Livingston, Zambia (2006)
(September 25) - We have made it to a hostel near Victoria Falls. Here we have met five Brits (three girls and two boys) who are studying in Durban on an exchange program. They have come up to see the falls on their week off. Apparently Thursday (today is Monday) is Zambiaâ€™s presidential election, and we were told of a political rally here in town. This was for Hakainde Hichilema (H.H.), one of the main candidates, none of whom I know anything about. But we went to the rally where there were thousands of Zambians gathered in a field, dancing and cheering, some carrying H.H. signs, and there was a stage where supporters from the different provinces sang songs. We were the only whites, and everyone looked at us as though we were the leopards on a game drive. One of the young men I spoke with kept saying â€œWe are free people!â€ to assure us that we were welcome, and it was a very different feeling to be there amongst them. I am under the impression that these are a very simple, spirited, and compassionate people. They have little by way of modern comforts, but by modern means they have become aware of the world (and their place in it), and what they know is increasingly influenced by the images of modern capitalism.
By dusk H.H. had not showed, and we left the rally without ever seeing him. Now we are at the hostel preparing a meal. Tomorrow we will catch a taxi to the falls.
(September 26) - This morning we were up early. Here on the Zambian side of the border we (me, Shade, and the two British guys) walked for three hours along the gorge, climbed a bit, and took some photos of the falls. At the top we sat for awhile under a tree, and then Shade and I headed for Zimbabwe on foot. On the way we saw two baboons do a very funny thing. While crossing over the Zambezi we ran into the British girls. One of them, Sabrina, was about to bungee jump from the bridge, and we watched as she threw herself one-hundred and eleven meters down into the gorge. Afterwards we walked on with them to Zimbabwe, where the passport control wanted thirty dollars for a day visa. I couldnâ€™t afford to pay, so they all crossed while I turned back and caught a cab into town. On the way I spoke with the driver (Alfred) who said that he did not care about this weekâ€™s elections. â€œMy country is dying,â€ he said gravely. He then went on about the AIDS situation. As he spoke I looked out of the window, where on the roadsides caskets were being sold as artisan's crafts. It is discouraging to see, but this is the reality of things here. At the hostel I gave Alfred an extra ten-thousand kwacha and he wished me luck.
(September 27) - This morning we left Livingston, going east toward Lusaka. It was a six-hour drive on a very shaky bus. On the way I spoke with a Zambian woman about the elections tomorrow. She said that she wonâ€™t be voting for it, as to her it doesnâ€™t matter who wins, as none of the candidates will do much for the country. The truth, she said, is that there are no jobs here, there is no real economy, no education, and no hope amongst the youth for the foreseeable future.
Halfway to Lusaka we came to Mazabuka, where we were slowed behind another political rally. At this the woman smiled to see the people marching in the streets, cheering by the roadside, parading and waving their signs. When I mentioned their enthusiasm, she said that it is merely an opportunity to celebrate something. If one of the men were truly any good, she assured me, there would be no uncertainty about who would win. I said that this type of man is rare to find. With this she agreed, and we spoke of Nelson Mandela. In the end I learned from her many things. Certainly this is a place in need, and only commerce and (economic) activity will help to improve it, to better the standards of living, to help the youth gain means to an education, to mobility, to medicine, to information, and the desire to help one another advance themselves. I personally donâ€™t see how this can be achieved in any short length of time. But it must happen, as here in Africa these people are facing (and will face more increasingly) pressure from the western world to adapt to the â€œcivilizedâ€ world, and they are in imminent danger of being exploited and exterminated. Meanwhile they have resources â€“ diamonds in Botswana, copper in Zambia, tobacco in Malawi, and huge sums of aid money are flowing in from the world, though nothing appears to be progressing. This is due to so much corruption and poor management in the region that the monies are going to waste. This can be blamed on the individual politics and policies of each of these South African nations, the poor quality of its leaders (i.e. Mugabe in Zimbabwe), and the disunity of the region as a whole. There must be some synthesis here, within the entire region, despite borders, for any amount of progress to occur. This will take the ability and determination of individual leaders, who must inspire the people to help themselves. I am interested to see how the elections turn out tomorrow, though I believe it will have little effect on the future here. On Monday they will announce the final results, and by then we should be well into Malawi.
The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Zambia has dropped to 16 percent from 25 percent posted several years ago, according to Sunday Times Zambia.
The number of people dying from HIV/AIDS related cases in the country with a population of about 11.7 million, is at 98,000 a year, the newspaper reported.
The number of orphans whose parents died of HIV/AIDS stands at 710,000 and 27 percent of the infected people are accessing ART ( Anti Retroviral Therapy), it quoted a report the UN Program on HIV/ AIDS released earlier this month as reporting.
(Posted October 31, 2006) (http://english.people.com.cn/200610/31/eng20061031_316679.html)
Notes on Zambia
Livingston, Zambia (2006)
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