This question has been weighing on my mind since my first rebellious thoughts started springing. For those who are over thinking my thought process, this is a very valid question. Reason being, what has the celebration got to do with me? How much does it affect me? What is expected of me on such a day or because of such an event? What is relevant for me to know in order to appreciate this day? In my experience which is not as much as that of a fifty year old man but is decent in itself, most young people see October 24th, Zambia’s day of Independence, as a day to get off school. Apart from that no real relevance. As I came to realize this kind of thinking is not on just wrong but is potentially destructive.
Firstly, what has the Independence Day mean to me? We may not realize or appreciate it but out freedom was fought for. Blood, sweat and tears were thrown into the freedoms we take for granted. The least we can do is remember and acknowledge the contribution of the many who fought for this and I don’t just mean the ones who made it into power post-independence, there are many more. If it means you picking up a book that you last used five years ago then so be it. And that’s just the least. No other day affords you the opportunity to really look at your country for what it is, what it can be and what it should be. Thanks to the internet there are all kinds of fora through which you can get such information but on that day there are links everywhere, television shows nothing else, radios says nothing else and those who are strongly remember can speak of nothing else. Independence Day has a lot to do with you.
we walk away, ignoring what must be pondered
Secondly, how does it affect you and me? This is a day that affords you the opportunity to see the best of your country, this does not happen all the time and at all hours of the day but I will take a stab in the dark and say for most of it. It allows you to see the spirit that makes your country and though sociologists world over say we are losing our cultural personality, Independence Day will show you that this is not the case all the time. You will be able to see that your country is not just the people but also the land. It will make you look on the person next to you as your brother or sister, things might change the following day but if you can keep that feeling going we will see a much better country. It will make you want the best for not only yourself but for the people around you. I mean why should you live in plenty when those around you are suffering. Why would you let those around you live lives that are destroying the place and land that you love, with idle use and/or littering, when it is in your power to talk to them and help them see reason. Independence Day gives us the opportunity to see the people as a unit not isolated individuals.
Thirdly, what is expected of you? On such a day it is very important to ask yourself this question. If you were to go on living like normal then the day would not be a national holiday or better yet the most important national holiday. This is the day to consider what it means for you to be whatever nationality you are. Zambians have a different nationality from Zimbabweans even though we have no physical boundary dividing our lands and were once one nation. This question will allow us to continue to develop our own identity and not get too sucked into the global village phenomena. The global village phenomena strictly speaking is a couple of dominant cultures getting impressed on us. Cultures do evolve but the core values must be maintained because that is who we are. Being at an international university has taught me that people are different, sometimes you can tell which country a person is from by the way the carry themselves, act and dress. Even before the person says a word and that is the power of culture that is what must be maintained. And it comes as a result of asking that question.
cultural diversity is great, appreciate others but don't lose yours
Fourthly, what is relevant for me to know? It is necessary that culture is built on knowledge. Without knowledge prejudice and enmity reign, and very few things are sadder than prejudice and enmity among countrymen. It is necessary to know what was fought against for Independence, who did the fighting, what turned the tide that brought about the movement, etc. All this knowledge will result in us seeing that the people who achieved what we now look on with indifference were people just like you and me, people from all walks of life, people from all the tribes and languages no just the one. It makes us realize that no one is inferior and that in that moment the nation was one. Such a view will inspire us to see such a thing again.
The reason why all this is important is that it beats the alternative. The alternative is a nation in a state of moral decay, a nation where the youth show little or no respect to the adults, a nation full of the head strong and the ignorant, a nation of those who only seek their own good ignoring all outside of their doorstep. Am I the only one who sees that I am describing the state of things, if not now then not long from now. This is something to fear rather than something to shrug off. Moral decay is not over there, it’s here and it’s here and we need to fight it. This fight is similar to fight for independence because just like in that fight we need each other. Unfortunately the answer to the problem is not one that I have or is in a book, it is a working answer, different from one group to the next. What I do know is that there is an answer, we just need the diligence to find it.
It maybe three days late but I will say it anyway. Happy Independence Day. This is my tribute…