Flight From Lusaka To Seychelles

We were living in Lusaka, Zambia in 1993. Multiparty democracy had not long arrived, and the long-outstayed-his-welcome president, Kenneth Kaunda been sent into retirement. The future might have looked bright but for the fact that the rains had failed in 1992 and many Zambians were starving. On top of this, the price of the national staple, maize, had anyway been going through the roof, courtesy of the International Monetary Fund, who had decided, under the new regime, that the time was ripe for the country to be structurally readjusted. The object of course was some much needed fiscal cleansing, which looks fine on paper, but somehow overlooked the effect on actual human beings. It also neglected to deal with the fact that the rich resource-grabbing nations of North America, UK et al had been robbing Zambians blind for decades, making off with cheap copper and somehow neglecting to pay their taxes. These are the same nations that call African regimes corrupt. It’s all a case of copper pots and kettles.

In the city there were people dying from AIDS, the endless funeral corteges to Leopard’s Hill cemetery. Then there was an epidemic of cholera due to polluted bore holes. Even the nation’s pigs were sick with swine fever. The Zairean Army over the border in the Copper Belt (now Democratic Republic of Congo) had not been paid, and so had taken to conducting armed raiding sprees down the Great North Road and into Lusaka. We were told if driving in the city at night never to stop when the traffic lights (robots) were on red since we were likely to be ambushed. To the east, the civil war in Mozambique was also spilling into Zambia, the fighters predating on already impoverished farmers.

Then Son of Kaunda started a campaign of national unrest ending in an attempted coup, the national football squad was tragically killed in an air crash, which depressed everyone, and I had amoebic dysentery which wouldn’t quite go away. Meanwhile Graham was based in the European Union Delegation, organising the distribution of food aid to the worst famine-stricken areas. His immediate boss was French and communication was conducted in fragmented French on Graham’s part, and confused English on Bernard’s part, and over all, they were subjected to the dogmatic rule of an envoy of volatile Mediterranean disposition who thought he spoke better English than Graham and would alter his reports. And so when the chance came to take a break in the Seychelles, we were more than ready for it.

There is more about our Zambia life at Letters from Lusaka I and II and Once in Zambia: in memoriam.  And before you join our much needed Indian Ocean getaway, I should say that I really loved Zambia – this despite the catalogue of human misery. The people we met, from immigration officials onwards, were so very gracious. It is also a very beautiful land with some of the world’s best places for wildlife viewing.

Now for some Seychelles rooftops for Becky. We were staying on the main island Mahé:

copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

Roof Squares 26

 

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37 thoughts on “Flight From Lusaka To Seychelles

  1. I spent a day in Zambia, going to see the falls on that side and visiting a Lozi village. The UK took an awful lot from it’s commonwealth nations didn’t it? Things have a habit of coming back to haunt.

    1. The falls on the Zambian side are quite something, aren’t they – even without much water going over them as was the case when we were there. Sad thing about the taking is it didn’t stop after independence. The corporations just moved in, and/or got a firmer grip. Recently some Zambian politician was joking (wryly) that they’d recently sold a mine to some foreign company, but the said company had apparently forgotten to do the paying. Back in 2011 Clare Short was also campaigning for the fair payment of taxes by the multinationals to African countries:
      https://eiti.org/news/clare-short-on-bbc-world-debate-does-mining-benefit-africa

  2. Wow, what a time that was for you; challenging in so many ways. I’d have been tempted to leave altogether. As usual I love the way you tell the story though. I always want to read ’til the end.
    Alison

  3. What a sad and sorry tale. I went to art school with a boy from the Seychelles. He painted some of the most joyful and colourful paintings I have ever seen.

  4. What a grim picture of Zambian life you describe Tish and that break in the Seychelles would’ve been needed for your sanity. The photos show a lovely relaxed place especially that veranda with the chairs just waiting for you to relax in

    1. The thing about the grimness is that people seemed to cope with a great deal of grace and humour. I remember walking down our road to a little trading cooperative store. There was a stalled taxi, the driver struggling to change the wheel and clearly going nowhere for sometime to come. He still touted for my business though. We both laughed.

      1. I’ve found on my travels the poorer the people the friendlier and, maybe not happy, but always seemed to have a smile and be accepting of their circumstances,

  5. Now that is what I call a verandah 😀
    And I wish I had those chairs!
    Africa is such a complicated continent. Now it seems the Chinese are the masters. One day, I hope Africans will take control of their own destiny.

  6. I really liked Zambia too…. despite everything. When we lived there Kaunda was still in power and already in the late 1980s I visited the Leopard Hills many times. And as an antidote, the Luangwa Valley and Vic Falls. We visited Seychelles from Kenya (while living in Uganda) also in 1993.

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