Imagine being hassled by a Premier League
footballer just because they want to talk to you.
It would never happen in our country but
then Zambia just isn’t anything like the UK.
|The Kafue Road in Lusaka, Zambia.
Ok, so maybe the footballers here are not
as high profile as Messrs Owen and Henry, but that isn’t the real
Without doubt, Zambia is the friendliest
country I’ve ever been to. It is a community where everyone is included
and newcomers are welcomed with open arms.
Whether a national footballer or local market
seller, the ‘mazungu’ – Zambian for white foreigner - are a curiosity
to local Zambians.
I arrived in Zambia on October 9th, flying
into Lusaka’s ‘international’ airport as the sun rose above the
plateau, Zambia’s capital sits upon.
|Listen to Jamie's alarm 'cock'.
As part of a contingent of 15 new VSO volunteers
our first week in Zambia was spent in the relatively plush surroundings
of a Lusakan motel as we received our in-country training.
The highlight of which was an evening soiree
at the British High Commission.
A former volunteer in Africa, the High Commissioner
is a keen supporter of the large contingent of volunteers working
Lusaka has been the capital of the country
since 1935 and is now home to over one million people.
This sprawling city bustles with life through
its numerous busy markets and hive of government and political activity.
The art of haggling for goods is second
nature to these residents and a trait I am learning quickly.
Transportation through the dusty streets
for most Zambians, and for us, comes in the form of the notorious
Squashed in like sardines and with Bob Marley
blaring from the stereo we sampled the delights of traveling Zambian
And whenever the stereo breaks, which in
this country it invariably does, passengers sing in unison from
Today you can buy a beer for 3,000 Kwacha
in Lusaka, 40 years ago you could buy a car with that much money.
And how much is 3,000 Kwacha? About 40 pence.
In a country where even as volunteers we
are millionaires, it is an awkward position to find yourselves in.
Crippled by national debt the economy has
nose-dived since independence in 1962.
At that time, the Kwacha was worth more
than the US dollar. How times have changed.
Yet despite the obvious poverty of most
Zambians and the effect HIV and AIDS has had on Zambian society,
the feeling of community is overwhelming.
A famous Zambian saying points out that
‘only those who sit under the Mapunta tree hear the fruit fall’,
meaning that only together can people solve problems and reap the
rewards of their community.
It's an adage that says more about this
country and its people than anything else.