Travelling through African countries has opened my eyes to a new spectrum of life truths. Not only the beauty of this wild and wonderful continent but also realities like poverty, drought and child soldiers touch my heart every time I set foot on Africa’s red soil. Zambia is no exception.
Wildlife and Culture
This was to be a trip focused on wildlife with some culture thrown in. With more than 20 traditional ceremonies every year, Zambia is known for its festivals. I arrived at the Kenneth Kaunda airport and immediately set off to the Lower Zambezi National Park. From the word go I was not disappointed. The trip on the way to a camp in the park took a lot longer than expected, because I kept stopping. The billowing dust behind the car was no camouflage for the leopards, giraffes and the great variety of antelope I saw along the way. Not to mention the smaller but no less fascinating creatures, like a family of ground pangolins, a couple of yellow-billed hornbills and a stick insect nearly as long as my arm. I love this place, can you see why? The only disappointment was seeing how many people are still dressed in rags looking hungry for food and opportunity.
Have you even dined in a river?
After a 13 hour flight and what ended up being an eight hour drive to the Sausage Tree Camp, all I wanted was a hot shower and a comfortable bed. But when I arrived, my rumbling stomache prevailed over the tiredness and the proprietor twisted my rubber arm into having a meal in an incredible location. Eating on the bank of the Zambezi River would have been great but having a meal inside the river was fantastic. I loved that this is where the camp has a dining area set up. After enjoying my meal, the accommodation of a Bedouin style tent provided me with the perfect resting space. The next morning, and every morning thereafter I woke to the sound of birds and other wildlife. Staying in a place on the bank of a river was certainly a great idea – it was teeming with wildlife. I almost didn’t bother going on safari after noticing how many animals I can see from the camp. I ended up spending most of my days on boat safaris on the river taking in a phenomenal amount of wildlife and scenery. I spent evenings at Sausage Tree immersed in the tranquility this special place brought.
Westward for Dancing and Drumming
I left the serenity of the Sausage Tree Camp to travel west to Kafue National Park where I spent the rest of my Zambian trip. I was lucky enough to be in time for the two day long Kazanga – Zambia’s oldest traditional ceremony. Kazanga is a thanksgiving ceremony but there was no turkey around here. Instead I was immersed in the singing, dancing and drumming of the Nkoya tribe while they offered prayers in the hope of insuring fertile soil and protection against hunger and war. Unfortunately their very entertaining appeals are not exactly answered.
The Zambian Economy is Nothing to Celebrate
Although Zambia is more politically stable than many African countries (i.e. no crazy dictators and thankfully, no child soldiers), the economy is a tremendous let down. It seems that in Zambia, an improving economy is something completely irrelevant to its citizens. Despite a steady economic growth over the past decade, Zambia’s people remain poverty stricken. Whether this is because of corruption, an inefficient government or simply because everything in Africa happens in African time, I don’t know. I just hope that the economic growth of this beautiful country will soon improve the lives of its residents. What struck me is that these people are remarkably positive, despite their everyday pressures. In Zambia it is pretty much like this: Are you happy? Dance. Got something to celebrate? Dance. Poor? Hungry? Dance anyway. I take my hat off to Zambians.