The College at the Falls

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This article is a stub / to-do list for Tembo Falls College

Tembo Falls College

Tembo Fall College is a free, private, Christian, micro-college and startup incubator being built on 900 acres in Northwestern Province, Zambia, Africa.

Its purpose is to invest in the incredible human potential of Zambia, encourage its spiritual, moral and intellectual development, and to continually launch new African leaders and enterprises into a network that will support their success.

The College will annually seek to admit 12-14 students from young people of the highest intellectual and moral caliber from all walks of life within Zambia and beyond through the student-led Applications Committee. By accepting a free education at Tembo Falls College, a student agrees to live a life of dedication to the ideal of Christian service to humanity.

The College will have a long-term faculty of 5-6 mentor-teachers. These people will be both exemplary in Christian life and character. They will be accomplished individuals within one of the 6 broad areas of expertise, and have multidisciplinary competence. The college will also have a short-term faculty of 3-5 at any one time. These short-term positions will be unpaid, drawing mainly from the ranks of academics, leaders of the church, non-profit, and business spheres who are able to take a furlough or sabbatical from their ordinary lives. The positions will be marketed as opportunities to spend 2-4 months with few responsibilities and incurring no expenses while living in a remote and remarkable community. These staff will be able to focus the majority of their time writing, contemplating, preparing, or studying. They will be provided with a comfortable living arrangement and healthy, tasty food in exchange for teaching one or two socratic-style courses and mingling with students over meals and at community events.

The Curriculum Committee will consist of selected students plus at least one staff member. It will oversee faculty recruitment and courses focused on developing critical thinking, creativity, exploration, and interaction with the world of ideas (including uncomfortable or inconvenient ideas) among other liberal arts, sciences, and practical technologies.

The Student Body will regulate it's own affairs through weekly student body meetings. Elections will be held for Student Body President, as well as for key positions such as the Labor Commissioner. They will also democratically set the norms and rules of College life, appoint Committees and to oversee all responsibilities relating to academic life and community functioning.

Three years of intensive application to the tasks of labor, character development, academic pursuits, and management of the College's affairs will prepare students for an optional year 4, the Startup incubator and launchpad period. Students who wish to continue their academic pursuits will be allowed to diverge at this transition point with the option to return later for the incubator and launchpad program. Students are encouraged to take full advantage of the program by continuing to year 4 with same peer group. During the launchpad phase, students will be encouraged to form working groups or, optionally, to proceed individually, to explore ideas for their future. These ideas should be studied, taken in consultation, and narrowed down in the first 3 months of the period. The second six months will be a period of study, refinement and articulation of the idea. A modest budget for travel and networking will be provided during this phase. At the end of this period a "Lion's Den" will be held where investment partners will be invited to hear the presentations and to invest if they like the ideas.

The college will retain a 7% stake in all businesses launched through this process in order to build the endowment. Key to the success of these Tembo Falls businesses will be the development of a network of leaders who are able to promote and assist their growth and help to resolve any challenges that come in the way of success.

The Foundation and Four Pillars

The College is built on a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ. Four pillars built on this foundation support the mission of the college.

  • Character - to develop as leaders, each must develop Godly character
  • Academics - Truth is at the heart of power and capability
  • Labor - work is good and each person must develop effective work habits and skills to support their community
  • Self-Governance - responsibility can only be taught by giving responsibility - students will collectively and democratically govern the affairs of the college

The Campus

The College will be a self-sufficient, off-grid community able to provide for its own needs, its own upkeep and the needs of others through its workshops and farms.


The College will provide free, basic housing to its students in the form of either 2 person cottages or a dormitory. Long-term faculty will be provided with housing suitable for Zambian and international families. Short-term faculty will be housed in cottages.

The Farm

The College will operate a farm that will be designed to meet all the food needs of the community. Staple crops, garden crops, and livestock will be raised using regenerative agricultural systems that do not rely on outside input. Food will be of sufficient variety to meet the requirements of both Zambians and foreign guests. Excess products will be sold in the surrounding community.

The Kitchens

Food production will work seamlessly with food preservation and preparation. Kitchens will be equipped to process and preserve a variety of agricultural products.

The Workshops

In order to maintain the campus, the farm equipment, and the infrastructure, the College will maintain workshops to facilitate wood and metal fabrication, as well as vehicle and machinery service and repair. The workshops will also serve as learning laboratories, with CNC machines, 3D printing, metal casting, and equipment to service and rebuild electronics and communication gear as well as the ability to service and repair the hydroelectric generators and electrical grid.

The Clinic and Emergency Preparedness

Owing to the remoteness of the college a clinic will be onsite to meet the needs of the community and potentially the nearby community as well.

A firecrew and firefighting equipment will also be on hand.

Community Spaces

  • Lounge
  • Library
  • Meeting spaces
  • Playing fields/playground
  • Music facility


Classrooms, lecture spaces, and laboratories provide primary learning spaces.

Other Infrastructure

  • Hydroelectric + micro grid including ditches
    • possibly something like this
  • Roads/bridges
  • Information (off-line intranet? + limited connectivity?)
  • Water purification and waste water treatment
  • Animal husbandry and slaughter infrastructure
  • Walk-in coolers and root cellar
  • Grain storage and processing (hammer mill)
  • Flood Irrigation infrastructure including ditches

The Tembo story

A hunter left his village early one morning to look for game. As he set out, he paused to pray to the great God to give him good fortune in his hunt. After a couple hours of walking through the forest, he came into a clearing, right in front of him, by sheer luck was an enormous injured bull elephant. Ordinarily an elephant is too big and powerful for a hunter to kill with only a single spear; but the injured elephant could not fight back or run away. The hunter knew the best thing to do was to kill it quickly and harvest the meat. There would be enough food for an entire village to eat meat for weeks! Running quickly, the hunter gripped his spear with both hands. With all of his strength and weight the hunter thrust his spear deep into the elephant’s heart, killing it rapidly. As the hunter caught his breath, he took a step back to look at the giant as it died. He then realized the enormous task that lay ahead - how would he be able to skin and process this great beast he had killed? How would he begin to carry even a small portion back to the village? He would need help. Excited at his good fortune, he sang to himself as he ran back to the village.

Tembo yetu; "Our elephant"

“We have gotten an elephant! Come quickly!” he shouted as he reached the village, “There is meat for everyone! Bring your knives, axes and baskets, we have a lot of work to do!"

Excitedly the villagers gathered the tools they would need and began to follow the hunter, thinking of how full their bellies would soon be with the abundant meat they would be eating. Even the children came along carrying baskets and large calabash containers to fill with meat. Excitedly, one of the children began to sing, "Tembo yetu! Tembo yetu!" "Our elephant, our elephant!” Soon everyone was singing as they hurried along.

As they entered the clearing, everyone gasped. What amazing luck! This elephant was enormous! They would be working all night, skinning the animal - hacking off large pieces of meat with their axes, cutting the meat into thinner strips for drying, loading the baskets, guarding the carcass against wild beasts, and carrying baskets of meat back and forth to the village - all while trying to keep everything clean. The task ahead was immense, so they began their work. One family began working from the elephant's belly, another began to work on the head, while others began to cut into the legs.

Tembo wandi; “My Elephant"

As the entire village got to work, the hunter stood back with satisfaction to look at the scene. "Tembo wandi," “My elephant” he said to himself. He began to think about how this would change his life. As the people worked, he walked around and began talking to himself: "I can sell the meat from this leg for so much money, and from that leg I will make this much… now that I have gotten 'tembo wandi', 'my elephant' I will be a rich man." As the people overheard the hunter muttering to himself, their mood suddenly changed. “'My elephant'?” they said, “We thought it was 'Our elephant'. If it’s not 'Tembo yetu', 'our elephant’, then you can cut and carry it by yourself."

Sadly everyone picked up their tools and slowly headed down the trail to the village. Nobody would be eating meat after all; "tempo yetu" had become "tembo wandi”, and now it would rot in the forest and be picked apart by wild beasts.

When a "Tembo Falls" in front of you, it must either be tembo yetu, “our elephant”, or it will rot and be wasted.

The solution to African development must come from an African community, engaged with the world, dedicated and disciplined towards growing in capability and in communion with God.

Begin to articulate the vision in writing

  • First, tell others the vision many times until you yourself are saying it in a good way.
  • Begin to write it down AND recruit others (whom you have told) to write it down independently.
 (We can compare these different versions and keep the good parts of each one)
  • We need text written by Zambians as well as others.
  • If there is a gap in the text - skip over it for now - we can fill it in later
  • Don’t worry if you can’t answer the “How?” or even the “What?”, but focus on the
 “Why do we need this?"

Research influences and write about how they relate to our college

Network: Friends of the College

  • Architects, Designers and Builders
    • Nabil Shahadi and John Millard are willing to help build out connections in this space John of MMA Architects wants to "do the project"
    • Steven Kluck and Ian Oster - Permaculture and site design
    • Mundemba Kyembe - construction and campus design
  • Communicators (people who can talk, write, imagine, make images and do web)
    • Christina Raines (writing, curriculum development and ?)
  • Administrators (those who can calculate labor, money, and materials needed and define a timeline of tasks)
  • Funders who can invest money
  • Future faculty and staff
    • Long-term professors in: Math/Accounting, rhetoric/literature/writing, general science, Bible/theology
    • Staff - these people support and train the students and should also assist in character development in:
    • Agriculture/Livestock, Mechanics (shop and auto), Facilities Maintenance, Cooking/food preservation, Administration
    • Short term professors in many fields
  • School Administration
  • General friends of the college
    • Jacob Burton - software & business
    • Andy Zenz and Joshua Cook - Design, Media and Photography
    • L. Benedict Schwartz - software, business and networking
    • Ed Ingve and Kevin Riordan - business and network
    • Dr. Phillip Mundemba - Leadership and theology
    • Anthony Tako

Other Nunnian Micro Colleges

Why Tembo College?

Nkuuli Kyembe

When we think of Africa two words spontaneously come to our minds, "abundant resources" and "poverty". The truth of these two words has prompted and initiated much research and study as to how a society so abundantly blessed can remain so evidently poor.

In an attempt to contrast these two extremes, we should look at the facts governing these extremes.

Africa is a vast and exotic continent of about 1.2 billion people in 54 independent countries. Having total area of over 30 million square kilometers, about three and a half times the size of the United States. Africa is rich in mineral and natural resources, with large parts of is terrain teeming with wild life and magnificent plant life. It possesses 99% of the world’s chrome resources, 85% of its platinum, 70% of its tantalite, 68% of its cobalt, and 54% of its gold, among others. It has significant oil and gas reserves.

Regarding poverty, over 40% of people living in Africa live in absolute poverty. According to the World Bank, absolute poverty means people whose income is less than $1.25 a day. Putting numbers to words, in east Africa alone-south Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia- 28 million people need humanitarian assistance. About 6.9 million children are suffering from malnutrition, including more than 1 million who are severely malnourished or at risk of dying by the end of 2017.

Like many others before us, we have the desire to commit ourselves in service to Africa and the world. To do this we have committed ourselves to learn from those who have gone before us, but mostly to learn from those affected. As the African proverb says “The one who wears the shoe knows best where it pinches.”

Poverty has been defined as the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support. From my experience as an African, and from many interactions with my fellow Africans, I can agree that these are the things that Africans experience. But after much discussions and research I feel that this definition points to the manifestation of poverty but does not rightly show or capture the entirety of what it means to be poor. Even as Bryant Myers, a leading Christian thinker, says, “In order to diagnose poverty correctly, we must consider its fundamental nature.”

I have done many interviews with Africans about what they think is the cause of the problems in Africa, and what solutions are available to us. It is amazing to see how everyone seems to come to the conclusion that Africa’s biggest challenge is its leadership. When I interacted with those in leadership, they in turn pointed out that the problem still is with the leadership above them. In all of these interactions it become clear to me that everyone distances themselves from the problem, and denies responsibility by pointing to a far off leader. To distance ourselves from the problem also means we distance ourselves from the solution. The challenge therefore remains to show people that leadership begins with us – the everyday people.

I will use the information available to us to talk about the fundamental elements of poverty. The manifestations of poverty are as a result of an occurrence of one or more of four fundamental elements of poverty. These elements are: poverty of being, poverty of community, poverty of stewardship, poverty of spiritual intimacy.

Poverty of Being

Poverty of being can be said to refer to self-valuation. This poverty can range from God-complexes to low self-esteem. It is in poverty of being that we find shame, worthlessness, and inferiority. One might ask whether this kind of poverty can result in hunger, social, and material lack. The answer is: much, in every way.

It has rightly been pointed out that one of the main things fostering poverty in Africa is its leadership. It has also been puzzling as to why many Africans passively sit by as their leaders make decisions, steps, and policies that negatively impact development. As seen from my interaction with many Africans, we do not see ourselves as being part of the problem, and therefore we are not part of the solution. Much of this is due to a poverty of being. Many Africans do not feel qualified to interfere with thing "above them". This causes many to sit by and watch people in power make wrong decisions. Passivity does not, in most cases, result from people’s lack of capacity to think of intelligent, workable solutions to their problems. The opposite is true. Inside African homes and on the streets people speak in hushed voices of the best solutions to the problems they face. From this we see that the cause to this problem are feelings of shame, worthlessness and inferiority. This is poverty of being.

Poverty of Community

Poverty of community is another fundamental element in understanding poverty. It extends from self-centeredness to exploitation and abuse of others. Though Africa has a rich history of community, the new generation of Africans who have been more exposed to western thought has drifted from the original sense of community. Poverty of community has played a large part in causing poverty as seen in Africa. This poverty seeks to satisfy the needs of the individual at all costs, even if satisfying this need causes great harm to others. It causes people to want to receive the most from society, and give the least. Poverty of community is expressed in corruption, injustice, power struggles, and mineral related conflicts. Most leadership in poor countries fails to steer countries and institutions towards the benefit of the majority due to poverty of community.

Poverty of Stewardship

Poverty of stewardship has had devastating effects on society. It is essentially a loss of sense of purpose. It finds its expression in laziness, materialism, a workaholic culture. Stewardship brings with it responsibility, ownership, diligence, and vision. Poverty of stewardship leads to abuse of power, unsustainable policies, and generally points to poor leadership. Much of the poverty experienced today is in some way connected to poverty of stewardship.

Poverty of Spiritual Intimacy

Today much effort has been made to address the other elements of poverty. However, little to no effort has been directing to address this element of poverty. Poverty of Spiritual Intimacy is seen in the denying of God's existence and authority. It can be argued that this element of poverty is central to all other elements, and has the greatest implications. All other elements are reconciled when we have true spiritual intimacy. In God we find our sense of being, we learn to care, and live in harmony with all creation. We find direction, purpose and meaning in life.

Developing Leaders

Even as we talk about poverty, one might wonder as to the relevance of all this information to Tembo Falls College. As many have found, we also feel one of the biggest challenges in Africa is its leadership. This flaw in African leadership is not due to incompetent educational institutions. Most African educational institutions offer curriculums similar to western schools. Also most African leaders have been trained by western institutions. The question then remains- if the problem is not due to variations in the content of materials taught, how can we, as Tembo Falls College, apply and position ourselves to train fully competent African leaders, equipped and ready to take on the problems of Africa and the world?

The problems of Africa can be traced to the first encounter between Africa and the west. Africans were exposed to an environment where they were made to believe that the west and everything from the west was superior. In an effort to make Africans submissive, they were made to become dependent on the development, aid, leadership, and direction which came from the west. This environment created an African who felt inferior, dependent, and without purpose. By the time Africans got their independence, the environment created by the colonial masters had taken deep root in the African mind and heart. It is these roots that we have to cut off if we hope to bring Africa into its original glory.

Tembo Falls College is dedicated to creating not only a learning institution but an environment that will nourish a sense of being, community, and stewardship. This environment is designed to build a community that will transform Africa's perception of itself, from feelings of inferiority, shame, inability, self-centeredness, and dependency; to equality, pride, competency, generosity, and freedom.