The Way We Were ~ More From The Kenya Diary

Greater love hath no man than he who spent hours and days, and more hours and days transcribing this writer’s Kenya journal. Prior to transcription, and due to various computer glitches, it existed only on reams of faded, flimsy print-out paper. It was just about scannable, which was tiresome enough to complete, but the end result then required hours of copy editing. So thank you Graham.

And for those who don’t know the background to this, from January 1992 to January 2000, Graham aka the Farrell Team Leader, was working out in Africa on various British aid agricultural projects. The first year we were largely itinerant, travelling up and down the Mombasa highway between Nairobi, Kiboko, Taita and Mombasa.

Graham was working on a project to control Larger Grain Borer, a voracious grain-decimating beetle introduced to Africa in a consignment of US food aid. The actual home of this pest is Central America, and Graham had spent some time studying its behaviour in Mexico. He was then employed on a short-term consultancy project by the Natural Resources Institute in Kent, and thence despatched to Kenya.

His main base was the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute in Nairobi, but there was also a field station a hundred miles south at Kiboko, where the Kenyan project staff worked. When Graham had to make a visit, we stayed at Hunter’s Lodge, once the home of big white hunter, John Hunter, and later (in the ‘60s) developed into a small tourist hotel. The place had its heyday around this time, or until the horrendous dirt road to Mombasa was tarred, and coast- or city-bound travellers no longer broke their journeys at Hunter’s Lodge.

sundowner

In our day it was unusual to find any other overnight guests there, although there were plenty of staff, the waiters always smartly turned out in black trousers, white shirts and red bow ties, and ever in attendance in case anyone turned up.

Much of 1993 was then spent in Lusaka, Zambia. Graham was attached to the European Union Delegation, contracted there to organise the distribution of food aid during a period of prolonged drought. But at the end of that year we returned to Nairobi, in the first instance, to close down the Larger Grain Borer project at Kiboko, but later to run a crop protection project which involved British and Kenyan scientists working in partnership with smallholder farmers to overcome various crop and livestock problems. And here we stayed until the start of 2000 when the British Government closed the project down.

While we lived in Nairobi we were housed in a British High Commission house, which also came with Sam, our house steward. He lived with his family in a cottage at the bottom of the garden, but as we never had enough for him to do, he only worked mornings. His actual home was in Western Kenya where he owned three very small smallholdings in different places. Then there was Patrick, our day guard, also provided by the BHC. He never had much guarding to do either, so Graham paid him to look after the garden which he did with impeccable diligence. His home was also in Western Kenya, where his wife and children lived on his own smallholding. Sam told me Patrick had deployed his earnings from guarding and gardening on the building of a good stone house for his parents and was currently building one for himself. He was also paying for his children’s education. While he was working in Nairobi, which was 11 months of the year, he rented a room in one of Nairobi’s slums.

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The following extract gives a few glimpses of expatriate Nairobi life and those cultural events that owe more than a little to the country’s British colonial past.

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29 August 1994

Months have passed and no journal entries. In June we went home to England for three weeks. It was cold and windy and time was gobbled up visiting family and storming the shops. Then came the weeks of adjusting again to Nairobi living. It seemed very strange that, after all our days and miles of travelling, the only news Sam had when we got back was that the avocado tree had finished fruiting. Otherwise, everything was as we had left it.

And to root myself in once more, I took to gardening. Another effort to get the better of the over-shaded vegetable plot; flower beds cleared for tomatoes and herbs; a new plot excavated under my office window; seeds sown and the ever vigilant Patrick following up with the watering can at dawn and at dusk.

In July we went to the Ngong Racecourse for the Concourse d’ Elegance,  one of Nairobi’s annual multicultural events. It is a specialist car rally wherein owners show off their vintage vehicles including aged safari trucks (one of which had ‘starred ‘in  Out of Africa), wartime jeeps, a venerable Mini, period Peugeots, Alfa Romeos, Mercedes, Volvos and a red E-type Jaguar.

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Nairobi car rally 3

Car owners from the Asian community were dressed up as maharajahs and Arabian Nights grand viziers, the Europeans in more peculiar costumes – a woman dressed as a large black spider, one chap in full Viking gear. There was an overall atmosphere of the English Village Fete. The Kenya Society for the Protection of Animals laid on donkey cart rides around the race course grounds; Mr Magic was doing tricks for the children; the East African Ladies group had a charity cake stall. There were welly-wanging contests, face painting, remote control model car races, hotdog stands and Lyons ice-cream carts.

Nairobi car rally 2

Nairobi car rally 4

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The racecourse itself is a picturesque colonial relic. Stands of gum trees, the tiered main grandstand creeper-covered and housing a shady restaurant, and nearby the race steward’s offices, the Jockey Club members’ precincts, the collecting ring sheltered by mature trees.

We thought we’d like to see what the place was like on race day, so a week  or so later we turned up for the Lonrho races. Kenyans take their racing seriously and the whole ground was humming with activity. The ‘old colonial’ set were very high profile, chaps in their grey plaid racing suits, members’ tickets dangling from lapels, their ‘good ladies’ in Ascot frocks and hats to match. In fact the woman who won the best outfit contest truly looked as if she was anticipating entry to the Royal Enclosure. At such times you can only blink: the British abroad – what are they thinking?

The first race was something of a novelty event being a camel race. The beasts and riders came from the anti-stock-theft police patrol in the remote north. There were four contestants, the riders in  bright racing colours. But the camels weren’t too lively and it took some time to cajole them to the starting line. And even after the gong  had been rung, it was hard to tell if the race had started. Every spectator head was craned, gazing across the course for signs of activity. Time passed. It was thus the biggest excitement when the first camel hove into view. He finally jogged  fast enough to reach the finish line, his rider waving not only arms but also legs to celebrate their mutual victory. It was hard to imagine that these camels ever caught up with any cattle-thieving bandits.

Then the serious racing began, most of the horses from wazungu stud farms up in the Rift Valley, and their riders so slender-limbed and tiny, I wondered if  the race horse owners employed their jockeys from the Okiek community,  the last of Kenya’s original indigenous inhabitants of slight-statured hunters. We sat in the grandstand for a while, watched the Kenyan Air Force band marching on the course between races, listened to the commentator who sounded to be the very same man who serves at every English agricultural show and sporting event wherever it is on the globe, looked at the Kenyan mamas in their elaborate kitenge costumes, had our ears blasted as two Air Force buglers dashed up into the grandstand to trumpet the start of the race,  admired the fine looking Kenyan rider, whose task it is to lead the mounted jockeys to the starting gate,  he sporting his  English hunting pink jacket and tight white breeches – yet another of Nairobi’s cross-cultural phenomena that challenge perceptions at every turn. It was all so absorbing that we didn’t even get round to placing any bets.

Our next trip to the racecourse was in early August, to another extraordinary multicultural event. This time to the Royal Ballet performing their specially created programme in aid of Kenyan conservation, Dances for Elephants. The week’s performances were aimed at raising funds for various Kenyan wildlife projects – rhino surveillance, Grevy’s zebra surveys, elephant monitoring, conservation education in Maasailand. It was the brainchild Royal Ballet Mistress, Rosalind Eyre and Oria Douglas-Hamilton, wife of Dr Ian Douglas-Hamilton, Kenya’s resident elephant expert.

Performances were laid on at several venues: at the racecourse, at the Lake Naivasha home of the Douglas-Hamiltons (complete with picnic hampers), at the Windsor Country Club and at the residence of the British High Commissioner, Sir Kieran Prendergast. Local businesses sponsored tickets so cohorts of Nairobi school children could go to the racecourse matinee and have their first ballet experience.  A congratulatory telegram also arrived from HRH The Prince of Wales, wherein he praised the sixteen dancers’ efforts and generosity in giving up their time. He also said he wished he could be with us, which we could not fail to doubt as we had recently read newspaper reports of another “Diana” scandal looming back in the UK.

We arrived in the racecourse at sundown, and again found the place was thronging.  It was a clear evening and I wondered if anyone had warned the dancers how chilly Nairobi was in August.

The audience was well catered for though. There was a tent serving hot drinks and hotdogs as well as a bar. We had come prepared with our own flask of cocoa, cushions and wraps. The grandstand was mostly filled with members of the diplomatic community and Kenyan professionals from the companies that had sponsored the event, but we could sit where we wanted among the concrete benches of the grandstand. The Jockey Club members’ padded seats comprised “The Circle” for which people had paid 3,000 shillings a ticket instead of our 700  bob. We settled down on Vitafoam sponge mats on the front row.

The stage was ingenious – two flatbed trucks parked tail to tail. Cranes rearing up behind each cab supported the roof and stage light tracking. Either side were the enormous speakers of the sound system that had been donated to the cause by Lufthansa. The racecourse and its stands of gum trees lay to their back and, as the sun disappeared behind them, black kites wheeled overhead,  mewing and on the lookout for abandoned hotdogs.

At dusk the dancing began – excerpts from the whimsical ballet ‘Still Life at the Penguin Cafe’, opening with the zebra dance, “White Mischief”. It could not have been more surreal, of itself and also because there was the stage backdrop of the African plains with the real African sky behind it, and real African ‘sound effects’  of cricket and frog call.

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Here is a version of what we saw out on the Ngong Racecourse on a chilly Kenyan night (best viewed full screen):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jh0TPvus7r4

Interesting The Things Your Stats Tell You

Tish Great Zimbabwe (2)

Actually this is probably just an excuse to post yet again this very old photo of me at Great Zimbabwe. We were living in Lusaka, Zambia at the time, Graham on a year’s attachment to the European Delegation, in charge of food aid distribution. You can read that story at the link.

Towards the end of this posting we drove down to Zimbabwe, and spent a couple of weeks touring around. Back in the 1990s it was a fabulous country to visit. We simply followed our noses, and drove on near empty, but well-kept roads, one of which brought us at last to Great Zimbabwe. We pretty much had the place to ourselves too. It was astonishing.

Anyway my stats of the last few days suggest to me that somewhere in the U.S. a bunch of students has been given a Great Zimbabwe assignment. I know this because they’re all opening a post I wrote 3 years and 2 blog themes ago: Abandoned: Great Zimbabwe. This happens periodically, although sometimes it’s Zimbabwean students searching for material on why the place was abandoned. It’s one of my perennial posts – not so much viral as chronic. Every year the traffic has doubled. Last year 1,311 people dropped in there.

But nothing gets as much traffic as my post on Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton. Caught Inside A Kikuyu Garden. This was also written three years ago, and so far has clocked up 12,715 views. Of course I have no way of knowing if all these people have actually read the piece, but I find it intriguing. I also sometimes wonder what would happen if I had a ‘Karen and Denys’ blog, and didn’t bother to post anything else. Funny old activity – blogging.

Many Shades of Grey in Africa

Hwange - waterhole and elephants 3

Grey days in Africa can be incredibly dull. It is a strange effect: as if the light has been sucked out, but without it actually turning dark. This photo was taken around noon on a July day – Southern Africa’s winter. The sky weighed down in a way that was almost palpable; like walking through a Welsh sea mist, except it was dry; or as if you were looking at the world through gauze.

We had driven down from Lusaka in Zambia to spend a couple of weeks exploring Zimbabwe. The objective was to meet up with two Kiwi friends who were flying into Harare, and take them sightseeing before heading with them (via Victoria Falls) back to our house in Lusaka. The day this photo was taken we had just spent the night in one of the guest bungalows in Hwange National Park, and assembled a picnic of sorts in the Park shop.

Hwange Park has metalled roads which detracts somewhat from the notion of wild Africa, and so whenever a dirt track presented itself we took it.  Even so, we saw very little game apart from some kudu. It was mostly dry bush, and more dry bush, which soon grew rather boring. In the end we pulled up by the dwindling waterhole in the photo, and ate our lunch.

The waterhole had been empty when we arrived, and then quite suddenly, as is usually the way with elephants, this small family group appeared. The photo looks like a water colour, or a colour plate in a vintage travel book. I only had my little Olympus Trip, and I often had it on the wrong setting. But the other thing about elephants (and I think this image captures it) is that even when you are there, and can see them with your own two eyes, and are close enough to catch a whiff of their musky hides, it is still hard to believe in them. They come and go like mirages, walking always on the tiptoes, their heels supported by fatty pads that deaden the sound of their footfalls. It is thus very easy to be sneaked up on by an elephant.

Of course if they’ve decided to do a little tree felling, since they like to clear land to encourage their favourite grass to grow, or are seeing off some deemed intruder, then you hear them alright. Indeed, there is nothing quite so alarming as a trumpeting matriarch, clearing a waterhole of potential threats to the family’s infants. On this day, though, all was dreamy peacefulness, and concluded surreally enough in the Game Reserve Hotel at Dete where we were the only guests, and the only food on the menu were pieces of very tough meat  that took an hour to chew.

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The next day, though, we woke to a new kind of dream – golden sun through a mist of coal dust that hangs like a heat haze over the vast Hwange Coal Field. And so we quickly turned our noses from the industrial smog and headed for the border and Victoria Falls.

Hwange - smog over the coalfields

copyright 2015 Tish Farrell

For more shades of grey please visit Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack

Letters from Lusaka: Part II

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In 1992-1993, during the first years of Zambia’s multi-party democracy, we were posted to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.  The Team Leader was charged with distributing European Union food aid to drought-stricken Zambians. (Part I is HERE). For the first couple of weeks, and the irony was not lost on us, we lived in the 4-star Pomodzi Hotel, in air-conditioned luxury.

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Notes from an aid nomad’s life in Zambia

While we are still at the Pomodzi I do the unthinkable as far as white locals are concerned. I walk out of the hotel grounds and down a couple of avenues to the Ridgeway Hotel. One of the visiting NRI chaps has told me that it has a good gift shop, and there may be the possibility of finding some local books.

I set off on the basis that as I am not travelling by car, I will not be car-jacked. I am not. I buy a wonderful Tonga basket and a small olive-wood elephant for luck, but there are no books. I do find a map though – Lusaka one side, Zambia on the other. I study the country’s boundaries, trying to make sense of colonial cobbling that created a nation whose North Province lies to the east of its Central Province.

The country nestles in the heart of southern Africa between eight countries. In outline it resembles a foetal chick curled on its back within a protecting shell. In reality, though, I soon learn that Zambia has no such protection. It simply has too many borders and not enough military personnel. There are only some 300, 000 taxpayers in a population of eight million, which is not enough to pay for more soldiers. The north-west border with Zaire is lethally porous. Members of President Mobutu’s own unpaid armed forces regularly drive into Zambia’s Copper Belt and conduct armed pillaging campaigns against innocent drivers and householders. Sometimes they come as far south as Lusaka.

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Pomodizi Hotel

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We are told that when driving at night we must never stop at red traffic lights (locally known as robots), since this is the moment that car-jackers will choose to pounce. Over in Eastern Province the threat comes from the conflict in Mozambique as RENAMO guerrillas cross the border to shoot up Zambian buses and steal food. In Western Province UNITA fighters from Angola’s war terrorize Zambian villagers. Famine, then, is only one cause of death; there are many others, and the mineral resources that Cecil Rhodes sought so hard to control through his dark-hearted dealings with local chiefs are high on the list.

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AIDS awareness down on Cairo Road.

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Then there is malaria and tuberculosis, and as the rains bucket down through December, the cholera season begins. Overflowing septic tanks and pit latrines are polluting the city’s boreholes. At first, oblivious of such dangers, we eat out at downtown restaurants. We are down in Livingstone, near the Zimbabwe border, G checking out the contents of grain stores, when I am stricken with amoebic dysentery. Again it is the Delegation secretary who comes to the rescue and directs us to the mining companies’ private clinic, downtown on Cairo Road. The diagnostic facilities there are impressive, the British-born doctor patronizing. But after a three-day course of very large pills, I recover. I am lucky. Of course I am.

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Sable Road - compound pool

Six or so houses share the gardens, including a very small pool.

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We like our little house. It is red brick, single storey with a sheet iron roof that, during the rains, resounds as if someone is firing bullets into a host of upturned buckets. The living room has French doors opening onto a tiny high-walled garden. There is a big avocado tree in the corner where African sparrows come twittering in to roost in late afternoon. Above the wall, when it is not raining, arcs the blue Zambian sky. To the rear, a small kitchen gives onto a walled back yard and a patch of grass. There are two bedrooms, a tiny study and a bathroom. Outside the front door is a communal garden and terrace – garden seats set by a small swimming pool, a tall palm that rustles endlessly in the high plateau breezes, a sweet scented frangipani tree. No house overlooks any other and there are shady walk ways in between each property.

Sable Road our sitting room

Home in Sable Road

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The gardens are tended by a gentle young man called Stephen Nyangu. His name suggests erstwhile connections with the Nyanja royal clan. But Stephen’s situation is a far cry from tribal pre-eminence. He sweeps, mows, weeds, plants, prunes and waters six days a week, from seven in the morning to five in the afternoon. Then he cycles the couple of miles to his compound home in Leopard’s Hill Road where he lives with his wife and four children. The gardens he cares for bloom strangely under sub-tropical skies with tea roses, violets, pansies, Sweet William and Madonna lilies. He also washes all the cars and hefts all the dustbins to the big compound gate to be emptied once a week. For this he earns twelve thousand kwacha a month, about eighteen pounds. He has no leave beyond national holidays, and after work he runs a cigarette stall.

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Stephen Nyangu works day and night to keep his family.

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On my first day in our new home, it is Stephen who knocks on my door. “Good morning, madam. My name is Stephen. If there is anything you want me to do, I am just out there.” He gestures in the general vicinity of the pool. “Call me.” He is the only person on the compound who bothers to introduce himself. In ten months we scarcely see any of the other tenants beyond the Sikh couple who live next door. They nod to us. They have two much pampered, miniature Pomeranians and a maid called Isa. Isa looks a good-hearted soul and she works in several of the other households on the compound once she has done her daily tasks for the Sikhs. These include much furious chopping at seven a.m. Perhaps she is chopping for the Pomeranians. When she is left in charge of them for three months while their owners go on leave, she grows so fed up with their insistent yapping that one day she yells SHUT UP. And so shocked are the indulged little canines, that they do just that. I want to hug Isa.

I further decide that my house is scarcely big enough to justify even a once-a-week cleaner, this despite the constant slick of red dust that blows in every day. I thus do my own housework.

Our compound is on Sable Road in Kabulonga, the heart of the diplomatic quarter. Our next door neighbour is the Egyptian Embassy. At night the guards fire off rifles. We never do know what is going on there, and sometimes it sounds like a siege. Our compound is one of the least fortified on the road. The iron gate has open railings instead of sheet metal armour plating, and our day guard, Sammy, always leaves it unlocked  anyway during the day, while he plays draughts with a neighbouring house-guard. He’s a bit  nonplussed by my habit of going out on foot, and at first dashes from his game to open the gate as if I were a passing vehicle. We soon come to a silent arrangement whereby we greet each other, I open the gate for myself and he keeps on with his game. 

We soon discover that our household security provision falls short of official standards. European Union and British High Commission employees are advised to have internal security gates installed, external security lights, roof siren, alarm buttons, window bars, a pack of Dobermans and ridgebacks, a two-way radio and armed twenty-four-hour guards. The fortification of a property may cost around £5,000. Somehow we survive without most of these devices, although the top of our garden wall, which also forms the rear of the compound, is quite high and is further cemented with shards of broken glass.

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Sable Road in the dry season.

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The nights, though, can be nerve-wracking. Rounds of automatic gunfire are common after dark. Some European locals, we hear, have made a ritual of standing on their front lawn at 9 pm every night and shooting off their sporting rifles – just to let “the thieving bastards” know what’s what. These are the same people who will tell you that, when they are not trying to relieve you of all your worldly goods, the Africans are really very charming. But gunfire aside, it is anyway hard to sleep in the perpetual gloaming of the security lights dotted around our compound. The insects, too, grow louder as the night draws on, and then the dogs wake us.

Elite suburban living

Expatriate living: guard house and armoured gates.

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I call it the Kabulonga Howling. It begins with a solitary keening which swells into a relayed dog lament that spreads from compound to compound until a monstrous crescendo resounds across the suburbs. Once reached, it quickly subsides, to be replaced by the insistent beat of Zambian disco music, thrumming away beyond our perimeter wall. We have no idea who lives behind our glass-spiked rampart. I have tried standing on the brick barbeque in the back yard, but I still cannot see over the wall. Instead, I often hear a Zambian boy badgering his little sister whose name is Lorna. Lorna is always being ordered to do something or other. There is meek compliance in her little voice. It is the lot of many Zambian women to defer to men, and my heart aches for her. One day I find an arrow in the back garden – a stiff plant stem tipped with a bent Mosi beer bottle cap. For a moment I examine it like Robinson Crusoe finding unsettling signs of life on his confining island shore.

By day G. drives off early to the EU Delegation. It is only five minutes’ drive away. I begin to tend the back garden, sowing beans, courgettes, carrots. Things quickly sprout, but the land snails are as big as my fist. I write and read, although finding books is a challenge. We can find no bookshops in Zambia since the nation can no longer support a publishing industry. Once a week we drive down to the British Council on Cairo Road to borrow books from their library. We do this, ignoring white Zambians’ warnings that our Suburu will be car-jacked if we park anywhere downtown. Whenever we go to the library, most of Zambia’s students seem to be studying hard, filling every seat. It is hard to gain qualifications in a land without books.

Newsprint , too, is hard to come by. Newspapers sell out quickly each day and I have to rely on G. bringing the Delegation copy home at lunch-time for quick scan through. Soon we hear that four Zambian Daily Mail accountants have been arrested for ripping off their own company’s limited newsprint stock and selling it to a rival newspaper.

Then there is the challenge of household shopping. Our local shop is Kabulonga supermarket where I frequently search the shelves to the strains of  Michael Bolton’s The Lady in Red. A beautiful girl in cobalt blue chitenge and matching head-cloth that is  tied with great flourishes, is often on the till. She has the poise of a princess.

When it comes to shopping, it is a matter of buying whatever is in stock and then thinking of something to do with it. Treats include cartons of delicious and imported Ceres grape juice, and jars of sweet pickled beetroot. The local yoghourt comes in big tubs, plain or strawberry. Other staples include corned beef and South African wine. The supermarket smells of countless forms of perfumed cleaning products that at Christmas time are parcelled up into gift packs to make the ideal gift, along with small bales of second hand clothing.

Kamwala roadside furniture market

There are plenty of roadside artisans. We bought our bed from traders in  Kamwala Market

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There are of course shopping opportunities everywhere along Lusaka’s streets – cigarette and second hand clothes stalls, a man selling bread, another with his scrawny hens, fish from a freezer connected to nothing, caterpillars dried or roasted, large woodland mushrooms the colour of cygnet down, little pyramids of tomatoes. If I buy two piles of tomatoes from the young woman in the photo, she gives me an extra tomato as a “special gift”, and then wraps the lot in computer print-out.

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I also walk down to the Maluwa Cooperative in the hopes of something more interesting than beetroot and corned beef. Again I never know what I will find there: perhaps, if I’m lucky, a good mission-reared chicken in the cold cabinet, or button mushrooms, some Gouda cheese, broccoli, new potatoes, French beans, bunches of roses. If he catches me walking, an elderly white Zambian in a pick-up, (his ‘boys’ in the back), always insists on giving me a lift. He means well, and it is easier to comply with his desire to save me from imagined predations of Zambians than to argue.

But I like it out on the road. There is so much life there outside the high walled, razor-wired residences of the elite. People greet me. A taxi driver trying to mend his broken-down car offers me a lift, presumably in hopes that if I agree, his vehicle will conveniently right itself. I grin and say no thanks. I like his style though. As I step out again on the dirt road that has lost its asphalt, my footprints are impressed in the dust among the countless prints of others.

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G. spends his days rushing round to meetings with aid agencies. There are fears that donations of free maize will dissuade farmers from planting their own crops, despite the good rains. Too much free maize is also likely to depress the economy, and this must be avoided. Much is given out as payment for working on public enterprises such as road building or making bricks for the building of clinics. Unemployed women, in particular, are keen to do such work. Receiving a sack of mealie meal, sugar, beans and cooking oil in return for their labour gives them independence from menfolk who might otherwise take any cash earnings. G. also has to travel down south to Choma and Kalomo to oversee the distribution of EU maize by the Red Cross. There are more trips out east and to the Copper Belt.

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Villagers coming to collect cooking oil and maize meal from Red Cross food aid distributers.

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A farmer shows Graham his empty granary.

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In March G. comes home saying there is a bit of flap on. Brussels has phoned the E.U. Delegation saying that the BBC has reported a coup in Zambia: is everything all right there, they ask. The diplomats scratch their heads. No coup has been observed, but a few days later it is clear that something has happened. Major Rezi Kaunda, son of the long-serving and recently supplanted, ex-president, Kenneth Kaunda, has been arrested. He is reported as being under armed guard. Further details explain, somewhat bizarrely, that he is sitting in the yard of Woodlands police station with his flask of tea and a radio. Fourteen plotters in all have been arrested both in Lusaka and the Copper Best. These include the editor-in-chief of the Zambia Times.

Later we hear that an incriminating document, The Zero Option, has been seized. It gives detailed plans of how members of the UNIP opposition old guard, led by Rezi, intend to make Zambia ungovernable by fuelling a crime wave, infiltrating the unions and government departments. It is mooted that this campaign of destabilisation has already been instigated and is responsible for the alarming crime wave.

President Chiluba has only been in office for a little over a year. His Movement for Multi-Party Democracy defeated Kenneth Kaunda in the first democratically held elections since Independence in 1964. Kaunda Senior had been in power all that time, but on defeat, chose to bow out gracefully. Meanwhile Frederick Chiluba claims that he is on a clean-up mission of this potentially rich, but now run-down state. He declares a limited State of Emergency while order is restored.

We all breathe a sigh of relief. No need for the emergency evacuation that the High Commission is so unlikely to provide for us. Besides, G. still has much work to do, and there’s so much I still want to discover. One thing I am itching to know is how this copper-rich nation, with its deposits of sapphires and amethysts and airy upland mopane forests is one of the poorest on earth. Why are its impoverished, beleaguered but hard-working peoples being so ruthlessly structurally adjusted by the World Bank? I am beginning to suspect that the spirit of Cecil Rhodes is restless and abroad once more, but that, as they say is another story.

Eastern Province

Zambia is often called ‘the air-conditioned state’. It comprises an upthrust, tilted plateau some 5,000 feet above seal level. The natural vegetation is mopane woodland. This view was taken along the Great East Road.

Lusaka agricultural show - miniature railway

Lusaka agricultural show - kids

Lusaka agricultural show - Boy and copper belt truck tyre

Kids at the Annual Lusaka Agricultural Show. 1993’s slogan is ‘Produce to Prosper’. Produce and get a fair price  from multi-nationals would be my preferred slogan.

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© 2013 Tish Farrell