Tag Archives: Zambia

A Little Taste of Zambia   

By Clare Radford (Bishop’s)

Lighting up the water as if it were on fire

Lighting up the water as if it were on fire

This morning we are leaving for Zambia. It is crazy to think that we have just gotten home and that we are already leaving for another adventure in less than 40 hours! The education crew has really cracked down as we try to accomplish as much as possible. I am extremely happy about the progress we have made! The units look fantastic, though I’m so sad I won’t be able to see them in action.

We arrived at Zikomo Lodge in the late afternoon. As we got closer to the lodge we slowly left the busy streets and villages behind us, gradually emerged into the safari. When we pulled up to the lodge we were greeted with drinks and wet towels by the staff, as well the owner. The wet towels felt amazing after the long hot drive, wiping off the thick plaster of dirt from our bodies (the only downside of driving with the windows open down the dirt roads). Victory, the owner, bought the land in 2006, turning it into a beautiful resort. After introductions were made, we were surprised by Victory with an amazing gift. Those of us who were supposed to be sleeping in tents were being upgraded to their newly built family chalets. I wasn’t thrilled at first, as I had been hoping to experience sleeping in a tent while the lions roamed around us. Once I took my first shower outside under the stars, however, I quickly forgot how I had initially felt about the change.

Once we got settled I went for a short walk over to the river to watch the sunset, where I found pods of hippopotami talking amongst themselves. As I watched the sun slowly set, I couldn’t help but make up conversations of what they were saying to each other,

Youngsters: “Call to the others, let’s go! We’re starving!”

Head honcho: “Patience young ones”

I laughed to myself as I took in the assortment of reds and oranges that lit up the sky. I have seen my fair share of beautiful sunsets at my family’s cottage, but as the sun got lower and lower, the colours became darker, lighting up the water as if it were on fire. It is hard to believe that there could be another place so peaceful, especially after coming from such an oasis in Livingstonia. However, in Livingstonia we were completely secluded. Sitting here, out in the open, listening to the hippopotami has helped remind me that there is still so much out there that we haven’t seen, so much out there that we have yet to experience.

Following a night of listening to the animals calling out to one another while laying in my bed, waking up at 5 am was far from difficult, in the hopes of seeing some of the animals we had heard that night. At around 5:30 am we left for breakfast. We had what the Zikomo Lodge guides called “first breakfast” which consisted of a quick bowl of cereal or porridge and a slice of toast with a cup of coffee before heading out. The sun was rising as we began our first walking tour of the South Luangwa National Park. I wish I could go into every detail of our day, but even going on and on would not give it justice. I will, however, give you a short description of the variety of animals we saw. Numerous baboons, who didn’t seem to be phased at all by our presence, pukus, a type of antelope that gracefully leap out of eye-sight in seconds and impalas, which are a darker coloured antelope. Hippopotami, crocodiles, elephants also graced our day. We also saw guinea fowls, a bird that closely resembles a chicken and a hyena who had just caught his dinner. Warthogs, all of which we called Pumba, as well as giraffes, zebras, cape buffalos, and many different types of eagles, all of which helped make this an incredible experience. Even though we saw a wide range of animals, some in our group were somewhat upset about not encountering any lions. I can’t say I didn’t feel that same way. Having said that, after an evening of sitting next to the river with the hippopotamuses and listening to a local artist and his band, I had time to reflect on how grateful I am to be here and how much I appreciate to have the opportunity of being able to come on a trip like this.

 

 

A Few Days of Travel in Zambia

By Xiaoting Sun (Bishop’s)

Elephant in Zambia

Elephant in Zambia

Today was the third day since we arrived in Zambia. Every day we got up at 5:30. It is early but I do not even feel tired, because I was curious about everything in here where the environment has not been changed a lot by humans. There are all kinds of wild animals, such as: elephants, hippos, giraffes and lot of birds which I did not know the names. They have different colors of feathers such as; blue, shining red, orange, and white. You cannot imagine how beautiful they are. In the afternoon, we did a safari in a big, open car. We saw elephants. I never thought I could see a wild animal like this at such a close distance, just two or three meters from us. At that moment I was so excited and nervous. I was excited because I was finally able to see elephants not at the zoo, nervous because I was worried that the elephants would assault us. Victoria, who is the owner of this camp said if we follow the nature’s rule, those animals will not hurt us. Yes, the rule in Zambia is so important. You know the rule, you can play the game, and otherwise, you definitely lose. When our car was close to the elephants, all of us were quiet quickly, because our voices would scare them. In the afternoon around five, we were sitting on the bank with the moaning of hippos, and a bottle of Savanna. Enjoying the sunset, seeing the color of sky turn orange and red slowly. This moment was the best time in my whole day, also the moment that let me feel so close to nature, like a silent communication with nature, making me feel so peaceful and calm all the way from deep inside.

This afternoon, we watched a show which was performed by local singers and dancers. They displayed graceful rhythm and enthusiastic dancing. Even though, they did not have professional dancing performance clothes and only wore simple decoration, but in following the dancing those simple clothes look so special and unique. One of the songs was about the appeal to humans to protect animals and the forest, not to hurt them or take part in excessive deforestation. That let me realize they were the real protectors of nature.

Unexpectedly, the people of Zambia all have a very strong sense of environmental protection. Victoria said, that in the past few years, the number of elephants is reducing by a ten percentage rate with every year. The reason is that people are hunting and if it doesn’t stop then within ten years the elephant will be extinct, which will also impact other species. The same the situation is happening with the lion as a spectacular number of lions is declining. I thought we could see the king of animals –lion, but we did not. That made me feel a little bit of regret. But maybe this little bit of regret will make this safari become more unforgettable and impressive.

This safari gave me a chance to be close to nature and see the original appearance of nature. I learned a lot from this safari. It also made me think more about who we really are. Animals are our friends and they need protection from people. Stop hunting animals, please! They also have a family, and also need love; this love from each of us. This world not only belongs to people, but it also belongs to those adorable animals.

Zambia’s Nice, but Home is Nicer

By Lia Grant (McGill)

June 20th, 2014

Two of the many reasons I love Makupo

Two of the many reasons I love Makupo

We arrived back in Makupo today after a luxurious three days in Zambia at Zikomo Lodge and Safari. It was a beautiful stay; full of adventure on safari tours, laughter during evenings all together, and relaxation by the pool and in our suites. The safaris themselves were more than anything what made it worth our time. Seeing so many animals in their natural habitat while here in Africa was something I had not previously thought of as important, but it was absolutely exhilarating (the laughter-fit we all shared together on our dusk safari didn’t hurt either).

I have to admit, though, that I found it difficult at times to allow myself to feel content in Zambia. Even right upon arrival I felt myself very uneasy. We were greeted by the full staff of the lodge with cold drinks and moist hand towels, the owner insisting on her staff bringing our bags for us over to our rooms. It was incredibly jarring to suddenly be the epitome of a tourist, treated so very lavishly, completely separated from most all ‘real life’ either in Zambia or in Malawi. I have been trying to make sure I never allow myself to feel that way otherwise while here in Sub-Saharan Africa, wanting to (as much as is possible) understand the way that most people live their daily lives. Nonetheless, I pushed myself to enjoy the pause from my work and life in the community. I must note, however, that through that experience I was able to reflect upon the fact that we are not living as most people do even while in Makupo: we have a nice big space to work and eat in, cozy beds with bug nets to sleep in at night, meals cooked for us, laundry done for us, water brought to us, and more. These perks are not things that most people even in Makupo experience in their lives (and Makupo is a wealthier village than most, thanks to the money that comes in through Praxis Malawi). The truth is I will not be experiencing first-hand what it’s like to not have white-privilege while on this journey.

Overall, Zambia turned out to be an immensely introspective time; away from Makupo I was able to continue my planning for the play, and just generally contemplate and discuss my progress here. While I certainly went through culture shock upon arrival – going right away into disintegration phase (Stonebanks, 2013) – I feel that my emotional reaction turned out to be a facilitator in allowing me to rid myself of hidden oversights by bringing them to the surface.

It feels nice to be back in Makupo; it really has become a home away from home. As per usual, we were greeted by at least a dozen excited children. For the next several hours I played with them. As a teacher-in-training whenever I spend time with any children here in Malawi it occurs to me how difficult it is to communicate with them without a common language. Even simple things like, “gentler” are nearly impossible to convey to them (I got quite a few very intense high-fives today). Of course, to counter this, it is also incredible how easy it is to get by without much speech in other instances.

The debate between English and Chichewa is quite complex here, generally. English is the official language of the country, as it was colonized by Britain; however, the majority of the people in the villages speak very little English themselves. This is also in consideration amongst us in the Education team, as we want the children to get as much as they can in their learning, though there is a balance at play. If the children do not understand English well, or are not taught by an expert, they will struggle both in English Language Arts and in the other subjects that are taught in their second language. To counter this, the children should be provided with the opportunity to learn English well if it is seen as important in keeping up with the development of the rest of the world. It’s quite the debate, and a difficult issue to consider as we continue to work on curriculum. As it is right now, we have left it up to the discretion of the teacher. Hopefully more light will be shed on this issue in future years through other Praxis Malawi members.

For now, I am off to another busy day of work. We have Standard Two education units to complete, and I have a play to script. Tionana bwino.

References

Stonebanks, C. D. (2013). Cultural competence, culture shock and the praxis of experiential learning. In Lyle, E. & Knowles, G. (Ed.). Bridging the Theory-Practice Divide: Pedagogical Enactment for Socially Just Education. Nova Scotia: Backalong Books.

 

The Thoughtful Tourist

By Aaron Thornell (St. FX)

Standing awkwardly with awkward animals

Standing awkwardly with awkward animals

While travelling by jeep through the National Park in the alphabetically awesome country of Zambia, I began to think about the tourism industry present here in this area of sub-Saharan Africa – or at least that with which our group has engaged. It differs greatly from much of the tourist destinations present in many of the other parts of the world I have been fortunate enough to visit: the Coliseum of Rome, the Empire State Building in New York, the Louvre museum in Paris, or any of the amazing sights of London. Before I go off writing pieces for Daily Planet’s next issue of “Tourist Sites All North American’s Love”, I will get to the point. All of these aforementioned sites are man-made structures, ancient, somewhat more recent, and new, and draws visitors by the millions every year. The nations and cities where these are found are, of course, also home to natural beauties; here in Malawi and Zambia, I have yet to witness this duality of income-producing possibilities. The attractions that bring a great deal of foreign capital are natural sights and untamed wilderness, for the most part left unaltered by humans. The mountain of Livingstonia and the savannah plains of Zambia have been capitalized by humans – in many cases non-Africans. Both lodgings we stayed in were owned and managed by Caucasians – although one was born and spent a great deal of his life in Africa. The town of Livingstonia, too, was founded by Scottish missionaries.

It is interesting, I think, to consider this dichotomy. Despite the overwhelming European presence in Africa since the mid to late nineteenth century – a time when many man-made structures were being constructed in Europe and North America – there are very few of such monuments found in this region of Africa. Why? I suppose the largest factor was the role Europe envisioned for the African continent. Much of the landmass, in particular that which was located south of the Saharan desert, was designated as a territory ripe for exploitation, for temporary benefit followed by unceremonious discard. How different is my own visit here?

Under the ruse of a much needed break from our stressful humanitarian work (I only italicize because I at times consider how those living in the conditions we are working in are unable to take such breaks) we are treating these beautiful environments in a similar way. The parallels between a colonial occupation and our visit to Zikomo Lodge in Zambia have caused me significant disturbance and led to many questions.

The Lions and Giraffes are Amazing; our Safari in Zambia and the Freedom to Travel

By Barbara Hunting

Thornicroft giraffes

Thornicroft giraffes

Our 26-seater coaster bus gives us freedom to travel great distances and explore Africa.  You notice in rural Malawi, that many people walk, very few can afford cars, or transportation. This past week, we took our weekend in the middle of the week in order to get a better deal at Zikomo Safari Lodge (in Zambia).  Victoria and her son Damien planned a few unforgettable days in Zambia; thanks go to Dr. C. Stonebanks for negotiating this experience (as well as bringing Praxis Malawi into being).  We went to South Luangwa Game Park and had several jeep (photo) Safari tours in the park.  I cannot express in words the awe at being a short distance away from wild animals and the care and valuable knowledge that the guides provided to us during these excursions.  You simply need to experience it for yourselves!

Our adventures are sometimes produced by getting lost.  Yes, well—we have also discovered that when roads are under construction sometimes what we would call a detour is referred to as a road deviation; yet parts of the road redirection may be incomplete.  It all adds to the spice of the day.  One more thing, going into a small village with a 26-seater coaster bus is not the wisest thing either, yes, we did get stuck; sand is similar to snow (tires need a stable surface), in that respect, the sun goes down at 5:45 p.m. and then it is dark; yet everyone from the small village was more than helpful…some planks, some student and village strength to PUSH out of the soft sand to the path or road that is hard-packed and we were on our way.

I enclose a few pictures this time—and I cannot repeat enough the awesome feeling of seeing an elephant size you up while you are in an open jeep. Let me explain the jeeps, they are special touring jeeps with three tiers of seats added; one was covered, with a tarp, the other was open. Lucky me, my party got to ride in the covered jeep! The guides were very knowledgeable and explained how we should behave around the animals (the animals see us as one large object, unless someone does something to change that).  We saw wart hogs, baboons, Thornicroft giraffes (indigenous to Zambia), different types of colourful birds, pods of hippos, a few different prides of lions, one pride of lions had killed a water buffalo during the night and we saw the younger lions gorging themselves on the carcass; it was like we were in a wild-life documentary. On the second day we encountered a group of seven elephants of various sizes walking across the road not far from us; the guide stopped the jeep and we sat quietly as instructed, took pictures and watched the reactions of the elephants, they smelled us, and stopped and looked at us, and one of the mid-size ones walked to the left of us and turned and waved her ears at us—really amazing—it was like she was saying goodbye as they walked off into the bush.  At one point that same day, we saw nearly every animal at the watering hole; the most amazing were the group of fifteen giraffes and a herd of buffaloes who ran behind them—it was like being part of a National Geographic documentary! Amy leaned over at one point and said, “Pinch me; I don’t believe that I am seeing all of these animals together!”

Victoria and Damien fed us well with a bar-b-q on the second evening—what a treat!  We slept in tents and the second night we could hear lions and hippos calling to each other across the water.  We were snug in our tents and there were night watchman; no worries. Presently it is the dry season in Zambia and it was noticeable how few mosquitoes there were.

That is the touristy stuff that we allowed ourselves to do; we came out of our mosquito netted beds in Makupo Village and stayed in eight person tents, roomy and snug—and appointed a tent watch person to be sure the tents were closed up snuggly. Although we travel outside of Makupo Village, we are always happy to return to Makupo Village, as our second home. All of our excursions are complete now, one group has left today to return home—yes, it has been a month since we arrived—hard to imagine. Yet, we have all come out of our comfort zones moving through various experiences. Fear of insects, and we discovered white frogs in the women’s showers in Zambia; they harmonize with the colour of their surroundings (really cool). I was concerned about tenting—we took a few of the mattresses with us strapped to the roof of the bus and this was a great comfort; others had air mattresses.  Once again, the wonder of a shower on weekend excursions was experienced—it is the little things that make the difference (we have bucket showers in Makupo Village, check out other blogs).

Zambia action theatre group

Zambia action theatre group

One more event that we experienced that was truly exceptional was a local company of people came to the lodge in Zambia and put on a play entitled “The Bush” that was a collection of vignettes of local actions, animals, a parody of tourists (picture taking safari tourists) and a young girls’ struggle to understand her developing identity.  This type of theatre is ‘action theatre’ and this troupe is very good at making and using props to enact short scenes and narratives.  It was very impressive and they perform plays about the prevention of HIV and AIDS, Malaria prevention and alcohol abuse. We hope to see them again and invite them to the new school in Malawi!

Our freedom to travel and experience new places has not been overlooked by this member of Praxis Malawi.

Stay tuned for more adventures!

Baablah (Barbara Hunting)