Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Zambians are generally friendly people. That is why Zambia is called the "Friendly Country". They are very grateful to foreigners who assist in the development of their country and sometimes they go out of the way to show their gratitude. However, there could always be some exceptions.

When I met C.B for the first time, he was a non-descript person, working as a teacher in a township school. I noticed him because of his regular attendance in conferences that were held in the region by the Science Association. I was impressed by his keenness and in my capacity as the chairman of the Association for the region,I decided to give him a chance to go to higher levels in the organization. Accordingly, when the central committee of the Association asked me to recommend someone for a sponsored foreign trip, it was C.B's name that I put forward for consideration.

That trip was a turning point in C.B's career. He became well-known in the Association circle and also in the Inspectorate. Being an indigenous person, soon he was in line for promotions. Once he got established, he started to reveal his true nature by throwing his weight around.

It was about that time I decided to write a text book in Biology and a work book to go along with it, for the use of the secondary school pupils in Zambia. Most of the Biology text books available in the country were written by British or Irish authors and the examples of flora and fauna referred to were of non-Zambian nature. It was my intention to present a book that would be in strict conformity with the Cambridge O-level syllabus that was being followed in the Zambian secondary schools. Accordingly, I started working on it.

The work was interesting but time-consuming. I managed to get a number of reference books to assist me in my pursuits. The notes and diagrams that I had prepared for my teaching sessions became very handy. Now, all my available free time was being utilized in writing, typing and drawing. As a result, the work progressed very well.

It took nearly two years of hard work for the completion of the project. Bro. Kirk, one of the Catholic brothers working as a voluntary teacher in the English department did the proof-reading of the manuscript. Fr. Mc Kinney, a co-worker and book-writer, gave me many valuable tips that helped me a lot in my work. During this period, I happened to meet C.B at a conference and told him about my project. Contrary to my expectation, he did not appear very enthusiastic about it and tried to discourage me. However, I did not pay him any attention. Moreover, there were many friends and well-wishers who gave me a lot of encouragement in my project.

Once the manuscript was ready, I had to find a publisher. I knew there were some publishing houses in the country among which the most well-known one was the Zambia Educational Publishing House (ZEPH), formerly, the Kenneth Kaunda Foundation, in Lusaka. I wrote a letter to ZEPH about my book and soon the publishing manager of the company contacted me by telephone. He directed me to send them a copy of the manuscript so that their book committee could examine it and decide about its suitability for publication. Accordingly, I mailed them a photostat copy of the original.

Thereafter things moved very fast. The book committee scrutinized the script and gave their unanimous approval. ZEPH informed me that they would be pleased to buy off the copy-rights by paying me a sum of four million kwacha (equivalent to four thousand U.S. Dollars according to the exchange rate at that time). An initial payment would be made at the time of signing the contract, and the remainder would be paid immediately after obtaining the approval of the Curriculum committee of the Ministry. This would be just a formality.

I drove down to Lusaka early next week in order to sign the contract. I met the publishing manager as well as the M.D. After signing the contract and handing me a cheque for the initial payment, they told me that the book was accepted by their book committee and therefore, they were going to start working on it without waiting for the Curriculum committee's approval. The remaining amount would be paid to my bank account and I was asked to give them the details.

Three weeks later, I received a phone call from the publishing manager. He said that the report of the Curriculum committee had come. It was the most adverse report they had ever seen. There was no doubt that someone in the committee was trying to block the publication of the book. Later, I came to know that the committee consisted of four people and C.B was the leading member of that committee. The others were chosen by him from one or two schools in the capital. However, I do not want to say anything to the effect that C.B might have influenced the other members to give such a damaging report. In spite of such a bad report, ZEPH decided to go ahead with the publication of the book.

ZEPH kept their promise. My only regret is that I was not in the country to see the book in its printed form. It is my firm belief that the NEW SCHOOL CERTIFICATE BIOLOGY has been accepted by many Zambian secondary school pupils and is found useful to them at least in a small way.