Book Review - Stand and Sing of Zambia

Stand and Sing of Zambia: Inspiring Patriotism and Responsibility. By Logan C. Nyasulu. Lusaka: LCN Publications. 2016. 86 pp. K100.  

During my primary school days, I do not remember that any teacher explained to us why we always had to sing the national anthem during school assemblies. To me, it was simply a ritual that had been handed down to us by the freedom fighters who fought for our independence. And to make matters worse, as Logan observes, we hardly knew the words we were singing, and no teacher corrected us for parroting the anthem the wrong way. Fifty four years later, I don’t think much has changed with the present generation. Go to any school in one of our compounds, and listen to the pupils sing the national anthem, and you will have a very strong sense of déjà vu.

That’s why Logan’s book must be welcomed wholeheartedly. He has dealt with a topic that must have been at the core of our civic education from kindergarten. Stand and Sing of Zambia is very modest in the number of its pages, but its contents are of sublime value. I loved to sing the national anthem during my primary school days, and I still do. But reading this book, brings nostalgic memories of my childhood. But, O, how I wish I knew even half the reasons why we sang the national anthem and what the words meant!

The title of the book itself evokes immediate memories of familiar words that we parroted for many years. And in five chapters and a short conclusion, the author walks us through our beautiful national anthem. He first explains what a national anthem is, and highlights its place among the citizens of any country. “Every country has one,” although few readers may be aware that Canada actually has two. A national anthem, Logan argues, is an insignia of national identity, national pride and patriotism, and we thank God for our forefathers who ensured that Zambia had one. He then briefly gives us some pieces of history about our national anthem.

In the next four chapters, he takes a closer look at each one of the three stanzas of our anthem and the chorus, analyzing the meaning of each line, and calling us to responsible action as we seek to apply the truths, values and principles found in the words of our anthem. Each chapter follows this same pattern and ends with personal reflections: heart-searching questions intended to buttress the lessons of each chapter, instill new attitudes in us, and revolutionalise our thinking. Be it our work ethic, fostering peace, being proud of our country, acknowledging God’s lordship over our nation, gratitude to God for His rich endowment of this nation with resources, resilience to rise above our problems, etc…all these are noble values and attitudes we are called upon to embrace.  

From these reflections at the end of each chapter, it is immediately discernible what Logan’s real intention is. It’s an intention which is captured in the subtitle of the book, Inspiring Patriotism and Responsibility. This is his passion, and he feels very strongly that Zambians ought to take patriotism very seriously, and not simply be arm-chair critics, but to Stand And Sing of Zambia! He makes this point very succinctly, using the lyrics of our national hymn to make this clarion call.

If you have never taken the time to meditate on the words of our national anthem, then make this book your starting point. Do you know that if there is one theme that resonates throughout our anthem, it is that of unity? And what better time could be more appropriate to have this book on our shelves than this, when Zambia is highly polarised politically and ethnically? We need to be reminded again and again by the refrain that runs through all the three stanzas and the chorus that we must be “All one, strong and free.” 

If we want to build a better Zambia, if we want the next generation to love and cherish this country and take its stand for the good of this country, we are not only to share the gospel with this millennial generation and pray for fruit of faith, but we must also not shirk from our duty to explain our national icons and the rights and responsibilities they impose on us. We need to make sure that we not only inform this generation of the freedoms we have in this country, but also inspire them with these freedoms. When they have grown up, they can only pass down to the next generation what they themselves cherish. Taking the message of this book seriously will help us to lift up Zambia’s fundamental aspirations.

What is more gratifying is that this author is not only calling us to action, but he himself has stepped forward and formed a civic organisation through which he is actualising some of these things he is passionate about. And already, the organisation has been engaged in various community initiatives. He is walking the talk. We need more of such Zambians.    

The author would do well in the successive edition(s), to research a bit more on the background information of the various authors who contributed to our national anthem, and their original contributions which were blended to come up with our anthem. The history given in this book is very scanty. Furthermore, I understand patriotism broadly as speaking out for your country, defending your country, and also sounding an alarm when something is awry. The author seems reticent to sound the alarm. Patriots are critical thinkers who hold leaders accountable by asking tough questions, recognizing the flaws in their nation and offering solutions.  

This is a very good, important and practical little book. Logan’s advice and deep reflections are excellent and those who heed them will be pleased that he wrote this book and that they took the time to read it. I hope that the Ministry of General Education will ensure that this book is added to the list of text books for civic education in our schools.


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