By Dickson Jere
Title: My Trodden Path – An Autobiography
Number of Pages: 154
Publisher: Sotrane Publishers
“My trodden path” is a fast paced read which chronicles the illustrious life of Her Lady Justice Lombe Chibesakunda. I was able to read it within few hours. In many instances, the Lady Justice is the woman of “firsts” in terms of breaking records.
“I was the first female (trained) lawyer in Zambia,” she writes on page 42 of her recently released eight chapters book.
Justice Chibesakunda is a graduate of the prestigious Grays Inn Chambers in the UK where she was trained and mentored by great legal luminaries such as Lord Dennings and Justice Megarry.
At age 29, she had already made history – became the first female Solicitor General of Zambia and Minster of State – appointed by President Kenneth Kaunda shortly after she was elected Member of Parliament for Matero constituency.
However, her stay was short lived as two years later she was appointed Zambia’s first Ambassador to Japan at the age of 31 years.
The 154 page autobiography begins with the foreword written by former Chief Justice Mathews Ngulube who knew her from the time they studied law together at Grays Inn.
“Her story should inspire especially the young lady, if not all young people hailing from humble beginnings,” Ngulube wrote, as he referred to the village upbringing of Justice Chibesakunda.
Daughter of Chief Chibesakunda, the lady Justice was schooled at Chipempi Girls Secondary School before she ventured into law.
“I was a cultured girl, just like many other girl children in the village,” she writes while reminiscing her childhood in Northern Province where she was brought up as Bisa girl.
Justice Chibesakunda narrates on how her first appearance in Court as a young lawyer in Zambia before Chief Justice Brian Doyle who was very tough and firm with young advocates.
“Before going to Court, I drank some sherry to gather courage to face him,” she disclosed.
After her brief stint at the Ministry of Justice, she quit and joined the private practice at the firm – Jacques and Partners.
The illustrious career of Justice Chibesakunda is admirable. From the village girl to international legal expert and now Judge President of the COMESA Court of Justice.
“I can safely say I have served my country and the world community diligently,” she writes in the Epilogue of the book.
Chapter eight is very emotional and touching!
Justice Chibesakunda narrates on how she was appointed Chief Justice in 2011 by President Michael Sata but the dark forces ganged up against her and blocked her ratification. No one defended her including those in the ruling Patriotic Front.
“It hurt me deeply to be questioned every day, with no open support from any side,” she bemoaned the treatment she received after her appointment.
“Another group that waged war against my appointment was in Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) itself,” she writes, without making reference the Court case which LAZ took out to block her appointment.
Nevertheless, she detailed a number of achievements as acting Chief Justice. However, she says she failed to change the regalia of lawyers and judges (Wigs and Gowns) as both the Bar and Bench opposed.
Justice Chibesakunda was also the first female Zambia’s High Commissioner to the UK and later Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Zambia.
The book is worthy the read and I recommend it to young people especially those from humble backgrounds. Justice Chibesakunda story is that of resilience and a good example to young girls – it is possible to achieve your dreams.
Chief Justice Mumba Malila, SC, summed it up aptly when he stated thus: “That Madam Justice Chibesakunda is probably the first female legal practitioner the country has ever produced is not a mere hyperbole. It is true, undeniably true. This book, which immortalizes Madam Chibesakunda’s life and legacy, is a must read.”
I agree with Dr Malila even though I think she should have given us a detailed account beyond the 154-pages which includes pictures. Kudos to her for having penned this book – rare phenomena in Zambia.
I personally had a privilege of working with her when she was chairperson of the Judiciary Public Relations Committee and I was Consultant appointed by the Danish Government.
She is sharp!