Zambia – confronts challenges
In 1922, emigrants from villages on the north bank of the Zambezi River working in a mica mine near Urungwe were converted, carried home the message of salvation to their chief, and established meeting places in their villages. Two years later, Commandant Kanzwi Shava and Lt. Paul Shumba were appointed to command the new opening.
Today, the Zambia and Malawi Territory has 196 officers (181 active, 15 retired), 96 corps, 45 societies, and 97 outposts. There are 18,627 senior and 3,043 junior soldiers.
At the Zambia congress, delegates brought food and cooked meals at the fairgrounds.
A vibrant Salvation Army is marching in Zambia in the midst of economic and social problems including a
depressed economy, 80% unemployment in places, and a soaring HIV/AIDS infection rate.
More than 21,000 junior and senior soldiers strong, the Zambia and Malawi Territory, under the direction of Territorial Leaders Commissioners Tadeous and Nikiwe Shipe, is boldly ad-dressing issues of vital concern including: poverty, hunger, education, orphans, and AIDS.
More than 50% of Zambia’s population is under the age of 15. De-veloping leadership is vital. “Good leaders must be identified, trained and equipped,” says Shipe.
Salvationists sitting in the stands found relief from the heat of the mid-day sun.
He notes the days of colonialism still impact the Army: one challenge facing adults is that those who grew up in colonial times often have a mindset that believes everything will be provided.
Economic factors make things difficult here. Officers receive only 30-50% of their salary, around $30 U.S. a month. To make up the difference, in rural areas farming is done and corps people will help provide fruit and vegetables.
As in other African nations. officer’s children sometimes can’t go to school because they can’t afford the fees. The Army pays 50% of secondary school fees, but many officers can’t af-ford primary school to start. “We are concerned,” says Chief Secretary Lt. Colonel John Hassard, “that this will impact future officers and leaders.”
Local cultural practices affect the Army as well. In villages, the social hierarchy of chief and headmen are used to win support of the people for progressive programs.
“Men and women still function in strictly defined roles, with men usually in the controlling position,” says Shipe. “The Army is better in this regard than the general population, but still within the Army when a woman is more capable than the husband, she is held back to below his level.”
Few Salvationists, he adds, are totally free of some belief in witchcraft and superstition.
Ethnic issues must also be addressed. “In Zambia, The Salvation Army is Tonga dominated. This holds back the work in other regions of the country, especially the northern part,” Shipe explains. “As a rule, newly commissioned officers go to these regions unable to speak the language, thereby making communication with the locals more difficult and slow.”
Short-term volunteers, willing to serve a minimum of one year, would be welcome to serve in Zambia. They must have specific skills they can use immediately, with no further training, such as administration and basic project accounting. Prior training in cross-cultural work is strongly advised.
Rideout on training
Major Audrey Rideout, principal of the Zambia and Malawi training college located in Chikankata, brings 18 years of experience serving in Africa: eight years in Kenya, seven in Zimbabwe, and three in Zambia. It has provided her with valuable insights.
“Experience is a good teacher. I lived in a rural area of Kenya and got to know the culture of the people,” she says. “It has helped me in ways you can’t imagine.”
That experience also forged her views on reinforcement work. “Reinforcement officers need to remember they are coming as reinforcement–as opposed to being a leader, and being in charge.” She adds, “After all, after we leave, there will still be an Army in Zambia.”
This session of 20 cadets includes seven from Malawi and 13 from Zambia. The college has a staff of four, including Rideout.
She explains they could have 10 or 15 more this session if they had more funds, but with the economy down, there has been no increase in funding for three years.