Live Entertainment at Wasawanga

Cecilia at recording session

LiPAF is pleased to have partnered with Wasawanga Lodge in Livingstone to make cultural entertainment available to local residents and visitors. Currently, “The Rolling Kencheyo” band sponsored by LiPAF is playing two nights each week as well as hosting the Sunday Night Jam which was previously held each week at the Arts Cafe. In addition, the LiPAF cultural dancers are performing every Saturday evening at Wasawanga.

Traditional Drummers

In other developments, LiPAF is currently working on the final touches for the latest Rolling Kencheyo CD. Initial recording of 13 songs took place in Livingstone in the spring of 2011. Marilyn is now working with a recording studio in Saskatoon, Canada to complete the master. CD’s should be ready for sale within the next few weeks.

Jones on guitar

The CD package includes pictures, song descriptions, and additional information about Zambian culture. Cost of the CD is just $20.00 with all money going to the band members.

Rolling Kencheyo performance

All things funny

These three clocks were on the wall in a restaurant called the Golden Pillow. Of course these three cities are all  in the same time zone….so that’s funny. When we asked for a menu the girl said “I can tell you what we have”. Needless to say it wasn’t a long list. We had a beer and left.

I showed Abel and Lefard some combination locks which they had never seen before. I explained the process of opening a combination lock and told them whoever gets it open first can have them. Lefard won. Later I gave two locks to Abel as well and then gave them a chance to trade the locks for what was behind door #1, #2, or #3. Abel traded his locks and got two chairs (the one’s they’re sitting on). Lefard traded and got a small plastic garbage bin. I told them they could have the locks back, keep what they had or trade for another door. Abel got a pair of work gloves, and Lefard got a flashlight. I don’t think it matters what they had won, they would have traded just to keep the game going. This truck load of bicycles were on the road from Lusaka to Livingstone. Turns out they were part of a campaign by the ruling MMD party in Zambia. Seems each candidate got twenty bicycles to distribute (buy votes). The election is September 20 in Zambia and is often typical of elections, the people want a change but don’t like/trust the opposition leader. Sound familiar?We did the “Lion Encounter” walk last week and spent the afternoon with two adorable (big) kittens called cubs. They will eventually be rehabilitated back into the wild and would rip your face off if don’t follow instructions from the guide. The little stick they hand out is to distract them should they look up and decide to rip your face off.

They recommend you don’t have anything dangling from your belt or clothes because they will play like kittens with claws that can tear open your skin. Even their tongues will lick your skin off after a period of time. We went to Lusaka on Sunday so we could get an early start shopping for music equipment on Monday morning.  We couldn’t fit everything into the Pajero so I had to take two big boxes with bass bins to the bus station which is an absolute Zoo. After a long period of watching the boxes until they were loaded, I returned to my vehicle to find a clamp on my wheel for illegal parking. I looked everywhere for the guy with the key so I could pay the fine. Finally, I found somebody. He walked over to my truck and removed the clamp without undoing the lock. Turns out is was his own little scam. He asked for some money so he could buy some food so I gave him some and couldn’t stop laughing.

Home made sprinkler

Marilyn is a great map reader/navigator but loves to take different routes rather than going on the roads we already know. We ended up on a street full of market vendors and crawled through the crowd until we came parallel with the road we wanted to be on but couldn’t access it because the vendors had it blocked. Eventually, we came to a spot where I could do an illegal maneuver to get out onto the main road and head back to Livingstone. Last time we were in Lusaka, I got three separate tickets from the police and was sure they’d catch me again. They didn’t.

Outdoor performance at a house party

MLB

This week we brought Major League Baseball to Zambia. Okay, it wasn’t major and it wasn’t a league but it was definitely baseball. I brought several baseballs, bats and gloves to Zambia back in 2009 but have never had the chance to play a game. My friend, Sidney, who runs a youth sports program asked me if we could introduce the game to some of his kids so we all met last Wednesday at Muziku Club with 25 kids. Baseball is a very difficult game to explain with all the rules but we gave it a shot.I was amazed at how well the kids could throw, bat, and catch. They absolutely loved the game and I agreed to give them another lesson in the game on Friday at 15h00. I had a busy day on Friday and by 15h00 I was exhausted but I met with Sidney and the kids again. Once we started playing I found some energy and had a lot of fun. When I asked how do you like this game the kids all replied “we love it’. We also drew a crowd of onlookers who were seemingly surprised to see this game being played. I also presented a new basketball to one of Sidney’s teams earlier in the week so it was a real sports week for me. Sidney is a great young man whom I’ve known since one of our earlier visits in 2008. He dedicates himself to youth sports while running a few businesses related to computers, copiers, ink cartridge refills, etc. I donated all the baseball equipment and he was so excited to ‘be the first to introduce this game’ in Livingstone sports.

The Team

These are the times of pure joy in Zambia. The ‘charity’ side of our operations is what gives us the most pleasure. We also donated some furniture for Smoke’s community school, paid fees for 23 children to attend school at Linda West Basic, and Lefard and Abel have started their driving lessons. We are helping Jane attend LIBIS University in her accounting program and have helped Kelvin, Given, and Doreen expand their businesses. Sandra got a job at a new lodge called Sunset Junction. Nathan and Michael are also working at new jobs.

packing

We are busy packing up various items to send to Canada. Our landlady is doing some renovations to our house in August while we are traveling so we are moving out. Today I had to go to the Arts Cafe to remove the final items and afterwords I dropped into a local pub and played some pool with a few guys. We are quite well known in Livingstone and I ran into several people I know. It was a nice relaxing afternoon and something I could never do when we were operating the Arts Cafe which kept us busy from 9am until 11pm every day.

Our neighbour on the right

We have still been working hard to promote our bands and cultural dancers and have struck a deal with Wasawanga lodge to host the Sunday Night Jam sessions and also hire The Rolling Kencheyo for two nights each week. Our cultural dance group is also performing three shows in the next two weeks for groups at various locations.

Packing up the office

We are traveling to Lusaka this coming week to purchase new sound equipment for the bands and I just picked up several new drums from ‘drum maker’ Charles Mwanza. Marilyn has designed some new brochures advertising the jam nights and availability of our dancers for hire.

Our neighbour on the left

Marilyn made a great stew with dumplings for our Friday night dinner. I love the variety of local vegetables she includes.

Mmmm! Mmmmm! Good

 

Eating

Baby hitching a ride

There are so many baby baboons this time of year and it is fun to watch them playing and hitching a ride under their mom. They pass within a few feet when you meet them on a path and I’m never 100% sure who should give way…..they always do.

Dinner at Maramba River Lodge

We used our gift certificate, which I won, and enjoyed a lovely dinner at Maramba River Lodge. The package included a three course dinner and a free bottle of wine. The lodge is located at a small inlet from the Zambezi River and there is a hippo living in the water just below the restaurant. Not something you see every day when dining.

We also got invited to Chindukwa Lodge by some friends who own it and after a lovely boat ride and viewing the sunset, we sat down with three other guests at the lodge for a lovely dinner.It is located 22km outside Livingstone on the Kasengula Road to the border with Botswana.

Dinner at Chindukwa

A walk on the sandy island

The boat trip took us to a sandy island in the middle of the Zambezi, then we circled the island and drove along the Zimbabwe shoreline. We saw a lot of animals and three crocodiles were sunning themselves just a few feet from us along the shore of the island. The sunset was absolutely stunning from the middle of the river.

On Friday night, Jane and Faith came to our house to cook dinner for us. They were so efficient in the kitchen and we enjoyed a traditional dinner which we ate in traditional style (no utensils). Faith also brought her new boyfriend, Jeff, who works for Parliament in Lusaka. He seems like a really nice guy and we quite enjoyed his company. We love Faith a lot and were definitely looking for any signs he may not be “Mr. Right”. He passed the test.

Dinner with Jane, Faith and Jeff

We were invited to Natasha’s second birthday party on Saturday and once again ate some traditional food and took part in some cool family games. Natasha is the daughter of Grande and Anabelle and we know them because Grande is a great musician. He now plays regularly at the Fairmount Hotel but previously played every Wednesday at the Arts Cafe.

Do as I do singing and dancing game

Natasha liked her presents

Blowing out the candles

We often feel privileged to have so many connections with the local community and to be invited to their homes for functions.

We went to visit some people we know who are opening a new lodge called Sunset Junction. It has been 5 years in the making. I took this picture of some chairs being made on the grounds because you can see how they use an electric grinder to smooth out the wooden seat slats.

After a visit to Linda West Basic School where I paid school fees for our sponsored kids, I went to see my friend Allan. I’ve had a pair of hip waders in our house since we arrived in 2009 and wanted Allan to have them. He works on the farm where we first lived which floods during the rainy season when the Maramba River overflows so I know he will get good use out of them. He was very happy. At the school,  I also presented Stanley with a football and mosquito net which was bought as gifts by Bill and Jackie Sullivan who sponsor him in school.

Allan in his new hip waders

Stanley with his new football

We are hoping to take advantage this week of the other prizes I bid on from the Olga’s fund raiser silent auction. They include a Walk with the Lions, a boat cruise on the African Queen, and Microlite flights over the Falls.

Contradictions

Back Stage before the show

In Canada I used to look forward to buying a Sunday Star at the General Store and spending the morning reading it and doing the crossword puzzle. This morning, Marilyn and I have been sitting is our porch since 6h00 watching the sun rise and our community come to life. Joseph, our neighbour on the right, emerges from his humble cement block house to begin working on the cars parked in his yard. He is quite busy as a mechanic, mostly serving taxi cab owners. He waves and greets us.

On our left, our neighbours also rise early. They are dressed in their best attire and heading off to church. Around 7h00, the outside speakers from the Anglican Church blast out the sermon which is starting now and will continue well past noon.

Our new neighbours who live behind us are sweeping leaves from their entire yard with a hand-made grass broom no longer than my arm. It is a ritual they follow each morning as they take pride in their small home. Stooping to clean or garden is something we see every day and I have often wondered why they don’t get longer handles.

Africa is a continent of contradictions. Statistically, Zambia is a country with 65% unemployment yet this figure is confusing. The markets and the streets are filled with people selling goods who are not counted as part of the work force. Some, who can afford it, will buy a 50kg bag of mealie meal and repackage it into small bags for sale to those who can only afford the smaller portion. Others sell handicrafts or all manner of goods somehow obtained –new pants, cell phones, bootlegged movies, etc.

Back Row: Marilyn Charity Bob. Front Twaambo and Amos

Even the vegetation defies description. Our banana tree is shedding its huge lower leaves while the mango tree next to it is blooming to produce fruit by November. The popos (papaya) are hanging in large clusters and starting to ripen while other trees which provided privacy in the rainy season have become bare.

The elephants have reappeared on the outskirts of Livingstone after having gone deeper into the wilderness during the rainy season. Now they are returned to be near the river as the many small tributaries dry up. Crocodiles have also abandoned the few remaining ponds and come back to the Zambezi.

A reunion party of past and current staff held last Tuesday

Many of the people we have hired were ‘unemployed’ before starting with us. Despite making more money than they have ever seen, they need an advance on the 15th of each month. When we have dismissed staff, they accept it without any sense that it matters that much. Somehow, they know they will survive. A few days later they will pop in to say hello like long lost friends.

There is no government safety net in Zambia. When students can’t pay school fees they are expelled. Disabled people get no support. The only support comes from family and friends.

Zambians in the audience do a lot of 'rooting'

Most days in Zambia have been full of surprises and today is no exception. As Marilyn and I were talking the phone rang. If it rings early in the morning (especially on a Sunday) we can be pretty sure it is one of our staff. Today it was Twaambo with some tragic news.

Twaambo is a 22 years old and looks after her nephew Sylvester (who is 4 years old). When her grandmother died two months ago, Twaambo became responsible for her six month old nephew as well.  Last night the baby was sleeping at an Aunt’s house and Twaambo got a call around 4h00 to say something was wrong. They rushed the baby to the hospital but he died on the way. Twaambo called Marilyn around 8h00.

The sadness they experience is tempered by the responsibility to make the funeral arrangements. Food must be bought to feed the many relatives who will travel near and far and stay for several days. Will the baby be buried in a blanket or a coffin? The burial must wait until the relative traveling the farthest has arrived.

There will be wailing and singing and laughter and tears. When the burial is finished they will get on with their lives.

We were invited to the Permanent Secretary's home for dinner

Before we moved to Livingstone, we were told an item of clothing left on the clothesline for more than a couple of days will be seen as not needed by the owner and taken without it being a sense of theft. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really explain the truth. Zambians are the most wonderful people I’ve ever met. They are so warm and affectionate, so courageous, so resourceful, so supportive of their extended family members, yet the number who will steal if given the opportunity is unbelievable. Any item left unattended will disappear. They steal from employers, from neighbours and even from friends.

Although I have not yet mentioned it in my blogs, we decided a few weeks ago to close the Arts Cafe. When our landlord sold the building we occupy and terminated our lease, it gave us an opportunity to reflect on our situation. Tourism has been in a steady decline in Zambia since 2009 and although we have done fairly well in 2011, we are still not able to generate the revenue to sustain us through the low season. This fact, combined with our personal needs, led to this very difficult decision.

I will write more about this decision in the coming weeks but for now we are focusing our attention on keeping LiPAF going as a sponsor of cultural dancing and Zambian music and continuing our various projects. We received the Embassy of Finland grant of 20,000 Euros so we have a lot of work to do to spend it wisely promoting and preserving Zambian Culture.

We were invited to dinner at the home of the Southern Province Permanent Secretary and enjoyed a lovely meal with Gladys and her husband and son. The government of Zambia has been building a new cultural centre theatre and wants to develop the grounds to create a place which will celebrate Zambian culture. The theatre is already three years behind schedule but could be finished in the next six months or so. Gladys asked us if we would come back to Zambia to help get it set up and running and we said yes. This is very flattering.

So much music....so much fun

our stats

When we first started our Foundation we used a line from Margaret Mead which read “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

Getting the audience up to dance

We haven’t changed the world much but have changed the lives of a few people in it. Our personal world has changed a lot. We will never view the planet in quite the same way again or the people who inhabit it in very different ways.

Guests enjoying live music

We have entertained thousands of tourists with our shows and music and hope, in some small way, they too have come to a better understanding of African culture, its difficulties, and the beauty of its people.

Last Sunday's Rasta Concert

Through our Foundation we have chalked up some interesting statistics.  For example, the total amount of money which we have injected into the Livingstone economy is in excess of K900,000,000 ( $190,000.00). Add to this our own living expenses of more than $100,000.00 of the two and a half years.

Luvale initiation dance for young women

The total wages we have paid to our full-time  and part-time staff is more than K336,000,000 ($75,000.00). This is a country where many people live on less than $3.00 per day. Many of our staff have been inspired to start other small businesses, most have upgraded their accommodation, and they all look so lovely and confident.

Luvale men's graduation dance

The total number of hours Marilyn and I have volunteered in Africa is more than 14,000 hours. Marilyn's group "Mama's Choculate Cake"With staff who come and go we’ve employed more than 50 local citizens at one time or another. Twenty one of these worked with us for more than a year and 7 have been with us for more than two years.

Our Foundation has also helped thirty nine different students attend school. These are the vulnerable children who otherwise would not be able to attend due to the fees, uniform costs, etc. Of these, 9 have graduated to high school, 4 have graduated from high school, and 6 have been supported in post secondary education programs. Our support of schools, youth soccer teams, the disabled, and other vulnerable families has been significant.

New Show Feature

Gift, the fire-eating witch doctor

We’ve introduced a new feature in Dancing Around Zambia. Gift, who has been attending school but working with us in our evening shows now eats fire when he is performing as the witch doctor trying to find out who turned the tour bus into a water monitor lizard. Audiences squirm when he swallows burning coals and rubs fire over his body. Very exciting. We wouldn’t be able to do this on stage (indoors) in Canada.

Treating Ourselves

Marilyn and I took advantage of one of the prizes we won at the LTA fund raiser and enjoyed a three course dinner with wine at the David Livingstone Safari Lodge. We had a lovely table on the second floor balcony as we dined, watched the sun set over the Zambezi River, and enjoyed the marimba players below.

In the next few weeks we are going to use the other gift certificates for microlite flights over the falls, a walk with the lions, and another dinner at Maramba River Lodge.

Changing my birthday

I will soon be having another birth day (party) and since this will be the second or third one I’ve had in Africa, I’m thinking of changing the date.   I wasn’t sure if that was actually still allowed since I’m Canadian and not Zambia and our permits to live here don’t make us Zambian. (Although we do get into Victoria Falls at the ‘local’ rate with them.

African Kittens

I know Canadians were also allowed to change their birth day (party) when Pierre was Prime Minister but things have changed….According to the political map of Canada, everything west of Winterpeg is a gigantic LAKE. I miss Pierre.

Reading lesson with Marilyn

Turns out it is in the Constitution to do so under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It’s not exactly spelled out but if you read between the lines you can pretty much get the interpretation you want.  Sorta like the bible. I should point out, however, that changing the day is okay but changing the year you were born is definitely outlawed unless it is to gain entrance to a restricted movie or join the army.

So I’m changing it (for this year only) to August 18 to August 22 and August 26 to August 29. Marilyn and I will have a party in Africa on the August 5th weekend but it won’t be my birthday party, it will be our wedding anniversary.

I chaired a fundraising committee for the LTA (guess) this past month. It was a pizza party at Olga’s with a DJ, door prizes, free pizza, and a silent auction. I bid on some of the vouchers and got some incredible savings on –a lion walk – two microlite flights over the Falls,  – a boat trip on the African Queen – A three course dinner with a bottle of wine at the very posh DLSL (guess) – dinner for two with show at the Arts Cafe (just kidding). Then I won a door prize three course dinner for two with a bottle of wine at the very nice Maramba River Lodge.  We’re going to have some fun in the next couple of weeks. I hope the microlite doesn’t crash or a lion doesn’t suddenly find his “wild side” and eat Marilyn.

We also had some good news this week when the Finland Embassy called to say my grant proposal for 20,000 Euros had been accepted.  We’re going to use this money to buy sound equipment and instruments for the bands with which we work, pay for some recording studio time to cut a CD of “Livingstone” music, and market cultural entertainment.

We had a group of Canadians at the Arts Cafe on Wednesday for lunch and cultural dancing. They were great guests and absolutely loved the dinner and dancing. Their tour guide was also quite impressed.

Tour guides are an odd lot. Most are pretty up-tight trying to make sure everything is perfect. They don’t have much choice because the groups they organize have already been sold a guaranteed ‘luxury’ vacation. When the Canadians came on Wednesday, I turned to the guide and said; “Well I’m the expert on this group I guess.”

Tour guides are always looking for favours: “Hello, is this the Arts Cafe? It’s Bernard from Seeing is Believing Africa Luxury Tours. I’d like to book a group of 7 for dinner and show plus 4 guides. Do the guides get to eat free?”

Once we had a group of 37 with a guide who immediately came into our restaurant and rearranged all the tables. In so doing, she eliminated seating for 6 people. Then she complained that it was too dark and the guests couldn’t see what they were eating. I turned every outside light on and bombarded them with 30,000 combined watts of halogen. When I walked over to the kitchen staff, they were all laughing “I think they can see what they are eating now Uncle Bob” (chorkle, chorkle).

It isn’t always this much fun. Once a guide was upset that it was taking so long for her guests to get their food which made me think they really needed to relax or perhaps should have considered visiting another continent…or maybe Florida. In Africa most things get done next year. Then he came up to me and said ‘people are starving’.  I said: “If they have five minutes, I can take them to where people are really starving so they’ll know the difference.” Marilyn gave me heck for saying that.

Still there are others who are great. A guide named Amy (who has now brought groups a few times) was running around the first time being all anxious  when I suggested she could relax and we’d take care of everything, She did ….and they almost had to carry her out of the building she partied so hard.

Tourists

Former Zambian President Dr. Chiluba

This past week, former President of Zambia, Dr. Frederick Chiluba died suddenly. Chiluba was the first democratically elected President who came to power in 1991. He is credited with implementing many democratic changes in Zambia and in promoting a free press. He did try to amend the constitution to allow him to run for another term after 2001 but failed to get support. In his retirement he was involved in a long trial on charges of corruption which eventually ended when the current President intervened on his behalf.Ngoni dancers

To honour him, the government announced 7 days of mourning starting last Monday. During these days, you cannot play music between 6 and 18h00 and cannot have ‘party’ music after 18h00. One resort owner in the Copperbelt was charged with violating this rule. We did continue our shows in the evening but cancelled our Sunday matinee today and also postponed a planned concert at the Arts Cafe for this evening. We thought this was best after hearing about the conditions in Zambian jails.

Rehearsing some new songs

It has been quite chilly in Livingstone for the past week with temperatures dropping to as low as 6C at night. It is always a bit of a shock for tourists who don’t expect it to be cold even during an African winter. Fortunately, the temperatures rise into the 20s during the day under beautiful clear sunny skies. This is the ‘dry season’ when people plant their crops and everywhere gardens are appearing in household yards.  I quite like the weather this time of year.

Tourists havnig fun

As you can imagine, we meet a lot of travelers. There are those who travel “five star” (because they can), those who come to volunteer (because they care), many who have everything planned in advance (because they fear) and still others who come to experience (because they are curious).

“Five star” travelers we meet are often fussy and rarely do they get to truly experience the culture. They leave Africa with a lot of pictures of the landscape, animals and shots around the hotel pool. While in Africa, they are excited by the number of people they got to know from Europe or America or Australia.

Most volunteers are well intentioned but a large number are on a ‘mission’ to change Africa and Africans. We’ve been told by some that there are a lot of ‘demons’ in Zambia. Other volunteers embrace the culture and merely try to help in education, medicine, etc. and don’t judge the people they meet by flawed western standards.

Not surprisingly, many people traveling in pre-packaged tours seem surly and tired. The many activities and long distances they travel to “see and do” a lot in a short period seems to make them upset with their tour guides and with each other.

Those who come to ‘experience’ and embrace African culture range in age from the young backpacker to the elderly adventurer. They ask many questions and want to go off the beaten track to explore villages, markets, ceremonies, and wherever Africans gather.  They are the happy ones.

I am hopeful this week to receive final approval for a grant from the Finland Embassy in Lusaka. If the 20,000,000 Euros are made available we will buy new instruments, sound equipment, and recording studio time for several bands. It will help fulfill one of dreams to promote musicians and Zambian music. We just managed to secure contracts for two of our bands at local resorts so they can start earning some money and the equipment is essential.

The Orillia Youth Symphony Orchestra under the tutelage of Mayumi Kumagai also wrote this week to say OYSO had raised some money to send to LiPAF to purchase a guitar. This is such great news and falls so nicely in line with our current plans.

We didn’t hear back from all our student sponsors after sending them pictures and letters from the kids but some have responded generously. I am meeting with Owen, the Headmaster at Linda West this week and hope I can work a deal to keep all our kids in school with the donation money we’ve collected.

Fredrick's house

Marilyn and I drove out of Livingstone yesterday morning to see where Fredrick and Freeton have started building houses. These guys are two of the artisans who come to the Arts Cafe every day to do workshops. They were so proud of having obtained a plot of land and each has started clearing the land of rocks and building a mud hut. It is such a warm feeling to share their joy with them even if the drive can be a bit harrowing.

Freeton's house under construction

Makiko’s grandmother passed away a few days ago in Japan. We never got to meet her but do hope to visit Japan this year and meet all her family and experience Japanses culture.

CULTURE

I have just finished reading a book entitled “The Wayfinders” by Wade Davis. He has traveled extensively and lived among many native tribes throughout the world. He currently makes his home in northern British Columbia. One paragraph may best describe the essence of his writings:

There is no hierarchy of progress in the history of culture, no Social Darwinian ladder to success. The Victorian notion of the ‘savage’ and the ‘civilized’, with European industrial society sitting proudly at the apex of a pyramid of advancement that widens at the base to the so-called ‘primitives’ of the world, has been thoroughly discredited – indeed, scientifically ridiculed for the racial and colonial conceit that it was.

Davis goes on to say  “Were societies to be ranked on the basis of technological prowess, the Western scientific experiment, radiant and brilliant, would no doubt come out on top. But if the criteria of excellence shifted, for example to the capacity to thrive in a truly sustainable manner, with a true reverence and appreciation for the earth, the Western paradigm would fail.”

Marilyn and I have been immersed in African culture in ways few volunteers get to experience. We are surrounded by musicians, artists, artisans, cultural dance groups, traditional ceremonies, cooking, and beliefs foreign to anything we ever experienced in Canada. Our mandate to preserve and promote Zambian culture through excellence in the arts has truly been a wondrous adventure.

Sadly, many people continue to ask “What’s wrong with Africa?” – an indication those asking such a question believe ‘I know their way but my way is better.’ This kind of thinking has led to the domination and oppression by church and state and, in some cases, a total annihilation of languages, beliefs, and even entire native populations. These are not just occurrences of the distant past but took place in the generation of our grandparents and continue today.

“My way is better” has fostered ethnocide and genocide and “reduced our planet to a commodity, a raw resource to be consumed at our whim” (Davis pg 119) . Only now are we discovering that the drive for material wealth at the expense of our planet is unsustainable. When Marilyn and I lived in Greece, we watched over a period of months as a whole mountain was slowly reduced to a pile of rubble as the marble slabs were carted away to make kitchen counter tops or flooring. As a child, I was raised to see forests as nothing more than trees destined to be logged. Contrast that with the child raised to revere the coastal forests as the realm of the divine or to experience a mountain as the abode of a protective spirit.

In Livingstone as in many other urban centres around the world there are hungry people who beg on the streets. Last week I wrote in my blog about my visit to remote villages where there was no hunger, little need for money, and contentment with life. Unlike much of the western world, there is little need for antidepressants, sharing resources reduces the level of crime, and living in harmony with the land is paramount.

I have often wondered what it would be like to truly live without the trappings of life experienced in the western world but I know I will never do so. The Wayfinders lends a different perspective and, at the very least, challenges one to examine the value of the wisdom and knowledge to be gained from the so-called ‘primitive’ lifestyles. There is perhaps nothing wrong with Africa except maybe it was visited by the white man.

Switching Topics:

Last Wednesday while we were hosting our regular music night, I received a text message which said “are you watching the lunar eclipse”. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware there was one. That’s probably because it wasn’t visible in Canada and Roger’s Yahoo had no news tag line about it. As it turns out, it was spectacular apparently being one of the longest eclipses in many years. All our guests stood watching it while listening to live African music. I took a few shots with my camera.

I came across a very funny clip from an episode of Cheers which many of you might remember. Cliff and Norm were having drinks when Cliff told Norm about the Buffalo Theory. It goes something like this

“Well you see, Norm, it,s like this…….A herd of  Buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of  the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and the weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. And that, Norm, is why you always fell smarter after a few beers.”

Another World

For some time, I’ve been wanting to travel with Abel and Lefard after hearing much about their villages. We finally decided to go on Friday and leave Livingstone at 6h00 when the two boys knock off work as our night watchmen. Lefard called on my cell at 6h30 to wake me. We had a quick coffee and headed out together but not before stopping at the Arts Cafe to pick up a box of school supplies and clothes which I thought might be donated to their families once we arrived.

First stop - Zimba market

The new paved road to Lusaka got us to Zimba within 45 minutes where we stopped at the Zimba market and bought a big bag of lollypops for any children I might find when we arrived in the village. The road now turned into a series of short smooth sections between massive potholes. The next 30km took over an hour and fifteen minutes. Abel’s home was closest so we turned off onto a footpath and followed it for another 12 km through the bush and arrived successfully.

The road gets narrower

Eventually no more than just a path

I got to meet several of Abel’s brothers who are still farming in the area as well as his father who is 74 years old, the father’s two wives and the host of younger siblings. We sat on small stools and chairs under a tree and shared stories. When we walked back to the vehicle, Abel’s dad took my hand and thanked me for giving Abel a job. Men and women walking hand in hand is a common site here in Zambia and it creates a warm feeling of friendship. Mr. Chinkusy also told Abel  to work hard and be honest.

Abel and his father

Abel’s mother prepared a bag of groundnuts for me and an even larger bag for Abel. We shared a drink of home-made brew from maize and were about to leave when a chicken jumped from the back of the truck into the back seat. Seems they had also given me a chicken. I was happy to leave some nice clothes which would fit the adults and children along with some chalk, pencils, paper, etc.

Two wives

It is interesting to ask Lefard and Abel “how much further” and always be told “not very far”. This is the perspective of two young men who have walked long distances just to and from school everyday. Abel’s home is 11km from school and Lefard’s is only 5km. To them it really isn’t far when driving.

Abel's homestead

Sharing some home-made brew

From Abel’s small settlement of mud huts and small shelters made from home-made clay bricks we drove back out to the main road, turned further east and arrived at the school where Abel and Lefard attended high school. I was introduced to the headmaster while Abel and Lefard ran around greeting old friends. After leaving a box of school supplies we drove around some of the school building to a path which Lefard said would lead to his home. There was no road and the path took us into the bush where we had to squeeze between trees and across maize fields which was incredibly bumpy. Large depressions in the path also had to be avoided and after about 3 km we could go no further. We parked the vehicle and hiked the remaining 3 km.

As far as we can go

Lefard’s father also has two wives. Lefard is the third born and has siblings as young as two years old. His mother cut open a fresh watermelon for us to share and prepared a bag of fruit which is only found in the bush. I can’t remember the name but they look a bit like a raisin.  There is actually very little of the fruit as they are mostly just seed. However, when I shared some of these with people back at the Arts Cafe they were surprised that I had them and asked where I got them because they are considered a treat not available in the city.

Walking the last 3 km

Approaching Lefard's homestead

The lollypops were a big hit with the children as well as the adults and again it was nice to be able to leave some clothes and school supplies. On the hike back to where we left the truck, Abel and Lefard carried a 50kg bag of ground maize and we were followed by the entire family including Lefard’s 91 year old great grandfather who is still quite strong.

Lefard's family

Lefard’s grandfather gave Lefard a similar speech about being honest and being happy that Lefard had a ‘good’ man as a boss. I know he meant ‘good white man’ and I couldn’t imagine how much horrible treatment Lefard’s great grandfather might have endured during the colonial days.

Hiking back to the vehicle

The trip into the bush to Lefard’s had been a tricky one and I wasn’t looking forward to the return. As it turns out, I had good reason to be nervous. Still well back in the bush I hit a rock buried in the grass on the side of the path we were following. Even though we were traveling at a slow speed the left front tire hit it with a terrible force lifting the vehicle into the air and bringing it down hard with the rock lodged under the front passenger door. Without any hesitation, I quickly reversed, listened as the rock scraped the metal beneath the truck and watched a cloud of vapour rize up in front of me. The Pajero was still running so we swerved around the rock and continued knowing full well we had done some serious damage.

I couldn’t imagine what I would do if the truck had become completely disabled so far back in the bush. As we cautiously continued I was just hoping that we could make it at least as far as the school. Otherwise, I envisioned having all the kids from the school come and try to push us. We made it back to the school where I assessed the damage. The alignment was seriously askew with the left front wheel pointing slightly outward and the passenger doors wouldn’t open because the undercarriage had been pushed upwards.

the damage

I have really enjoyed driving the Pajero and it has been such a good vehicle since I bought it more than two years ago. Trusting my ‘friend’ we continued back to Livingstone. Luckily we made it despite the difficulty with the steering. I knew the metal work could be fixed by Joseph my panel beater whom I’ve used before but I was really worried about the damage which might have occurred to the front end. I called Kamia, my mechanic, early on Saturday morning and was relieved when he said he would have it fixed by noon. In the end, he did an alignment, replaced some part, and charged me K120,000 ($20.00). By the way, the cloud of vapour was just the rock sending off a cloud of dust as we backed off of it.

ON SATURDAY

As most of you know, we have a lot of musicians come to the Arts Cafe for rehearsals with Marilyn and for performances on our patio stage. On Saturday, some of the Rasta groups were having a concert from 14h00 until late and we wanted to go and support them. Daisy insisted she would be okay to look after the Arts Cafe even though we had a large group coming to see the show. After having some spaghetti and salad which I made for dinner we went to the concert around 19h00 with plans to return to the Arts Cafe before 22h00  so we could help drive staff home and lock up. We then went back to the concert and stayed another 90 minutes.

Rasta Concert

We were the only white people at the concert and as Marilyn said “it’s like being among friends.” They were so happy to see us and the music was great. The MC even sang a song in which he kept dropping our names into it and looking out at us as he sang. We knew so many of the band members and felt proud to be able to intermingle in such a friendly atmosphere. I will say it was more like a religious meeting and there was a lot of rapping and ‘sermon’ like preaching of the Rasta movement. They certainly have no qualms about calling politicians “buggers” and giving thanks for their freedom. “Better to be a hungry free man than a fat slave” is a typical lyric along with lots about Mother Africa and peace and love.

These girls below were at the show on Saturday. As often happens with adventurous guests, they end up being taken out on the town with some of our staff who are great hosts for Livingstone.

This morning we had pancakes and real maple syrup which Kayleigh brought as a gift for us from Canada.

And…..the new and only stop light in Livingstone is now working. Unfortunately, most drivers seem uncertain if it is okay to turn left on a red (remember we drive on the left) or whether it is okay to turn right on a green if the right turn signal isn’t on. Some pedestrians also seem a bit confused and don’t realize that the light now controls when they can walk out onto the zebra crossing and expect cars to stop.

New stop light working