Where have the ghosts of Kitwe gone?
There were plenty of ghosts in Kitwe in the 60s and 70s. I say so because there were many reports of encounters with ghosts almost all the time.
Ghosts were believed to be spirits of deceased persons who had chosen to stay on to fulfill a specific agenda such as revenge against a specific person or a section of society. Ghosts were described as shadowy forms that resembled the dead persons.
Stories of ghosts evoked fear in the minds of the listeners. It was said that the best way to protect oneself against a ghost was to flash any form of light at them. This included light from a cigarette, a matchstick or a torch. Ghosts were also known to disappear at the sight of light from an approaching car’s headlamps.
These suggestions were, however, not consistent with actual accounts of encounters with ghosts because some ghosts seemed to operate in places full of light such as night clubs and dance halls.
In spite of numerous reports about ghosts, there were some people who never believed in their existence. One of my science teachers told us a ghost was a mere figment of one’s imagination. My father, too, believed that only the uneducated could believe in ghosts.
Two famous names of female ghosts that come to my mind are Mandalena and Rosemary. Rosemary operated around Lusaka and Kabwe but I vaguely recall some references to her in Kitwe She might have paid Kitwe a visit during her ghost life.
Mandalena and Rosemary were believed to have been murdered by some unknown men. As a result, their souls had refused to rest in peace but had instead returned to try and extort some form of revenge against men.
It was said that Mandalena would often materialize in the form of a strikingly beautiful woman and then patronize some of the most popular bars and beer halls in the town of Kitwe.
There were different accounts of what would happen to the men who decided to pick her up. Some of the men would find themselves at a cemetery after having had a good time with her.
Others went mad after their encounter with the ghost.
Quite a few of them were reported to have died.
I am sure that there are readers still living with interesting stories about Mandalena and Rosemary. My search for information through the Internet yielded the following paragraph from “Memory Lane Revisited ” (www.zamuk.com):
“The ghost of Rosemary, a Lusaka waitress who was said to have died mysteriously appeared in three different bars she had worked in. First appearance was at Tambalala bar owned by a Mr Kasanda along Kabwe road not far from Chingwere cemetery where she was supposed to have been buried. Second appearance was at Independence bar in Emmarsdale owned by the Findlays. Third appearance was at the Evening bar in Matero owned by Saigar Daka where she was said to have kissed a man who lost all his teeth and lived to tell the story.”
According to the Blog writer, Rosemary was a famous prostitute who was believed to have originated from Southern Province. She had died a horrific death under mysterious circumstances in the hands of men. She had reappeared as a ghost to take revenge against men. Rosemary had developed a hatred for all men because of what happened to her in real life.
Lately, I have been wondering why we do not hear any more stories of ghosts. I have been asking myself this question:
“Where have the ghosts of Kitwe gone?”
I am yet to find the answer. However, in trying to research the answer to my question, I have become more aware of a different kind of ghost that has become prevalent in modern day Zambia – the ghost worker.
One of the definitions given by the Microsoft Encarta dictionary for the word, ghost, is “nonexistent person or thing: an entity that seems to exist but does not, e.g. a name entered on a list by mistake or a fictitious employee on a company payroll.”
In the early 90s, I worked for a consulting firm that was engaged by the Government of the Republic of Zambia to identify ghost workers in the Public Service. Ghost workers were persons who had retired, resigned or died, but whose names continued to appear on the Government payroll.
There were various reasons for the continued existence of the names on the payroll. In most cases, this was due to the inefficient government system that failed to speedily reconcile personnel records.
The other reason was that the people leaving employment did not give any form of notice but simply disappeared from their work stations. In the case of deceased employees, the administrators of the deceased person’s estate did not submit the relevant documents to the appropriate authorities.
The most notorious reason for existence of ghosts on the payroll, however, was the deliberate decision by some unscrupulous supervisors to maintain the names on the payroll in order for them to draw the salaries of these ghost workers.
A lot of progress has since been made in devising methods of identifying these ghosts. These methods include the computerization of personnel records and the insistence to have workers get their salaries through banks.
In my opinion, the most worrying ghosts are workers who are physically present at work but who contribute very little in terms actual performance. Unlike the ghosts of the 60s, these ghosts operate in broad day light and are very difficult to catch.
They report for work every day but do very little work. They spend company time on personal issues. If they are not reading a newspaper, they are busy talking on their cell phones making personal deals or chatting with their numerous friends on issues that have nothing to do with their job.
When they are given assignments, they take all the time to do them. If possible, they avoid doing the assignments altogether.
These ghosts never volunteer to do any work that would help the company or organization meet its performance targets. The sad thing is they are very vigorous when it comes to getting their salaries and asking for salary increases.
One of the most effective methods of catching these ghosts is to put in place an effective appraisal system.
An appraisal system is a formal organization-wide arrangement in which the performance of employees is monitored on a regular basis with the view to rewarding good performers and bringing poor performers back on track.
The uses of a performance appraisal include the determination of the employees’ readiness for appointments to higher posts and the employee’ need for training and development interventions. It is a very useful tool for identifying ghosts (malingerers) in the system.
However, for the system to work effectively, management must show the will to implement the outcomes of the performance appraisal system. Appropriate action should be meted against employees who are found wanting.
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