Thursday, February 10

Hotter Than Nshima!

Rosemary Mulenga Chileshe was Zambia's effort at Miss World last December.

Wednesday, February 9

Too Much For Tigerboy

Zambia's wrestling authorities stopped an international bout in Lusaka after claims that a Congolese wrestler used magic on his opponent.

Maybe That Wasn't Such A Good Idea . . .

A Zambian man who repeatedly raped his 12-year-old step-daughter and infected her with syphilis recently received a 45-year prison sentence. This is the longest sentence ever imposed in Southern Africa for this kind of crime.

Of course, I don't know his motivation for doing this, but some Zambians believe sex with a virgin will cure a person of AIDS.

I Swear I Had A Million Kwacha This Morning!

Keeping with my recent theme of Zambia and money . . .

In 2003, the Canadian Bank Note Company printed K500 and K1000 notes on plastic sheets for use in Zambia. Naturally, the plastic notes "fade when soaked in water or when heated." The notes -- worth 27 billion kwacha -- are being withdrawn and new, paper notes will soon be printed (by CBNC for free).

Time To Get A New Wallet

Recently, Japan cancelled much of the debt owed it by Zambia.

Today, the UK agreed to cancel 128 million pounds of debt, representing the final 35% of the total debt Zambia owes. (The UK already cancelled the other 65%.) Further, the UK agreed to pay over 10% of the debt service Zambia owes the World Bank.

According to, 128,000,000 pounds = 1,115,471,730,897 ZK. That's over a trillion Kwacha!

Tuesday, February 8

K1000 = "1 Pin"

Tip of the day: If you want to sound like a local, refer to "1000 Kwacha" as "1 Pin" or "2000 Kwacha" as "2 Pin" (not 2 Pins").

In the 1990's, the Kwacha devalued so rapidly that the government didn't have time to produce new, larger bank notes. To pay for things, Zambians often had to bundle -- or "pin" together -- large numbers of small bills.

Don't be surprised if you meet an urban Zambian who talks like he's straight outta Compton: Hollywood's tendrils are long and powerful. (Amusingly, the "10 Grand" or "10 G's" they might refer to equals about $2.)

Is It Morality Or An Inability To Deal With The Problem?

According to the Inter Press Service, "Since late 2001, more than 300 sick inmates [in the final stages of AIDS] have been freed by President Levy Mwanawasa on compassionate grounds."

On one hand, it seems nice that dying prisoners can spend their final days with their families. On the other hand, you can't help but think that Government is simply washing their hands of the whole mess.

Water, Water Everywhere . . .

Water is a precious resource in Southern Zambia. A new project in Choma District, sponsored by World Vision International, aims to raise the water table by digging trenches, thereby making the land usable for longer periods after the dry season begins.

Monday, February 7

A Bag Tax?

San Francisco isn't the only area considering a tax on plastic bags. Zambia, too, has started discussing implementing a bag tax, "in order to encourage the use of traditional wood baskets to help promote the crafts industry in Zambia."

One of the most important commodities in the country is plastic bags. When I lived there, I was asked daily for extra "plasticis."

Introducing this kind of regressive tax on an already desperately poor population might have disappointing consequences.

She Is The "Chambeshi River"

Women who are nicknamed "Chambeshi River" are allegedly "too wet" and have "been with too many men." Evidently, Zambian men prefer sex with women whose vaginas are very dry.

To that end, as many as 86% of Zambian women have reported willingly inserting "herbal aphrodisiacs, household detergents, and antiseptics into their vaginas before sex, to ensure they are 'hot, tight, and dry'." The reason most women give for this practice is to increase the sexual pleasure of their partners.

Although Zambia's Ministry of Health teaches that "dry sex" contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS -- becasue a dry vaginal wall is more likely to tear and allow for HIV transmission --some reports argue there is little correlation between "dry sex" and HIV/AIDS infection.

Fly Like An Eagle

I mentioned last week that the price of Chibuku is rising.

It seems that SABMiller -- the company that owns 50% of Chibuku, a cloudy, sorghum-based beer -- is introducing a newer, clear sorghum-based beer, in an effort to bridge the market between sorghum and Western-styled beers. The new beer, Eagle Beer, will be priced much lower than available lager beers, and close to the price of Chibuku. SABMiller is trying to attract Africans with rising incomes and appeal to them to switch from traditional, cloudy sorghum beers to bottled lagers.