Resource 2: Kabwe’s Story
Teacher resource for planning or adapting to use with pupils
Kabwe, a 21-year-old man, is a newly appointed Basic School Diploma teacher. He was recently recruited from Kasama Teacher Training College to teach grades 8 and 9 at Katoma Basic School in Chinsali District of Zambia. In order to familiarise himself with this new school, Kabwe went to meet the local village headman, 75-year-old Chanda Bwalya. Kabwe wanted to shed some light on the history of the village and the development and future of the school.
Kabwe noticed that there were problems in the village. There were very few trees in the area, recent harvests had been poor and there were low levels of rainfall. Some of the children in his class did not come to school very often and several of them had protruding tummies, and small legs showing a lot of suffering and hunger.
Chanda Bwalya, the local village headman, praised the ancient days when they founded the village; there was plenty of water in the surrounding streams, and large number of large wild trees with fruits which engulfed the new village. They used to get large crop harvests from very small portions of land they had tilled. It was their custom to use the shifting cultivation system known as chitemene for farming, which involved growing maize or food in one field until it no longer produced enough food then shifting to another area. The trees had provided fruits but also firewood and charcoal. Now the area is a semi-desert. The plants are growing stunted, the yield is poor and there are very few trees left.
Chanda Bwalya blamed the crop failure, lack of wild fruits and the lack of water in most of the streams on misfortune which had befallen the village. Respect for the ancestors had reduced drastically and no yearly rituals for thanking them had been conducted for several years. Chanda also blamed the schools for the bad manners they were teaching the children such as stopping the villagers from cutting trees and planting maize for several years in one garden. The issue of planting new trees was not a village problem but God’s problem as he comes to replace the trees after some time. Chanda Bwalya hinted at the bad times they were going through and was hopeful that things would change for the better once certain solutions were introduced such as paying homage to the ancestors, respect of elders and many more.
Kabwe, the teacher, reminded the village headman that there were no new trees coming up to replace the ones that had been cut down and this was causing the area to become desert. He suggested they planted trees and changed to new methods of organic farming. The old man refused to agree with Kabwe reminding him that he was too young to understand how God and our ancestors replace the lost trees. He should first spend some time in this village and then he would experience the growth of new trees. Chanda Bwalya suggested that Kabwe was too young to understand how these problems had befallen his village and its school.
Kabwe, after listening to the old man for over 2 hours, became more tense in his mind and started contemplating how he would manage his new job in such an environment and what he could do to change the existing beliefs and norms to more modern approaches so that the pupils and the community could move forward and their health could improve.
The poor health of most of his pupils worried him and the newly created desert in an area which previously had large trees and the poor harvests the people were experiencing concerned him. .
The next day, Kabwe returned to his classroom. Overnight he had fully reflected on the stories he had heard from old Chanda Bwalya. He was determined to help the village find a solution to their problems.
Notes on Kabwe’s story
Below are some problems in the village that your students should be able to identify. See what ideas they think of themselves before you share these with them.
- Poor crop harvests.
- No wild fruit or other forest foods such as mangos which can supplement diet.
- Poor nutrition of some pupils – affecting health and school attendance.
- Low rainfall.
- Greatly reduced water flow in local streams.
- Soils lacking in nutrients and becoming dry and desert like.
- Resistance to organic or different farming methods, e.g. the same crops grown on a plot of land every year; not using animal manure and collecting organic waste to make compost.
- Loss of native forest trees.
- Poor communication and mutual understanding between traditional villagers, such as the headman who feels that traditional ways and respect for ancestors is being lost, and younger people from outside the village with new ideas.
Here are some questions you could get your students to think about:
- Why was their village lacking wild fruits?
- Why was the area resembling a desert?
- What was causing the shortage of water in streams which used to be perennial?
- Why were the harvests from their parents’ gardens yielding very little?
- What measures would they take to resolve these problems in their village?
- Who should they consult to assist with resolving these problems?
- What examples would they show to the local people that these problems could be resolved?