Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities, depicts the struggles of the French proletarians, who were subjugated by a powerful and wealthy bourgeoisie, in the period leading to the French revolution. While the revolution has come to pass, two centuries already, similar circumstances are observed in the world, especially here in Zambia, where our mission immersion experience is enfolding.
A closer look at structures in Zambia portrays a sad reality; that of social and economic injustice. On one hand, the authorities, whether political or traditional; and on the other hand, the peoples. Considering the fact that I myself have not lived here for a long time, nor have I interacted much with the locals, most of what I will write here will come from accounts from Fr, Jim Chambers, OMI, personal readings, and other oblates priests who are native to the land.
Two cities: the poor, and the rich; Two cultures: the westerners or pseudo-westerners and the traditionalists. Two classes: The AIDS survivors with their descendants and the healthy ones. experience is that there is a great divide in the cities of Zambia. This divide is fundamentally manifested in the possession of wealth, or the lack thereof. Like it is the case in most African countries, the commonwealth is unjustly divided among the people of the land. I saw people driving latest model automobiles, that the average worker is unable to afford, even in the wealthiest nations. Simultaneously, there are those who do not have access to clean water, which is the source and sustainability of all lives. Charles Dickens, in his novel A Tale of Two cities, may have written about a problem of his time, but I think he was a prophet, for the realities of the cities of Zambia could be found verbatim in this great novel.
While my assessment of Zambia through “A Tale of Two Cities” may be narrow, I think there is something deeper to be found here, which applies to all nations. Every society seems to suffers of this injustice: social discrimination, which can be manifested in all forms.
If there is a lesson to be learnt from my observations, it is to care and to act. Although Charles Dickens presumed that the divide between the poor and the rich will necessarily lead to revolution, I differ in this position. I believe in the care approach which Christ himself recommended. There will always be social disparities in this world; this must impel us to act while keeping in mind that we will never eradicate injustices.
In the words of Christ himself: “For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them.” Mark 17: 7.