Opinion: Go Well Ba Nkandu; We’ll Miss You

faxon-nkanduMany tributes from journalists are pouring in about the late Fackson Nkandu. Naturally those without any interest in journalism would have been wondering what the fuss is all about this Nkandu especially that journalists die a little too frequently everywhere else.

Not too many people give a rat’s ass about journalists anyway. Maybe that is why perhaps outside the journalistic corridors the name does not ring a bell. But bringing it a little too closer to home ba Nkandu is father to former ZNBC journalist Maureen although I doubt that is how the old man would have loved to be identified for he was very easily identifiable on his own credentials.

Ba Nkandu was a journalist and public servant although his most recognisable works are those spent as a trainer. He put in many years at Evelyn Hone College and also founded the Norma Jean Journalism Institute that has living examples of recognizable journalists in the industry standing as tall as anybody. It is not for the seriousness of his lecturing that many journalists and anybody else who met him in life remember most about him.

He could be sometimes dangerously humorous to the point of being dismissed as a clown. Trust me he could put up quite a comic posture before his students that few could forget an encounter with him.

Here is a man with his bent posture unmistakably due to old age and grey hair standing in testimony to his advanced age and his opening line on your first day in journalism school goes something like, My names bane are Fackson Nkandu and please it is Fackson with an A? Before you could grasp the joke he would have already launched into a Media Law and Ethics lecture.

Or just when everyone was getting a little too serious about class his eyes could veer in some direction and launch into something like, “Kasimbi (girl) do not look at lecturers like that your eyes are so attractive toward lecturers!” Just when everyone thought he was done he could go like, “I am serious”. But then that is how you always got hooked on his classes as you never knew what he would throw at you next.

But one never lost the core of his messages and with his ever present message that he lived of a journalist bane (friends) has to be smart. Yes that he was a living testimony of his smartness gospel with trademark four piece blazers.

Or at his witty best could ask a journalist wannabe say “Kasimbi (girl) why do you want to be a journalist?” And the student would go like, “I love travelling and meeting a lot of people.” And Ba Nkandu with a plain face would say, “Then why not just be a bus conductor.”

That is how deep his humour pool ran once he went deep in his occasional indiscretions at the height of his powers he could belt out so dangerously truthful account as, “bane (friends) when I was a journalist and we went to a function I had a friend Shi Mumbi and if went to a place and we are looking out for beautiful women and if Shimumbi whispers to me in the direction of a beautiful woman saying HaHaP that meant Her Husband Present!” well for those that did spend at least a year or just months under the hands of Ba Nkandu they will know that by far the greatest gift he had was ease with which he delivered lasting knowledge to his students.

There were no doubting his knowledge and passion for journalism as he demonstrated last year on May 3 when he joined scribes to celebrate World Press Freedom Day on a wheelchair. Ba Nkandu loved his country. He would say, “Zambia my country which country is also yours.”

He sometimes would veer off into politics. And he didn’t kind words for one politician who he described as “nincompoop”. He once almost got his class in trouble with his humour when a senior manager at Evelyn Hone College stormed class on an administrative issue and with the lady barely out of earshot ba Nkandu was at it saying, “That is Ms Musonda (name withheld) bane, she is not so ugly?” once everyone burst into laughter there that awkward moment coming back to find out what had just happened but as quickly as he had said it he just carried on with class.

Ba Nkandu was in a class of his own. What a legend! A journalism luminary. At 82, ba Nkandu had lived a full biblical life and all we can do is celebrate his life

Go well Ba Nkandu. The profession you served and so dearly loved will miss you!

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