I can think of no better way to begin the New Year than to share Lancelot Muteyo’s most recent peace training, this time in Zambia.
“I was in Zambia from 11-14 December 2014 conducting a conflict transformation training for 35 youths. I was invited by RevZulu; the Baptist Convention of Zambia President. Isaac was our student during the 10 days TCTT Nigeria training. I also had the privilege of co facilitating with two of our students Prudence and Gibson Biemba. Lets continue uniting Africa! Amani Milele (Peace Forever)”
My Zambian adventure
You can only gain and get new lessons and insights in life when you open your heart and mind to new possibilities. I love adventure and exploration in life and this gives me the desire to dare the dreaded. When I received an invitation to conduct a conflict transformation training in the deep Zambian town of Kalulushi I did not know what was ahead of me but I knew adventure was waiting to embrace me. Indeed it kissed me! I reached the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport around 8pm. My driver and local logistician James picked me up for the long trip to the unknown. This indeed was the genesis of adventure. It was going to be a long drive deep in the rainy night. I am an African and have travelled to several African countries in my peacebuilding career and I have realised several things in common; roads are poor, drivers are reckless, there are many unnecessary stops along the way and you will “never” reach your destination. I remember whilst in Nigeria our host Segun was telling us that it will only take two hours from Lagos to Ede but surprisingly it took eighty hours. In Kenya, Wilson our host also did the same and we “never” reached Nyahururu from Nairobi. This is Africa, time does not matter!
During our drive we saw many accidents along the way but this did not dissuade our driver to be speedy. I was afraid! Even if you love exploits death is always jaw breaking. There was little I could do because I knew nothing about the driving styles in a foreign land. Many road blocks are a common sight in Africa and Zambia is not spared but is better than Zimbabwe. This added hours to our trip. We had three occasions that nearly got us right into the face of oncoming gigantic trucks. Along the way I tried to sleep but failed due to anxiety over accidents. At one time I got hungry but could not tell my host. It is an African custom not to demand food. It’s uncultured. I just maintained my dignity and kept quiet. I was relieved when James pulled off at a roadside restaurant. I guess he had read my mind. He bought me a bottle of coke and a local pie. I ate my heart out but the pie just hit me right into my stomach and I got stomach pains until the end of my trip. Food is different everywhere! Through the grace of our Lord Jesus we arrived at around three in the morning and the training was supposed to start at eight in the morning. I was too tried to sleep. Peacemakers don’t sleep!
The workshop was the best I ever conducted in my life. The organisers had done their homework. The students were all young people mostly girls. The venue had sleeping facilities and everyone was staying there. The venue was a former mine site. You could see the old mine shafts. A minerals processing unit is still operating next to these premises. I was honoured to tour this unit and learn about the whole process. The students were sharp and I learnt a lot from them. Leadership emerged, suppressed gifts sprouted. Self esteem was built, confidence was reinforced and each and every student became aware of his or her strength. I was a hero to them but I humbled myself and reassured them that they made me a champion by maximizing their own learning. Zambia will be holding presidential elections next year and this was a good preparation. The training had opportunities for participants to practise a tool and to be innovative. This gave birth to positive memories.
My hosts were so concerned about my welfare. We went to visit a local dam and it was a rich therapeutic experience that I will forever cherish. On Sunday the last day we did the peace web where each and every student threw a blessing to one person using a string whilst in a circle. We then proceeded to a local church were some of the participants were given an opportunity to teach others. It was the “BIG Papa” and two other participants who demonstrated the “Mingle Mingle” tool to the applause of the crowd. Africa is home to music and dance. Throughout the training there was lots of music and dancing. A young lady nicknamed Dolly Parton was indeed a star. A song was dedicated to me in my language. It was so touching and soothing. Surely we are one people through Christ!
One thing I will never forget was the local bun we ate everyday at breakfast. It was so huge that when eating it no one will see your face. Hence it was called “John Cena- You can’t see me” It was just humorous. My flight was at midnight and we departed at around 3pm for me to check in at 10pm. We had serious confusion with time. They use the 24hour clock, we use the 12 hour clock so it was not easy to discuss time. Going to the airport seemed longer than when I came. We drove throughout the night. Again, we saw many accidents and at one point we were hit head on by a car which had burst it’s tyre. Had it not been for James’ vigilance we would have perished. Thank you James for sparing our lives! Something happened that I will never forget. The trip was terribly long and it was raining and James was now tired at the same time dozing on the wheel. He pulled off the road, bought some water and washed his face. This was commendable but it did little. Ten kilometres from the airport the driver dozed again and went to the other lane with the car at 140km/hr. Another car was coming from the other direction in the opposite lane. It was a head on collision. We died. No, we didn’t die. I was sitting in front and I just miraculously pulled the steering wheel to my side thereby missing that car by a whisker. It still a marvel that the car didn’t overturn.
When the plane landed at Harare International Airport Zimbabwe early Monday morning I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Upon seeing my wife Christina at home tears drooped from my cheek as I told her that I had gone for a real adventure. She did not understand it, I just slept and recalled the whole story in the morning thanking the Lord for divine protection.
Pan African Peace Network