Sunday, December 07, 2008

Monthly Update for December 2008

Our Facebook group, Build a school in Africa, continues its rapid growth. We now have over 300 memebers. Thanks to all who have joined so far and please keep inviting your friends to join us! Raising awareness of our project is the key to our venture to build a school in Zambia being a success.One thing I love about our group is that the vast majority of our members are between 14 and 25. Mandela famously said that “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” In supporting this venture your greatness is certainly blossoming and will help to empower a generation of Zambian children to themselves to blossom.

Our fundraising ventures are still in their infancy but wheels are certainly in motion. The students at St Bendict's Catholic College have continued to raise funds for our charity, the Thembinkosi Foundation. Thanks guys. Keep up the good work and all the best with your upcoming fashion show! Year 10 students at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic College have also got involved in raising awareness and fundraising for the Thembinkosi Foundation and our projects. They have even set up a group on MySpace to promote our venture.

Please join the group:

The Thembinkosi Foundation now has a Bank Account and as such can receive donations! Please make a donation, set up a Standing Order, encourage your parents/guardians, brothers and sisters to do the same. Our older members (like myself!) could seek the support of their employers? Perhaps you might think of supporting the Thembinksosi Foundation this Christmas?

Bank Account details:Account: Thembinkosi Foundation
Bank: Barclays Bank
Sort Code: 205094
Account Number: 63226387

You can make a donation online, at any Barclays bank or at any Post Office.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sustainable development, bio-diversity and environmental awareness in Zambia

Humankind has a duty to analyse and act upon environmental issues. The generations of the future have to be environmentally aware if we are to survive. It is vital that concepts such as sustainable development, bio-diversity and how to achieve environmental awareness whilst retaining a sense of environmental integrity are grasped. The Zambezi International School will be a truly unique, co-educational institution, based on the banks of the Zambezi River in the heart of the most important safari area in the whole of Southern Africa

ZIS will see the birth of a revolutionary educational ethos; through the medium of the natural environment, pupils can be exposed to issues of multiculturalism and the challenges of the environment itself, where they test themselves in a different context within a variety of appropriate activities so promoting a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them.

ZIS will be the first school of its type in Southern Africa and possibly the world. A school with an environmental philosophy, a thirst for social justice and a determination to make a difference. Based in the Kazangula District of Southern Province on the shores of the mighty Zambezi River, with a strong commitment towards community upliftment, outreach projects and the empowerment of local people.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monthly Update - November 2008

Thanks to all who joined our Facegroup 'Build a school in Africa'! Your support is greatly appreciated and will make a real difference in the lives of many young people in the developing world.

The first thing we want to do is thank the students at St Benedict's Catholic College for their tremendous fundraising efforts. Will Doran is keeping me up to date with your efforts. You guys are amazing!

We are currently in negociations with one of the Chiefs in the Kazangula District about securing land for the development of the Zambezi International School and we are making progress! The Chief is very impressed with our plans and believes that we will make a real difference in the lives of his 'subjects.' All being well we should be applying for planning permission within the next couple of months or so. Constance is doing an amazing job from her base in Livingstone and is working closely with local officials to ensure that everything runs smoothly. We have now set up an account for the Thembinkosi Foundation.

We will shortly be updating our website with details of how our supporters can contribute to our fundraisng effort. Every little helps and ever pound will go towards the betterment of people's lives in Zambia! As soon as we have £5000 in our account we can apply for charitable status through the Charity Commission. Hopefully we will have filed our application before the next newsletter!

We have written a letter to many prominent politicians, celebrities and sports stars. It would be great to have some famous people backing our project! I have posted a copy of the letter I sent on the discussion board on Facebook. Please feel free to send it on our behalf. You might be a friend or relative of an England international, best mates with someone of Hollyoaks or have a rich uncle/aunt!!! Please ask them to support the Thembinkosi Foundation in our quest to Build a school in Africa! At this stage of the project we are still very much about raising awareness and drumming up support for our venture.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Zambian Elections 2008

Rupiah Banda (MMD) is the new President of Zambia. He's won the election by the narrowest of margins defeating Michael Sata by about 1% of the vote. Sata and his Patriotic Front party are now crying foul and claiming that the election has been stolen from them. Unfortunately The Post newspaper, once a bastion of impartiality, is adding fuel to what might turn out to be a nasty fire. Sata said before the election that he would only accept the outcome if he won! The danger is that he now tries to mobilise the popular support he has in the urban areas and causes civil disobedience. Zambia is a peaceful country with no history of violence and there is great respect for the rule of law. However, Sata is a dangerous populist and should he wish to he can organise and mobilise a dangerous level of support from the most disenfranchised people in Lusaka and across the Copperbelt. He has the support of many of the poorest people in the cities and one can just pray that Sata is moderate in the way in which he calls for action from his supporters.

One would hope that Mr Sata takes a step back and thinks before he opens his mouth. Unfortunately precedent would suggest that this won't be the case. Part of the problem is that Sata led in the early stages of the election process. The first constituencies to be declared after Thursday's election were those in the urban areas - PF strongholds - and thus Sata built a strong lead as results were returned. However, the MMD has great support in rural areas and these results were declared after the urban results. Thus Sata's lead was chipped away constituency by constituency until ultimately Banda overtook him and was declared the winner.

Part of Sata's problem is that in his arrogance he fails to appeal to a cross section of society in Zambia and cannot see that without appealing to voters across all provinces he cannot win the presidency. As in 2006 Sata has lost an election because he could not gain support in the countryside. Rather than face this reality Sata cries foul!

Had Sata been blessed with wisdom he wouldn't have broken off negotiations with Hakainde Hichilema and his UNPD party. HH, as he is fondly known, about a third of the vote - mainly in his stronghold of Southern Province. Evidently had Sata and HH reached an electoral pact then one of them may well have secured the presidency. One can only speculate what happened behind closed doors but one suspects that HH knows that his day may well come whilst Sata, a man in his seventies already, was in his last chance saloon as far as the presidency is concerned. The fact that Hichilema can secure a third of the vote from the third party certainly suggests that he may well become the 'Obama' of Zambian politics.

One hopes that Rupiah Banda will continue the legacy of Levi Mwanawasa. The fact that he was the Vice President and from the same political party bodes well for a level of continuity. Let's hope that his critics, and particularly Sata and the Post newspaper, are willing to work with him to secure a brighter future for all Zambians.

The Post has particularly disappointed me during this election campaign. Their reporting has been subtly partisan and anti Banda. They have persisted in referring to him by his first name, whilst referring to Sata by his surname, which is clearly disrespectful in Zambian society. They have made accusation after accusation against Banda's character on the word of witnesses as reliable as those who testified against Christ. In the interest of unity and peace one hopes that the Post will now give Rupiah Banda a chance to govern. The Post has a history of keeping Zambian politicians 'on their toes' and one hopes that they continue to do so in the interest of the people of Zambia but in a non partizan and unbiased way.

I write as one who subscribes to the Post and has long admired the role the newspaper has played in Zambian democracy but who has grown disheartened with the publication in recent months.

Finally I congratulate Rupiah Banda on his victory and pray for peace and prosperity for all Zambian people.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Social Justice and Human Dignity

The Ctholic Church gets a bad press these days and is often dismissed as irrelevant by many in the 'West'. However, the Church does some tremendous work in the promotion of social justice and human dignity in the world.

Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga is the leader of the Catholic Church in Honduras and a leading proponent of Social Justice. He is a modern day hero!

Here are some quotes from a recent Tablet article that I found absolutely inspirational: (

On the $700 billion bail out of Wall Street:
"Seventy billion?” incredulous at the figure, then he realises his error. "No, seven hundred billion!" President of Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based umbrella organisation for Catholic charities in 162 nations, Rodríguez shakes his head and says: "I am very sad that the riches of this country [the United States] are being used to save big corporations who we don't know are honest or corrupt."
He repeats the astonishing sum: "Seven hundred billion. Can you imagine that money, and only because people are not able to run their corporations in the right way. How come it is always the money of the poor that is lost? How come the money of the rich is always saved? I'm not blaming or accusing, just putting the facts on the table. When it comes to alleviating poverty, there are no resources. But when it comes to saving the rich, there are always resources."

On Third World and First World:
"We need to be able to imagine ourselves not in a Third World and a First World but in one world in which our duties to the poor are shared. We need to imagine a world in which the needless deaths of nearly 10 million children a year are an abomination that cannot be tolerated,"

On Liberation Theology:
"few people will talk about liberation theology these days". He himself is not so reticent. Rodríguez recalled a conference on the Church's social teaching two years ago in Mexico where Fr Gustavo Gutiérrez, the Peruvian theologian considered a founder of liberation theology, was asked if the movement was dead. "I don't know if it is dead. I was not invited to the funeral," the cardinal says Gutiérrez quipped before adding: "Eighty per cent of liberation theology is the option for the poor, and this is alive." Cardinal Rodríguez himself seconds that view, and it is one he always preaches at the Vatican, where he says officials "don't know the reality on the ground". That reality, he says, is one of the markers differentiating the Church in the underdeveloped South from that of the industrialised North.

On Development:
"Development is the new name for peace," Paul VI declared more than 40 years ago in his great social justice encyclical, Populorum Progressio, and Cardinal Rodríguez sees the same challenge today. Yet this is not a question of a one-way sacrifice, North to South, he says, rather it is about rectifying an imbalance across the board. He points to labour being concentrated in the South and capital in the North. He contrasts residents in the southern hemisphere being held back by the basics they cannot afford, while those in the North seek luxuries they cannot afford, and adds: "When you do not have limits, you always need more. So you get this vicious cycle that leads the economy to this crisis."
"Let's think of goals that are not economic," says Rodríguez. "It is a big mistake to reduce life to the economic sphere. There is no time for writing, thinking, reflecting - using your brain to be more, not to have more."
"There should be limits. This is wisdom."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

ZIS on Facebook

Thembinkosi Foundation has launched a Facebook group called Build a school in Africa. The aim of the group is to spread awareness of our project proposals and subsequently to co-ordinate some of our fundraising ventures. Please visit our group at:

Build a school in Africa

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Living Simply, West Papua & ZIS

In recent times I have been reflecting a great deal on the themes of living simply and of sustainable development. Yesterday at the J & P day Serile from West Papua gave an amazing account of fishing in his country. He told us that in West Papua there is a consensus among the people that when one goes fishing one only uses a simple fishing line. He said that fishing nets were available in West Papua but in order to ensure that people only fished to an extent whereby they could feed their own family all agreed to only fish in order to feed themselves and their families. If only this philosophy could be adopted across the world. Imagine a world where people only sort enough?!? There is so much that the world can learn from its poorest and most marginalised people. And yet it's the 'Western' countries that are called 'developed!'

This is this sort of community that we seek to create at the Zambezi International School. We envisage a school where all live in solidarity, with one another and the wider community. We envisage a school which is self sufficient and at one with its environment. We envisage a school which sustainable in its mission to empower its students and the people of its wider community through a range of outreach projects.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Free West Papua

I spent much of today at a Justice and Peace day - where I met some truly inspirational people. I was privileged to meet the UK based leader of the West Papuan independence movement, Benny Wenda, for the second time, as well as his compatriot and fellow activist Serile. These two men are part of only two families who have managed to escape oppression in West Papua and flee to the UK to raise the profile of the political oppression faced by the people of their country at the hands of the Indonesian government. The stories they have to tell are amazing. Benny's story is a harrowing one of being forced from his home as a child and growing up with a disability whilst living in hiding in the jungle from Indonesian troops who brutalised, and still brutalise, his people. Benny later describes his experiences of being shunned and spat at by Indonesian schoolmates and of being arrested and imprisoned as an adult. The story of his escape into Papua New Guinea and his subsequent journey to the UK is captivating. Benny is the most gentle and captivating of speakers and someone who truly inspires his audience.

More information about the Free West Papua movement can be found at:
Free West Papua

A sickening aspect of the West Papua story is that multinational companies are exploiting the natural wealth of the West Papua and are working in cahoots with the Indonesian government. BP are one such multinational company who are developing a massive natural gas project in West Papua in the midst of a genocide. Although BP claim that they don't actually pay money directly to the Indonesian military, unlike one or two other multinationals, their work still benefits the Indonesian government and thus indirectly funds the brutalisation of the West Papuan people. For more information about BP's role in West Papua see:
Boycott BP

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Exciting developments

Wow! We are totally gobsmacked by the number of people joining our Facebook group 'Build a school in Africa.' The interest in our project is overwhelming. It's interesting how many people want to help us with the project as well. Several teacher friends have expressed an interest in working in Zambia once the school and outreach projects have started!

Our fundraising venture is in its infancy at the moment but the rollercoaster ride is about to get exciting! Ideally an Angel Investor who believes in our project would be a godsend but we are so grateful to all those people who have committed themselves to supporting us financially. It really is the case that every little bit helps.

When Betty and I moved to Liverpool 5 years ago from Botswana we promised ourselves we'd empower ourselves and then head back to Africa to make a real difference to people's lives. Through the grace of God that's what we are going to do!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

ZIS and the empowerment of teachers

ZIS will also operate as a beacon school within the Kazangula district offering a range of outreach projects to partner schools. ZIS will work with partners to promote the Continued Professional Development of teachers in partner schools, collaborative In Service Training provided by our most experienced and successful teachers and will provide opportunities for pupils across the district to learn within our state of the art campus.

Monday, September 29, 2008

ZIS Summer School

ZIS will operate a summer school during closure in both December and August. Students for the summer school are to be drawn from across Africa and from Europe and North America. The summer school programme will be based upon issues relating to sustainable development, the arts, sports, the environment and issues relating to HIV & Aids. Accreditation will be sought for the summer school programme.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Outreach at ZIS

ZIS will not be cocooned from the wider community. ZICS will be a focal point for the empowerment of local people.
ZIS will provide considerable employment opportunities for local people and as the school develops will serve as a focal point for lifelong learning within it’s vicinity through outreach programmes and an extended school facility.
ZIS will work within the community to develop:
agricultural projects working alongside local farmers,
improve literacy and numeracy levels of the adult population,
develop an awareness of environmental and conservation issues,
promote the Arts and Culture,
develop an academy of sporting excellence.
ZIS ultimately will become a beacon school that will reach out beyond it’s perimeters to promote solidarity and sustainable development within the wider community.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The unique nature of ZIS

The Thembinkosi Foundation exists to build and sustain Co-educational school in Sub Saharan Africa. We are not the only organisation committed to the building of schools in the region but we are one of a few organisations committed to ensuring the sustainability of the schools we build. We aim to ensure that our project is self sufficient and sustainable through:
The building and running of our own schools. This ensures that the fruits our work is not squandered by corrupt government or local officials, as is sadly so often the case in the developing world. We at Thembinkosi Foundation ensure that our employees are accountable for the quality of education that they provide and that sustainable support is provided to our staff.
The charging of fees for the majority of students attending ZIS. This should ensure financial sustainabilty within the first three years of operation. Evidence suggests that private schooling not only benefits the middle classes in the developing world but benefit all.
Private schools to benefit the poor
Ensuring that day to day self sufficient nature of our community through the keeping of animals, the growing of crops, the use of sustainable bio fuels and the use of solar and micro hydro electric power. ZIS will be built on the banks of the Zambezi thus ensuring a sustainable source of water for our agricultural projects.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Our Vision for the Zambezi International School

The Zambezi International School will be a prestigious co-educational independent school offering modern boarding facilities and an outstanding teaching staff. Students will be drawn primarily from within Zambia but the school will also be marketed in neighbouring countries.
The school will offer a curriculum diet of IGCSE and A Levels/Pre U courses that enable students to secure entry to Universities in the UK, Europe, US, etc. One of the unique features of ZIS will be our outreach and empowerment programme. This programme will involve teachers and other professionals from ZICS working with teachers in other schools to promote the sharing of best practice and the betterment of the educational experiences of all children in the vicinity of our school.
ZICS will be founded on the philosophy that future generations of ethical, committed leaders are the key to Zambia’s development. The schools vision is to be the training ground for these future leaders of Zambia and beyond. ZIS will draw 11-19 year old students from Zambia and beyond.
The ultimate objective is to create a network of future African leaders who can collaborate to drive positive change throughout the continent for the betterment of all. ZIS will launch in September 2012 with an anticipated initial intake of 50/100 students and will grow annually through a curriculum roll out programme.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thembinkosi Foundation - The Website

Today saw the birth of This is a particularly exciting development for us as it's another step on the way to turning a vision into reality. I'm also personally quite proud of myself as I built the website myself! No great shakes to many I'm sure but it's an achievement that I am proud of! It is rather basic but contains most of the importnat information about our plans to build and sustain a school/schools in Zambia and to provide outreach projects in the wider community we will serve.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Zambezi International School

Thembinkosi Foundation has been developed and has taken on an added dimension. It is no longer merely a blog about my experiences of living and working in Botswana and Zambia and my thoughts about life and religion in Sub Saharan Africa. Thembinkosi Foundation now has a mission to bring high quality education to Zambia. The Thembinkosi Foundation will seek to raise the required funds to build and sustain the Zambezi International School on the shores of the Zambezi River in the Kazangula District of Southern Province, Zambia. The project we invisage is tremendously exciting and we are sure can have a real impact in developing and sustaining education across the region.