Letters From A Retired Miner – Part 1

My Retirement

My dear ba Sendama,

Thank you for your letter. I am feeling better after my son took me to Mansa General Hospital to see the doctor.

I am ok if you want to tell my story in the magazine in your computer. Make sure Bwembya reads your computer so that he can find out some more about his father when I was working at Wusakile SOB shaft as Shift Boss.

You asked me about retirement. Retirement is hard. Very hard. In 1992 my back was a big problem. I worked very hard for Rhokana Corporation and also when it became Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) but the money for my back was little. After paying for transport to Chipili Mission (Luapula Province) my money made me build a house. It finished. Now when I want to pay someone to work on my farm I have no money. My arms are strong but my back is weak, so I cannot farm properly.

Bana Bwembya refused to retire with me to my village. But I forced her to come. She was afraid of my sisters. They are fighting her all the time and they said she finished my retirement money. And they are still complaining that I married a Lozi instead of my cousin from my village. Everyone says that is why my father died because he was very angry with me. Even my mother blamed me about my father. Only my uncle Chishimba supported me. That is why I built my house near his house. He is like my father to me.

After one year bana Bwembya ran away from the village to live with Bwembya in Wusakile, Kitwe. After that my harvest is poor because I work on my own. Kamfwa, the son to uncle Chishimba was very good to me. He always helped me to prepare the land and also weeding of the cassava. He finished secondary school and he went to Lusaka to Evelyn Hone College. This was in 1995. After that I had no help.

Sometimes I think that a 50 year old man cannot be asked to go back to the village and to start farming after he worked in a different job in the mines all his life. But what can he do if he is not able to work in the mines? Food is very expensive on the Copperbelt. It is better in the village because you can grow vegatables to eat. In my house I don't pay any rent or electricity.  I even stopped drinking Mosi Larger. Now I drink Katubi. Here I don't wear my shoes everyday  – only on Sunday when we go to church. Can you walk around in Kitwe without shoes?

I think I made a good plan to find Bwembya a job in the mines. Sometimes he sends me money and clothes. He stopped when he was declared redundant. But now he found a job in Mopani. But he is married. He has three children. It is hard for him to send me money. Sometimes I laugh on the phone and say I want to come back and look after your children when you go to work. Any way my wife is there.

Sure I get respect in the village. I am now Church elder. Most of my friends and relatives are dead because of old age. I am one of the elders in the village. When I die I want to die in my village. This is where I belong.The spirit of my forefathers is here.

Life in the village is good if you have money. If you have no money life is hard in the village. But in the town life is worse when you have no money. People are afraid of dying because of expensive coffins. There is also no respect in the town.

I have a lot of time to think now. I remember many things when I was young and when I went ku Kalale (Copperbelt – Ed.) to look for work. Any way this is enough today.

Napwa nine Shi Bwembya.

(Penning off, I am Bwembya's father – Ed.)



  1 comment for “Letters From A Retired Miner – Part 1

  1. August 2, 2011 at 9:15 am

    I found this letter very interesting because my late father who was a teacher before he retired went to the same area as the writer of this letter and shared similar sentiments with me and my brother Kingstone.

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