Courageous Leadership and HIV and AIDS

I would  like to begin this program with the closing statement of Nelson Mandela at his treason trial on April 20, 1964. He closed his statement with these words:

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

All Zambian leaders owe it to our nation todemonstrate genuine concern for those affected and infected with HIV and AIDS. Those in leadership include business people, pastors, politicians, health workers, teachers, prison officers, police and army officers and others who provide leadership in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Can you imagine what would happen if leaders who are privileged to serve the Zambian people resolved to make a lifetime commitment to this struggle of HIV and AIDS and each one of us said, “I have cherished the ideal of a nation free from HIV and AIDS, a country in which all people whether infected with HIV and AIDS or free bring our wisdom, resources and energy together and resolve to free ourselves from this pandemic.” I am convinced that we would have achieved much more than we have done.

Jubilee Centre is sponsoring this program because together with the churches we serve we have come to a place where we can’t just stand the loss of our skilled workers, young people, pressure on health systems, increase in people living in poverty and growing numbers of children who are orphaned because of the impact of AIDS. You know what troubles me with HIV/AIDS in Zambia? There is a considerable support and money available in the nation to fight HIV and AIDS. But just like we have not found ways to spreads the benefits from economic boom in the mining sector, we have also failed to evenly distribute funds meant for HIV/AIDS work, leaving many poor communities to cope with their own resources. It is important that people use their own resources to cope with challenges they face. However, eradicating AIDS will require leadership that is so troubled by the devastation it sees and says I will live to overcome and I am prepared to die fighting to overcome it. We need courageous leadership who will lead with all their might, all their skills and all their faith that we make HIV and AIDS history.

In order to do our biblical duties church leaders must penetrate culture in twofold. First, church leaders heading resourced churches must open their doors wider for people living and affected by HIV and AIDS by serving their physical needs. Secondly, church leaders must preach the gospel with wisdom and love. The church in Zambia is privileged in that it enjoys a positive reputation in the mainstream of culture; events of the past week in which we have been mourning former republican president, Dr. Frederick Chiluba demonstrate that there is a climate of trust and confidence in the church as being the hope of a community by the government and the citizens. During the past week we saw the church being given the status to provide leadership to a grieving nation. May the church leaders now direct the same wisdom and energy it provided in giving hope to the people during the funeral of the former president to the fight against HIV and AIDS. Is your church participating on VCT day on 30th June? My God help you to mobilize ten thousands to go for testing during the VCT Day campaign.

Lawrence Temfwe

(Launching the ten week Radio Program at Radio Icengelo on Leadership and HIV and AIDS)