UKUPONOKA VS ZIKOMO AMWALILA: it’s wrong to judge a non-native speaker of a language when he/she uses a wrong word- Saviour Chishimba

Saviour Chishimba

By Saviour Chishimba

UKUPONOKA VS ZIKOMO AMWALILA: it’s wrong to judge a non-native speaker of a language when he/she uses a wrong word. President FTJ Chiluba of blessed memory visited His Royal Majesty King Mpezeni. King Mpezeni told the President about a bereavement in his family.

In response the President said, “…oh zikomo amwalila…”. The President was only told by his aides inflight back to Lusaka that he was actually saying to His Majesty, “…thank you that he died…”. In the latest edition I understand that the President used the word “ukuponoka” in Kasama. I remember when I was running some workshops in rural southern province and I was addressing the village heads as “basankwa”.

I am not a native Tonga and so it was all smiles and this meant that they understood and appreciated the fact that I was trying my best to learn Tonga. It’s totally unacceptable to make political statements out of the President’s use of the word “ukoponoka”. We must encourage the use of all Zambian languages because no single tribe or language is superior to another.

I am very impressed with how the President makes every effort to speak the language of every locality he is visiting. This is worthy emulating and next time I am in southern province I will use Tonga and if I make a mistake I know that I will be corrected with love because I am a learner. Strictly speaking we suffered serious beatings (“ukupumwa/ukuponokwa – impumo) and detentions for merely speaking the truth. #OneZambiaOneNation!

In the Picture (credit: News Diggers): the day I was kidnapped by police at Diamond TV. My shoes, belt, wallet, prayer shawl (tallit), etc remained at inquiries as the woman detective opened the police cell at Woodlands Police Station for me to go in for 7 days and 7 nights without trial.


  1. Thank you Mr. Chishimbs for ss long as Zambians choose to remain in their cocoons enlightenment in other languages will be in self imposed denial for out there are always ‘teachers’ out to help correcting mistakes of the willing learner! Listening to Mr. Kambwili, to me it translates that we should not attempt to try learning/speaking languages to which we aren’t native speakers of! Him Kambwili wants to be a purist but languages evolve and words assume newer interpretations! Mr. Chishimba may to his delight may have appreciated to also learn after correction that “basankwa” could be used for prowes admiration in walks of life! Doesn’t “ichaume” also double for not being handsome and of strong character? Launguage starts evolving first around peers in usage! Thanks Prince Chishimba though what should be avoided is trying to transport meaning of words in ones mother tongue when used by a natural born ethnic speaker of the language!


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