How Best to Celebrate Zambia’s Golden Jubilee [column]

NOT until I was involved in some form of a casual discussion when I realised that although some gossip is in most cases associated with malicious talk, we have two types of gossip. The good and the bad gossip.
But do the same two types of gossip really have the same objectives or not?
The common perceived objectives of a gossip can be to create awareness of what is happening around us. Or to try and influence someone or some people to do something about what is happening. It can also be to encourage the subject in the gossip (one being talked about) to go ahead or not to on the issue at hand.
But it can also be true that some people are just good at picking certain beneficial or irrelevant information around them and enjoy spreading it to others for further consideration.
What is critical in this article is how some individuals’ casual conversations can help improve decision-making in organisations or in national development processes.
Therefore, this article discusses some of the best ways of handling or managing big events in organisations or in a country to ensure that an organisation or government leaders use such an event as an opportunity to systematically, effectively and efficiently tabulate successes scored and the challenges faced in the past and in the process disseminate best practices and strategies which all stakeholders should consider being actively involved in as ways to reduce on challenges and increase on successes for improved performance and profitability of individual organisations or for sustainable national development processes.
So for anyone to judge whether a gossip is good or bad, one has to dig deeper and find out if there is any sense, or malice in the gossip.
And when I was involved in a casual conversation with Gabriel C Banda when we meet at a family discussion in Makeni’s Bonaventure area, I realised that our discussion would contribute to improved and effective public relations’ (PR) practice in organisations and or for the Government.
I realised that if what we were discussing was shared with many other individuals, organisations and government top leadership as we prepare for Zambia’s 50 years of independence celebrations, each organisation and the government at large would know what to do before 24th October, 2014 the day when the celebration will reach its crescendo of 50 years of political independence. .
As we were chatting, in our humble thinking, Mr Banda who is also a development specialist and a social work development consultant said if organisations and the government had planned to celebrate the 50 years of our Golden Jubilee in accumulative events up to October 24, it would have added more value and colour to Zambia’s celebration of 50 years of independence.
Mr Banda who also reads PR Forum’s articles every Sunday in Sunday Times of Zambia said celebrating 50 years of political independence is an opportunity to reflect on our past experiences and to strategise as individual organisations and as a country for sustainable national growth.
The development specialist said: ‘We would have started commemorating this year’s 50 years of political independence a bit early this year than lumping all activities and messages on one day. We would have started with activities in various sectors to showcase, reflect and strategise for future sustainable national development processes.’
Mr Banda further said it would be cumbersome and almost impossible to catalogue, display and demonstrate all the nice things we have achieved and the challenges we have encountered in the last 50 years and as a result, it would be difficult to chart a meaningful way forward for Zambia because the day would be highly loaded with many big events and messages at once.
While appreciating what is already being disseminated in the press now, and being associated with Journalism and PR, I agreed with Mr Banda that even reporters won’t be able to effectively write all the nice stories from what would be done and said especially on the way forward of this country after such a celebration.
As a result, on this day, most reporters will be forced just to summarise the many main activities and points individuals, organisations and government leaders would do and say. This wouldn’t benefit many different stakeholders who need special messages for specific purposes.
In short, it appears one day is too short for celebrating 50 years of Golden Jubilee in a country with various successes and challenges.
Then, when Mr Banda left, I continued talking to myself silently about the same issue. I was interested in such a sustained thinking about the same issue because it was a good ‘seed’ for this column’s article.
But then, I felt before I consider such an idea for this column’s article, I should ponder why other individuals and other organisations didn’t think the way Mr Banda thought about it.
Initially, I told myself that it might be because of the same: ‘It’s business as usual’ approach to important national issues. But later I said: ‘Probably it is because of budgetary implications. May be to do it the way Mr Banda thinks about it might gobble more taxpayers’ money than expected especially if it is done in all district or in all provincial headquarters.
The whole of this forward and backwards in my thinking about how best to celebrate Zambia’s 50 years of Golden Jubilee was because Mr Banda and I were just sharing a casual conversation as we were parting way from each other.
But because some casual conversations can be beneficial or harmful to others and to top management in an organisation or in a country depending on what the grapevine is all about and depending on whether it has any sense or truth to support decision-making processes, this writer decided to pick it up from there so that my colleagues the PR practitioners can try to assess whether next time they are organising big events, they can split such a big event in bits and pieces and showcase them one after another on different days or weeks until the peak of the celebrations on the last day (October 24) to ensure that all the relevant activities and their facts and figures relating to their organisation are systematically and effectively disseminated to all stakeholders.
Such an approach would avoid a situation where an organisation bombards all different stakeholders with a huge heap of vital information at once through various news media.
Moreover, if government cannot try to do the same in this 50 years of political independence celebrations, it can consider doing so in the next golden jubilee celebrations.
However, how the proposed approach to celebrating this year’s Golden Jubilee affects government coffers depends on perception.
This function is not necessarily about the bigger the budget the more we have celebrated Zambia’s 50 years of political independence.
This is a function of taking stock as Zambians. Critical questions to ask and to answer are: What have we achieved in each sector in relation to the available natural and human resources the country has? Why? Where did we do well and why? Where didn’t we do well? Why?
From honest and objective answers to such questions, Zambia can come up with effective strategies as the way forward to make such celebrations meaningful to all Zambians as Zambia becomes a more better place to live with passage of years.
Merely spending huge sums of money on such a day to demonstrate that we have been politically independent for the past 50 years is not only part of misapplication of public funds which also invites misappropriation of such funds but it is also what has led to high unemployment and high poverty levels in this country.
With press reports that out of about 14million people, only one million are in formal employment with 60 per cent of the population in high poverty levels especially that the same reports state that 80 per cent of the rural population are still wallowing in high poverty levels, we need to celebrate this 50 years of golden jubilee with humbleness but strategically.
Let’s spend taxpayers money wisely on this day. On this day, spending money which would employ five to 10 highly qualified and experienced workers who could contribute to expansion and profitability of an organisation or spending huge sums of money which could have built another University Teaching Hospital in Kabwe or elsewhere will be unfortunate.
It is time to conduct Zambia’s SWOT Analysis. Let’s mobilise ourselves with facts and figures on our successes, our weaknesses, challenges and our opportunities and then strategies and work hard as citizens, as organisation and as a nation to ensure that we score more successes from our political independence in the next golden jubilees.
Spending huge sums of money on this day would be like how some couples wed but remain with one or two poor meals in a day for five or so years just because almost all their resources were spent during the preparations for and on the wedding day.
Let’s celebrate 50 years of political independence wisely and strategise for Zambia’s sustainable national development processes that can benefit all Zambians.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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