..
They equally brought in ZAMTEL to provide him with a telephone connected it at his farm saying we shall call you when Tractors are in , just go and relax at your farm , instead of you coming here everyday .
That telephone fixed handle became another issue. At any given time , there should have been someone left in the house to wait for a call notifying the farm about the arrival of Tractors in the country for collection.. If the House or table was left without anybody , the whole Farm would be on fire . It became god ,being checked every minute people would exchange duties which meant that , whoever was on duty was excused from going to the fields. The truth of the matter is that the phone never rang but it remained protected even when it went off so many months or years ago without knowing .
Meanwhile the delivered Trailers and their accessories were getting buried in sad with erosion and trailer tyres deflated . while the call was being awaited for tractors .
During this period of waiting for a telephone call for Tractors that never came , hunger was ravaging the communities , animals were dieing uncontrollably , caucuses were being buried everyday and Chiluba’s Govt did nothing to control denkente (corridor disease) the once vibrant farmers including my grandfather were brought to nothing and down the ground . A lot of children that were in schools dropped out either due to lack of concentration or lack of fees.
They were now fighting for YELLOW MAIZE from the relief food . If today iam to ask Chiluba a question at his grave i would ask him :-
” Sir why did you fail to support farmers to control animal diseases while you managed to import yellow maize to feed farmers while they watched their animals get whiped out ?”
“Sir why did your Govt swindle my grandfather of the hard earned huge maize sales with blood and sweat oozing from the hands of his children, wives ,relatives and workers ?”
If I was not a Christian taught to forgive , I would then tell him ” Sir Your death is justified and may you not Rest in Peace ” but as a Christian ,vengeance is for God . May Chiluba continue RESTING IN PEACE .
I can only use this case to urge leaders of today to learn from the mistakes of past leaders and collect mistakes..Some of the injustice they wage against defenseless citizens who seek their protection end up destroying so many souls that look upto those they see as enemies . Someone might be your enemy today but that enemy is a father/Mother , husband/wife, Uncle/Aunt , brother/sister or guardian to someone .
I saw once big boys of our community in wealth be reduced , each day that past as a young boy , i could see hope fading out from the faces of our great farmers of maize and cattle as drought hit the areas , their maize fields burning in drought , everyday burning and burying dead animal caucuses with no help from their Govt . Several Farmers went into depressions dieing from anything like ordinary kids and few months later my handsome , feared ,respected and hardworking grandfather got sick for what nobody could explain,taken to Choma District Hospital then ,given injections and told to return home, after just 1 week, he died at his farm on a Saturday with hundreds of SDA worshippers gathered outside that came to pray for him and sing after a Church service because he loved music so much. Anyways we were told by the Hospital he died of “DECENTRY”… what a shame, others survive such small diseases but it took down a once celebrated big boy , the once respected money making machine was taken down by a simple decentry .
My grandfather was an expert, he knew when it was 12 hours , when to plant maize and when not to. He would tell you how old a cow was from just looking at it ,that’s how deep he was gifted with wealth making ideas using farming .The man who supported so many local football clubs ,helped establish locally made bridges where roads were impassable. He was a community supporter loved by all but most importantly an irresistible force to women regardless their academic achievements .They would join his rugby team of wives … so charming ,kind ,caring and ever alert .
At his death, some tins of money were being discovered buried in the houses of his wives and children,while some were being discovered in his old clay pots ,old leather jackets , as in huge sums of money ,most likely forgotten treasures by the tycoon ,but sadly they mostly had Kaunda’s heads meaning since Chiluba had just changed the currency few years ago , they were worthless medals of a once giant of the farming fraternity,could not have been used as medium of exchange anywhere.
After the death of my grandfather , dad being the eldest of the over 100 children , with 12 surviving wives tried to hold his father’s family together, but what used to keep them together had gone down , the centre could not hold them together.
They scampered around the World. Grandfather’s wives especially those that had careers continued on their own, those that were still young moved on and remarried.
His children scattered mostly to their maternal families to establish themselves .
Some of them last saw them the day we buried the Great man Julius Sindambi Moonga ,Inkuni Lya Baleya . I see some names on Facebook with my surname and all I tell myself , these could be lost family members we shared life together and perhaps protected me and provided for me or at least their offsprings like children or grandchildren.
I have no doubt wherever descendants of that great man are, they are surviving in which ever way for he taught them the best way to survive around stones and make opportunities out of nothing. They leant from the best . I PRAY FOR THEM AND MAY THE GOOD LORD CONTINUE PROPERING THEM.
I PRAY IN MY NEXT LIFE TO HAVE THE SAME FAMILY OF MY CHILDHOOD, I REGRET NOTHING . SOMETIMES I JUST WAKE UP WISHING MY GRANDFATHER WAS STILL ARRIVE TO SEE HIS CHILDREN AND HOW THEY EXCELLING IN LIFE AND LOOK AFTER HIM. WHEN I SEE OR HEAR SOME OF HIS AGE MATES , I JUST LOOK UP THE HEAVENS AND SAY ” THANK YOU LORD FOR THE LIFE WE SHARED WITH THAT MAN ”
Today on my Birthday Day ,since I have no money to take myself out, I decided to write about myself childhood with gists about my grandfather.. in 2016 I wrote about my mother ..Next year I will write about my father !
Consultant ,Advisor, Strategist and War Planner
10th March 2019