On August 29, 2018, the International School Network visited the Embassy of Zambia to interview the Ambassador, Her Excellency Mrs. Ndiyoi Muliwana Mutiti.
H.E. Mrs. Mutiti introduced to us some aspects of education in Zambia that she finds unique. Firstly, she is glad that Zambian education is open to everyone and all genders, which she finds is not common all over the world. Furthermore, students are required to pass exams to get into the next stages of school. This is the case for entering junior high from elementary school, senior high from junior high school, and university.
Zambia is a very diverse country with over 73 dialects, 7 main languages, and 3 main tribes. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti highlighted despite such diversity, Zambian people are united and accepting of each others’ differences. For instance, Zambian people tend to speak multiple languages of different tribal groups, and intermarriage between tribes is very common. Furthermore, H.E. Mrs. Mutiti mentioned that Zambians often attend the cultural ceremonies of different tribal groups that are held throughout the year, most on an annual basis.
H.E. Mrs. Mutiti explained that Christianity is a common value that is deeply rooted among the Zambian community. The belief of a personal relationship with God has led to unity and harmony among the people. The churches of Zambia also act as a structure of unity as they attract people of different regions and tribes to come together.
Despite the apparent Western influences on Zambian culture, such as the common language English, H.E. Mrs. Mutiti ensures that Zambian traditions are very strong and rooted. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti shared that culture is well preserved because every tribe has unique cultural ceremonies, and the people are very friendly and community-based. This means that the bond of family extends beyond relatives and to the neighbors. For instance, an elderly neighbor can help out or scold a younger one and be respected, even if they are not blood related. Furthermore, the outgoing nature of Zambian people was highlighted by H.E. Mrs. Mutiti who demonstrated that Zambian people would always converse with one another on public transport. She found that in Japan, it is rare for strangers to make conversation on trains, while in Zambia, it is the opposite; whoever visits Zambia will be talked to by friendly locals.
H.E. Mrs. Mutiti showed us the African print clothing, chitenge, which is a fabric designed with very bright colors. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti expressed that the vibrant colors are representative for the happy and exuberant personalities of African people. As used in the national flag and emblem, Zambia has four national colors: green, red, black, and yellow. On days of national events, H.E. Mrs. Mutiti explained that more than half of the people would attend wearing chitenge designed with the four national colors. Similarly, especially in the rural areas, H.E. Mrs. Mutiti commented that people would wear the print fabric on top of their normal clothes as a sign of respect.
Nature & Tourism
H.E. Mrs. Mutiti passionately explained to us the beauty of nature in Zambia. Zambia is home to more than 20 national parks, where animals are protected with full rights. She explained that a common misconception is that animals live with humans in the cities; animals are wild and therefore cannot coexist with human civilization. People can watch the animals in the game parks where they can stay at lodges. The lodges within the game parks are made by environmentally friendly materials, and can range from 5-star accomodations to lodges fit for backpackers.
The natural parks in Zambia are very vast and cover much of the land of the country. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti explained that the largest game park in Zambia is larger than the area of Switzerland! Most of the area of Zambia is livable and its entire area covers twice the area of Japan, yet the country has a sparse population. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti explained that to get to various parts of the nation, it may be necessary to drive through the roads of the national parks. When herds of animals pass by the road, instead of hurrying to the other side, cars must peacefully and quietly wait for the animals to finish crossing.
As an interesting tourist attraction, H.E. Mrs. Mutiti recommends the lodge built in the middle of an elephant trail. During the season of mangoes in November, the elephants form a trail to the mango trees that goes straight through a lodge. Tourists can quietly watch the herd of elephants walk into one side of the lodge and out of the other.
H.E. Mrs. Mutiti also recommends tourists to visit Victoria Falls, the widest waterfall in the world: 1.7 kilometers wide. The nature of Zambia offers various adrenaline sports such as bungee jumping and white water rafting. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti also noted that people can enjoy peaceful sports such as canoeing along rivers where the scene of animals coming to the riverbanks to drink can be enjoyed.
Zambians live very close to nature, and so the people and government of Zambia make efforts to protect it. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti explained that there are regulations in Zambia for trees to be planted whenever one is cut down, and for the prohibition of destructive substances or chemicals in the environment. Furthermore, production methods are implemented such as the coals made by trees that must not be damaging to the environment.
Relations with Japan
H.E. Mrs. Mutiti explained that Zambia has always had very strong relations with Japan, ever since the nation’s independence. In fact, the night when Zambia had gained independence on October 24, 1964, the Olympics games were held in Tokyo. The Zambian team was participating under their old name and flag, yet at midnight in Zambia during the closing ceremony of the Olympics, the team held up their new flag and celebrated their independence. Now, Zambians know Japan close to heart, as H.E. Mrs. Mutiti explained that 50% of the cars in Zambia are Japanese.
There has been ongoing ODA from Japan as experts have contributed to various private sector companies. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti explained that as a developing nation, Zambia is constantly improving their ability to do business, and so she hopes that Japanese companies can come to Japan further. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti mentioned that there are investment potentials in Zambian energy, agriculture, and infrastructural development, such as hospitals, bridges, and roads. She noted that the possibilities of cooperation would be a win-win situation, as corporations that come to Zambia would be able to profit and succeed while Zambian people can experience economic development.
There are various areas in which Zambia and Japan can increase in cooperation. As aforementioned, H.E. Mrs. Mutiti’s passion is to increase that Japanese private sector participants in the Zambian economy. Furthermore, H.E. Mrs. Mutiti hopes that the two countries can strengthen in cultural experience, as the nations are both strong in culture, as well as in tourism. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti aspires that more Japanese people can visit Zambia to experience the nation’s beauty.
H.E. Mrs. Mutiti noted that globalization is the product of the advancement of technology. Now, no country can live in isolation. She believes that every country has a different strength that should be brought forward for the common good and for improving the quality of life of the people. She explained that laws and regulations should be strong so that strong economies can work with weaker economies to build a more even and balanced playing field; there should be an equal opportunity for all.
H.E. Mrs. Mutiti emphasized the importance of Japanese expertise in Africa. Conferences like TICAD has been important for shared exchanges of knowledge and experience that Japan can also benefit from. In such way, working together has been and will be an important part of the globalized world.
For the prevalence of world peace, H.E. Mrs. Mutiti explained that international structures such as the United Nations and African Union should address challenges, monitor compliance, and put interventions where necessary. She noted that rules and regulations govern how each country should behave in terms of both internal and international relationships. For example, African Union sends election monitors to countries for election transparency. There must be people accountable to mechanisms and nations should relate to manage peace. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti believes that peace is required by God, as people should respect their fellow men and look after the interests of each other.
As a first step towards ending world poverty, H.E. Mrs. Mutiti emphasized the importance of the government setting the right policies and programs, so that countries can channel resources well and in priority. On the international scale, H.E. Mrs. Mutiti mentioned that poor countries are in need of an even playing field, in which the trading system is balanced, with value added for respective companies. Countries must be able to get wealth for their resources and should be able to take the finished products to trade. Policies are therefore a key factor for fair trade, and H.E. Mrs. Mutiti commented that simple ODA is helpful but not a solution.
H.E. Mrs. Mutiti commented that the women’s status is rising in Zambia, especially thanks to the ministry specifically designated for gender issues. There are interventions and programs for girls to get equal opportunities for education, which has resulted in many women in leadership positions. Albeit the fewer number of qualified women than men in Zambia, there are many women who have leadership. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti mentioned that women are entrepreneurial, as women nowadays are able to access capital with the help of microfinancing. However in Japan, there are relatively few women who hold influential positions in both the private sector and in the government. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti has noticed that in Japan, Ambassadors are assumed to be men, while in Zambia, almost 50% of the Ambassadors are women. Nonetheless, although women have been more accepted in leadership positions in Zambia than in Japan, the majority for both countries is still dominated by men. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti hopes that more Zambian women can obtain higher education, as she believes that women are good at looking after others and their whole village; educating women would benefit the whole village. She hopes that more women can gain opportunities to build their areas of expertise, and rights for maternal leaves, which are, despite being a sacrifice, necessary. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti explained that sacrifices must be done and be prepared for in order to achieve an even playing field.
H.E. Mrs. Mutiti’s message towards Japan is her appreciation towards the “beautiful and friendly” country. She hopes that Japanese people can go beyond their conservative nature to reach out and find out more about they don’t know about, such as in Africa. She assured that Zambia in particular has many aspects that Japanese people are yet to discover. H.E. Mrs. Mutiti noted that the mass media does not necessarily report good stories about countries, so it is important that people visit, discover for themselves, and experience “pleasant surprises”.