The wife of Zambian Vice President Guy Scott said she is concerned about the way people view materialism in Zambia and Africa in general.
Charlotte Scott says Zambians should stop judging one another based on material possessions. She said she sees nothing wrong with having things that are good for your family.
But, Scott said it is worrisome when much money is being spent on glamorous consumer things, while at the same time the family or the community is having a difficult time meeting its needs.
“I don’t think that I was saying that materialism in Zambia alone was a problem," she said. "The topic of conversation that had come up was about whether we should be pursuing more material things in our lives, and whether we should be seeking to accumulate more and more possessions, and whether we should also be judging people in terms of what they have, and what really I was saying was that we shouldn’t judge people by what they have."
Scott said Zambians have become a little obsessed with trying to purchase and accumulate more things, and that it wasn’t a satisfactory way of living life.
“It perhaps causes people to make bad decisions on maybe taking out loans or how they spend money that had come into the family, and that perhaps we should kind of slightly revisit and simplify life a little bit and get back to slightly different values,” Scott said.
She said the type of materialism she speaks of is not limited to Zambia.
“I think it’s probably a tendency that has been adopted elsewhere in the world and perhaps the concern is whether it creeps into countries like Zambia as a new influence. I don’t think, in any way, it originated in Zambia, or indeed probably in other African countries,” she said.
Scott said there’s nothing wrong with having material things that are good for one’s family, but when those things are defined in terms of what she called “consumer badges,” then it becomes worrisome.
“If I were to go and spend a lot of money on something that was glamorous but, in the meantime, have difficulty in providing for my children then that would be an issue," she said. "If I had no difficulty in providing for my children, but I was simply spending more money on consumer items, I might think there would be better things to do with that money that could help bring my whole community and the people who live around the same place into a better position."
Scott described as a huge honor and privilege to be the wife of the vice president of Zambia.
“It’s wonderful to get the chance to see all the different community projects, including women’s projects and the housing projects in the Copper Belt of Zambia. It’s fantastic to see and be able to participate and to be able to support and encourage different groups,” she said.
Scott said she is involved with a number of projects and groups, including the Federation of Women’s Savings and Loan group.
“Women have come together to save; they are very strong; they are very organized, and they are now trying to move up from small scale business into affordable housing, and that’s been quite a strong interest of mine to help them to put together the finance that they need to start operating on a wholly different and much larger scale,” Scott said.