Monday, May 22, 2006


Roadside markets are an interesting feature of Zambia's life. How much money exchanges hands at this markets is not known but it is acknowledged that a lot of people draw their sustainance from them. Markets are part of the informal sector of the Zambia's economy. More people are employed in the informal sector than in the formal sector, according to official estimates. Other than at city markets where city officials levy a fee for trading, informal markets at road sides or peddling are not levied any tax. In the picture above, the road side market is strategically located at Mufulira turn off from Kitwe. The road from Kitwe continues on to the copper mining towns of Chingola, Chililabombwe and the newly opened copper mine of Kanshanshi in Northwestern province. Merchandice at these markets range from cooked food to live animals. In between are vegetables, eggs, curios etc. Weights and measures are not used and a good buyer is one who can bargain. The bargaining is what makes these markets most interesting. What starts like an arguements ends up in two people sharing jokes and their family experiences.In the end it is a win win situation.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Driving on the dual carriage way between Ndola and Kitwe was hair raising but a beautiful experience too. The trip looked shorter than when I used to ride mini buses, many years ago. As seen in the photograph, the island separating the road in the opposite direction was overgrown by grass and bushes ( to more than 2 meteres in many places). I recognized this as a danger. At almost every crossroad, the horn had to be used as people sprang up from nowhere onto the road. The grass denied me the chance to admire the beautiful crafts that are usually dispalayed along this highway. In one or two locations, I spotted toy cars, paintings and crafts which add to the beuaty of this highway if grass is cut. A copperbelt energy company usually cuts the grass but only where the power lines are located. The only hope that the grass will get 'cut' is when th bush fires arrive in June.

I took a ride along Chingola road to check out a farm of a relative. Passing by Ganerton, I was told that the suburb is now a shell of itself having lost a lot of people due to insecurity. The situation was better than a few years ago but the huge acreages with horses and well micured lawns was a thing of he past.

My favourite past time in Zambia has always been a roadside market. It is here that one can eat a freshly roasted cob of maize and just chat with whoever. At Mufulira turn off, we decided to stop by and pick up some chickens, tomatoes and rape vegetables. We were mobbed by the merchants. Everyone wanted to sell us something. The choice was so vast that we pretended we were just there to meet someone. We chatted a bit and took a photograph (see insert). We finally picked on one seller and got 3 chickens at a very good price. I was tempted to buy a roast cob of maize but i turned out that the cob was too hard for my teeth!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I touched down at Ndola Airport at about 12 noon. It was indeed a very warm welcome in all manner of detail. The theromometer was near 30 degree C. The low cumulus clouds reminded me that the cold season was just around the corner (see airpot picture in this posting). The staff of this small international airport were excellent and all smiles. This was my second time in 10 years that I had landed at Ndola. I was in a hurry to get to Kitwe, my final destination and flying from Johannesburg to Ndola made a lot of sense. My ride to Kiwe arrived 30 minutes late and during the wait, I made frienship with two guys. We talked about soccer, a very safe subject. My two friends were utterly dissapointed that the once upon a time soccer power house (Zambia) was a shadow of itself in the 21st century. The worst player to them was this guy in the UK! To make matters worse, the stadium that once hosted continental games (Dag stadium) was still lying in rubbles (the stadium was pulled down with the intentions of buiding an ultra modern facility for hosting the Africa Cup of Nations competition). It never took place because of soaring costs.

On my way to Kitwe, I couldn't help shading a tear for the Dag stadium, lying in ruins and probably in peace forever and ever. I hope that one day, someone will resurrect this once upon a time loveley stadaium where Zambia never lost a game ( according to a Zambian legend). The Central Hopspital caught my attention too. It was once a gem but it looked an eyesore. Industies are virtually non existtent in this city of nearly 2 million people. The drive on the dual carriage way to Kitwe was comfortable (this is the only divided highway in Zambia). The road appeared to be well maintained. The highway was however overgrown with grass and the island was basically a jungle! From time to time along the way, people sprang up from nowhere onto the oad. My ride's hand was constantly on the horn to avoid hitting anyone. The trip to Kitwe took about 45 minutes.

It was great to visit the markets, a few shops and eat the nshima and kapenta. The road side markets have always been my favourite. It is here that one can eat roast maize and perhaps get a few bargains from sellers. One experience is shared in the next posting along Chingola road.

Monday, May 08, 2006


I arrived at 7:20 am at Johannesbury International, this moring of May 8. The airpot is going through a massive facelift. There is construction all over. I wondered why! I later learnt that the country is getting ready for the 2010 World Soccer Tournament. I also learnt later on that a new railway line is being constructed from Johannesburg to Pretoria for the same reason.

The drive from Johannesburg International to Pretoria took less than an hour. My first shock was how chilly the outside was. I soon reminded myself it is getting into the cool season now, Soth Africa being in the southern Hemisphere. What did I see on the way? The famous elephant grasses were as tall as you could imagine, the size of the elephant. My old geography knowledge returned. If the elephant grasses are as tall as can be expected, it is a sign that the wetaher has been good. And true to my observation, my chatty driver (from Friends of Africa Touring Company) confirmed that the year had been good in terms of rains. Food was ample and the tall grass was a testament of the good times. This warmed my heart. To crown it all, the hills on the way to Pretoria just reminded me of what I have been missing all these years of living on the more less flat landscape of the Canadian prairies. I saw the famous acacia trees, miombo woodlands and an occasional baobab tree.

I didn't realize how tired I was until I sat on the bed of the Farm Inn. Before sleeping, I decided to stroll around this gem. African birds greeted me. A bunch of warthogs were idling around. The Inn itself is built in an African style with a thatched roof. It is way out of Pretoria on what looks like a nature reserve. I am looking forward to eating supper. I am sure it is going to be mouth watering.

Family friends that I met 15 years ago in Scotland have invited me to visit with them tomorrow. I can't wait to see them.