By Bright Chikele:
Pressing family issues, including a bereavement, made it inopportune for me to promptly correct the misrepresentation by the Daily Nation (carried by the online Lusaka Times – LT news outlet) of my statement during the memorial of the late former President Dr Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba.
The Daily Nation conveyed a different message, which exposed me to unwarranted online hate messages, insults and offside innuendo.
I do not blame LT for publishing the story which they lifted verbatim from the Daily Nation; but that article manipulated my message by withholding the heart of my message, namely that for Christians who are celebrating the Declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation to continue to consciously and deliberately avoid mentioning the name of Dr Chiluba regarding that Declaration is not only hypocrisy but is peddling a false history.
I publish this article to reiterate my side of the story but not to quarrel with anybody.
We are not ashamed to have attended the memorial, which event had no political motive.
We joined Mrs Regina Chiluba and her family to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the passing on of the former president.
My brief statement was primarily intended to console and encourage Mrs Chiluba and her immediate family members present at the small but warm gathering of sympathisers, who included Dr Kangwa, Mr Ndovi and brother Fortune, a gospel evangelist, who lit up the occasion.
The message was also directed at Christians who seem to be ashamed to be associated with or to mention the name of the person who officially and publicly declared Zambia a Christian Nation. Although Mr Richard Sakala and Mr Faustin Kabwe were not present, I learnt that they had earlier on in the day laid the two flowers that we found on the tomb.
I was called upon to say a prayer before the formalities of the event, which I gladly did. After the laying of flowers I made a few remarks.
I was NOT aware then that there was a news reporter until after the ceremony.
As we were departing, a man thrust a recording device in my face and asked me to repeat what I had said since he had not taken down anything.
Initially, I declined but he explained that he wanted to quote me correctly so I acceded!
First, let me state what I did NOT discuss. I did not discuss the late Mr Arthur Wina; I did not discuss the MMD neither did I claim that Dr Chiluba founded the MMD; and I did not discuss Dr Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika or Dr Chitala (even though I have previously publicly acknowledged the two via a USA Blog Radio live interview as the real architects and vision carriers of the MMD). Thus the hate messages were uncalled for.
What I criticised was the false history being ferociously peddled by those who are using the declaration as a campaign slogan in their political messages; false because they have so far deliberately and consciously avoided mentioning the name of Dr Chiluba as the person who declared Zambia a Christian nation.
I wondered why those Christians who gathered at the Lusaka Show Grounds last year, including the President, DID NOT mention or acknowledge Dr Chiluba; curiously immediately after the article President Lungu named a university, not yet built, after Dr Chiluba!
Ignoring the name Chiluba regarding that declaration will not change that historical deed!
It is hypocritical for any Christian, particularly those who were witnesses, to pretend that someone else did so.
Why be ashamed of the messenger but be proud of the message and continue to use the declaration to get votes? Ever heard of Eve or King David with his scandals? Remember King Nebuchadnezzar who put God’s people in the lion’s den?
What of St Paul who has on occasions been described as an assassin of the followers of Christ?
These names are permanently etched in the Bible and may be used for rebuking, teaching and even as examples of how to and how not to!
The celebration of the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation was held on 29th December, 1991 on the steps of State House, where President Lungu now resides.
From those steps Dr Chiluba made a solemn promise on our behalf, emphasising, inter alia, that from that moment corruption would be a thing of the past.
What a wonderful and appropriate message, even today; what a lasting memorable legacy of Dr Chiluba’s tour of duty, though not yet realised.
That pronouncement was a declaration of a standard, a high standard that we must all strive for. Upon that declaration, we can today confidently point a finger at anyone, including President Lungu and his ministers, to live up to that standard.
Using the Declaration, even after the passing on of Dr Chiluba, we must continue to challenge and demand and ask those in high offices, “How did you suddenly get those billions, those properties and too much loose change to spare? Tell the People!”
Fellow Christians, you may kill the messenger, but please take care NOT to kill the Message of Christ; instead preserve it, protect it and above all practice what it declares!
For some prominent Christians to consciously ignore Dr Chiluba and/or manipulate the declaration date from 29th December to another date is simply to lie and to continue peddling that false history.
This was my memorial message on that special day, not a ‘‘treatise’’ on the origins of the MMD!