Saturday, January 15

"Mr. Charcoal"

The caption reads: "Carrying coal for long distances in between villages is on of the biking specialities of zambian people." I don't know if it's a specialty or a necessity. Great photo, though.

Friday, January 14

Truly Zambian

This might be the most beautiful thing in Zambia.

Mosi Beer (image courtesy of

Thursday, January 13

Domestic Violence in Zambia

In Profiling Domestic Violence: A Muliti-Country Study, Sunita Kishor and Kiersten Johnson examine violence against women in 9 developing countries, one of which is Zambia.

Sadly, 48% of Zambian women reported spousal, physical, or sexual abuse -- the highest level of any of the 9 countries studied.

Kishor and Johnson look not only at violence against women, but also at how such violence affects children. They find that children of abused mothers are more likely to suffer health problems, and that infant and mortality rates are higher among women who have been victims of violence. Another interesting finding is that, in most countries, the highest rates of violence occur in moderately wealthy households and not among the poorest households.

It's a sobering report.

But Is A Boy's Sweat Blue?

Mark Ritchie, professor of biology at Syracuse University, answers the question, Do hippos have pink sweat?:

Hippo (image courtesy of

Hippos secrete a reddish oily fluid sometimes called "blood sweat" from special glands in their skin. But the fluid is not sweat. Unlike sweat, which some mammals (including humans) secrete onto their skin, where it evaporates and therefore cools the body, this fluid functions as a skin moisturizer, water repellent and antibiotic. It appears red when exposed to full sunlight, which led the first European discoverers in Africa to call it "blood sweat."

Hippos mostly try to avoid direct sunlight by lying in water during the day and feeding at night. Their skin is very sensitive to both drying and sunburn, so the secretion acts like an automatic skin ointment. It also protects the skin from becoming waterlogged when a hippo is in the water. The detailed chemical composition of this secretion, which is unique to hippos, remains something of a mystery.

"To Pull-Pull"

Kuponya is a Tumbuka verb meaning "to pull." Kuponyaponya means "to pull-pull," and is usually translated as "to masturbate." (Saying kuponyaponya makes grown Zambians giggle like schoolgirls.) Considering the HIV/AIDS rate in Zambia (21.52%), there are countless groups working to prevent the disease's spread. Many teach abstinence, emphasizing masturbation, but this is disregarded by many Zambian men as "impossible."

Recently, condoms have gained in popularity, although many Zambians feel they are a nuisance, "unbiblical," or simply work better as bicycle valves. Zambians are nothing if not inventive.

In 1992, PSI, an international social marketing organization, introduced Maximum Condoms ("Strong for MAXIMUM protection, Sensitive for MAXIMUM pleasure") to Zambia. According to their research, they have been effective at helping to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS and STDs, as well as reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in the country. Not to be outdone, the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia recently launched the Success Condom with the slogan "Because you want it!"

Soon, They'll Call Him "Madala"

According to the Cincinnati Post, Bob Wilder, 57, is joining the Peace Corps and heading to Zambia to work in the Health Program as an HIV/AIDS volunteer. Good luck, Bob!

(BTW - Madala is a sign of respect, reserved for older men.)

7 Tourists = 1 New Job

To mark Livingstone's 100th anniversary of "discovering" Vic Falls, and to celebrate 70 years of service to the country, British Air is slashing air fares by 30% on its London-Lusaka route.

Kicking off the "Visit Zambia 2005 Campaign" this month, the Honorable Patrick K. Kalifungwa, MP Minister of Tourism said he hopes to increase tourist traffic by an additional 400,000 visitors a year, up from 589,000 visitors. Kalifungwa remarked that increased tourism brings with it five important benefits for the country:
  1. positive image of Zambia
  2. increased revenues for both private sector and government
  3. increased job creation - every seven arrivals generates one job
  4. increased investment
  5. poverty reduction
It won't get cheaper. Why wait?

Well, Well, Well

WaterAid has an excellent picture of a well-made and well-maintained hand-dug well in Zambia. Several things of note:

  1. There is a fence surrounding the well, keeping animals and small children away.
  2. The fence is wooden, meaning locals can easily rebuild it if it is destroyed.
  3. The windlass (the crank) is wooden, meaning it is easily replacable if this one breaks or is stolen.
  4. There well has a durable chain, rather than a flimsy rope.
  5. The container is a durable metal bucket, so it will last longer.
  6. The skirt of the well is cemented, preventing germs from seeping back into the water-table.
  7. The skirt of the well is clean.
  8. The women have placed their buckets on the well's skirt -- not on the lip -- reducing the likelihood of "spilling germs" into the well.
  9. There is a lid which almost entirely covers the well, meaning very little dust, debris, leaves, etc. can get inside.

A Well in Zambia (image courtesy of

Technically, there should be a hinged lid on the cover of the well, so that she can close (and even lock!) the well at night. However, it's rare to see these.

Great job, WaterAid: this is textbook!

Wednesday, January 12

Metalliferous and Non-Metalliferous Resources

In 1889, Cecil Rhodes set up the South African Company to extract minerals from Southern and Central Africa. Soon, he was in Zambia -- or Rhodesia, as it was known -- exploiting the land. Although he found some copper deposits, Rhodes did not find great mineral wealth.

In the late 1920's, however, rich copper and cobalt deposits were discovered. Today, Zambia is the world's 11th largest producer of copper, and the world's largest producer of cobalt, a brittle metal commonly used in jet engines. Zambia also has other mineral resources, as well as gemstones, and many potential energy resources.

If you're interested in, uh, digging deeper into the Zambian mining industry -- which accounts for 10% of its GDP and 80% of its export earnings -- check out the comprehensive information Mbendi provides. If you just need to scratch the surface, grab your pick and head to

Funny But False

I like checking a variety of news sources for ZAMblog. In recent weeks, I found and blogged several articles about Zambian presidents -- past, present, and pretend.

"Zambia Elects First Black President" -- featured in The Onion -- is among the latter. Funny stuff, though.

Get Smart

Early Histories of Zambia are sketchy, but there seems to be evidence of an "early version" of Homo sapiens in Zambia as long as 200,000 to 400,000 years ago.

By the 4th Century A.D., waves of early Bantus arrived from the north. It is these people who gave rise to today's modern Zambians. Tim Lambert has written a nice historical summary of Zambia, from early Bushmen days to the election of Chiluba, in 1991. Evidently, Lambert doesn't like using commas, but it's still an informative read.

It's Paprika, I Swear!

Last month, 66-year-old Maxwell Kalunga, a peasant farmer in Zambia's Southern Province, was arrested and charged with possession of 16.9 tons of cannabis -- that's 33,800 pounds, or about 21.6 million joints!

Considering Zambia's Drug Enforcement Commission claims marijuana seizures are down from 182 tons in 2003 to 108 tons last year, that means Kalunga, alone, accounted for almost 16% of the seizures in 2004.

But The Travel Agent Said It Was Fine To Travel In Rainy Season

My last entry for today: has an excellent photo of a Zambian bus that isn't going anywhere soon. At least they've got spare tires!

Tuesday, January 11

It's Not Just "Bad Air"

Malaria kills an African child every 30 seconds.

The World Health Organiztion has some excellent information explaining what malaria is, how it terrorizes Africa, and the direct and indirest costs of the disease.

Malaria's Reach (image courtesy of

Mr. Integrity

Bush isn't the only head of state shuffling his cabinet. Recently, Levy Mwanawasa, President of Zambia, did the same. Shortly thereafter, in an interview with the BBC, Mwanawasa claimed his inability to eradicate poverty in his country is one of his "failures" as President.

President Mwanawasa(image courtesy of

Roundly respected, Mwanawasa has earned the nickname "Mr. Integrity." Zambia's former VP and hand-picked successor of former President Chiluba, Mwanawasa launched an anti-corruption campaign against his mentor only weeks after being sworn in as the nation's third president.

A lawyer by training, Mwanawasa climbed to the top of his profession, including being the first Zambian lawyer appointed advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. He distinguished himself further by defending former VP Lt. General Christon Tembo, charged with treason for trying to overthrow former President Kaunda's government in 1989. (The trial ended abruptly when Kaunda pardoned all political prisoners.)

In a continent replete with politicians on the take -- including Chiluba, charged with 169 counts of corruption, mentioned elsewhere on ZAMblog -- Zambia's President is a godsend. To learn more about Mr. Integrity, read the profile of Mwanawasa by BBC reporter Anthony Kunda.

Get Off the Couch!

Over 2700 kilometers long, flowing through or past 6 nations, the dynamic Zambezi is among the world's most amazing rivers. On a day like today, it'd be great to touch her mighty waters.

Providing water, power, and sustenance to millions of people -- as well as being the namesake for an excellent local lager -- the Zambezi rewards the courageous with countless adventure and sightseeing opportunities. On the Zambezi, you can take a canoe safari; go riverboarding; ride in a jet boat; fish for the "striped river dog"; or -- in my mind, the most fun of all -- raft the Class IV and V rapids
"classified by the British Canoe Union as Grade 5 - 'extremely difficult, long and violent rapids, steep gradients, big drops and pressure areas.' This is a high volume, pool-drop river - little exposed rock either in the rapids or in the pools below the rapids. The Zambezi White Water Rafting is internationally acclaimed as being the wildest in the world."

Rafting the Zambezi (image courtesy of

After a day shooting the rapids, you're sore, soaked, and hungry. More than anything, you're tired. Believe me, though: it's a good tired.

Next Time, Keep Your Mouth Shut!

In 2001, according to The Dartmouth Review, a 65-year-old German national allegedly received oral sex from a 22-year-old Zambian prostitute. The judge derided the tourist's behavior as "unnatural" and "a gross abomination against Zambian laws." He sentenced the German to 6 years hard labor.

Repeat: Six years! Hard labor!

Apparently, the German, uh, got off easy. Evidently, sodomy is punishable by 14 years in prison. Strangely, the prostitute received no punishment.

Monday, January 10

"Put Your Left Foot In . . ."

If you're looking for something different to do on your next vacation, how about learning to dance? Professor Mwizenge Tembo, a Zambian sociologist living in America, has written a very interesting primer on how to dance the muganda.

Zambian Dancers (image courtesy of

The website has several great photos of Zambians dancing and making music; a detailed explanation of how the dancing is performed; and an excellent explanation of what the dancing signifies. When I do the "White Man's Dance" at the club, I never put this much thought into what I do -- I just try to keep the rhythm.

Amazingly, I know Mr. Tembos' cousins! I lived just 12 kilometers away from their village. It was a big deal when he came to visit. Small world, huh? (For more of Tembo's work, check out his book, Legends of Africa.)

Bush Restricts Zambian Women's Access to Abortions

Here's something I never knew: abortions are legal in Zambia. Of course, only a very few hospitals in the country have the ability to provide this service.

Nevertheless, President Bush recently re-instated a Reagan-era directive, restricting US-funded NGOs from counseling abortions, even if the procedures are performed with non-US funds. Furthermore, 2 years ago, Planned Parenthood of Zambia lost its U.S. government funding -- amounting to roughly 1/4 of its total budget -- because of its support of abortion rights.

Last week, News Hour with Jim Lehrer featured a segment about this topic. Reporter Fred de Sam Lazaro put together a nice piece detailing abortion rights and practices in Zambia. Because it's a transcript of video footage, the read is somewhat choppy. Nevertheless, it's a short and informative piece.

Africa's "Lion Hound"

Rhodesian Ridgeback  (image courtesy of

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an impressive beast, capable of withstanding extreme temperature fluctuations, foregoing water for extended periods, and serving as a great hunting companion for big game hunters (read: they don't freak out when elephants charge). Initially bred in Rhodesia -- the former name of Zambia -- they are a motley blend: Greyhounds, Terriers, Danes, Bloodhounds, as well as a unique ridge-backed dog used by the Hottentots, all went into the mix.

Easily identified by the distinctive ridge running along their spine, male RRs stand 25 to 27 inches high and weigh around 85 pounds, according to the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the U.S.. However, I remember a bitch in The Hippo Hide, a great hostel in Durban, SA, that was easily 32 inches tall and weighed well over 100 pounds. The reason they were preferred by big game hunters is simple: they are big game! Despite their size, though, they are loyal, gentle animals, and I would love to play with one right now.

Poop = Good

Roughly 2/3 of Zambia's 10 million people live in rural areas, meaning 6 million Zambians have no running water, phone service, or even (God Forbid!) Internet connectivity. More pressing, however, is that these people are also without electricity.

In order to cook, warm themselves, heat bathwater, make pottery, smoke, brew beer, bake bread, smelt, or any number of other things, they need heat. Without electricity, heat usually comes from biomass, or firewood. And firewood means deforestation.

Unfortunately, deforestation is a big problem in Zambia. Deforestation estimates range from 250,000 to 900,000 acres per year, or a loss of about 2% of forest-land annually. Deforestation results in decreased agricultural productivity, loss of wildlife habitat, a lower water table, and soil erosion, among other things.

There have been a number of efforts to introduce renewable energy options to Zambia, including harnessing solar energy and wind energy. However, these methods have high import costs and tend to rely on professionals for installation and service. One of the most innovative renewable energy ideas is biogas, a.k.a., animal poop. According to Islam Online, poop is the Next Big Thing, something you actually want to find in the kitchen.