Ubuntu “I am because we are,” or “humanity towards others.”

Today, I reflect on one question that I consider to be profoundly pertinent based on human experience. The question is, “do you know where the children of your late friend or brother or sister are?” Or probably you have forgotten and abandoned them after offering the solitude through conveying sympathetic condolences. Did you declare them defacto simply because that was the last time you chose to meet them since your best friend, sister or brother was no more?

I vividly remember one of the best friend to my late father, they were so close that at the time my father was slain by a bullet, they were together carrying out police duties. He was the one who even reported to mum that his friend had been shot dead accidentally. Since my father died in 1985, I have never set my eyes on him. This could be because we left for the village. I hope I will see him one day. I have a number of questions for him. Of course not related to why he did not look after us when his friend was no more. My only perception is that their friendship was purely fraternal considering the fact that they were workmates. My equivocal concern hangs on my curiosity to know what exactly transpired on that fateful day when my father was shot dead.

However, in 1995, I met my late father’s childhood best friend, I didn’t even recognize him. I don’t even remember seeing him visiting my father. This man struggled to locate my sisters and me after he learnt of the demise of his friend, my father. Unknowing to me, he offered to take care of us bequeathing his benevolence in honour of the friendship he had with my father. However, my relatives denied him the opportunity. My grandfather did not want us to associate with anyone he was not sure of. He was still devastated by the death of his son. This predicament compelled me to spend the prime days of my youth in the village under the tutorage of my grandfather.

I met my late father’s genuine friend at the time I completed my grade twelve,  through my Uncle in Kafue. He had continued looking for the children of his late friend. He used to remind my uncle to let me and my sisters know that he needed to meet us. My uncle took his request lightly and informed us though with less emphasis.

It was only when I was admitted to the University of Zambia did it come to my uncle’s consciousness to inform me of the presence of a noble man who earnestly desired to meet my sister and I. My Uncle was compelled to reconnect us to this man of great benevolence due to impediments I faced in the pursuit to be admitted to the University of Zambia. The biggest challenge was lack of financial resources to support my tertiary education. My uncle informed me that this man was ready to take care of us when my father died had our relatives allowed him. He was confidently optimistic that he would be happy to meet me and offer the help he could ever manage.

So on this day, my uncle and I went to meet this man in Kafue town from Kafue Estates. The man had just retired. He had domiciled in Kafue town. He had three children, that is if my memory serves me right. We found him perched outside his newly built house. After pleasant greetings, my uncle introduced me to him. He curiously scrutinized me as if he was trying to synchronize the common features I shared with my late father in order to identify some resemblance with his late friend. He then gave me a prolific embrace in form of a warm but slightly tight hug. He narrated how close he was with my father. They bumped into each other at Monze Secondary School and they became best of friends. However, they parted company when they started working, though they maintained their friendship. I was petrified and greatly touched by that monologue.

“Now that I have found you, I can die in peace, I was going to have difficulties explaining to my friend in case there is meeting in death…. How would I have exculpated myself and what explanation would I give him for neglecting you his children?” he said.

He was extremely happy that he met me at a time I needed help for my education. He inquired about how my mother and two sisters were doing and where they were based. I informed him that they were in the village. He paid sixty-nine percent (69%) of my of the annual fees. He also promised to continue helping me meet school fees in future. He bought me clothes. At some point, he even invited my mother and sisters to meet him. They were equally cared for as he bought clothes and other necessities. He literally became our benefactor and a father in the absence of our late father. He tried his best to make us as comfortable as possible in his presence as he kept us intrigued by the stories he narrated of his genuine friendship with my late father.

So, that was how I managed to go to UNZA in the first semister because of one man who believed in UBUNTU, “I am because we are,” or ” humanity towards others.” I met him in October 1995 before admission at UNZA in February, 1996.

Unfortunately, before I could finish a semister at UNZA, the man met his untimely death. I was devastated when I learnt about his demise though the message reached me long after he was buried due to poor means of communication. The only means was through graphic messages. Nevertheless, I was only comforted when I learnt that my sisters were among the mourners who honoured the passing on of this noble man.

During the short period I interacted with him, I realised that he valued his family and also cherished friendship greatly. He considered human beings as God’s jewelries. His attitude towards humanity left me with indelible lessons that no one will ever erase. To value family and friendship is to me the fulcrum of human existence.

Never throw away your childhood friends. Those you met on the way may just be your workmates. Some are your business partners. But the friends of your youth may be your genuine friends. Those you met at Secondary School, College or University, value them. They may look after your children when you are gone. They may provide a shoulder for your children to cry on. They may play a role of father or mother figure to your children after your demise.

Be that woman or man who value and cherish friendship. Good friends are essential, they must be maintained. Extend your care to your friends children when he is gone. Do not just offer condolences and disappear. The children call you uncle or aunt now, do not shock them when your friend is no more. You may not necessarily offer them material support, but surely you can offer emotional guidance and please make sure you impart in them the values of UBUNTU.

Children are not born into a family but in a community. All community members have a responsibility to raise the children more so those whom you knew their parents.

Go ye therefore and look for the children of your late friend. Among many other things, remind them about the positive traits of their parents. The man told me things I never knew about my father. I collaborated his stories with what others said about my father. My father died at 36 years.

Kennedy Sialoombe

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with Everyone