Student Perspective

My First Week in Zambia – Ashley K. Richardson

Zambian law students- and UP Zambia interns- converse with the author during her UP Zambia orientation. Standing, L-R, Aaron Machiya, Chimbalanga Wapamesa, Kabota Chipopola, Mpaso Nguluwe. Seated, the author Ashley Richardson, and Mainza Natala.

Nikukonda mazanga wanga.” Arriving in Zambia, I had no idea how meaningful this phrase would be to me. Simply translated, it means  “I love you my friend” in Nyanja. As we have been immersed in love and welcomed with open arms, I am constantly reminded of how blessed we are to be a part of the UP Zambia team. This phrase was one of the first that Mainza, Mpaso and Chimbalanga (Zambian Law Students who intern for UP Zambia) taught me in Nyanja. It is one that has constantly replayed through my mind as I heard stories of cases, observed court hearings and visited Kamwala Remand Prison during our first week here. It has also been a phrase that has given me the opportunity to replenish the love that the UP Zambia team has unconditionally poured into the lives of juveniles.

Debrief of Court Observation, led by: Kelly Kapianga, UP Zambia staff-attorney, and a Zambian Magistrate
Baylor Law team members, Dean Leah Teague, Robyn Leatherwood, Claire Mosley, Ashley Richardson, Sarah Beth Toben and Beth Toben.

This simple phrase has become a way to recognize and encourage the selfless individuals that have served UP Zambia in the past few years. For this new generation of Zambian Attorneys, love and compassion are the building blocks for reforming a legal system that has failed so many. The UP Zambia team literally touches the lives of their clients—giving out blankets and shoes, speaking with parents, and fighting for justice in and out of the courtroom. The friends I have made here remind me daily that a single attorney can change the lives of many. Each day before I leave the office, the members of UP Zambia tell me, “Nikukonda mazanga wanga,” the phrase I will keep in mind for the rest of my legal career.

Post By: Ashley K. Richardson
Baylor Law School
Candidate for Juris Doctor, 2020