EDGAR LUNGU, AGAINST ALL ODDS – ZAMBIA’S PRESIDENT EDGAR LUNGU’S ROUGH JOURNEY TO STATE HOUSE, A BOOK BY ANTHONY MUKWITA
This book immortalizes in printed pages one of the most memorable chapters in the history of Zambia; that of the Patriotic Front; and that of the sixth President of the Republic of Zambia. The author had among others taken a front role seat to events that most Zambians alive today had an opportunity to experience and watch from different vantage points. It’s therefore understandable that some of the readers may dispute some facts or the manner of their presentation. However, the first credit to the author is that not only did he recognize the significance of this piece of history but went further by painstakingly putting together scattered events into one whole readable literally work.
From the outset, let me say what the book is not about. The stories associated with Mr. Lungu’s private life that have not found their way in mainstream media but remained in social networks and on bar counters have not been included in the book. This does not appear to be a deliberate attempt on the part of the author to paint President Lungu in saintly colors. Rather, the author wishes to treat the subject respectfully and decently. Secondly, he does not want to immortalize unsubstantiated allegations from which no well meaning Zambian stands to benefit in anyway.
The book is short especially if you are an avid reader. Perhaps it should be, especially that it is not necessarily a biography of a 60 year-old man that President Lungu is. Instead, it is a book that focuses on events spanning roughly a month, a month that might as well be the defining moment of Mr. Lungu’s political life. The author has selected those facts in the President’s life that help the reader appreciate why he carried himself in the manner that he did during the PF succession wrangles.
For instance, while others expected him to be combative and fight to keep the instruments of power; leave the memorial service in honor of late President Sata to take on Guy Scott who had just fired him from his position as SG or declare himself winner at the Rock of Authority, the author carefully selects those facts that may help explain such calmness in the face of events that would ordinarily send some people into feats of rage.
My take is that the author’s reference to the President’s National Service after completing his form five and his decision to go further in military training after which he studied and eventually practiced law is intended to suggest that the two disciplines must have combined to give him an internal tough personality masked with a totally different image like a camouflaged soldier on the field of battle. Can this explain why his critics do not seem to read him accurately or that easily?
The author includes a chapter based on his interviews with the First Lady whose reflections help shed more light on who the man is. A perspective from a spouse is helpful if you are to deepen your understanding of a personality as important as a Head of State. This effort on the part of the author is an attempt to place in the public domain and especially in the hands of keen followers of politics and political analysts the tools with which to dissect the mind behind the Zambian President.
On the style in which the book has been written, the author has employed vivid wording that has helped bring memories of the events under discussion flooding back in strong currents leaving you either gasping for air or simply smiling because of the literary fashion in which the whole narrative is wrapped. For lovers of literature, you may not really be disappointed. From where the author has left off, others should pick up the challenge and walk us through President Lungu’s journey as Head of State when his tour of duty comes to a close remembering, as Anthony has demonstrated, to select those aspects of his presidency that are relevant to the interests of the public.
In closing, my question is: what is so important about the events captured in the book that they should warrant a place in history? Answers may be diverse. But for me, these events should remind us how close we as a country came to slipping into chaos because of scrambling for power. The lesson then is that ambition for power must be subordinated to the overall needs of the country, the need for peace and stability.