Lubuto establishes a Zambian Board

January 2019 saw the first meeting of a newly-formed Zambia Board to guide and assist with furthering our activities and aims in Zambia.  This board brings together distinguished individuals from various disciplines who share Lubuto’s vision of bringing the hope, knowledge, and enrichment of great libraries to Zambia’s young people, especially the most marginalized. Lubuto Zambia Board members are interested in furthering Lubuto’s work and helping it align with the needs of all of Zambia’s young people by contributing their expertise through advocacy or advice on programs, connecting us with funding partners, promoting Lubuto activities, and ensuring that Lubuto Library Partners Zambia complies with legal and governance requirements of Zambia as well as government policies and strategic plans in relevant sectors.

In reaching out to the local community to identify members of this new board, we first turned to two of our outstanding Advisory Board members, Ambassador Barbara Chilangwa and Mulenga Kapwepwe. They, along with Miyanda Kwambwa, Benson Njobvu, and Dr. Akakandelwa Akakandelwa are the inaugural members of Lubuto’s Zambia Board.

Ambassador Barbara Chilangwa

The chairperson of the Zambia Board, Ambassador Chilangwa’s first direct contact with a Lubuto library was during the first meeting for the local board in the Ngwerere Library after almost ten years of following Lubuto’s efforts. There, she learned about the different opportunities the children at the Lubuto libraries have, including reading, working on computers, listening to stories in their local languages, playing, and just being children. This experience sparked excitement in her, which has continued to her role as a member of the Zambia Board.

“I was awed by the number of children inside and around the library area, an indication that there was a force or magnet drawing the children to the area and going inside the library. There was no doubt in my mind as to why this was the case.”

Mulenga Kapwepwe

Mulenga Kapwepwe’s interest in Lubuto’s work actually predated the existence of our organization; in fact, she gave us the name “Lubuto,” recognizing that libraries would be a means of bringing enlightenment, knowledge and light into the lives of Zambia’s children, and to reconnect vulnerable children with their culture and traditions. She thus guided Lubuto’s efforts to bring back the “…great literature for children, in our own languages, that had disappeared.”  She told an audience assembled at the Zambian Embassy in the U.S. that she has “…been totally inspired by what librarians can do…. I don’t even think you know what you have done for Zambia, because we will have that literature back and can read it to the children.  It’s excellent; it’s very well-written literature…. One of the big visions for us, at Lubuto, is to get those stories back; they’re beautiful stories…they can be sung, they can be written, there are many ways they can be shared.  [At Lubuto] we’re really very much about quality…because we think every child deserves the best.”

Miyanda Kwambwa

When Miyanda first visited a Lubuto library in 2011, she was impressed with the way that Lubuto was located in the center of the community, where those the libraries serve reside. Having been involved with Lubuto through its growth, she noticed how Lubuto expands without losing its focus on the mission. As a member of the Board, Miyanda helps to strengthen the capacity of the team, and it gives her insights into how Lubuto works.

“The communities that are served would never have the opportunity to access the high quality services they receive. Lubuto is a development concept which awakens communities in slumber and gets them noticed.”

Benson Njobvu

A lecturer (and former Head of Department) in UNZA’s Department of Library and Information Science, Benson’s long, collegial relationship with us dates back to his days heading the British Council’s National Knowledge Centre and, later, the Library and Information Association of Zambia, and he has been supportive of Lubuto’s work from the get-go.  On a recent visit to one of the Lubuto libraries, Benson was thrilled to see its lively environment. He noted that the children attending the library were underprivileged young people who felt more at home there than at any other place: “It is not an exaggeration to say that Lubuto Library Partners are indeed contributing to raising a responsible generation of young people in Zambia.”

Dr. Akakandelwa Akakandelwa

Dr. Aka is a Senior Lecturer in the UNZA School of Education and Coordinator of its Master of Library and Information Science Programme. Having previously held varied positions at the UNZA Libraries, as a Senior Lecturer at Evelyn Hone College, and as a secondary school teacher as well as editor of the major LIS journals of Zambia, he is especially well-suited to provide guidance to Lubuto Library Partners. But having served as a Deputy Chair of the Management Board of the Zambia Library, Cultural and Skills Center for the Visually Impaired, and his commitment to promoting library services for children with disabilities, is perhaps what pulled him most strongly to Lubuto, and he was thrilled when he learned about Lubuto libraries’ sign language storytimes.  He advised us on acquiring materials for the blind and taught a session on “service to people with disabilities” during the national and council librarians training at the Mumuni Library in Nabukuyu village. He is also a strong supporter of the development of our partnership with the LIS department at UNZA. “Whenever I … visit a Lubuto library I marvel at the high degree of enthusiasm, passion, engagement, and enjoyment displayed by the children and youth; there’s no room for idleness, there is no dull moment. How I wish every village and community in every corner of this country had a Lubuto library! Lubuto libraries are a national heritage, and as such, they need to be cherished and supported.”

Lusaka community literary events for Lubuto’s children

In May, new friends of Lubuto Caleb Cunningham and Donal Connolly organized a Harry Potter trivia night at the Orange Tree restaurant in Lusaka to benefit Lubuto. Over 45 people came to show off their Harry Potter knowledge and to compete for prizes, including a Lubuto team made up of Nzala, Tuki, and Elizabeth. The event—the first ever Harry Potter trivia event held in Lusaka, as far as we know—raised several hundred dollars for Lubuto, and a second trivia night is tentatively planned for July.

Namwali Serpell introduced her internationally celebrated novel, The Old Drift, at the American International School of Lusaka (among other Lusaka venues) on the evening of June 11th. AISL librarians organized a mini-fundraiser for Lubuto as part of the night’s activities, with proceeds donated to Lubuto in Namwali’s name. 

In late July, friend of Lubuto and noted children’s author Paula Leyden will be returning to Lusaka (where she spent many years of her childhood). She will visit the Lubuto Model Library and the Mthunzi Library to speak to book club participants, library users, and students from nearby schools about her books set in Zambia (The Butterfly Heart and The Sleeping Baobab Tree) and her experiences as a writer. Fans of The Butterfly Heart, one of our most popular book club books, are eagerly awaiting her visit!

Lubuto’s children need your support too!

There are many ways you can support the growth, development, and reach of Lubuto libraries. Our monthly and quarterly sustaining donors are literally the lifeblood of the organization, and a modest monthly gift makes a real difference. Learn how to help here:

Volunteer of the Month

Our volunteer of the month is Zhaneta Angelovska. Born in Macedonia and living in Italy, Zhaneta is currently in Lusaka doing her “civil service,” a one-year volunteer period, with the Mthunzi Centre.  Click here to learn more.