In a remarkable journey of collaboration and community empowerment, African Pioneer, in partnership with FQM, embarked on a mission to revive exploration efforts in Mwinilunga, Zambia. This ambitious endeavor sought to not only resume exploration but also to catalyze community development in four key chiefdoms: Kanongesha, Sialunga, Chibwika, and Kanyama. As part of this visionary initiative, African Pioneer joined forces with The Bushbaby Foundation, setting the stage for a transformative partnership that would touch the lives of countless individuals in these chiefdoms.
The journey commenced on April 17th and spanned until April 21st, with the first day of community visits taking place in Sialunga Chiefdom on the 18th of April. However, what began as an inspiring voyage towards change encountered a setback due to a vehicle breakdown, extending the journey to approximately 5 to 6 hours. Despite this unforeseen delay, the team’s determination remained unwavering.
Upon arrival in Sialunga Chiefdom, the team gathered to make a significant announcement to the local chief. African Pioneer, in unison with FQM, pledged to continue exploration activities in the region, opening the door to potential development projects. Equally vital was the introduction of The Bushbaby Foundation to the chief, signifying the start of a critical partnership. The foundation’s representative engaged in a dialogue with the chief to identify the pressing needs of the community.
During this heartfelt exchange, the chief revealed the harrowing challenges faced by the community, particularly regarding the well-being of women. The chiefdom grappled with a distressing prevalence of gender-based violence, a grave issue that required urgent attention. Furthermore, the local Wamitoto Primary School, serving grades 1 to 7, struggled with inadequate infrastructure, hindering children’s ability to learn effectively. Notably, the headteacher lacked an office, making administrative tasks exceedingly challenging.
The following day, on April 19th, the team’s journey led them to Chibwika Chiefdom, approximately a three-hour drive from the previous location. The beauty and security of the chiefdom were striking, although, regrettably, the chief was absent, having traveled to Lusaka. Nonetheless, the team engaged with the chief’s representative.
In this encounter, FQM and African Pioneer reaffirmed their commitment to exploration, and The Bushbaby Foundation seized the opportunity to introduce itself. The representative learned of the community’s struggles, which included difficulties in accessing clean water, pervasive sanitation issues, and the absence of medical facilities, significantly affecting healthcare provision. Additionally, the chiefdom grappled with a high incidence of child marriages and agricultural challenges.
Continuing their mission, on April 20th, the team ventured to Kanongesha Chiefdom, a journey lasting approximately 3 to 4 hours. The delegation adhered to customary protocol, first meeting the late Kanongesha’s older brother. Following this, they had the privilege of meeting the acting Chief Kanongesha and his subjects.
In this meeting, FQM and African Pioneer reiterated their dedication to exploration, setting the stage for further collaboration. Once again, The Bushbaby Foundation introduced itself and its commitment to community development. The acting Chief shared the community’s pressing needs, highlighting the dire situation at Murumbi Primary School and Ruaru Secondary School.
At Murumbi Primary School, teachers lacked housing, making it challenging for them to commute to the school and teach the children effectively. Meanwhile, Ruaru Secondary School, a boarding school, faced an urgent need for a dormitory for its female students, emphasizing the critical importance of supporting education and addressing gender-specific concerns.
On April 20th, we aimed to reach the Kanyama Chiefdom, but a collapsed bridge thwarted our plans. Fortunately, Prince Graver, sent by the Chief, met us at 3pm. African Pioneer and FQM introduced themselves and their exploration plans, while The Bushbaby Foundation outlined its mission to aid the community.
Prince Graver shed light on pressing issues: rampant gender-based violence, underage alcohol and misconduct, school dropouts, and teen pregnancies among 12 to 20-year-olds. Schools like Kanyama Primary lacked proper materials and teacher accommodations. The community also grappled with water scarcity and sanitation challenges, often enduring water shortages.
The partnership between African Pioneer, FQM, and The Bushbaby Foundation promises to be a beacon of hope for these chiefdoms in Mwinilunga. Through exploration and dedicated community engagement, this collaboration aims to uplift these communities, addressing pressing issues like gender-based violence, education, healthcare, and agriculture. Together, they are working towards a brighter future, where the lives of the people in these chiefdoms will be forever transformed.