Tentani David Mwanzah, a little-known but significant figure in Zambia’s history, contributed to Zambia’s transition to democracy. As a student at the University of Zambia in 1976, Mwanzah led pro-democracy protests that led to the university’s closure and his subsequent imprisonment.
Branded as puppets of the Soviet Union, Mwanzah was among those Jailed by Kenneth Kaunda.
Despite the hardships, Mwanzah was instrumental in the Lusaka-based liberation movements of many African countries including Biafra, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and South Africa.
He and colleagues held long thematic discussions with Jonas Savimbi and met with figures such as Oliver Tambo, Joshua Nkomo, Chris Hani and Thabo Mbeki.
With the dawn of a new democratic wave in Zambia in 1991, when Kenneth Kaunda lost power to the MMD party, Mwanzah, and other MMD pioneers found themselves distanced from the regime. This led to the formation of the National Democratic Party, where Mwanzah was made president, demonstrating his exceptional leadership.
During this period, Mwanzah who had previously served as first vice-chairman of MMD in Lusaka province became close friends with KK. They toured Zambia together.
KK was enchanted by Mwanzah’s prowess for community mobilisation, political strategy and knowledge on diverse affairs. For this KK called him a political encyclopedia.
Beyond his political achievements, Mwanzah also made significant contributions in education. He founded one of Zambia’s earliest and biggest private schools, The St. Stevens Secondary School, and held the positions of president of the Zambia–Cuba Friendship Association and president of Zambia Draughts Federation. He was also a writer, historian, socialist, and Pan Africanist, with a deep admiration for Africa’s legend Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Mwanzah’s immense wisdom, enduring spirit, integrity, and leadership skills have earned him praise from various quarters. Although relatively unknown, Mwanzah was undoubtedly a significant contributor to Zambia’s political landscape.
He died on 26th June 2021.