Officials lunch with African royalty

Freedom New Mexico: Alisa Boswell City councilors Dianne Parker, left, and Keith Thomas listen to African kings Nzamane and Mukuni talk about their culture Wednesday afternoon. The kings told Portales officials that the Zambian culture is similar to that of New Mexico, which is the reason for their interest in the state.

Alisa Boswell

Portales and Roosevelt County officials visited with African royalty Wednesday during a lunch at Portales City Hall.

King Nzamane and King Mukuni, both of Zambia, Africa, have been crossing New Mexico for more than a week, visiting officials in cities such as Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Clovis.

The kings, along with their New Mexico escort, Patrick Mapalo, toured the Abengoa ethanol plant Wednesday morning and later were escorted to city hall, where they had lunch with city and county officials, sharing information about their culture and taking questions from local officials.

“This trip is an exchange cultural program,” Nzamane told Portales officials. “We hope to foster some relations between New Mexico cities and Zambia. I think our cultural education would benefit from New Mexico and perhaps some of your college students could come down there.”

Nzamane and Mukuni said they hope their country and New Mexico can share cultural education and natural resources.

Mukuni is the king of the Toka Leya tribe of the southern province of Zambia and the Lion King of Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Nzamane is king of the eastern part of Zambia, which has the world’s two largest game parks, South Luangwa and North Luangwa.

“Zambia people are very cultural and very friendly, much like those who come out of New Mexico,” Mukuni said. “We feel partnering, in a sense, makes sense.”

The kings told Portales officials Zambia has a lot of fresh water and sorghum. They said they were eager to learn more about converting sorghum to ethanol instead of the method they use, which uses sugar cane.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea for us to plant this seed between us and them because the agricultural roots are similar between the two,” said City Councilor Oscar Robinson after the lunch. “It will be really beneficial for us to explore an exchange with Zambia, because they have a lot of agricultural culture.”

Robinson went on to say he believed New Mexico could increase Zambia’s capabilities with its resources and Zambia could do the same for New Mexico.

“They say God works in mysterious ways and this was a great opportunity for us to meet these people,” Robinson said. “It was a great meeting.”