Chris M. Mumba – Zambia

chrisChristopher Montlhante Mumba was born on 11th July, 1964 in the copper mining town of Luanshya on the Copperbelt Province in Zambia. His parents were Mr. Christopher Antonio Mumba, a miner of the San minority group in Namibia and Prosperina Selita Mwewa, a Zambian national. Mumba attended junior high school at St. Charles Lwanga Catholic Junior Seminary in Mansa, Luapula Province and completed his high school at Mwense Boys Secondary School in the same province in 1982. He later entered the Evelyn Hone College of Applied Arts and Commerce in Lusaka where he graduated with a diploma in journalism, public relations and advertising. He then joined the Zambia News Agency (ZANA) where he worked as a senior reporter and was later elevated to the rank of sports editor. He resigned, however, after the plane he was expected to board to cover a 1994 World Cup qualifier game between the Zambia National team and Senegal crashed off the coast of Libreville in Gabon on 28th April 1993, killing all 32 people on board. That included Mumba’s deputy news editor, Joseph Bwalya Salimu, a former sports editor who was hurriedly assigned to cover the game after Mumba was given a week off after his home was raided by robbers who got away with his personal and household belongings. The unprecedented robbery saved Mumba’s life!

A few weeks after Mumba suffered from herpes zoster attacks on his left hand and on advice from his close friend, Winstone Zulu (late), an AIDS activist who became the first Zambian to go out in the open about his HIV serostaus in 1990, Mumba decided to walk in for voluntary counseling and testing at Kara Counselling and Training Trust in March 1994. He was diagnosed with HIV. That turned his career from that of journalism where he was editor for a daily tabloid newspaper into an AIDS activist with the aim of using media to sensitize people about HIV and AIDS in a country where HIV infection was treated as a disease for affluent foreigners or Zambians who had travelled abroad, and towards which stigma was rife. Mumba joined a Winstone Zulu led community outreach education group of AIDS educators that was operating at Hope House under Kara Counselling and Training Trust and was captured on several radio and television stations as well as in newspaper publications to speak about his experiences and testimonies of living with HIV. He was the first journalist in Zambia and perhaps in the whole southern, central and east African region to do so.

In February 1997 Mumba joined the National United Nations Volunteers (NUNV) pilot project (RAF 96/VO1) as a volunteer and was appointed assistant coordinator to the Network of Zambian People Living with HIV & AIDS (NZP+). NZP+, a network that by then only comprised 26 individuals living with HIV and AIDS, was established in May 1996 on tips from the Network of African People Living with HIV & AIDS (NAP+), which was set up on UNDP funding in Mombasa, Kenya in June 1994 and to which a Zambian who has preferred to remain anonymous became first coordinator. The NUNV pilot project was initiated by UNAIDS on joint collaboration with the UNDP and UNV Zambia country offices and was coordinated by Mrs Noerine Kaleeba, a Ugandan who at the time was Community Mobilisation Advisor for UNAIDS in Geneva.

Mumba later worked as programme manager on an OVC project for the Danish based Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) where he organized OVC committees in 64 villages in Cibombo district in the central part of Zambia to support orphans and vulnerable children living with HIV and AIDS. He also worked as editor on a regional HIV and AIDS youth magazine covering 23 countries for the Commonwealth Youth Programme-Africa Centre whose Secretariat is based in Zambia and was later on engaged as a treatment literacy and communications officer for Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (TALC). He was appointed temporary adviser on task shifting for the World Health Organization (WHO) and was also a member of the International AIDS Society (IAS). From 2011 to 2012 Mumba worked as a Commonwealth Professional Fellow at the UK Consortium on AIDS & International Development (now STOPAIDS) in London, United Kingdom. Mumba has participated in several International AIDS Conferences since the 12th International AIDS Conference held in Geneva, Switzerland in 1998 through to the IAS 7th International Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Prevention and Treatment held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in July 2013. He is currently working as a volunteer with Prisons Care and Counselling Association (PRISCCA) in Zambia where his work is centered on HIV and AIDS, TB, human rights and basic legal education. He is married to Beatrice Mwanza, a nurse in a public health centre in Zambia and they have two daughters.