Monday, November 12, 2012

Random News Generator- Zambia

What seems to be heading the news in Zambia is the national soccer team's upcoming match on Wednesday against South Africa. It's not high stakes- some little thing called the Mandela Challenge Cup- but that's what heads the Google News listing right now. Zambia, reigning champions of the Africa Cup of Nations, Africa's chief national-team competition, is torn between trying to beat their regional rivals or giving some of their backups some playing time.

But past that.

News of higher consequence sees Zambia engaged in a border dispute with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The media in that part of the world has a tendency to be very antagonistic and accusatory, using very heated language to the point where even straight-laced news reports can easily end up sounding like fiery punditry, so the links we're using here may be too emotionally laced to be able to paint the full picture of what happened. But what looks to have happened is this.

There was a 17-year-old boy, Chabu Kanyinda, who died Friday in a hospital in Mufulira, Zambia, about ten miles from the Congolese border town of Mokambo. Rumors started flying that Chabu was felled by witchcraft used on him by his Congolese parents. (Witchcraft is commonly believed in around those parts.) On these rumors, things escalated quickly. A frantic effort ensued to have Chabu buried on the Congolese side of the border. This effort consisted of a mob of reportedly hundreds of Zambians trying to brute-force the coffin across the border by way of spotting a guy driving a minibus, telling him to drive the coffin over the border, and when he tells them no, smashing his window. The coffin was, unsurprisingly, ultimately placed on the minibus and driven to the border.

When you have a mob of hundreds of people trying to surge across an international border, the people on the other side of that border get very jittery very fast. When both sides of the border believe in witchcraft, and the other country finds out you're bringing in a supposedly cursed corpse to be buried with them, they get even very jitterier even very faster. When the Zambian mob hit the Congolese border, there was a fight, border guards got involved, and somewhere in the melee, a farmer named Frederick Mwandwe got shot in the thigh. He was one of six people to get shot. They're still trying to sort out who among the victims lives on what side of the border. (This is not a heavily-defended border in the abstract. Mokambo, according to Google Earth, has buildings sitting on both sides of the line; the actual border is just a dirt road. If you live in a town straddling two counties and someone built a road pretty much on the county line- as is the case in my town- that's more or less what you've got going on here. However, border defense in the abstract is not the same as border defense in terms of manpower.)

The mob was driven back over the border with tear gas, though that didn't entirely stop the riot. Chabu's body was thrown back over the border into Zambia.

There are conflicting reports as to whether the border remains open at this time.

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