Along the road from Mpika to Lusaka on an 8 hour car ride (ah, sort of smooth asphalt) on the last leg of our journey and my last post for this trip. There are only a few photos at the moment but maybe I will add some of my friends’ photos later on.
On our way, I see many trucks, carrying large loads, few cars although greatly the numbers greatly increasing as we approach Kabwe, grass and trees interspersed with huts and concrete homes and businesses and now as we approach the city, surrounded by block fences. There were a string of roadside stands selling small containers of honey and woven baskets filled with charcoal. An old textile factory, Mulungushi Textiles, no longer working but scheduled for renovation (an election promise?). Kabwe is a copper mining area. There were many police check points along the way, some police actually speaking to the driver and some just a wave through. It appears to be random checking but one checkpoint was dedicated to ensure no firearms are being transported.
We are now stopped in a line of traffic waiting to go through a checkpoint. We stopped at two petrol stations along the way: the first mini mart had almost nothing in stock; the second had a much larger collection of canned foods, cleaning products, cereals, baby formula (bah, Nestle) but no chewing gum which Laura was looking for. There was also a decent “food court” selling chicken and nishima and fish, the Zambian equivalent of fast food.
We are now in Kabwe, a large tow in the middle of the Central Province, and just passed two large trucks filled with riot police in full helmeted gear. Our driver thinks because it is Sunday there may still be demonstrations concerning the election.
“Butcher for Jah”, “God is My Redeemer Hardware”, God Gives Grocery” and “Easy Come Easy Go Pub”, “Gift From God Hair Salon, and “The Lord is my Shepherd Hardware” are some of the enterprises we pass on the road. There are new stuffed chairs under an outdoor awning getting covered with dust and I can smell fresh wood from the newly sawn bed frames along the side of the road. This is a big city. Many people are riding bicycles and even more walking — but still there is space, not really congested like almost everywhere in India, there is room to walk 5 young men across on the side of the road without disrupting commerce.
We make a rest stop at a local clinic where our driver, a cousin of Hammar’s, has some connection. The latrine is a clean concrete hole in a small concrete enclosure. There is a sign on one of the clinic doors which says “Keep Door Closed to Prevent TB Infection”.
Roadside billboards appears to be a new industry with advertisements for space rental. Some already up include government efforts and education like “Zambia’s Future: Getting to 0 HIV infections” and “Decentralization of Housing — Empowering the People”. A large proportion of the billboards are for agribusiness like a campaign of signs that says “Knowledge grows [soybeans, cotton, grain, potatoes] – Quality Fertilizer for the Zambian Farm”. Small churches are everywhere such as signs for the “Remnant of Israel Christian Church” and “Divine Mission Synagogue”. And then there is the campaign we have enjoying seeing for Harvey Roof Tiles, in variations of wording: “A roof without Harvey tiles is like a bed without a mattress. It might be uncomfortable” or “A roof without Harvey tiles is like a life without love. It might be useless”.
It is easy to spot the government schools along our route as they are all painted white with blue trim — some look in good shape and some look like they can barely function. It is Saturday and we passed a very busy central market in Kabwe, with outside stands of vegetable, household goods, cloth and textiles. I am sorry we could not stop to walk around.
On my last day, Sunday, in Lusaka, I saw truckloads of young men shouting political phrases, still agitating about the election results which the incumbent, with the help of Chinese funding in gratitude for the large government construction contracts granted to Chinese companies, barely won and some question the legitimacy of the election process. I would as well.
This has been an incredibly interesting journey, from South Africa with its successful industrialization to the most remote poorest communities of Zambia, a country still trying to find its place in the modern world, with a touch of Botswana and many animals to grace the experience.
If you want to join me on a trip in the future to somewhere in the world, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am going with a group to Myanmar this November and setting up a visit to South India in January 2018 with some members of this Zambia tour who wish to spend more time together. Hope to hear from you!