Interview: Mukuka Chipanta, I’m forever tied to my home, says US-based Zambian author by Charles Simengwa

By Charles Simengwa

MUKUKA Chipanta is a man who possesses exceptional skills, and he strangely manages his aspirations well. He is better described as a supremely gifted man, exuding extraordinary strength and desperately passionate about Zambia.

To some people, Chipanta is an emerging author whose works have already attracted careful attention in the high places, deservedly attracting awards quite early in his
‘writing career’. Yet to others, he is an engineer of note who has defied all odds to ascend to the apex of his field, as far as managing huge projects in the United States of America
(USA). Chipanta is an aerospace engineer and programme manager who resides in the Washington DC metro area with his wife Sandra and daughter Malaika. He was born in Kitwe, in the mineral-rich Copperbelt Province, where he spent his formative years.

Chipanta, who has degrees in engineering and business from the United Kingdom and the USA, has something to be proud of: He has played a crucial role in designing the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aeroplane. He has travelled widely across North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia, and considers himself a global citizen with a heart firmly rooted in Zambia. “Yes, although I have lived abroad for a long time, I am forever tethered to my home - Zambia. I come home every year and as such, I feel connected,” he said in an interview from the USA. It is this strong connection that inspired the birth of A Casualty of Power, an award-winning novel published by Weaver Press in Zimbabwe and explores the often frosty relationship between indigenous African workers and their Chinese managers.
Chipanta says he derives great pleasure in writing about the people and situations that are close to his heart. A Casualty of Power is his first published novel and was awarded Best First Book and Gold for General College Level Book at the 2017 Classic American Literary Awards in South Dakota, USA.
It was also long-listed for the 9Mobile, formerly Etisalat award for African Literature in 2018. Chipanta is also the author of Five Nights Before The Summit. He has contributed short stories to PM World, OZY Magazine and Kalahari Review, and has had stories featured in several anthologies. They include The Gods Who Send Us Gifts to mark the 55th Anniversary of the Makerere Conference on African Literature, published in 2017. In 2019, Chipanta launched Kutika! Modern African Stories, a literary podcast showcasing a collection of his short stories in audio form. “It is my hope that by writing stories that feel familiar, it will prompt more Zambians to read for the love of reading. “Hopefully these stories can also inspire people beyond our borders to learn more about our beautiful country and its people through the lens of fiction,” he adds.