Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Levy We Hardly Knew You

Levy Mwanawasa
September 3, 1948-August 19, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Journalists for Human Rights Blog

I'll be posting articles, journals and photo essays on the JHR website from time to time. There's plenty of other great stuff there as well. Right now, I have photos and a journal entry about going to rural Zambia to look at some development projects.

Hole in the Wall

One of the rules of Feng Shui is that bad spirits travel in straight lines and anything in their path is prone to misfortune. That's why, for example, many Chinese restaurants will put a barrier in front of the door forcing you to go left or right as you enter and thereby neutralizing the bad luck.

A manifestation of this ancient principle happened last Friday, when a car driving down Martin Luther King Street (my street) approached the T-bone intersection with Roan Road and instead of slowing down, accelerated through the concrete block wall.

In my neighbourhood live former presidents, NGO czars, and affluent Zambians and is consequently a maze of walled compounds. From the street all one sees is ten-foot-high whitewashed walls, black gates and the occasional 4-wheel drive roaring past. For those without a car and driver it can be very oppressive. So it was almost therapeutic to walk out my gate Sunday morning and see this perfect Hulk-sized hole in the neighbourhood's armour.

With the car long gone, I could see my neighbours easy chairs and braii stand (barbecue). I felt the urge to explore further but right then a guard in fatigues and a beret popped up with his arms crossed. I decided not to take a photo.

There has been a guard standing there, in front of the hole, day and night now for almost a week and this morning for the first time there were men rebuilding the wall. By evening it should be secure again and the guard can finally move from that inauspicious spot.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Catching Up

No pictures today as my flash drive was stolen. This isn't a reflection on Zambian society, however, as I was the one that stupidly left it in the computer. Actually I'm starting to feel really comfortable here. I no longer grab my wallet as I walk down Cairo road and today I went tramping through the narrow alleys of Kamwala market by myself.

I made a friend named Joseph who runs a small clothing stall beside his wife's vegetable stand. We discussed different kinds of Zambian greens and how to cook them. I bought a bunch of sweet potato leaves which he explained had to be de-stemmed and cooked with tomato and onion.

There is another green that I've had in a restaurant which is boiled with a powder called soda to soften it and then mixed with ground peanuts. The end result is kind of an herbal peanut butter. That's next week's project.

Also at Joseph's stand were baskets of dried caterpillars and little fish called kapenta. He was surprised that I'd eaten kapenta before but was quite skeptical when I told him the Malaysian recipe of frying them with chillies and peanuts. The idea of eating it with peanuts somehow was super weird for him.

On the topic of comfort, Zambians have a hard time placing me. Someone in town shouted konichiwa at me today. Later, the traders under the railway bridge (probably the sketchiest of all Lusaka's touts) while yelling at me in Nyanja, said the word "Chinese." After I shook my head another guy yelled Korean, Japanese. Canadian took them by surprise. There's a lot of anti-Chinese feeling going about these days, and for pretty good reasons. China just happens to be the most visible face of the new colonialism here and are mistrusted. Most of the mining operations here were bought by Chinese companies when they were privatized and now China has a hand in many more sectors.

So yeah. More photos soon. Also, check out my stuff on