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North Carolina Guard Welcomes New Zambian State Partnership

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Ellis Parks,
  • North Carolina National Guard

LIVINGSTONE, Zambia - North Carolina sent a delegation, including the National Guard, over 7,000 miles to the Republic of Zambia in April to officially begin their partnership with the African nation under the State Partnership Program. 

The delegation included Kristi Jones, chief of staff of the governor’s office; members of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; 19 members of the North Carolina Army and Air National Guard; and Richard Bonanno, associate dean for North Carolina State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

After the long flight, the team touched down in Johannesburg and made their way to the Republic of Zambia. There they joined Linnisa Wahid, the chargé d’affaires for the U.S. Embassy, Republic of Zambia; Eddie Buffaloe, the secretary for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety; Army Lt. Gen. John Brennan, deputy commander, U.S. Army Africa Command; and Army Maj. Gen. Todd Hunt, the adjutant general of North Carolina.

After getting acclimated, the leaders met with members of the Republic of Zambia’s Army, Air Force, Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Agriculture. 

“Although we are here to mark the official start of the state partnership between us (NCNG and Zambia), we have been working together for years already,” Hunt said.

The two groups discussed the needs of the Zambian people and ways the state government and the NCNG could assist. The Zambian leaders shared their best practices and lessons learned over the years.

Many of Zambia’s 20 million people work in agriculture. North Carolina produces tobacco and potatoes, which are Zambia’s main exports.

“We are more than excited to have Zambia as our state partners,” said Buffaloe. “This opportunity opens doors for both groups to share our cultures, our knowledge of the world, our military capabilities, and to improve upon our democratic ways of life.”

The partnership could not have come at a better time, as Zambia is experiencing the worst drought in over 40 years. The country has massive bodies of water and shares Victoria Falls, the largest set of waterfalls in the world, with Zimbabwe. However, the Zambian people lack the resources to access and use the water from these waterways to irrigate farmland.

“The State Partnership Program between my country and North Carolina is one that I hope helps with ensuring food security for our people,” said Norman Chipakupaku, permanent secretary for Zambia’s Ministry of Defence. “We must learn to use our natural resources to help with our food insecurities. We feel if we work with North Carolina and Malawi, we can learn to use our water and land to be the food basket for all of South Africa.”

On April 26, Hunt joined the Honorable Ambrose Lwizhi Lufuma, the Republic of Zambia’s member of Parliament, minister of defence; the Honorable Jack Mwiimbu, SC member of Parliament, minister of home affairs and internal security; and approximately 250 guests for the State Partnership Program letter of intent signing ceremony.

“We need the building of the relationships between North Carolina, Zambia and Malawi to be a historical one,” said Chipakupaku.

Malawi and North Carolina are also partners in the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau program, which has grown over more than 30 years to include 106 partner nations.