Today, July, 6th would have been President, Michael Chilufya Sata’s 78th birthday.
Michael Sata’s date of birth July 6, 1937. He was born Michael Chilufya Sata at Chitulika village in Mpika in the Muchinga Province of Zambia to Langford Mubanga Sata and Harienta Bukali Kabuswe both of the Bisa tribe. In 1941, at the age of 4, Sata attended Mpika Education Authority School.
It must be mentioned that before independence full primary course lasted 8 years. This was followed by two years to Junior Certificate (Form 2), and three years to Form 5’s school certificate (“O” levels). Some schools provided a higher school certificate (“A” levels) in Form 6. To obtain a primary school certificate one had to go through Sub A and Sub B [pre-school and kindergarten], and then Standard 1 to 6. Sata was at the afore-mentioned school from 1941 to 1947, which means that he attended Sub A to Standard 4.
In 1947, Sata entered Katibunga Seminary for a year. Records show that he was moved to another Catechists school called Kantensha in Isoka close to the Tanzanian border where he spent three years from 1948 to 1951. By this time some missionary schools had established secondary school courses, many up to Form 2. In 1951, Sata passed on to Lubushi Seminary on the Kasama Luwingu Road where, on top of clergy training, the school offered an unaided (by correspondence) Form 2 external examination.
Sata left Lubushi in 1956 at the age of 19. He was expelled for bullying and fighting. One thing certain is that he did not become a priest. It is also evident that he obtained a Junior Certificate (Form 2).
In 1957, Sata left Mpika for the Copperbelt. In 1957, he joined the Northern Rhodesia Police Force. Sata’s activities in the police were murky. It is alleged he was a double agent and spied for both the police and the ANC and later UNIP. He left the police in 1959 and was imprisoned for inciting violence.
Mr. Blackwell Barrow Chifita, who served as detective constable in the 1950s, arrested Sata on a charge related to the liberation struggle. Chifita gave his police force number as 1230 and said that he worked at the Roan Antelope police station under officer-in-charge H.W. Witsher and CIO Chaongopa. He arrested Sata in a mine Section 5 beer hall for “proposing violence to an assembly” and was jailed for two years.
Sata only served six months and was released mysteriously. He apparently was spirited away to the UK for his own safety as his life was in danger. He stayed in the UK for 2 years. Sata worked as a cleaner and porter for the British Rail. He also studied part-time and took casual jobs at car assembly plants. He worked in a laundry in Bromley, before moving to the Vauxhall car plant in Luton. He then moved to British Rail where he worked at Victoria then London Bridge first as a porter, then a shunter, then conductor and eventually driver.”
In 1961, he was in Kitwe working for Roberts Construction (Central Africa) Limited. In his book titled “Phinias-Mogorosi Makhurane: An Autobiography,” Makhurane, tells the story of his friendship with his workmate Sata in 1961. “While at Kitwe, I built a friendship with one very active man who also worked for Roberts Construction. He had completed his Junior Certificate and was regarded as one of the most educated black people in the company. His name was Michael Sata. Besides being a worker, he was also the secretary of the local Trade Union organization. The Trade Union worked closely with the United National Independence Party (UNIP) of Northern Rhodesia, led by Kenneth Kaunda. During weekends, Michael would take me to meetings of his union as well as to political rallies organized by UNIP. ”
In 1961, at the age of 24, and while at Roberts Construction, Sata became General Secretary of the National Union of Engineering, Construction and General Workers (NUECGW), which in some way rivaled the African Mineworkers Union.” His designation would bring him in closer contact with UNIP freedom fighters. In 1962, he became Director of Publicity and Research for the United Trades Union Congress (UTUC), a “functionary of the United National Independence Party with Matthew Mwendapole as the General Secretary.” In 1963, he was elected UNIP Chimwemwe branch treasurer and set off on his journey through the slippery slopes of Zambian politics.
Sata went to Russia and Eastern Europe from 1963 to 1965, Sata, together with Michael Bungoni, Rennie Chikonkolo and Bryan Chirwa, received their trade union training in Russia. When they returned they behaved like “communists” labeling some members of other trade union groups as “capitalist stooges.”
Sata went into private business and opened an industrial relations consultancy firm in the defunct Tanzania-Zambia Railway building. He became an associate of the Institute of Personnel Managers (1964-1966) and one of the founders of what became the Zambia Institute of Human resource Management (ZIHRM). He also sat on the board of Trans-Africa Safaris Limited, a South African company established in 1918.
Trans-Africa Safari Limited specialized in taxidermy—the killing of animals, preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins with lifelike effect for display purposes. Sata’s role in the company brought him in contact with white settlers and hunters, including Oliver John Irwin. I mention Irwin because he was an ardent pilot, and Sata, through such contacts is said to have learned how to fly. Sata also practiced target shooting for the purpose of hunting. His relationship with White settlers aroused a lot of suspicion.
It was believed that he was passing information on the activities of the ANC and other liberation movements to the Boers. This was difficult for the research to ascertain.
In 1968 Sata married Margaret Manda, an educator. Two years later, in 1970, he left for England. From 1970 to 1973 Sata lived in London.
His presence in London is further confirmed in Miles Larmer’s book Rethinking African Politics: A History of Opposition in Zambia. In London, Michael Sata, who in Larmer’s book is described as “a Zambian of the Bemba tribe” and “Mr. Kapwepwe’s representative” with “no official position in UPP,” attempted to make further contacts with South Africa on behalf of UPP. There is also information that the purpose of his trip was to attend London School of Economics and Political Science. “Africa Year Book,” shows that Sata was at the said school between 1970 and 1973.
Sata’s allies have intimated that it was then that he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science.
When he returned home in 1973, UPP was defunct and Zambia was a one-party state. Most of the UPP members had returned to UNIP. Sata had no choice but to follow suit. He settled in Lusaka where, over time, he was Managing Director of Tanners and Taxidermists (Zambia), Executive Chairman of Ndola Inn Limited, Director of Delta Electrical Contractors, City Advertising and Project director of Avondale Housing Estates Limited. His offices were located at Farmers’ House on Cairo Road.(Biography Zambian eye)