The need to stop depending on maize (mealie meal) was a bold and firm expose’ by James Kunda in the Times of Zambia newspaper of January 8, 2014.
I totally agree with James that our country will only succeed in overcoming our economic woes and high levels of underdevelopment if we adjust our mindset from the way we cling to dependency on maize as our only stable food.
This dependency on maize though highly protected with national pride has permeated the fabric of our culture to an extent were this trend has acted as an obstacle against well intended efforts to unshackle ourselves from the bondage of underdevelopment and poverty.
To reinforce James’s thinking, Iam reminded of my late father who used to drive all the way from Cairo Road to Lusaka’s Ibex Hill everyday for lunch just to have his favourite dish of nshima. And yet he spent a larger part of his youth in Europe studying medicine but I still wonder how and why he clung to his Zambian tradition without flinching.
I also have a neighbour who spent most of his career as a diplomat but he drives back home everyday just to have his favorite meal of nshima and offals.
I am again reminded of my participation on the International Conference of the Great Lakes region and other international conferences of incidences when our delegation would leave the comfort of our hotels to search the ramshackles of African capitals in search of nshima.
When one does a critical survey in our high density compounds in Lusaka, one discovers that even people with an affluent lifestyle earning more than K 1000 daily in their businesses would rarely or not even talk about nutrition that is beyond our traditional Nshima.
If this country has to escape these levels of under-development, we have to collectively embrace the fact that this country has vast under-utilised potential and unexplainable opportunities, nice and nutritious foods, national parks and lakes and entertaining shopping malls.
It is high time we started thinking beyond nshima, gallons of liquor along Chilumbulu road spiced with Vimbombo (animal wooves) and Michopo (goat intestines).
Our economy can never be sustained by creating demand on nshima alone.
South Africans and Kenyans have economies that are performing very well because their people have diversified not only their thinking but their eating habits for the sake of providing a good economic momentum for their countries.
Allow me to end by giving an analogy of what was going to happen with Zambian music if we had clung to the likes of Masasu Band, the Kalambo Hit parade tunes. I am not insinuating that this music was or is bad.
For Zambian music to get to these internationally admirable levels we had to let go and sacrificed some of our old ways of playing music, thereby integrating tunes that tend to resonate well with the current generation both old and young.
This same diversity of thinking can be used to abandon our eating taboos.
John Noel Lungu