Zambia: Holland Kabaso's Killing - a Wake-Up Call

FRIDAY, December 14, 2012, will go down in Zambian archives as a day when Ndola exploded into wild anger in protest against the gruesome killing of a Zambian domestic worker by his Somali boss the previous day.

Home and abroad, Zambians are known to be peaceful and graceful people, but what started off as a fine cloudy morning would soon turn ugly.

The residents, mostly youths, ran amok over the death of Holland Kabaso, 36, who was shot in cold blood by Omar Mohammed Hashi.

The locals never and have not taken the death of Mr Kabaso kindly for it tore their hearts into pieces.

It does not leave any good memories with it.

Without doubt, it has had a huge psychological effect on the psychic of many. It is one thing to watch a shooting on television; it is another to see it happen in one's backyard.

It raised a lot of questions. Has Zambia opened up too much? Maybe being too good is not good enough?

The death of Mr Kabaso exposed the deep labour violations and the flaws in the immigration system.

Some foreign nationals who have made Zambia their home do not mean well after all. Some of them have openly and deliberately defied Zambian labour laws.

They have subjected locals to slave wages despite making huge profits out of the very land that provides them with labour.

Perhaps the ministry of Labour and Social Services needs to move in real quick other than waiting too late to act. More than just a labour issue, the shooting of Mr Kabaso is a serious immigration issue.

The wave of anger started in Ndeke, a township where there is the largest concentration of Somalis in Ndola.

The major target area was the mini mart, a common relaxing ground for Somalis who own various small enterprise stores at the location.

It may be argued that it was not xenophobia but justified public anger against a wicked act.

It is not in Zambians' blood to hate foreigners. Zambia has no such history. Super powers, like the United States of America (USA) are developed largely as a result of foreign immigrants.

However, the issue here is the conduct of immigrants. While the looting and beatings were wrong, the anger itself can never be more justified.

Elementary biology has it that every normal human being has five senses. It is those senses that help humans respond to the environment around them. Without those senses, a human being is merely a robot.

A child may not necessarily know the meaning of murder, but it knows that taking life indiscriminately is wrong.

Well, in the palms of the angry mob were stones of various magnitudes obviously intended for any Somali who dare showed their face in the area.

With full awareness of their compatriots' intentions, the Somali took refuge in a nearby open garage mostly occupied by trucks and trailers.

As time slowly ticked away the angry mob realised that the stones in their palms had not been put to the intended use, hence they decided to form an orderly line along Kabwe Road with the purpose of stoning any motor vehicle with a Somali on board.

Suffice to say the idea worked as at the glance of any car identified to be owned by a Somali, sounds would ring "uyo, uyo mulaseni amabwe" meaning there he is stone him.

What seemed like fun to many was agony to others and in no time the Somalis alerted the Zambia police who in no time appeared at the scene prepared for battle.

Was this October 1964 being replayed all over again?

A slight glance at a man dressed in camouflage regalia, carrying a whip in his hand is a sure sign of trouble and the crowd did not ignore the notion as they scampered in different directions for their safety.

The few brave ones equally had no choice as they only expressed their frustrations by shouting to their friends "finshi mulebutuka naimwe, niba kapokola fye aba mwitina" (meaning why you are running away, these are just police officers do not be afraid).

Police presence only sparked anger and energised the locals to go on rampage, destroying and looting property belonging to Somalis.

With the help of mobile phones, youths in the town centre mobilised their friends from townships like Masala, Ndeke, Lubuto, Mushili and several others to get involved in what could be called a "just" cause.

Villa 24 pub was the first stop for the mob which broke the entrance barrier and windows at the weekend relaxation palace.

The damage was exercised throughout Masala Market area where any shop believed to be occupied by a Somali was broken into and looted.

The sight was not different in the town centre where Somali-owned shops were looted, in turn providing citizens with a variety of goods ranging from foodstuff to household appliances.

At this time police had been overwhelmed as they ran out of teargas and sufficient manpower.

The only solution was to engage their colleagues from Kamfinsa mobile unit in Kitwe.

However, the crowd remained resilient and with all the looting going on in Masala and town centre it was confirmed that unruly people had raided Somali houses in Ndeke and Skyways, getting whatever was available.

Ndola had surely lost its "friendly city" tag and the police had no option but to clobber and nab any culprit found wanting in the fracas.

By late afternoon considerable calm had returned to Ndola with some shops in the central business district resuming their normal business operations.

Police, however, did not entertain any signs of calm as they continued with patrol services around the city.

Fortunately, the police clad in riot gear had braced themselves for a tough time as they tirelessly rushed from corner to corner trying to control the unruly crowd which vented its anger by looting and damaging shops owned by Somalis.

In the process, the police picked up 18 Zambians who were alleged to be the sole initiators of the chaos which left nine people seriously injured.

Abdisalam board member Ibrahim Mohamed said his group was against killing of humanity and urged all Somalis to obey the Zambian laws.

Ultimately, the killing of Mr Kabaso by his Somali boss over a peanut pay of K200,000, is a wake-up call. It can never and should never be ignored.

A crackdown on illegal immigrants is definitely a huge necessity now. Zambia cannot afford not to be decisive in cracking down on illegal immigrants.

It cannot afford to be an immigrant destination too early enough.

Mr Kabaso was only asking for what was rightly his from his employer who had not paid him for two months. He was owed K400,000 in arrears of two months.

There is no doubt that Mr Kabaso, who has left five children and a wife, was heavily underpaid, far below the minimum wage, which is K550,000 for domestic workers.

But this is not about Mr Kabaso, a domestic worker; it is about a human being whose rights were grossly violated.

Mr Kabaso may have been buried on Monday, December 17, but his story should provide a reflection on the abuse that Zambians continue to suffer at the hands of their foreign "masters".

How often have Zambians been insulted and called all sorts of names by some of those they work for?

Some Zambian workers have had their ears hacked while others, like Mr Kabaso, have paid with their lives.

It is tragic that most foreigners in Zambia have become so powerful that they can abuse Zambians at any cost.

By nature, Zambians are very peaceful and graceful people. However, many people, especially foreigners, like taking Zambians for granted.

This shows in the manner they are treated. A number of Zambians who work for foreigners have been reduced to objects of abuse. Some of them are paid peanuts.

As they become powerful, some foreigners have started engaging in heinous activities that include human trafficking, drug trafficking, corruption, and money laundering, to mention just a few vices.

The call by Patriotic Front (PF) Ndola District vice-chairperson Margaret Chomba over the need for Government to immediately conduct a head count of all Somalis in the country is not only timely but is also justified.

Indeed, it is worrying that the number of Somali nationals in Zambia is growing at a fast rate as the majority of them enter the country illegally.

A commission of enquiry is needed to establish how such a high number of Somalis have crossed into Zambia.

It is sad that Somalis in places like Ndola have become so powerful and are owning businesses, buildings and huge hectares of land compared to the locals.

There is need for the Government to review the criteria used to award the Somalis huge tracts of land compared to the local people.

It is difficult to understand why half of the prime land in Ndola belongs to the Somalis. Why would local people face difficulties in acquiring land for investment in their own country while it is not the case with the Somalis? Something is definitely wrong.

Thus, the announcement by Ministry of Home Affairs public relations officer Moses Suwali that the Government has started screening all foreigners is long overdue.

There is no harm in taking stock of foreign nationals who might be living in the country illegally.

Probably Zambia should learn something from the tale of the camel which on a cold night, as an Arab sat in his tent, gently thrust its nose under the flap and looked in.

"Master," the camel said, "let me put my nose in your tent. It's cold and stormy out here."

"By all means," said the Arab, "and welcome" as he turned over and went to sleep."

A little later the Arab awoke to find that the camel had not only put its nose in the tent but its head and neck too.

The camel that had been turning its head from side to side said: "I will take but little more room if I place my forelegs within the tent. It is difficult standing out here."

"Yes, you may put your forelegs within," said the Arab, moving a little to make room, for the tent was small.

Finally, the camel said, "May I not stand wholly inside? I keep the tent open by standing as I do."

"Yes, yes," said the Arab. "Come wholly inside. Perhaps it will be better for both of us."

So the camel crowded in. The Arab with difficulty in the crowded quarters again went to sleep. When he woke up the next time, he was outside in the cold and the camel had the tent to himself." The camel story should be taken seriously.

On the other hand, corrupt Zambians harbouring illegal immigrants should cease such unpatriotic activities.

Further, foreigners are welcome in Zambia but they should respect the laws, culture and people of the land.

They should not grow "wings" but humble themselves and be grateful to Zambians for welcoming them.

Zambia's hospitality should not be taken for granted!

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