Pete Henriot SJ, Principal, Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection in Lusaka, Zambia.
1. Zambia is a country at peace – 41 years of independence without serious conflicts. Seventy-two tribes; seven major tribes; living in harmony; without ethnic clashes. Zambia is the envy of other African states!
2. Zambia is noted for hospitality – people who are friendly and welcoming, people who have received several hundred thousand refugees in recent years. It is the poor hosting the poor.
3. Zambia has rich resources – great assets of minerals, land, water, agriculture, tourist sites, etc. It is true that these have not always been wisely utilised – but they are there for the future.
4. Zambians are known for hard work, for resilience – dedicated to feeding families and building a strong nation. (This is particularly true of women!)
5. Zambians have talent – given a good education, they can match anyone. We know this from the wonderful staff of young Zambians who work with ZOCS and many other NGO’s with whom we have contact.
6. Zambia is committed to democracy – a nation struggling, faltering, but persevering in efforts to build democratic structures and attitudes. Zambia has an anti-corruption fight that has even put the former president on trial for “plunder of the national economy”!
7. Zambia has wonderful women – increasingly socially active (two top-rate presidential candidates in the last national elections) and the backbone of domestic and agricultural efforts.
8. Zambian civil society is very strong – coalitions of NGO’s, trade unions, professional associations, church groups, etc., that are articulate and intelligent in shaping development policies.
9. Zambian churches are dynamic and spiritually vital, with plenty of ecumenical cooperation at many levels. This involves service of the needy and a prophetic voice in pursuing social justice.
10. Zambian youth are a powerful force – 45% to 50% of the population often million is below the age of 15! They experience plenty of difficulties but also are committed to work for a better future.