By Sakwiba Sikota
“Wakanda Forever” the sequel to “Black Panther” is about to be released. Sampa the Great has provided some music to the soon to be released movie giving it a Zambian twang.
There was Hollywood type action in Zambia yesterdasy in Chalala staring Agness Kapwaya and Robby Chitambo leading to the rescue and release of Pamela Chisumpa the mobile money agent and twelve other abductees aged between seventeen to twenty eight years old.
“His act of great bravery exemplifies the values which help unite our national community, such as courage, selflessness, altruism and taking care of the most vulnerable,” would apply not only to Robby but also to Agness. These words were however not said about Agness or Robby.
These words were in a decree signed by French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe referring to Mamoudou Gassama.
Four years ago in Paris France Mamoudou Gassama, a young 22-year-old Malian migrant, rescued a four year old child dangling from a balcony and the video showing him scaling up four floors to rescue the child went viral.
By the time Parisian emergency services arrived at the building, he had already pulled the child to safety. This is much like today’s drama; by the time the Zambia Police arrived the abducted girls had already been rescued by Agness and Robby.
The Paris fire brigade tweeted: “Mamoudou shares the values of the Paris fire brigade. We are ready to welcome him.” The Zambia Police did not mention Robby or Agness in their press release and unlike the Paris Fire Brigade who did not claim credit for the rescue; Zambia Police seem to want to receive awards and credit for the rescue.
The official statement from Zambia Police reads in part, “With a sense of relief I would like to inform the nation through you the press that today the 3rd October, 2022 we have managed to safely rescue Pamela Chisumpa together with thirteen other ladies that were held captive in a house in Chalala area of Lusaka…….
This was after a long protracted investigation that we have continuously pursued since April this year when she was abducted along Cairo road in Lusaka.”
There was no mention of the central role played by Agness or Robby. It is gratifying that people like Laura Miti, Thomas Sipalo and Miles Sampa have recognized in their various public posts the role played by Agness and Robby.
Miles Sampa wrote, “The girl [Agness] could have been hurt and they caught her escaping while Robby was extra brave and mobilized friends to go rescue the other girls including Pamela.
The girl [Agness] risked her life escaping and so did Robby taking the matter in his own hands raiding the captive house. They raided without any sophisticated weapons but just an axe.“
President Emmanuel Macron invited Gassama to the Élysée Palace a day or two after the incident, where he was given a certificate and a gold medal for performing an act of courage and dedication.
President Hakainde must take steps like President Macron did for Gassama and honour Agness and Robby for their bravery and selfishness. We do not have to wait for the next Heroes and Unity Day and a special investiture ceremony can be done like he did when he conferred The Order of The Eagle of Zambia’ 1st Division, to former President of Liberia Sirleaf Johnson, Former President of the Republic of Liberia, Former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo,, and Former President of Sierra Leone Ernest Bai Koroma earlier this year.
President Hakainde would not even need to explain to the Zambian people why he is giving Agness and Robby the award.
Macron gave Gassama the not only the award but also French citizenship because Gassama earned the international sobriquet ‘Spider-man’ after he scaled a Paris building to save a boy hanging from a fourth-floor balcony.
Everyone agrees that Robby and Agness, who scaled the wall to save the abductees, are our Zambian ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Spider-woman’.