It’s been ten years since I first stepped on Zambian soil with the wonderful Jody (Boyes) Wall. Ten years ago we made the trek from Lusaka to Kitwe, me nervous, Jody excited, and we began our year long adventure of living in Zambia. It was a fun and funny year but I left Zambia after that year thinking I never wanted to live here again. And here we are genuinely loving living here.
I know ten years is a long time, and much happens and changes in ten years, but the Zambia we knew then and the Zambia I know now are very different.
Jody and I lived in Kitwe when Shoprite was the only supermarket and you never knew when they’d run out of even the most basic of foods. Today we have the choice of three grocery stores where we can buy everything from feta cheese to olives, salsa to soy milk, muesli to green curry paste.
Back in the day it was faux pas to walk around holding hands with your boyfriend/husband in public. Today one can see couples hand in hand walking down the road. I’ve even spotted a few kisses between Zambians – shocking!
Ten years ago you wouldn’t catch a women showing off her knees or wearing very form fitting trousers. Today short skirts are common among the younger generation (I even saw an old lady in Lusaka baring her aged knees – I did a triple take!) and leggings seem to have reached all corners of God’s good earth.
When Jody and I lived here we’d eat at Subway when in Lusaka as it was the only international chain restaurant there was in Zambia. Today we have Subways in Ndola, Nandos, Wimpy (it Kitwe), Spur and several other South African restaurants.
So much has changed in Zambia. There has been so much ‘development’ – there are shopping malls, the hotels, casinos, stadiums let alone all of the new houses, HD TVs, the BMWs you see on the road and the arrival of wifi internet.
There used to be signs ‘Zambia, the real Africa’ that were dotted around in Zambia. People would say this as well, that we had come to Zambia and it was here that we would really experience Africa. I haven’t heard anyone say this in years and I haven’t come across any signs that say this anymore. I’m not sure with all of its development if Zambia is the ‘real Africa’ anymore.
It’s a bit of a hybrid culture now. You see old mamas in their full chetenge traditional dresses sitting down and tucking into take out pizza, brand new Audi’s passing men cycling down the road with goats strapped to the back of their bikes, and people whipping out their tablets to take photos of stoic couples on the roundabout on their wedding day. It’s a funny place we live…