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A letter to my fellow Zambians

Being the need of the times

Billy C Sichone
First edition 2005
Copy right © 2005
Billy C Sichone
Contact details: Billy.Sichone@gmail.com,
Cell: 260977429521, 260966559762

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, digital, mechanical,
photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the copyright
owner.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 2


Dedication
To my parents who never tired reminding me that hard
work pays

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 3


Acknowledgements

In coming up with this book, many people and sources have impacted on my
mind, chief among them being the Holy Scriptures as enshrined in the Bible.
They have shaped my world view in many things. Apart from the scriptures,
many have spoken into my life by way of comment or advice. As such, I felt
duty bound to return thanks to some of these people as well as other sources
at the risk of leaving out significant others.

I would like to pass a hearty thank you to my parents, who tirelessly


laboured to guide me through those formative stages of life when I felt like
rebelling against them for the “burdensome” work they “imposed on me”’. I
always remember them saying “You will not go anywhere unless you work
hard”. Those words stuck slowly but firmly. They built me up.

I would also like to say thank you to my elder brothers and sisters in the
Christian faith that never gave up on me when the chips were down, but
always encouraged me to try a little harder. Among them are Mr and Mrs
(Marlon and Bupe) Banda, Mr and Mrs (Paul & Emily) Mumba, Mr and Mrs
(Johnson and Agness) Malipenga, Pastor and Mrs (Conrad and Felistus)
Mbewe, Pastor and Mrs (Ronald and…) Kalifungwa, Mr & Mrs (Stephen &
Lucy) Tembo, Pastor and Mrs (Michael and Jacqueline) Bwembya, Pastor
and Mrs (Choolwe and Merilyn) Mweetwa, “Professor Paul” and counsel
Kamo Simfukwe, Pastor Clement Kaunda, Mr and Mrs (Anne & Chikondi)
Phiri, Mr and Mrs (John and Margaret ) Mthethwa, Mr Sikapale Chinzewe,
Mr Patrick “old guard” Chama and myriad others who I cannot mention here
for want of space and time. It would be the greatest crime not to mention my
faithful constant companion that has often brightened the horizon-my dear
wife Jane.

I consulted a number of resource materials and sites from various places


ranging from the Internet to actual hard copies. I am indebted to all.

God speed

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 4


Fore word

Still under construction...

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 5


α
Preface
To the writing of books there is no end, says the wise man, and to the
reading of the same, there is equally no end. In fact, much study wearies the
body!≈ In the latter instance however, it is hoped that the end result will be
different in that you will be fired up to go and implement what you learn to
your own benefit and the community’s good at large.

It has much vexed the author to observe that a whole generation of youths
has been raised and continues to be churned out in succession that
practically have no hope, or direction for life•. Many have more or less given
up on life and left their fate to the whims of chance and circumstance. The
average youth on the street does not know or even care to enquire what will
become of them after they leave school at whatever level. Two extremes
have been synthesized. The one group is too pessimistic and has completely
lost hope to the extent where they do not even know where the next meal
will come from. The other extreme has those that have more than they can
handle. They have, as it were, an abundance of resources at their disposal
such that they do not see any rational reason for self exertion, after all, their
fore runners have done the work! It is the author’s hope and prayer to draw
people from both extremes to a central point where they take charge of their
destiny. People should not work at less than one tenth their capacity but use
all that is within them to eke out a unique sustainable path for themselves
and progeny.

It is true that that the times have rapidly changed. It is also true that in some
instances, the job market has shrunk while in others expanded. The million
dollar question contingent upon macro and micro economic indicators is
whether these apparent “expansion” correlate to quality. It is not enough to
boast about “job creation”, quality issues must also be addressed by the
same token. Could this state of affairs possibly signify a declined economy
Ecclesiastes 12:12, Holy Bible
Dr Kenneth Kaunda made similar comments to that effect in one of the May 2005 Post Newspaper
editions

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 6


whose systems have virtually long collapsed unless probably some drastic
realistic remedial measures are put in place to secure the future of this
nation? But that should not be a reason why we presently shelter under such
languid circumstances. Away with such a thought! Time has come when we
should take our destiny in our own hands and ensure we become the best we
could ever be.

It is high time we returned to those ancient paths where every newly born
child had hope and a bright future ahead of them. As we approach this most
important subject, let us always remember that whatever step we take, we
either condemn or promote ourselves!

Remember that the world has no time for losers but applauds winners∅.

In deed, we agree with Professor Clive Chirwa that Zambia needs a fresh
start ∈ in every sense but will you make a difference in your generation?
Arise and be counted among the valiant of mother Zambia!

Finally, this book comes as an alternative to what the average mind thinks. It
seeks to bring hope to the hopeless. It also aims to sober the wasteful so that
they realize their potential and soar to greater heights. Come with us as we
trace our heritage that takes us to higher orbs!

This is a paraphrase from an anonymous writer


Refer to the Post 28th August 2007 pp 1

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Contents

Introduction and over view..........................................................................................9


Definitions..................................................................................................................24
The nature and rationale of labour.............................................................................33
The necessity of labour..............................................................................................42
Helpful labour principles...........................................................................................48
Thieves of effective labour........................................................................................96
Some points worth considering................................................................................124
Types and classes of labour......................................................................................142
I. The Benefits and effects of good labour...............................................................160
II. The sad end and decay of the sluggard-Proverbs 20:13, Prov 24:33..................165
Exhortations to resolved labour...............................................................................172
What ought we to do now?......................................................................................177
Adieu!...............................................................................................................................180
Bibliography............................................................................................................181
Appendices...............................................................................................................184
Bibliography............................................................................................................218
Index........................................................................................................................218

Chapter 1
“A country of party lovers will never rise”

Billy Sichone 2005

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“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole
strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason
mastery demands all of a person ”-Albert Einstein
Introduction and over view


Billy Sichone

As one scans the Zambian landscape, all they see is a land full of great
potential but filled with a disillusioned and discouraged lot. They have really
nothing to live for and roll along like a stone on an inclined plane. Each
morning brings with it the painful reminder that one is a burden not only to
the self but to the world at large. Similarly, at the end of the day, despondent
and disillusioned, one lies down and remains awake for many hours
wondering what the next day holds. After such torturing thoughts, one
gradually slides into a troubled sleep. The next day is pretty much the same.
The hours that occupy space between waking up and lying down are filled
with either extreme isolated silence or with the noisy hustle and bustle of
life, really heading nowhere. The average Zambian engages in all sorts of
activities to generate any kwacha that might be available either by hook or
crook. Gone are the days when the State, Charities or individuals would
easily be moved by compassion to action by the plight of the poor and

Rapids near the Chishimba falls, Northern province, October 2008

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 9


needy. If anything, the poor are now viewed as a mere public nuisance worth
annihilating. The raised prominent billboards in many towns and cities
eloquently tell the thinking of the times. An army of street kids and adults
now roam the streets of virtually every major town in Zambia today. At one
time, it was unthinkable to meet someone who had completely nowhere to
lodge. It was rare to encounter someone who virtually had no relations to
look after them. Well, thousands now do, with completely nowhere to turn to
for shelter, are submerged in abject poverty and squalor. A combination of
factors has probably led to this ugly scenario. Among them is the disruption
of the native social fibre of the cordial, harmonious and all embracing
African society over a century ago by the Western explorers and colonialists.
They came and colonized by “divide and rule” strategies whilst forcing their
individualistic and materialistic culture upon our fore fathers. The other is
the advent of the HIV and AIDS pandemic which has not left Africa
unscathed. HIV has literary ravaged the continent especially the Sub Saharan
Africa where over 25 Million are believed to be infected. We are yet to feel
the full pandemic impact. Apart from the HIV challenge, myriads have no
proper medical care because the traditional medicines in raw form were
discarded and forgotten at the arrival of the slave traders. Hundreds die for
want of money to get quality medical attention. Nearly every system has
long collapsed in Zambia today (1991-2005). Consider for a moment the
Health, inefficient judicial system or corrupted government system that
worsens the already desperate scenario.

The other reason that results directly from the aforementioned is the
apparent shrinkage of the economies as evidenced by the rapid company
closures, spiralling inflation, unstable local currency, mass job losses and
declined quality of life among the nations’ citizenry at the advent of
unavoidable globalisation blizzards. Many atrocities are hidden under the
gullible guise of “being a liberal modern economy” with its attendant effects
such as over dependence on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) via the
experimental Structural Adjustment Program (SAP). “Thatcherism” was
directly ‘cut and pasted’ onto Africa without any serious prior impact
assessment. Things backfired by and large but someone still made a name
somewhere. To a large extent, the Multinational Corporations (MNC) have
manipulated African economies to their advantage, since the profit motive
over rides everything else including environmental destruction. The whole
world is yet to encounter the full backlash of global warming and yet
historically, Africa contributes least to the wanton environmental
Source: UNAIDS 2003

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degradation. One would not be far from the truth to assert that as the colonial
masters fled Africa, they left some “economic booby traps” behind them so
that they could remotely retain their hold on the continent. The Zimbabweα
case comes to mind as an example of attempted foreign manipulation. The
bottom line is a continual control over the land and resources through their
settler nationals.

For another reason, how can a nation develop with over 17 different exotic
top-down development plans all vying for simultaneous attention? The other
reason is to some extent a legacy of the monarchical African system where a
power wielder does not tolerate any opponents. Shaka the Zulu’s doctrine of
never leaving an enemy behind seems to sell really well in Africa. The
native African mindset has crept into the constitution making process
evidenced by the powers given to the President. A typical African President
is generally egocentric and determines to remain in power as long as
possible. Any fly that attempts to buzz around is doomed. They glory in a
large power distance. Apart from the power craze, the patriotic spirit among
the leaders is long dead. In yester years, people were ready to lay down their
lives for others but the opposite is true in the present age. Today’s so-called
leaders are actually bosses & egocentric mercenaries rather than
inspirational.

When all these factors are cooked and mingled in one pot, it is hardly
surprising that the people, youth in particular suffer as a result. The old
adage “When Elephants fight, the grass suffers” holds true except that in this
instance, all animals are simultaneously fighting each other! As a result, the
school leaver dreads the day that they write their last paper. Equally true is
the formal unestablished worker that dreadfully approaches the retirement
age and yet without any tangible asset tied to their names. His/her children
face an uncertain future without any shelter. These vulnerable children are
all heaped in the back yard and tragically their grand children are equally
vulnerable. Others are too frail due to terminal illnesses. We do not have
time to look at lack of access to clean water, dependent citizenry, inefficient
collapsed and corrupt judicial or government systems that once held promise
for the budding graduate. The other side of the coin has its story to tell too.
Zambia is filled with youths who, despite being poor or rich, have been
carried away by the pleasure driven currents of the times. Think of how
many are engrossed in various vices reflected in juvenile delinquency such
as drug addiction, liquor abuse, promiscuity, entertainment and are
2006-07

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 11


irresistibly drawn to whatever tickles their pleasure centres, as it were. In
general, Zambia is but a shadow of itself and as good as dead. Here is what
we mean:

The Zambian society at the present time is engrossed, captivated, disabled


and enslaved by the love of liquor. Akin to the fish under water, the average
Zambian youth drinks their heads off without the slightest idea or care what
the consequences of their wasteful actions have on the pocket, family, nation
or self. Opportunity costing does not rear its head where beer is king.
Rational thinking is relegated to the terraces at such a crucial time. Beer is
the unrivalled idol of our times. As some have rightly said, “Liquor is the
most abused substance in our nation” To put it even more bluntly, some
Zambians are generally unashamed drunkards even ready to wet their pants
without any qualms.

Another thing worth noting is that most Zambians are generally merry
makers. Where ever they get a rumour that “It will be happening”, there,
expect scores of patrons converging akin to a moth around a flame. If they
hear that a buffet will be set, some cool beers flowing in the background and
loud music electrifying the air, be sure to pull a sizeable unmanageable
crowd including gate crashers. If “booze” is absent, the function is dubbed a
flop because people did not get “zoozled” or “shake their bones”, as the
world would coin it. Further, they are always looking forward to the next
function venue. Strategic thinking is only swiftly employed with a view to
maximize pleasure.

Ironically, when you call a meeting to plan a developmental project at the


same venue and time where “motivators” are absent, do not be shocked if
you confer alone! Whatever arguments you marshal, only a handful
complaining lot will show up out of courtesy and appearing to be in a mad
hurry to attend “another more important meeting” scarcely before you
complete yours, despite having arrived late to your meeting! Apologies are
generally not in the African vocabulary unless an AK 47 is pointed to their
throats! As soon as the meeting is complete, they zoom off to where it is
“happening”.

Even when clearly serious and inevitable issues such as proposal writing,
fund raising, development planning are to be crafted, they trivialize them
until their fingers are “oiled” buttressed by some ‘cool beers’ to clear the
throat while brain storming! They are more willing to let opportunity fly past

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unutilised than to redeem the time due to the pleasure driven attitude. The
pauper progressive Zambian suffers bottlenecks at every turn and is thus
frustrated by and by. For others, red tape is perfectly normal and acceptable.
They actually wonder why you complain!

In general then, it can safely be asserted that Zambians are pleasure driven
rather than target oriented. They are cultured and nurtured to be docile,
dependant, indifferent and to a large extent carefree unless something
directly threatens their very existence or livelihood. Sadly, they are
reactionary and do not proactively respond unless pushed to the wall.

As a result, the subtle Zambian Republican Presidents, both past and present
have ridden high and long because of such terrible Zambian attitudes. For
instance, the lost decade (1991-2001), Zambians watched helplessly as the
MMD dissected the country’s economy and failed to repair the damage.
Zambians only reacted when the third term bid popped up. A similar
situation has taken place under the so-called “New Deal Government” and
its successors though that is not our subject matter for now. Suffice it to say
that Zambians are generally laid back, complain for a season and then move
on only to drop into the same pitfall!

Still other Zambians are taken up with the short-term luxuries that are
neither sustainable nor bring food on the table. For instance, some waste
many valuable hours in front of the television or computer screen, for say 3
hours daily. In a week, the total time translates to almost one whole day in
front of the screen! If one attends to both (TV and Computer), that knocks
off two days in a week! Other common captivating habits include romantic
novel reading, card playing, computer games, Internet surfing, pool playing,
music and idle chatting. Granted, some of these may not be evil in and of
themselves but if they are not properly regulated, a lot of valuable time is
irretrievably lost. Take a US movie as an example, captivating, violent,
intriguing and suspense filled easily sweeps one off their feet. Granted, it is
good to have your mind off the basic bread and butter issues once in a while,
but calculate the cost benefit you-wards. For one thing, those actors you are
glued to are already multi-millionaires! (US Dollars bwana, not the unstable
kwacha!) In all probability, they already made their life time fortune with
much more to spare. They have minted gold as it were. Why spend so much
time watching already wealthy people while you grow poorer? Suck the
progressive ideas from the screen and implement on your own projects!
When are others going to benefit from your works? Why not spend the same

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wasted time in generating wealth? Isn’t it high time others benefited from
your unique products? Why disqualify yourself? Why use less than 10% of
your brain? Come on buddy, arise and make a difference in your generation!

At this miserable rate and attitude, Zambia will remain a pathological pauper
nation. What we need are inspirational, sincere, brave, methodical, strategic,
sacrificial and devoted leaders that will weather the wind and galvanize
everyone to rise to the challenge. I mean, why should we perish of hunger
when we sleep on golden pillows? With all the resources at our disposal,
why have one meal a day, while the multi-layered shapeless politicians eat
“masuku” over our heads? We must arise and change our lot lest we perish!

Further, Zambians have a bad reading culture in keeping with what someone
has quaintly quipped “If you want to hide something from an African, then
put it in a book!” how so true! They concentrate on the wrong things such as
fantasy rather than real tangible idea generating literature.

There is urgent need to rectify this anomaly so that the nation should begin
to turn the tide towards prosperity land. For why should we linger around
this pauper hill for all these years? As this book unfolds, we shall be
considering aspects we need to address if we are to see changes in our
fortunes both at the individual and national level.

But what can be done to turn the tide? What can individuals do to change
things round so that the world around them can ‘bow’ to their demands?
How can YOU take charge of your destiny against such a dark, dark
backdrop? A number of pearls are suggested in this and subsequent
chapters. These are by no means magical solutions but proven workable
options that may work for you depending on your context and strategic
positioning. The African mind does well to take heed. Here goes…

1. Radical mental paradigm shift. The first thing that desperately and
urgently needs to change is at the mental level, from being fearful,
dependant, relaxed, indifferent, laid back and laissez faire to an
entrepreneurial mindset. It is true that Zambians have known better
days when almost everything was free from nursery up to University
level and beyond. In a sense it was a good season good while it lasted
but in another, it virtually killed the competitive innovative and
creative spirit of people to the extent that they expect the government
From Mr. John Chundu, 12/02/05

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to provide everything on a silver platter. But the times and contexts
have changed to a new social contract where the individual is an
active participant in charting their own course. To the extent they
apply their ingenuity, skill and competence, to that extent they will
prosper. The lazy and content will die poor, complaining all the way to
the grave. That sharp entrepreneurship spirit needs to be inculcated
into people’s minds so that they wake up and fend for themselves and
progeny. In local slang, we call it “Ukufisenda pesono” because you
can never rely on the state or politician who in all probability visits
you once at election time when they seek your vote. The rest of the
time is for egocentric gain. In a sense, they are also smart because
they are exploiting their window of opportunity because it is possible
to be in Parliament or hold Ministerial office for five years and yet
come out empty handed because you squandered all opportunity or
resources. Strategic planning, thinking and acting are key without
which we remain paupers from generation to generation and wonder
why we are “unlucky”! An entrepreneur spots opportunities at every
turn and refuses to settle for less until they have achieved their goal.
They are serious risk takers, believe in trying, think outside the box,
have high intuitive instincts and turn challenges into opportunities.
Some strongly believe that a serious entrepreneur throws all
precautions to the wind and will do any and everything to achieve
their goal. Others, like seasoned businessperson, Ken Jacobson, hold a
contra view believing in calculated intelligent risks. Whatever the
case, the principle is that business, in its essential nature, is a
necessary risk. For instance, a formal worker (regular eight hour daily
employee) should have a back yard garden at home, run a “kantemba”
or store up for the future. They should never rely on their salaries for
survival and development but should create and expand other
financial streams to the extent that the salary ceases to be the centre
piece. The business magnate should be prudent in resource utilization
and keep the overheads as low as possible. This calls for thrift
spending and long-range thinking. Do you wonder why some shop
owners never leave the money counter despite their high academic
credentials or affluence? They have an entrepreneurial spirit. High and
careless spenders live for the day to please themselves for which they
regret later. Whatever you have in hand is a potential wealth
generator, look carefully, you could be sitting on gold, like some
communities in Zambia have done in some now renowned mining
(e.g. Lumwana, Munali hills etc) areas. It may not necessarily be real

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 15


tangible minerals but another resource that can open the door to
bigger gains in future. I admire the “Kaponya” entrepreneurial spirit
when selling their merchandise, how aggressive and innovative they
are! The elite are too proud “Ichipale” to enter the tax-free business!
Another thing that needs to change for virtually everyone led or not is
the fear of people and perceptions. Another radical mental shift people
need to make is to learn to save and invest. Half the time, most
employees are expenditure inclined and rarely think about saving or
seriously investing in some venture. Most of our bank accounts are
barely income and expenditure (flow through accounts) rather than
points of investment. In Africa, the led are very dependant and rarely
venture out unless they are expressly permitted, even in the mundane
things of life! The other side of the coin has the affluent, powerful,
famous and recognised who think they own the world and can do
anything they please. They bully everyone and pump airs wherever
they go. No wonder they fail to fit into their native community fibre
after a frowning providence visits them. Successive Zambian
Presidents have been an interesting lot because they feel they own
everything and everyone in the land. As such, they resort to running
the nation as if it were their private farm. If anyone asks too many
questions, they are in grave danger, anything evil can befall them.
There is need to develop a questioning and enquiring spirit that is not
stifled or intimidated by any one. This may sound unwelcome to some
quarters, especially to people in power. But the entrepreneur has a
unique self-leadership quality that enables them to develop an
independent mind leading to self-actualisation. A country
predominantly centred on politics and politicians suggests how weak
and under developed the economy is. A large and well developed
economy has a smaller room for the politician and runs its huge
machinery on entrepreneurship.

2. Generating wealth. The second is to ensure that you firmly lay it to


heart that to progress one must look for pragmatic workable ways to
generate your own wealth as opposed to cultivating a dependence
syndrome. Settle it in mind that as you develop an oasis, yea, fountain
of wealth “creation”, you are on your way to success, although the
initial sacrifice may be painstakingly hard to bear or manage. Only
later will this sacrifice pay dividends, sometimes long after the
initiator has left the centre stage. The principle then is that asset begets
asset or wealth bequeaths wealth. This may imply using other people’s

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 16


money, getting a loan or credit as well as investing in a unique market
thus cutting a niche. Whatever the case, make the asset in hand work
for you so that it reproduces itself.

Put differently, one asset will produce another once prudently and well
harnessed. Provided certain principles are upheld and practiced, I am
not afraid of the result. Some principles include:
(i) Entity and perpetual going concern: The organisation must have an
identity of its own separate from the financiers. Half the time, the
owners get offended once you attempt to divorce their private lives
from the organisation.
(ii) Separation of domestic and business affairs/transactions. There is
need to run domestic affairs separately from the business. Often
partnerships do not grow and blossom because the distinction is
vague. The business must run as a self-standing entity. My parents
tried and failed in many businesses, probably because the same
business also supplemented our domestic budget. Usually, in such
settings, the working capital remains the same or decline with
time.
(iii) Consistency, bit by bit/constancy. There is need to hold the highest
ethics, seriousness and consistency over the years. The way of
recording transactions and policies must be clearly laid down and
followed from year to year.
(iv) Sacrifice and commitment. Investment entails delaying immediate
gratification with a view to multiply returns in future. This is by no
means easy but profitable. If you are not ready to wait, wealth
creation will elude you and make you feel the frustration often.
(v) Diligence and determination. Diligence entails self-exertion and
desire to get something done. Ardour, energy, resolution and pulse
are needed to get things done. A determined person does not accept
defeat as an option but is always advancing.
(vi) Vision. This refers to the future mental picture of what you would
like to see as your ultimate goal. Without a clear view and goal,
you and I grope around in the darkness and leave everything to
chance.
(vii) Consortium mindedness. To achieve great things, you need others
contribution to make the burden lighter. Half the time, we operate
as solo commandos and wonder why we scarcely succeed! With
correct terms of reference and team work, much can be achieved.
Egocentrism will only sink us lower than the grave.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 17


There are other traits required. When the first asset is separately and
prudently managed, it will generally beget other assets. For example, a
plot of idle land can have many uses some of them being:
(i) Build on it. Construct a structure progressively increasing the
properties’ value.
(ii) Rent/lease it out. You could lease it out with appropriate conditions
that favour asset value increase.
(iii) Plant fruits, trees etc. The plot must not be left bare. Plant some
trees. It could just add value as we hurtle towards green business in
a bid to save the planet.
(iv) Partially develop it to raise value (e.g. borehole set up) and
(v) In an extreme case, sell it!

Once the above is done, it will open another financial stream that can be
ploughed back as investment to raise the present levels of business. Let
us take option one for a case study, once the building is set up or nearly
complete, potential tenants will begin to enquire. As soon as the place is
ready, they occupy it, pay advance rentals as agreed. This same cash can
be either used to service a loan, cushion some urgent matter (though you
meticulously watch this!) or simply reinvest in another structure. Note
carefully, that the first building will start paying back and over time
increases your asset base. Obviously, the payback period is crucial for
some people but long term projects have to give an allowance never the
less.

Whilst building, it often occurs that insufficient liquid cash is available, a


number of potential cash sources can be summoned whilst bearing in
mind the cost of capital. Sometimes the cash needed may just be bridging
financeℜ to complete the project. These resources help one to complete a
structure in a shorter time period thereby cutting down on other
overheads that would have accumulated due to price exchange
differentials resulting from a combination of factors such as inflation.
Some of the suggested sources of finance could be:
(i) A loan from the bank-there will be interest charged as the cost of
capital but always remember that cash in hand now has more value
than tomorrow. There is a cost to borrowing.
(ii) Enter into a consortium with others who will co-finance your
project and then share the proceeds in future.

From Mr. Johnson Malipenga BA, Choma, Zambia, 15 /02/05

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 18


(iii) Enter into an agreement where others develop your land and use it
“rent free” for a period of time equivalent to the amount spent in
the building process. In short, you lease out the land on condition
that they develop the portion.

As can be seen, the first option has a multiplier effect over time in that other
structures will develop into profit centres. As a general rule, real estate is the
most stable and appreciative business in the world of all time. Think of the
September 11, 2001 bombing of the twin towers, what really hurt was not so
much the trade itself as much as the trade centre buildings! Whereas trade
resumed the next day, the buildings remain in ruins. As late as 2007, debate
of reconstruction rages on while income is daily lost. On the local scene, the
Building Society House continues to be an eyesore, as it stands erect after
the great fire of 1997. Think of the billions of potential revenue dollars that
have been lost the past decade or so.

3. Up root pitfalls: Why Zambians do not succeed in projects


Zambians generally do not succeed in their own projects but ironically do so
for others because many of them do not see value of originating an idea and
actualising it in real life. By and large, Zambians are born and bred to work
for others, an institution or some domineering power. They do not see the
need to inconvenience themselves over their own project, for they wrongly
think that time is readily available to do their thing much later.

Below are some the reasons why Zambians do not succeed in their own
projects:
(i) Lack of vision/weak strategic thinking. The serious myopic views
cripple many.
(ii) Laissez faire attitude/laziness. Many long to rest and have ease
even before they strike gold.
(iii) Indifference. Others are indifferent, do not care or leave things to
chance.
(iv) Procrastination. They push things to a later date when they can do
things today. Many leave things to the very last when it is too late.
(v) No sense of urgency. If you do not see any immediate tangible
benefit, your antennas suddenly go to sleep thus leading to a
weakened pulse. Life is an urgent serious matter worth our
attention.

From Mr. Paul Mumba MBA, Lusaka, Zambia 06/07/2004

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 19


(vi) Projects not time bound, they are ongoing with practically no time
frame. Life is a talent and must thus be meticulously handled.
(vii) Pleasure driven mindset that always looks for the slightest
opportunity to indulge the sensual desires.
(viii) Weak determination. Determination is very rare today in many
souls. Yet it is a very necessary ingredient if we are to succeed in
life.
(ix) Weak due diligence. Vigilance coupled with determination and
drive take people to great lengths in life. They do not spare any
efforts or leave any stone unturned. Absence of this results in
serious trouble and poverty.
(x) The fear of being branded “too thrift”, “blue eyed boy” or “too
hard working” with an ulterior motive. Some live through life
fearing their own shadows and as such, do not achieve anything
tangible.
(xi) Poor or no documented strategic plans. To write down an idea or
business plan for some people is harder than to dodge a speeding
bullet that grazes the forehead! They do not want to commit
themselves. Let us take a leaf from the Vietnamese people who are
amazingly resilient and forward-looking! Mr Paul Woodsϑ testifies
that these people have a clear vision of their personal lives often
transcending many generations hence. Could this explain why the
Vietnamese fended off the Americans in the great war of 1967/68?
Probably. The strong sense of destiny drives them along life’s
winding paths. Lack of this foresight accounts for the poverty that
surrounds some countries, which, though richly endowed, remain
firmly clutched in the poverty cycle.
(xii) Indiscipline to stick to plan. Zambians are excellent planners but
poor implementers. The paper work is impeccable but the chosen
implementers are not equal to the task in that they are not bound to
their commitment.
(xiii) Content with the status quo. As long as nobody dies but scrounges
around, the average Zambian will be too content to challenge the
status quo. As it was, as it is and so shall it be! Many sleeping dogs
snooze in Zambia to the detriment of the people themselves. The
absence of physical war for instance is viewed as “peace and
prosperity”. But think of the daily mental battles that are constantly
waged in those heads as they walk around in our streets? The
Zambian never thinks of improving their lot or challenging the
May 2007

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 20


prevailing situation. The classic phrase that “Change is always
resisted” probably derived from one of Newton’s laws matches
exactly with the Zambian mentality! If it is a “Kantemba,”
Zambians would rather see it remain stagnant as long as the
working capital is preserved. But the project ought to progress and
develop! How can one be proud to remain in their nappies ten
years after birth?
(xiv) Mixing/mingling domestic affairs with the project. This is a killer
trait in many a project in Zambia. Many cannot possibly conceive
the independence of the business from themselves. They view the
business and themselves as inseparable! Any suggestion to the
contrary appears to be an attempted coup detait! Perhaps many
have grown up under partnerships! But the successful project is
separate from the individuals who are mere actors in the project.
(xv) Diverting of resources. Due to many factors including abject
poverty, countless resources are diverted to other areas, some
essential and others purely from wanton indiscipline. The rise of
the Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is partly because the
Governments have proved masters at resource diversion and red
tape. But then, this diversion spirit emanates from individual
make-ups. That further explains why some “foundations” are never
complete and repeatedly laid in Zambia.
(xvi) Unclear targets and goals. Some people and nations roll through
life like a rock on a cliff to their destruction. This ought not to be
instead, they should be in charge of their destiny with crystal clear
targets, benchmarks and goals.
(xvii) Lying. Others are addicted to lies and get by using trickery and
telling half truths.
(xviii) Wrong and mixed priorities. This is a dark blemish on many
countries and individuals. They may have the resources quite
alright but mess up due to poor strategy and wrong priorities.
(xix) No monitoring, evaluation or redesign. Zambians are terrible at
maintenance. They work really hard to get the initial capital item
but fail to maintain it. Somehow, they expect that maintenance is
automatic. Take a look at public buildings like schools, colleges,
Universities and so forth.
(xx) Venture out of the “normal” comfort zone. Many dread leaving
their safe haven into the turbulent challenging world, previously
unknown to them. They would rather stick to the known and only

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 21


move a step once forced by natural circumstances. And yet what
opportunities they miss!

We trust that this chapter has provoked you to greater heights of usefulness
and pragmatism. You rise or fall contingent on your strategic plans and
acting. Let us now progress to consider some definitions so that we are on
the same page.

Bibliography

Birkey Verna, Less stress more peace, Fleming H Revell, 1995

Carson Ben, The Big picture, Zondervan, 1999.

Cole Robert & Mishler Lon, Credit Management, McGraw-Hill


International editions, 11th edition, 1998

Curry S.J & Winfield R.G, Success in investment, 3rd edition, John Murray
publishers, 1981.

Jacobson Ken, Those fatal mistakes, Vistage International (UK)

Krames A. Jeffrey, The Welch way: 24 lessons from the World’s greatest
CEO, Tata McGraw-Hill edition, 2002

Campbell David J. Organisations and the Business environment, Butter


worth Heinemann, Oxford, Amsterdam etc, 1997.

Dresner Simon, The Principles of Sustainability, Earthscan, London,


Sterling, VA, 2002

International Bible Society, Holy Bible, New International version (NIV)


1973

Blanchard Ken & Muchnick marc, The Leadership Pill, Free Press, 2003

Brown C Keith & Reilly K Frank, Investment Analysis & Portfolio


management, 5th edition, The Dryden press, 1997

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 22


International labour office, Zambia: Basic needs in an economy under
pressure, 1981

Institute of African studies, Cultural industries in Southern Africa, 1988

Dowley Tim, Briggs J etal (edit), The History of Christianity, Lion


Publishing, 1977.

Hill Napoleon, Think and grow rich, 1928

Holt H David, Entrepreneurship: New venture creation, Prentice Hall of


India, 2006

Befus R David, Where there are no Jobs, LAM, 2005

Karioki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad,

Maxwell C John, The winning attitude: Your key to personal success,


Pauline publications, 1993.

Mwanakatwe M John, End of Kaunda Era, Multimedia publications, 1994

Sanyal C Bikas, Case John H, Dow S Philip, Jackman E Mary, Higher


Education and labour market in Zambia,: Expectations and performance,
The UNESCO press, UNZA, 1976.

Schapera I, Government & Politics in tribal societies, C.A. Watts & Co. Ltd

Shelton, L.R Covetousness the root of all evil, Mt Zion publications

Steger B Manfred, Globalisation: A very short introduction, Oxford


University Press, 2003

Willis Richard, The AIDS pandemic, The Stanborough Press, 2002

Young Steve, Great failures of the extremely successful: Mistakes, adversity,


failure and other stepping stones to success, Jaico publishing house, 2007

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 23


Chapter 2

Definitions

In the previous chapter, we gave an over view of typical daily life scenarios
of many people across the world especially as relates to developing
countries. It was abundantly demonstrated from that chapter that many
youths today both delight and dread the day they leave school though get
disillusioned when they realise that the competitive world is not as friendly

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 24


or easy as they initially thought. At the time of leaving school, they had
mistakenly believed that the worst had dwindled into the irretrievable past
only to discover that they still had to adjust their energy gears to keep up
with the times. In short, life suddenly or gradually becomes more demanding
and half the time sucks most of their best energies. Even international
students often dread returning home after studies because “they can smell
poverty at the airport” as they alight from the plane. The previous chapter
briefly touched on a number of key principles that open the door to success
once properly and prudently observed as one passes through life. In this
present chapter, we define terms to ensure we are on the same page as we
walk together. It is extremely important to weed out all ambiguities so that
we tow the same line as we ascend to higher ground. To do this, we define
basic words just in case. No assumptions are made by that token.

What is work?
The first word that begs clear definition is the four-lettered word “work”.
Work means many things to different people. It is defined variously across
the world and evokes varied reactions. Some love the word, others hate it or
are simply indifferent. At the mention of the word “work”, some cringe
because it evokes some amount of self exertion while others delight and
beam up to be associated with it as it bespeaks some dignity. They feel it is
the only reasonable thing to do on this side of the grave. We attempt to give
some definitions though we know that we cannot fully define it in capsule
form. The first idea to come to mind is that work involves some form of self-
exertion in a particular direction. In other words, work is the energy exerted
to move from point “A” to point “B”. This simply means exercising mental
or physical energy to move an object or self from one spot to the other.
Another definition carries the connotation of using mental and physical
strength to generate wealth. The worker uses their best strength,
determination, will, competence, ability and wisdom to generate wealth.
This entails long range penetrative thinking and acting. Before any step or
action is taken, the person concerned spends time critically thinking through
processes, systems and outcomes of their proposed action. Having clearly
determined their path, they then summon all the latent potential energy, turn
it into kinetic to achieve their target. As sweaty application is in motion,
wealth is created contributing to the overall lifetime goal. In other words,
good livelihood is a result of calculated risk taking buttressed by constant
relentless breath taking self-application. Next time you see a comfortable or
rich person, register in your mind immediately that they must have begun
some time back painstakingly working at their objective. Further still, work

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 25


has a scientific definition. This definition stated in equation form: Work =
force X distance. The scientific definition defines work in relation to force,
direction and the distance covered, assumedly in a physical sense because it
is not possible to measure the mental distance covered neither is it possible
to tell which direction and with what force the thoughts are going. In science
terms then, the force applied and the distance covered in either walking,
moving an object or physical self-application is what is measured and
quantified to define work. Still, the average lay person on the street has their
own definition of “work”. This could include the use of mental and physical
energy or strength to generate wealth. As can be seen, work is viewed
variously but we can safely say that work is produced by mental labour, such
as authoring a book, composing a song or poems for example. This includes
evoking the inner creative powers, inner resources, skills or energies that one
employs to generate a totally new dimension. That explains why intellectual
property is a big issue in the developed world. The developing world does
not generally take this matter seriously because they are by and large mere
users who do not know what amount of torture someone undergoes to create
an idea. In Africa, products are largely communal (at least historically) while
in the West, products are private, individual and personal assets thus
patenting. For a long time, the Far East Asian countries have been guilty of
imitations, plagiarism and all the rest of it because mental work is not easy
to quantify.

So much then for the “work” usage and definition. But what constitutes
work? What are the elements of work? We set out to crystallise some
cardinal ingredients of this all-important word.

What work involves:

a. Self-exertion. There is an amount of energy exerted in a specified


direction and end. The person in question marshals all their mental and
physical faculties in order to reach out for their goal. Nothing is ever
achieved by a laid-back laissez faire person.

b. Smartness, strategic thinking, proactiveness as taught by Stephen Covey,


“quadrant two”. In addition to self-exertion, the person employs the best
ways to achieve maximum yield. Some targets are reached without much
ado simply because the strategic thinker has properly planned, sharpened his
chisel long before the work is undertaken. I often marvel at our own Chess
Grand Master (GM) Amon Simutowe. The Chess ace has distinguished

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 26


himself by resolutely developing a serious chess mindset that has upset
major long established players. For instance, to clinch his GM norm, he beat
at least three high profile GMs who had clinched their credentials as far back
as 1954, long before he was born. Evidently, the young man relentlessly
trained himself to the top and knew exactly what needed to be done on the
chess board once he sat there. Other people that have intrigued me have been
Professor Clive Chirwa and Mr Gift Mulongesa with their pioneering and
inventive minds. Mental work requires iron discipline to develop and
maintain.

c. Tact. Closely connected to smartness, the person employs wisdom,


networks and is methodical in approach. Tact has to do with ones’ wittiness,
negotiation skills, acumen, clout and an ability to get things done with
minimum inconvenience on their part.

d. Skill & competence. To get things done to the required standard, the
person has to marshal their inherent talent or acquired skills. Having been at
it for some time, they are most probably experts in that procedure and soon
achieve their goals without much ado. Always sharpen your skills and hence
build your competence base.

e. Diligence. Diligence entails some level of restlessness until the desired


objective is achieved. Further, diligence bespeaks urgency, concern, forward
looking, target focused and clearly demonstrated interest in achieving the
goal.

f. Concentration. For one to show some sign of seriousness, they must have
clearly defined their objectives and then zero in on their strategy to hit the
mark. To get the precise end, concentration and focus are needed. For a
number of years, academic success eluded this author until a friend
suggested that I needed to concentrate when studying as opposed to
needlessly spending many fruitless hours yielding little. In his view, a
quality hour or two would do just fine as compared to my daily four-five
hours study periods. His suggestion did the trick.

g. Consciousness. Serious work also means that one has to be awake to the
reality that they are about a serious matter that demands their whole being.
Doing a work half asleep does not help getting good quality work done, is
slower and the person involved rarely learns anything new. Their proficiency
levels are continuously low.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 27


h. Energy. Diligence alluded to in (e) above is in some sense an outcome of
some hidden spark within. The inner drive, purpose and will direct and
energise the diligence exhibited outwardly. Thus, energy is the force and
purpose driven activity to achieve the goal even when everyone else has
long gone to sleep.

i. Devotion. Giving oneself wholly to some cause means one has


consciously thought through issues and voluntarily elected to pursue that
path. Devotion then has to do with a person fully and wholly unreservedly
committing him / herself to something they consider worthwhile and
beneficial. Devotion demands time, talent and resource outlay and
consecration.

j. Direction and goal. It is possible to have a lot of energy, resources and


muscle and yet dissipate energies wastefully in the wrong direction. Thus, as
part of work, the person has to first define their goal and thus apply their
energy in a guided fashion towards the right direction.

k. Determination and resolution. Determination is the missing ingredient in


many a potentially successful person. Either they are too content with what
they have or are far too timid to challenge the status quo. Winners are
resolutely determined to face all odds until their goal is reached. The Bible
says that the righteous person is as bold as a lion, but sadly many upright
people show the contra picture. They should and must be bold because they
are on the right side of the law! Never accept to settle for the mediocre, cast
off temptations to become familiar with or accustomed to the substandard. A
little more resolve like Daniel of old and you could become a world-class
person. Determination entails having a fixed and firm path that you resolve
to pursue regardless of what comes in the way. Determined people usually
achieve their goals in life. What are you passionate about? When the
Apostle Paul went to Corinth, he determined to avoid anything that
threatened to take him away from his mission. He achieved his goal and no
wonder we read his works today.

l. Painstaking perseverance in some instances. Sometimes, the best things in


life come by painstaking sacrifice, perseverance and patience. This entails
observing the natural laws leading to your desired outcomes of course
having responsibly done your part. Some desired goals take time while
others come almost immediately after following the right procedure. Know

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 28


what you are about and your expected out come and then hurl yourself
towards the mark. Do not give up when you fail or encounter hurdles, in
fact, turn them into stepping-stones to success.

m. Self-application. In a sense, the diligence and energy points have covered


this but we go further to state that you need to consciously, deliberately
apply all your faculties in the right direction. Sometimes, opportunity eludes
many a person because they are simply lazy to apply themselves when
prosperity is only a click away. For example, those that have 24/7 internet
connectivity are among the laziest in searching for things on the net such as
scholarships. Once a person that does not readily have access to such a
facility is giving an opportunity, just watch how diligently they apply
themselves! Similarly, those that work in strategic institutions do not fully
maximise their chances. I here talk about correct, ethical and lawful things
not conflict of interest, abuse of office or stealing as is often rife in our
degenerate nation today.

n. Good attitude/mindset. This point is abundantly clear to all but sadly we


must emphasize it because many Zambians are especially crippled at this
point. While they express some zest and interest for a season in a particular
undertaking, they soon unconsciously slip into the laissez faire mode where
work becomes an inconvenience. They might initially pledge alright to do
the work but they procrastinate and in the end may not do it or do it under
extreme duress. The cure to this is to first develop a positive attitude towards
work, viewing it as necessary and essential for ones’ goodwill and self-
esteem. Without this positive mindset, truckloads of excuses continue
pouring out galore. Much of the poverty we see in Zambia today, apart from
the bad laws, is a result of a poor and bad work culture emanating from a
bad crippled attitude/mindset towards work.

o. Time bound. Life is a talent given to us by God to be effectively utilized


to His glory and for our personal good. As such, everything you and I
undertake under the sun must be viewed against the backdrop of being
stewards who must achieve certain targets in a given time frame. With such
a mindset, you soon realise that the 25,000 + days we have on earth must be
effectively utilized to the maximum. As such, life must be viewed as a
project with a start and end date though the end date may arrive anytime,
hence the need to redeem the time. People who do not view life that way
often waste away time, and opportunity instead of seizing opportunities as
they present themselves.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 29


p. Resilience. In a sense, resilience is connected to perseverance except that
in this instance, you repeatedly rise up after a fall. No matter how tough the
going gets and regardless of how many times you stumble or fall, you still
rise up to continue. In fact, you get stronger by the day, to the amazement of
onlookers. I recall how, unawares, I used to surprise my friends after every
exam failure or relationship breakup. According to them, I possessed an
amazing amount of inner strength to rise out of traumatic situations and
move on. While they expected me to give up any time, I instead appeared
stronger by the day. I often laugh and wish they had just a glimpse of the
turmoil within! But the point is that you should never give up or accept
defeat until you are dead. I have heard of a Member of Parliament (MP) who
tried and lost three times before he finally went to Parliament. In addition,
he hardly has any credentials beyond grade twelve and yet he was in the
august house participating in the making of national laws! Now bwana, to
wait for 15 years before winning an election is high degree of resilience!

q. Ethics. These are guiding principles determining what is right, wise and
acceptable in a given context. Every context has its own rules and
regulations and in some cases, unwritten but expected behaviour conduct.
Some do not believe in ethics at all. They think that ethics are a waste of
time and hindrance to innovation in a competitive global context. As long as
no one dies, they will use any and every trick in the book to get ahead. But
ethics have a place and will preserve you long into the future.

So much then for the definition of work and what constitutes it, we now
proceed to briefly consider the ‘Labour’ definition as used largely in this
book.

Labour

‘Labour’ is a word that was once frequently on people’s lips in generations


gone by but this seems to have significantly reduced in these latter days
perhaps because of the rapid changes in our times. One possibility for this
could be connected to the work types as well as the evolution of other new
industries that are less physique intensive having sprouted leaning towards
‘white-collar’ jobs. In the past, most of the work was labour intensive,
routine and predictable but this has progressively shifted towards a mental
slanting, diverse and analytical kind of work. By that token, the white-collar
jobs seem to carry more premium because knowledge work reigns for now.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 30


In fact, some countries like South Korea have already strategically
positioned themselves towards the knowledge and weightless economy
where the new currency is fresh ideas rather than the financial muscle
primarily. Be that as it may, at the bottom of the hierarchy however,
someone somewhere has to fold their sleeves and get down to some really
hard menial work. Entrepreneurs and sole proprietors usually have to take on
the laborious aspects of the work. But what exactly is Labour? As you have
probably noted, we have indirectly alluded to what Labour actually is. As
opposed to mental work, Labour has more to do with self-physical
application towards achieving a given objective. In other words, the use of
physical strength is more prominent than the systematic strategic mental
exertion that occasions regular white-collar work. Labour involves sweat,
toil, sacrifice, strain, self-exertion and an amount of perseverance towards a
certain end. Usually, there is sweating and breathe taking energy outlay. For
instance, the gravediggers or those “Men at Work” along our roads are
labourers in the sense that they are using their physical strength as opposed
to their grey matter. Thus we can differentiate Labour from work by stating
that labour involves hard, strenuous, exhausting physical exertion while
work may not necessary involve physical strength or some force application
in a given direction.

To achieve anything in life, one must apply themselves in appropriate ways


so that they reap their gold medal. In this book, the words “work” and
“Labour” are interchangeably used though a thin dividing line exists. The
table below summarizes the material differences between Labour and work.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LABOUR AND WORK


LABOUR WORK
¬
>Toilsome and physique intensive. >Draws on mental faculties as well
as the inner creative faculties.
>Largely physical. >Can be physical or mental
>Physically sweaty. >May not be necessary physically
sweaty.
>Usually found among the lower >Varies and usually involves some
class and may involve a lot of routine skill, competence and sometimes
procedures. technical.
>Found in all classes but largely
among the elite e.g. “white collar
Webster’s dictionary defines toil as “To accomplish by great labour. To exert strength with pain and
fatigue; To labour. To advance with labourious exertion or with much effort…turmoil, struggle etc”

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 31


jobs”.

Having laid the definition foundation stone, it now remains for us to apply in
the ensuing chapters. I hope you have been gauging yourself already as to
where you fall and whether you actually sufficiently exert yourself to the
limit, for that is the only key to achieve the extraordinary. The faint hearted
and lazy bones cannot leave any indelible mark upon their generations. Scan
through history and show me just one person who achieved a feat half
asleep. I dare assert that all that have left a mark upon the sands of time and
corridors of the centuries have pre-eminently been people of hard, resilient,
persistent and consistent hard work. They have weathered the tides of the
times and orbited in a unique lonely path. In one-way or the other, it costs
much to break away from the familiar human ‘force of gravity’. Many of us
get weighed down and give up even when we harbour immense potential to
change the world and leave a lasting impression upon our generation. Of
course, right motive is what keeps your motor running long after every one
has gone to darling sweet bed. I wonder, are you the worker of the times?
Having defined terms, it is high time we moved on from this spot for the
time is short, we must redeem it.
=====================
================
Bibliography

Post 26th August 2007

Befus R David, Where there are no jobs, LAM, 2005

Shaw Ian (editor), Social issues and the local church, Evangelical Press of
Wales, 1988

Abbot A, Principles of Physics, 1987

International Bible Society, New International Version, 1973.

Harman A. M, Renwick A. M, The story of the Church, intervarsity Press, 3rd


edition, 1958

Gort A. H, Get that job, Parragon Book, 2002

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 32


Chapter 3

The nature and rationale of labour

The previous two chapters have set the foundation upon which we erect the
superstructure. First, we gave a birds’ eye view of the situation obtaining
generally, at least in third world Zambia. Next, we considered the working
definitions that we seek to employ in this book so that we are on the same
page. In this present chapter, we briefly look at the nature and rationale of
work as to why people apply themselves to generate wealth and earn a
living. Why sweat it out through life only to consume and continue craving
for more? These and several other questions will occupy the central theme
of our discussion hence.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 33


As earlier alluded to, the logical mind always craves satisfactory answers as
to what it is about. At this stage, the question “why work?” pops up. Why
spend so many hours, days, yea, all our earthly years labouring away at
things that will elude us at death? Why exert yourself and thus in some sense
waste energy in pursuing things that do not have an eternal bearing on the
life here after? The Teacher in Ecclesiastes had a serious struggle with this
question because when he surveyed the end result of all his toil, it was all
vanity, a mere chasing after the wind. After all my hard labour, my successor
might just come and wipe away all our gains by the stroke of the pen and
like the prodigal son, waste it all on riotous living. But then, viewed
positively, work is essential for our sanity, well being and having a dignified
comfortable quality of life. Work must be engaged in because it is right,
reasonable and empowers one to have several options or choices in the way
they want to live. In other words, no one can dictate to me how I should
spend my money if I have genuinely worked for it with my own hands.
Further, I can confidently make choices that parasitic people cannot. For
instance, if I have acquired a skill and expertise in a certain area, I can easily
elect to work on my own or hire myself out at a higher fee. On the other
hand, if I do not have any special skill and merely depend on hand outs, I
will scarcely think outside the box. Naturally, I will be inclined to begging
from donors who also sometimes have clandestine agendas of keeping me
dependant on them as the case may be. It is thus reasonable and of high
benefit to the worker if they learn the ropes with a view to move on to
independently establish their own income generating activity.

Having established what work is, we now briefly consider the real rationale
for work at two levels namely the rational (logical) and Biblical.

1. The rational argument- It makes sense to work


One hardly needs to belabour the point that a good head and work often
results in some kind of profit. From the earliest times of human existence,
work has been the predominant activity to generate food, clothing and
wealth in general. Tracing anthropogenic development through the ages,
it is clear that work has been non-negotiable. Work as defined earlier, is
viewed from different perspectives depending on what aspect one is
looking at but in normal parlance refers to some kind of physical and
mental activity whereby one exerts themselves to generate some profit.
For instance, in the farming world, ploughing, planting, weeding and
harvesting are various stages of one work process. Note that in doing the

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 34


so called physical work, the mind is involved such as crop insurance,
reading the weather patterns, best cultivation practices and ensuring crop
maximization regarding land utilization. Therefore, the person that will
not work is viewed as absurd or mentally deranged. In extreme cases, the
lazy people are marked out and denied any form of benefit such as food.
The author has often met eccentric fellows that specialize in parasating
on other people’s labours. They will not keep a job nor be ready to carry
out any kind of menial work, as “it is below their status!” Sadly, a good
portion of this affects most Zambians. Lazy people in Zambia are in at
least two categories namely the Short cutters, corrupt and rippers. The
other class is those that simply love the finer things of life. They live in a
wishful thinking world where they always daydream about what could be
or what obtains in the film industry! They form their perceptions about
the ideal life based on what comes out of Hollywood and therefore spend
all their lives complaining on just how Zambia is a lousy, poor,
obnoxious, filthy and cursed place. They go further to assert that Zambia
can never develop and will forever remain many generations behind the
first world. Granted that their assertions may hold true but ask them what
they themselves have done positively to change the world. A cursory
survey on their productive lives will reveal just how barren they are in
the area of labour. Those that have attempted to relocate to the first world
with the same laissez faire attitude have received a rude shock of their
lives because people in the West hardly have time to waste but are
constantly working, working, working! Those that have been humble
enough have trickled back to mother Zambia and started afresh. The bulk
remain as paupers in those respective countries, too ashamed to come
back home. However, those that have made it out there are in all
probability the most astute and diligent at their callings. Such would
never fail in Zambia, contrary to what the learned counsel once asserted
that those who work outside Zambia are failures! On the other hand, the
short cutters always look for the quick fix and reap far more than they
deserve. Being opportunists, they prowl around looking for whom to
devour of their wealth. Since King Fred institutionalised corruption in
1991, nearly every Zambian has been infected with the easy, quick fix
virus!

But genuine work is painstaking, seasoned, planned, logical and


structured.

2. The Biblical argument

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 35


The Bible is a very interesting book indeed, interesting in the sense that it
covers all aspects of life either directly or by way of principle. One of the
areas that the Bible strongly and directly talks about is the issue of hard
work. It often baffles the author’s mind that despite such clear
instructions from the word of God, and Zambia being an avowed
‘Christian Nation’ (At least from the 1991 Chiluba declaration!),
religious people shockingly rank among the laziest in the area of labour
and work. Various reasons can be advanced for this pathetic situation but
for now, we zero in on what the Bible positively says about work. In the
previous section, we sought to show that work is reasonable and a natural
expectation. In this section we proceed to assert that even the Bible
commands that work be the main activity to occupy every person. This is
so because this is a command and an aspect of worship to God. In
Genesis 1×, it is shown how God placed the man in the Garden of Eden,
probably located in present day Iraq, to work and take care of it. This was
long before the fall when things turned from bad to worse. The Garden
was well watered and probably needed very little labour intense work
compared to the present and yet God instructed Adam to work! As the
Bible is scanned further, it becomes evident that work became hard but
still needed to be carried out (Genesis 3). Having experienced the fall,
creation thrown into disarray, the world increasingly became a painful
place to live because from the day of birth to death, it was toil, sweat,
pain, sorrow and hard work throughout. Yet, work remained a command!
By the time one reaches the New Testament, it is more than clearly
demonstrated that work is not only expected but part of the very Christian
fibre. Whereas the unbelieving world might want to manipulate or cut
down on work, the Christian is called upon to diligently do their best to
the greater glory of God. Take Acts 20:33-34 for instance (“I have not
coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that
these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my
companions”), we note that the Apostle Paul made it a point and resolve
in his life to work hard and not to be a burden. Although he had
privileges as an Apostle, his eye was fixed on the long-term goal. He
continued to tent make while he preached the Gospel so that he would
not only be a preacher but a mentor as well. “... In everything I did, I
showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak,
remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed
to give than to receive”! These were powerful words that came from the

Holy Bible

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 36


mouth of a giant in the faith. Let us notice a few lessons for our
instruction:
a. Note that the Apostle Paul was a leader that actually exemplified what
he said in public. He says that for a space of three years, he never tired in
working hard so that he could show by way of example.

b. Paul had been an excellent understudy of the Lord and recalled all that
was taught to him and therefore sought to pass on what he heard. He
recalls some actual words of the Lord, probably passed down by oral
tradition, that it was more blessed to give than to receive. The picture
today is entirely altered by many present day preachers.

c. Paul worked really hard, day and night using his hands to generate
wealth. He ensured that he inoculated himself against covetousness by
ensuring that his team was adequately catered for constantly. Paul never
visited people’s homes in the pretext of preaching whilst secretly
coveting and envying people’s goods and riches, but nay, he toiled and
laboured through out. Laziness was tantamount to sin, and for sure it is.
Note further that the Apostle was a strategic thinker who used what he
had in hand to provide for his needs. He never waited for donor funds nor
rejoiced when he qualified to be placed on the ‘Highly Indebted and Poor
Countries’ (HIPC) conditions. Progressive people effectively use their
heads and hands to get what they want. Sometimes, to get the finer things
of life, it may have entailed doing some apparently demeaning jobs but
what did it matter, if only he avoided begging or being a burden to
others?

d. As his team generated wealth, they had a special eye towards the weak
that by their natural constitution could not fend for themselves. He had
no time for the deliberately slothful and lazy but went out for those
whose providential circumstances had frowned.

Today, we have a vast army of people from different walks of life that are
parasitic. They are able bodied but spend their lives begging or lazing
around. Some of the people covered under this category are relatives,
friends, children and spouses. Pastor Cholwe Mweetwa has written an
excellent treatise on the thorny subject of ‘relatives’, you will do well to
avail yourself to that one.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 37


In a nutshell, Paul was not content with the easygoing kind of life that
characterizes many so-called believers today. His motto was to leave a
blameless legacy after he had exited the earthly tent. In addition to what we
have highlighted above, Paul was of a firm belief that Christians ought to be
the best employees at all times. They ought to be diligent, disciplined,
honest, trustworthy, hard working, reliable, consistent, optimistic, excellent
time managers, models and shine like stars in a wicked and depraved
generation. For instance, he taught that Christians needed to work hard
whether the boss was present or not. In other words, they needed minimum
supervision because they were conscious of God (Colossians 3:22).
Elsewhere, the Bible talks about doing everything with all our might to the
greater glory of God (Ecclesiastes 9:10). This means that whatever the
Christian undertakes, they must resolve to put in their best so that in the end,
God might receive the glory. Many years ago as a student, the author recalls
how saints endeavoured to do their best because they did not want to bring
shame to the name of the Lord by their dismal academic performance. In the
same breathe, there was a fair share of those that spoke more about “being
heads not tails” and yet hardly set their eyes on their books! Such ones
hardly even attended lectures at all, but in the event they did, they hardly
concentrated. The same holds in the working world, many have degrees but
can hardly perform to expectation. The home is another scandalous area for
many saints. Many hardly know how to cook, make beds or even help
around. They always imagine that they are King’s kids with royal blood
flowing within their veins and cannot possibly stoop so low as to labour! But
they forget that they have duo citizenship. For now, they are on earth and
must obey the laws of nature, at least in those aspects.

Therefore, there is need to revisit our paths and ensure they are in
conformity with the Holy writ. For reference, you could look up the some
verses from the Holy Bible to buttress our argument.ι

Dicti on ar y definiti on of wo rk
Webster’s dictionary definition is “Exertion of strength or faculties to
accomplish something; toil; labour; that which is produced or accomplished
by exertion or toil.” Clearly, work is that which is produced by mental labour
examples of them being a book authoring, a poem or any other that involves
I Thessalonians 4:11; I Thessalonians 5: ;I Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8,12;
Acts 20: 33-34; Romans 12: 11; Genesis 1:28; Titus 3:1;Colossians 3:17,22-24;
Ephesians 6:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Proverbs 22:29; 1 Corinthians
10:31; Colossians 3:23; 2 Corinthians 5: 9-10,

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 38


summoning the mental powers from within the inner resources. Any person
that does not recognise or realise the nature and importance of work will
remain indifferent or non-committal to any self-exertion. After all, according
to McGregor’s theory, some perceive work as an inconvenience and
necessary evil. Left to themselves, they would rather lazy around doing
nothing. In Zambia, laziness takes a very interesting face. People are largely
pleasure driven and by that token enjoy entertainment rather than self-
exertion. Secondly, Zambians sometimes amazingly despise hard workers
but love to be associated with the successful, as long as they are drawing
some free benefits. If they do not suck some free benefits, the successful
become foes.

Who is to work?
Every individual without exception is to engage in some kind of work, of
course bearing in mind the various rights due to different classes of people.
For instance, we do not expect child labour to be entertained but we do
expect child work/training to take place so that they acquire survival life
skills. In that way, the children grow up to be responsible innovative citizens
rather than turning out highly parasitic public nuisances unless of course
someone is a vegetable (invalid) or permanently physically challenged.
Apart from those exceptions, all must learn to generate their own wealth as
soon as possible. Recently, a case appeared in the news where a woman who
suffered brain damage in 1990 and artificially received nutrition through a
tube had her supply cut off by court order. The reasons advanced were
twofold: There was no hope of her recovery after 15 years and secondly the
husband claimed that his wife had said to him that if ever she became an
invalid, her wish was to die as soon as possible. The parents to the woman
had a contra opinion. Ethical issues flared up. Both sides of the human rights
coin pundits forcefully echoed their reason for their stand. With all due
respect to the law, such people (invalids) need help for sustenance. But if
someone is able bodied and sane, why keep them idling around?

When to work?
The work is to be undertaken at all times with the greatest diligence.
Depending on what shifts one elects, work must be pursued with utmost care
and devotion. In the language of the Bible, all must diligently exert all their
energies while it is day for night commeth when no one can labour. Six days
must be devoted to arduous serious hard work. It is an urgent matter that

The Post news paper 25th March 2005

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 39


needs to be accomplished in its due season or else it may not have a strategic
fit or further your cause. Unless it is viewed as such, no one will waste their
time to engage in work or they will do their duty at their leisure time.

What to work for?


Work for the good for self, family and the community at large. The primary
reason is to please God by not being dependent upon anyone. You and I must
work because in six days of the week, we must labour and do ALL our work
for reasons of progress and maintenance. We must work to generate wealth
so as to build capacity in yourself and others.

Who to work for?


We are to work for whoever we elect to serve. In another sense, we ought to
work for ourselves by being self-employed. In all these circumstances, we
are to do our best so that God might be praised in the end. Let us take a leaf
from Joseph in Genesis 39:3, it is striking to note that Portipher, who by all
standards served other gods could see that Joseph’s God was unique and
made him prosper. Wherever the Christian is, the people around must be
blessed as a result. The simple biblical principle still holds today: If you are
faithful in little, you will be given more charge. Apart from being reliable
and faithful, the saint should aim to be the best they ever can be.

How to work: attitude and out put


As earlier alluded to in the preceding point, the Christian is to put in their
best at all times knowing that whatever they do is speaking who and whose
they are. In the Scriptures, the Christian is called upon to work diligently,
wholeheartedly, resiliently and innovatively. In all things, they should ensure
they work as unto the Lord. This means that they are constantly to have one
eye on the ultimate being they are to give account to-God. Many people,
sadly even evangelical Christians tend to settle for mediocre output and
justify their actions! But that ought not to be! Daniel had a different spirit
and thus distinguished himself. I am yet to hear of an Ambassador that
deliberately misrepresents the sending President and hopes to be spared.
What more when representing the most high God?

What to look out for as we work


As we work, we are to look out for a number of things, some positive while
others negative. We tabulate them in that order:

A. Positive points to look out for:

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 40


i. The good work we do will be noticed and speak for us.
ii. Excellent inter personal relations are built over time.
iii. The oil of good interpersonal relations is effective communication.
iv. You are uniquely blended, so do your best to show what you are made out
of-Your mettle.
v. Always take time off to rest and do other things such as hobbies sport etc
vi. Always be thinking many years ahead so that you avoid being stranded
after you leave formal employment.

B. Negative points to watch out for:


These are things that pull us down, sometimes unawares leading us to
doomsday. It is wise to note each of them as we walk through life:
i. Not everyone will be on your side.
ii. Be careful who you confide in whatever plans you have.
iii. In an office setting, beware of food poisoning, watch those teas that you
drink! Never leave open drink bottles and go off only to return to them later.
You have no telling what has been put in the drink while you were away.
iv. Beware of being too close with the opposite sex or being overly familiar.
It might just be the beginning of your down fall in terms of character. In the
same breathe, never stifle team work or comradeship.
vii. Your poor performance in the work place will speak against you to the
next person.

What is the best way to work?


Work must be smart and hard. Not everyone who spends endless hours
toiling away is necessarily the best worker, nor are they the most successful
or effective. What matters is priority. The Pareto principle teaches that if one
does the first 20% priority areas, they get an 80% return while those that
deal with the 80% least priority areas, will get very little return. In the
modern world, hard work must be coupled with smartness. Stephen Covey
teaches that for one to cut down a tree given seven hours, they must spend
the first six hours sharpening the axe and effortlessly cut it down in the last
hour! Most of us spend one hour sharpening and six hours toiling to fell the
tree. Prior hind thought to any activity will help to efficiently and effectively
get results. In other words, people must work smart rather than merely hard.
A larger treatment of smartness is reserved for another section of this book.
But suffice it to say that people must be ready to perseveringly work hard
and smart to reap the best results.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 41


======================================================
Bibliography

International Bible Society, Holy Bible (NIV), 1973

Befus R David, Where there are no jobs, LAM, 2005

Young Steve, Great failures of the extremely successful: Mistakes, adversity,


failure and other stepping stones to success, Jaico Publishing house, 2007

Chapter 4
“Do not eat unless you work”

The necessity of labour

Without doubt, we have established that Labour is non-negotiable in the


sense that we cannot avoid it if we are to get by. We have demonstrated both
from the Biblical and rational argument that work brings about honour,
dignity and progress in whatever undertaking we engage. The venerable
Professor Clive Chirwa seems to have captured this very well going by the
arguments he has put forward. Sadly, most of his advice has gone unheeded
by Politicians. Be that as it may, the individual and nation stands to gain
much if they but devoted themselves in the right things and direction. It
would add more sense if we engaged in serious critical strategic thinking
long before we launched out. For instance, the Zambian Fifth National
Development Plan (FNDP), although heralded by some quarters, has at least
one serious flaw, the over dependence on donor support. How can a vastly

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 42


endowed nation chronically rely on hand outs? The nation needs to galvanise
its resource base so as to turn around its fortunes. Kenya has done it as it has
lately been able to fund over 70% of its budget internally1. That said, there is
need to encourage individuals to willingly and resolutely fold their sleeves
and get cracking away at some hard work. This chapter gives some reasons
as to the necessity and importance of labour.

Work is crucial for the following reasons:


a. It is the natural way to generate wealth. There is no short cut to wealth
generation apart from painstaking hard work. This involves foregoing
some present creature comforts to arrive at the desired haven. There
are unwritten but proven “wealth creation laws of nature” which if
violated leads to other problems. Our friends in the developed nations
have long realised this and continually never lose grip on that handle.
In as much as they enjoy their leisure, they do very serious prior work
and “cool off” in readiness for the next day. They use every available
factor of production and exploit it to the full, ensuring that they
themselves are the chief beneficiaries. A tear evoking situation is the
Zambian scenario where the natives are the last to benefit amidst
plenty. One reason is the faulty laws as well as a weak mindset
exhibited by the political leaders. Another is that the citizens expect
handouts rather than persistent sweaty hard earned output. We need to
go beyond mere wishful thinking and planning.

b. It is the natural way to provide for ourselves in terms of food, clothing


etc. The first point is further highlighted in that having built food
security around you, the next natural expectation is to be empowered
to acquire next level needs. A nation that fails to feed itself is a shame.
How can Zambia with a mere 12 million people fail to feed itself
more than after 42 years of independence? Whatever rational
reasoning we summon, it is simply not right to be thus disposed. You
can only survive as long as you work.

c. It makes sense. As earlier alluded to, it is just logical and makes


perfect sense to be a hard worker throughout life as it brings about
dignity, wealth and comfort for all. Many Zambians wish to go abroad
to “start a new life” but a rude shock awaits them when they arrive
there that they need to sweat it out. By the time they realise that their
pride will not do them any good, they have bills up to the neck and
1
As at 2007 in fact, other unconfirmed estimates range as high as 80%.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 43


almost starving. But if they had a culture of hard work right from
infancy, they would have easily fitted in and moved along to
prosperity.

d. It is healthy. People must be occupied to maintain sanity. Some of the


depressions we experience in developing nations could be as a result
of being idle. If people were trained and equipped to think outside the
box, use their skill and work hard, I think a good percentage of the
apparent insanity we see today could be averted. The rank juvenile
delinquency, crime and confusion could be minimized if people were
kept busy doing something. As things stand, our context and setting
shows more of bottlenecks rather than opportunities. But I still
contend that great thinkers can still find a way where there seems to
be no way.

e. Makes people proudly own their achievements. I often feel really


good when I achieve a milestone in my life, especially if I have
poured in my soul, energy and resources to achieve my objective. As I
move around and talk with friends, I do so with a sense of regulated
pride because I had rightfully applied my inner creative strengths to
the limit. Similarly, when you hear great achievers talk about their
accomplishments, we envy their glory but not their sweat. Sometimes,
their egocentric sentiments offend us but the truth of the matter is that
by God’s grace, they have achieved it! Unless you can silence them by
your superior alternative feat. I think many Zambians need to learn
this lesson of hard work thereby reaping tenfold as well as propping
up their self-esteem. Sometimes I wonder whether those Ministers
who go to lobby for national donor support have the right self-esteem.
They seem to agree to any and every conditionality, no matter how
ridiculous! Strive to be proud of your achievements, no matter how
meagre.

f. It is the basis for further development. Any nation that has advanced
in this global setting is one that first of all believes in itself. In
addition, it is ready to harness its resources for national development.
The development drivers could include local investors, Foreign Direct
investment (FDI) and other factors of production coupled with a
conducive enabling environment in terms of laws and political will. If
all these and many more are rightly put in the correct dosages in a
corrupt free environment, the nation will have begun somewhere. The

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 44


other critical aspect worth considering is the native mindset. If it is
warped and boxed in, then despite all its potential, the nation will be
repeatedly ripped off as has hitherto been the case in Zambia.

g. Fosters maturity. As people work alongside each other, they cannot


but brush shoulders and eventually get to know each other. They get
top learn how to relate to one another as well as what precipitates
problems or harmony. As a result, people learn how to tolerate and
handle one another. This is the path to maturity.

h. Brings about harmony. Closely connected to the previous point, work


helps blend people from different walks of life, cultures and
background work side by side to one another. The cultural barriers and
differing value systems are refined as people share office or habitation
area. I wonder what Zambia would have been like if different people
from across Zambia had never worked together towards one goal.
Work is appropriate “glue” that helps people.

There could be other points but this should suffice for now. We proceed
to consider the result of hard work in brief though we shall enlarge upon
this in a later chapter.

3. The result of hard work. Hard work usually yields good results and
makes one confident as they face the future. Below, we briefly
tabulate some of them.

a. It pleases the Lord. Christians ought to be the best citizens any country
can have. Philippians 4:8-9 should characterize them. Hard work is a
clear mark of a true Christian. They work as hard and as much so that
they can bring glory to God. Because their motives are right, they work
as unto the Lord with a view to generate wealth that ultimately translates
into help to the genuinely weak or poor. The Christian Church in the
early centuries perhaps had far fewer deliberately poor saints. Granted
that they were a persecuted and despised lot wherever they went, but they
distinguished themselves by dignified hard work. Those that were more
fortunate to amass a bit more than the average person always had a
special eye towards the weak (Acts 20: 35) I am sure they were too
ashamed to major in donor dependence but rather, they preferred to be
the donors. In Zambia today, many delight in receiving free things but

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 45


this brings shame to the name of the Lord, if you are fine, able bodied
and can generate wealth on your own.

b. Secondly, It is the reasonable thing to do. It is rational and builds one’s


esteem because you have the pride to confidently show case of what you
can offer. If you specialise in hand out reception, you are robbed of any
sense of pride and cannot confidently generate or sustain your new ideas.
In other words, your creative powers are compromised and are “people
opinion” dependant. One of McGregor’s points holds water that states
that some people view work as necessary and good. It further connotes
that work builds one’s psychic thus fostering inert creative powers. Scan
the inventive geniuses of all time, what do you notice? Is it not their
attitude that accounts for their feat accomplishments? Working with one’s
hands clearly gives you courage to face the next mountain.

c. Generates wealth. Although earlier alluded to, entrepreneurs usually


surprise a lot of us. We often look around them to see if they have used
under handed methods and if we cannot explain their success, we raise
other destructive foul smelling rumours to fill in the suspicion gap. But
half the time, these people have actually exploited their inner resources to
move to the next level. If you do not take risks, do not expect to pull out
of that present poverty quagmire. In other words, hard work brings about
prosperity, security, serenity and in some senses, good health. Your
present resources help you to get to the next level. Moses’ walking stick
achieved many things for him and the Israelites. Make sure you get a
hold of the factors of production and exploit them! For instance, Land is
in serious abundance in Zambia but very little of it is exploited for self
gain. Outsiders immediately spot this potential and grab it. As late as
2008, land was K 15,000 (about $ 3 dollars) per hectare in Mpika district
with practically no upper limit of how much an individual could get!
Where is the world can you get such a gracious offer?

d. The ability to help the weak. Another aspect, derived from the first
point in this section is the joy and privilege of being able to help the
genuinely weak among us. In every society, the poor and weak will
always be there, no matter how prosperous the place. Perhaps only
Heaven is the exception but whilst here on this terrestrial ball, we must
labour and toil to earn our bread. It is always a joy and delight to help a
fellow human being beset by unfortunate circumstances of life. I do not
for a moment encourages senseless handouts even to the able bodied who

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 46


turn into needless beggars. My point here is that some will genuinely,
despite their hard work, still find themselves in dire straits. These are the
ones I allude to in this section. Mother Theresa is said to have found her
chief delight in helping the vulnerable. She did not do it from an abstract
distance but actually lived among the weak. I have my own convictions
about voluntary poverty but we can still learn a lesson here. Helping the
weak is an honourable and delightful activity for many.

e. Fulfils God’s commands. The scriptures command people to work and


earn their bread rather than majoring in hand outs. Many Zambians look
out for handouts and will not work to earn the bread they eat, if it were
possible. Thankfully, a generation with a different spirit is rising over the
horizon. It is a generation that frowns at hand outs and purposes to work
hard on its own to generate wealth. With time, I will not be surprised if
begging becomes a taboo, as happens in the Far East. Unlike the previous
generations that entirely depended on the state to do everything for them
(i.e. plan their lives, career and economy), this cadre independently goes
out of its way to etch a unique path for themselves. The Apostle Paul
gave this powerful rule “If a man will not work, he shall not eat”! (II
Thessalonians 3:10) What profound insight. Furthermore, the fourth
Commandment of the Bible (Exodus 20:11) actually positively
commands that people must engage in gainful work but rest their bodies
once a week. Consider Adam, long before the fall, the man was busy with
nomenclature and taking care of the Garden of Eden! The man was busy
out there long before he met Eve. If Adam laboured before the fall, why
not we? Serious toiling came after the fall when Adam and Eve lost
divine favour. In short, we can safely assert that both God and human
beings expect you and I to work for it is not only expected but
commanded too.

f. Develops the nation and sustains the Church of Christ. If a critical mass
of people in a given nation is equipped with the correct enterprising, hard
working mindset and spirit, poverty will maintain its distance from that
place. The reason is simple, hard working people endeavour to produce
far more than they need for the day thereby forestalling any future crisis.
If, on the other hand, most of the people are lazy, dependant and laid
back, the nation will repeatedly go through the same motions and pitfalls
without ever learning. In addition, the Christian Churches will in turn be
in better shape financially, if a good proportions of those that work hard
in the nations attend regular worship and are faithful in supporting the

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 47


work by tithing monthly. In the developed world, the churches are largely
deserted unlike the developing world. Interestingly, those few in say
England are faithful and give substantially while those in the poorer
south are equally faithful but their pay is hardly significant due to their
high poverty levels. As the southern countries get into the globalisation
loop, we expect more enterprising local nationals with higher incomes to
further support the work of Christ. Salaries employment will not do.

Thus, we have safely demonstrated that work is a good and necessary for
our development. Progress has only been achieved to the extent that we
exploit our resources in a directed fashion and goal. We now proceed to
consider some helpful tips to labour in the next chapter.

================================
========================
Bibliography

International Bible Society, Holy Bible (NIV) 1973

Chapter 5
Helpful labour principles

In every endeavour that humans engage upon, there is usually a motivating


factor, especially that of gain. The higher the returns, the more committed
and longer they stick around as long as nature would permit. If immediate
benefit is remote, chances are that very few will persevere on with the
voluntary spirit to the very end. Thus, even in your personal projects, you
must clearly identify, state your goals and early ensure you craft the best
strategies that will land you on prosperity shores. Always prefer profit
centres rather than cost centres that basically siphon your hard earned
resources. In this chapter, we briefly explore some tangible time tested
principles that increase your chances of wealth generation. These are merely
helpful tips and are therefore not magical solutions to all your past and
present woes. In fact, they follow the unwritten natural laws that entail
running the full cycle of labour. The following brisk points will help you

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 48


very much once pursued and executed carefully contingent upon your
context.

1. Self starter/self motivated


To succeed, one must be self-motivated with minimal supervision
expected of them. Once given the goal, you hurtle along at full throttle.
Generally, many average people work under duress or are reactionary.
But the highly efficient people turn the world upside down by their fire,
energy and resolve! Be self motivated, innovative and proactive.

2. Labouring as unto the Lord


Christians undertake every task as one for the King of Kings. Thus they
do their best and diligently so. They work not to please men but God who
sees all things. Thus, they work steadily, consistently and are devoted,
regardless of whether the boss is present or not. When a saint is given a
task, ideally consider it done.

3. Redeeming the time λ


The revolutionary reads the times and is always conscious as to the
shortness of time thus seizes all the opportunitiesν . They look out for
opportunities are aggressively timely, thus guarding their time jealously
akin to an Accountant with his money in the bank. Each and every
passing second means much to such an individual. As a result, the desire
to save as much time as possible is evident so that the best returns are
reaped. Time is a talent, the fifth dimension of life, as it were.

4. Single mindedness and focus

Successful people are predominantly people on “one thing”. They have


one goal, vision and passion throughout life and will do any and
everything to keep the goal ever ahead of them. They ensure they not
only focus on one thing but they also do one thing at a time. All other
peripheral issues that come upon the path are but stepping-stones towards
the one main goal. Having multiple goals at one time has a way of
nibbling away at the progress rate and generally scatters the mind. In
such a situation, the energies are spread thinly leading to meagre
achievement levels. It is a curious observation that the multitalented and
brilliant people rarely make an impact upon the sands of time due to their
Ephesians 5:15-16
1Corinthians 7:29

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 49


divided attention. On the other hand, the lesser gifted seem to have virgin
devotion to one thing at a time and in the end achieve far much more.
That is not to say that all that do one thing at a time are necessarily
always successful but what is advocated here is the need for strategic
single mindedness over issues. Granted, before people do a self-SWOT
analysis, they try out a thousand and one things but as they get to grips
with their strengths, without much ado, they zero in on that one thing.

In a nutshell then, the successful person must have the goal clearly before
them and pursue it. They ensure it is kept fresh all the times and
guardedly so.

5. Determination
If you are to make any mark on your generation, one of the ingredients
you need to have is determination. Where pessimists see impossibilities,
you see opportunities. You must refuse to believe age-old tales before
trying out reasonable options. Your chest must bubble with a heavy
heartbeat to move on even against the grain. When I first set out to do my
Masters’ degree whilst in the outskirts of Lusaka, some scoffed and
others thought I was crazy. They questioned my sanity. But the weapon
that kept me working away those many lonely hours and years was
determination. Refuse to settle for less. Most things are possible for the
determined.

6. Desire
Apart from the determination, you must have the other jewel of desire.
You must picture your ultimate goal and actually desire to take strides
towards that end. You may have the right ideas but if the desire is absent,
you will proceed for just a short distance and then abandon ship.

7. Discipline
Discipline, yea, Iron discipline is needed in whatever undertaking you
and I engage in. For over six years, I tirelessly and diligently toiled away
during the long lonely hours on end at my studies. I used to wake up at
04 hrs daily and sleep past mid night. The only exception was the Lord’s
Day when I would honour the King of Kings. I would arrive at the office
at 06:30 work through lunch till 17:30. Thereafter, I would turn to my
books and suck in as much knowledge like a sponge.

8. Daring

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 50


Many content themselves with the safe comfort zone. But if you are to
succeed, you must be an intelligent and prudent risk taker. No risks, no
progress! I often get amazed at how daring drug abusers and dealers are
in relentlessly pursuing their goals. They can do anything without any
thought of how they are to cross the highway or drive home. They do not
even care whether they are mauled by animals or stripped naked by
robbers. Determined people are very daring. Caution: do not heedlessly
adopt the “drunkards ’philosophy”! That said, you have to no option but
to take risks to gain something.

9. Diligence
When you meet or merely watch a diligent person at work, what energies
s/he exerts! How careful and yet efficient they are! They are aflame with
an issue until it has been accomplished! They seem to know the value of
what they are about and do all they can to get to their destiny. Sloth is far
from them. Away with the lazy Zambian attitude of working only when
we see immediate benefit! In the traditional African setting, when visitors
arrive in the home, watch how diligently the lady of the house operates!
She ensures the “Munkoyo” or “Chibwantu” tins are swiftly brought to
the fore.

10. Drive
Drive is closely connected to determination but it has to do more with the
inner energy and motivation to carry on a given task. Whereas the
determination is a mental disposition, drive is the fuel and momentum to
continue the forward motion constantly. People with a drive are
sometimes viewed as little tyrants but all they want are results, results,
results! As will be seen in the case below, Jack Welch is well known to be
a high drive person. Often, he throws the challenge to you and pins you
to the wall with your own idea and then gives you a charge to execute it.
In our African setting, to act like a Welch is highly insulting, intimidating
and resentful. But we need to learn to develop sails in which the winds
will propel us to higher orbs. Take a look at Jack…

Jack Welch- The Maverick leader


When Jack Welch took over as chairman and chief executive officer of
General Electric Corporation (GEC) in April 1981, the once Legendary
Company was again at cross roads. At 45, he inherited a huge
conglomerate that had a tall structure, rigid operations, bureaucratic, and
highly diversified. The company, built originally to exploit Thomas

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 51


Edison’s patents, was too large, complex and had thus become inefficient
and potentially uncompetitive. Tragically, no one saw the malady soon
enough until the maverick showed up. Not only was it in many businesses,
it had a large work force and had been divided into multiple smaller
Strategic business units (SBU) and yet with only a limited successful life
span. A solution had to be found, and that came in the person of Jack
Welch.

Jack Welch has been known to be a maverick, tough, determined and


resilient in his approach to management. An only child and holding a PhD,
Welch is the man of the times as he has managed to achieve the
unimaginable, due to his foresight, candour and resolve to succeed. As
soon as he took over the mantle, he commenced his momentous
revolutions by assessing the status quo and what needed to be done. He
discovered that GE, though admirable, was in effect not as competitive as
it ought to be. Thus, the corporation restructuring & re-engineering
changes. This meant among many things, ‘destaff’ by 34%, giving more
lee way to managers, developing a team work culture, brain storming,
adopting an open management style, being customer focused, working in
partnership with stakeholders as well as aiming for perfection in quality.
Impeccable excellence has been the goal. He achieved this by hiring the
right staff while relieving those that were not ready to change. It no wonder
he has been jokingly called ‘Neutron Jack’ but as a leader, he has always
been visionary, articulates the vision, and passionately owns as well as
shares the vision, relentlessly driving it to completion.

By 1993, GEC had achieved the unimaginable. Despite being the most
complex entity by far, it remained an agile company. It had a lean work
force, was continuously learning was aiming for the 1st or 2nd slot in every
business line and where not possible, it pulled out so as to concentrate on
its core competences. It is on the road to success but certainly, the strides
hitherto are significantly great.

But how exactly did Jack Welch accomplish these feats where others had
failed? What role did he play? Reading through his profile, one concludes
that he had certain leadership traits, which translated into action. For one
thing, he broke down GE into smaller manageable semi-independent
businesses with managers freely making decisions on critical survival

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 52


unique decisions. For another thing, the Organisation was at cross roads,

whether to continue marching to the company bone yard or to mutate and

live. Change was inevitable. Thus the changes needed a maverick, clear

and strategically minded person. Welch, qualified on that score and went

ahead to take bold fearless steps, setting goals and targets. He determined

that GE should be better than the best in all areas. But as one would expect,

his innovations were opposed, as they tended to threaten people or put

them on edge all the time. Change is generally resisted but he undauntedly

faced the opposition.

In the quest to improve GE after the rapid positive changes, which left

thousands jobless, the organisation adopted a continuous training approach

where everybody attended some kind of training. For chief executives, a

program called “workout” was instituted in 1989 where the managers

would go off to some location to brain storm, exchange ideas, recharge

their minds and dream up new routes as well as share methods of best

practice. Rather than discussing plans, GE executives discuss strategies,

which they implement in their various companies, depending on their

mission statement. The heart of the workouts is to bring about cultural

changes overtime assuming and knowing that change is resisted at all

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 53


times. Jack Welch is similar and different in leadership style from other

legends. For instance, the Lincoln philosophy and Jack Welch’s, one

cannot fail to see that in principle, they are similar, only that Welch is more

aggressive and operating in a more hostile, ferocious and dynamically

competitive environment. Lincoln thought customers, suppliers and share

holders were to be treated well in order to maximize on benefits, so does

Welch. However, there is one fundamental difference between Welch and

Lincoln’s style. Lincoln was highly individualistic and rewards depended

on output while Welch believes in reduced numbers of work force while

paying more as well as getting higher profits with a thriving teamwork

culture.

Looking at GEC today, it looks very fine, vibrant and alive once again,

especially as it crosses into the 21st century. A new lease of life has been

infused into it and as such, we can optimistically look to the future for

greater things.

11. Develop leadership skills


A person who desires to succeed must at all times be developing their
leadership skills. A leader inspires confidence in others as well as charts
the direction where headed to. A leader has certain clear traits such as
integrity, consistency and vision to which the rest identify. Zambia has
for many years suffered from a serious leadership vacuum. Most aspiring
and assuming leadership office are mere clowns dressed in suits. But the
successful person constantly adds leadership jewels to his sachet.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 54


12. Direction
The worst person to lead or follow is one who has no direction. That
person does not know where to take his/her people or the self! But the
successful person has a clearly spelt direction and all energies are exerted
in that direction.

Any Manager worth his/her salt must surely have heard of or read the book
“The Seven habits of highly effective people” by Stephen Covey. It has
consistently maintained its top slot on the Management shelf and ranks
among the foremost legendary titles because of its unique and captivating
nature. It is both pragmatic and addresses all the faculties of a person. If
one reads this book rightly, I am not afraid to assert that they will never
remain the same as they experience multiple paradigmϒ shifts in looking at
the world as well as personal effectiveness. Without question, this is the
management book of the times! In only 320 pages and in four parts,
Stephen Covey succeeds to highlight what the effective person is made of.
For us to appreciate this classic volume better, it is fitting for us to clear the
path that we must shortly tread. When we talk about “habits”, we mean
much more than just the theoretical knowledge but the skills as well that
are cultivated as a result of a desired repeated constant practice of some
activity. As Emerson once said “That which we persist in doing becomes
easier-not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has
increased”Ε. For a habit to qualify as such, three things must be true about
it, namely knowledge followed by skills and wrapped up by the desire to
repeatedly do that thing. This habit is principle propelled. ‘Effectiveness’
has to do with more than just getting something done but rather executed
diligently, timely and with minimal cost or side effects. Being principle
centred from the inner man, the following seven habits are imbibed. These
are proactivity as opposed to reaction or procrastination. The second and
third habits are beginning with the end in mind where one knows their
goals and work towards it, then followed by the right priorities. Many fall
short at this point as they think everything is of equal importance. The
fourth habit is to think win-win in our relationships where everyone
comes away satisfied. The fifth is seeking to understand others first

A paradigm is broad frame work/base from which we judge, perceive and interpret the world around us
e.g. the way we look at dancing by the wedding bridal party.
The seven habits of highly effective people, miniature edition pages 93 & 94, Running press.
Philadelphia.london 1989.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 55


rather than to be understood. The sixth and seventh habits are synergy
and “sharpening the saw”. A detailed study of this book is handy in order
to ‘suck all the juices out of the fruit’. We attempt to unravel the jewels
hidden therein at this point, fasten your seat belts as we turbo ahead! The
first part of the book deals with paradigm shifts and principles thereof. In
this arena, we note that the effective person begins with an introspective
look and develops outwardly. A paradigm shift entails a complete change
in the way one looks at something far removed from our stereo typed view
of life. Having laid the ground, Covey proceeds to give an over view of the
seven habits where he shows that an effective person first sets goals, takes
initiatives, sets out with a goal in mind, possesses a burning personal
mission statement, is an excellent time manager, has an independent and
objective mind, and knows what is at the centre of his/her life.
Furthermore, the said person builds powerful personal relationships with
other people, by meticulously managing an emotional bank account from
which he/she draws at optune times. Further still, the effective leader is
like a skilled surgeon who diagnoses the root cause of a problem before
prescribing a remedy. Having thus given a possible solution, the person
inserts safety gadgets to guarantee continual improvement and growth of
the traits.
The second and third parts of the book illustrate the fact that the effective
person commences by surmounting small private victories that foster self-
confidence. Our bigger public, outward victories come as a result of
smaller private victories as we are proactive, having clear goals in mind
before setting foot on the road to success and then put the “first things
first”-right priorities. Having excelled in the smaller inward victories, the
person then proceeds to score multiple public victories such as having the
right frame of mind while maintaining an objective mind, being meticulous
not to be overly side tracked by the self-reference criterionη (SRC). This
is achieved as one aspires for a win-win out look to life rather then the
independent win-lose or any other archaic approach to life. Remember, the
assumption is that there is plenty for all to share and to be satisfied by the
same token, so why scramble for resources? Cooperation, teamwork,
collaboration and interdependence are the way forward today. This goal is
achieved as one seeks to understand others first before being understood.
Unfortunately, half the time, the tendency is to seek to be heard and grab
the best piece of the cake before anybody else does! Furthermore, there
must be a realisation that when two complementing parties work
SRC is the intrinsic faculty we use in judging the world outside. This SRC is shaped by our past
experience, culture and orientation/exposure.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 56


harmoniously towards a goal, they produce synergy where the output of
the two is more than if the parties were working separately. In other words,
we can safely use the adage “1 + 1 = 3”. This clearly shows a much higher
output.
Having shown the inner and outward traits of highly effective people,
Covey then hurtles along to the fourth and last part where we see the
renewal that engulfs a person resulting from a radical paradigm shift. This
inward renewal is manifested in the seventh habit where the person in
question “spends more time sharpening the saw” so that at one stroke of
the ax, the gigantic tree is felled! This approach is the opposite of the
common trend where one will labour away ineffectively trying to work
with a blunt tool! The 21st century highly effective person is one who
spends much time in secret each day, meditates, takes some sport, exercises
regularly and is abreast with the times. He/she daily at dawn adjusts the
heart akin to a wristwatch winding each morning-the chest is full to sail
freely at full throttle. This person is constantly setting benchmarks,
evaluating the progress and yet keeping a strategic eye upon the future.
Thus, this dynamic leader begins inside and works his/her way outside.
True and tangible and lasting change emanates from changed heart and
mind within which ultimately blossoms for all to see. All this change must
rest on the correct principles deeply embedded and riveted on the heart of
the effective leader.
With these points, Covey draws to a close of his monumental work that has
eked out a place for him among the modern management gurus. Thus, the
work is done.

Reading through the book, one cannot help to pause several times along
the way and take a deep breath as well as a critical self analysis. Covey
illumines those dark and secure cabinets of our hearts hitherto undisturbed
by light photons exposing the inefficiency cobwebs that have clustered on
the cardiac walls! How much sloth we harbour within these wretched
hearts of ours! How so slow to learn we are! How so captivated by our
nature we are! The good thing is that this classical work shows us the way
forward by giving us the “tools” by which we can venture into those
deadly caves of our hearts and remove the radioactive substances without
much ado. The seven habits can be learned once one is determined to
emerge a victor. Thus, throwing off sloth, we can discard procrastination
and head for the best that we can ever be. As one writer once said, ‘we

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 57


ought to do our utmost for His highest’ℵ. This should be our chief end in
life.

Looking back at the book, I do so with some sense of wonder that a mere
mortal could enter the human mind, open up the heart, diagnose the
problem and then repair it! As earlier stated, this volume is a must for
every manager! Arise then and commence the book hunt!

13. Believe in your self


This means having self-confidence, arising from inert abilities or past
successes. Many people, despite their great potential, have a crippling
low self-esteem. Others on the other hand have an unrealistically high
superiority complex where they feel they know everything and boast of
what they do not really know. They are mere bags of wind. For you to
succeed, you must believe in yourself, judgement and ability. You must
be competent and ready to venture outside your usual domain. For many
years, I was a prisoner of fear seriously dreading failure. Consequently, I
was reluctant to pioneer anything new unless I had privately convinced
myself. I repeatedly practiced a procedure before I confidently appeared
in public. I still struggle with this sometimes but I have by and large
overcome this phobia. Sadly, myriads others completely fail to burst their
fear cocoons and thus remain prisoners. Not only are individuals
cowards, nations too can be cowards. They would rather rely on outsider
applauds or condemnation before taking action. They quickly respond to
keep up with “the Joneses”. Zambia is such a nation, largely a settler land
for cowards that fled regional tribal wars where they historically hailed
from. In one sense, they were peace seekers but in another, they were
cowards. Thus, their descendants have inherited the cowardly spirit.
Consider the Bemba, Ngoni or Makololo, were they not all fleeing from
wars? Resolve to cast off fear and build inner confidence by reinforcing
your mind by positive “Can do” beliefs. In addition, build competence by
practice. Charles G Finney spent much time preaching to the woods such
that when he opened his mouth in open air preaching, he was explosive!
To the extent that you believe in yourself, to that extent you will go. Prof
Chirwa, Amon Simutowe, Kalusha Bwalya, Samuel Matete, Mutembo &
Nchima Nchito and Gift Mulongesa strongly believe in themselves, no

Oswald Chambers

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 58


wonder they have achieved far more than most of us would ever achieve
in three life times!

A very humorous and revealing story is told about a group of white people
who were fed up with African Americans, so they joined together and
wished themselves away. They passed through a deep dark tunnel and
emerged in sort of a twilight zone where there is an America without black
people. At first these white people breathe a sigh of relief. At last, they
said, No more crime, drugs, violence and welfare. All of the blacks have
gone!

Then suddenly, reality set in. The "NEW AMERICA" is not America at all-
only a barren land.

1. There are very few crops that have flourished because the nation was
built on a slave-supported system.

2. There are no cities with tall skyscrapers because Alexander Mils, a black
man, invented the elevator, and without it one finds great difficulty
reaching higher floors.

3. There are few if any cars because Richard Spikes, a black man, invented
the automatic gearshift, Joseph Gambol, also black, invented the Super
Charge System for Internal Combustion Engines, and Garrett A. Morgan, a
black man, invented the traffic signals.

4. Furthermore, one could not use the rapid transit system because its
procurer was the electric trolley, which was invented by another black
man, Albert R. Robinson.

5. Even if there were streets on which cars and a rapid transit system could
operate, they were cluttered with paper because an African American,
Charles Brooks, invented the street sweeper.

6. There were few if any newspapers, magazines and books because John
Love invented the pencil sharpener, William Purveys invented the fountain
pen, Lee Barrage invented the Type Writing Machine and W. A. Love
invented the Advanced Printing Press. They were all, you guessed it,
Black.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 59


7. Even if Americans could write their letters, articles and books, they
Would not have been transported by mail because William Barry invented
the Postmarking and Cancelling Machine, William Purveys invented the
Hand Stamp and Philip Downing invented the Letter Drop.

8. The lawns were brown and wilted because Joseph Smith invented the
Lawn Sprinkler and John Burr the Lawn Mower.

9. When they entered their homes, they found them to be poorly ventilated
and poorly heated. You see, Frederick Jones invented the Air Conditioner
and Alice Parker the Heating Furnace. Their homes were also dim. But of
course, Lewis Later invented the Electric Lamp, Michael Harvey invented
the lantern and Granville T. Woods invented the Automatic Cut off Switch.
Their homes were also filthy because Thomas W. Steward invented the
Mop & Lloyd P. Ray the Dust Pan.

10. Their children met them at the door-barefooted, shabby, motley and
unkempt. But what could one expect? Jan E. Matzelinger invented the
Shoe Lasting Machine, Walter Sammons invented the Comb, Sarah Boone
invented the Ironing Board and George T. Samon invented the Clothes
Dryer.

11. Finally, they were resigned to at least have dinner amidst all of this
turmoil. But here again, the food had spoiled because another Black Man,
John Standard invented the refrigerator.

Now, isn't that something? What would this Country be like without the
contributions of Blacks, as African-Americans?

Martin Luther King, Jr., "by the time we leave for work, Americans have
depended on the inventions from the minds of Blacks."

Black history includes more than just slavery, Frederick Douglass, Martin
Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey & W.E.B.Dubois.

Source: forwarded email chain letter 2003

14. Perseverance and standing firm 1 Corinthians 15:58

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 60


Closely connected to persistence through perseverance has a connotation
of holding on despite adverse circumstances that press in the opposite
direction. Life is full of different seasons. Some are good but others are
bad and could easily knock you out if you are not steady. Hence the need
to build inward perseverance and resolutely stand firm regardless of what
betide. There are many contours that our path makes and must be
prudently managed. A defeatist mindset is a recipe for failure. A resilient
mindset achieves much even after many a fall. Amon Simutowe failed
many times before he clinched the Grand Master (GM) norm. Abraham
Lincoln lost many election attempts before he entered White House.
Mohammed Ali lost the World Heavyweight championship title several
times but still triumphantly regained it. This entails purposing never to
settle for anything less than what you feel and believe you can reasonably
achieve if you tried harder, by God’s grace of course. Never be a quitter
but rather a finisher. The moment I stopped quitting, that moment I saw
myself soar to greater heights, despite having repeatedly failed nearly all
my examinations between 1991 and 1997. From that point, I resolved to
turn failure into a stepping-stone and guess what, I ploughed through my
MBA, IFA and PhD like chicken feed. Stand firm regardless of what is
arrayed against you. Like the Baobab below, always stand firm for many
generations hence. Your echo will encourage many more down the
centuries.

The Baobab tree…stands firm and is amazingly resilient

15. Resilience and a fighting spirit


The ability to rise after a fall. The task ahead is not easy nor for the faint
hearted. The faint hearted will only last as long as fair weather and
sunshine exist. When frowning providence and dark cloud threaten to
descend on them, they swiftly take their flight out of danger! In this
instance, at least they are proactive. But the resilient person has
developed a stamina that will resurrect after many a fall. If one has
watched the WWF wrestling as shown on TV, they will recollect that one
of the most remarkable though sadistic athletes is the Under Taker! This
fellow seems to have incredible ability to rise from a seemingly hopeless
situation after severe battering from the opponent. Just about when
everyone has concluded that he is knocked unconscious and begun to
pack their bags, the Under Taker suddenly rises! The resilient person not
only has the unique capacity to exhume long buried ideas, he also has the

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 61


capacity to rise from the ashes. It often baffles the author as to how the
Japanese rose from the ashes to become one of the world major super
powers. Just over fifty years ago¬ Japan was a sorry sight after being
flattened by the two atomic bombs of 1945. As though that were not bad
enough, Japanese goods were notoriously known for mediocre quality
standards. But looking at Japan today, one can hardly associate it to those
ashes. What was the secret? How did they arise? We put it to you that the
Japanese displayed classic levels of resilience, unmatched anywhere in
the world.

In the same way, to succeed, you must be resilient despite the multiple
setbacks thrown into your tracks. As long as you have breath, you must
refuse to be defeated the first time. The Bible says that if you falter at a
setback, how weak is your strength! (Proverbs 24:10). Further, the same
Bible says that the Righteous man falls seven times but he still rises, now
that is resilience! In ancient Jewish custom, seven signified
completeness, and in this instance, seven times carries the connotation of
total failure but the resilient man still rises! We need more of such people
in our times.

16. Resolution and decisiveness


Clear mindset that is settled on a particular matter. Others might hold a
contra view but not you! I recall sharing with some people my intentions
to relocate to Mongu years back. They thought I was beside myself but I
resolved to go prior to those silly comments. To be resolved, you must be
convinced about something worth dying for. You must have a passion
that drives you to the very end. If you start something that you are not
convinced about, soon or later, you will quit and take on something else
but if your heart, soul and mind is in something, you will go on pursuing
that goal long after myriad others have abandoned ship. I got converted
to Christ in 1987. At that time, many of us professed the faith since our
lot was cast in a “mini revival” season. But today, two decades later, very
few still fervently follow Christ as passionately as they once did. Apart
from the Grace of God, resolution and decisiveness is what has kept us
going through the changing scenes of life. People have different passions,
ready to give up everything else to gain that one goal. As I scan the
Zambian landscape, I recall many people that resolutely stood for
something and in some cases even paid with their lives for their
decisiveness. Names like late fiery Lucy Sichone, Professor Alfred
At the writing time of this book, 2005

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 62


Chanda, Paul Tembo, Richard Ngenda and a host of others that have
graced the Zambian horizon come to mind. Many others are yet to be
added to this list, especially if they threaten the present incompetent
politicians.

A short case would suffice to seal this point:

Dean Mungomba (1953-2005) forcefully appeared on the Zambian


political scene some time in 1990 shortly before the MMD dethroned
UNIP. He soon distinguished himself as a fearless fighter for the poor,
focused, intelligent, resolute, clear minded and a high energy pulse to
contribute to changing mother Zambia forever. Having had high
professional international exposure, the man saw an opportunity to
selflessly serve the nation as soon as a multi party system and liberalised
economy were introduced at the turn of 1991. He was in the first Chiluba
led cabinet and served in several portfolios before he begun to smell a
rotten rat in Government circles. Corruption brought about that stench.
He spoke out and soon got the boot. Unknown to him, he had fallen
among thugs. In 1996, he stood as Presidential candidate and miserably
lost but the struggle continued. Because of his vehemence, President
Chiluba locked him up on trumped up charges. He was never the same
after he left prison. The surprising thing is that despite failing health, the
man became stronger by the day and fearlessly challenged Mwanawasa
on several fronts. He never lost his initial vision of liberating Zambia and
finally succumbed to death in 2005, having valiantly fought a good fight.
Very few have equalled Dean before or since. We await another Visionary
that will arise and be miraculously preserved from the present deadly
political machinations that often lead many to an early grave.

17.The big picture in view


You must know exactly what you are about, the magnitude and what is
involved. The smaller aspects must not cause you to lose the big picture.
This gives you hope, direction and perseverance. In other words, you
must be a visionary. Visionaries like Dean Mungomba always have an
issue at hand and no amount of intimidation will cause them cower away
until the work is done. Visionaries see far beyond what common people
see and take strides towards that end. Half the time, average people do
not see the point until the people have left the centre stage, as was the
case with the late Dean Mungomba.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 63


18.The outcome clearly in mind
Always have the end result in mind. When I begun studying, I asked
myself what I wanted to see after say five years. As a result, I began to
put the building blocks in place towards that end. After six pain staking
years of diligent study, I yielded my goals and now swim on my past
labours. If you have a clear idea of where you want to go, you will
strategically marshal all your resources towards attaining your realistic
goals. If you have unclear or unrealistic goals, you will soon give up and
go through life frustrated. With clear compelling goals, you will not rest
at anything until you have achieved your goal. If it means using your own
personal resources even when the company should have paid for you, you
will willingly and gladly part with your dear money, knowing that your
returns will be far greater than you presently enjoy. It is just a matter of
time.

19.Using what you have in hand


Usually, people want external help when they actually have the raw
materials in their hands. Look around you, what advantages do you
posses? Why not use them to advance your cause? I like the allusion to
Moses by some people. When he stood before the burning bush and God
was instructing him, Moses offered lame excuses that one point God
asked him, “What do you have in your hand?” The same staff turned into
a snake, opened the sea and caused water to come out of a rock! Use
whatever you have at hand. Is it your writing prowess? Write books! Is it
empty poultry houses? Gang up with others and commence a business!
Or do you possess academic papers in this knowledge age? Spread
knowledge at a fee, after all, we are in the knowledge workers
generation. In the end, you will come to realize that actually the wealth
is where you are, just waiting to be exploited. In Zambia, many people
think that the wealth is abroad where they flock to work while leaving the
actual opportunities at home! In Zambia, most of the opportunities are
veiled in raw form and with a little more processing, one is likely to yield
even better results than working abroad. For instance, working abroad
entails constantly being reminded that you are a foreigner and that your
tenure there is not permanent. As such, the investment is minimal apart
from saving up. But even the saving up is minimal too as in many places,
the cost of living is equally high. For instance, one can earn 3,500 pounds
sterling but spends 3,400 on bills and up keep. The net effect therefore is
only 100 pounds excess that is further reduced by the transfer charges to
Zambia where another parasite waits to get a share from the same. If one

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 64


earns K 3,000,000 (about $ 900) in Zambia for instance, they will most
likely spend K 2,000,000 on bills, and other overheads. The balance of K
1,000,000 can be invested in constructing a structure or business, bearing
in mind that parasites will always be there. It therefore depends on the
cost effectiveness of the strategy. It is increasingly the author’s
conviction that unless one gets an excessively good and well paying job,
it may not be wise to work outside the country. It is better to concentrate
on what is at hand. People that have lived abroad and myriads stranded
others can testify to what we have asserted.

20.Self regulating and monitoring


Always set standards so that periodically you can assess yourself.
Preferably, galvanise a team of sincere friends that will help you to
objectively check yourself and how you are doing. On a daily basis for
instance, set out the activities you want to carry out and tick against them
as you achieve. If any remain outstanding, carry them on to the next day
and ensure they are done. If possible, use the “First In, First Out” (FIFO)
method. Lack of self-regulation leads to extremes while lack of
monitoring causes loss of direction and pace.

21. Self promotion


Early in my career, a Human Resources Director once said to me, “Billy,
if you want to progress, promote yourself by study or proficiency” I have
never forgotten those words as they were the engine that caused me to
burn the midnight candle during my studies. Promotion comes in many
and varied ways and depends on how one is positioned in the world. In
the Organisation, positioning is key. Similarly, outside the organisation,
we must promote ourselves by having some unique strength.

Below are some thoughts to stimulate you:

Organisational promotion-“Sometimes you may need to get a lower


job to go up”∑
Promotion by the organisation comes largely based on one’s effectiveness
and correct positioning in the system. In an objective and professional
environment, people’s worth is measured via performance appraisals or
one’s ability to beat deadlines as well as their strategic fitness for the job.
In a subjective environment, people jostle for positions and in the process
injure each other. This scenario is fertile ground for “promotion by
This phrase is attributed to Mr. Clement Mugala

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 65


friendship and bootlicking”⇑ where you find people holding positions that
are not equal to their delivery capacities or indeed their academic papers.
This kind of promotion is rampant in the African nations, Zambia being
no exception. People become expert organisational politicians and go
from height to height.

The best way to beat the clandestinely destructive organisational politics


alluded to above is to ensure one gives no room for their foes and
superiors to sideline them by having the right qualifications, be proactive,
read the writing on the wall long before others see it, research much,
ensure you keep the known quantities pacified as well as being mindful
what you say. If possible, limit your comments to your area of operation
though it would be good to show occasional flashes of your abilities in
other areas too. Exhibit some deep social intelligence traits. Ensure that
you are up to date with the social issues so that you can make intelligent
comments and observations in those leisurely hours or even in the staff
meetings. To be out of touch with reality is a booby trap for many high
fliers in the academic world. Do not forget to keep your superiors abreast
with the developments all the time and ensure you beat deadlines as often
as possible. Stick to your words and be consistent, resilient and focused
all the times. Some have suggested that whenever you are walking about
in the office corridors, ensure you carry some papers as it gives an
impression of being busy and professional to the on lookers∑. Sometimes
promotion lingers and tarries longer than expected, but do not worry or
ask too many questions, for your questions, depending on the context,
would sound unprofessional in some instances. Instead, concentrate on
refining your trade and churning out high quality output. Keep preparing
for the big day ahead, akin to an amateur boxer or footballer. As a last
resort, consider promoting yourself by applying for another job within
the organisation or simply exit the orbit and fetch another job. Change is
wise sometimes as it enriches your experiences. Always ensure you are
within your strategic frame work and check up with it frequently to see
whether leaving the organisation is planned for and when.

Greetings friends,

I hope all is well with thee.

Coined by this author


The Financial Accountant magazine (IFA) 2004

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 66


Just wanted to request you to start thinking of replacing me in the near
future as my strategic instincts strongly suggest that it is high time I exited
the WYX orbit. I will let you know about my next manoeuvres in good
time but just begin to "warm up a player" at the back of your minds. I fear I
might not go beyond September 2504, but If I should do, I will let you
know by August 30.
Other wise, Pwanya intergalactic has been very good to me these last six to
seven years. I am what I am because of Pwanya.

Thanks for being wonderful exemplary mentors, I will miss working with
you.
I must continue packing for now while looking out for the earliest flight
out of this place.
Remain in His keeping.
Billy Sichone
Nexus ADP departure lounge...
Mars

"Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord..." Rom 12:11
====================================================
From a colleague….

Hi. I think this is sad. I can't imagine losing you from the team.
You've been an invaluable member of my team, a confidant, prayer
partner and friend. Namuso would not have reached the heights it has
reached without you. However, looking at what you have gone through
over the years and in the past weeks and months, I can only say I
understand considering the fact I have gone through similar situations
before. The last think I would ever want for you is to leave WV hurt, in
anger and bitterness etc. But the bottom line is that we need to work in
these organizations with respect and dignity. For now, I can only say
May God's will be done. But here at Namuso, you are always welcome
stay. We will make it a matter of much prayer.
=====================================================
=

22.Own the goal

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 67


Never relegate the goal but hold on to it as if it depended upon you.
Many Zambians, leave many things to chance and rarely own the goal.
They have passenger mentality where they are passive while the driver
does all the thinking for them. As for you, ensure you hold tenaciously to
an issue when you begin.

23.Work smart
It is becoming evident that it is not primarily those that work hard and
long that succeed but the smart. They must be ready to tirelessly work
hard but use a lot of brainpower looking at the best way to reach the goal.

24.Break with the past


When Rockets of yester years were forcefully breaking away from the
earth’s gravity, they used energy that would overcome the said force and
accelerate to high velocities. In the process as fuel ran out from the three
stage rocket, the parts would fall off to the earth while the space vehicle
continued on. In a similar way, people ought to break with their past
whether good or bad, plausible or not. The reason is simple, we can
become victims of our own past. If we have highly succeeded in past, we
can begin to rest on our laurels and stop improving. If we have had
terrible and defeating experiences in the past, we can tend to be
pessimistic and self-defeating. Mr Levy Mwanawasa once said “I am
glad that I did not win by a wide margin in the 2001 elections because if I
had, I would have become complacent, foolish and laid back” ∪Despite
his sometimes contradictory statements, the man really had an excellent
point at that stage. Look at what this 2% margin win over his closest rival
has caused him to accomplish! Look at the amount of pressure he has had
to contend with and yet move forward! Breaking with the past is not only
plausible, it is a must.
Action, action, action!

A few years ago, General Motors was by far the most powerful and
successful organisation in the Motor industry. By all standards, no other
company could compare its market dominance, size or financial muscle!
By that token, General Motors (GM) bathed in its glory for generations. It
is now over ninety years old, which record is rare to have in these turbulent
and competitive times. To be around for such a long time is one thing but
to maintain leadership in a particular market is quite another experience.
The Post News paper 24th February 2005

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 68


Many companies have shot up like meteorites and have disappeared as fast
as they came. This has not been the case for GM because it was the
champion for many decades. However, GM has not had it easy lately. It
had a crisis in 1992 when it recorded a net loss of $ 5 billion! It was at
cross roads and any decision to be made was definitely going to affect the
future of the company. But what led to this crisis? Why is GM
transforming today? These are some of the answers that the article “Deeds,
not Words” answers. This is a classic article because it begins where GM
went wrong and what it is doing today to rectify the past follies. The
following are some of the reasons why GM nearly collapsed without
realising it:

i. GM grew too big and powerful as a multinational organisation after


the Second World War. This led to Complacency, stubbornness
and arrogance.
ii. The company was highly focused on the financial figures,
variances, and profits not quality. The Profit and loss as well as the
balance sheet is what mattered most.
iii. The products it made were not as customers wanted them but what
GM deemed fit as “What customers were going to want and buy”
There was no consultation or choice for the buyer.
iv. The Management style was probably another reason. Since GM was
huge, there was a lot of bureaucracy before any suggestion could
be dealt with.
v. The quality of the products was taken for granted as of standards
that customers would like, not knowing that the Japanese were
rising slowly from the atomic ashes through the legendary lectures
of Deming and Juran.
vi. The company did not focus on its core competencies but because of
its size, GM took on many other businesses, which were not
competitive in the long run.

All the above led to the crisis of 1992 because the environment had
changed so drastically over the years while GM remained static like
monument. As earlier intimated, the Japanese entered the Motor Market
with superior quality products which ultimately undercut GM`s market
dominance. By 1991, the Japanese had triumphed already!

A critical decision was made to restructure the mammoth Company by


carrying out drastic changes. Among the major changes implemented was

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 69


the downsizing of the central workforce from 13,000 in 1992 to about
1,000 in 1999. Further changes included the following:
i. Adopting the best practices throughout the system. Only the best
methods of doing things were to be in place. This meant comparing
how certain processes were done within the international GM
network and picking the best way to do something. For example, a
number of ways how to fit an indicator on a car is tried until the best
method is found, having zero defects.
ii. Be proactive. The company had to be agile and flexible, while
anticipating customer taste changes.
iii. Meet customer needs. GM had to change to being customer driven.
What the customer wants is what carries the day. No longer will
GM determine for the customer. As such there was need to be
constantly be in touch with the customer.
iv. Reduce the product introduction cycle time. Previously, it took
many years to release a new car on the market, but a deliberate
move was made to shorten the period to months and in some cases,
weeks! We are told that GM plans to introduce a new car every 28
days on average! Now that is a feat but a necessity. This is to be
achieved by having strong teams that will brain storm and come up
with new models.
v. Do away with the businesses that are not directly linked to the
core competencies. These may be profitable but if they are not
competitive, they are to be divorced from GM so that they can fly
away to success on their own. This has been the case with Delphi-
once part of GM.
vi. Imbibe teamwork and continuous improvement. GM had to
improve in quality and also never again rest on its laurels! This is
the only way forward as time for individualistic tendencies in the
business is long gone.
vii. Include customers in the planning stage. These are both the
internal (employees) and the external. If these are included at
planning stage, success is almost guaranteed because they will
produce and buy what was agreed on at acceptable, if not superior
quality.

GM went full throttle and implemented the survival strategies. Since the
company is big, it has not been easy to steer it back to leadership in the
industry but the said company has scored many successes, some of them

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 70


unprecedented. The sales have gone up while the market loss rate has
reduced and the profits have shot up again. From a net loss of $ 5 billion in
1992, to a net profit of $ 2.3 billion in 1997, this is by all means a feat! In
five years, the Titanic Company is being steered to safety and is definitely
going to avoid the iceberg! As earlier intimated, GM is in top drive to
recovery though a few impediments still linger in the way. The President,
John F Smith, is optimistic that his organisation will surmount all the
hurdles because signs of new life are clear for all to see. For example, the
company will introduce 23 new cars and Trucks within three years. Now,
this is speed indeed!
Among the major concerns is the fact that GM is still the High cost

vehicle producer in North America. That notwithstanding, the important

thing is that GM is on the right track having thrown away the relics of the

past that made it rest on its laurels. It is gratifying to note that GM is

determined to have agility and speed as its hallmarks. In all these efforts,

TQM lies at the heart or else the giant will tumble and die!

The market leader of the 21st century must take heed of GM`s mistakes and

sail to safety while the `Market dominance day` is yet young.

25. Challenge the status quo


Real leaders thrive in turbulent times. They are never content with the
status quo nor do they stay complaining all day. Instead, they confidently
challenge the status quo and willingly work and think beyond the box.
Great achievers are never limited by what others consider impossible,
rather, they are always questioning and etching out new ways of doing
things. Similarly, if you want to be known for something as a pioneer or
inventor, you must challenge the usual settled norms and venture into the
unknown. In other words, you must develop a curious adventurous spirit
that fearlessly tries out new things. People that content themselves in
reaching the bare minimum rarely leave an indelible mark. There is
nothing that distinguishes them from the rusty rest despite having good

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 71


heads and hearts. Real leaders set themselves apart from the pack by their
high unique competence. For instance, many Zambian saints dread
venturing to live in the Western world because of the soul damning
stories they have heard of and seen. They can recount how countless fine
Christians have fossilised once they lived in those materialistic societies.
But hasn’t it occurred that in fact such lands are a grand opportunity for
Gospel witness? Recall that when Livingstone and other early
Missionaries came to the green jungles of Africa to bring the Gospel,
many considered them irrational. In that day, England had more Gospel
light than Africa. Today, the picture has drastically reversed. Now Europe
desperately needs African Missionaries to venture into the “concrete
jungles” of Europe. Settling there is a risk but it is worth taking if only
your objectives and motives are right.

26. Interdependence, independence and team work


Great workers are team players and yet independent. They are
independent in their action, thought and drive. In the same breathe, they
are team players, counting on others and will rarely do anything
clandestinely destructive. As they live, they are aware that no man is an
island and thus do not spare any effort to connect with their team mates.
Not only do they connect with their immediate team mates but they easily
network and link with other people in ways that enhance every one’s well
being. Whatever they do and touch has a bearing on their individual and
corporate goal. A context where people are disjoint and egocentric, there
you find a dysfunctional team and much opportunity is lost in the
antagonism details.

27. Competence and qualification


They ensure they develop the right prowess for any given task. Apart
from the competence, they ensure no one disadvantages them on account
of the academic qualifications, although papers alone do not guarantee
competence. They refuse to take on jobs on nepotistic lines but want to
prove themselves as deserving from the start. Competence has to do with
efficiency, skill and ability to execute a function very well often far above
average. What unique skill or prowess sets you apart from the rest?

28. Be proactive
Successful people have tremendous intuition and fore sight. By that
token, they ensure they see issues from afar and act now, long before the
event arrives. In other words, they operate from quadrant two, as Stephen

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 72


Covey advocates. Nothing ever ambushes them by surprise, unless
Murphy’s Law suddenly appears on the scene.

29.Aim to leave the world a better place than you found it


One teacher once said when I had just entered grade 8: “Aim to leave the
world better than you found it” The year was 1985. I was really struck by
that phrase. This simply means that the successful person refuses to leave
the world the way s/he found it. The chief aim is to leave an indelible
mark upon the sands of time in a positive direction. They resolve to leave
a lasting legacy and contribution.

30.“You will pass this way but once” motto


Closely connected to the point above, they have a heavy consciousness
that the time is short and that s/he will pass that way but once. Therefore,
what needs immediate implementation ought to be speedily well done.

31. Aim to do something right and well the first time


The successful person aims to do something perfectly the first time so
that energies can be directed elsewhere. Dr W E Deming, the quality
revolution champion from the last century, taught that ensuring the
highest ethical qualities are internalised and transferred to product output.
This minimises defects and enables room for continuous improvement.

32. Passion and a sustained sense of urgency


Passion and a constant sense of urgency about the business at hand is
another characteristic mark. They are restless until the work is done. The
heartbeat is on business.

33. Persistence
Despite many hurdles, the person always perseveres. The said person
develops shock absorbers and “resiliers” over time. S/he has a strong
immovable staying power that keeps them hanging in there despite the
odds. We once had a student Doctor friend that was sickly and spent more
time in bed than class. Despite our suggestions for her withdrawal from
the demanding school, she stubbornly persisted and eventually graduated
with distinction! Persistent people often achieve more than anyone would
have expected.

34.Expect challenges and “deep weeds”

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 73


As advance is taking place, the person expects mountaintop as well as
valley experiences. These are viewed as part of the package that sweetens
the journey. What is perceived an insurmountable mountain to others is
viewed as an opportunity by the resolute person. Once, we wanted to get
a passport for our two year daughter and went to the famous Lusaka
passport office. Despite our persistent follow up, it took nearly three
months to get the said document. Many times we felt like giving up but
soldiered on until finally, we got the prized document. What kept us on
was the realisation that expected artificial hurdles stood in the way but
would soon be overcome.

35.Consistency
There is consistency along the way. What was perceived right in the past
is the same today and tomorrow, bearing in mind the context and times.
Further, the person will ensure s/he is neither a quitter nor unpredictable.

36. Know yourself-your core competences & incompetence!


To know one self is key to progress. The earlier one discovers their
strengths, the better. Stars usually discover their core competencies
earlier and plunge head long to success. They do not take up something
to please anyone but rather because they find it easiest to do. I once read
of one Stephen WittshireΘ who suffered from autism but exploited his
artistic strength to become a world-class figure. He could draw detailed
pictures from memory! I think this gentle man discovered his core
competence and exploited it. You also need to know your incompetence
too to avoid fatal errors of judgement. Peter Drucker was right when he
advised against taking up something you are not very competent in when
he wrote on self management.

37.Internalize a project cycle mind


A project has certain characteristics such as a start and end date. In other
words, the project has specific objectives to be met by benchmarks in a
given time period. No excuses are entertained although risks are taken
into consideration. Many fail as they do not see the reason for hustle and
bustle. For instance, they do not realise that a project delay costs more

Refer to an article by Nikki Girvan in the Pick me magazine, IPC media ltd, February 2007 pp 18,19.
Autism refers to people who suffer from communication and language problems, often cringing when
under pressure to express them selves. Visit Stephen’s website to have a glimpse of his world-class
drawings: www.stephenwitshire.co.uk or write to nikki_Girvan@pcmedia.com for more details on the said
article. Phone 02073212622 England.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 74


and has other negative repercussions. Life should be treated like a project
that is time bound, specific and directional.

38. Set high but realistic goals constantly


Effective people always challenge themselves towards higher ground.
They do not allow mediocre standards to be the norm nor do they content
themselves with the yester year standards. Rather, they set higher goals
each succeeding period and relentlessly pursue them. If last year they
jogged 10 kilometres per day, they increase it to 11 this year and so on.
Note that these goals must be realistic and attainable lest they constantly
plague their minds with needless guilt.

Perhaps you have heard of a Mr Dennis Daniel Mwanza, famously


known as the ‘Water man’. I once had an informal interview with him
years ago, desiring to discover the secret of his success. His answer was
simple: ‘Set high quality goals and throw all your weight behind your
strategy’. His professional and academic background was even more
intriguing. He initially failed to enter University but later enrolled in the
school of Engineering having taken the indirect route through the Natural
Resources Development College (NRDC) as well as working for a couple
of years in the rural areas. He graduated with distinction and later
embarked on an MSc that he quickly cleared out of the way. He lectured
at UNZA for a while, was Executive Director of the Water utility
Authority (NWASCO) and later landed himself a top flight World Bank
job in Cote d’ voire. From there, the man continually flies through
countless global boardrooms while pursuing a PhD. The sky is scarcely
the limit for Dennis Daniel Mwanza.

39.Take responsibility for your actions


Half the time, many people are cowardly and dare not commit
themselves. They dread the repercussions beforehand. But the highly
successful person commits self and takes responsibility for the outcome
of their decision. In other words, they are ready for anything, whether
good or bad. Plan B is always at hand to mitigate any unexpected
eventualities.

40.Make decisions
I have met people who dread making decisions. But the most successful
people are predominantly decision makers. They make literary thousands
of decisions in a very short time and progress. Many chicken out from the

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 75


decision-making act purely on pessimistic grounds! Some have said, and
rightly so, that it is better to make a wrong decision than not to make one
at all. Thousands are trapped in the indecision web and as such cannot
progress. How is it with you my friend?

World Vision Zambia once had a potent Operations Director. As soon as


he got onto the mantle, he declared his three pronged goal and sought to
live by them. During his tenure, World Vision Zambia went through one
of the most challenging and interesting times. Because of the sensitive
nature of the Christian organisation, many dreaded making mistakes and
thus walked too circumspectly. As such, many failed to make even simple
decisions but Sikapale often would roar that it was better to make a
wrong decision than not to make any. In his opinion, that is what
leadership consisted in. It’s over a year since that great soldier exited the
World Vision orbit but his quick and timely decision making prowess still
lingers on.

41. Flee parasating people


Avoid “algae” like a plague. Zambians suffer from an endemic
dependence syndrome that can only be cured by a radical mind paradigm
shift. With all his faults, FTJ helped Zambians to shed off some of this
parasating syndrome. The sad thing however is that people were not
sufficiently prepared and sensitized. The safety net was too small and
thus did not sufficiently empower people to transition from command to a
market economic outlook. Capitalism with its attendant effects such as
materialism and individualism are fast becoming deeply entrenched
cultures to the exclusion of the powerful extended family social set up.
Soon, we shall have a nation full of extremely egocentric citizens.
Dependence on some relative to support you on some venture is fast
phasing out. Parasites are in trouble!

If you allow them, parasites grow on your skin like algae or fungi on the
wall, minimise them or at best, avoid them! But bear in mind that this has
a rippling effect on your progeny, as they will never be helped by anyone
in the day of trouble. The developed world, despite being extremely
wealthy, is struggling with rising psychosocial issues (such as stress and
loneliness etc); hence the greater need of psychologists.

Webster’s dictionary defines a parasite as “ eating beside another…one who eats at the table of another,
repaying him with flattery”

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 76


42.Be consistently steady
The effective person is consistently steady. S/he is as fresh on 1st January
as well as the 31st of December each passing year. In between, the person
will have been diligently working away like an ant. There have been no
major disruptions and if they were there, they were hardly noticeable. An
example comes to mind. A certain church was going through a breaking
point experience as a result of a serious split among the Elders. As an
outsider, I hardly notice this rift until an earnest prayer request was given
to that end. Stability must be in built and internalized.

43.Think outside the box


Think beyond the norm. Stand aside from the action and see what else
you can do and do it better. Half the time, we want to keep to the safe
zone and dare not bring in any innovation. This applies to all areas. The
Arbinger institute’s excellent book, the leadership deception is a good
tool to getting out of the box. At times though, you may need to think
‘within the box’ meaning that you locate and find the solution within
rather than looking outside. Often, the solution is just under your nose
while you look to the far flung places for solutions.

44.Be always advancing


Successful people are always forward looking and spare no effort to
advance. They have no lay bys or times to put the central theme at bay.
They are always busy eking a path for themselves so that they can move
the extra mile each day. Consistent headway is their creed. Slothfulness
or sleeping while on duty is foreign to the highly effective person.
Whatever happens, mechanisms to ensure continuity are in place. No
stone remains unturned along the way neither does any future hurdle
threaten them to quit prematurely. They put their hands to the plough, as
it were, and ensure that progress is always taking place. Such people
priotise and differentiae what is trivial or not. Further, they ensure they
keep away from needless quarrels, strife or self-entanglements that would
potentially jeopardize their future prospects.

45. Constant mind renewal¬


Whoever would leave a landmark behind them as a reference point for
posterity must be one that constantly renews the mind. This process is
ongoing throughout life and is done daily, consistently and progressively.
The renewing person is never content with thinking within the box but is
Romans 12:2-This has to do with a daily constant renewal of the mind.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 77


always exploring ways to expand the mind to think at higher levels.
Further, the said person labours to weigh the motives, motivations and
desires so that they are of the purest form so that whatever they touch has
a perfection touch. Maxwell teaches that what will keep one progressing
over the long whole are right motives. But I assert that what will keep the
motors running long after we have left this world, akin to the nuclear
power, will be a continued refined mind set. When one renews their
mind, they acquire more potency in whatever they undertake and
summon all the latent potentials to the fore. They ransack, as it were, all
the hidden powers and use them in their present generation. Peter
Drucker always felt mentally younger by the year, no wonder he turned
out the foremost management thinker of his time!

How can this be done, one may ask? There are a number of ways but we
suggest one way and that is of meditation. In ancient past, many people,
religious or no, have engaged in meditation. It has further been proved
that those who meditate regularly come off healthier and clearer thinkers
that those that do not. We have no telling exactly how this works but one
thing we can suggest is that during meditation, the mind zooms on a
number of issues retrospectively, introspectively and futuristically and
ensures that it positions the mind at the right place. Further, the mind is
refreshed and constantly informed. In the case of the Christian
meditation, the mind is focused on the Holy supreme being of God,
which ultimately rubs on the Christian mind. The Christian also
meticulously watches the motions of the heart during the day and comes
to take stock of all events at the end of the day. Having surveyed the heart
tablets, the mind is instructed to modify the future practice there by
purifying the person. The benefits of meditation include the relatively
peaceful mind, liberty to think outside the box, improved health, reduced
stress related tension, unwinding, reflection, critical thinking and having
a clear conscience as one hurtles along in life.

46. Keeping ones’ head in all situations√


Situations in life change constantly and must needs be handled with the
best of one’s ability so as to remain objective while not losing the focus.
In the Providence of God, situations come in all sorts of ways and at
various angles but what keeps one a float is the overriding sense of
destiny. In other words, one who never loses their bearings no matter
what betide is a person that will persevere to the end. Many people lose
2 Timothy 4:5

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 78


their heads and veer to extreme ends of the pendulum in different
situations. Some lose their previous sense of self-control and judgment
when they begin to handle a few more kwachas and dollars. They
suddenly feel omnipotent and yet they remain mere mortals. Others seem
to sink into oblivion when the status quo apparently changes from a lofty
to an afflictive position. Others still go into the denial position where they
develop a complex that lives to regulate their warped thinking. A person
that keeps their head in all situations then is one that is forward looking,
consistent, objective, determined and resilient no matter what the
situation. The Apostle Paul exhorted Timothy to be one that always
maintained a character and disposition that was constantly above
reproach. For instance, Timothy’s sermons were not to be lop-sided or
targeted at settling old scores from the pulpit. If more people were level
headed, what a changed world this could be!

47. Develop critical reasoning prowess.


The successful person is never the naïve sort nor the overly analytical
person but is one that has developed an inward disposition to discern
issues at any one given time. This implies that the person has the ability
to listen and synthesize the real issues at hand. The critical reasoning
person avoids dogma but in the same breathe refuses to be crippled by
analysis paralysis alluded to in another section of this book. Simply
stated, critical reasoning can be defined as “the ability to discern so as to
remove a lot of doubt in a statement”∝. Further, it can be said to be the
opposite of dogma. It involves many aspects such as philosophy and
malice.

48. Possess a right plot∧


This point has earlier been alluded to but in this case, the person
possesses a clear picture of what is going on. They know their
boundaries, limitations and scope of their area of operations. Armed with
such fine details, they can easily manipulate the context to their
advantage. For instance, if your property is located near a large
commercial city, you rightly position it so as to yield the best returns.
When we were building our empire, we had plots of land across the
country plus one smallholding in the heart of Lusaka. Business prudence
told us to first develop the Lusaka smallholding from which all the
necessary financial streams would emanate to develop our outlying
From Grephan Chindongo, Sinazongwe, Zambia, 2005.
“Plot” used loosely to mean the stage upon which to act or work e.g. assets, right location and time etc…

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 79


assets. Additionally, because these are our properties, we could do with
them as we please and when. In another sense, if you are in an
organisation, know where you are exactly and how to worm your way to
the top ethically.

49.Access to strategic information


In the past, what mattered was having the financial muscle but in this
global world, if one is to succeed, they must have more than just cash.
They must have the right information, yea strategic information that
enables one to get the best returns at any one given time. This idea is
closely knit to the working smart idea alluded to earlier on. The business
world demands one to be constantly reading the times and responding
accordingly. If one is to guarantee success, they must go further than just
reacting to situations but be proactive. This proactively comes about by
first having access to the right timely information upon which to base the
intelligent and informed decisions. Once one has access to that
information, they can safely read the times and there by anticipate the
trends in the near future. Armed with that information, a person or entity
will always be ahead of the potential competitors. For instance, a decree
was passed that all District Health Directorates be headed by qualified
Medical Doctors but the strategic incumbent Director who was not a
qualified medical practitioner saw from afar and started to study higher
qualifications above the minimum requirement. He also ensured that his
district recorded the best outputs relative to other Doctor headed districts
such that by the time the afore mentioned decree was mentioned, he was
far above reach. The Ministry could not possibly depose him, if not
elevate him! Everything in life revolves around strategy and its
application.

50. Creative simulation


Ability to connect and associate juxtaposed ideas into one useful whole
and simulate it before actually implementing it. “In the Accounting
world, we learn to add and subtract while outside that world, we learn to
multiply and divide.”

51.Develop an intuitive mind


The ability to discern and read into situation the result being an
appropriate and timely response. Dr John Maxwell asserts that people are
intuitive according to their gift mix, meaning that our proficiency in this
area largely depends on our gifts. Intuition, as earlier intimated, has to do

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 80


with that inner ability to feel or sense something although you may not
have tangible evidence. A friend who was a seasoned shop Manager once
quipped, “The moment I walk in a shop, I can almost tell what the status
of the shop is. I simply stand near the tills and glance around the shop. In
that one glance, I observe a lot of issues and put my finger where the
issues are.”2 That is intuition! To validate this, I took an independent
enquiry on one of the shop floor employees who said, “I do not know
how Mr Bota knows where the problem is. All he does is walk in your
section and instantly fish out the problem”∧

52. Escape from resting on your laurels


This is a situation where the past glorious victories become an
encumbrance for future success. Paul the Apostle loathed resting on his
past achievements. Every day, he raised the bar higher thus reaching the
lofty spiritual and physical heights. Never allow your past successes be
an impediment towards greater and higher heights. Many get lost in the
trappings of wealth or momentary glory and limp all the way to the grave
because they lost focus. Success can be a deadly thing if not rightly
handled. I wonder, what is it that keeps you from reaching the Everest
mountain peak? Could it be that you are too content with your past token
accomplishments?

Why Dumb Guys Get Rich While Smart Guys Stay Poor!

If you were to check the list of Fortune 500 company bosses, you would
find that more than half of them never attended university. In fact, many of
them never even finished High School. If you look around in your own life
circumstances, you will find that the smart and the "best" invariably do
NOT get to the top, despite all the myths to the contrary. They often end up
working for someone less smart and less talented than themselves, whose
chief talent is self-promotion and a street-savvy capacity for self
preservation.

Why is this? Why do the dumb guys get rich and the smart guys stay poor?
(Note for the ladies: no sexism intended here. For "guy", read "gal"
throughout this article).

2
Mr. Charles Bota, Shop rite Checkers Regional Manager, 2002
From Mr. Clifford Chinyama 2003

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 81


There are a number of good reasons. The first is that the intelligent deep
thinking person often suffers from "paralysis through analysis". They will
analyze and analyze a particular opportunity, and doubtless find all sorts of
reasons why it just
Won’t work. However, they will DO nothing! Graduates are bad enough at
this, but PhDs are much worse By contrast, the dumb guy just comes in
and does it. And succeeds! Why? Because he/she is too dumb to do
anything else. It never occurs to this person to sit around contemplating his
navel all day. They have little self-doubt (doubtless because they haven't
sat around reading Nietzsche and Kant all day), and generally have a can-
do mentality.

Most smart guys suffer from the syndrome of the over-talented. This
means that they are pretty good at learning almost anything they put their
hand to. Hence, they can achieve proficiency at most anything. However,
persistence is another matter altogether. You see, the smart guy is drowning
in opportunity. He doesn't
know which of the many paths to take. Once he takes one, he changes
direction as soon as the going gets tough (or worse, just as soon as he gets
bored!).

By contrast, there are some people who are only good at one thing and can
do nothing else. Through focusing relentlessly on this ONE THING, they
get astonishingly good at it. Bruce Springs teen jokingly refers to this at
times in his concerts when he says that he couldn't play sports, he was no
good at math, and he couldn't get a girl. The only thing he was any good at
was playing guitar! And the rest is history. Another example of single-
mindedness is Michael Jackson. We all marvel at his singing, dancing and
song writing ability at the age of 40+. But
really... give yourself a break! How good would YOU be at his age if you
had also started when you were only five years old, and done nothing else
all your life?!! I would hazard a guess that you'd be pretty damn good!

Smart guys won't stoop too low. They won't touch things that are beneath
them. They think that once they have a degree qualification, the world is
theirs for the asking. If you have a Law degree from Harvard, would you
work in a restaurant, or start a shoe shop? Yet, in the NY Times bestseller,
"The Millionaire Next Door", the authors revealed that the vast majority of
millionaires in America made their money in standard businesses like

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 82


restaurants, dry cleaners, shoe shops and so on. Yet, how many university
graduates will enter such professions? Most would
rather work for someone else in return for a higher than national average
salary, the right to wear fancy expensive clothes on the job, and the faint
promise of a company car somewhere down the line (provided you don't
get fired first).

Dumb guys by comparison will do whatever it takes to reach their goal. If


their goal is money, and they are single-minded about it, they will just keep
beating away at it until they finally succeed. Well, I guess they're just too
dumb to stop, aren't
they? There's no running home to cry to mummy. Heck, they just keep
going and going and going! just like the energizer battery advert. They
don't know when to stop and one day... well, they end up richer and more
successful than you or me. In fact, we end up working for them! Strange
thing that, isn't it? You know what?

Smart guys think the world owes them a living. Dumb guys don't.
Smart guys whine something like "I've got this degree in Fine Art, and I've
self-published a book of poems, etc., etc. But I just can't seem to get a
break. I'm talented and I'm being ignored. It's a closed shop. You've either
got to know
Someone, or have money. And me, I don't have either...". In my first job in
Investment Banking, I recall being told to spend a couple of DAYS typing
numbers into a computer like a secretary. What was I thinking? "I'm a
Physics PHD! I shouldn't have to be doing this!!".

Here's a simple fact the dumb guys know that the smart guys usually don't.
Success, and Wealth (IF you choose to measure success that way), takes
effort, persistence, determination, large amounts of disappointment, and
sheer guts. Crying to mummy doesn't cut it. Giving up first time, saying "I
tried it and it
doesn't work. It's a scam", won't do. As Napoleon Hill said, you need
"definiteness of purpose". This means you need to decide on the one thing
you really want and stick at it, come what may, until you get it. Most
people simply cannot do that. That is why most people end up dissatisfied
and unhappy, especially the smart ones.

Smart guys don't even use 10% of what they've got, while dumb guys give
it all (after all, they don't have that much to give, do they? So they may as

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 83


well give it all they've got!). Smart guys don't know how to market
themselves. They think if they
build a better mousetrap, the world is duty-bound to beat a path to their
door. So they just sit there, swapping high-brow intellectual witticisms, and
wait. And wait. And wait...

Anyway, who is really "smart" here? Is it the person with a lot of degree
certificates, who knows how to play that game well, but is seemingly
incapable of playing the game of life? Or is it the person who, perhaps
without any fancy education, knows how to interact with the world in a
way that optimizes the results that he or she gets?
So please, take the point and get the lesson. Don't be too smart for your
own good. Don't be blind to opportunity simply because your eyes are too
busy contemplating your degree certificate. Don't be over-sensitive. Get
out there. Success is a contact sport. Take chances. Get beat up once in a
while. Be willing to LOSE (yes, LOSE - and forget what other people will
say about it) once in a while. Be prepared to be scammed once or twice too
in your pursuit to find out what actually works. Regard everything as a
learning experience, and keep on trying. And remember this:

Between where you are now and where you want to be in life, there are an
unknown, but finite, number of mistakes to be made. So, resolve to make
those mistakes just as fast as you possibly can. So... Let's shed the over-
sensitive skin, get off your backside, get a little "DUMB"... and ... MAKE
IT HAPPEN!

“A lot of fellows nowadays have a B.A., M.D., or Ph.D. Unfortunately;


they don't have a J.O.B.
- Domino”

Source: Anonymous email chain mail, 2002

53.Look at failure as a stepping stone to success


Half the time, challenges are viewed in negative light. But should this be
the case? People have varying views on this matter but the author has
increasingly been convinced over the years that failure should be viewed
in a positive light. If you scan around you, what will you notice about
most the successful people of today? Chances are that they failed at some
point, galvanised all their potential and catapulted themselves to higher
orbs. Admittedly, failure is painful and to some extent embarrassing, but

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 84


once viewed in another light, you will discover that failure could also be
a turning point for some one. In one sense, failure sobers one or causes
one to sit back, refocus and strategize. In another sense, failure is used by
divine providence to signal that it is high time to change course. It could
be that one is not in the best fit. Yet in another light, failure reminds one
that perfection is yet future and constant improvement is essential to keep
buoyant. Take time to read the biographies of famous people like
Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, the Puritans, John
Wesley, George Whitefield, Napoleon Hill, Martin Luther King, and
more recently, Nelson Mandela. One silver lining you discover in all
these people’s lives is the issue of looking at failure as an opportunity
rather than as a dreadful monster. As a strategist, use affliction as the
mother of invention to turbo you to higher orbs in the fullness of time.
Refer to my other book, “Academic trials”∏ as a companion to this
point. Dr John Maxwell’s book, ‘Failing Forward’ is also well worth
reading to collect some valuable motivation gems.

Case
Different people respond to trials in varying ways. Some are well
adjusted and thus soon mutate while others are very fragile and easily tip
over with terrible fright at encountering challenges. University students
go through incredible amounts of academic pressure and spend many
sleepless nights long after they have left the exam room. Most of them
dread failure because it is demeaning for many as well as having very
bad repercussions on resources. Interestingly, this author has met some
students who faced traumatic academic trials but still triumphed in the
end, regardless of how long it took. Thus, this author also took a leaf
from the seasoned when he himself went through the dark academic
valleys back in the 1990s. The author recalls how one friend went for two
years at UNZA before being excluded at the end of second year. He
proceeded to the Copper belt University and took another ten years on a
five-year program! Today, if you meet this person, he is one of the finest
guys to hang out with, very mature and patient. Others spent seven years
instead of four at UNZA. One thing flows through all these people,
taking each failure as a stepping-stone to greater heights, no matter how
hard it appears.

54. Read the times


This book describes the academic struggles and strategies employed by the author over a period of 16
years, 1987-2003

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 85


Akin to the men of Isaachar 1 Chronicles 12:32 who knew the times,
President Mwanawasa first quit and failed part elections in 1996 but in
2001, he became Republican President. A study of history will be helpful
to put wings in this point. Your strategic eye should constantly be
monitoring the context in which your lot falls. Many run aground on this
rock because they mistakenly assume that all the variables in the
environment will remain static when they in fact are rapidly changing.
The men of Isaachar leave us a lasting lesson so that we avoid clinging
on to the right thing at the wrong time.

55. Shed off “excess baggage” as you progress and refine your
strategies.
In life, if you are not careful, everything appears equally important and
you could end up doing everything but achieving nothing tangible. It is
therefore necessary to identify what is important and urgent as compared
with what is unimportant and to some extent urgent. The strategic mind
carries out a self-SWOT analysis and knows what is critical for success
while discarding the unimportant. Thus, any excess baggage is hurled out
while refining future success strategies. This author was once very active
in too many spheres and in the process wasted a lot of time and energy.
Even if you are multi-tasked or talented, watch what you are about. You
may need to shed off some of those weights to generate higher efficiency
levels. It may entail parting with some darling things and activities but
the dagger must be swiftly applied none the less.

56. Exposure to varying situations.


Exposure helps one adjust have a wider picture and perception. It also
enriches your approach, builds networks, linkages and information base.
People that lack exposure tend to be rigid, narrow minded and sometimes
naïve. I once visited a settled Zambian colleague in England some time
back. Long before this gentleman’s relocation abroad, he was
exceedingly critical and opinionated. At the time I visited, I was amazed
at just how he had matured! He is now able to look at issues from
different perspectives before speaking. The European culture is radically
different from the African. For instance, the Africans are inclusive, easy
going and friendly while the English are closed, issues based and highly
individualistic.

57.Be a Person of books!

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 86


Ever learning and a lifelong student. Great achievers are generally also
great readers. They read about any and everything. They are also good at
reading providence, the times, and the book of nature as well as what the
context demands. Most of all, they are avid readers of books and other
people’s works so as to grasp as much as they can. “Leaders read” as an
apt saying goes. Stop reading and down the drain goes your objective
seasoned thinking, unless you are an exception. Sadly, very few
consistent readers exist in Zambia, including those that have passed
through the walls of UNZA. I wonder what happens to people when they
graduate, usually, they do not want to have anything to do with books
unless it threatens their very existence or immediate livelihood. Once
they have crossed that hurdle, they soon forget and revert back to the
“resting” mode. In fact, many Zambian consider reading a necessary evil
and would prefer watching motion pictures or listening to radio rather
than reading. If you would increase your inventive creative powers, be a
person of books! In that way, you will be able to compare and contrast,
learn from others thereby synthesising a crystal clear path to success. You
should never outgrow reading or studying but your mind should feed on
new information everyday. Your server must constantly be updated so as
to remain relevant to the times. Remember, information is more potent
than mere financial resources! Dr Kaunda once seriously lamented the
pathetic reading culture in the Post newspapers of September 22, 2007.
the editorial of that paper was even more painfully striking.∝

58. Maintain a sense of debt to those that contributed to your success.


There are many constituencies you owe many thanks because they
devoted some of their time to help you up and deposited a piece of their
mantle. Often times, we act like those ten lepers who were healed by the
Lord. Only one out of ten returned to thank him. The rest were probably
too happy to be released from bondage and could hardly wait to diffuse
into the community once declared fit. Others perhaps boasted of their
ingenuity of having wisely discovered a remedy and never gave credit to
the healer. In a similar fashion, many of us forget that we stand on the
shoulders of giants for us to be visible to the outside world. Some people
are so full of self-praise and have no regard for others. Despite their great
accomplishments, I still think they radiate because others contributed in
one way or other by way of financial, emotional or material support. Dear
friend, no matter how high you go, always remember that you remain a
debtor to someone out there. It could be your parents, uncle, auntie,
“KK bemoans lack of reading culture” by Masuzyo Chakwe page 4.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 87


brother, sister or even stranger who may appear far removed from your
present success but they still were pillars one way or the other. Secondly,
always recall that there are immediate constituencies that gave up
everything or believed in you when the chips were down. While the rest
stood aloof by the terraces or simply walked away, these people remained
true and thus deserve accolades too. In talking about a sense of debt, I do
not here advocate some form of cultic allegiance or thoughtless
obedience but rather some form of due consideration whether privately or
publicly. At other times, other people’s books and writings could have
turned the bulb on in your mind and hence led you to the Promised Land.

59. Increase your influence by building and firing up Charisma


within your bosom.
It is possible to have a lot of resources around you but if you do not have
the connecting and linkage power, you soon wither and come to ruin. At
best your success rate will just be modest and not be extra ordinary. Thus,
it is critical to work out something ensuring that you steadily construct
your leadership foundation upon which your influence is based. Part of
your influence is to be an astute charismatic and political leader. I use
“political” in the general sense as relates to influence, tact, acumen,
wisdom or organisational politics in short. In any given context, certain
paths work well to achieve results while others do not, no matter how
well meaning they might be. For instance, if you are going to carry out an
HIV awareness campaign in a village, there is need to walk
circumspectly because some of your messages might be offensive to your
audience, although you might actually be in the right. The best is to use
the indigenous local opinion leaders, win them over to your side and let
them go to disseminate the information on your behalf. Another
alternative is to learn the local values, customs and cues. This will help as
you communicate. But the bottom line is to build your influence base so
that you could achieve much through and with others.

60. Respect others and draw on their strengths.


Avoid past pitfalls committed by others. Use the past as a learning point
for perfect future application. Always keeps it to mind that in most things
we engage upon in life, chances are that others have gone before us using
that same path. They are thus more seasoned and qualified to offer
appropriate advice, and guidance. Ignore them to your own
inconvenience, unless your lot falls on uniquely pleasant places. As you
chart your course, salute those that have travelled your way but in case

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 88


you are a pioneer of some activity or area of study, never forget that some
people have in the past contributed you to your present stature. The best
is to tap on their strengths while refining their weak point. In this way, we
shall avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’ as the saying goes.

61. Network with the right people.


You must ensure you link up with the right people that will not only
stretch your mind but put some wind under your wings. The right
exposure to the correct people in the appropriate dosages helps much in
the quest towards higher orbs. Connecting to these people opens your
mind to new things and other perceptive ways. Care however must be
taken not to be a blind follower or one who merely parrots what others
say and do. Ensure you are original and drawing on the strengths of
others. In other words, they should not dictate the agenda. Another
danger to avoid is to simply turn into a spectator who watches events and
wonder at how others perform excellently on the stage while we
jubilantly watch. Further still further, another subtle danger is to simply
boast of being associated with the right kind of people with the right CV
and status. In my experience, I have met idle people who claim to be
connected to about every powerful person in the land in one way or the
other, and yet they themselves remain poor! They exhibit stunted growth
in every area of their lives! What is the explanation? Most probably, they
are mere imitators or spectators akin to TB parasites! They are good to
have around but be sure they will never grow up and thus remain
dependent on you. You may not feel the pinch now but once your
immunity (cash flow) goes down, then you feel their weight! What sort of
person are you?

62.Know yourself
This is the first mark and entails knowing ones’ limitations, potentials,
abilities and powers. In other words, the earlier you discover your core
competencies, the better. For example, I bet Kalusha, Mbesuma, Chitalu,
Nervous, Conrad, Cholwe Mwetwa, Mutembo Nchito, Amon Simutowe
among many celebrities of our time discovered their strengths whilst still
very young and wasted no time plunging into their callings. I think that in
part explains why they sparkle so brightly even today. If another with the
wrong fit had taken the same professions, they would soon be frustrated
and quit.

End case-an example of determination

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 89


Clement Mugala- A modern change leader
Although Zambia lies paralysed in the many layers of poverty among the
41 poorest nations of the world, it is comforting to that Men and Women of
valour still exist there. Men and Women of purpose who are clear minded
and know what the time demands. At this miserable rate in which the
nation is sinking into object poverty, one is hardly queried when they
exclaim, “can anything come good out of Zambia?” Among those giants of
our times is Clement Mugala who has been at the helm of Building Society
turnaround from certain bankruptcy. The said company was at the brink of
destruction When Mugala appeared and quickly instituted emergency
remedial measures so that the company is now safely back on the trails,
having recorded annual losses reaching an all time record of K 2.4 Billion
in the 1997/98 financial year! But who is Clement Mugala? From whence
does he hail? What secret has he employed to rescue the once called
“lifeless” company?
For one thing, Mr Mugala hails from the northern parts of Zambia, married
to Ruth, a powerful help met and possesses an unrivalled CV. Yet none of
these qualifications radiate as brilliantly as his management style. He
studied an international professional accounting course (CIMA), and now
holds an MBA from the Edinburgh Graduate school in Scotland.
Furthermore, he has vast experience in Government and private
Accounting. As such, we can see that he is an “all rounded”. More
importantly, he is a man full of integrity, objectivity, insight, foresight,
determination and focus. Unlike other men, Clement is not easily daunted
by difficult tasks. He confidently ventures into any situation, assured that
armed with knowledge and vast experience, any hurdle is surmountable.
But, the question still lingers, “what is the secret of his success and the
Building Society? “. How has he managed to arrest the decay and steer the
ship back to safety? The reason is soon told from the article “ZNBS ekes
way out of the financial doldrums” which appeared in the Zambia Daily
Mail of 05/03/99. From the article, it is evident that the man has imbibed
and pragmatically practices modern management principles. For example,
he believes that teamwork is the way forward for the business of tomorrow.
This belief shows itself in the way he associates and views his
subordinates. He would rather be viewed as a leader not a boss, which
culture, hitherto, has plagued almost all organisations in Zambia. This
traditional approach has further been fostered by regular and constant
political interference in the smooth running of the parastatals. Like hungry
rats looking for nuts, these politicians hover around any seemingly profit-
making company. The Building Society is no exception. Constantly, these

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 90


“rats” are laying mousetraps for humans! But clement has flown above all
these and has brought about team spirit that is beginning to pay dividends
as output increases. Teamwork means that there is mutual trust, single
common goal, less individual brilliant star performances and easier over
lapping. Slowly, people are venturing out of their shells where they hid
dreading victimisation from illiterate politicians and are now taking
liberated bold steps towards teamwork. As though teamwork were not
enough, Clement has through his management, adopted an “open
management” approach where people from all ranks and levels feel to
contribute, criticise, complain and be heard. Furthermore, the Mugala led
team has introduced some incentives such as multiple salary increases in
the year thus boosting the workers’ morale. Since the battle is not yet over,
there has been a deliberate move to train and refresh staff so that they are
customer-focused rather than morbidly inward looking. The effects of this
capacity – building manoeuvres are seen in the speedy and friendly way
that staff responds to customers, and when privately asked, the majority of
employees speak in glowing tribute of the company. They say ‘we have the
best products and a powerful top management team….” Waxing
melodiously eloquent by the minute. Emanating from this training is the
freedom to innovate and have many products; most of which are as ancient
as the company itself while others are new products. The old ones have
been refined in keeping with the times. New products are churned out
frequently. Thus as one walks into the hallway of the Building Society, it is
a pleasant hive of activity and yet intense particular individual attention is
given to every customer. Here, the customer is king. With all these past
rapid changes as well as the powerful strategic eye to the future, the
Society pulled out of the doldrums within a year-now that is record time
indeed!

But what type of scenario did Mugala exactly find when he first stepped
into the building society executive office in mid 1998? What hurdles has
he encountered thus far? Firstly, we not that he found a divided house that
was crippled by evil organisational politics. The Management and the
union were at daggers drawn and constantly fighting with no strength left
wrestling to do any positive work. The union spent all its time squabbling
about wages, pointing fingers and daily fuelling more animosity in the
company. If a PhD could be earned through antagonism, the union could
have bagged a multiplicity of them!

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 91


Furthermore, the top management was paralysed by external influences
from the politicians who actually run the company remotely. As such, there
was no strategic planning because the rules came from outside. Therefore,
it was pointless to even read the external business environment. Why talk
about planning when someone else calls the shots?

Thirdly, the company was bankrupt with no resources, withered reserves,


overdrafts, multiple law suits, a bad reputation, lost customer confidence
and worst of all, erratic or no Government grants, which have ceased with
the introduction of the cash budget. Those managers who sat securely like
king frogs on their “thrones” were the most alarmed when the youthful
looking Mugala stepped onto the stage. Sensing that some of their
unnecessary jobs would be slashed with the advent of re-engineering the
villains raised their antenna akin to police dogs that sense danger. Hence
the resistance.

Fourthly, the people who were previously at the helm of the organisation
were half the time not equal to the task but rather political appointees
because of their patriotism to the party in power. This trend sadly has
persisted to this very day. The lament is that these clown Executives were
not original but did the bidding of the state and even more tragic was the
fact that many had no heart for the entity. Of course, many with greater
credentials than Mugala have traversed the path that he now treads but
none perhaps has been as salty as he. Having proved himself both in public
and private practice, the Government, in its usual unconventional ways,
called him to resuscitate the ailing company. By all counts, the Building
Society was headed for the company bone yard.

Time has gone by and many problems have crossed his path but he remains
focused towards the goal. Problems such as low pay, low morale, bad
attitudes, evil suspicions and resistance from the “old guard” still linger.
Happily, these green headed vices are slowly being mortified.

Having painted a gloomy picture in the last section, we now proceed to


show the way forward for the said organisation. As earlier intimated, the
Mugala- led team is strategic in approach. The company is now risen from
the ashes and is now eking a unique path that will guarantee sustainability.
Clement’s long-term goals are to make the company independent, agile,
and fluid as well as be ahead of any possible new market entrants. The
quest to that end is clear as he leads the company in embarking on an

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 92


ambitious US$ 1.5 million project to computerise the entire organisation.
Although the initial costs are whooping, this is powerful competitive
advantage tool in the long run that will increase efficiency across the entire
company network. Since the 17 or so branches are littered all over the
country, efficiency will result due to being online. Thus, speedy service
and fewer hiccups in responding to customer queries and orders will accrue
to the company good will. Also, IT is necessary for decision making in
these turbulent times. “Ignore IT at your own peril”, the common adage
says. Furthermore, with employee capacity enhanced, moral raised and the
right “known quantities” on board to champion the new management
practices, the entity will be a formidable force to reckon with in days that
lie ahead.

As Mugala aptly concludes with the touching words, “ Whatever is true,


whatever is right whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praise worthy, think
about such things”¬, we too long more of such clear minded dynamic
business leaders with a passion to salvage ailing businesses out of the
corporate casket!

63. Escape the ‘status trap’.


Too many are caught up in the status trappings to think and act outside
the box. They think their status does not permit them to sell ice blocks at
the roadside or even in an established market. They would rather own
boutiques and expensive places where they just pop by anytime to collect
their cash and dash off to enjoy life. Little do they realise that the real
cash is actually on the streets! I once tested my wife whether we could
start a small goodies but she quickly retorted that it was far beneath our
status given our locality. I had a long hilarious laugh!

64. Rest one day in seven to reflect, meditate, unwind, worship,


galvanise, relax and refresh. After a busy week, it is always wise to sit
still and unwind so that you can start the next cycle on a fresh note.
People who rest once a week are said not only to live longer but work
better for longer periods of time before they break down. Frequent
meditation refreshes the mind. Devout Christians rest on the Lord’s
Day and thus appear bright every Monday as opposed to the tired
drunkard.

From Philippians 4, Holy Bible

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 93


We have traversed the winding path together but I trust that numerous
gems suggested in this chapter will give you something to think about.
There are many pearls from which you can pick life lessons and I am sure
you will not be disappointed. In case you cannot grasp all the points, at
least remember to work diligently and extremely hard before you reap the
benefits. Some of these habits take time to grasp let alone internalise. Try
them out!

====================================
============================

Bibliography

Cole Robert & Mishler Lon, Credit Management, 11th edition, 1998

Covey Stephen, The seven Habits of highly effective people, Pocket books.
London. Sydney. New York. Singapore. Toronto

Bower, Bartlett etal, Business Policy, McGraw Hill, 1998 8th edition

Zambia daily Mail,

International Bible Society, Holy Bible (NIV), 1973

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 94


Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 95
Chapter 6

Factors impeding effective labour

In whatever undertaking humans engage, there are always challenges that


need effective management lest they wreck havoc. These challenges are
initially often invisible to the naked eye but periodically show up and then
apparently “disappear” only to show up later. What they actually do is to
simply change “frequency” or modus operandi. If you are not meticulously
watchful, they can mess up things and make you repeatedly go round the
same hill for generations. The Makufi song by one of Zambia’s celebrated
gospel artists, Nathan Nyirenda, aptly echoes a painful lament. The song
wonders why, as a nation, despite trying a lot of things, potentially a rich
nation, much prayer, miss the road somewhere. It is a painful factual
reflection and would cause someone to weep. In this chapter, we briefly
attempt to buttress our earlier assertion that consistent hard work is the key
to success. To that end, we have highlighted some key points worth
considering as we traverse this self and national development forest. It is
hoped that at the end of this chapter, you will have diagnosed your weakness
and weeded out the root causes. Apart from the obvious crippled mindset,
this chapter offers some visible manifestations that contribute to individual
and poor national performance. Let us walk together as we open these
festering wounds.

The following highlighted points nibble away at our prosperity, they steal,
rob you and me of our potential higher quality of life. Take time to reflect on
our proposals:

1. Laziness
Laziness comes in various forms and it may or may not be tolerated
depending on the culture, values and context. In the developed north,
everyone is expected to work hard, be self reliant, innovative and
contribute to their own and national well being. It is actually a taboo and
embarrassing to go through life without engaging in any gainful work.
Motivational speaker Bernard Chiwala∅ accurately described the

Refer to the article “Chiwala ties poverty to wrong mindset” in the Post of 10th October 2007 by Patson
Chilemba page 2

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 96


Zambian scenario when he asserted that bad attitude was responsible for
people’s poverty. Laziness carries the connotation of being laid back,
laissez faire and easy going in the midst of challenges. It also relates to
being unwilling to exert your inner resources and energies towards
bettering your lot by offering excuses or endlessly shifting blame. Some
lazy bones spend their time whining, criticising or fault finding whilst not
offering any tangible solution or alternative to a predicament. Some
people are hard working in the present day but too lazy to think and plan
for their future. The diligent person thinks long term. S/he spends
considerable time brainstorming such that by the time they leave life’s
stage, they will have provided not only for their children but their grand
children as well. (Proverbs 10:4; 13:22). Smart workers also proactively
read the times and timorously position themselves long before the rainy
day arrives. When we were growing up, we found it extremely strange
when our guardians repeatedly suggested that we needed to train our
selves by taking up voluntary chores so as to earn a little more pocket
money for our personal use. In that way, they argued, we could train
ourselves to confidently face life’s challenges. It took many years before
I realised how lazy we had been. The school holidays were reserved only
for play and leisure knowing that the school fees would be paid somehow
by our parents, and thankfully, they did. When the family economy
became shaky, I reluctantly took up several jobs (some mundane, others
good) and was able to raise abit of cash to reduce the cash burden on my
parents. But did I need to be pushed to the wall to realise? If we develop
a culture of hard work, we shall work from the start and eventually render
poverty defeated. If you would be successful in your endeavour, cast off
sloth and imbibe relentless hard work. For many years, the Zambian
Government made its citizens seriously dependant by promising to
provide everything including subsidized essential commodities.

Remember those mealie meal coupons of the 1980s? That was seriously
damaging on our innovative creative minds. Perhaps it was good while it
lasted in the command economy era and context but the spill over effects
were really bad. That explains in part, why many Zambians failed to
adjust to the rapid changes that took place in 1992. Many expected the
government to continue with its spoon-feeding approach to development
but the capitalistic context would not permit this. The few enlightened
citizens that realised the implications of the liberalised economy took
advantage of the faulty privatisation process and minted gold. Today,
some of them boast of being filthy rich while the vast majority remain

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 97


desperately poor, hoping the government will one day come to their
rescue somehow. As far as the present economic policies are concerned,
that is a far cry. People need to brace themselves for real innovative hard
work... The archaic laws need to change to allow for multiple shift work
where one can work many places in one day rather than just one as is the
case today. People need to internalise the entrepreneurial spirit so that
they can spot and exploit the abundant resources littered all over this
richly endowed nation. For now, it is the foreigners that have a field day
while the country’s natives sit around waiting for the government to
compensate them. They will wait forever without tangible compensation
much like the Gwembe Valley Tonga have the past fifty or so years. The
Kariba dam hardly even benefits them because of the prohibitive laws
favouring the affluent, rich and powerful. Now Uranium has been
discovered around the lakeshores, I am sure it is foreigners not
indigenous that will largely benefit. Hard work and strategic thinking is
the only key to success. Never wait for your neighbour to do something
for you, they simply won’t!

2. Despair
Despair manifests itself in many ways. One-way is when individuals
have a low self-esteem, are weak decision makers or do not confidently
trust themselves to do anything right unless another applauds their effort.
More than that, despair is when someone or people simply give up, resign
themselves to fate or leave everything to chance hoping that some divine
intervention will alter the course of nature. Usually, the poor happen to be
desperate because they do not see or hope for a better future because
there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, as Kaunda used to say.
When you despair, you halt any further enquiry or plans to improve your
lot. The best you can do is whine about each and everything. In effect,
you become mentally crippled and dare not attempt anything new
because of your pessimistic mindset that is reinforced by what you see in
your locality. If you accidentally find yourself among the elite and
affluent, you often feel disadvantaged, robbed, cheated and disoriented as
a result of your already firm pessimistic mindset. Unless you resolve to
pick up the broken pieces, you will forever remain on the fringes of life.
Zambia needs a fresh start. A new lease of life is needed to remove the
despairing wet blanket that has enveloped our nation for so long. A few
elite people are having a field day and cannot see my reasoning here but
if you took a casual visiting one of these compounds, you cannot help but
sense the high despair levels among our people. Of course, some of these

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 98


root causes can be mitigated or corrected in some way but for now, the
despairing mind fails to do much. Lifting the soul of the nation is what
will carry the day and turn our fortunes.

3. Pessimism
Closely connected to despair is pessimism. This means having a negative
attitude about everything. As a result, you do not see any possibility of
making it to the next level because you have convinced yourself that
certain things are too complex, remote or belong to a certain class of
people. In fact, pessimists always concentrate on the bad and negative
side of things and make conclusions before s/he even tries out. If
Professor Chirwa was a pessimist, he would not have ventured into the
Crashworthiness research, because no one had ever done it before him. If
he reasoned that he could not make it because he was black and hailed
from one of the scandalously poor nations in the world, he would have
long given up. But the man believed in himself and went on to be advisor
to powerful governments like the USA, British and the EU in general.
Interestingly, the Zambian government has scarcely given him a proper
hearing! If it was a “Muzungu” parroting the same stuff, the whole nation
would have come to a standstill just to hear the exotic fellow. All this
behaviour emanates from a pessimistic mind set. No wonder why the
“PHD” syndrome finds fertile ground on Zambian turf. But you need to
turn the tide round in your generation. If everyone around you refuses to
budge, turn yourself around! William Cowper (1731-1800) was a serious
pessimist and yet wrote over 67 classical hymns and countless poems.

4. Looking for applaud


If your chief motive is to be applauded and accepted by all in whatever
you do and say, most probably you will achieve only what is acceptable
and normal. You will be average, yea below average person with no
flashes of superhuman mental or physical strength. People who fear other
people’s opinions do not break away from traditions and norms but will
orbit around the established norms. Their inventive sharpness is blunted
and so is their entrepreneurial or curious mind. Sadly, many are ready to
burn their fingers in things that do not add value to their and other
people’s quality of life. In another sense, if you want to be known as a
great guy deserving public recognition, the strong desire for applaud will
force you to apply yourself to the limit, hoping that you do not suffer
from total organ failure as happened to one budding young Spanish
footballer in 2007. If that is the line you tow, that is fine but what I

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 99


contend against here is the senseless fear of man leading to total
dependant on what others say. If all the inventors and innovators
depended on public applause and opinion, probably many would have
long packed their bags and gone home to relax, but no, they persevered
on and some of them only received applaud post-humously. Names like
David Livingstone, Hudson Taylor and William Carey are but a few that
come to mind in the gospel enterprise arena. I am sure the great scientists
like Galileo, Newton, Archmedice, Faraday were thought somewhat
insane while they laboured on their ground breaking experiments but
today, science basically swims on their great sacrifice.

5. Excessive pride and self importance


This is the dark mark that plagues Zambians, pride! We think we are very
smart and too important to do some kind of job. Zambians feel insulted
once requested to do some chore they consider mundane or low class. We
weigh and place some jobs as “beneath our status” when we are actually
nothing! Menial work is especially relegated to the uneducated because
we have perceived it to be a lower job. But our western friends throw
away needless self-importance and respect every job. I often wonder how
and why Zambians willingly take up odd jobs in the developed world but
flatly refuse to do the same at home! For instance, many would willingly
clean plates, mop shops and toilets, pick litter, nurse the aged in England
to earn a living but loathe that at home. Perhaps it is the cost benefit
aspect at play? Granted, that is a factor but the principle should be that
whatever job is on offer should be respected and looked at positively
because one way or other, this contributes to building the nation in ways
that many of us do not see. I am not here suggesting that we throw away
our respective specialties and callings but what my contention is that we
should dignify, honour and uphold whatever available job. By that token,
we should pay better than we have hitherto done. Secondly, those that
engage in whatever task must do so with pride, contentment, confidence
and pleasure because it will bring about returns to contribute to their
livelihoods. To beat the insufficiency of the wages, people in the western
world have more than one job. When the total earnings from different
sources are combined, it makes a decent income. I am not too sure when
Zambia will reach that stage where people work part time and can knock
off to dash to another but this should be on the cards I am sure as things
unfold in this budding market economy. The present labour law needs
urgent revision to fit into the present capitalist economy. People should
be free to hold as many jobs as they can at any one given time.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 100


6. Comfort zone syndrome
Another issue that we should flee from is the insatiable quest to remain in
the comfort zone. Often, because we consider ourselves too important,
we also tend to protect our turf at all costs whatever betide. If anything
threatens or rocks our boat, we react and put up antidotes resisting
change. That explains why change is resisted because we feel what we
have determined as good for us must be the best and no further. Anything
else is perceived an inconvenience, unnecessary or evil. Newton’s second
law of motion indeed has wider application, methinks! I often suspect
this mindset has largely contributed to our chronic poverty as a nation.
The other day, I was talking with some rural community leaders about the
need to change their attitude towards work and how they view assets such
as livestock. They flatly denied my allegations stating that they had
already gone past my fears long before. When I demonstrated that their
relatives (tribes’ mates) a few miles away had behaved in that bad way as
I submitted, they simply laughed away and pledged to change. Despite
their assurances, I went away with the gut feeling that they had not
changed at all, hence the denial and sinister laugh because what they
were looking for was immediate gain. Similarly, this comfort zone
explains why Zambia keeps electing wrong crooked leaders to national
office when their health, mental capacity or back grounds are
questionable. Somehow, we waive the constitution to suit ourselves. But
if you would make an indelible mark upon your generation and family,
drop the comfort zone and move on to higher ground. Embrace
challenges as walking sticks to higher ground or else do not be surprised
if you do not prosper while your neighbour does. Stay risk averse and
you will soon grow tolerant to bad conditions of life. Change and prosper.

7. Resting on laurels and past glories


Many of us love to be rich, famous and popular but rarely do we take
time to enquire about the back stage antics that have raised people to
such prominence. Often times, at least in the Zambian context, people
will have spent countless hours working their way to the top and when
they suddenly hit the headlines, all eyebrows are raised in admiration.
But dear friends, making it to the top requires extremely consistent hard
work. It demands a higher than average devotion to one thing. Even after
scoring early success, the person is not content and continues to gun for
the big one or even successfully refining whatever they have on the plate.
Sadly, many Zambians soon drop miserably from the lime light after

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 101


hitting the bulls’ eye. Somehow, success gets to their heads and seriously
entangles them in the trappings of success so that they fail to concentrate
or focus. Consider the once famous and illustrious Zambian athletes who
are today destitute despite having handled billions of kwacha. What
about artists who die young at the grisly hands of AIDS soon after they
shoot to stardom? That is not all, what about those white collar
executives who go on rampage after clinching that top notch job?
Somehow, we seem to easily get entangled and thus rest on our laurels.
We often falsely feel that we have worked our way to the top and can
now rest ever after, forgetting that there is still some more mountain
climbing to be done. If you have reached mount Kilimanjaro summit,
there is always a Mount Everest to be conquered somewhere. If we forget
that fact, we soon become lazy bones big time because we have no bench
marks any way. Aim to be the best of the best whatever betide. Constant
vigilance is required for success. Further, have strategies on how you are
to get to the next level. I love reading Amon Simutowe’s description of
his manoeuvres on the chess board. Every move on the board matters
much and has implications. He is amazingly able to tell when a particular
move was last used and why. Once he commented that a certain particular
move had last been used in the seventies (1970s) when that Grand Master
triumphed and yet Simutowe discerned that lethal move and beat the
champion at his game! I found that detail grip really startling! But that is
what it takes to be a high-class champion. Never ever rest on your past
achievements, always be moving forward and be current!

8. No focus, targets or goal


Once one has no aim or target, wherever they shoot, they will hit the
bulls’ eye! The reason is simple, every route takes them to their desired
haven because there are no parameters to indicate that we are in the
wrong or right direction. Similarly, if you pass through life like a rolling
stone over a cliff, chances are that you will emerge empty handed at the
end of your life because you had no passion, reason, focus or aim to live
for. But if from the onset you set out to achieve something, every step
will matter much. Thus, those that do not have a specific goal hardly
exert themselves in any specific direction but depend on fate to order the
course of their lives. Granted, Providence orders all our ways but the
scriptures say that plans belong to man. This implies that we must all be
active master planners always daily getting closer to our desired goal. Do
you know why your neighbour consistently succeeds? It could be that
they have focus, benchmarks, targets or clear goals always before them.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 102


Not only do they have those fine strategies, they also periodically
monitor and evaluate themselves, absorbing some emergent strategies
where needed as they redesign their plans. Naïve people always assume
things will remain the same and thus blindly walk into the lions’ mouth. I
found it instructive when a certain organisation rewired itself. The end
result was that some if it’s best and longest serving managers did not fit
into that new strategy and thus failed to make the grade. The tragic thing
is that most of them did not have their own accommodation, despite
having worked over a decade! In one sense, they had not clearly defined
their goal from the start. But in another, it was a lesson not to totally rely
upon or trust other mutable mortals and institutions. Always have a
‘pocket agenda’ and a functional “career meter” that instinctively
indicates to you early enough when it is time to move on. This goal,
target and focus will get you places you never imagined in your wildest
dreams.

9. No passion or sense of urgency


Half the time, many of us undertake a project initially with a lot of
enthusiasm and energy. We do everything well and on time but as time
goes by, many of us begin to mellow, grow weaker, less committed and
desirous to give in our all. With time, we become passive, indifferent and
in some serious cases laissez faire. We relax on our controls, things
become relative and the pulse slowly dies. This incipient killer soon
murders us and spreads like gangrene to our team members growing out
of control like a big wild fire. But if we are to make a mark, we must
keep our goals ever fresh on our minds. This means regularly revisiting
our objectives, sharpening our focus and checking our progress rate
against set benchmarks. Another way could be intermingling with the
right circle of peers. That challenges us to keep the fire burning for a far
longer time. Projects often maintain this fervency for a longer period than
other regularly established institutions like the government. Often times,
and depending on your positioning in such large establishments, you are
more likely to catch the lazy bones malaise and cease to see anything
wrong with it. In fact, you soon become upset with anyone who speaks
against your entrenched work culture. My father was a seriously
frustrated man when he worked in the civil service because his energy
levels far outstripped what the system could offer or allow. He believed
in diligent hard work, being a result oriented individual. It was a wrong
fit I guess. Subsequently, he had to quit and went into the private sector.
Sadly, he found the same disease there but it was far much better. Avoid

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such systems if you can. From another angle, you could join such
systems, reform them (although systems and cultures are often difficult to
change single handedly), or fit in. When you fit in, ensure you excel in
your work area and use the bureaucracy created red tape and time lag to
do other private jobs (PJs), though you run the risk of being charged with
conflict of interest, breaking the archaic law or reprimand. But be
creative because our salaries cannot meet our basic needs. Beware of
corruption though! As you will note, the civil service gives you a lot of
time to do many other private jobs which the NGOs may not provide. In
the NGO world, all your energies and time are sapped as they are more
seriously target oriented comparatively. The returns are good in the NGO
sector but if you are entrepreneurial, you could raise far much more with
your meagre income regardless of where you presently work, government
or not. Never waste away time and opportunity. Always remember that
you have an agenda to fulfil in your 25,000 + earth days, of which nearly
half are already gone!

10.Not thinking about posterity


At some point, I mentioned that the wise man provides for his children as
well as the grand. This means the person has a strategic eye towards the
future every time they engage in something. Every move on life’s
chessboard has a bearing on the future. I often say to myself that if I went
to glory without providing for my children, that would be the greatest
failure I will have had in life. My aim has always been to do my best in
generating wealth for my family and beyond. Following the Apostolic
example, I endeavour to do my best at all times using all the resources at
my disposal. That explains why I keep trying this, that and the other to
reach my target. Some of the things I do might seem ‘nonsensical’ and
‘beneath my status’ to some minds but what does it matter? Will my
children feed on status? Will they survive on my credentials that will be
useless at my demise? I often find my late father in law, Dr Arthur
Msimuko very inspirational. He bought plots and built houses in Chilenje
and Kaunda Square when most of the elite of the day were not thinking
of building. In fact, his friends ridiculed and despised him but you know
what? Those seemingly “small houses” are the ones that sustained and
educated his family long after he had died! That was long-range thinking.
Unfortunately, many Zambians enjoy the present and give no thought to
the future. Many mystically hope to land a huge lump sum payment and
then do something big. But that is not necessarily the best way to self-
development because money’s value gets eroded over time, especially in

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 104


high inflation settings. To some extent, I lamented when my work mates
advocated for a gratuity pay out once every three years. In one sense they
had a point that they would pay less tax but in another, the money value
would be eroded and would thus only engage in capital projects once
every three years, in which time things would have changed. I absolutely
have no problem if inflation is low and the monthly income high enough
to allow some amount of self-development but going by what the average
Zambians generally mint, it would be better to collect our “gratuity”
payment on an annual basis. This mitigates inflation impact. Be that as it
may, always have an eye towards posterity. In that way, you will regulate
your expenditure and investment patterns. Your duty is to invest into the
future and not enter polemics as to whether your progeny will be wise
enough to manage your legacy. Who knows, they may even be wiser than
you have been and thus merely build on where you left off.

11.Short cuts and quick fixes


The reason partly why corruption is so rife in Zambia is because many of
us want to quickly prosper without much ado. Naturally, most of us loath
hard work, inconvenience or delays and thus jump at anything that
promises instant results. Many of us love “instant Nshima” kind of
results. If it were possible, we would gamble all of life if we were certain
to hit the lottery some day. To fulfil this desire, we dribble, cheat and
cripple each other if only we can gain access to egocentric gain. Sadly,
these quick fixes and short cuts pervade even Statehouse! Have we not
heard of the Maharishi concept? What about the senseless imprudent
privatisation process of the 1990s and beyond? What about the
thoughtless political bloated Cabinet Minister appointments? All these
are in a bid to quickly solve an immediate problem without any
forethought of the implications of such a move.

12.Doubt
Doubt has always been a killer of many projects because doubters are
often not courageous enough to present and defend their ideas to a wider
audience. While they still doubt, another quickly steals their ideas and
pose as the originator. No matter how they mourn, the world will not hear
them but give credit to the patent holder. I have heard of a Zambian who
claims to have pioneered the isolation the HIV Virus but delayed to make
their findings known. Another stole their conclusions and published them
in a journal thus getting the credit. That was sad but it happens so
frequently. Many have claimed to have invented or discovered this, that

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or the other but spend more time doubting themselves rather than
confidently putting their findings on the table. This hesitation is not only
in the intellectual world but pervades all aspects of life. If you show
doubt in whatever you do, you invariably lose some credibility and
respect from your constituencies that support you. They wonder whether
you actually mean what you say or even know what you are about. A
confident look and posture does much good for you as you win more
clout and following. I once knew a friend who always doubted himself all
the times. With time, he repeatedly failed all his exams and even when he
finally completed his studies, he hardly excelled in his job. Only when he
cast off doubt did he begin to make headway. If you are the head of the
home and are full of doubts, do not be surprised if your entire household
turns out to be a den of doubters. In some sense, we can safely assert that
doubt is contagious if not carefully managed. Why are you still where
you are after all these years? Why haven’t you made progress? Couldn’t
it be because you are doubt infested? With such a mindset lacking
assurance, you will scarcely make individual progress. That also explains
also why Zambia has remained a pauper nation because it is a country of
doubters right from State house down wards. The only thing we seem not
to be indifferent about or doubt is engaging in corrupt practices!
Somehow, we score feats in the wrong things!

13.Displeasure in the work


McGregor has brought about two formidable postulations/ theories about
people’s attitude and response towards work. The first says something
like this: “People naturally hate work, view it as undesirable and will do
anything to avoid or minimise it” The second theory advances the
thought that some people view work as necessary, good, healthy and
important for ones’ sanity, survival, esteem and well being. These two
extreme positions seem to largely summarise what obtains in the world.
Those that hold on to the first postulation usually are lazy and often do
not make much progress in their field of endeavour. They content
themselves with reaching the bare minimum and go to the beach after
that. They have no problems with watching movies all day, patronizing
bars or beer gardens as long as they can get the bare necessities of life.
These people hate work and will do anything to short cut their way to the
top. This includes corruption, character assassination, mudslinging, or
cheating. Many of my first year natural sciences colleagues used to cheat
regarding their laboratory experiment results. They thrived on ‘Crooks’
law’ and went on to complete their studies. Today, some of them are

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distinguished officers in our land but they have not made significant head
way in their respective professional area of study because they chose the
easy way at the root. Many Zambians, belong to this category. That in
part explains why the nation is poor despite having abundant factors of
production. The second postulation covers the innovative, the inventive
and hard smart workers. This group fits into the Puritanical mould of
thinking who believe in self determination by serious consistent hard
work. England, the USA and other developed nations have hither to been
prosperous in part because they have imbibed the Protestant work ethic
of hard work and wealth creation (though this view is seriously being
challenged by the Environmentalist as the planet hurtles along to self
destruction catalysed by anthropogenic activities. There is more talk
about ‘sustainable development’ as advanced by Bruntland and
popularised by the 1992 Rio Earth summit). As such, this set of people
derive immense pleasure and fulfilment in accomplishing as much as
they can in their lifetimes. They will not rest at anything but apply
themselves to the limit until they have reached their target. Japan and
China were once poor countries but today, they are economic giants to
reckon with. By and large, they have turned round their fortunes because
they have adopted the second postulation. The Confucius beliefs have
greatly helped. The down side of this school of thought is that people are
always working and have no leisure time, many working themselves to
death. Stress arrests and cripples some for them, sometimes irreparably.
In Japan, failure is a taboo and inexcusable, no wonder some go to the
point of committing suicide because they cannot stand the shame of
failing to reach perfection. In my view, if you are to make head way,
change your attitude towards work and see what becomes of you. After
all, Adam was a serious diligent worker long before the fall.

14.Poor attitude to work


In a sense, we have covered this ground in the previous point but it is no
trouble to re-echo the sentiments. A poor working attitude does far more
harm than most of us realise. While we sit around and complain, another
is exploiting your opportunity for their own good. If you have a poor
work attitude, you will scarcely come up with tangible projects to
improve your well fare. If you do come up with something, chances are
that you will not follow through or run along with the project far enough.
You will most likely abandon ship or take the easier detour. People with a
bad work attitude and culture are usually quitters when the going gets
tough but have an amazing resilience in tolerating delays, sloth or other

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equally slothful fellows. Somehow, they can accommodate
inconvenience and expect to be tolerated in return. Targets, timeliness or
hustle and bustle are foreign to them because they know what or how to
get things ‘within the system’. Lazy people love the comfort zone and
will do any and everything to protect their turf. I once talked to a senior
auditor in the government. He categorically stated that he would never
leave the government for whatever reason. I was startled because I
expected him to have been looking over the fence for greener pastures,
but not him! The reason? He felt extremely SECURE because the
probability of job loss was next to nil in the system. Besides, the deadline
lunacy was absent in the Government at the time. Although puzzled, I
understood and appreciated his perspective better. It depends what you
are looking for in each context and you need grace for each scenario.
Personally, I would find it hard to fit into his mould of thinking but it
works well for him. The danger with that ‘system dependant’ kind of
work culture is that once weaned off, people sometimes fail to stand on
their own if they did not establish good linkages and networks. Once
those streams run dry, they hit the rock bottom and eventually sell their
productive assets in the long run. Mind set change is key.

15. Poor time Management


I once worked with an extremely qualified and seasoned gentleman
earlier on in my career. That gentleman was full of surprises, at least to
me. He just would not keep time, even when we had a teleconference
with our donors! Somehow, time keeping was his weakest area and as
such, he was always behind schedule in his work. To cover up, he
resorted to giving false promises that soon backfired on the team. As a
result, that project was deemed a failure because we could not complete
the project on time. Reflecting back, I think the greatest problem was on
poor time keeping on all concerned especially that gentleman. That said,
we all were guilty of killing the project because we always arrived some
minutes late, say five minutes after eight in the morning. Add up those
five minutes in a year and you have a lot of man hours lost. What about
our private lives, how do we manage them? Somehow, since we do not
have any benchmarks, we waste far much more time than we realise. For
instance, most of us make every effort to be in time for school but are
always late for church. We waste more time in bars and watching TV
than we spend on updating our knowledge base or investing into the
future. Somehow, we convince ourselves that we still have a lot of time
on our hands and as such do not care whether we waste a few minutes.

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But I put it to you that most of the world’s successful people value this
commodity called time. They treasure it and ensure they exploit it to the
fullest. Do you want to be unique in your generation? Redeem the time!
I once visited a graveyard in Bangor, Wales some time ago. I found
interesting epitaphs. One struck me most belonging of the first Professor
at the North Wales College (eventually Bangor University). It appears his
motto in life centred around efficient time utilization. He often used to
say “Each day its task”. I am scarcely surprised that at death, he was a
well-orbed professor.

16. Back ground orientation


Our roots have a huge bearing on how we interpret and view the world
around us. As we grow, we seem to adapt to our environments and begin
to give meaning to things. The ever-learning brain gathers much
information in those formative years and stores them up at the back of
our minds for future retrieval at the right time. Thus, as we begin to
encounter previously unknown experiences, the brain searches and brings
about what it has deemed as “Correct”. If that new encounter does not
resonate with the basic principle the brain knows as right and acceptable,
it initially rejects new things or otherwise begins to readjust accordingly.
Similarly, if that experience fits in well within the framework, the mind
easily and readily accepts that thing. Thus, an individualistic English man
cannot understand why a Zambian native pulls an uninvited crowd to
their funeral. The Africans (at least historically) are sociable and easily
interact among themselves without much ado. For instance, a Zambian
can visit a friend at any time without appointment, they can chat for long
periods and have access to their friends’ private matters and seek to offer
a solution. This is generally acceptable in Africa but may not be in some
parts of Europe or America. The extended family system collapsed
generations ago in the developed world and thus pour scorn on the
elaborate extended family and social structure in Africa. Their immediate
reaction is to cut this out to save costs for yourself! No wonder they have
many psychosocial problems while we have poorer but happier homes.

17. Procrastination
This is the bad habit of always pushing things to a future date that could
well be handled today not tomorrow. The person in this habit develops a
mindset that is always doing things in a panic at the eleventh hour
although they had plenty time throughout the given period. Many
students are culprits of this vice, no wonder many of them resort to

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“Mwembeshi”, ‘cut and paste’ tactics. Their weakness shows up later in
life as they will not have mastered the art of painstaking research and
data mining. But then, students are not alone in this vice, many of us are
culprits because we defer many activities to the last minute and thus
churn out poor quality results. Think of how many times we have
procrastinated on fixing that tap leak, health problem or preparing for the
future? See what devastating effects it has had on you? As they say, truly,
“procrastination is the thief of time” as it robs you of many creature
comforts you would have otherwise enjoyed had you responded at the
right time.

18. Love of ease and comfort-the finer things of life


Some people love to have a good time and have no time for hard work. In
fact, work is a disturbance to their continued enjoyment of a dramatic or
calm and serene life style that revolves around comfort, sweet and
enjoyment. They want to live a lavish life style far beyond their means
and will do anything to have even an inch of such a life and spend the
rest of their days chasing after the elusive wind. Granted, we all desire a
good quality life style free from any trouble but then, we need to work to
reach such a stage. What we sow is what we reap. If we sow laziness, we
reap poverty and will most likely remain dependant on others. During our
short working life, we have hosted a lot of people in our home. Some are
extremely hard working and a pleasure to watch today as they glide to the
higher skies of self-development and actualisation. We feel proud as we
see the kite rise even higher by the second. But we have also had a fair
share of lazy bones. Sometimes they have said or done shocking things
that leave you wondering. For example, they are often egocentric and
delight in the easy finer things of life but do not want for a moment to
sweat to get them. They love the fruit not the root. If you are such kind of
a person, do not be surprised if nothing seems to work well for you and
no one is willing to help you anymore. Check your self. Never love ease
and the finer things of life without sweating to generate them.

19.Short spans of concentration-Dementia like…


In this dynamic and rapidly changing world, there is need to always be
alert and on top of things. You need to be extremely organised and action
oriented to reach the stars. If you are clumsy, forgetful and do not
concentrate for long, you will be perceived as a danger and liability both
to yourself and others. I have met extremely disorganised Accountants
and often wonder how they successfully manage their books. Even more

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interesting, they rise from rank to rank! Other men and women are not as
fortunate, they seem to speedily drive themselves into a career ditch
where they are buried. Still others cannot keep jobs for a long time. Their
span of concentration and interest runs for a few years at the most before
they suddenly abandon ship to take up something else. Do not be
surprised if they ditch one in preference for another a few years hence.
But look at them today, how far have they developed themselves?
Chances are that they will have a rich diversified Curriculum Vita (CV)
but appear extreme paupers as though that is when they are just getting
out of college. I have heard of a highly qualified gentleman who has been
around the NGO world holding top flight jobs but does not have anything
tangible to show for his experience. Each new job redeems them from
inconveniencing their relations because up to that time, they do not have
their own house! Despite handling many millions of personal kwachas
and dollars, they come away empty handed each time. They forget the
past or what they are doing and thus swiftly get the boot!

20.Never learning from the past mistakes/pitfalls


To fail to learn from the past is to remain a child because the same
mistakes will be repeated and consequently lead to your destruction. One
Church historian once asserted similar sentiments and I agree with him
totally. Nearly all failures that make shipwreck of their lives are those
that have deliberately refused to make amends or draw lessons from past
follies. I have met many people along life’s broad road why lament the
past tragic mistakes that haunt them today. In most of these cases, the
people wantonly went against advice or warning signposts from the past
and thus plunged into the miry bog over the precipice. If you want to
remains poor, just simply sit back and do nothing about recurrent bobby
traps. You will soon reap your reward.

21. Inconsistency
Others are good at learning from the past and from others but are
amazingly unstable! Initially, they appear as dark clouds pregnant with
much rain about to fall but suddenly prove to be a mere bag of wind.
Some easily get distracted by mirages and thus end up chasing after the
wind. There is need to be consistent in whatever we do or undertake. Just
like the consistent Accountant reports the same way across the years, so
also must you and I be when we are pursuing a certain path of activity.
Anything short of that invites scorn, doubt, lowered confidence and
erratic results. If positively embraced, it will definitely have the opposite

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effect in that you will also be confident that you have passed that way
before. Very few things will be ‘experiments’ drawing speculation or
doubt on your side. If last year you diverted public funds to some other
equally important activity, people will doubt your integrity this year but if
over the years, you have proved faithful and consistent to your cause,
even when you request a deviation prior to the close out date, permission
will readily be granted and understood. Our politicians, even from Plot
one are grossly and unashamedly inconsistent in their assertions. Today,
they promise you this, tomorrow they suddenly twist and turn, chewing
their very words, and yet they return once again at election time to seek
our support, which we give them only to gnash our teeth!

22.Conflict of interest
In one way or the other, we all have interests in whatever we engage
ourselves. We seek some form of benefit. But some interest is far too
much, especially over public resources simply because no one person can
claim ownership. As such, there is need to regulate and ensure the right
safety guards are in place to avoid abuse. For instance, we read of a
Lands Cabinet Minister who is alleged to have amassed multiple plots for
her family. She is said to have used her position and thus abused
authority to get undue advantage. In another case, the daughter to the
President got a plot without following procedure in a given prime area, as
reported by the Post newspaper at one time. Yet another heart breaking
incidence was the famous Copper belt Energy Corporation (CEC)
scandal√. Some senior person from ZESCO (Zambia Electricity Service
Corporation) used their influence to sell cheaper energy to CEC of which
he was a share holder thus reaping off the country. Surprisingly, the state
cast a blind eye to that. Perhaps the gentleman belonged to the ‘family
tree’ as interesting Mr Michael Sata often says. Conflict of interest goes
far beyond the examples we have cited. It can be said to be that
acquisition of rights, privileges or properties because of one’s advantaged
position. To the Zambian, this may sound quite a foreign concept because
the “farmer must eat from the farm as /she toil” away, so the conventional
reasoning goes.

23.Wrong motives
People sometimes start high-sounding projects and pledge to do great
exploits in a short time. Some go all the way and prove truthful but the
vast majority quit when we least expect. This leaves a sour feeling down
September 2007

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our groins because we feel cheated and betrayed. Political prostitutes, as
often-unstable party changing politicians are called, are guilty of this.
While they are campaigning, you would think that the chap is ready even
to shed blood or give up their life for that cause but as soon as a juicy
carrot is dangled between their eyes, they suddenly trash all they once
stood for and embrace something totally opposite! What cause this? The
probable reason is that they did not harbour the right motives from the
start. That could explain why your output is very low. It could be that you
start out your things with the wrong motive and unclear goals.

24.Duo and multiple loyalty


Management has taught us that if a person has more than one person to
pay allegiance to, chances are that they will fail, please one or be rejected
by both. This also means that their output will be far lower than expected
because the energies and attention will be split or spread thinly. Imagine
your spouse simultaneously devoted themselves to you and to another! It
would be chaos! I am sure pots and pans would be flying in either
direction because the person in the middle will not be delivering or
available for each party the required quality time. They will not accord
the due attention to you or your rival. Thus, in life, if you have too many
people who call the shots in your life, chances are that you will not make
much progress as anticipated. In a program I once managed, we had
hierarchy to observe but in our zeal to create a team environment where
labels and status are secondary, I would give instructions to the junior
staff to do something, without realising that their supervisor (who was
my direct subordinate) had also offered instructions to do another thing in
the same time frame. Which person were the juniors to obey? Half the
time, they obeyed me and this generated a lot of acrimony and suspicion.
Thankfully, we realised early and rectified the problem. Who is the ‘Mr
or Ms Significant’ in your life? Consider this question carefully as it
might just solve your labour problem.

25.Corruption
Corruption has been recognised as one of the major killers of a nation.
Many countries suffer seriously at the hands of this vice. In capsule form,
corruption is the acquisition of goods or services using wrongful means
such as bribes. Zambia teems with this corruption disease. Like the
colonialists of old, FTJ left his unique legacy that will live to haunt us-
corruption. A booby-trap all right. It is his brainchild that was born in the
cradle of 1991, grew in that decade, matured in 2001 and yet to reach its

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peak in the years 2001-10. Corruption has become endemic thriving most
in the institution of institutions-the Police! It would be fitting to point out
some of the effects of corruption. It makes one lazy, less innovative,
unethical, love ease, irresponsible, destructive, careless and finally turns
one into a thief!

26. Nepotism
In a country where there are over 73 tribal groupings and where
intermarriages are hardly surprising, nepotism sadly still displays its ugly
green head. We see it all over the place, in government, in churches, in
companies and even in families! If one belongs to the ‘right clan’ or
grouping, then chances of success are very high because they carry the
correct label and garment. The down side of nepotism is that it sometimes
discourages the truly competent from taking up key positions to change
our fortunes based on their origins. Another pitfall of this vice is that the
people we gather to our side usually turn out to be careless and abusive of
resources entrusted to their care. At one time, it was believed that certain
tribes were the only and greatest thieves in Zambia but time has proved
that theory wrong. The truth is that we all carry within our hearts a fallen
nature needing regeneration to make one think and behave properly. Not
even education can totally change a person’s character or heart although
it may modify some perceptions or actions. Nepotism then refers to one
deliberately and exclusively granted favour to ones’ relations at the
expense of national progress and interest using public resources. This is
hardly an all-embracing description. My brother once worked for a nearly
all ‘Namwanga’ beer company! I was startled when I learnt about that
and wondered why. The best answer I got was that they (tribes’ mates or
relatives) understood each other and worked well together. I was far from
being convinced. But then, as earlier stated, we could stretch ‘nepotism’
to other things as party politics or denominations. If you do not belong to
the right group, you are doomed. Your businesses may even plummet.

27.Excessive criticism of others


Some people seem to be constituted of “criticism material” because they
see faults at every turn and come out strongly to condemn regardless of
who the apparent offender is. They rarely commend anyone when they do
good but will not spare any punches to criticise anyone who falls short of
their subjective expected standards. Over the years, I have noticed that
usually, the over critical have weak competencies and would like to
compensate for this defect by appearing to know things better than even

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the experts in that field! It is often a complex manifesting in criticism.
Further, I have noted that once they are given an opportunity to do that
very thing they boasted about being able to expertly execute, they either
offer an excuse or in their pride go ahead to mess up thus exposing their
incompetence. In addition, highly unreasonably critical people rarely
learn from others as they are often bigoted only realising their error when
they land into trouble. The tragedy also is that they often do not have
enough moral energy left to positively do something good that will last
the test of time. In as much as we must be analytical and critical, this
virtue should not be our hallmark. Instead, we must criticise
constructively, what the Bible in Ephesians 4; 14 calls “Speaking the
truth in love”. Sometimes the truth is painful but it must be said, and that,
wisely. Having said that, the discerning often grows out of that habit and
move on to maturity. You will do yourself a great favour if you
concentrated more on the positive side of others.

28.Dysfunctional system/team
The temptation to do things alone is very strong especially if you do not
trust your colleagues to do the right thing. When you are forced to work
with them nonetheless, you behave in many ways inconsistent with your
claims. In times like this, you tend to hide information or keep a close
eye on whoever you are working with or supervising. When many of
such queer minded fellows converge to make a group, heading towards a
team, not a few hurdles are encountered. Each person suspects the other
and dares not leave anything to chance and repeatedly suspiciously
double checks what others have done resulting in a dysfunctional unit
where people waste a lot of time back biting, slandering or cutting each
other to size. Much heat is generated and lost to the wind leading to a
tired but unproductive team. Alternatively, one team may be excellent but
the next in the chain is problematic, this disrupts the overall quality flow
of work and eventually leads to corporate bone yard.

29. Too many goals at the same time/multiple simultaneous goals


If you have many things to do at a time, chances are that your product
quality will be compromised one way or the other. Similarly, if you have
too many trial and error goals, you will hardly give sufficient quality time
and devotion in order to get the best result. Do not be surprised if you do
not make significant progress in any major thing. It is because your
energy and resources will be spread thinly over a wider area. I once
worked for a high profile organisation that had a very sound financial

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base but the impact was hardly visible for any evaluator to see. The
organisation had too many projects. Thankfully, the strategy was changed
to focus on a few high result activities. Today, you can see something
tangible in a short time. Devotion to one thing is key.

30.Lack of conviction
At other times, it may not necessarily be resource shortage or too much to
do. It may actually be the lack of conviction over some pursuit resulting
in sudden abandonment midway or hesitation by parties concerned. For
example, if you are not convinced that the gospel is the solution of man’s
wicked heart, you will be hesitant to disseminate it especially when you
meet the elite and obstinate. Conviction begets passion.

31.Not bought into something


Tyrants and dictators rarely leave a sustainable legacy. Often, their
successors spend time demolishing the bad memory and hopefully create
a new thing. Not so for those world-class leaders. Long after the said
leaders have left the centre stage, their echo still clearly resounds. People
will fondly refer to them and hold on to their legacy if not improve on it
rather than demolishing it. The secret is that these leaders, whilst in
power, ensured that they passed on the dream to others that bought into it.
Thus, their cause was internalised by others who vowed to continue the
good work. Buy into something completely, and see how you persevere!

32. Not asking critical questions such as opportunity cost, value added,
sustainability or long term benefit to all concerned many generations
hence.
Very few people in Zambia have critical minds courageous enough to
question why and how things are done. If there were, we should not be
where we are as a nation or as individuals. If you are to make head way,
you need to develop an additional sense that will discern the issues and
ask correct questions. In that way, you will then intelligently craft a clear
strategic path to success. In the same breathe, you will also have time to
evaluate the impact of present actions on the future, continuity and
outlook of the future. Lack of raising critical questions results in many
lost opportunities, bad decisions and unsustainable practices that may not
be eco-sensitive. Always think through issues before acting or devoting
yourself to something. You may live to regret.

33. Myopic thinking

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Some people think and live for that particular day. Rarely do they plan or
provide for the future estate of their well being. These are the kind of
people that soon collapse and die once their immediate livelihood support
system vomits them or ceases to function. Myopic thinking then refers to
that narrow micro short sighted kind of short-term thinking that reacts to
the status quo rather than proactively positions itself in case of the rainy
day. Myopic thinking concentrates on the present visible problem and
never casts an eye to the future or discovering the root causes of a
problem. But myopic thinking is not only limited to livelihood issues but
in all departments of our lives, faculties, environment and development
pace. If leaders are myopic, chances are that they will seek quick fix
solutions and celebrate infinitely without putting antidotes in place to
future problems. No wonder they get exceedingly shocked and blame
their foes for their apparent misfortune. Further, myopic thinkers are
often insecure and often jostle for power, recognition or abuse authority
without the slightest clue that they are digging their own graves! In my
working life, I have encountered quite a number with the above-
described profile and much more. They can be quite a menace to society
and themselves!

34. Intellectual challenge/disability


People have great ideas but suffer from some form of mental paralysis
that cannot translate into reality. Zambians have great ideas and are
among the most highly mutually endowed people on the planet but alas,
their brains and hands cannot coordinate. Many factors account for this
chief among them being the chronic and now endemic dependence
syndrome. The other is the desire to get the end as quickly as possible.
The average Zambian lives and thrives on short cuts and where confusion
reigns. The brain sees a lot of opportunities for success but wastefully lets
the said ‘fresh water’ chances pass by under the bridge to the salt sea.
Scan the Zambian landscape, surely, why should we still wallow in
poverty, well over forty-three years after independence? Is it a question
of resources? Is it archaic laws? Perhaps it is physical disability? Or
maybe the culture, values, traditional and land tenure issues? As can be
seen, all the afore-mentioned cannot be ultimate reasons in and of
themselves though admittedly the legal and land tenure aspects may
contribute to a significant extent to this disability. But as some have said,
“Where there is a will, there is a way”.⋅ A grain of truth is encapsulated in
that little sentence as the case below will illustrate:
Anonymous

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 117


Case

“Brain damaged woman talks after 20 years”


The year was 1984, September 22 to be precise. 18 year old Sarah
Scantlin had just had a bash with friends at a teen time party and was
heading for her car to get home. More opportunities of fun and
development lay ahead of her. Without any warning, a car came
speeding down the high way, knocked her down and sped off without
stopping. Sarah crushed to the ground and instantly fell unconscious.
Horrified on lookers rushed to the scene, called in an ambulance and
broke down weeping uncontrollably. The next time Sarah woke up, she
was in a strange place with all sorts of gadgets around her. Figures with
worried faces surrounded her bed. She could hardly recognize them.
She tried to move herself but couldn’t. Her speech too eluded her. Sarah
wondered what had happened. After some time, as she begun to recall,
she realized she was trapped in a paralysed body forever. Her memory
started to return. First she recognized her parents and brother. It became
clear over the long while that she had to content herself with that
condition the rest of her life unless a miracle occurred. The Doctors said
her brain had been extensively damaged and she had lost a number of
critical brain centres including the speech or motion points. 20 long
years passed before anything tangible happened, almost accidentally.
Sarah suddenly begun to speak! “Scantlin’s Doctor, Bradley Scheel,
said Physicians are not sure why she suddenly began talking but
believe critical pathways in the brain may have regenerated, how?
Beats me too! “It is extremely unusual to see something like this
happen,” Scheel said.
The breakthrough came when the nursing home’s activity director Pat
Rincon, was working with Scantlin and a small group of other patients,
trying to get them to speak, Rancon had her back to Scantlin while she
worked with another resident. She had just gotten that resident to reply
“Ok,” when she suddenly heard Sarah behind her also repeat the
words “Ok. Ok”∨ Wonder of wonders! Unaided, Sarah spoke a word! In
no time, a group of experts gathered around her and sought to work
with her. A speech therapist led the team for weeks. At that point, they
did not want to alert the parents lest their raised hopes be dashed. Thank
fully, Sarah herself did not want her surprise improvement be leaked to
her family until Valentine’s Day. After a few weeks, her speech centre

Indented words quoted from the Monday 14th February 2005 Post News paper verbatim

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 118


was almost fully functional. As she waited for February 14th, she grew
weary and decided to break the 20-year silence by an aided phone call!
Such is the resolve of those that would live! Sarah may not fully
recover her other lost capabilities but she has recovered at least one of
them!
Sarah’s moving case shows what determination can do. Progress may be
slow and painful but is certainly there! Another case worth considering is
the Joni Erickson Tada. This practically paralysed lady from neck to toe
has given the world some of the greatest art works using her mouth!
These ladies over came the impossible to show us that we can do it. What
more those of us that are physically fit? It is a shame on us!
The graveyard is full of ideas that never turned to reality. Dr Munroe is
right when he asserts that ‘the richest place is the graveyard’, especially
in Africa!

35. Poor and disjoint implementation


Zambians are good at planning but fall short at the implementation stage.
Either they spend far too much at the planning stage than they need at the
implementation or they are simply not competent enough to do the job. I
often marvel how Government and NGOs spend billions on endless
workshops or travel to the extent that they scarcely have anything to
inject into the actual main thing-development. Only a trickle reaches the
actual intended target, and in some cases, this even eludes the poor. This
is a tragedy. At the individual level as well, it is possible to spend too
much in the wrong things and end up with little or nothing for
investment. Zambians do not have a culture of saving and often waste
away resources where they ought not.

36. Individualism∇
The advent of western civilisation to some extent has eroded and
supplanted our rich communal social structure. At one time, villages
worked together and co-existed in equilibrium. They were harmoniously
united and available for each other to fill in the missing link when one
was lonely. We seem to be losing that virtue and rapidly have imbibed
individualistic mindset postures. Today, it is “each man for himself and
God for us all” as the old English saying goes. In whatever we undertake,
we always are looking for our egocentric stake rather than the communal
good. Granted, we cannot avoid personal interest but this can be
Refer to Muna Ndulo’s book, “Mining Rights in Zambia” pp8 which alludes to some social changes when
people of different ethnic groupings converge in an area such as the Copper belt of Zambia.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 119


minimised depending on the context. This has been worsened in the
market economy where people have been forced to double up their efforts
if they are to remain buoyant and relevant. The self-centred life style is
here to stay but what matters is how it is managed. If we become too
individualistic, we subsequently become too selfish and will not help
anybody, not even our own relations! In one sense, individualism causes
people to wake up and work for themselves. It also reduces on the
parasitic attitudes thus freeing more resources for development. The
down side of this trend is that it dismantles the social structures and
fosters selfishness. As a result of individualism, some have watched their
relations degenerate from comfort to abject poverty all in the name of
“minding their own business” This explains why some prefer to leave
huge fortunes to dogs than to people because they have been too lonely
throughout life and the only companion they had was that animal! The
visit to Bangor Pier confirmed this painful deep loneliness in the western
society. Individualism also accounts for the high depression and suicide
cases in the world. The basic rationale is that the subjects do not have
anyone to pour out their woe before they take the apparently crazy
option. I do not for a moment condone suicide or leaving an unreasonable
legacy to animals but this could be better managed if individualism were
better checked and fought!

37. Wrong and misplaced priorities


It is possible to have great advantages in life relative to others and yet
come off serious losers. For instance, Zambia is a far superior resources
endowed nation and yet most of its citizens are paupers. Foreigners from
abroad, spot opportunities and seize them. In a short time we see them
progress from ‘Zam footers’ to filthy rich dons driving the latest cars on
the block. One probability for this ‘upside down ‘kind of scenario could
be wrong priorities and policies espoused by the people in the corridors
of power. How does one explain the chronic poverty in the midst of
plenty? There must be a reason somewhere in addition to the wrong
mindset. Or could it be that the rest of the world interprets things the
wrong way round compared to us? At the domestic level, the average
Zambian would rather spend money on a TV or cell phone rather than on
a book that can empower them with knowledge for future application.
Depending on the relevance to your personal development, these gadgets
can turn out to be cost rather than profit centres. In other cases, people
have all their minds set on money rather than what generates that money!

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 120


For many, cash in hand is the only motivator and thus fail to focus on the
first things first. Rework your priorities and see what becomes of you!

38. Dependence syndrome


I often wonder why some people or countries rarely develop at the pace
commensurate with their asset base. They have great potential to become
world economic giants but chronically linger around the paupers’ den for
generations. The little piece meal token developments you see have either
been done by outsiders or some crooked and clandestine fellows within
the country. The vast majority of citizens depend on free hand outs and
seize any opportunity to benefit where they did not sow. Africa comes to
mind at this stage. It holds more natural resources potential perhaps more
than any other continent on the planet and yet remains totally dependent
on the rich north countries before they do anything tangible. Africa
dances to the tune of its exploiters who, having siphoned what they
wanted in previous generations have stood aloof waiting to pounce back
on their unfinished business. Thus, when China suddenly comes on the
block as a potential economic giant, the traditional super powers cry foul!
Why? Probably they still want Africa to remain dependant on them. Even
at the individual level, if you wait for your neighbour to come and do
something for you, you will wait forever in vain. Instead, you need to
awake up and take charge of your destiny. To the extent you
independently exert yourself towards self-development, to that extent you
will prosper.

39. Unresolved personal issues (inner being or otherwise)


Sometimes if someone has many unresolved issues neatly tacked away in
the remote chambers of the heart, they will often not function to their
expected full potential. They seem to hold promise for much achievement
but somehow fail to strike the right quality cord. They shockingly fall
short of their potential and sometimes behave in ways least expected of
them such as wanted to have everything under their control or not
trusting anyone else. Some times as they walk through the corridors and
encounter a small group of people discussing and joking amongst
themselves, instantly they feel suspicious and uncomfortable thinking the
group is gossiping about them. I have heard of a colleague who always
suspects someone is hot on their trail seeking to murder them! A careful
check may reveal much more than meets the eye. It could be that the root
cause is an even that that was never resolved in the past manifesting in
different ways today. Until that root problem is resolved, they will pass

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 121


through life behaving funny to on lookers. Such people need help from
the wise counsellor or local Pastor.

40.Lying
Milingo’s wife once lamented that Zambians lie a lotκ. At first I felt
offended and insulted by that allegation but upon reflection, I agreed with
her observation. I mean, if the President himself can lie and behave as a
trickster, how do you expect his subjects to turn out right? Lies germinate
and take root in different ways, either they emanate from a culture or are
learnt along the way. If it is an established culture of lying, expect
anything from anyone. No one’s word can be trusted either. The tragedy
today that even today’s saints, including Pastors have been infected with
this lying virus despite clear biblical injunctions against such a vice. If
people have learnt it along the way, then there is better hope of
“disinfecting” them before it reaches the bone marrow. People lie for
various reasons. Some lie because they want to quickly get something,
others do it to avoid bad repercussions but the vast majority in Zambia
habitually lie. Lying has never occurred to them as wrong! Like
highlighted earlier, if you cannot trust the next person’s word, then you
will walk circumspectly fearing any sudden backlash. Further, lies
contribute to the heightening of doubt and thus the individual or nation is
progressively destroyed rather than built.

This is a terrible cancer needing weeding out if you and I are to make
headway. Our word must be trusted by all without any iota of doubt
regardless of whom or where we are. Children often learn from their
seniors and carry on that culture for many years hence. Politicians in
Zambia lie too much because they are tolerated by the electorates who
themselves are guilty of lying!

41.Blame shifting.
Instead of owning up when things go wrong or objectively enquiring
what caused an evil occurrence, people tend to spend more time shifting
blame on others rather than discovering the root cause. In some cases,
others are to blame but in many cases too, the individual him or herself is
the cause of the problem. People who specialise in the blame game
always have excuses for failing to achieve anything and will spend all
their time justifying their actions or misfortunes, as the case may be.
Well-adjusted people face up to the challenge and look the problem
Post newspaper 2007, over the health status of her husband Emmanuel Milingo

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 122


square in the face and know exactly how to fix things. Where do you
stand on this matter?

The issues raised in the present chapter are exceedingly painful but also
insightful for the discerning. If you elect to change your fortune, this
revelation will exceedingly be handy as it will not only assist you avoid
past pitfalls but help you to strategically plan for the future. If a critical
mass of Zambian citizens fled from the thieves of labour, the nation will
potentially have been firmly put on the road to self-redemption from the
poverty clutches that have hitherto caged it. As we move to other
chapters, it is hoped that the points thus far brought to the fore will affect
our perceptions as well as serve as a driving force to future success. I
wonder what will become of you ten years hence, after persistently
working smart and hard.

===============================================================

Bibliography

Steger B Manfred, Globalization: A very short introduction, Oxford


University press, 2003

Dresner Simon, Principles of Sustainability, Earth Scan, London, VA, 2002

Baker Susan, Sustainable Development, Routledge, London & New York,


2006

Campbell David J, Organisations & the business Environment, Butterworth


Heinemann, Oxford, Amsterdam, Boston, London, New York, Paris, San
Diego, San Francisco, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, 1997

Welford Richard & Starkey Richard (editors), Business and the


Environment, Universities Press (India Ltd), 1996

Chanski Mark, Manly Dominion: in the passive-purple four-ball world,


Calvary Press publishing, Merrick, New York, 2004

Chapter 7

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 123


Some points worth considering

Having firmly laid the foundation and erected the structure, we now
precede to in insert some finishing touches. The present and subsequent
chapters merely buttress the foundational truths thus far asserted. A special
feature of this and other chapters is that it zeros in on the individual though
largely applicable on a national level.

No doubt, we have covered most of what we shall be glossing over in the


remainder of this book but it is worth reading through to the very end. I can
assure you, the benefit is entirely yours. We shall consider several things that
could distinguish you and leave an indelible mark on your generation. It has
always been my ambition to leave a classic legacy that will far out live me
or my progeny. This chapter highly focuses on the individual.
We commence by considering the ideal picture, the marks of a hard worker.
Gauge yourself against the suggested points.

Marks of a hard worker


a. No procrastination. A diligent person always reaps much out of life.
They are always working and thinking of ways to improve theirs and
others’ lots. Never do they push something forward or wait until the
deadline pushes them to react. Procrastination is foreign to them and
they loath it. Friend, never ever get into the habit of letting things
push you to the wall before you respond. In fact, you must be in
charge of your time and position yourself from afar.

b. Devotion. Individuals only go as far as their resolve can take them.


They lay aside anything that hinders them and unreservedly throw in
their weight towards what they want and are convinced about.

c. Ant mentality. Have you ever watched ants at work? They are always
working laying up for the difficult day ahead. They spare no effort and
scarcely have time to rest, at least as far as the human eye can visibly
see on a good day. No stone is ever left unturned and every nerve,
muscle and energy is summoned to achieve the benchmark. Due
diligence is the need of the times. You need to see the importance of
something before you devote yourself.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 124


d. Resilience (Proverbs 24:16). An ability to stand up and move forward
after a fall, no matter how bad or humiliating is the mark of
champions. Experts in a particular field have refined their prowess
through many encounters with failure or challenges. The good thing is
that they have viewed trials as opportunities for improvement. If you
are to leave a mark on your generation, always have the stamina to
rise up after a lamentable fall. After many a fall, they have risen again
to continue. Are you a champion?

e. No slothfulness. Diligence alluded to above entails straining every


nerve to get what you desire. Slothfulness is just about the opposite
because it includes sluggishness, laziness or lack of urgency about
anything whether perceived important or not. A slothful person would
rather be sleeping or dozing when it is time to run to catch the last
train for the day.

f. Determination. As I was growing up, I often wondered why and how


some people made head way while others scarcely went anywhere. I
now know better than then because I have realized that in life, to
achieve about anything, you must have a convinced and settled
resolve to hit a certain target, short of which makes you feel
unfulfilled.

g. Focus. In addition to the determination mentioned above, it is critical


to have your resolve in the right direction. Focus on something gives
us the right resolution and appropriate speed. If I want to go to
Chipata, I will focus my medium of travel eastwards from Lusaka
central. I must know exactly where I am going in Chipata even before
I start off. Focus entails fixing your gaze and concentration on your
target and move on towards it.

h. Energy. As one diligently works their way through life, they need to
have the right ardour, zest and zeal to get things done. This inward
drive must be well moulded and maintained regulated by a good head
and heart. This warmth and strong desire is called “fervency” derived
from the word fervour. If you are fervent and on fire over something,
even the apparently difficult things appear far much lighter.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 125


i. Self starter. In a global context, there is need to develop independence
from infancy buttressed by a strong desire to succeed. To the height
you place your goals, to that extent you will hurl yourself. Self starters
know what they want and how to reach their goal and as such easily
get busy in a given context. They have the end in mind and fervently
work towards the desired haven whether anybody joins them or not.
They scarcely need any supervision. If you have achieved some
measure of success and progress, chances are that you are a strong self
starter who is not faint hearted.

j. Minimal supervision. This point has been ably dealt with in the
previous point and as such, we speedily pass on to the next trait.

k. Sincerity. Right motive and attitude are cardinal ingredients towards


continued hard work. If you start doing something on the wrong
premise, chances are that you will get weary and quit sooner or later.
Sincerity is the remedy for this malady. It keeps you focused,
persevering and patient over the long whole. You must be genuine,
down to earth, earnest and honest to maintain and attract some clout
around you. Business thrives on sincerity, mutual trust and
authenticity unless yours is a clandestine dark room transaction. I
once engaged an international business executive who shuttles
between Zambia and Hong Kong for business. One major hurdle he
encountered early in his trade was the issue of mutual trust with his
business partners across the globe. Once they established mutual trust,
either party could take calculated risks because they established firm
convictions of each party’s sincerity. There is mutual sincerity.

l. Tact. Business acumen and clout determine the difference between


success or failure. If you have dry facts, knowledge and financial
muscle, you may have modest success but if you have unique abilities
to use those resources to your advantage, you will achieve world class
success. Far too many people wrongly think that financial muscle
alone can achieve everything for them but they are badly mistaken.
For instance, you both bid for a tender, what is it that makes your
neighbour clinch the deal why you, with all your money, lamentably
fails? Tact is the answer. Tactics, right cues and connections helps
your competitor succeed while you repeatedly return to the drawing
board only to be humiliated again. One of the things that successful

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 126


people do is to keep the ‘connection lines’ warm and live. Whatever
you do, craft the right strategy and avenues towards that end.

m. Acumen. This also has been alluded to in the previous point but we
add saying that acumen is the insight, shrewdness, right judgement or
intelligence into something. As such, you need to have an intelligent
discerning eye to see into things so that you respond appropriately in a
given context.

n. Winning attitude. All out to succeed. Resolve, determination, fervour,


fire, zeal are all well bound up in the heart of the successful person.
The person has this fire burning in their bones and do not rest until
they hit the Bulls’ eye, as it were. In life, you must be optimistic and
forward looking rather than specialising on the pessimistic side.
Having armed yourself with the positive attitude, you need to go full
throttle, determining not to be cowed or shot down. Never settle for
less than you can bargain for.

o. Provide for setbacks but highly resilient In an earlier point of this


section, we briefly explained what resilience is but in this point, we
add the aspect of providing for setbacks along life’s narrow path.
Many hurdles will fall into our path from different angles but what
matters is how one sets their mind set. If you view challenges as
calamities, chances are that you will soon abandon ship but if you
perceive challenges from positive light, you will keep at it long after
everyone has given up and gone home.

p. Robust. You must be stout hearted, bold, strong, tough, vigorous and
forceful if ever you are to make a mark. In this competitive world, you
need to be the best you can if you are to stand out and beat your
competitors. More than that, you need to be in a sense stubborn and
unwavering in your quest to achieve something. You must struggle
and be at times for many hours, weeks, months and in some cases,
years depending what it is that you are about. You must also be
consistent to register your point in people’s minds.

q. Racy. To be racy means to be strong, healthy, tough and rugged. It


also implies being able to meet many frightening odds and yet
triumphing over them. Thus, whatever you do, never be ‘chicken

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 127


hearted’ but always have a Lion’s heart, always pursuing and never
quitting.

r. Risk taker. To achieve anything worth talking about in life, risks are
unavoidable. We take risks daily at every turn but what matters is the
quality and timing of those risks. If one is risk averse, they will
scarcely take any decisions in which ever direction, always remaining
in the safe zone.

The tabulated traits will suffice for now although there are many more traits
you will need to put on in order to tick in these dynamic times. Our work
would only be half complete if we did not consider some of the reasons why
you and I fail to succeed in the field despite our world class credentials.
Once these are identified and meticulously watched, we shall minimise the
frequency of our follies. We therefore proceed to consider these pitfalls in
point form. Some of these may appear as repetitions but this is done for
emphasis’ sake.

Reasons for failure

The first killer trait is the wrong mind set. If you approach work with a
negative attitude, you will not put in your best and ultimately quit when an
opportunity allows. If work is a drag, a weight and an encumbrance, you will
try as much to keep away from it and thereby reduce on your output. In fact,
you will spend more time running away instead of putting your hand to the
plough and moving ahead. They that complain the most generally produce
the least output.

The second failure cause is wrong orientation, which actually is, in a sense,
the mother of many other vices. If you were brought up always working, two
reactions are possible. It is either you will hate work, keeping as far away
from it once liberated or you will love it and labour on hardly aware that you
are over working. On the other hand, if you have had an easy laissez faire
life, mandatory work will be a major trial for you and yet it is necessary.
That explains why some people always employ many domestic workers
even for simple jobs one can easily do. Work on your orientation and
program your mind to look at work positively.

Thirdly and in connection to the previous point, upbringing, as earlier


intimated has a big bearing on how we perceive work. If our socialization

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 128


and exposure tells us that work is good, then we shall respect it but if our
upbringing is pleasure driven and averse to hard work, you will loath any
suggestion to cause you to work. What is your attitude? Why do you love or
hate work? Could it point to your upbringing?

At other times, people behave the way they do because of wrong instruction
about something. Some people are taught to look forward to a nice easy and
cosy life without being told HOW to acquire such a nice life. For instance,
this author once had a bad attitude towards study which ultimately had its
toll on his performance. Some brethren taught us to believe that studying
was a weakness, a waste of time and idolatry of the highest order. This
wrong teaching took its rounds in Zambia and many from that generation
never progressed far beyond grade twelve although they had more than
enough grey matter between their ear lobes. Thankfully, this author
discovered the real teaching of scripture that encourages scholarship and
innovative thinking. The Bible abhors laziness of any kind and this teaching
has shaped my thinking since then. Why do you behave the way you do? We
believe that what you value most has a bearing on how you behave and
respond to the world.

But sometimes, it may not necessarily be wrong teaching. It may well be the
lack of it. If someone has not been exposed to the fruits of hard work, or
indeed seen people that work hard and achieve much, they are likely to
continue on in the ways that they have considered correct, normal and
acceptable. If one has grown up thinking that drunkenness is a good value
and activity, they will find it strange when they encounter a person that is
constantly working with little rest. Furthermore, some are in that state
because they do not have a model, mentor or coach that stands by their side
to guide them through life’s winding paths. I have had many people speak
into my life at different stages that has shaped my thinking. If you are
always in the company of quitters or lazy people, chances are that you will
adopt their way of thinking and find it very difficult to adjust if you go into a
different setting. For instance, if a person gets a job in the NGO circles from
the government, if they choose to carry along the same slothful ‘red tape’
kind of attitude with them, they will not last long or wreck the new social
setting. Blessed are you if someone is always beside you, for you shall soon
prosper, unless your guide leads you astray like someone once sincerely did
in our lives.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 129


In Zambia, another source of problems is the infected public mind with
corruption, red tape and covetousness. If one joins the civil service for
instance, the income is bad and corruption opportunities galore. The
attractive option is to do whatever everyone is doing and in the process
engraft laziness in ones’ system. Since we are children of our time and
generation, what is perceived as right and acceptable will generally lead the
way, unless you are using another standard. Watch out, what is it that you are
about? Does it add value to your life? We could further add that lack of
opportunities, wrong company and weak leadership have a damaging effect
on all of us in one way or the other.

I used to think that the environment and socialisation alone is what shaped
one’s behaviour and outlook to life but after reading the Bible, I have come
to the conclusion that it is actually the condition of one’s heart that
determines what they do in life. No matter how many restrictions, laws and
impediments you put in a person’s way, they will still do what they want and
are convinced about. Let me illustrate it in this way. Many years ago, I
worked for an organisation that boasted of having some of the strongest
internal controls but at one time, millions of kwachas were stolen by
insiders! What was the explanation, was it lack of academic credentials? No!
The people involved were some of the most educated and yet they stole!
They stole within the system. The answer lies in the condition of the heart.
How is it with you? Have you a rotten defective heart?

The other killer of work is lack of ambition and therefore resolution. If your
vision is blurred and unclear, you will not summon any energy to exert
yourself in a given direction. An ambition is an overriding goal and desire to
get to a certain destination no matter what it takes. Many young people are
not ambitious enough and leave everything to blind fate. I often feel heart
broken when I ask many rural kids about their ambitions. Firstly, they get
startled at my question and secondly, they leave the ‘Grade 12’ results to
determine. Thus, they will work harp-hazardly and not focused nor
concentrating in the relevant areas. For instance, if you want to be a lawyer,
you need to work on your history and English. But if you are undecided, you
will concentrate on wood work or Technical drawing which do not add any
value to your professional quest. Thirdly, some use the local people only as
their role models. Their exposure is extremely limited. For instance if the
prominent people in a village are Policemen, teachers or preachers, truck
drivers, every child will want to be like them.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 130


Finally for now, constant complaining drastically drains you of the desire to
work your way to success. You may not see or realise this but in the long
run, you will discover the damaging consequences of complaining.
Unfortunately, a complaining spirit and mind set appears contagious and
once deeply internalised, it can cripple you. Another tragedy with people
made of ‘complaining material’ is that they rarely take any positive action in
the right direction. If you complained less, I am sure you would generate
more positive energy at a faster pace.

I suppose the last section has added clearer light on what needs to be done to
uproot the work destroyers. It is the small leaks that sank some of the
world’s greatest ships. The logical thing to do in the ensuing section is to
address issues related to work improvement. We spend some time on that
one and then hurtle along to close this chapter.

Continuous improvement is the language of the Total Quality Gurus. They


believe that for one to keep competitively in business, they must constantly
be sharpening their axe. Amidst all these good claims, the question still
lingers “How one can improve?” We throw out a few ideas which we think
would change your fortunes once properly imbibed and understood.

The first is that if you have a corrupted nature and wounded conscience, you
need a complete overhaul. This implies that your inner systems, values, and
ambitions must drastically be revived and brought to life again. You need to
reset and reboot your system. In theological circles, we call this
“regeneration” or the new birth where you start a clean slate all over again
like a new born baby. Regeneration bespeaks vivification, bringing to life
from the dead where there was previously no life. Once one is regenerated,
they are then able to look at things in new light from a correct premise and
good perspective. It is our conviction that a regenerated heart is the best
heart because it can discern the issues and see clearly even where there is
thick dark smoke. The regeneration rays shed light through the deep thick
darkness of soul enabling one to do things differently in new ways.

Having had a vivification, there is now need to change the heart by taking
away the hard heart of stone and placing in a new heart of flesh. In computer
language, we call this, ‘new software’ that will now guide movements. This
software will embody the new constitution. Reformatting may be critical so
that all remaining corruption is swept away. For instance, if a hard core civil
service baptised professional joins the private sector, this new software will

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 131


enable them live up to their professional expectation. How refreshing it is to
see people diligently working away doing the right things with minimal
supervision or coercion! That’s what regeneration does, it causes a change in
the inner being.

Furthermore, the new heart begins to look at life in completely new ways
with respect to the future. The person now develops long range thinking and
able to strategise properly, long before a crisis occurs. The person has a
sense of purpose and the big picture view enables them to wisely take
correct steps towards their goals.

With the right long range thinking in place, the regenerated person is able to
see where they are heading to and know when to point to the mountains!
They clearly see the star that takes them to the desired haven, as it were.

But then, to get them to the mountains, requires a strong determination and
sense of direction which resolution and drive provide. When Paul visited
Corinth on one of his missionary journeys, he determined to stick to his goal
regardless of what fell upon his path. He was a highly focused man who
knew exactly where to lay his weight and energy.

Yet another aspect that results from a changed heart is the strong desire to
cut off the weights that easily entangles them to the ground. Bad habits, evil
company, wrong advisors, unhelpful practices must be discarded and loathed
at all times. If you allow them back, the will weigh you down because old
habits die hard, as that ancient saying goes. The best you can do is to flee!

As earlier intimated, many of us are victims of our wrong beliefs or


instructions. The best is to identify, isolate and blow away wrong teaching,
company or habits. You must, as it were, draw the dagger and stub these
vices! (Not literary of course!) They must be vehemently discarded so that
what is in the past remains there while you move on to higher ground.

The changed heart may make mistakes initially but with time, it learns the
ropes and knows the way. Soon, it becomes established in its good ways and
is able to make progress. This is achieved by walking with the wise so that
they sharpen each other as Iron sharpens Iron (Proverbs 27:10). The
scriptures are right when they state that he who walks with the wise grows
wise because valuable wisdom gems are shared and passed around (Proverbs
13:20). If you want to be an astute business person, hang out with the serious

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 132


minded vigilant and diligent business people and in no time, you will grow
wings to fly like them. Similarly, if you want to be holy, walk with the holy
and in all probability, you will be like them. If you chose the company of the
careless and reckless, you will soon stop being startled by their riotous
conduct and join them. Thus, we can safely assert that your company affects
you in many ways than one. Always remember that in the multitude of many
wise counsellors, plans succeed.

Having selected the good crop of friends, you then set you objectives very
clearly and draw the parameters for your interaction. You must have similar
goals, aims and desires. More than that, each of you as individuals must
have one major overall goal from which all your various goals are derived.
As an individual, be a person of one thing at a time. Paul was pre-eminently
a person of one thing. He used to say, “One thing I do…” and stretched
towards his high goals. Challenge yourself each year by raising the bar
higher. Then you will stretch yourself towards that.

Once you have amicably agreed on terms of reference, once more, revisit the
purging work by chiselling off the rough edges that have a potential of
slowing you down. Runners have bare minimum weights on their bodies and
train long hours to make themselves agile ready for the arduous race ahead.
They clear their minds and psychologically prepare themselves for
concentrated action. Once in strict training, they do not allow anything to
distract them, not even the allowable and lawful things which might rob
them of valuable time. Similarly, identify those things that steal away your
time and concentration on the right things. What is it that nibbles away at
your productivity, among friends? Excess baggage must go! It must be
hurled into the sea!

It is also prudent to provide for occasional failures and setbacks as you


journey through life. Hurdles will appear at every turn and cause problems
for you but ensure that you are resilient all the way through. Proverbs 16:9 is
instructive in that regard. Once you provide for these, your ‘shock absorbers’
will be in better shape to handle ‘shocks’ and yet move ahead towards the
mark. Sometimes, even close friends fundamentally differ over issues but
what matters is how they handle it. For instance, in one church this author
attended, there was a looming split but then what saved the church was the
mature and selfless leadership. They steered the church to safety thus
averting a break up.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 133


Know your core competences and utilize them
When you are about to undertake any task, ensure you know your
limitations. In the area of career development for instance, it would be wise
to pick the areas where you have what are known as “core competencies”.
The areas in which you easily flow the most are the areas to focus your
strengths on. If you start in unfamiliar territory, do not be shocked if you end
up running aground among the rocks! People that succeed are those that
know themselves and know where to lay the eggs. For instance, if you
trained as an hotelier, why not chose a business that is in line with that? If it
is food and beverage, why not use that knowledge to develop your own
recipe? A case is known of a lady on the Copper belt that begun by preparing
and selling what is popularly known as “African Polony” or Chikanda. She
saw the neglected market and begun to supply to different people. Today, she
rakes a cool K 100, 000 (about $ 28) daily and now intends to employ a
second person so that the market can be expanded to the other copper belt
towns. Whereas many proud Zambian women shunned the business, she saw
an opportunity which is beginning to pay dividends. Knowing Zambians, I
would not be too shocked to note every other house hold copy the same
business, but the originator will have a niche by then. Quality is the silver
bullet. Similarly, if one is an Accountant or Engineer or Marketer, why not
use your prowess? The author strongly believes that for too long, the
Zambian system has wrongly made us believe that proper rewarding and
honourable work is in the white collar formal jobs. Nothing could be further
from the truth! Rather, people should begin to adjust to see that opportunities
abound in Zambia and all that is needed is to maximize on our core
competencies. Why spend all your life working for another when you can
stand on your own? Why do people fear to venture forth? You have what it
takes man! (Some fear disturbing the ‘social contracts’ with their superiors,
but are they going to feed you when you are in the weeds?) Read the
Business Post newspaper of 16th April 2005 and you will see what I am
saying. Perhaps we ought to move over to the next point at this stage but
please take time to read the small case study below:

Case study
Patrick Chama was born in an average Zambian family. The last of the
five boys in a family of seven. He was born in his father’s declining years
when the old man was about to retire. While his parents formally worked,
life was fine and hunger practically unknown. His other brothers and
sisters had by that time long left home and had eked their way through life.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 134


Patrick’s life begun to curve in when his parents ceased from gainful
employment, pretty familiar to the Zambian setting. Suddenly, things
begun to change, shortages became the order of the day and not too long, a
number of meals begun to be missed. In those long lonely years, no one
seemed to care for the family. The little that was sent to his parents from
his older brothers and sisters quickly was sucked into the yawning poverty
gaps. The situation became so bad to the extent that it became impossible
to get any form of support. Patrick had to stop school for a number of years
and consequently fell behind in school. His grades slid too. That
notwithstanding, Patrick never lost sight of the importance of school and
strove to complete grade twelve, of course with a poor result.
After a year of roaming the compound, an uncle of his secured a general
workers’ job in the government in the heart of Lusaka.
Patrick arrived in the heart of Lusaka in early 1987, with practically no one
to look to apart from his uncle. The Uncle was a well known business man
whose preoccupation was travel and money. As soon as the young man
arrived, the uncle welcomed him, offered a servant’s quarters and the next
day introduced him at the new job. That was the last time he had
meaningful contact with his uncle. Life went on nevertheless, despite many
challenges he faced at home and work. In the city, he discovered that
people’s English was generally more refined and could easily articulate
issues. As for him, he had to first think in the local language and then
translate into English and then speak. As a result, he became a slow
speaker and people thought he was really backward in thinking. As time
when on, he associated himself with a local church which was full of
scholars from whom he learnt many valuable lessons for life. It was whilst
at that church that he was introduced to a computer for the first time.
Patrick was extremely curious and spared no efforts to learn this gadget. In
a very short time, he found his way to the local computer teaching schools
and amassed as many little certificates as he could, though at great cost on
his part. As he got ‘hooked’ to computers, Patrick’s other areas in his social
life begun to suffer. For instance, he was not particularly mindful where he
lived, the food he ate or the clothes he wore. As long as he could read and
keep alive, he was fine.

In no time, Patrick became so proficient in the computer because he could


understand how it operated. Learning from his mental language
translations, the computer tied in with his experience and soon, he was the
most sought after computer wizard country wide.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 135


As a result, the Copper belt University picked him as the computer centre
assistant, although the standard was that one had to have a degree to hold
the position. His case was unique.

The young man did not stop there, he continued to excel in computer
wizardry while he added papers to secure his position. In the fullness of
time, he went abroad for studies to India and the Netherlands respectively.
In between, he travelled extensively representing the university at many
conferences and computer labs.
After a decade of distinguished service at the University, Patrick felt it was
time to move on, now that he had married and beginning a family. Before
the University realized it, Patrick was in the Congo working in the war torn
area with the UNHCR. From there, he was evacuated to Rwanda where he
works and soon plans to return back to Zambia, having saved enough, built
two houses and secured his family’s future. Patrick is an international
knowledge worker, sought after all over the world.
Where he goes next, only time will tell…

Discern your calling in life


Most of the super stars we have today are not skilled in many things but one
good thing is that they have identified their calling in life quite early and
thus positioned themselves. You need to be highly sensitive and alert to
know what and when to do something. If you do not, you may waste many
valuable years of your short life groping in the darkness only to discover
your specific calling too late in life to effect any meaningful change of
course.

Lastly, begin each task with the end in view. Always have the vision clearly
before you and only then do you make your way to the starting line. If things
are hazy or unclear, little progress will be made and no benchmarks set by
that token. Covey advises that for you to be effective, you must have the end
product prototype clearly visible long before you set out. When we were
building our first house, our mental picture always kept us going until the
last fitting was in place, only then did we rest.

Thus, we have in this chapter, in a measure, dealt with some highly


personalised issues and we hope that this helps you to become a better
worker in your quest to build a lasting legacy.
In the eighth chapter, we proceed to consider some common pitfalls to watch
out for in your life, stay with us!

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 136


==========================================
================================
Bib li og rap hy

Maxwell John C, Failing forward

Covey Stephen, Seven habits of highly effective people

Trump Donald, How to get rich, BBC books, 2004

Dubrin J. Andrew, Leadership: Research findings, practice, and skills,


Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995,

Bridges Charles, The Christian Ministry, Banner of Truth Trust, 1997 edition

Chapter 8

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 137


Pitfalls to watch out for

Life is full of surprises at every turn. There are twists and turns which we
have to pass through if we are to make head way. Some twists harbour
deadly booby traps lurking at every turn. Other twists have bouquets of
‘feasty’ flowers that make life really worthwhile. Whatever the case, we
need to meticulously watch because pitfalls about even in the midst of
success. The naïve usually get taken up by token success and fail to see
beyond the corner which eventually results in their undoing. At this stage in
our book, we take time to consider the common pitfalls that confront any
person. They appear so simple in some instances but do effect great harm or
cause unwarranted resource wastage. To achieve our objective, as has been
the practice throughout this book, we employ points to ‘hook’ our ideas into
your mind.

The first pitfall that many of us are guilty of is having too many ideas and
aims in life to the extent that we either fail to focus on one thing thus
spreading resources and energies too thinly or eventually get confused in the
process. We have multiple simultaneous aims. Often, those that have too
many things than they can handle usually fizzle out over the horizon because
they do not have a unique speciality for which they are known. In the quest
to get known in a short time or impress someone, or indeed prove something
to others, people often take on too much and end up with an over load. As an
Accounting student, I wanted to complete my Diploma in record time of 1.5
years and then move on to other professional courses. In keeping with my
target, I collected over loads and ended up failing all my subjects. I still did
not learn and repeated the same folly with same result. I took an over load
for two main reasons. The first is that I wanted to “catch up” with my class
mates who had advanced to the next year while I was rewriting some papers.
Secondly, I always convinced myself that Accounting courses were simply a
walk-over. I was wrong and paid dearly for this. As a result of this confusion
and panic, I started thinking of other seemingly ‘simpler’ programs like law,
social sciences and all, in a bid to escape the problem at hand. This made it
even worse as I did not concentrate on what I had on my plate. In such a
scenario, the mind is not fixed one thing at a time. The Apostle Paul left a
powerful trail blaze over the corridors of the centuries because he was
predominantly a person of ‘one thing’.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 138


The second pitfall is when we have too many simultaneous activities.
Usually as young people, full of energy, zest and pride, we take on too much
at a time, far more than we can carry. This slows us down. In other instances,
we stop progressing at all! As alluded to in the previous point, having our
hands excessively full demands extra ordinary abilities which most of us do
not posses. It is actually a heavy weight on you and must be carefully
weighed before embarking on. Athletes carefully watch what they carry on
the track field where they are to run the finals. They have as little excess
baggage as possible, sometimes appearing to wear skin tight clothing. They
do not want to be slowed down or delayed in their quest for the golden
crown.

Greed comes in the third place as a serious pitfall that repeatedly plagues
many souls. Many ruin their prospects by trying to run before the gun, cross
the river before the get there or indeed ‘cut corners’ that swiftly lands them
behind bars. If they do not go to jail, then their image is irreparably
damaged. Greed has slain its thousands and yet people do not learn. It is
important to have a healthy appetite to succeed but if this is not watched, it
becomes an addiction which later rules your life destroying you in the
process. Greed is simply being egocentric regardless of what others think or
feel as long as you get the Lions’ share all the time. A greedy person rarely
works with others nor trusts them.

Once greed has matured, it gives birth to impatience which ultimately forces
you to act in ways which even surprise yourself! I have met many well
meaning young people who are impatient and want to get instant
gratification after sweating at the University or college. They often do not
want to waste time by starting in the remote areas of the country but want
instant results in the city where the big and famous firms are. In one sense,
they have a strategic point, but in another, they miss grand opportunities that
often go begging in the outlying areas. The patient man or woman who has
quietly taken the longer route often turns out more mature, fit and attractive
in the long run because they have demonstrated that they can hang in there
and still tick.

Sometimes we have too many attractive options at the same time, how do we
handle this? There is often chaos in many minds! This point focuses on the
tendency to take too many paths at a time. It may take the shape of many
divergent directions at the same time or using too many different ways

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 139


towards one goal. In a sense, it is always good to have plan B at any one
given time, but when the options are too many, the person unconsciously
adopts a quitting syndrome. In other words, if something is not working out
as planned, the mind is prone to parachute out of the idea. The person will
hardly follow through any option to its logical conclusion before they begin
to look for another option. Usually, such people don’t make a mark in their
area of expertise, as they are “Jack of all trades” because they will easily get
frustrated at the earliest point. Another pitfall associated with this point is
that in the fullness of time, the person stands to lose everything. A story is
told of a young under graduate that potentially had two scholarships at the
same time but in the end lost both. This young man suffered from indecision,
despite being an intelligent person. He suffered at the grisly hands of pride.
In one breathe, he felt he needed to study abroad (Scholarship # 1) and in
another sense, he despised the local scholarship and stopped attending
lectures, tutorials, labs and even left campus! When the international
scholarship fell through, he turned to the local scholarship but lo and behold,
it was too late to catch up. Despite studying really hard, he tumbled on
account of the missed continuous assessment and labs. At the end of the
academic year, naturally, he was ejected into the streets of Lusaka!
Watch out, this could be your experience…

At times, we do things to please others when in our hearts of hearts we


would have rather done something totally different. This is a case where one
takes up an activity, sometimes good in and of itself but for wrong reasons or
under overwhelming duress to please someone. This is very common
especially in the area of career choice for young people. Some take up
courses because their parents “expect them to”, it is the honourable thing to
do or the whole world expects them to! This rather latent pressure piles on
someone and they end up doing a lot of good things that they throw out at
the earliest convenience. Examples abound in our nation where someone
studies Engineering or Medicine only to change later to Accountancy! When
asked, most of these have answered that they did the earlier course for their
parents’ sake but NOW they are doing what they always wanted to do!
Sadly, some remain trapped in their wrong fit. Please note that we are not for
a moment advocating immediate change of career but all we are saying is
that take heed lest you do something for some one’s sake rather than what is
on your heart. Admittedly, our range of choices in Zambia is limited
somewhat but in the fullness of time, a full range is increasingly becoming
available except the limiting factor maybe finance in some instances.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 140


This same caution holds true for the jobs and businesses we undertake.
People should be careful to ensure that they do what they do best. If it is
running the family business, then by all means, let them run the show! If not,
let them hand it over to someone else with the acumen and clout. Sadly,
African businesses rarely last beyond the originators, could it be that the
owners do not mentor their progeny? Whatever the case, doing something
under duress for prolonged periods of time can lead to mental break down
due to stress leading to depression. People feel guilty, unworthy more like
traitors to those they disappoint. The earlier one discovers they niche in life
and assert it, the better∠.

As people go up the corporate ladder, the tendency is to keep as far from


reality as possible. If we once survived on selling ice blocks in the
neighbourhood to get along, as we get more comfortable in life, we
unconsciously despise those little things that helped us along the way.
Unknown to us, we eventually begin to feel too important to do some of
those mundane things and consciously or unconsciously brand those things
as ‘beneath our status’ This is a very fatal and serious mistake for who
knows, the same way that built you up when you had nothing could well be
the one that could take you to the apex? One senior Manager once
lamentably confessed to us shortly before his contract came to an abrupt end
that he regretted having succumbed to the ‘status trap’ that has felled its
thousands, yea, millions because of pride. I felt sorry for him but it was too
late for him. In another sense, I also felt rebuked for being overly and
needlessly too proud for nothing. You see, those small income generating
activities generate a lot of tax free money which could be used to cushion or
finance some of little expenses and thus reserving some money for other
equally important things. Opportunity cost could work very well if we
simply disciplined our selves. The tragedy I have seen in my own life and
others is that I only embark on business ventures for a time in order to raise
money to finance an activity but immediately drop everything after the
event. That is a big mistake, depending on the nature of the business. We
could learn many valuable lessons from it as well as continue to finance
other domestic or even professional ventures. Repeatedly, people become
world class business people, selling all sorts of merchandise, shortly before
their wedding but turn into business salt pillars soon after the wedding, why?
Chances are that they feel too important to do certain things they did at first
in the hour of need. Many of us mistakenly convince ourselves that there is
more dignity buying new merchandise from other people than vice versa.
Refer to Psychology by Frank Cox pp 356

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 141


Pitfalls abound at every turn but what matters is how we handle them. They
come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and velocities but what matters is how well
adjusted one is and ready to handle them. It is our sincere hope that the
nuggets and insights given in this book will arm you for action throughout
life. Let’s move on to the next plot…
======================================================

Bib li og rap hy

Price Stuart & Duah Agyeman Ivor, Koffi Annan: Back from the brink? New
African magazine, March 2005 # 438, pp 13

Frank Cox, Psychology, WM. C. Brown Company publishers, Dubuque,


Iowa, 1970

Building your Business, Thorogood Publishing

Chapter 9
Types and classes of labour

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 142


As we hurtle along to the conclusion of this book, our words become fewer
and pointed. This is for a good reason. Having said most of what we set out
to, we must now get closer to tangible things that resonate with us,
especially those about to embark on a major career or seriously considering
a career change. Before we give you the actual professional offering on the
job market today, it is prudent to say a bit more about the types and classes
of labour you will encounter on the job market. We begin with the types
available and then consider the classes later in the chapter.
When you look at the pictures presented below, what comes to mind?

Welding Doctor Strategic Planning


Sport woman Draughts woman Officer

Many things no doubt but it is always good to be clear about the types of
jobs on offer and what you aspire after. You need to know what is on offer
before you take an informed choice. In life, always make right decisions and
live with the consequences. The blame shifting game does not help anyone
and is unacceptable today. Akin to Law, ‘ignorance is no defence’ or excuse.
As you probably know, some jobs are labour intensive while others are more
routine requiring repeated application to master and gain efficiency in the
long run. As the world goes global however, there is an emphasis on
‘knowledge work’ where the new currency for employability is ideas. If you
have a plethora of ideas, then the weightless economy is your domain and
will offer the biggest jobs. In other words, ideas, not actual tangible
“machines” or factories will get you the job. More than that, if your ideas are
fresh, new, innovative, flexible, relevant and eco-friendly you are in big
business! In addition to the ‘new currency’, the world has gone global. Time
was when one transaction across the Atlantic scarcely had any immediate
bearing on the Eastern coast of Africa but now that is past and gone. The
world is a ‘global village’ and thus every move immediately affects other
parts of the world since it is one cohesive whole. There is nothing that
happens in a corner and goes unnoticed by the world’s media, yea, satellite
technology can zoom into your very bedroom and tell you what is going on!
This implies that the way we do business and work has continued to
drastically change over the years. The successful business cadre of the 21st
century and beyond are those that are international and global in scope and
outlook. They must be comfortable to do business at any point on the globe.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 143


They must also be ready to invest and live anywhere on this terrestrial ball.
At one time, when I was returning from holiday abroad, I sat next to a
polished Zambian colleague connecting at Addis Ababa airport from some
destination, probably Dubai I figured. I was mistaken; the gentleman was
from Hong Kong on a business trip! As we discussed, I discovered the
gentleman was scarcely a grade twelve graduate but had been all over the
world with established business connections literary around the globe. I was
shocked and pleased at the same time. Shocked because the gentleman could
hardly speak good English but waxed eloquent when I spoke Bemba! I was
further shocked because this young man was far more innovative,
adventurous and better internationally exposed than I was with all my
academic credentials lying around gathering dust. On the other hand, I was
pleased because it was a sign that Zambians were waking up to international
realities and discarding the dependence syndrome that has thickly stuck to
our skins for many years. Further, the courage and entrepreneurial spirit
displayed by the young man was exceptional not needing any formal
qualifications. We parted with my profuse blessings and encouraged him to
read a bit more to improve his management skills, otherwise he had what it
takes to be an International business man. Such are the people that the world
needs today. These kinds of people will bring development to Zambia rather
than the multinationals alone. But then, that is not our subject of
consideration at this stage, it is the types of labour!

It is worth mentioning that although global changes are unavoidable, certain


traditional routines and ways of doing work will still remain largely the
same with minor modifications consistent with the context. In this section,
we briefly consider all types of work (Traditional or not) that come to mind
at this stage:

1. Mental. The first is one that involves thinking, the brain or mind. This
has in many ways taken the centre stage in these dynamic times
because it involves certain mental skills translated into what we see. It
invokes more of the mental processes and skills. This includes
decision making jobs. Managers and leaders are constantly making
thousands of ethical decisions. Their responses emanate from what
they have learnt over the years, experienced, picked up along the way,
studied or been taught through formal education.
2. The second is manual or physical work. People have different callings
in life and feel comfortable in different settings. Some feel very good,
safe and secure behind a desk surrounded by four walls while others

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 144


prefer the outdoor physic intensive kind of activity. If they are forced
to sit behind a desk for just an hour, they feel extremely hot under the
collar and may even be taken ill due to a fever! Such kind of people
can work for long arduous hours in the garden, workshop or in the
open wild and feel perfectly happy. Such people usually enjoy routine
kind of work or jobs that involves flexing their muscles so that when
they finally get home, they are dead tired and just drop like a log on
their beds until the next day when they are fully recharged for another
gruelling sweaty day.
3. The third kind of work, although connected to the first is academic.
Here, people in this category feel very much at home among books,
computers, latest news, trend analysis or postulations into the future
using statistical strategic models. As long as they can smell books,
pulp or see something related to using the eyes, they will be very
happy and excited. It’s no wonder most of the cadre from the
academia have compound eyes on their faces (Spectacles!). Theirs
involves reading and processing every sentence their eyes fall on.
4. The fourth type of work is one that involves interacting with other
people by way of service, advice or influence. Those in the service
industry fit this mode and derive immense pleasure and fulfilment
when and if they touch another life. Although they are pleased with
repeatedly satisfied customers, they also ensure they rake in some
cool cash for themselves!
5. The last type for now is those that spend their days supplying things to
the market. Their stake is to satisfy the market needs by raising and
supplying goods on demand. Their major concern is to churn out high
quality goods so that people in the service industry repeatedly visit
them and eventually market them to the customer. This group, though
usually remains working efficiently behind the scenes and cares for
nothing as long as they get their cut for the good work done.

Having synthesised the five types, we proceed to consider what is very


relevant in the world today as we veer towards the weightless economy. We
shall consider the root before we close off with the ‘flowers’ or leaves of this
tree. These are practical tips worth noting.

Academic studies
As we noted earlier on in point # 3 above, academic and professional studies
are the ground and root for ones’ future prosperity. If they ignore this aspect,
then they soon become irrelevant or redundant. Chances are, they will be

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 145


consigned to the labourer kind of jobs which are not very pleasant or easy,
unless one is cut out for them. A friend relocated to the UK as a ‘non
professional worker’ and for a season worked as a labourer. He recollects
how those were some of the worst experiences in his life because he would
on a daily basis be extremely worn out, exhausted and completely dull when
he finally got home. The best he could do was to slumber and get back on
the job the next day without knowing that the professional paper he
possessed could actually get him a better skilled labour job. Thankfully,
someone saw his paper and advised him to deposit his credentials with a
local employment agent. In no time, he got a far superior professional job.
Today, he orbits in executive board rooms but still remembers those hard
dark days! You need to diligently and vigilantly apply yourself to study if
you are going to be heard in today’s world. It is better to sweat now and
enjoy later. I am tempted to state with good old John Wesley that scholarship
is a Christian virtue. I think he was right on that one. But what is study, lest
we assume we are on the same page?

Definition of study
The precise definition of study is elusive to come across but an attempt
would be: “Studying is the systematic, meticulous analysis and imbibing of
the substance under observation with a view to add to the body of
knowledge in the mind"∂ As can be seen from the definition given, study
involves a painstakingly disciplined and focused mind which desires to
update the information centre of the brain. Studies take place in various
spheres and modes. Among the modes available include the formal class
attendance, long distance/correspondence, personal and private or group
study. Sometimes, study takes research form where the studied objects are
observed under various environments with a view to draw an objective
conclusion. For the study of any discipline, students have to inevitably
deliberately put in a certain amount of directed study hours periodically.

Marks of effective study

Not all study is effective. People engage in all manner of diligent study and
expect the result be directly proportional to the amount of hours they put in.
Every year, myriads of students pick up books and pound their way either to
success or failure. When someone who hardly touches a book performs
better than them in an examination, at least two reactions are bound to be
observed: Firstly, the hard worker feels discouraged, enraged and
Source: Author’s definition 2004

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 146


disillusioned. They tend to suspect and conclude that hard study is in vain
and therefore hang their gloves. The second reaction would be to declare
total war on the books! They probably suspect that they had not studied hard
enough and must add a few more pounds in the study area.

But study also needs strategy for success to result. Many mistakenly plunge
into studies without checking that all things are in place. The following
points summarise some marks of effective study:
a. It is directed study with a clear objective
b. It is regular and planned.
c. It is selective and knows where the important areas
lie.
d. It is comprehensive and has the whole picture in view
e. It is result based meaning that the student commences
with the goal in mind.
f. It always has the result in mind acting as the engine.
g. It is consistent
h. It is a diligent study
i. It is a resilient study
j. It learns from the past.
k. It is a highly observational study
l. It avoids too much or too little information
m. It focuses on one thing at a time.
n. It is time bound study
o. It has bench marks and indicators
p. It avoids analysis paralysis
q. It is systematic

Much of what passes as studying in Zambia is actually mere reading. We


give a brief difference between reading and studying before we delve into
the principles needing meticulous consideration before selecting a career.

Study/reading
Whilst studying involves a critical and systematic analysis and absorption of
new knowledge, reading refers to using the eyes either to scan, skim or
acquire factual knowledge upon which you make day to day choices and
decisions. Reading is not as concentred, fixed or painstaking as study is.
Study involves understanding the principles behind something and why
things work the way they do. At times, it may involve making observations
under specified conditions and then draw conclusions there from. Reading a

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 147


psychics book to understand may be classified as study while reading a
romantic novel or news paper may be viewed as reading. Sometimes though,
these overlap.

Principles to consider prior to career choice


1. Particular strength/excellence in that area Proverbs 22:29
2. Something done with relative ease, pleasure without much ado.
3. Comfort and delight/fulfilment in the calling.
4. Due diligence Proverbs 19:15; 20:13, 2 Tim 4:16.
5. Check your inward motives. If they are wrong, you may quit
soon.
6. Capacity issues. Do you have what it takes, or it is just a fancy?
7. Consult widely. In the multitude of advisors, plans succeed.
8. Have a strategic vision. Long range thinking.
9. Aim for independence in an interdependent age.
10.How will it help you God wards?

Having laboured at length on the types, it is fitting for us to consider the


classes of labour. Quickly stated, there are only three of them namely;
a. Formal
b. Informal
c. Professional

The formal refers to the regular eight to five job we are often accustomed to
in Zambia. This entails entering a formal contract stipulating the tenure,
conditions of service and mutual obligations expected from either party.
Usually, formally employed people observe certain rules and regulations and
once they violet or are not in agreement, they have to opt out. In addition,
these employees have some form of identity, work agreed hours and belong
to a workers’ union as the case may be, though some companies do not have
such. Quite often (although not exclusively), the formally employed have
some specialised formal training relating to the job. Thus, knowledge
workers of modern times fit into this mould but the post modern may not.
Past experience and competence are often key factors. In this time of formal
employment, always provide for any sudden redundancy as organisations
often do not guarantee lifelong employment any longer. David Thomas
captures this aspect even better when he states thus in the September 1991
Banking World magazine article, “This time redundancies are widespread,
including professionals who may have thought they had a job for life.” Take
heed and proactively prepare thy self.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 148


The informal on the other hand refers to work related to the individuals’
specific and special skill and unique competence. Often, this refers to work
people engage in outside the formal job market as stipulated by the law or
local economy. In Zambia, this refers to jobs that include trading, street
vending, motivation talking or any other activity that is not gazetted but is
used to generate wealth for livelihood. For a long time, very few Zambians
belonged to this sector but after the 1992 privatisation act, more and more
people opt for this mode of survival, after all, the massive job losses forced
them there! But even more interesting is the voluntary cadre of informal
workers that are rising in number, starting their own businesses from scratch.
They are thus employers rather than employees as has traditionally been in
Zambia. That is the way it should be. That is the way to go for the
entrepreneur.

Lastly under this head, we have the professional sector. This includes
individuals that have some form of expertise and technical skill that is
offered at a fee. These people specialise in offering unique services and are
regulated by some professional body which sets the ethical standards. If
these fail to comply, they are deregistered and their practicing licence
withdrawn. Lawyers, Accountants, Architects and other professionals fall
into this category.

I am sure I have kept you waiting for a long time to really touch on the
subject that warms your heart relating to popular careers on offer today as
Zambia further reforms economically. I have no doubt though that the route
we have taken has been the best as it has given you some ‘appetisers’ for
intelligent informed career choice selection. In the ensuing section, we
consider some of the sound careers on offer today. Note that this is not an
exhaustive list, so feel at liberty to add another profession which we may
have omitted. To achieve our goal, we shall say a few things on each career
as the professionals in the field told us themselves, here goes….

Sound and popular career paths on offer in Zambia today

1. Accountancy
2. Aeronautics
3. Agriculture
4. Avionics
5. Banking

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 149


6. Business
7. Business/Public Administration
8. Carpentry/plumbing
9. Development
10.Engineering-Mechanical, electrical, electronics, water,
Agriculture etc
11. General Management
12. Journalism
13. Law
14.Lecturer
15. Librarian
16.Marketing
17. Medicine-human, veterinary
18.Nursing/physiotherapy
19.Nutrition
20. Project Management
21.Secretarial
22. Social work
23.Technician- electrical/electronics
24.Technologist-information

Case-A Modern Manager

Pe ter Nj obvu the b uddi ng high f lier


Introduction
An interview was carried out with Mr Peter Njobvu of BP on the 29.01.99
with a view to find out the total quality management practices in BP and to
what extent TQM has permeated through the entire BP network. Mr Njobvu
holds both the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and
the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualifications
and was the senior depot Manager in the northern part of Zambia at the time
of interview. He has since moved to Cape Town, South Africa to take up a
more senior and challenging job. By that token, he travels extensively in the
BP network. During his student days he was several times elected the best
overall student world over and at one time was the best Management
Accountant in BP in the Southern Hemisphere. Peter is indeed an
international quality leader.

QUESTIONS.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 150


1. What, in your own words, is Management in general.
From the textbook? Management is basically about coordinating,
controlling and directing resources to a predetermined goal. So, it is the
Marshalling of these resources towards a specific goal put down in the
budget. Apart from Marshalling, there is a lot more and more on people
management these days.

2. What are the current management trends today?


In the US, where individual performance is valued, there is a shift to try and
unlock the potential in the individual. The belief is that if you take care of
an individual, then you will have taken care of the results. This will mean
that the care is both at work and beyond, ensuring that the home conditions
are made as comfortable as possible so that the worker does not spend time
thinking of how to survive but rather concentrates on one thing. This trend
is coming in Zambia though at a slow pace. In BP, we realise this is cardinal
and as such are at the forefront implementing modern management practices
that will motivate and unleash the hidden potential within a person. This can
be done in various ways such as rewarding, complementing or continuous
training of staff so that they can meet the challenges that lie in the way. As
such, this builds capacity and greatly motivates people so that they do their
best.

3. Why the emphasis on people management?


Like I said, people are viewed the most important asset of any organisation
and if they are satisfied, they will improve in their output. This means
taking care of both their welfare and environment in which they operate.
People say that these days, the buzzword is 'Team Work', and this has been a
buzzword almost a cliché for some time now in the management circles and
for a good reason. They are saying that the original hierarchical structure is
in efficient and must be broken down to give way to a learning approach.

4. Do you think that Teamwork is the best approach to management


and why?
For a long time to come, we are yet to find a mode of management that is
better than teamwork because in a team setting, all the people are qualified
with one leader who is basically a boss but does not come out as such but
rather is a team player as well. In Accounting firms for example, all the
members are qualified professionals so that none is above the other but as
they share ideas, the output is by far more and richer than if one person
were to work. Teamwork emphasizes the fact that people should be allowed

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 151


to express themselves, brainstorm and bring up all sorts of ideas. There is a
belief that 100 lousy ideas are better than none. If you get ideas from all
sorts of people, including those on the floor, you will get great ideas.

5. What is your current job?


I am a Senior Depot Manager - north managing the northern operations
though I do not manage a depot here in Ndola, as such, I supervise depots in
Mansa, Kasama, Mpika and many other areas in the north. I also handle the
public relations aspect as well.

6. That sounds like a lot of work, how do you manage?


I have a team under me, with whom I seat, plan, brainstorm and work out all
things. I have Engineers, Accountants and all sorts of staff under me.

7. Has the team work culture permeated into BP? How successful and
applicable has it been, if at all? (To what extent?).
Teamwork is applicable to every organisation and BP as an organisation
emphasizes so much on teamwork that when they are employing new staff,
there will be an assessment on their team work abilities. Teamwork hasn't
been in Zambia a long time but in European countries, it has been practiced
for a long time. In Africa, we still have a long way to go, as we still have
problems with it probably due to culture and background. And for that
reason, teamwork doesn't seem to be working too well. We still have a
group on top who can't be touched while the operatives in the middle to fix
while those below are forced to receive commands. As a result you have a
culture where people will not accept correction or advice but busy to please
the boss. As BP, we are trying to discourage it. Various efforts have been
made such as shared ideas to get the methods of best practice. I have
attended some in the region and they continue to take place, they come up
with really good ideas.

8. How do they respond to the Team/ TQM approach?


Very well although I sometimes have problems due to the hang overs people
have from the past. They always want to revert to the past practices because
they feel they have always done the job in the same way. The new methods
seem to interfere and seem abit more difficult. It is extremely difficult to
change them over a short period of time, but what I have done positively is
to occasionally go down on the work floor and find people in their natural
habitat and where possible, suggest ways of doing it better. I am careful not
to seem to impose things by asking them "Don't you think it could be done

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 152


better this way?” In this way, I break this ‘box’ mentality where you have
your own ideas imposed on people. So I go almost one and a half hours
every day and do have contact with the team.

9. That's very nice, would you call it.... management by walking


around...?. How often do you do this?
Yes, if you like, it is very effective and I make sure that I go out on the shop
floor for one and a half hour everyday just to familiarize myself and
acquaint myself with people who may ordinarily feel uncomfortable to visit
me at the office. Then we are dealing with people on a personal basis rather
than giving instruction. In the end, this opens them up and you get better
results.

10. Now, we have already alluded to it, what in your own words is
TQM?
What I think is that TQM is the process of management where you affirm
that our processes and procedures guarantee almost that at the end of the
chain or production line we are going to be churning out high quality
products increasing performance defect reduced to zero. The emphasis of
TQM is really on procedure upon procedure not an individual people. In
other words, other than finding out who went wrong, TQM emphasizes that
we find out whether the processes are correct. The system must ensure that
no defect is introduced or allowed to exist.

11. What is the importance of TQM?


It ensures that there is no defect or redoing of something and this is cheaper.

12. Is TQM practical in BP Zambia? What about in South Africa and


Europe?
We haven't really applied TQM, I think, to the level where I think we can
say that we have done it, although at our plant in Kitwe, we are running a
system which more or less on the lines of TQM, an ISO based system -
international standard organisation (ISO 9002). What ISO 9002 basically
deals with that whatever you are doing must be documented in such a way
that if someone comes with no previous connection, they will be able to
follow through without a problem just by observing what you are doing, you
should look it up and ask whether it is ok. These processes are designed in
such a way that at the end of the day they eliminate chances of defect,
ensuring that whatever is being churned out is an assured perfect product,
with very little or no defect in conformance to standards.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 153


13. To what extent is it practiced in BP?
We are still trying to cultivate it into our system.

14. How long do you envision it will take root in Zambia?


It will take some time in Zambia for it to reach international levels but we
are determined to foster its development, if we are to remain competitive.

15. Now, we are running short of time, but could you briefly tell us
some of the hurdles you have encountered in implementing TQM?
The problems are always on the attitude of people who think the procedures
are just too long and are tempted to use short cuts to achieve the same goals.
The problems are basically attitudes.

16. What are the goals of BP in the coming years?


The company's immediate vision
Financially, we hope to double the 1997 profits by the year 2002. But then
in terms of quality health and safety issues, BP wants to be like they say,
"Our policy is to be friendly, cheap, high quality and do no harm to people,
no damage to the environment". So in terms of what we want to do in
health, safety and environment, there are the environment audit standards
that we are following. We are also going for another environment standard
which is to do with environment management from ISO, and as BP we are
saying, we have to produce petroleum products that are clean to the
environment. Our motto is "Energy and sustainable increase.”

17. Finally, on a personal note, you have done both the ACCA and
CIMA, which one of the two emphasizes TQM more?
Objectively, CIMA leans towards management than ACCA and therefore by
the same token, you have more of TQM coming in CIMA. Although both of
them refer to TQM,

Thank you Peter for the time granted to me.


You are welcome.

25.Teaching/lecturing

Levels of academic study

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 154


In the academic world, various disciplines and programs are on offer.
Generally, studies are graduated into the areas commencing with the lowest:
a. Certificate
This is the first stage of commencing any area of study. Usually, the
certificate is a general study area usually with many courses giving a
general over view of many related areas of study

b. Advanced certificate
The advanced certificate is equally general but builds upon what was
covered in the certificate.
c. Diploma
The Diploma is a combination of the base and the advanced certificates
mentioned above and seeks to consolidate subjects in an equally general
but deeper way that the certificate study. In Zambia, a Diploma usually
takes three years to complete and is graduated into levels.

d. Advanced/higher diploma
This is not yet at Degree level but is certainly an advance on the
Diploma. In other words, the advanced Diploma is a progress on the
Diploma towards a degree.

e. Under graduate degree


This is by far the most popular level of study as it is a comprehensive
accumulation of the previously mentioned qualification. At the end of the
study, the student undertakes a project or is attached to some organisation
to get the industrial attachment experience. To graduate, the student has
to satisfy the University that they have good grades in the exams,
continuous assessments and tests. A degree in Zambia usually takes
between four to six years of continuous study.

f. Honours’ degree

g. Graduate or Masters’ degree


The Graduate degree or Masters degree is an advanced degree to show
mastery in a particular given area. The student under takes some
relatively specialised area of study and shows by tackling both the Core
courses as well as wrapping up the study with a thesis. The University
senate sits to evaluate the thesis and invites the student to defend his/her
assertions in the study area. Each graduate degree focuses in a particular

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 155


direction though occasionally, the program may be a general Masters
degree.

One of the most popular graduate degrees today is the Master of Business
Administration (MBA) with a focus area such as Finance, Strategy,
Organisational Behaviour etc. The Masters of Business Leadership is a
fast emerging degree that deserves considering and may eclipse the MBA
some day.

h. Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of a particular field


The Doctorate is the highest academic qualification a person can attain in
a particular area of study and further narrows the particular area of study.
In other words, it is narrower than the Master’s degree in terms of scope.
The Doctorate presupposes that the possessor has studied all the extant
thoughts on a particular issue and are therefore an authority in that school
of thought. Perhaps it would be fitting to mention at this point that the
Doctorates are of different brands. For instance, the PhD means that
someone has studied most or all the extant philosophies in a particular
study area and has added his/her voice on the same. The PhD can be by
research or by standard study modes. This qualification is versatile and
can be used in industry more easily.

On the other hand, the Doctor of a particular field is largely a professional as


well as academic qualification which usually involves many years of pain
staking research to prove or disapprove a given hypothesis. Usually, the
Doctor’ degree is prevalent among the University and College lecturers.

Co ns ult atio ns… …… ……… …

Greetings brother Allan,

I hope all is well with thee...I am doing well but seriously considering
pursuing a number of issues. Among them is the change of career from
Accounting to General Management. This has been necessitated by my
intended field of study. I am considering a PhD on either International
business or Sustainable development. I think that would be a better avenue
for me, as my strengths lie there. What do you think about the PhD pursuit,
are you in that school of thought that does not advocate for such?
Tell me, how far have you gone with respect to your theological studies,

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 156


assuming you have stuck to your earlier resolve.
How is the wife of thy youth?
Warmest regards,

Billy S

My dear brother,

Greetings. I am indeed most pleased to hear from you.


We are all well in this foreign land. In spite of the poverty I would like
to be in Zed. However for now I must be here.
The theological studies are going on as earlier resolved. I am now pursuing
Greek and Hebrew and should continue for a number of years.

I am of the opinion that one should advance themselves as far as is possible


and reasonable; I have no problems with PhDs in fact I encourage them.
There are however a few things to be said.

Firstly the PhD is an immense undertaking. I think Dr Goma will be able to


detail this side of things. What you want to be certain of is whether you
want an 'academic' PhD or a 'professional' PhD. An academic PhD is the
Standard PhD while the professional PhD consists of a taught component
followed by appropriate industrial experience a small project, teaching in
research methodologies etc followed by an original piece of work equivalent
in breath and depth to the standard PhD but much shorter. Obviously this
sort of PhD appeals to professionals who feel they need both doctoral level
Academic training combined with practical work experience at an acceptable
level but who do not want teaching and research to be a major focus in their
life.

Secondly, the PhD is very expensive in terms of time and money and one
should count the cost. Think carefully about this because you may find that
an MBA in management suits you better. It takes 1 or 2 years only. The PhD
takes at least 3 years if you have an excellent undergraduate record
otherwise it is 4 to 7 years. You should be quite sure you are ready to
commit yourself to a project for this long and prepared to be skint!

Finally is it really the right degree? Can a master's do?

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 157


Look up stuff on the net and talk to Dr Goma and other PhDs to get a better
impression.

Shalom.
Allan

Hello Doc,
I need some advice, which is better, a PhD or Doctorate? Which one is
more
academic?
Billy S
=====================================================

Billy

The PhD is better. It is a more universally recognized qualification. i


will send the Belgium info as soon as it is ready

Malan

What an interesting journey has been ours thus far! How many professional
areas we have looked into! I pray and trust that this effort to unveil the
popular careers has immensely opened your mind. I also do pray that you are
now better informed to take on higher challenges as well as intelligently
make bold decisions that will fly you to higher orbs. One caution is however
critical: Never rest on your present laurels or credentials. Always have an
eye to future security. In other ways, use the present privileges and sunshine
to prepare for the rainy day ahead. I say this with a heavy heart because
many get entangled and boxed in the “status trap” forgetting that tomorrow
needs to be prepared for today. Nothing is automatic, even the children of
Isreal had an end to their gracious manna days after which they had to sweat
it out (Exodus 5:10). In the next Chapter, we briefly consider the benefits
of labour before we hurtle along to look at the sad end and decay of the
sluggard in chapter eleven.

==================================================
Bib lio graphy

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 158


Gort A. H, Get that Job, Parragon, 2002

Holt H David, Entrepreneurship: New venture creation, Prentice Hall of


India, 2006

Thomas David, Redundant! Banking World, September 1991 pp 65

Chapter 10

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 159


“It is not the most intelligent but the smartest that succeed”

I. The Benefits and effects of good labour

Doubtless, when we meet people that are ‘successful’ as the world defines
them, we often wonder how they got there. Many times, we gravitate
towards them, unknown to us because we have a natural tendency towards
what tickles our ego. But if you were to enquire into many of these people’s
backgrounds, you will most likely discover that they invested heavily in the
past and are merely reaping what they sowed then. A little sacrifice here,
some risky move there all add up to what you now see. Risk averse people
generally do not feature prominently on the “successful people” list. They
usually end up in the peripherals scarcely surviving or scrounging for
droppings from other people’s tables. In their hey days as chief executives,
they never cast an eye towards the stormy day ahead and spent all their
energies making a name for themselves at the expense of growing a young
business or investing into the future. Now it is too late and they are
depressed. But there is always hope for the young, discerning, wise and
prudent professionals that walk the hall of fame. It is possible to own a flat
on rent in Rome, New York, London or Sydney while you live in the
outskirts of Lusaka. It is equally possible to remain a global consultant while
you reside in “pauper” Zambia. All this is possible if you put your energies
in the right place at the right time or else you will come out of life bitter,
defeated, disillusioned and depressed. In this chapter, our task is to briefly
point out the benefits of a life well spent in investing in the right places. Our
trip will cover some points earlier alluded to but in this instance, these will
also act as bench marks and hooks to our consciences.

The first benefit is obviously prosperity and wealth. This translates into a
higher and better quality of life which the lazy can only dream of. Wealth
generation and prosperity are the mark of the hard worker. Admittedly, other
crooks do make lots of money illegally and appear happy when infact they
fear their own shadow. Not so the genuine hard worker. They walk through
life confidently and proud of their achievements. By the sweat of their
brawl, they have generated wealth not only for themselves but for their
children’s children. In old age or when out of formal employment, they
never bother their children or relations for money. Hard workers are a joy to
be with because they show you the way of life much better.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 160


In the second place, poverty over thrown and kept at bay. It is effectively
defeated as long as hard work continues. The Bible rightly says that all hard
work brings profit and thus bars poverty from making inroads into such a
home. As I look at many admirable, prosperous and high class homes, I
know instantly at the back of my mind that someone must have worked hard
some time back. In almost all the cases, I have been correct. In Zambia,
unfortunately, inherited wealth does not usually last. It is soon blown up or
dissected by the children leaving no trace of the previous glory. I have heard
of a rich young man who inherited one of the largest business empires in
Zambia and run it down because he loved gambling. He did not care because
he did not work to generate that wealth as his father did from scratch. This is
a tragedy but in an ideal world, wealth must cumulatively increase from
generation to generation. Good life should be the norm not the exception.

In the third place, the hard worker who has proudly and sincerely generated
wealth has the pleasure of being able to help the weak. They do this out of a
kind gracious heart rather than from a pompous proud heart that blows its
own trumpet. In fact, I have noted that the actual hard workers and true
owners of wealth rarely are boastful or proud, but rather, it is their parasitic
relatives.

Fourthly, the hard worker pleases the Lord because s/he obeys the command
to work hard with a view to help the genuinely weak and needy. The fourth
Commandment positively talks about doing ALL our work in six days and
rest in one. By implication, you and I must exert all our energies in the
allotted six days and then rest to “recharge” our brain cells.

For another thing, hard work reduces vulnerability and dependence on


others. It is interesting that in countries where there is less donor aid, the
economies and people turn out better than in those lavished with free things.
It could be that those that do not accept free hand outs have told themselves
to use all their strength to generate wealth while those with a high affinity
for free things turn out lazy and therefore dependant. If you have taken your
destiny in your own hands, you will definitely not allow yourself to idle
around nor will you allow anyone to bully you. Hard work is the key.

Furthermore, hard work has great benefit to the nation in a number of ways.
Firstly, hard workers generally produce more and tend to be self reliant.
Because of this higher production and self reliance, they create jobs which in
turn build the economy. How does this come about? Well, those employed

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 161


pay tax to the government after they get paid. In addition, the business itself
pays tax thus contributing to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Other areas
that contribute to GDP as a result of hard work could include value adding
activities such as locally refining raw materials so that they fetch much more
abroad as well as sending a hard working cadre abroad that remits foreign
exchange back home to foster national development.

Hard work also brings about sustainability presently and in future. If you do
not work hard today, tomorrow will most likely be a night mare. But hard
workers have a long range thinking mindset and work in such a way as to
avert or forestall any future disaster. Their children also will rest secure for
many generations because of the seed they planted. I am of the view that life
before and after formal employment should not be very different because
you will have laid a comfortable mattress upon which to recline after the
productive years working away. But not only after you retire, you must be
ready as early as possible and be able to survive without a job for many
months without noticing a marked difference.

The other good jewel that comes out of hard work is that you have peace of
mind at all times. This is because you will know where you stand exactly
and how to wiggle your way round sharp corners in life. The foolish do not
notice the sharp turn from afar and proceed to crash into the wall, coming
out badly wounded. Peace of mind even makes you more efficient as well as
work better.

Closely connected to the previous point is confidence and self esteem built.
Once you know your way round and how to sort out complex issues, you are
generally more confident than the person that has not yet tried. They may
have the mental aspects neatly tacked away in the brain but will be shaky
when they first encounter the issue. Hard and smart workers are generally
more confident because their competence levels far outstrip everyone else. I
am sure Daniel in the Bible was a very confident man and yet he wholly
depended upon God.

Dependant people are simply not confident about anything they do. They
always need a second person to approve their intended move. Only then will
their reluctance and doubt cease. Solid hard workers do not tolerate
dependence. They actually consider it a taboo to depend on another. They
ensure they learn as much and practice often to perfect their skills such that
when they appear in the public domain, they are often miles ahead. Hard

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 162


work casts out the dependence syndrome. Zambia is a country of cowards
and doubters, no wonder we are so dependant of others from abroad. We
would rather be labourers instead of being masters in our own land. This
needs urgently to change.

Like I mentioned earlier on, genuine hard workers are very simple and have
a realistic out look to life. They are never complex but live by simple rules
that guides them all the way to prosperity land.

Hard work viewed from another perspective is a launch pad to the next level
of usefulness. I once worked with an astute Manager earlier on in my career.
He said something intriguing that has never left me. I was once complaining
about not being recognised enough in the organisation but he simply advised
me to “do a good job and it would speak for me” He was right and today I
stand on a far higher podium because of that simple rule. Your present job
will get you the next best depending on how well you handle what you have
in hand today.

It is said that after doing something repeatedly for five years, a person
becomes an expert in that area. It therefore means that every five years,
ideally, you and I should be moving to the next higher level where we face
fresh challenges. Interestingly, most of us prefer to remain hidden in the
comfort zone because of our risk averse culture. But there is need to move
on. However, the point here is that you can become your own boss once you
have mastered something. As people recognise you, offer consultancy
services and become your own boss.

Having become an expert as highlighted in the previous point, your unique


competence and skill take you places. Proverbs talks about a person
“standing before kings”. That is high class competence which all of us
should aspire after. Remember Daniel? What about Joseph? These men
excelled in their respective callings. Another offshoot related to this point is
that you will repeatedly be called upon to handle challenging tasks which
everyone else dreads and when you succeed, your profile will soar out of
control!

Yet another benefit of hard work is you soon discover your other previously
hidden strengths, weaknesses and skills. If you sit idle all day, whining,
complaining or just munching, chances are that you will not k now your
strengths and thus not maximise your potential.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 163


Smart hard workers always leave a brilliant trail blaze behind them once
they have passed that way. They are event makers rather than followers.
They are consistent ‘head liners’ as it were in good things. Not every
headliner is a good or hard worker per se but the genuine ones remain
admirable long after they have left the centre stage. They are well known
and often quoted by all people. I have in mind people like Ben Carson and
our own Mutembo Nchito, brilliant men in their own fields!

We hardly need to mention that hard work brings about tremendous progress
for all that would sustainably work hard. Do you see a successful person?
Chances are that they work extremely hard behind the scenes.

Well, our path has been somewhat smoother than what we are about to in the
next chapter. It is always refreshing to meet an old colleague making steady
progress up the career ladder just like yourself. You can see the freshness,
the warmth and pulse that attends them. But it is equally heart breaking to
meet a colleague who cannot keep body and soul together because they
made lethal mistakes along the way for which they are paying dearly at the
time you meet them. I would strongly urge you to pursue the good road
highlighted in this chapter because it brings about the best life you can ever
imagine. Fasten your seat belt as we enter the dark tunnel in the next chapter.

Bib lio graphy

Holy Bible, New International version (NIV), The Bible Society, 1973

Chapter 11

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 164


II. The sad end and decay of the sluggard-Proverbs 20:13, Proverbs
24:33

In life, time often tells the consequences of our actions earlier on. If we
chose to sit and idle away when opportunity came knocking on our door, we
are certainly reaping what we sowed back then. On the other hand, if we
were vigilant, diligent and worked hard leaving no stone unturned, we
should not be surprised if today we seem to be floating in cloud nine. Yet in
another breathe, we should not lose heart if, despite making the right
decisions and world class moves do not seem to get anywhere near the
headlines. We need to press on further because life is funny and full of
surprises. In this chapter however, our story is an extremely sad one because
it paints a very dark and gloomy picture of what turns out to be people’s lot
in the fullness of time. I must admit, I struggled to write this chapter because
I have seen very close colleagues and relatives fall over the precipice due to
the bad and self destructive decisions they made earlier on in their lives. If
only they had listened, their lot would have vastly been different today.
Sadly, it is too late now.

The signs are very clear for all to see and we do not need to look far to see
the ravaging effects of laziness and imprudence. We consider each point in
summary form and then hurtle along in keeping with our resolve to remain
brisk and pointed as we wrap up this book.

The first result of laziness is undoubtedly poverty. Where people choose to


party all the time at the expense of self exertion, poverty soon lurks at every
turn. By definition, poverty is the state of being in deprivation. This
deprivation could be mental, physical, material social and or economic
making our lives less comfortable and inhumane. Poverty is such an
excruciating pain with many effects that follow it for many generations on
end. Some people seem so wedded to poverty such that they have developed
an amazing amount of tolerance to it. They can go through some of the most
deadly trials caused by poverty but for some reason are reluctant to avert the
same disaster in future. They would rather go through the same cycle
without much worry. It pains me when I walk our streets to find so many
people begging with almost no hope of getting out of the poverty grip. It is
even more painful to know that a country littered with all manner of
resources can allow such horrendous amount of suffering on its citizens.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 165


What makes other people walk into our country empty handed but walk
away a few weeks later full to the brim? Poverty is a killer.

But then, some of this poverty is deliberately caused. I say this without
reservations. My hypothesis is based on the assumption that people in power
scheme to keep as many people as possible in the citizenry ignorant and
poor so that they can comfortably steal and enrich themselves. At other
times, it is a question of bad governance as well as lack of exposure, though
we cannot rule out the deliberate strategy. Finally, the rich and powerful can
deliberately cultivate a dependence syndrome that keeps the vulnerable
powerless and weak. For instance, have you noted that countries with the
least donor aid and hand outs have some of the best, vibrant and resilient
economies? Consider Botswana and Tunisia for example. What has made
them greater nations economically then their neighbours Zambia and Egypt?
I suspect the answer lies in their attitudes towards work and self reliance. I
support Trevor Johns’ conclusions in his 2005 letter to the March New
African magazine. He was right on the dot. On an individual level, I am sure
you have seen how some of your family members have excelled while others
have plummeted from bad to worse and yet you all had the same
opportunities in life. The decisions we make today will show effects in
future, it is just a matter of time.

The next in the roll of sad endings is lack of progress. Poor people who
made wrong choices live to regret bearing the consequences of their actions.
No matter what they try, they either achieve modest success or end up losing
everything that they work for. They might have grand plans quite alright but
when the implementation stage arrives, a thousand and one impeding
horrible problems suddenly crop up to eat away at their ‘capital’. If it’s not
endless funerals, then it is chronic family sicknesses, school fees, hunger or
someone dribbling them out of their meagre capital. I often marvel and
almost break down in tears when such misfortunes strike needy people. But
then, some of them are merely reaping what they sowed. What do I mean?
Well, I mean that because they did not build a solid financial and moral
foundation, they will not have risen up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and as
such are always hovering around the basic survival needs as opposed to
heading towards self actualisation. Therefore, when they get a little cash, all
the problems suddenly pop up and invade the pocket! Thus, if the survival
needs remain unresolved, no amount of “investment” will change their
fortunes, unless of course a miracle occurs.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 166


The third connected result is development of a contagious complaining
spirit. This bitter spirit develops over time and the victims increasingly feel
that they have been deliberately deprived of their livings by other people or
some hidden misfortune is responsible. They complain all the time to each
and every person that would care to listen and with time become bitter
against any prosperous person including God. But they scarcely take time to
objectively evaluate their past as well as the many unwise decisions they
made in the prime of their lives. Whenever I meet a mad person or an
extremely poor person, I often wonder what went wrong. If they landed in
such circumstances by no fault of theirs, then I immediately understand but
if they became poor because of their folly, I am not too sure whether to pity
them or look away. The prudent thing though is to help out tackle the root
cause so that they can to some extent be on their feet doing something
meaningful. Then they will bother you less in future days.

The fourth calamity is that people plagued with many ills have an extremely
difficult time learning and implementing new skills. They may learn the new
survival skills but find it especially difficult to concentrate on one thing at a
time because the bread and butter issues still harass their minds. It is even
worse if no one is ready to train them. Be that as it may, things learnt
hurriedly to solve an immediate pressing problem rarely last long or stick.
That in part explains why people abandon fund raising projects they begun
shortly before their weddings.

The fifth ravaging effect that comes as a result is that the people in the thick
of things rarely are content and for a good reason. They often feel they
deserve better and spend considerable time fantasizing about what could be
until their dream bubble is pricked by reality. When they are exposed to a
potential poverty alleviating opportunity, they grasp it with both hands but
often go to another extreme where they mess up everything with abuse. They
thus blow up their chances once again. In short, we can say that they are not
realistic and have an impaired sense of judgement sometimes.

The sixth tragedy, though closely connected to the fifth is that of wishful
thinking at the expense of any sustained real hard work. Many lazy people
invest a lot in their unrealistic day dreaming to the extent that they are
literary paralysed to do anything. Such people love movies, the finer things
of life or the best and latest clothing in town without stopping to consider
what it takes to generate the cash they begged from some slave working
relative or friend. Because of this wishful thinking mentality, these people

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 167


have no time for planning, reflection, study and loathe any inconveniences.
In fact, these people detest living in a place where people are always talking
about hard work or self exertion. Their ideal life is what we see in the
movies, around the beach or some utopian kind of fine life style devoid of
suffering. If they do not eject out of that unrealistic life style, they soon slide
to the bottom of the heap. An experience I had many years ago as a youth
has left a sour feeling in my soul. A family friend of ours loved movies a lot
and earnestly imitated the movie stars often. Having grown up in the States
part of his youth until about fourteen, his family returned to Zambia for a
while with a view to go back. Unfortunately, this never happened due to
some complications. For a long season, he was a shining star and an envy of
all of us lesser mortals. The gentleman hated school and often spent most of
his time day dreaming about the American life style in a dilapidated Zambia.
With time, he quit school and hangs out with the rich kids. As years went by,
his friends abandoned the guy one by one. Today, the man has no friends,
house, job or steady income. He is a painfully pitiful sight, a case of “from
riches to rags”. This could happen to anyone and is no laughing matter. I
leave off that point for now and head to the next.

The next outcome in the series is those people turning out to be time wasters
either by default or consequence of earlier actions. They soon are viewed as
menaces who stick to your skin like glue once you give them a hearing. In
their minds, any friend ought to help and owes them a living and will not
understand why you are suddenly too busy to attend to them. In one sense,
they have a point but in another, they fail to accept and adjust to the present
new realities of the inequalities that have developed over time. On your part
(that is if you are the one on the prosperous side), these people are avoided
like a plague. Once or twice you may tolerate them at your home, business
or office but once you discover that they are fast becoming dependant, you
swiftly change gears and begin to view them as inconveniencing time
wasters. This happens all too often. I once recall an old friend visiting me at
my office. At first I was very excited to see him, although shocked at his
pitiful state. I soon forked out some kwachas and wished him well as he
went around making ends meet. I was shocked when less than two weeks
later the scruffy gentleman showed up with another hair raising story of his
hair raising story of misfortune and how he desperately needed to be helped.
Interestingly, I was the only “saviour” they knew in that town! so he
claimed. Again I forked out some coins, though a bit reluctant this time. He
excitedly dashed off only to return the next week! I was not at the office that
day but somehow the chap enquired and located my home and came! I was

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 168


upset but what could I do, he was once my class mate, although far much
smarter than I was in class. He entered the house and made himself
comfortable while I cooked lunch. I was so sure he would leave soon after
lunch but wonder of wonders, he hung around until well past 20 hours when
I diplomatically asked him to leave, not without a coin of course! I lost
many study hours that day and felt the pinch for many months to come. But
that was not enough, the next time he followed me to church, this time even
drunk! That broke the camels’ back. I had a long chat with the fellow the
next time he came round for another tip. Familiar? I am sure this resonates
very well!

For another thing, sluggards often end up mere event observers rather than
headliners. They spend most of their time wondering why things happen the
way they do and how unfair life is, always moving in the wrong direction for
them while very good for others. As they watch TV or read news papers,
they often wonder how their peers have moved on to become event movers
and critical influential decision makers at national and international level
while they remain in the corner of the world complaining, whining and
regretting. They wonder why their contemporaries live in mansions and fly
the world at will while they live in cave like huts or in ‘Mu komboni’ packed
like sardines. Nothing wrong with living in a shanty compound but we
should never wilfully love to dwell there if we can avoid it. If you are
economically weak, then you will be susceptible to manipulation, abuse and
torture, not worth listening to by anyone in the corridors of power. This is
not desirable but unfortunately, that is how things are in the world today,
including in the so-called most developed, free countries. Endeavour to
leave a mark on your generation right from infancy.

The pre-requisite to poverty is to sit still. If you idly sit around hoping food
will automatically come on the table, you are badly mistaken. In fact you are
on the right track to poverty. Lazy bones are often wedded to idleness. They
often feel too lazy to do anything and often times jump on the pessimistic
side of things to justify their idleness. They always look for the easiest way
out as well as anything that will foster their undisturbed idle state. The Bible
tells a story of a lazy chap who remained idle when it was planting time and
ended up in poverty. Many of us are idle in many senses and want to wake
up to blame someone else when hunger strikes. I find it terribly
embarrassing when politicians, chiefs and government officials annually cry
for relief food because “people are hungry and will die if government and
NGOs do not respond” At first, I used to feel honoured and privileged to

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 169


hand out food but over the years I have increasingly questioned this move.
The reason is because the same people always expect to receive hand outs
from somewhere and rarely engage in active food production. They are
instead idle though out the year while eagerly waiting for the hand out
season to arrive. If we were like the far Eastern cultures where begging is a
taboo, perhaps we would have been better developed. But the point here is
that lazy people are idle as well because they do not try out as many options
or even bother to think and act within or outside the box.

As a result of poverty, ignorance, pain and disillusionment, lazy people


eventually develop bitter feelings which translates into serious frustration
about everything. Life slowly loses its meaning and purpose. Nobody seems
to care or cast an eye towards them and eventually they with draw from
society into their own world. Akin to a “chongololo” (millipede) or tortoise,
the enclosed life seems the only option for the moment. Such people speak
very little and are often quiet or seriously outspoken. This is some kind of
self expression to the rest of the world perhaps crying for attention, help or
forgiveness. At this stage, unless something drastic is done, it is a hopeless
case and if this continues for a long time, the person may tip over into a
depression, and eventually do some unexpected thing such as attempting
suicide. There is need to watch them as too many things run through their
minds trying to find quick solutions to their plight. Interestingly, at this
stage, people may still be in denial stage or have veered to another extreme
of self pity, condemnation or loathing. These are painful but true things.

On the road to making serious lifelong blunders is short range thinking.


Myopic thinking annually slays its myriads that live to regret their actions.
For instance, many promising young girls engage in promiscuous sexual acts
which leaves reaping the consequences the rest of their lives. They could
pick up a terminal disease, a curable but inconveniencing STI or even fall
pregnant. For a long time to come, that seemingly simple act caused by short
range thinking will continue to haunt them. Long range thinkers prudently
weigh their options before they act. In that way, they are likely to hang
around the horizon for a far longer period than the rusty rest who soon fizzle
out like a meteorite over the night sky. Myopic thinking shows its effects
much later in life and sometimes may hide the root in the present so that you
cannot discern the root cause in order to make amends. Myopic thinkers
rarely learn from their past mistakes or from history. Our nation is partly
poor because most of the people are myopic and do not learn from the past
for future wiser application. Trend analysis is foreign.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 170


Yet another effect of laziness is people transforming into serious gossips and
back bitters. Their prime occupation becomes generating false stories that
incriminate some as well as assassinates other people’s characters. Busy
bodies, by definition are people who move from house to house discussing
other people or transmitting gossip. In the process, they disturb some as well
destroy unsuspecting others. In many churches, busy bodies have wrecked
havoc and if not nipped in the bud have effectively contributed to church
break ups. In a certain town, one busy body spread rumours that the Pastor
was a Satanist and naturally, the generally lazy people of that town readily
believed the lie. It took a long time before the picture was corrected but a lot
of damage had already been done. In another Church, some women used to
spread a lot of false stories in the congregation. Until they were
excommunicated, there was no peace. When they were purged, peace and
freshness returned to the fold. But then, the busy bodies are not limited to
churches, they are literary everywhere!

As a consequence of being idles and a busy body, people often fall into the
trap of being malicious, slanderous and destructive in their tendencies.
Because they have developed “itching ears” for the latest rumours on the
block, they naturally turn out to be conduits and transmissions stations of
gossip to other organisational centres. Being reliable transmitters, they soon
ascend to the throne of gossip originators that send regular broadcasts at a
certain high frequency. You have to be connected to the “server” to capture
that gossip. Those that have not signed up or bought the special ‘decoder’
will not capture or detect anything and go home thinking all is well. Home
and dry. Malicious people can be very destructive and generate a very hostile
antagonistic and suspicious atmosphere. Their malice often cripples some or
unduly raises others where they ought not to be. Lazy people often have time
for this kind of life.

Our work would be half done if we did not mention that lazy people love the
finer things of life and by that token are very envious of anyone who
happens to have the things they do not have. Consequently, they will do
anything to match up, if not excel the person who has outdone them. Envy
has to do with feeling rotten and bad within when others prosper before you
do. That explains why many Zambians do not support each other. The root is
envy. They cannot stand another person enjoying a smooth palatable life
while they languish in poverty, despite their laziness. Before you get
inflamed with envy, take stock of your own life, have you worked hard

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 171


enough to better your lot? If so, perhaps you deserve a hearing but not before
you exert yourself for a reasonably long time, enough for all to see.

The last point has two pointed ends. The first is that lazy people end up
being impatient because they crave instant gratification. If that is not
forthcoming, they throw tantrums, steal or quit. The second pointed end is
cutting corners or short circuiting processes to get immediate results.
Sluggards often feel the world should revolve around their small world
while they move around at snails’ pace. They expect the world come to a
standstill when they are sleeping or give them what they wish at any time
they claim. Like a spoilt child, they expect to be given what they want
because they ‘deserve it’. Sometimes, religious people behave like spoilt
children who want something without working for it. The sooner they
realise, the better for them then we shall avert some of the foolishness we so
often see from certain religious circles.

Well, I guess we have taken slightly longer than we expected but it was
necessary to outline exactly what the consequences of laziness are. Just take
time to peruse through the book of Proverbs in the Bible and I am sure you
will come away much more instructed than we have attempted in this entire
book. The divinely inspire book has much more to say in a few sentences. I
guess it is time to hurtle towards closure but before we do that, we need to
briefly touch two short parts and then we call it a day.
=================================================
Bib lio graphy

Norma Keatley, response to article “why doesn’t anybody care about


blacks”, New African, March 2005 issue pp4

Chapter 12
Exhortations to resolved labour

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 172


Looking at the potential we have both as a nation and as individuals, it is
only prudent and right to take stock as to why we are still in the paupers’
den. It is a contradiction in terms really, contradiction in the sense that we
are in the wrong place and needlessly wearing the wrong garments.

Imagine the Presidents’ child found wearing tatters when his/her parents are
in State house? It is beats logic. In case our readers do not appreciate what
we are saying, let us recount and name our blessings one by one and then
end with a powerful exhortation.

Firstly, Zambia has abundant arable land resources, approximately 756,000


square miles. According to statistic available, less than 15 % is under
productive commercial use. If that was used, I would not be surprised if it
fed the whole of Africa. Take the Mpika District (largest district in Zambia,
2008) for example, land is a mere K 15,000 (about $ 4) per hectare with no
upper limit of land acquisition! This gives an idea of the land mass
abundance and yet very few native Zambians are interested! In addition,
malnutrition is probably highest in the Northern province despite the
abundant resources!!!

Secondly, Zambia has a meagre population of less than 13 million. If that is


the population, against a large land mass of over 756,000, it means that if we
divided the land into plots, we would roughly get something like….square
miles per person! But what happens? Either most of this is held
unproductively under the state or chief. Most of us conveniently hide behind
an apparently defective land tenure issue but if we tried seriously, we could
actually access land. Sadly, many of us prefer the urban centres where we
can get a cosy life.

Thirdly, Zambia has super abundant largely untapped resources. What don’t
we have as a nation? We have Uranium (over which the richer nations are
indirectly squabbling over: USA, Russia, China etc, hence the talk about not
setting up a military base on Zambian soil! Why all the sudden interest and
visits by Mrs Bush, Clinton, Chinese President and Russian?), we have
Copper, Zinc, Iron, Gold, Diamonds, Lead, Silver, precious stones (e.g.
Amethyst, emeralds etc) and oil among many others. But who has access to
all these apart from foreigners or uninspiring Government? The archaic laws
expressly inhibit natives from freely mining these in favour of other people.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 173


In addition, those that mine are give ridiculous takes holidays or
questionable royalty rates which amounts to total rip offs!

Fourthly, the nation is littered with a wide variety of untamed wild animals
that freely roam the African parks, practically unheard off in the developed
world. These animals are I their large numbers and could rake in billions of
kwacha if properly managed. What happens, very little investment is
encouraged or the little that is there is owned by exotic people who
externalise the little they earn. What lost opportunities!

Fifthly, the nation has some of the richest and perennial bio divest fresh
water bodies. Think of the Zambezi, the Kafue, the Luangwa, the Lukanga
Swamps, the Luapula river, the Bangweulu swamps, the countless
waterfalls, all going begging. Estimations are that the country harbours close
to 40% of the continent’s fresh water bodies and yet nearly 97% of this
water from rivers goes flows wastefully to the ocean! That total waste. In
addition, there is very little irrigation and other uses of the water which our
friends in the Sahara desert covert after. Imagine what could come out of the
water apart from irrigation; fishing and hydro electricity which are
neglected.

Sixthly, the abundant good weather and sunshine. If we were more


innovative, we could have used the sun for many things which our friends
elsewhere do not have. For instance, the good weather entails that we do not
spend much on central heating and by that token use less heating energy. I
have often wondered why we rely too much on hydro electricity instead of
solar energy. Admittedly, the initial capital expenditure is high, but this
technology is much cheaper and eco friendly I think. It is my submission
that in future, as solar technology improves, we must change to Solar. I have
seen powerful solar apparatus that amazingly works well, just put a few
panels over your roof and you are in business!

Seventhly, the nation potentially has some of the best brains on the planet.
Granted, the literacy levels have plummeted over the years, the nation still
has some great minds all over the globe doing amazing things. Many of
them have done might exploits but fear returning home lest they be reduced
to rags. They have a point but all efforts must and can be put in place to plug
the senseless brain drain that we are now accustomed to. In a sense, these
friends in Diaspora also significantly contribute to national economic

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 174


building by sending their investment cash home but I think they could do far
much more if they were better appreciated and treated.

Eighthly, the country has one of the environmentally cleanest places on the
planet. Granted, the country lags far behind in development terms relative to
the rich North but this in itself is a major plus somehow. How? Well, the
amount of undisturbed green forests, vegetation, fewer contaminated soils
and all are increasingly becoming rare and golden! Where do you find such
clean fresh air in the western world? Comparatively, we are far better off and
potentially should live healthier lifestyles. In addition, this green business is
a potential money spinner for us! There is need therefore to jealously guard
what we have than to heedlessly rush for industrialisation. I would rather we
skipped one stage of development to the weightless economy, if that were
possible. This would mean that we become the hub and oasis of fresh eco
sensitive new ideas which are sought after by the world.

Ninthly, Zambians are known all over the world to be all embracing and
welcoming. This attracts people to repeatedly come or send others to come
to this beautiful land. In a sense, this is a major plus unlike some xenophobic
nations that are uninviting and people stick to themselves for fear of the
unknown. In another sense, this overly friendliness is what shoots us in the
leg, people take advantage of us and rip us off. That is why we keep being
dribbled by different crooks over the same issues. I have in mind the many
mineral exploration expeditions that have suddenly wound up and vanished
after they have taken “samples for testing” when the chaps were exporting
actual minerals abroad! We are a naïve sort of people.

The list could go on but surely, in the light of what we have just highlighted,
why should we content ourselves with these rags? Why should our children
and their progeny starve even before they are born? Why should we consign
them to a perpetual night mare? Away with this kind of mindset!

There is therefore urgent need to diligently and vigilantly rise to the


occasions now. This will avoid the gorilla war fare and civil wars that are far
too common on African soil over minerals because the natives feel ripped
off and dribbled. Think of the issues in Congo and Nigeria to mention just
two out of many. It is high time we rose to the occasion and took our destiny
in our hands. We have spent much time wallowing in the mad, it is time we
moved to higher ground and claimed our birth right.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 175


A little more self exertion will do the trick. It may be tough now, but will
surely pay dividends in days to come. Our children will praise or condemn
us depending on what actions we take now.

Will you remain the same? I won’t. I must move on.

================================================

Bibliography

Kaunda D, Kenneth, Mining and Zambia, Post news paper, September 23rd,
2007, pp iv

Ndulo Muna, Mining Rights in Zambia, ZEPH, 1987

Sichone C Billy, The Strategic Horizon, 2006

Sichone C Billy, Tired old Potential, 2009

Young Steve, Great Failures of the extremely successful: mistakes, adversity,


failure and other stepping stones to success, Jaico Publishing House, 2007

Chapter 13

“Whithe r Za mbi a?”

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 176


What ou ght we to do now ?
“If all brains in Zambia were one brain, what a great brain it would be! If all resolutions
were one resolution, what a great resolution it would be! If all wills were one will, what a
great will it could be! If all hands were one hand, what a great hand it would be! If all
axes were one axe, what a great axe it would be! If all trees were one tree, what a great
tree it would be! If the great brains were to make one great resolution and will to carry
out the resolution through the hand to cut the tree using the axe, what a great cut it would
be!”-Anonymous

W e have traced the root cause of why many people do not excel. We have
also safely navigated through and established why myriads of people remain
firmly clutched in the poverty grip. Indeed, we do not need to mention why a
potentially rich country like Zambia remains paralysed in abject poverty
amidst one of the rarest natural resources on this planet. The question that
begs answering at this stage is, what ought we to do to redeem ourselves
both as individuals and as a nation? Who shall come to our rescue, for
certainly the United Nations cannot and neither can any other global body
like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) or indeed the super
power of the day, the USA. Raking our brains perhaps more vigorously may
yield some answers. The answer lies within us at whatever stage. We have to
arise and possess our destiny and shrug of the past. We must give ourselves
no rest until we see a change in our generation before we pass on are no
more.
Some of the suggested ways are given below:

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 177


1. We must revisit our past with a view to pick up some lessons. For
instance, the Europeans disturbed our social structure forever so that
today we are still struggling to find our feet.
2. Having traced our footprints, let us resolve to keep the good traits and
discard the bad.
3. We must proceed to tabulate what we want and where we want to be.
This can take multiple brain storming sessions across the country. In
that way, the long lost spirit of nationhood will resurrect. Let us
exhume the entombed dream.
4. We must then proceed chart our own course that fits with our culture,
nature and abilities.
5. Thereafter, let us then chose the right leaders that will not only be
equal to the task but are inspirational. We need modern leaders that,
like the men of Isaachar (I Chronicles 12:32) who will read,
understand the times know what ought to be done.
6. Let us begin afresh by placing the right people in the right places akin
to a football team.
7. Let us monitor and support these people as they begin to roll out in
our work. It will no longer be their work but “our”.
8. Let us work relentlessly neither looking to the left nor to the right for
decades. We can do it like the Japanese and others succeeded. We
need to develop our own Deming⇑ or better still download from the
developed world.

On an individual level, I have not much to say than to implore you my dear
friend that always remember that the time is really short (I Corinthians 7:29)
and what remains to be accomplished in this short lives of ours is too much.
Already, we have lost time on many unprofitable issues. The best we can do
is to make the most of the remaining time before we are buried and
forgotten. A number of words though will be handy to turbo us on…
1. Resolve never to be a time waster any more.
2. Resolve to be your best at all times.
3. Resolve to unflinchingly pursue your set goals whether you do it
alone or not.
4. Resolve to be a world class motivator to your peers.
5. Resolve to be uniquely passionate about your cause.
6. Resolve to discover yourself and apply yourself to the best ends.
7. Resolve to make a difference in whatever you do before you die.
Deming-Famous quality movement leader of the mid 20th Century, changed Japanese product and service
quality with his teaching

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 178


8. Resolve to leave the world a better place than when you first got here.
9. Resolve never to do anything without reason.
10.Resolve to sleep less and work more.
11. Resolve to develop the right motives in whatever you lay you hand to.
12.Resolve to exert yourself to the fullest in whatever undertaking you
pursue.
13.Resolve to be independent. Rather help than be helped.
14. Resolve to catch the passion in whatever under taking you associate
yourself.
15.Resolve to do any and every thing to the glory of God.
16.Resolve to be a person of “one thing”
17.Resolve to lay aside every weight that hinders progress or entangles
you.
18.Resolve to be a high flier at all times.
19.Resolve to be an example among your peers.
20.Resolve to be the whole rounded leader you were meant to be.
21.Resolve never to leave any stone unturned along life’s path way.
22.Resolve not to listen to what ever people say or else you might hear
your servant cursing you!
23.Resolve to always try until it is clear that the thing was not meant to
be.
24.Resolve to be optimistic rather than pessimistic.
25.Resolve to be realistically pragmatic.
26. Resolve to be proactive.
27. Resolve to have a realistic and objective view of yourself.
28.Resolve to use as much of the other 90% of your brain creatively.
29. Resolve to strangle the little thieves of time and labour.
30. Resolve to continually exercise your mental, spiritual and physical
strengths.
31.Resolve to watch and listen less of unproductive movies or music.
32.Resolve to keep away from risky behaviour as much as possible.
33.Resolve never to procrastinate.
34. Resolve to think outside the box and sharpen your entrepreneurial
skills.

Bib lio graphy

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 179


The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Banner of Truth Trust.

Sichone C Billy, The Strategic Horizon, 2006

Chapter 15
“Adieu!”
Farewell note

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 180


We have trod the same path all this way, and I trust we both see that the
celestial city is now in sight, if only we venture forth, armed with the
principles laid down in this book. Friend, I have poured out my very soul
and being attempting to attract you to safety, will you remain unmoved? Will
you still linger where poverty reigns and threatens to engulf you? Flee to the
mountains dear friend! Now is the time to break free from the poverty orbit
and accelerate towards planets success and independence. In all probability,
we might never meet physically but I will count my work done if only you
stand up and be counted among Zambia’s revolutionaries that have truly cast
off sloth, idleness and all those negative vices that have held many people
captive.
I wish I could continue but I must quickly take my flight out of this poverty
infested land to where I belong.
Meet me at Planet success, if at all you do decide to come!
Adieu

General bibliography

Andrew J. Dubrin: leadership: research findings, practice & Skills.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 181


Bower, Bastkett, Uyterhoeven & Walton: Business policy: Managing
Strategic processes, McGraw-Hill, Boston, Massachusetts Burr Ridge,
Illinois Dubuque, Iowa Madison, Wiscosin New York, New York San
Francisco, California St. Louis, Missouri 8th Edition

Bruce A and Langdon K Strategic thinking Dorling Kindersley 2000

Carson Ben, THE BIG PICTURE: Getting perspective on what’s really


important in life, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michingan, 1999

Carson Ben, GIFTED HANDS: The Ben Carson story, Zondervan, Grand
Rapids, Michigan, 1990

Chanski Mark, Manly dominion, Calvary Press Publishing, 2004.

Cole Robert & Mishler Lon, Credit Management, McGraw-Hill


International editions, 1998

Douglas Schuurman J Vocation: Discerning our callings in life. Grand


Rapids:WM B Eerdmans 2004

Dunker Pierce Marilee, Man of Vision, World Vision/authentic media, 2005

Frank Cox: Psychology WM.C.Brown Company publishers, Dubuque, Iowa,


1970

Gort A. H, Get that Job, Parragon, 2002

Hawkesmere group of companies Building Your Business, Thorogood


limited, London 1998

Holy Bible: King James Version

Holy Bible: New International version (NIV) International Bible society

Holt H David, Entrepreneurship: New venture creation, Prentice Hall of


India, 2006

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 182


Kumuyu William: The four D’s of success and three D’s of failure. The
Deeper life Ministry 1989.

Maxwell John C 21 irrefutable laws of leadership, Magna Publishing co.


Ltd, 1999

Musonda George Leading leaders: setting standards for success. 2001


Havenview Publishing house

Phiri Chikondi Restorative leadership Unpublished manuscript 2004

Price Stuart & Duah Agyeman Ivor, Koffi Annan: Back from the brink? New
African magazine, March 2005 # 438, pp 13

Sichone Billy C, The Rare Jewel of Effective leadership 2000

Sichone Billy C, The Strategic horizon, 2006

Sichone Billy C, Tired old Potential, 2009

The Arbinger Institute Leadership and self deception-getting out of the box
BK Publishers, Inc, San Francisco 2002

Thomas David, Redundant! Banking World, September 1991, Chartered


Institute of Bankers

Trump Donald J, HOW TO GET RICH: The secret of business success from
the star of the APPRENTICE, BBC books, 2004

Young Steve, Great Failures of the extremely successful: Mistakes,


adversity, failure and other stepping stones to success, Jaico publishing
House, 2007


Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 183
Appendices

Africa systematically crippled…


Many questions and answers have been given on the question of Africa’s
fate in the modern world. This question is vital, given the continued
plunder and marginalization of Africa in the world’s affairs. Below are
some thoughts deserving some attention by all that would care about
Africa’s fate. Among the many people that have asserted that Africa is
consigned to perpetual poverty unless the current scenario is radically
changed by the higher powers of the day is Dr Kaunda. He asserts that
Africa has been marginalized in many senses, and the last straw being
globalization. Others think otherwise.
But is Africa really left on the margins by globalization?
This million dollar question raised hardly needs any further argument as
the stark reality on the wall is as clear as the noon day sun. If we trace the
roots of development through the corridors of the centuries, Africa has
always been marginalized and neglected at all forums.ϒ It is only viewed
as a raw material source and no further. Reading the journals of the
ancient explorers and sea farers, one cannot fail to pick that their main
aim for venturing beyond the borders of their countries was to generate
wealth and then bring it back to their countries. There are few exceptions
to the rule though. Recollect that Africa was once known as the “dark
continent” and people flocked to find out what was inside it leading to
extensive plunder that has left the continent reeking with abject poverty.
As though that were not bad enough, the explorers opened the door for
the colonialist Governments that flocked to ransack the land. Vast
stretches of land with trees were felled or cleared for timber and
development. Apart from that, the natives were caged and sold as slaves
while others were used as cheap labour to till the land. Thinking about
the great Cecil Rhodes with his British South Africa Company (BSA), it
is difficult to imagine that his grand dream to build a railway from Cape

Refer to the Preface addressed to the reader in the booklet “A NEW INTERNATIONAL ECONMIC
ORDER” by Valentin Shcetinin etal pp5

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 184


to Cairo was planned in good faith, or whether it was with egocentric
motives at heart. That notwithstanding, the interior of Africa was
explored and opened up for what it really is while, truckloads of precious
minerals and raw materials were siphoned out to develop the now
prosperous first world countries. As long as there was room for wanton
plunder, this scourge continued. When the Liberation winds begun to
blow across the continent, the Colonialist begun to with draw while
leaving economic landmines so that the newly independent states
remained dependant on them. That withdrawal was not with a little
struggle, hardly thinking about the welfare of the remnants. As swiftly as
they came in, so they left.
Now, the African continent is by and large theoretically independent but a
new form of colonialism has arisen, from those detonating landmines of
yester years. Imperialism and the crippling debts now clutch the nations
in the developed World’s grip. Today, Africa is called “the forgotten
continent”. That assertion is not far from the truth because most of the
World events and businesses revolve away from the continent as though
there was nothing to talk about regarding Africa, nor due consideration is
given to the Continent. At this rate, nobody is interested in Africa any
more, for it is perceived a land of excruciating poverty and pain. The best
that the first world does is to pull a few destabilizing strings when an
African nation or a group of them begins to make strides to economic
recovery. Now that affluent have gotten what they want, they have
abandoned Africa and do not want to have anything with it. Ironically,
even the United Nations is not really interested in African affairs despite
having an African at the helm. Kofi Annan is but a smart American
puppet that has no teeth to bite, so it is perceived. Boutros Ghali of Egypt
was different, no wonder he was hounded out of the 38th floor of the UN
building at the end of 1996!÷. For instance, if there is a war in Africa, the
a UN stands by the ring side and watches as people haplessly hack each
other to death but notice when another country probably in Europe erupts
in war, the whole world is kept on its toes until the issue is resolved. The
African turf and people are used as scientific experimental guinea pigs to
test the latest arsenals to see how lethal the same could be. One would
not be far from the truth to believe that the richer nations in some
instances actually deliberately trigger wars so that the demand for their
products could grow by that same token. To some extent, the richer
nations are content to maintain a total control on the African continent in

Check write up in appendix C for a full write up on Ghali’s ordeal with the Americans.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 185


some way, no matter how remotely so that they can keep them under
subjection.
If Africa is really marginalized as suggested above, why is that the case?
Varying views have been advanced but supposing that were the case, the
question that begs answering squarely in the face is why the
marginalisation? Popular opinion among lay people is that the richer
states still depend on the under developed nations for raw materials and
also for cheap labour. The following are the reasons why Africa is
marginalized:
1. The continent is a potential economic power due to the huge
untapped mineral and cheap human resource.
2. Potential significant market. Recall that Africa has a potential
market of over 480 million people.
3. The desire to control and dominate others, as evidenced by the
USA over Iraq and South Korea recently (November and
December 2002).
4. The devastated weak economies that cannot compete favourably
on the international markets.
5. Regional groupings- these have effectively blocked any form of
market penetration to the place where the goods would fetch a
good price. Thus, the goods are either more expensive to produce
or have no market leading to a cancellation.
6. Unrealistic standards that block Africa. The developed world,
although working at a different wavelength, has deliberately set
up standards far out of the poor African nations’ grasp. Minute
things disqualify African goods but the reverse is true when
things are being sent to Africa from the developed world. The
only way to get over this hurdle is to scale up on quality and
specification, of course at the bidding of powers that be.
7. Many of the countries in Africa do not have a productive base
upon which to lean. Most of them are slowly becoming consumer
destinations where relatively cheaper goods are dumped. With
such a scenario, a nation courts danger if it closes off the outside
world or influence.
The crippling plot strategically set and managed…
But how is the above scheme been concocted? The basic formula to
systematically cripple Africa from the fast developing World market is by
insisting that the debt burden remains un removed so that the countries in
question are forever using every dollar to service the selfsame debt. The
other way is to make the Nations dependant by either not helping them in

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 186


times of crisis until they are reduced to their knees there by developing a
dependence syndrome that sticks like algae to the victim countries.
Further, the powerful nations impose harsh unproductive economic
survival plans that are deliberately tailored to create more dependence or
simply not ideal with the actual problem that faces the continent. Half the
time, the prescriptions are suspect as they only result in untold suffering.
Further still, the stronger economies, in extreme cases move in to topple
governments they perceive to be standing in their way. The zeal with
which the USA wants to over throw Saddam Hussein in the name of
terrorism and weapons inspection is a case in point. I suspect their
interests are the oil fields, which Saddam has on his turf. In these days of
geographical information systems (GIS), remote sensing techniques are
used for mineral prospecting. As such, the richer nations prospect from
space and then move into a given area, buy off the land and initially
clandestinely begin to tap the minerals. By the time the landowners
discover, it is too late, people displaced and firm land tenure contracts in
favour of the plunderers have taken root. In times when these people get
what they want, they suddenly drop everything and leave the place even
worse than before. A case in point is the Anglo American saga that
occurred in Zambia in 2002. Copper, the main stay of the Zambian
economy, has lately fetched very little per metric ton and yet it remains
the backbone of the economy without which the economy crumbles
badly. Such circumstances are fertile grounds for economic blackmail but
unfortunately, many pauper nations oblige. Some vital statistics and
information will be handy at this stage to strengthen the assertion that
Africa has indeed been outwitted in some subtle way. The Valentin
Shchetinin led team rightly asserted in the book “A new international
Economic order: its advocates and opponents” that “the former
metropolitan countries are largely responsible for the extreme poverty of
the African countries, for their chronic backwardness and their social
and economic plight. Through the mechanization of transfer prices and
monetary machinations The international monopolies are taking out of
the developing co astronomical sums far exceeding the value of all the
official aid those countries receive from industrialized countries….
”(pp65). The following statistics are even more startling: “If we look at
the present economic situation in Africa, we cannot help seeing the
obvious disparity between the continent’s colossal potentialities and the
lamentable results of their utilization-lamentable as regards the national
interests of the African peoples. The mineral wealth of Africa includes
96% of the World’s deposits of diamonds, more than 90% of its Chrome

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 187


ore, 50% of its cobalt, 50% of its phosphates, 55% of its Manganese,
40% of its bauxites, 30% of its uranium and 20% of its copper. Africa
provides 72% of the World’s cobalt, 67% of its gold, 36% of its
manganese, 35% of its Chrome, 28% of its phosphates, 22% of its
copper, 10% of its iron ore and 7% of its bauxites.
Yet the productive forces of Africa are at an extremely low level of
development. The Continent accounts for a mere 0.9% of the World’s
industrial production. Africa possesses one fifth of the World’s
hydropower resources; from it come over 50% of the World’s exports of
oil, 70% of the World’s output of cocoa and a third of its coffee.
Nevertheless, 20 of the 31 nations classified by the United Nations as the
World’s least developed are in Africa. The aggregate gross product of
Africa amounts to no more than 2.7% of the World total and the average
per capita annual income is $ 166. Africa has 480 million inhabitants-
approximately 10% of the earth’s population. Yet the continent’s share in
the World’s output of staple products does not exceed five per cent.
Hence Africa is two or even three times worse off in food supplies than
the World average’ (PP73/74)ι . Of course people with a contra opinion
may dismiss the socialist’s view (Valentin) point as mere propaganda
since the cold war was at its height at the time of writing but methinks,
the data carries a lot of truth and weight.
In a nutshell then, this marginalisation is achieved advertently or
inadvertently by:
1. Having closed markets to African products. The
Economic groupings like the European Union, USA have
effectively blocked African products. The GMO
controversy threatens to further block the African
products from Europe.
2. The high and unrealistic standards set up by the
groupings. Some standards are so ridiculous that one
hardly needs to be hyper intelligent to discern the motive
behind the standards.
3. The crippling conditional aid given to the African
nations. The GMO saga again emanates from the free aid
offered by the USA. Usually, whenever a powerful
country gives aid liberally, there is usually a catch behind
the bait. For how can you stand against the person that
feeds you?

this data was correct as at 1983

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 188


4. The high debt burden inherited from the past much
weakens the positions of many nations. The little that is
generated is all sent to service the never-ending debt.
This position in turn compromises the country’s prowess
to bargain let alone re invests to build the economy.
5. Unfortunately, the negative reporting by the world’s press
has built such a terrible reputation for the African
continent that by and large, the forgotten continent is
viewed as having nothing to offer but death, hunger, war
and never ending decay. This has led to a high bad will, if
ever such a word exists. Thus, anything hailing from
Africa is treated with contempt, suspicion or of less value
than anything say from China or the Far East.
6. The IMF/World Bank interventions are only short term
and thereby cosmetic in effect.ℵ
7. The systematic crippling of the African mind set. Today,
the average African thinks the best comes from the
Western world. There is nothing that can be further from
the truth. The many years of colonization has in effect
made Africans to feel inferior. Check how a white man is
treated compared to the African, even in the post
independence era. It is high time Africans believed in
themselves and freed themselves in the clutches of the
metal colonizers. When Mugabe grabs land to
redistribute it, he is dabbed a “monster” because one or
two whites perish in the process. But when the BB boys
invade Iraq, killing thousands and torturing million
others, the world looks on and fails to comment! The
same goes for other goods and services.

Damage extent
If the alleged marginalisation is indeed real, to what extent then has this
situation affected Africa? In generally, we can safely assert that Africa
has been marginalized in all areas and as far as possible but the following
points immediately come to the fore:
1. The African continent is left out in the major decisions that affect
global trade/economics. For instance, no African country is represented
Infact, D.R.F Taylor has asserted that here ever these bodies have gone, there is either nil growth or
negative growth. Where growth has been recorded as a result of their intervention, the parameters are
questioned. Refer to “Development from within” by Taylor & Mackenzie 1992 edition pp 217-20.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 189


on the G8 while Russia, with a weak economy is considered when it
coughs.
2. The poor infrastructure forbids the African continent to contribute
meaningfully as it is too weak to have a significant punch or voice. It is
reported that African business accounts for just about 1% of the total
global business.
3. In addition to the poor infrastructure, the poor communication and
road network forbids speedy development thereby making Africa less
attractive for foreign investment.
As a result of 3 above, many investors do not invest much on the continent
but externalise all profits to their countries.
The feeble economies means that the nations’ politically powers are easily
influenced to bow to international pressure. A case in point is the policies
imposed by bodies like the IMF and other Herculean financial
institutions. Refer to the effectual call to the Zambian Government to
privatise the remaining critical Parastatals. Although the Government
seems for a while to with stand the pressure, it knows where the finger
that feeds is and dares not disobey too much. In all cases, the dictates
cannot be questioned. As earlier intimated, in extreme cases, these
selfsame powers can even dictate who becomes president or not. That is
the price of poverty, it is a crime.

The effect of Globalization on Africa


The actual extent of the impact of Globalisation on poor Africa cannot be
fully determined but suffice it to say that that effect is so devastating and
crippling that it would take many generations to rectify the problem,
given the present snails’ pace of development. The following points
attempt to point out some of the salient effects that have resulted in these
dynamic changes:
1. The African nations are fast losing their sovereignty.
2. The African nations are disintegrating further
economically due to the weak base. The GDP keeps falling
and sliding helplessly into the poverty miry bog.
3. The nations, due to poverty, engage in endless civil wars
to their own detriment. This results from the fight to control
sections of the country that harbour rich mineral deposits.
4. If there are two major tribes, they engage in Shaka like
civil wars to gain supremacy. This again is detrimental.
5. Africa has remained in the ring fighting for the floating
trophy with itself while the developed countries snatch their

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 190


goods unawares. The saying “When elephants fight, it is the
grass that suffers” holds true. In this case, the grass is the
economy and the elephants are the politicians. Interestingly,
while the giants are in combat, the monkeys watch excitedly
while pelting the fighters and munching the fruit. This is
what the rest of the World is doing to Africa. While the
battles rage on, globalization is gaining momentum and
hurtles along.

Available options for Africaϒ


The only options left for Africa are the following:
11.Scale up on regional grouping like NEPAD, SADC, ECOWAS or
the AU. This is the only way that countries on the same footing in
terms of development will improve. The African market is large
and will be enough to generate economic development. A start is
needed somewhere.
12. Strengthen the economies by investing in the production base.
This is the only way to stand on own feet. Libya is a shining
example of a country striving to stand on its own feet. In that
way, Libya is not a push over nor can it be ignored. The
strengthening of the economies is the only key to recognition.
13. Investing in research and development is another way to keep
abreast with the times. Hitherto, the Africans have been made to
believe that only what comes from the rich is good enough while
what is made locally is archaic, substandard or obsolete. Granted
that that may be true in many instances, but this should make the
Africans determined to improve. This approach may take many
years but is necessary.
14. Franchising many of the big names in business like Coca cola
may be the way forward if # 3 above is not feasible. The World
It would be worthwhile reading the excellent article by Professor Anthony Hawkins that appeared in the
Southern African Economist issue of Feb/March 1995 pp24. In the said article, the Professor asserts that
there is a missing link even in the most renowned countries like Ghana and Thailand that have had an
annual growth rate averaging above 5%. He points out that in carrying out remedial repairs on a crippled
economy, two stages or gears have to be engaged: 1. The first phase is on adjustment and stabilization of
the economy in areas such as arresting the sky rocketing inflation. The second and crucial stage includes
institutional and structural reforms such as privatization, reengineering etc. Many nations more easily pass
the first stage but the cracks of the matter are at the second stage where non profitable institutions are
privatized and in the process, job losses take place resulting in immense suffering. This second stage is
equally critical in establishing investor confidence as international and local players fill up the gap left by
the government. The problem in many African countries is that the gap remains yawning despite the
recorded growth. In the words of the professor, “Several African countries have got the fundamentals right
in their SAPs, but the supply response is not forth coming”

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 191


will know that Africa can handle certain issues well. In the
process, Africa will learn the ropes, much like what Japan did.
15. Fight corruption at all fronts no matter what the cost. Perfect
hatred for corruption must be emphasized at all forums. For this
to be appreciated, campaigns are needed by credible people, not
the calibre of those Zambia has known in the last 10 years from
1991. Such fragile economies can be further crippled just by one
signature of a Doctor of Corruption, as was the case in Zambia. If
South Africa does not watch carefully, it too will slide into the
same slough of despond.
16.Elect Visionary and strategic leaders. This is the need of the
times. The times demand that Africa has leaders rather than
bosses or clowns to grace those lofty offices. By and large, most
of the African politicians run for public office as a fund raising
venture. No wonder they forget their obligation to the electorate
the moment they get those Porsche vehicles using the hard earned
taxpayer’s money.
17.Priotise issue rightly. The cancer that has bugged Africa is lack of
vision and the inclined plane stone rolling into the future with no
objectives or benchmarks. This scenario clearly shows that the
people are not serious or have o goal at all.
18. Reward innovation. There should be a deliberate effort to
recognize and encourage innovation in the region. For instance,
local inventors must be promoted and their inventions carried
forward far and wide. Somehow, Africans feel inferior to the rest
of the World. This rewarding should also trickle down to
rewarding labour as well. As opposed to giving slave wages,
people will feel valued and appreciated. Slave wages are the
breeding ground for theft, anarchy, slothfulness and low self-
esteem.

The future of Africa in tomorrow’s global village, its role and position.
In future, Africa is likely to arise, given the present realization that it is
lagging behind. The increased use of IT in many countries is commendable
because this leads to quicker decision-making, planning and development.
However, let it be known that competing with the USA for example is like a
rat playing a tag of war match with an elephant, it just won’t work! The best
Africa can do for now is to work with the USA, learn the ropes and improve
on those. Further, Africa holds a lot of promise for service industry such as
tourism. The vast stretches of land with it unique species of animals should

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 192


attract scores of tourists. On the other hand, a great wealth of raw materials
still lies untapped or disturbed in the African soils. Every day, the African
child treads around on untapped wealth. In coming days, these should be
exploited and used. In that way, Africa will be engrafted into the global
village. Although Africa is called the “forgotten continent”, all covetous eyes
are upon it, meticulously watching all its movements. The continent holds
promise but all this will not be unless Africa discards all the impediments
that have been highlighted in the earlier sections.
From a strategic perspective then, Africa still holds promise and will be a
powerful voice in the not too distant future, perhaps one or two of the
African states will be numbered among the G9!
In conclusion on this part, and having taken deep thought over this matter,
we would like to submit that we can safely agree with and assert that the
first school of thought is indeed right for Africa has actually been
marginalized hitherto. It has not been viewed as an equal partner but as a
“by the way”. That notwithstanding, Africa has to some extent contributed to
the dismal view and must needs wake up to the current and future realities.
The World is too fast to wait for lingerers. As someone has quaintly quipped
“The World loves winners and has no time for losers”. African must aspire to
be a winner so as to be heard.

What do we think? Will Africa redeem itself?

African Time
Reading through an article in the Post news paper of Tuesday October 28,
2003 entitled “Can Africa Keep time?” set my mind thinking once again. I
thought I should put pen to paper on this subject because I feel, to a larger
extent than we realize, we fail to develop as a continent due to our attitude
towards time. The article was drawn from a discussion on the BBC and how
that the African is perceived as one who cannot keep time. This view has
been strengthened by the recent happenings in the UK when a Ghanaian
King arrived many hours late for a meeting, and I would imagine, saw
nothing wrong with that. Indeed, from what I have read and observed over

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 193


the years, I suppose this sad perception is true relative to our friends from
the developed world.
Generally, in Africa, we are laid back, not time conscious without any sense
of urgency at all. All that matters is to see the sunrise and set. Many reasons
can be given for this attitude but I hasten to give a few which come to mind:
Firstly, the African mind set has not grown up with a watch and has moved
with the changing lengths of the shadow. In other words, the angle of the sun
relative to the horizon has been the determining factor. Thus, there has been
no rush to do anything in a given period. Perhaps this explains why
generally, as Africans, we do not see the sense of all the noise about time
keeping. The question asked is, is the sun still up there? If yes, then why the
rush?
Secondly, the typical African mind largely moves by instinct not manmade
time frames. The appointment talk, meeting times and the rest of it are
foreign to the African mind and are viewed as an inconvenience! Time must
revolve around a person, not vice versa as obtains in the west.
Thirdly, the recent world changes as we hurtle along towards the global
village have caught the African by surprise. In the first place, the huge
technological strides as well as the one world economic order have taken
place away from the continent. These dynamic changes, though many have
begun hemming in on the African continent. Before the Continent is
liberated from the clutches of poverty, another thing has already evolved.
The advent of IT is especially responsible for these rapid changes because
decision-making is largely time bound as a result. As such, when a typical
African sets foot on the Washington or London streets, it is all a whirlwind
for him or her! As such, the African is perceived as “late” relative to the
robust world.
Fourthly, traditionally, what matters in the African mind is whether
something is done or not. It does not matter when but whether. In other
words, Africans are event driven not time bound. As opposed to the Western
world that is a time slave, the African is liberated. Therefore, in the typical
African setting, I would not be surprised to learn that words like
“appointment or time keeping” etc does not exist in the African vocabulary!
Fifthly, the African is content with the status quo and is not in a mad hurry to
get things done at the expense of others. What matters in Africa are relations
rather than things or material gain. The traditional, communal system has
hitherto been more valued rather than the individualistic western culture. In
the developed world, the question is often, what can I gain out of this in the
shortest possible time as opposed to the African who asks how can I better
the lot of everyone else? Both these positions have their own positives and

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 194


negatives. In other words, the African has no ambition beyond the
community good. The drive to achieve much self-gain in a short time is not
there. It is worth noting that the idea of keeping time seems shocking to
some from other circles. They arrive at 09:30 hrs for work, scavenge around
for “ma local bunzi” with a two litre zigolo container to wash down the
rocky stuff. After galloping that, they then borrow a newspaper that they
read all morning and then knock off for lunch at 11:50 only to return at
16:35 hrs to knock off. Their actual work is secondary and appears to be an
inconvenience! When asked to work under deadlines, two reactions are
given: The one class endlessly offers assurances like it will be done within
twenty minutes, when they actually mean twenty days! When the hour of
reckoning arrives, you receive excuses as long as the great East road! In
between, they will have spent all the time gossiping and debating on
inconclusive fewer topics. The other set of people develops goose pimples
and eyes widen like big marbles at the mention of a deadline. It looks like it
is the worst trial ever encountered to be asked to work under a fixed time
frame. They as it were, feel like a chain has been fixed to their ankle because
this or that deal will be disturbed at 10:30 hrs behind the FTJ institute of
Democratic Governance building. They look very traumatized as though a
concept from planet Mars has suddenly been introduced without warning or
consent! Furthermore, they become pale, lose weight or blush, if ever a
black person can. They are not accustomed to diligence. Thanks to the cell
phone, it averts many a disaster, if Celtel (Now Zain) does not play its tricks
again! By the way, we must dash to collect our loot before time runs out…

Having said the above, I venture to submit that the so-called time keeping
problem is not limited to Africa alone, no! The Middle East and the rest of
the eastern world have historically been the same as African, if not worse.
According to what I have read and observed in some of these our friends,
they are equally in the same pit, if we can call it thus. For instance, Philip R
Coteora in his monumental work “International Marketing”, (pp 124-126,
9th edition), high lights a number of helpful insights. In that book, he states
the different attitudes to time. For instance, he brings the idea to bear on the
international traveller that one shock a person encounters is the amount of
relativity of many things. As one ascends the international ladder, absolutes
become less pronounced and among them is the view of things, which are
clearly wrong in the one country as well as the corporate ethics. For
instance, we note that people view the commodity “time” differently due to
hind cultural orientation. The people from the Middle East and Asia are not
really “time bound” i.e. time conscious whereas the people from the west are

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 195


“Time-bound” and precise on time. In short, Monochromic time (M-time)
are time bound and emphasise on time keeping, appointments and
punctuality while Polychronic (P-time), are not time bound.

It should be further noted that the typically time bound western business
person is in for a shock if he/she went to the middle east hoping to complete
business as per schedule. Then jet out of the country the next day having
clinched an arms sale deal for instance because time is not treated as scarce a
commodity as perceived by the westerner, unless of course they are dealing
with highly exposed people.
Having asserted the above let me hasten to deal with the merits and demerits
of valuing time.

The article asks the question, “Is poor time keeping Africa’s worst enemy?”
I venture to think that the question is good and worth exploring by some
other fertile mind. For now, let us centre our thoughts on advantages or
disadvantages of keeping time.

Advantages
1. If time is observed much more is achieved in a timorous and
harmonious manner. There will be fewer frustrations and people will
be progressive. Where time is kept, there you shall see more
constructive informed decisions made there by leading to more
legendary feats. With the advent of IT, decisions that once took a year
can be made within minutes. How many developmental decisions will
have been made in the same period in this Technological world?
2. There will be more development as opposed to what obtains in a
nation like Zambia today. Politicians spend all their time bickering
and wrestling power from each other rather than focusing on the way
forward. While some are questioning those that got political office via
a forged ID, others spend all their time scheming ways to hit the
opponent under the belt. Meanwhile, time is ticking away and rests
not. Granted, some degree of controversy is essential, but let us be
mindful of time bane.
3. Individuals will achieve more both for their personal and corporate
good. If one person for instance establishes a business empire at 27,
this will spur others to do the same at a younger age. Thus, people will
be focused and direct. As at now, procrastination cripples us BAD!
4. There will be less time wasting. People will spend less time idling
away on Fantasy Island expecting manna to fall from the skies. As the

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case is in Africa to day, people spend more time on either
entertainment or scavenging for food. In regards to entertainment,
many now look to the western world with their 24 hours television
stations via satellite. Children and even adults are addicted to the box
(TV Screen) and fill their minds with many unhelpful things while the
time swiftly flies by. Others are hooked to the internet. I have nothing
particularly against TV and the rest because in and of themselves, they
are actually helpful, but I raise my finger in protest against the
headless abuse of these or the lack of self control. For instance look at
how much time individuals spend watching movies and then compare
with the time they spend on research. The stark difference is as night
and daylight! Very few visionaries determined to succeed or leave an
indelible mark upon the sands of time are ever produced by the
entertainment spirit alone. No wonder, Shakespeare of old is till
quoted today, though he be dead over four hundred years! I am sure he
valued time not a little. Next time you are tempted to while away
time, remind yourself that Western world have already developed that
is why they can afford to produce what you now consume. When will
they have the privilege of consuming your products if you are forever
glued to the screen like a zombie?
5. There will be less trickery and corruption. I strongly believe if people
are time conscious, to some extent, they will determine to do their best
and will have not time engaging in corrupt behaviour and practice.
Africa is infested with institutionalized corruption and I venture to
challenge the world to consider taking this commodity “Time” more
seriously.
6. It will be less costly to raise our progeny. As things stand, many
Africans do not see the urgency of working hard in a given time frame
so as to be independent. They leave everything to fate and chance. It is
not strange for instance to have 27 year olds still lodging with their
parents!! Granted, the social settings are different and the African
economies cannot absorb all those that would leave their
parents/guardians, but when people are time conscious, they will
venture to redeem the time and make the most o every opportunity.
7. The businesses will blossom. One of the reasons why Africans do not
succeed in business is this lack of time consciousness. They do not
have the acumen, the urgency or the opportunistic sense that is all
neatly bundled up in the commodity called “time”. The average
African thinks some dark powers or evil forces militate against their
success when in actual fact, the problem may be poor time

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management. Like St Paul of old once said, “The time is short” and
that we must “Make the most of every opportunity” (I Corinthians
7:29; Ephesians 5:15,16, Holy Bible), we must be as wise as serpents
and yet as harmless as doves. The African has not grasped nor
internalized that concept.
8. There will be less time for gossip and slander. I hardly need to be
labour this point. I believe that want of redeeming time explains why
certain people have developed an attitude of pocking into others’
business without cause. They will not rest until they “down load”
from the local gossip area network (LAN). If people saw the shortness
of time, they would be too busy being good time stewards than spend
any time crashing this or the other’s reputation. I often marvel how
neighbours know when you have had a sumptuous meal or when the
home economy is suspect. They even know what capital item you
intend to buy before you verbalize it!

But what are the disadvantages of keeping time? It is hard to capture any
demerits as most of the things related to good time keeping are positive.
However, let us briefly state that time keeping, as perceived from the
Developed world standpoint, has some demerits. The following come to
mind:
1. The world becomes more stressful when too much attention is given
to time.
2. The World becomes the slave of time rather than vice versa. This is
akin to what Christ said to those that attacked his disciples regarding
the Sabbath keeping (Mark 2:27). I believe the so-called Developed
world is a hopeless slave to time.
3. The time madness is largely responsible for the breakdown of the
natural African system. The western culture of time has squeezed into
our vocabulary words such as “appointment”! Originally, Africans
valued each other above all things but now, deadlines and all the rest
of it have destroyed the natural union we once knew. Now what
matters is TIME and not people. I am aware that in the Natural
African setting, abuses were there such as time wasters and lazy
slothful gluttons who patronized their hard working folks even at
awkward hours, but this has robbed us of the quality time we spent
with each other. These funny fellows move like Target odourless
leaving you no room to take cover when you see them. They move
like headless chickens, to summon some violent language from Prof J
Kab or like misguided scud missiles. I fear that part of the high

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marriage failure rate and the increasing juvenile delinquency may be
tied to too much attention given to other things as they appear more
time bound relative to others. The effects? Children grow up like wild
grass just under our noses!
There could be other reasons but those few will suffice for now.
We now progress to explore the reasons why time must be kept and
redeemed.
It goes without saying that time once treated as a commodity will yield
great reward. For instance, progressively, we shall see more children
achieving more and growing up to be visionaries. I once read of a child
that was on a PhD program at age 12! Aside from the Genetics talk, I
think this child has really realized the importance of time. We must be
good mangers of time always.

The following reasons come to mind as to why time must be kept and
redeemed:
1. Time is precious. Recall those days when essential commodities were
scarce? Recall those long queues? Then a tablet of soap was like gold.
Not so today.
We should treasure time like in those days, it is a rare and scarce
commodity. Once it is lost or trifled with, we will have ourselves to
blame.
2. Closely connected to # 1 above, once time is lost, it cannot be
recovered. It is gone forever into the irretrievable past. It is archived as it
were. If you mess around with time now, you are digging your own
grave. In the end, it will be your master rather than the reverse.
3. The time is short. There are too many things to be achieved in this life
in relation to the time allotted to us. Seventy or eighty, if we have the
strength and we are gone! In fact, in Africa, the average life expectancy is
around 35 or 37, if not 30! As such, time must be treated more delicately.
Already, I am beginning to feel like a grandfather as I approach the mid
thirties, how much more for those that are well over fifty. Look at the
plans you have and then budget your time life, how much disposable time
will be left? If you are discerning enough, you will agree with me that
time is indeed in short supply. For the politician, time means a lot though
sadly, they actually work a week before the elections! See how the road
network has improved even in once remote places. Look at Lusaka and
the Copperbelt. In Mongu for instance, the roads were patched up in
record time but now two years have passed after the elections, it’s all a
forgotten story. Sometimes, I wish we had elections every day, and then

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we can see all those monies stashed away in some foreign clandestine
accounts summoned to build more roads!
But then, the elections business is costly and sometimes generates more
heat than development. The time is indeed short, redeem it!
4. What you become tomorrow depends on what you do with time now.
Africa is reaping the effects of having been asleep in the light. The world
has never stopped spinning on its axis nor the moon around the earth, yet
African has dared remain asleep! To get out of this mess, we must resolve
to make the most of the Time NOW and then we can go on holiday the
next day. Our time slave friends work extremely hard during the year and
then rest real hard too when its leave time, why can’t we?
Strategic Planning is critical methinks.
5. How you die largely depend on how you value time. If you trifled with
time, it will likewise treat you the same. You will pass away like a fly.
You will be buried in the corner of the world and forgotten, then grass
will growing over your grave. If you are fortunate, a tombstone will be
placed over your grave. The vast majority of us will be buried among the
commoners because we did not value time. I venture to say that where
you spend eternity depends on how you use time!

Before we conclude the subject before us, how can we corporately and
individually improve on time keeping?
I do not have a magical answer but here are some of the tips from my
experience:
1. Set your short and long-term goals clearly and begin to work towards
them.
2. Strategise on how to achieve the said goals. It would be helpful to break
down your goals into smaller “packets” and monitor them periodically. In
that way, you will watch your progress. Personally, I already have long and
short-term plans on paper and live each year without much ado.
3. Set some benchmarks and indicators that will tell you whether you are on
course timorously or note.
4. Keep a diary and plan it preferably a week in advance. Read books like
Stephen Covey’s “Seven habits of highly effective people” and “Principle
centred leadership”. These books once well read will help you.
5. Make time keeping a habit. This begins slowly and grows into a natural
thing. Refuse to rest on your laurels or on what obtains ordinarily. The fact
that everyone is slothful does not make the thing right. Embarrass your team
leader by arriving early all the time. Who knows, you may just encourage
him/her to pull up their socks.

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6. Budget your time wisely and pick only the most critical and value adding
things.
7. Buy a good functional watch. This may seem silly but I mean it.
Unfortunately, many have wristwatches but they are the worst timekeepers!
Friends, those watches are not just merely ornaments, they have a function
to help you keep time! I fear many of us have been cursed by our wrist
watched countless times. Interestingly, others buy watches for pomp and
show. Actually, some of those watches do not even work! They most
probably were stolen from grand pa or from other weaker mortals…

Well, well, well what shall we do at this stage? Only one thing, let us redeem
the time that remains. Away with the lazy old mentality! We must and can do
it! No longer will the west dub Africa the timeless continent!
I fear, as FTJ of old once observed when he stood as prefect at
Government offices entrances years ago, it is a question of attitude not
primarily money. Rationalise as much as you like, the bottom line is
attitude and lack of sense of destiny.
Oh that Africa may arise! We can make it!

Leadership/Total quality Management questions-an interview with Mr


Sikapale Chinzewe, Human Resources Manager,
April 2000, Lusaka.
The following interview was carried out by the author with a view to find
out at what stage World Vision Zambia was having been going through rapid
frequent changes in organisational evolution. This paper therefore highlights

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 201


the most remarkable changes that have and will continue to affect World
Vision Zambia.

Questions:

Q. World Vision Zambia has been embarking on Leadership, team and total
quality changes in the past few years, could you shed some light on this.

Ans: Yes indeed, World Vision has been undergoing rapid changes and re
engineering so as to get to the best operational levels. Thus, TQM, teamwork
and leadership are all efforts towards that end. We have reached a stage
when organisational fluidity is essential. As I have often said at other fora,
“The only thing that is constant is change”, World Vision is no exception.

Q. Why has this metamorphosis been adopted, any reasons?

Ans: As I have intimated, the dynamic times demand that we move with the
times. Like any other organisation of the past, World vision found serious
operational problems with the orthodox hierarchical management structure
that proved inefficient. Therefore, in 1995, the organisation embarked on a
major re-engineering exercise so as to re-align the organisation towards the
best ministry delivery routes. This was a result of the realisation that the
organisation had inherited a rigid bureaucratic structure where most of the
individuals were either underutilized or over worked. A way had to be found
which would provide the best delivery avenues at minimum cost yet at high
quality, thus, from 1995, we have had Management structural changes in a
bid to arrive at the most efficient structure. In some cases, we have had to
scrap some positions and thus, scaling down on number of staff. We have not
yet arrived as this is process is ongoing. In a nut shell, we have to change in
keeping with the trends in the partnership worldwide or else risk being
obsolete and in efficient.

Q. In your own words, what is leadership?

Ans: In my own words, I would define it as it the ability to inspire


confidence in others. It means being able to influence others towards a
certain direction as a result of being intrinsically visionary on long and
short-term goals. A leader works alongside work mates so as to unleash the
potential latent within them. A true leader is not “bossy” but a facilitator,

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 202


inspirer, motivator, coach and mentor. Let me add and say that a true leader
is a strategic thinker who carries others along to a known destination.

Q. How applicable is this ethos to World Vision and how sure are you?

Ans: Oh yes, it is very applicable! We are moving towards teams because we


perceive that where teamwork thrives, the output is higher as well. Like I
said, without adopting leadership practices as opposed to Bossy kind of
management, we are done unless we slowly sell the ethic to the extent that it
is internalised into the organisation. It must be a company culture. As to
whether I am sure, I have seen it start taking root at National office and in
some ADPs. Of course I must be quick to say that this is new and will be
opposed by some quarters who hold on to the past hierarchical structures. I
cannot give a time frame as to when we shall arrive, but given the present
pace, we should begin to see this more pronounced in the next three years or
so. We are getting there.

Q. Are you involved in these leadership innovations, and if so, what is


your role?

Ans: I am definitely involved in various ways. I am part of the Management


team and actively so. In what we call Program Development Quality
assurance (PDQA), I head the leadership component. I am also in the self-
review team that we have decided to host periodically to take a critical
introspective look at our performance levels against the set benchmarks.

Q. Do you see the potential of developing this ethos in World Vision?

Ans: The potential is indeed immense because we now and continue to


have the right people in place. Hitherto, we have not had many qualified
staff but the trend has been towards hiring the right staff. In the past, as long
as someone was a Christian, they qualified for the job. But now, we are
looking for much more than the paper or a good testimony (although this
latter aspect remains pivotal), we are looking for potential, creativity,
diligence and team player traits in our candidates. Besides, Human resource
is the best resource we have to hand. A well-trained and motivated Human
resource can accomplish much, especially when done as unto the Lord. I see
this culture slowly creeping into the organisation, this is a good and pleasant
development.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 203


Q. If so (preceding question), how do you think World vision will attain
its objectives?

Ans: Talking about the way we are to achieve the aforementioned goals,
The organisation is determined to hire the best trained Christians around
who have the Knowledge and skills. That is why we have the Personnel
Manager who handles the welfare of staff while the Human resource
Manager handles the hiring, training and motivation of the current staff. In a
way, the HR is strategic while the PM is operational although the functions
will obviously overlap frequently. Thus, the burden is on these two
departments to coordinate and come up with ways to develop a team kind of
environment. Our present goal is to train the extant staff so as to help
sharpen some individuals that are potential achievers.

Q. What are some of the hurdles you envision will and have buffeted the
organisation in the quest towards that goal?

Ans: To say that we have no hiccups would be telling a half-truth. The path
to organisational transformation is fraught with many hurdles, the chief of
which is Finance. Many plans hinge on the availability of funds. We have
planned many marvellous training sessions but alas, we have failed to
implement them. We think continuous and consistent training of staff is the
only way forward. One way we are trying to get over this issue by writing
project proposals about capacity building. For example, recently we wrote
and sourced funds from the US office to train facilitators in leadership. It is
about $ 10,000γ but I trust this will help. In days that lie ahead, we shall
continue to write, for the ADP budgets cannot meet the demands.
The second hurdle we have faced is opposition from certain quarters because
the proposed changes threaten some positions. Some hold on to the old
classical bureaucratic set up and will not willingly change. Thus, some have
developed “cold feet” because, once fully implemented, some will not
survive.
The third hurdle has been the simple lack of the right staff. By this I mean
that Christian people who are qualified, experienced, team players and open
minded are exceedingly few and far between. In cases like this, we are
compelled to hire people who may be merely religious but have the right
stuff and acumen. One wishes that the saints would be more available.

Source: Mr. Chinzewe, needs confirmation from him.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 204


The fourth hurdle has been to attempt to break those departmental “walls”
that have been created in the past. Apart from personal conflicts, it is true
that we feel secure and content in our confined specialty and are not willing
to learn or allow others to intrude into our domain. Our mental catacombsϑ
are too warm and cosy to let any villains enter in. In a team setting, the
players are multi-talented and are willing to learn and overlap each other’s
duties where need be. If a person is absent, the work will not stall on that
account but another easily fits in and the work progresses. We hope to move
away from the archaic culture where certain jobs are the sacred preserve of
some people. Admittedly, this is and will be an uphill battle.
Having asserted the above, we are determined to do our best in the

circumstances. So far, so good!

Q. How do you assess/gauge the progress, are you satisfied with the
pace?

Ans: We are pleased to note that there has been a tremendous improvement
in the quality of reports. In the past, the reports were either scanty or too
detailed but now we have adopted the “methods of best practice”. Also, we
have ensured that we have a standard report format. In addition, we make
sure that we respond to our partners in the stipulated time. Proactively is
now normal. Generally then, the progress has been good but we need to keep
up the tempo and infuse a sustainable system that will guarantee timely and
quality responses to all stakeholders. In addition, the advent of Information
technology has been a tremendous help to the organisation because it has
ensured that we move faster while keeping in step with the outside world.

We now turn to Total Quality Management (TQM) and what place it has in
WVI.

Q. Quality is also a buzzword in World Vision circles, why?

Ans: For some time now, TQM has been a buzz word because management
circles have perceived it as the “silver bullet” that has suddenly transformed
organisations from being inefficient, rigid, inflexible and cripplingly
These were under ground places of refuge and worship for the primitive Christians as they escaped the
brutal and murderous persecutions by the Roman emperor Nero. These catacombs are in Italy, below the
city of Rome. Six Million Saints are believed to have been buried there.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 205


bureaucratic to agile, responsive and continuously mutating and learning
organisations with near zero defects in the products and services. Although
we do not deal in tangible products (as World Vision), in a way we do and as
such we endeavour to produce services at the right time and place as the case
may be. We desire to have quality in all areas of our delivery system to the
greater satisfaction of our stakeholders, in this case being children and
donors.

Q. What are the objectives of TQM?

Ans: The objectives of TQM are to have the best products and services at a
low cost and yet high quality that satisfies customers. Furthermore, TQM
aims at eliminating defects in products and services by avoiding defects
within the system. Thus, the goods and services are of the highest quality,
low cost and yet what is in keeping with present consumer taste.

Q. What are your strategies to achieve TQM optimum?

Ans: Since we are in our preliminary stages in infusing this important


process, we will largely depend on the feedback from all areas of the
organisation. We will put certain parameters/bench marks in place so that we
can measure our progress periodically. For now, we will rely on those key
indicators.

Q. How do you ensure that it is not just another “Program” or


“Management Fad?”

Ans: True as it may be, we are determined to ensure that this in not just
another abstract program where we just make a noise, clamour and then
fizzle out. To avoid this pit fall, we will ensure that we implement the
changes slowly, but properly focused while armed with the right human
resource at hand. Change is inevitable, no matter what form it takes.

Q. What mechanisms have you put in place that you achieve your
objectives?

Ans: The mechanisms we have put in place are the following:


1. We are encouraging team work within the ADPs and at the national
office.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 206


2. We have gone further to divide the country into zones where we have a
rotating periodic team leader for each given zone.
3. The PDQA at the National office among other things has been charged to
ensure that all the planned goals are on track and quality is in built into
the organisational structure. In addition, the PDQA is mandated to
propose, initiate, assess and write concept papers as well as project
proposals to potential donors outside World Vision. In other words, the
PDQA ensures that whatever goes out of World Vision to Donors is
perfect shape, as far as the human eye can see.
4. We will ensure that consistent and continuous training picks up in the
organisation and also by the same token ensure that the right people are
hired to foster the organisational objectives better.

Q. In the light of the other NGOs with the same goals as WVI (E.g. CARE
International, PLAN International, Christian aid etc), how do you ensure that
you keep a competitive edge considering that you get donors from the same
pool?

Ans: There is no competition at all! We have nothing to fear as we are in our


own market. Effectively, they are all in a different market from us. We may
be in development quite all right but our goals and objectives are completely
different. In addition, our target group is completely different. If that were
not the case, then we would endeavour to cut a niche. Happily, that is not the
case. Having vehemently asserted the above, let me hasten to say that we are
in the business of wooing donors and satisfying our clients by providing
impeccable service. The customer is king in our business as well.

Q. How long has this process (TQM/Leadership) been going on?

Ans: Like I said earlier, it has been ongoing for some time and will continue.

Q. Just how much longer will this continue?

Ans: It is difficult to put a limit on this process as it is ongoing, although we


can attempt to put benchmarks to that process and assess how we are doing
at each stage. Otherwise, this is an ongoing journey and must be taken at the
right pace. A major paradigm shift takes time.

Q. Has training been necessary for this?

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 207


Ans: Of course! If any process is to take place in any organisation, there has
to be continuous training of staff so that their minds are abreast with this
dynamic world. Training should be on going and frequent if the changes
implemented are to pay dividends. Furthermore, World Vision is changing
rapidly and to keep in step with the times, we need human resource that is
apt, flexible and efficient at their tasks. Otherwise, how else are they going
to develop. Hither to, World Vision Zambia has not emphasised on training
and as such, our impact in the partnership has not been felt. In the region, we
are probably the least trained. In addition, training builds capacity and also
motivates. It is time we had a deliberate policy on training so that people can
stand on their own feet long after they have left World Vision.

Q. Who are your models/mentors in this whole idea of


TQM/Leadership?

Ans: I am not ashamed to assert that Bwalya Melu and Sheldon Rankin
inspire me the most because they have a very clear vision, are articulate and
excellent team players. Bwalya is particularly is my mentor, having worked
with him closely over 4 years. He has a way of helping you unleash the
hidden potential within you.

Q. What about current books on these trends, who is/are your most preferred
author(s)

Ans: I like many authors but none like Max De Preeφ, Osward Saunders and
Stephen Covey. The best books I find are Servant leadership, Spiritual
leadership, AutoBiography of BC Montgomery, the Bible and Green leaf.
There are other books, magazines and periodicals of course such as the
‘Executive excellence’ magazine.

Q. Finally, what are your goals and aspirations?

Ans: My goal is to hire the best-trained and motivated staff on the market.
Also, I would like to see a Team work culture take root where there will be
less of the “Bossy” attitude but rather a work environment where we view
each other as colleagues, akin to a football team.

Spelling needs confirmation!

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 208


Thank you for according me this interview Mr Chinzewe, it has been good
talking to you and wish you the best in your future endeavours.
You are welcome Billy, it’s equally been a pleasure, I hope you join in
championing the cause for TQM and leadership!

Leadership

Leadership has now taken the centre stage in Management circles as this has
proved to be more effective mode to unleash the latent potential within
fellow team members. As opposed to the now obsolete way of the traditional
“Bossy” kind of management, the latest trends of leadership permeate the
organisation with a fresh fragrance of new pragmatic motivational ethics.
This is what the book, “effective leadership” by Robert Heller seeks to
address.

Without much ado, this small book of only 70 pages summarises what one
needs to know about effective ways of leadership. The said book, divided
into three sections, presupposes that one is already a leader and seeks to

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 209


sharpen his/her leadership prowess, hence the title “effective leadership”.
Having asserted the above, let me hasten to say that the person first
encountering the whole subject of leadership will also grasp a clear
understanding of what the principles of leadership are as the book defines
what leadership is in the introduction and then progresses to deal with the
whole complex web of learning to lead, leading others, improving
effectiveness and inspiring excellence in others. But wherein does effective
leadership consist? What exactly is effective leadership?
Leadership is simply defined as the ability to influence and inspire others
towards a goal. Effective leadership goes a step further than the
aforementioned definition. Heller accurately defines it as “the key to truly
effective leadership lies in mastering a wide range of skills, from
implementing and administering processes to inspiring others to achieve
excellence”⊕. As can be seen, this definition states that for one to be
effective, they must have a wide knowledge in many a field and be able to
make the most of every opportunity that presents itself. The leader, among
other things, must be visionary and able to inspire confidence in others by
being a challenge, trusting others, being a mentor, a coach, able to motivate
via compliments and rewards, able to seat with subordinates and give an
empathetic listening ear. The said leader does not content him/herself to
know about the general things regarding the workmates but goes out of
his/her way to know the back ground details which might affect output as
well as the best ways to delegate and build a team spirit among workmates.
This may well mean taking time off to visit team members on the job, at
home, in a social gathering, having informal chats over a drink or cup of tea
as well as going for workouts together after hours. This has the effect of
reducing suspicions and prejudices that people harbour. Once people feel
valued and needed, they open up and are willing to take on bigger challenges
as well as risks to innovate and promote the cause of the organisation rather
that remaining indifferent and aloof. They “own the goal” as it were, due to
the effective leader’s presence.
The effective leader is systematic, highly organised and focused on what
he/she wants to achieve. He/she sets benchmarks of quality, time frames and
is determined that others catch the ropes as well. This further means that the
said leader is continuously willing to listen and learn from others who ever
they may be (Whether young or old, subordinates or superiors etc.), gains
experience by the day, and makes every effort to master own function as
well as others’ functions. The time has arrived when one must be
multitalented and has a good working knowledge about other disciplines.
Effective leadership, Robert Heller page 5

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 210


Gone are the days when the Manager knew next to nothing about Marketing
or finance, for example. The 21st century leader must have a firm grasp of all
the areas in order to confidently lead. Apart from the afore mentioned points,
the leader must ensure he/she is able to detect strengths and weaknesses in
others and positively facilitate the strengthening of the positive sides while
correcting the weak sides. Having done the above, in the second section
Heller hurtles along to deal with the preparatory work to leadership, which
culminates into forming teams over which the selfsame leader, exercises
authority in a prudent and efficient fashion. Under team work, the issues of
delegation, communication, decision making (through discussions and brain
storming sessions initially), goal setting, analysing problems and giving
support to staff in agreed areas of implementation are dealt with. The last
section of the book talks about the all important areas of motivating others,
establishing a vision, generating ideas, ideal management style (in this case,
open management), boosting achievements and finally, being competitive
with respect to the outsiders. This competitive advantage is realised by first
treating the internal customers Employees) well who in turn will go out of
their way to treat the external customer most diligently and courteously.
Remember, the customer is king! This approach to business works wonders
for the organisation in that it produces product loyalty and woos many more
to the company products. High quality and low prices cannot be over
emphasised. Furthermore, the effective leader must develop an apt acumen
to network, identify and exploit opportunities through taking risks as well.
SWOT analysis and frequent market researches are critical. Furthermore, the
leader must be bent on success and all out to win. As we begin to enjoy the
book, it suddenly draws to a close having clearly scanned over the whole
subject spectrum excellently. I therefore heartily recommend the perusal of
this book by those busy executives and indeed, those that would aspire to be
effective leaders of tomorrow because this book is a classic tool, dealing
with the very heart of leadership. In my estimation, the book is destined to
be a best seller and is a must for every leader worth the salt!

====================================================

Dear Billy,

How are you? It's always nice to hear from you.

From your email, I gather that you were more surprised by my revelations
than I was by the revelation of the Zamtrop account. This clearly indicates

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 211


that we have not spoken for a very long time. Anyway 1997 was a long time
ago, five years is quite long. I agree with your suggestion that you spend
some time during your leave in August/September.

Concerning your relationship with your parents, don't you think it’s time you
started patching up. I understand where you are coming from. I experienced
the same from my dad. My mum was soft on me, probably because she
agreed with me. However, she couldn't come out in the open. My
relationship with dad has not been good since 1988 when I became a
Christian and the situation has deteriorated following my mum's passing.
Mum was a unifying factor in my relationship with dad. I have tried to bring
things back to where they used to be but I must admit it hasn't been easy.

Concerning the girl I am currently seeing, the problem is that I cannot


remember a day I actually proposed her. What I can recall is her putting
words in my mouth. In short I have been blackmailed. I tolerated her for a
long time. Little was I aware of her schemes. It’s not every day that I
brother treats a lady he is not interested in very nice. Well, I did that.
Now I am burdened with crisis. I have to tell her that I misdirected myself
when I treated her like a queen. The question that will follow is why (as a
brother) I deliberately 'played' with her heart when I knew I was not
interested.

My integrity is at stake here. Either I go ahead and pretend that she's the
one and remain unhappy with integrity, or I tell her the truth and be happy
without integrity. So you see, Like Chiluba, I am caught up in my own
'political' engineering.
If I could turn back the hands of time I could make sure I never fall in
such an arrangement, ever. If per adventure I got a job out of Kitwe, I
would promptly break the news to her and leave. By the time the news
would be spreading, I would be miles away. Moreover, there are those, who
hold me in very high esteem who wouldn't believe her story, anyway.

Enough of my problems, allow me to sidetrack. I was thinking of adding to


my list of qualifications, a Taxation course. As you may be aware, I am a
Tax Consultant and not an auditor. I am in the tax dept. Tax is slowly
becoming a specialised profession in Zambia as well. The only downside is
that one is restricted to audit firms. The good thing is that it is a rare
profession, even in the UK. Last year, in the UK the tax accountants earned
more than the other accountants because there is a shortage of tax

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 212


accountants. In Zambia I am one of the pioneers of the professional tax
acountants. I was the first ever qualified accountant to work in the tax
Dept in Deloitte & Touche. Previously, it was restricted to those 'old' men
who used to work for Excise and Customs. Even now some audit firms have
Tax directors who are ex-Customs and Excise. These are men with vast
experience in tax legislation but without any qualification after grade twelve.
These are now being replaced by professionals. At the moment the only
qualified guys are foreigners. In two to three years opportunities will open
for some
of us.

I however, would like to work in a civilised economy; internet shopping,


Credit cards, buying cars from the manufacturers as opposed to buying from
'salaula', a well educated public,who cannot be cheated by politicians like
Mwanawasa. Mwanawasa lost the elections. It is believed that he won on
the
Copperbelt. I live on the Copperbelt and yet to meet one person who voted
for him. If he is indeed a man of integrity, he should do the honourable
thing and step aside as his ascension to power was fraudulent. He is now
trying to buy time and divert the public's attention. He has succeeded so
far much to my dismay. Are we that bad to be fooled every time or am I in a
wrong country. I sometimes believe that I am too advanced for Zambia at
what kind of people we are.

I have set a tentative program. In the next one year, I will be saving some
money as well as studying for the same tax qualification. I hope to go half
way at the end of this period. After which I'll travel to UK to finish this
course. A visa will not be a problem as the course is not offered locally.
Upon arrival in the UK I would attend school in the evenings and work
during the day. Attending of the evening classes will be just to meet my visa
requirements as I strongly believe that if I have a manual I can study on my
own without the help of lecturers. But still attending class helps to get
contacts with lecturers who would act as a referee if at all you prove to be
a very good student. This is one thing I'm eager to do. Remember, how
good we were at Jacaranda. Beating the class in all activities be it in class,
on the pitch (100 metres race) and even drawing. Such genius straits should
be stirred up.

Upon successfully finishing the course, UK immigration dept does give


three years work permit. This three years experience is required by the

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 213


professional before admission into membership of the profession. The UK
regards this as part of the integral training program. If I can work in the
UK for three years I will have gained enough experience and exposure at the
end of this period to obtain a permanent placement, looking at the scarcity of
the tax accountants in the UK. Even if this arrangements goes sour I could
return to Zambia or better off to South Africa or Botswana.. However, I do
not expect my assertions to materially different from what will be obtaining
on the ground.

Later,

Andrew

----- ---------------------------------------
To: Andrew

Bro Andrew,

I finally had time to analyse your letter and my, wasn't I alarmed! You
want to ditch her again!! no, not again!!

My hairs stood on end went I read this development. Indeed, you and I need
to exchange views on how to maintain a sustained interest of women in our
lives. I have suffered at the grisly hands of 3 women that walked out on me.
This time round, I am resolved to keep this one alive to the end. Looking
back through the eye of providence, I think those breakages, though painful
at the time, worked out for good. (Romans 8:28) The knowledge of God's
providence, not in a fatalistic sense, has much helped me in times of
discouragement and disillusionment. Andrew! Let’s be real, let us live in the
real world!! "bika bola panshi" as one fellow said to me once. That
notwithstanding, we must be worried and sad that women should walk out
on us or we flee from them. Remember, we are growing up and will not
remain young for long. I turned 32 two weeks ago and I am still not
married!! Thankfully, my present girlfriend seems pretty focused than the
rest. Lord willing, we may tie the knot December 2003. I suppose by then I
will have completed my PhD or significantly made headway. I wonder how
old I will be when our first-born comes along. I would like my kids to grow
up in a secure environment, where both my wife and I will be around to
support them. Oh that God would grant us that favour! Talking about the
strong bond to our parents, that is natural but must be mortified before one

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 214


leaves and cleaves. No doubt, I will also have to cut links as well but
perhaps not as radically as you would have had to. I perceive myself as the
free and independent sort. I think my parents lost me when they violently
resisted my new found faith in 1987. I have tried to patch up but it seems
that it will never be the same as before. Now they are extremely favourably
disposed towards my Christian faith perhaps due to my consistency over the
years. They may not be Evangelical but they certainly see the difference, Oh
that they may turn to Christ and be saved before they die!!

Well brother, what sayest thou about these things? I would really love to
visit you when I am on leave so that we can talk. Probably in August or
September, Lord willing, I may pitch around that place if the coming
internal audit does not derail things.
Update me on your latest find.

Billy S

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Andrew Sampa
07/04/02 04:56 PM Subject: RE: Hi there!

It was nice to hear from you though it took me some time reply to your
mail. I must say that I'm fine getting used to living without mum, even
though it is very difficult. Mum was my best friend and we would talk on
phone on a daily basis. It’s sad she'd have loved to see me marry. However,
I'm happy that she left me single. I think this thing of leaving and cleaving
would have been very difficult for me. I would have felt like betraying my
mum.
It’s sad that you broke up with Ruth. I must suggest that we should sit down
and see why we cannot keep a relationship. I broke up with Mwaka as well. I
later dated another gorgeous lady by the name of Julien. She was so fine
that I could see myself walk down the awl with her to say "I do". Sadly she
didn't see it that way. I'm now seeing someone who is so much in love with
me. However, my heart is far away and very soon I may have to break up
with her as well. I still believe that what I been looking for is yet to come.
However, lately I have been thinking that perhaps I'm living in a fool's
paradise and what I'm searching for only exists in dreams perhaps in films
and novels and not in the real world. I pray that this is wrong because I
do not intend to settle for anything less than what I 've always dreamed of.

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 215


Later,

Andrew

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To: andrews@kt.deloitte.co.zm

Subject: Hi there!

Wow!
Wasn't it a surprise to get a call from you!! I was very elated indeed. I
am doing well both ways and determined to achieve higher heights of
excellence. Sad to have heard about mum's demise. Like I said, I felt as
though my own mum had been taken. Take heart brother, Christ is still on
the throne. We need to sit and hear each other out what's been happening to
the both of us in the last few years. How is that sister your courted whilst we
lodged together at Evan's palace?... Is it Nanyangwe or Lenganji or none of
the above? I broke up with Ruth about a year ago. Seeing somebody even
more interesting!
Acknowledge this mail!
Warmest regards
John 16:33
Billy S

Stray thoughts…
“The average Zambian abhors another’s success”-Billy
“Think for tomorrow but live a day at a time”-Billy
“Think long term but live short term”-Billy

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 216


Photo Taken by Billy
/05/05
Sichone 28 AM

Baobab tree-Resilient and weathers all seasons in the Gwembe Valley-So


should we be...

Zambian/African in general are amazingly poverty tolerant unlike other


people. They seem to build resilience in the wrong things. BS July 2007

Family tree in Zambia

President
Wife
Position Fin Agric Security Commerce F. Aff Mines Health Def
Minster Traditional Cousin Brother Business Cousin Remot Cousin Tradi
Cousin associate e Cou

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 217


nephew
Permanent Nephe Cousin Nephew
secretary w

Bibliography
1. Effective leadership. Robert Heller, 1999 Dorling
Kindersley. London. New York. Sydney. Moscow
2. Cox Frank Psychology WM. C.BROWN company
publishers 1970

Index

A Academic trials.................................85
Abraham Lincoln.........................61, 85 accelerate.................................68, 181
academic......15, 27, 64, 66, 72, 75, 85, Accountant. .49, 66, 111, 134, 150, 224
130, 140, 144, 145, 154, 155, 156, achievements......................44, 81, 160
157, 158 Acumen.................................. .........127

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 218


AK 47................................................12 Conrad..........................................4, 89
Ambassador......................................40 Consciousness.................................. .27
ambition..........................124, 130, 195 consistent...32, 38, 66, 79, 87, 96, 101,
Amon Simutowe......26, 58, 61, 89, 102 107, 111, 127, 144, 147, 164, 204,
annihilating.......................................10 207
Apostle Paul.......28, 36, 37, 47, 79, 138 consortium........................................18
Architects........................................149 Content.............................................20
B Continuous improvement................131
backlash.................................... ......122 corridors of power...................120, 169
Bangor Pier.....................................120 corrupt..................11, 35, 44, 106, 197
Believe.............................. ................58 counsel.......................................... 4, 35
Bemba...................................... .58, 144 Creative............................................80
Benjamin Franklin..............................85 critical.............................................116
Bernard Chiwala................................96 culture....10, 14, 29, 44, 52, 54, 56, 86,
beverage.................................. .......134 87, 90, 96, 103, 107, 117, 119, 122,
Bible.....4, 6, 22, 28, 36, 38, 39, 47, 62, 152, 163, 178, 194, 198, 203, 205,
93, 115, 129, 130, 161, 162, 164, 208
169, 172, 182, 198, 208 D
Biblical argument..............................35 Daring...............................................50
boast.................................6, 58, 89, 97 David Livingstone............................100
bridging finance................................18 Dean Mungomba...............................63
brilliant................................49, 91, 164 debt.............................87, 88, 186, 189
Bruntland........................................107 decisiveness................................... ...62
Building Society house......................19 defeated,........................................ .160
business. 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 52, 64, dependence.....10, 16, 42, 45, 76, 117,
67, 70, 73, 80, 90, 92, 93, 120, 121, 144, 161, 162, 166, 187
123, 126, 131, 132, 134, 135, 141, depressed.......................................160
143, 156, 160, 161, 162, 168, 174, Desire............................................... .50
175, 183, 190, 191, 196, 197, 198, Despair.............................................. 98
200, 207, 211 Determination...............20, 28, 50, 125
C Development......42, 75, 123, 150, 189,
Capacity............................... ...........148 203, 224
capital. . .17, 18, 21, 105, 166, 174, 198 Diligence.................17, 27, 28, 51, 125
career. 47, 65, 103, 108, 111, 134, 140, Diligence...........................................27
143, 147, 148, 149, 156, 163, 164 Diploma...........................138, 155, 224
CEC.................................................112 Direction.....................................28, 55
celebrities.........................................89 Discipline..........................................50
Challenge..................................71, 133 disillusioned........................9, 147, 160
Charisma..................................... ......88 Doctorate of Philosophy..................156
Charles G Finney...............................58 domestic.............17, 21, 120, 128, 141
Chitalu..............................................89 Dr Arthur Msimuko..........................104
Cholwe........................................37, 89 Dr John Maxwell..........................80, 85
Christ...................47, 62, 198, 215, 216 Dr Kaunda.................................87, 184
Christian...4, 36, 38, 40, 45, 47, 76, 78, Dr Munroe.......................................119
137, 146, 203, 204, 207, 212, 215 Dr W E Deming................................ ..73
Church.........................45, 47, 111, 171 Drive.................................................51
CIMA..................................90, 150, 154 Dubai..............................................144
commercial...............................79, 173 E
competence. 15, 25, 27, 31, 58, 72, 74, eccentric...........................................35
148, 149, 162, 163 economy 6, 10, 13, 16, 47, 63, 97, 100,
Competence................................ ......72 120, 149, 161, 187, 189, 190, 191,
competitive.......................................24 198, 213
Concentration...................................27 Eden...................................... ......36, 47
Connecting................................ ........89 Edinburgh Graduate school...............90

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 219


Effectiveness................................ .....55 Japanese.............................62, 69, 178
Egypt..................................... ..166, 185 jealously....................................49, 175
eludes.......................................29, 119 Joni Erickson Tada...........................119
Emerson.................................... ........55 Journalism.......................................150
empires...........................................161 jubilantly...........................................89
employment.......41, 48, 135, 146, 148, juvenile.............................................11
160, 162 K
endeavoured.....................................38 Kalusha.......................................58, 89
Energy...............................28, 112, 154 Kantemba......................................... .21
Engineer....................................... ...134 knowledge work........................30, 143
England...........48, 72, 74, 86, 100, 107
entrepreneur.....................................15 L
entrepreneurial.....14, 98, 99, 104, 144 labour.............................................. ..26
Entrepreneurs.............................31, 46 Labour...................................30, 31, 42
environmental...................................10 Labouring as unto the Lord...............49
Ethical................................ ...............39 landscape.......................................... ..9
examination....................................146 laurels.. . .68, 70, 71, 81, 101, 102, 158,
200
F Law...................................82, 143, 150
faint hearted.......................32, 61, 126 lazy...15, 29, 32, 35, 37, 39, 47, 51, 97,
FDI..............................................10, 44 102, 103, 106, 110, 114, 129, 160,
fervour....................................125, 127 161, 167, 169, 170, 171, 172, 198,
flight......................61, 67, 75, 111, 181 201
FNDP.............................. ...................42 leadership.........................................16
focus. .27, 49, 69, 78, 81, 90, 102, 103, Levy..................................................68
116, 121, 125, 134, 138, 156, 157 Librarian..................................... .....150
Foreigners.......................................120 Liquor........................................ ........12
formal...11, 15, 41, 134, 144, 146, 148, Luapula river...................................174
149, 160, 162 Lucy Sichone.....................................62
future..............................................116 Lukanga Swamps............................174
G Lumwana..........................................15
Government.....13, 63, 90, 92, 97, 108, M
119, 173, 190, 201 Makololo..................................... .......58
Graduate or Masters’ degree..........155 Makufi...............................................96
H Malicious.........................................171
hard work. 3, 31, 32, 36, 41, 43, 44, 45, Management 55, 69, 91, 108, 113, 150,
46, 47, 96, 97, 98, 101, 103, 105, 151, 156, 201, 202, 203, 205, 206,
107, 110, 126, 129, 161, 162, 163, 209
164, 167 Marketer........................................ ..134
HIPC..................................................37 Martin Luther King.......................60, 85
HIV................................. ...................10 Masters of Business Leadership......156
Honours’ degree..............................155 masuku.............................................14
human eye..............................124, 207 maximum....................................26, 29
I MBA...............19, 61, 90, 156, 157, 224
IMF..................................177, 189, 190 Mbesuma..........................................89
implementation.........73, 119, 166, 211 McGregor............................39, 46, 106
Inconsistency..................................111 meagre................44, 49, 104, 166, 173
informal.............................75, 149, 210 Medicine..................................140, 150
ingenuity................................ ...........15 meditate.....................................78, 93
innovative thinking.........................129 meticulous........................56, 146, 147
Intellectual......................................117 micro....................................... ........117
Interdependence...............................72 Milingo............................................122
Investment.............................. ..........17 mindset. .11, 14, 20, 27, 29, 43, 45, 47,
61, 96, 98, 101, 106, 109, 119, 120,
J 162, 175

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 220


miraculously................................... ...63 planet............................................ ....18
MMD........................................... .......63 poems...............................................26
MNC..................................................10 Policemen.......................................130
Mohammed Ali..................................61 Politicians..........................42, 122, 196
Mongu.......................................62, 199 Positive.............................................40
motivated..........................49, 203, 208 potential.....7, 9, 15, 18, 19, 25, 32, 45,
MP....................................... ..............30 58, 80, 84, 96, 121, 133, 151, 163,
Munali hills........................................15 167, 173, 175, 186, 202, 203, 204,
Murphy’s Law....................................73 207, 208, 209
Mutembo.............................58, 89, 164 premium...........................................30
Mwanawasa...................63, 68, 86, 213 President...........................................13
Myopic.............................116, 117, 170 priorities....................................... .....21
myriads.........10, 58, 65, 146, 170, 177 privatisation......................97, 105, 149
N proactive......49, 56, 61, 66, 70, 72, 80,
Napoleon.............................. .......83, 85 179
Nathan Nyirenda...............................96 Procrastination..................19, 109, 124
natural resources....................121, 177 production. .43, 44, 107, 153, 161, 170,
Nchima Nchito................................ ...58 188, 191
Negative...........................................41 productive. 35, 108, 162, 173, 186, 188
Nelson Mandela.............................. ...85 professional......63, 65, 66, 75, 90, 107,
Nepotism...................................... ...114 130, 131, 138, 141, 143, 145, 149,
Nervous.......................................... ...89 156, 157, 158, 213, 214
New Testament.................................36 Professor Alfred Chanda....................63
NGO..........................21, 104, 111, 129 Professor Clive Chirwa.............7, 27, 42
Ngoni................................................58 Progress....................................48, 119
NRDC................................................75 prosperity.....14, 20, 29, 44, 46, 48, 96,
Nshima..................................... .......105 145, 160, 163
Proverbs.......38, 62, 97, 125, 132, 133,
O 148, 163, 165, 172
objective.25, 27, 31, 44, 56, 65, 78, 87, prowess. .64, 72, 76, 79, 125, 134, 189,
138, 146, 147, 179 210
opportunities...................................116 Puritans.................................... .........85
Organisational Behaviour................156
orientation.................56, 109, 128, 195
Q
qualification.72, 82, 155, 156, 158, 213
P quality....................................... ..........6
paradigm.......................................... .14
pareto principle.................................41
R
Passion................................... ...........73 rational argument.......................34, 42
Pastor............................4, 37, 122, 171 Read the times..................................85
pathological......................................14 realistic............7, 64, 75, 163, 167, 179
Paul 4, 19, 20, 37, 38, 63, 81, 132, 133, Redeeming the time..........................49
198 redesign............................................21
Paul Woods................................... .....20 reforms................................... .149, 191
perennial.............................. ...........174 Regeneration................................. ..131
perseverance............28, 30, 31, 61, 63 research.....66, 99, 110, 146, 156, 157,
Persistence.................................... ....73 181, 191, 197, 224
Pessimism.........................................99 resilience.............30, 62, 107, 127, 217
pessimistic..........................................6 Resilience............................30, 61, 125
Peter Drucker..............................74, 78 Resolution.........................................62
PhD.52, 61, 75, 91, 156, 157, 158, 199, resolve. . .28, 36, 38, 49, 52, 73, 84, 98,
214 119, 124, 125, 157, 165, 178, 200
physical 20, 25, 26, 31, 34, 81, 99, 117, returns.17, 48, 49, 64, 79, 80, 100, 104
144, 165, 179 Richard Ngenda................................ .63
Physicians.......................................118 Rio Earth summit............................107
pitfalls...............................................19 Risk averse..................................... .160

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 221


Rockets.............................................68 80, 83, 84, 86, 87, 89, 90, 91, 92,
rumours....................................46, 171 93, 94, 96, 97, 100, 101, 103, 104,
S 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112,
sacrifice............................................16 113, 114, 115, 116, 118, 119, 120,
SAP...................................................10 122, 124, 125, 128, 129, 130, 131,
scientific........................................ ....26 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 138, 139,
Self promotion................................ ...65 140, 141, 144, 146, 147, 148, 149,
Self-application.................................29 150, 151, 152, 154, 157, 160, 161,
self-esteem..............29, 44, 58, 98, 192 164, 165, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170,
self-exertion......................................25 171, 172, 175, 178, 179, 181, 187,
Shaka................................. ...............11 188, 189, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197,
Single mindedness............................49 198, 199, 200, 201, 203, 205, 207,
Skill............................... ....................27 208, 210, 212, 213, 214, 215, 216
skills. 26, 27, 39, 54, 55, 137, 144, 162, Time bound.......................................29
163, 167, 204, 210 tolerance................................. ........165
Social work................................ ......150 tragedy...115, 119, 122, 131, 141, 161,
sole proprietors.................................31 167
status trap’.............................. ..93, 141 traumatic....................................30, 85
Stephen Covey 26, 41, 55, 73, 200, 208 U
STI............................................. ......170 Under graduate degree...................155
stout hearted..................................127 University.....14, 75, 85, 109, 123, 136,
strategic thinker..................26, 37, 203 139, 155, 156
strategic thinking..............................26 UNZA............................... ......75, 85, 87
study. .6, 18, 27, 56, 64, 65, 80, 86, 89, V
107, 129, 134, 140, 146, 147, 154, Valentine’s day................................118
155, 156, 168, 169, 213 vehemently.............................132, 207
stumble.................................. ...........30 vigilant....................................133, 165
successful.....21, 28, 39, 41, 50, 52, 54, vulnerable.........................................11
55, 68, 73, 75, 79, 83, 84, 97, 109,
126, 127, 143, 152, 160, 164 W
superhuman......................................99 Wales..............................................109
sustainable..................................... ...13 wealth....14, 15, 16, 17, 25, 33, 34, 37,
SWOT..................................50, 86, 211 39, 40, 43, 45, 46, 47, 48, 64, 81,
syndrome.......16, 76, 82, 99, 101, 117, 104, 107, 149, 160, 161, 184, 187,
121, 140, 144, 163, 166, 187 193
systematic.........31, 146, 147, 189, 210 weightless economy..31, 143, 145, 175
Wesley......................................85, 146
T Whitefield.................................... ......85
taboo...................47, 96, 107, 162, 170 wholeheartedly.................................40
talent...................20, 27, 28, 29, 49, 81 win-win..................................... ...55, 56
tangible. .11, 14, 16, 19, 20, 48, 57, 81, work.................................... ..............25
86, 97, 98, 107, 111, 116, 118, 121, World Heavyweight championship....61
143, 206
tantrums.........................................172 Z
target. . .13, 25, 27, 102, 104, 107, 119, Zambia.....7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19,
125, 138, 207 20, 21, 29, 33, 35, 36, 39, 43, 45,
TB.....................................................89 54, 58, 63, 64, 66, 76, 79, 87, 90,
Technical.........................................130 96, 98, 100, 101, 105, 106, 112,
technology......................143, 174, 205 113, 114, 116, 119, 120, 122, 126,
Thomas Edison............................52, 85 129, 130, 134, 136, 140, 144, 147,
time4, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19, 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 154,
20, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 35, 36, 155, 160, 161, 163, 166, 168, 173,
37, 38, 40, 41, 43, 46, 47, 48, 49, 176, 177, 181, 187, 192, 196, 201,
53, 56, 57, 58, 60, 62, 63, 64, 66, 202, 208, 212, 213, 214, 217, 224
67, 68, 70, 73, 74, 75, 77, 78, 79, Zambian......................................... .....9

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 222


About the Author

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 223


Billy Sichone trained as an Accountant and worked as a Program
Accountant at one of World Vision Zambia’s large scale Area Development
Programs for seven years. He studied the Zambia Diploma in Accountancy
(ZDA), is a Fellow of the Institute of Financial Accountants of UK (FFA),
holds an MBA.

He is married to Jane and they have two daughters together. He has held
several portfolios in the formal working world.

Among his interests include studying, astronomy, research, reading, meeting


people and adventure.

Visit his SCRIBD site to view some of his other works on BILLYSICHONE

You could also view some of his video presentations on his u tube site:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2vu-QE0Oj4

Labour! A letter to my fellow Zambians Billy C Sichone 224