Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Zambia - Part IV: Beautiful Africa
I found it fascinating to be in another African country that had so many similarities yet so many differences. When we landed at the Lusaka airport in Zambia and disembarked from the plane Celeste and I were struck with the dry heat and wind. We continued on our way that day and found everything was more brown and just dry dry dry! We have dry seasons in Uganda but somehow there is still humidity and green.
I was not prepared for Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. Lusaka is a beautiful seemingly planned city that looks like an American suburb. There were strip malls! Boulevards! Traffic Lights! Street lights! Two story grocery stores! Stores, not stands! I felt like I was in small-town America. Nothing in Kampala, Uganda's capital, reminds me of America.
Zambia is very poor. Uganda is poor too with 2/3 of the population living under the poverty line of living on less than a $1 a day. I think a big difference is that Uganda is very fertile. We can grow crops year round. In Zambia they have three seasons: rainy season, dry season and hungry season. Zambian's eat Nshima (what we call Posho in Uganda) everyday. It's maize flour mixed with water to a mush. You roll it into a ball with your hands and use it to scoop up beans or whatever sauce you have with it if you can afford a sauce. When I told my friends in Uganda that Zambian's eat nshima everyday they were upset for them and said, "Sorry for them. They should come to Uganda."
That is something both countries have in common - a deep sense of hospitality. Both Ugandans and Zambians will open their homes to you and give you anything they can. During one hitching experience in Zambia Celeste worded the question of getting a ride strangely and the man said, "You need assistance? How much?" He was going to give us money because he thought we needed money! This is what you do in Africa. You give.
I talked to many PCV's in Zambia, fellow travelers and a few international workers and we've deduced that most of Sub-Saharan Africa has the same cultural tendencies. Our frustrations with people are the same: lack of critical thinking skills, belief of entitlement, work ethic (very strong in the home and garden but not in the work place), patriarchal, belief in witch craft, etc. The problems that come from these tendencies are also the same: domestic violence, alcoholism, lack of development though the money is there, corruption, etc.
Through all our frustrations and cynicism's, we all love Africa. Not only is it a beautiful place but these people have become our family and friends. And it is those relationship that change the world. Because every person is the world.
Some beautiful children I met in Zambia:
Posted by ajr at 9:36 AM