NEWLY appointed Zambia Boys Brigade chief executive secretary Mr James Chirwa has set for himself a progressive but mammoth target to transform the movement.
His greatest desire is to see that the organization fulfil its calling to evangelise young boys, Mr Chirwa said in an interview soon after the closure of the Boys Brigade 42nd National Council held in Ndola recently.
With his appointment, Mr Chirwa becomes the ninth executive secretary in the organization that has been in existence in Zambia since 1965.
First Republican President Dr Kenneth Kaunda introduced Boys Brigade after his visit to Scotland where despite his busy schedule he could not help but notice the way young Scottish boys carried on with their activities.
Dr Kaunda was exceptionally impressed with the brass band that was mounted in his honour.
Today, the Boys Brigade in Zambia has become an international interdenominational Christian organization, which has been established in a number of churches.
So far, according to records in Mr Chirwa's office, the organization exists in United Church of Zambia (UCZ), Anglican Church, Reformed Church in Zambia (RCZ), Presbyterian Church, Church of God, Grace Ministries, the Nazarene and a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) called Save Our Souls (SOS).
Founded on October 4, 1883 by Sir William Alexander Smith, the Boys Brigade run its activities with the object of being "the advancement of Christ's Kingdom among boys and the promotion of habits of obedience, reverence, discipline, self-respect and all that tends towards a true Christian manliness.
And the organisation's Motto is "Sure and steadfast" which is taken from the book of Hebrews Chapter 6 v19.
It is in line with this as well as the Boys Brigade vision which is " to be the youth organization of choice" that Mr Chirwa is determined to see more young boys be moulded into good citizens.
Married to Doreen and father of one, Mr Chirwa attended primary school at Valley View in Kitwe and moved to Mukuba Secondary school where he completed his Form V before undertaking teacher training in Kitwe in 1985.
Mr Chirwa also has qualifications in Project Planning and Management and School Management, and is presently studying for a programme in Education at the Zambia Open University.
Commenting on his new appointment, Mr Chirwa said although the organization had encountered a number of challenges he sees these as "temporary setbacks".
With the three-year strategic plan that the National Executive Committee (NEC) has put in place, Mr Chirwa is confident that collectively they will succeed in meeting their aspirations.
"The Boys Brigade is well organized in terms of structures. The Brigade is not the executive secretary but had the national executive committee, the presidents committee and the full time staff who include the business development officer, the training development officer and the administration assistant. They have all been very supportive," he said.
The Brigade has four districts and over 35 battalions. There are also voluntary office bearers who help implement the programmes.
Of course one of the major challenges has been to reach out to all members who were spread throughout the country. It has not been easy to develop and maintain contact with all of them, he said.
Mr Chirwa encouraged other churches to form the Boys Brigade, as it would give young boys spiritual, social, physical and educational benefit.
"The thing we have all come to realize is that we are not merely members but missionaries trying to preach the word of God and speak and practice morals to the boys. We have strengthened our bible studies, prayer meetings and outreach programme. All that we do is centred of the gospel. We have purposed to see that officers become good role models to the boys," Mr Chirwa emphasized.
The Boys brigade was also keen to see that the Kaniki training centre was developed into a self-sustaining institution so as to enhance the operations of the organization.
Kaniki centre, which is located along Ndola/Mufulira road, are the headquarters for the Boys Brigade in Ndola.
The centre has structures, which monitor the daily operations of the movement. One of the sub-committees is the Estates and Projects committee, which is handled by the Business Development Officer.
Sitting on a 10-hectare plot, the centre has a banana plantation, fishponds with about 1200 fingerlings and poultry.
Mr Chirwa said the Brigade also intends to build a pigsty and plant citrus trees.
The place has also been opened to the public for use in various activities such as retreats, picnics and camps at affordable rates.
He said a development plan had been formulated and appealed for financial and material help to maximize usage of the land.
And during the Brigade 42nd National Council, President Rupiah Banda said in his speech read for him by Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Mr Felix Mutati, the Boys Brigade being a Christian and non-profit making organization, it must make all members become more responsive and positive to the tasks that lie ahead.
"I am sure that in the past, you have had both failures and successes. However, this year's theme: "Year 2010: A second chance" couldn't have come at a better time than this," Mr Banda said.
The president called on the brigade leadership throughout the country to ensure that the boys and officers found solutions to vices that were affecting the membership.
Their members were not spared from the cross cutting problems affecting today's youth such as unemployment, drug and substance abuse, child labour and HIV/AIDS, Mr. Banda said.
He said his government through the line ministries and other stakeholders would do their best to complement efforts being made by the Boys Brigade leadership.
"My government alone cannot do all that is needed but I ask the corporate world to give material, financial and human resource to the movement so that it can become self sustaining. Let me say that after 44 years of existence, the battle has just begun. Boys Brigade of Zambia should seek to bear more fruit in terms of quality and quantity as your task is a mammoth one," Mr Banda said.
And the longest serving Boys Brigade president Mr Francis Kaunda said during the same function that since the formation of the Boys Brigade the movement has grown in membership to over 202 companies, 13,000 boys and 1,700 officers.
?Mr Kaunda who is former Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) Chief executive said this was not a mean achievement considering the challenges being faced socially, economically and even culturally.
"In our quest to use this year's theme wisely we wish to revamp all the activities at the centre - fishing, poultry and general agriculture, provide skills training to help boys economically and create Boys recreation ground. It is in this vein that I would request your government's support financially, materially and also in human resource. Your support will go a long way in keeping boys away from bad vices and leading productive lives all to the benefit of our country - Zambia," Mr Kaunda appealed.
Mr Kaunda said that the Boys Brigade was a servant of the church. Its operation depended largely on the Chaplains' and patrons' efforts and encouragement.
"You have a unique role to play in providing spiritual, moral and material support to the boys and officers. This will enable them to deepen the understanding of their Christian faith and discipleship. The fruit of this relationship will only be seen and appreciated in the later life of the boy," he said.
In his opening remarks National chairman Mr Charles Mfune said it was the wish of the organization to install the republican president Mr Rupiah Banda as patron of the Brigade as the constitution stipulates.
On his part Mr Chirwa pledged that the resolutions passed by the council members would be implemented with extra caution and steadfast all in the quest to transform the Boys Brigade.