BORN in rural Southern Zambia 50 years ago, Killion Munyama has risen to be one of Africa's stars on the international political arena.
Days before Zambia celebrated its 47th Independence Anniversary, Munyama was celebrating his momentous political victory, not in his native country, but across the seas and oceans.
It seems Europe and Africa are reciprocating generosity and talents: Britain gave out Dr Guy Scott, who is now Zambia's Vice-President, while Zambia gave out Dr Killion Munyama, who was recently elected member of parliament in Poland.
Interestingly, both men are economists, and both were born in Southern Province of Zambia except one is white, the other black.
While Dr Scott retains his Zambian citizenship, Dr Munyama is Polish. Dr Munyama is one of the only two black African-descendants to be elected parliamentarians in Poland.
This reporter spoke with Dr Munyama via phone from Wielkopolskie in Poland.
Question: How do you feel about your election, being the second black African to be an MP in Poland and perhaps, the first Zambian to be MP in Europe?
Answer: First and foremost, thank you very much for your call.
I am impressed by the fact that the information has spread all over to indicate how Zambians or rather Africans are doing in Europe or other foreign countries. I have been in Poland for exactly 30 years.
I came to Poland in 1981. The situation in Poland before the 80s was totally different from what we have now and this is what has enabled us people of foreign origin to be able to assimilate and be able to participate in politics.
I feel and believe that it is great success for Zambians and Africans in general to have to be member of parliament in one of the European Union countries. For that matter, the biggest country in Central and Eastern Europe.
Q: Why did you go to Poland? Was it to study?
A: I came to Poland on a scholarship in 1981 and studied international finance and upon graduation in 1987, I returned to Zambia. I was employed in the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry for almost half a year. Then I returned to Poland for a PhD programme. Ever since, I have worked here. I have been a lecturer in international finance since 1994 at the Poznan University of Economics. Of course, I visit Zambia from time to time.
Q: Where were you born from in Zambia?
A: I was born in Keemba in Bweengwa Constituency in Monze in Southern Province. My parents moved to Mumbwa in 1966 where we had a small farm. Then later we got a small farm in Mkushi block. My parents spent their time there after I had left for Poland. They moved to that place when I was in secondary school at Kafue Boys Secondary School. I graduated from Kafue Boys Secondary School in 1980.
Q: When were you born?
A: I was born on 10th July 1961.
Q: Where did you do your primary education?
A: I did my primary school not far from Mumbwa at Mamvule Primary School, I did my grade seven at Bayuni Primary School in Makeni in Lusaka. Then I qualified for my secondary school at Kafue Boys Secondary School in Kafue.
Q: How many are you in your family and where are your siblings?
A: Three elder sisters live in Zambia
Q: What are the names of your parents and where do they live now?
A: My parents passed away. Dad in 1992, Mum in 2008.
Q: What are some of your fond memories of growing up in Zambia and some schoolmates?
A: Fishing in the Kafue River. I have a few secondary school classmates I am still in touch with up to today. Unfortunately none of my primary schoolmates are in touch with me. I do not know their where-abouts.
Q: Are you married to a Polish woman?
A: Yes, I am married to a Polish. My wife Elizabeth is Polish. We got married in 1991.
Q: Do you have children, and how many?
A: We have three kids. Jeffrey, 21, Pamela, 18, Phillip, 10.
Q: Do you have plans of joining Zambian politics in future?
A: Not really. I have made some roots in politics in Poland because this is not my first election in Poland. This is my fourth election. I started at local government level in 2002 in a small city called Grodzisk. I was a councillor there for four years. Then from there I stood for the elections of Wielkopolska regional Parliament.
It's one of the most dynamic regions of Poland. Actually Poland is divided into 16 regions. Each region has a regional parliament which is in office for four years. Elections are due every four years. My first term of office ended in 2010.
During the 2010 elections, I retained office. Due to the fact that national parliamentary elections are totally different and were due this year, I was recommended by my ruling party to contest in my constituency. I contested and won this election.
Therefore, I don't think it will be very easy for me to move from Poland into Zambian politics. We don't have dual citizenship yet in Zambia. I don't know if things have changed or not. Interviewer chips in: Not yet…
A: Not yet...if at all that could be done that would be appreciated very much.
Q: Would you urge the new Zambian government to include dual citizenship in the new Constitution, which President Michael Sata promised to enact in the next 90 days?
A: I personally believe that Zambia would gain a lot from such a move. I am not saying this due to having foreign citizenship but due to the fact that there are many nationals abroad who are capable of investing or co-investing in the country.
They would like to participate in the economic development of the country. Munyama continues: Joining Zambian politics would be very hard for me due to the fact that the conditions down there and conditions here are different. With foreign attachment, it is difficult to get involved in Zambian politics.
Mind you, I am an elected member of parliament, not a nominated one. I mean that one should have a contribution to the community before being elected by the ballot paper. You can't just appear in Zambia and expect that somebody will vote for you without having had a slight input in the development of a constituency.
Q: So you have Polish citizenship?
A: Yes, I have Polish citizenship. You can't stand for elections in Poland without Polish citizenship. It is one of the conditions.
Q: What does your election mean to Zambians and Zambia's image abroad?
A: Definitely it means a lot. It shows how we are capable of doing well not only at home but internationally as well.
A lot of countries actually boast of the fact that they have their own representatives in different parts of the world and I believe that Zambians should be proud to have individuals who are doing well and successful globally as well.
Q: Are you going to use your influence to woo Polish investment into Zambia?
A: Oh, yes. That will be actually one of my big role I will be playing in the Polish Parliament. I want to try and use the capabilities that I will have to encourage relationship between Poland and Zambia, and Africa in general.
The presence of Poland in most African countries especially in countries like Zambia is so little that not many Zambians know about Poland. Neither do Zambians know what Poland is capable of doing.
I want to be in the foreign affairs committee in the Polish Parliament whereby I would like to emphasise on how important African countries are not only to Poland but also to the European Union.
Definitely, I would like to have a role in intensifying the relationship between Zambia and Poland.
Q: What is your guidance to young Zambians especially youths that want to succeed in life, wherever they are - at home and abroad?
A: Young Zambian people should be open to innovation and should not have any inferiority complex because we are all the same, whether Asian, European or African. This is a globalised world and you can achieve everything possible wherever you are as long as you are determined to do so.
Q: As an economist, what are the prospects of Zambia and Africa's economic growth amidst the crises that have rocked economically stable countries in Europe and the US?
A: As an economist, I would first of all say that the economic achievements Poland has had during the crisis were possible due to the political leadership, the party I have belonged to since 2007.
We have indeed played a great role to avoid a strong impact of the crisis recorded. While many European countries have recorded weak growth rates, Poland has had a better growth rate despite the global economic turmoil. I have personally observed the economic changes that Poland has undergone since the transition period started in 1989.
It is totally a different country compared to that period. Determination for change is the key. Secondly, Zambia has the potential to develop but needs to attract more investors from all corners of the world in order to create jobs for citizens. When employment is available all negative aspects of the social economy decline.
It is a country with enormous perspectives, with human potential. Zambia should develop its market base for metals explored in the country. With all the natural resources available, it should also put much emphasis and attract investors in the tourism industry.
I would be pleased to establish strong economic relationship with Poland by organising economic forums for investors and business communities between the two countries.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: I would like to thank my mother country for having brought me up and let the situation where I have to stay in foreign land. It's not only my efforts but also the fact that I was born in Zambia. Zambia has always been on my heart. The last time I was in Zambia was in September 2010.
Q: Thank you Dr Munyama and I wish you success in your political career in Poland and Europe in general
A: Thank you very much. I would like to wish all the young people in Zambia success in achieving their goals in life. May their dreams come true! A happy Independence Day to all!
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