For sometime now I’ve not been convinced that this blog was serving its full purpose and potential. I started the blog two years ago aiming to regularly discuss contemporary Zambian and Southern African political and economic issues. As I tried to do this, I encountered three main challenges:
1. I enjoyed writing and talking about these issues but they weren’t the only things I enjoyed writing and talking about. I am fascinated by global history, the arts, religious faith, everyday “ordinary” experiences, people of different nations, and more. The strict criteria I had set didn’t give space for such material to feature on the blog.
2. It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to accurately discuss the political and economic issues of Zambia and Southern Africa whilst living outside the region. The internet has made our access to global information much easier but simply relying on online information, sometimes poorly written and heavily-biased, became a drain on my time and energy. Also I ended up asking more questions than I could get answers for: “How do I know that this is an accurate record of events?” “What’s the broader context of this story?” I have found that to write accurately and with a clear conscience I would have to be there. This, however, does not necessarily devalue the efforts of those Zambians living outside Zambia that are trying to contribute to the economic and political discourse of the country.
3. As Zambians, we are obsessed with our politicians and politics. Unfortunately, much of what we read and as a consequence talk about is information that has been regurgitated over and over. Where are the originals? Who is doing original or neglected research? We spend so much time talking about these lesser issues that we neglect areas of national life that (a) need to be better understood if we are to improve the politics, and (b) need to be better understood to develop a unique national identity. History is one of those areas. If, for example, we are talking about improving the levels of education in our country, then we need to be asking questions like: “What was education like in the pre-colonial era? In what ways has it changed for better or worse?” Or if talking about morality and the state, we need to be asking questions like: “Why, despite being a constitutionally Christian country, does Zambia struggle with corruption in government?” We need researchers – people working in universities, think tanks and newspapers – to be giving their time and energy to digging deeper into these issues. We need to elevate the level of public discourse. We need to be talking about real issues. Our unhealthy obsession with politicians and politics won’t do it.
I hope you’ll stay with me through this change. I look forward to writing articles that come to me more naturally. I have attempted to do that here, here, here and here. Zambia and Southern Africa will no longer be the only focuses of this blog. They will become one of several. I hope you will learn new things and will be provoked to think more deeply about life. Everyone has a story and this is my attempt at telling mine through the things I care about. Find out more about me here.
Have a very happy Christmas!