Chief Chitambo: An enemy of hunger, filth

Chief Chitambo’s palace in Central Province
Chief Chitambo’s palace in Central Province

“MOTTO: Adults three meals, children six meals a day,” reads a decree at Chief Chitambo’s palace in Central Province.
Chief Chitambo IV did not inherit this motto with other instruments of power when he ascended to the throne on April 29, 1989.
The slogan is among several well thought out declarations crafted to promote food security at household and chiefdom levels.
This is why this dictum is synonymous with Chitambo and not any other Lala chiefdom in Chitambo or Serenje district.
When the elders elected him traditional ruler to succeed his uncle about 25 years ago, Chief Chitambo says he was not pleased with the manner in which people were living, especially where food security was concerned.
To address the problem of food insecurity among his subjects, Chief Chitambo held several meetings with heads of various villages to chart the way forward for the chiefdom.
“In this chiefdom, we don’t go to the Government to cry for food or depend on handouts. We are very much self-reliant in terms of cassava, sorghum, finger millet and sweet potatoes,” he brags.
His subjects, he says, always have fields where they grow crops. According to the traditional ruler, the only time his people experience hunger is when there is poor rainfall or drought.
And Chief Chitambo has taken the lead in food production as can be evidenced by the fields of maize and cassava that greet visitors to his palace.
He says there is no segregation between male and female village heads as they all work together for the betterment of the chiefdom.
Chief Chitambo is a polygamist with three wives-a Bemba, Lala and Tonga. He values children a great deal and as such targets to have about 30 of them.
“I have 26 children, the 27th passed way. I hope to have four more so that I can have a good number of 30 [children],” he said in an interview recently at his palace.
Zambia, Chief Chitambo says, only has a population of about 14 million people but he feels this needs to grow because the country has abundant arable land.
“Zambia only has a population of 14 million people, we need the population to grow. Fourteen million is merely the population of a town in the UK or in China,” he says, adding “those who are educated limit themselves to having two or three children, this should not be the case.”
Another interesting development in Chitambo chiefdom is the way houses are constructed and how the traditional ruler wants the villages to be managed.
Being a polygamist, Chief Chitambo has built three decent houses for his wives, among other buildings at his palace.
Chief Chitambo is also of the view that when a village is being established, the owners of the new settlement should first dig a water well which should be properly secured.
They [owners] should, thereafter, prepare burnt bricks for building their houses in accordance with the chiefdom’s prescribed guidelines.
“Now, I am telling my subjects that we don’t need thatched houses,” he says.
There is no negotiation about this rule because all houses in the chiefdom should have iron roofing sheets to modernise the villages.
“I have given them five years [2012 to 2017] to change [roofs of houses]. The foundation of the houses must be of cement because we have wetlands here,” he says.
There is also a regulation that any young man who wants to marry must first have a well-built house.
Toilets and wells should also be constructed within the villages in accordance with the prescribed standards.
Chief Chitambo says he has tasked his village heads to ensure that all people in their settlements have properly roofed houses.
Bornwell Mwila, 80, one of the subjects, commends the traditional ruler for encouraging his people to construct better houses.
“This is good, what our chief is doing is commendable because we need to have better houses,” Mr Mwila proudly said while looking at his house.
Mr Mwila, of Misam area, said he is happy to have a house with iron roofing sheets. In the past, his house was small and had a thatched roof.
A visit to some areas in the chiefdom reveals that many houses are built using burnt bricks and have roofs made of iron sheets. The available thatched houses are neatly constructed with burnt bricks.
Chief Chitambo’s subjects are also expected to maintain and live in a clean environment throughout the year.
“So, I tell every village headman to see to it that toilets and water wells are there,” Chief Chitambo adds.
And to advance the welfare of his subjects, he meets village leaders at least twice a year to discuss development, among other matters.
He is also passionate about education. To this effect, he has outlawed early marriages as a way of encouraging education in the chiefdom.
School headteachers on the other hand, are answerable to him in the way they manage their respective learning institutions in the chiefdom. He as such ensures that he attends meetings of the Parent Teachers Associations.
Chief Chitambo also ensures that schools have better toilets and wells for children to learn in a healthy environment.
“We have 14 primary schools, but no secondary school unfortunately. This is our main cry,” he says.
Good health is a matter that is closer to his heart. He appeals to the Government to ensure that health centres that are dotted around in his chiefdom have enough man power and medicines.
Chief Chitambo’s other area of concern is the lack of market for cassava and sorghum which are grown in abundance in his area.
He wants Government to help his subjects with a market for cassava and sorghum as the case is with maize.
“We need market because we grow a lot of cassava here but we don’t know where to sell it. We should not solely depend on maize,” Chief Chitambo says.
He is also passionate about wildlife and environmental conservation. This is the reason he was invited to UK to study basic environmental conservation and ecology at Kennet University.
Chitambo chiefdom is also host to David Livingstone Monument erected in Chipundu in honour of Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone who died in Chitambo on May 1, 1873.
Kasanka National Park is another tourist site found in Chitambo. Chief Chitambo has continued to pay tribute to late David Lloyd for the role he played in resuscitating the national park.