A TALE OF TWO SURGEONS: The Neurosurgeon and the Book surgeon

Last Friday, 12 January 2018, one of my best friends and one of the best neurosurgeons on the African continent, Dr Kachinga Sichizya, visited me at the University of Zambia office. Reason? He wants me to conduct “surgery” on the manuscript of his latest novel, LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT. He would like me to evaluate it before it goes to the publisher.The neurosurgeon came to the book surgeon. When my wife needed spine surgery – I took her to him, and he did a marvellous job.

Kachinga is an amazing guy with hands gifted the Ben Carson way – as a neurosurgeon – and gifted the literary way; as a writer. Plus he has golden boxing hands. Trained at the University of Zambia, in Cape Town and Canada, Kachinga the neurosurgeon is as good as they come. He could have worked anywhere in the world but chose to return to Zambia and mentor young doctors at the University Teaching Hospitals (UTH). But Kachinga the writer is brilliant too – his first novel, UNEASY YOKE, won the national literary prize, Ngoma Award, and is used as a literature text in Zambian senior secondary school.

But Kachinga and I come from afar. Been friends since our days at the University of Zambia. When he was writing his first novel – typing it on a little typewriter – he would give me what he had written so I could give my opinion as a man of books. He continued writing when he left the country to continue his medical studies in Cape Town, till he finished the project. Next thing was to find a publisher. I tried my best, then an editor in the publishing industry, but could not find one in Zambia. I actually gave up. But he did not – and that is one of his strongest qualities: he never gives up, he is ever determined – and that is the quality that enabled him and other colleagues to climb Mount Kilimanjaro a few years ago. After fifteen years of patience – his, not mine – the book was published and launched in Cape Town.

Last year, I went to see him because my wife needed spine surgery. This year he came to see me because his book needs surgery. Tale of two surgeons.

CNN interviewed Kachinga some years back. For more on him and his enigmatic life, check:www.cnn.com/videos/…/spc-african-voices-kachinga-sichizya-a.cnn. Enigmatic, because he is also a good sportsman, having been a boxer at the university, and a lover of music – plays the guitar and sings. He jogs in the evenings. His novel, UNEAST YOKE, is available at Maiden Publishing House in the Lusaka Showgrounds.

 — withKachinga Sichizya.

Cheela Chilala