We all have to admit that there is no perfect country, and I think I have written a post too many about the things in Zambia that don’t quite fit. Time to celebrate the things that can be celebrated.
1. The family system
Okay, so I, like many Zambians grew up in a large family. Culturally, the notion of extended family for us is none existent, or at least, used to be. With us, your mother’s sisters are your mothers and your dad’s brothers your fathers, and their children are your siblings. To put things in perspective, growing up, I knew I had more than one grandmother (sisters) but I never actually knew which one was my mother’s biological mother, nor did it bother me. That was just the norm, they were, plain and simple, mum’s mums. The interaction of the siblings was one where no lines were drawn between children belonging to one person or the others and for me they were all just siblings. My childhood was so much richer because I had the privilege of having met five great grandmothers, One great-grandfather (they were siblings); numerous grand parents, numerous mothers, Aunties, Uncles and a lot of cousins, sisters and brothers. I remember one of my great grandmothers telling me, when my daughter was born, that a child only belongs to the mother before he/she is born, after that, she belongs to the family.
2. The people
Zambians are some of the most beautiful people I know. If you’re in crisis, there’ll be family and friends to help. I think we can be a bit placid at times, but when you cross the line, we’re generally sure to put you straight, that’s usually after you have really pushed it. I think that no one person is perfect, and yes, that goes for Zambians too but what I love most I guess is the sense of community.
3. The food
My sister refers to me as “Kawa mwana wa bwali”, meaning “Kawa the child of ubwali”, ubwali being the food most of us eat. It has many different names but I won’t get into those. Its made out of mealie meal and water and to be honest is “tasteless” but there’s something tasty about it…That doesn’t make sense, but you would have to taste it to understand.
Then there’s the wide variety of vegetables, my favourite being Kalembula, a.k.a sweet potato leaves. There are Casava leaves, Bean leaves and pumpkin leaves, the latter, in my opinion, only tastes great when cooked with groundnuts; and many more. There’s also Chikanda (yum yum, my mouth is watering just thinking about it) which is cooked using groundnuts, water, soda and the main ingredient being the powder form of a certain tuba but I wouldn’t be able to give an English name.
I could never forget the variety of fruit and mushrooms…then there’s delele/umulembwe, in which category, okra would fit. The general point is we have a lot of good food.
4. The climate
It doesn’t get too hot, doesn’t get too cold! Yes, we Zambians love to complain about how hot it gets but seriously, until you’ve experienced Australian summer, you cannot appreciate just how blessed we are…Our temperatures are mild. It does rain cats and dogs though, but I have to say, I actually do miss the thunder storms. It was in those times that we got to share a lot of folk tales, a.k.a utushimi.
5. The land/environment itself
We’re a landlocked country, but we have sandy beaches in the North of the country on the banks of lakes. I have never visited them, however and hope to soon. We are the home to the mighty Mosi oa tunya, commonly known as the Victoria falls and many more other falls that are not as known like the Chishimba falls and Mambilima falls. We have amazing animals, landscapes and a lot of tourism potential. Even our back yard has a “mini falls”. That’s how amazing this country is
6. Ama pinda and Utushimi
Amapinda are proverbs. My grandmother uses them mid sentence and they just fit. I’m more familiar with Bemba sayings, but I have heard some in other Zambian languages too. They are used to teach and correct. One of my favourites would be “imiti iikula e mpanga” translated “The trees that grow become forests” meaning, todays children are tomorrows leaders/future.
7. Simplicity of life
We are very laid back in the way we live. We don’t complicate matters that need no complications. If it requires the use of common sense, by all means it doesn’t require legislation. “Balanced” laid back is always a good thing. We don’t have people dragging each other to court at every turn. We don’t mind sharing our homes with uninvited guests, or even sharing a meal with them. You go to someone’s house while they are eating, you pull a chair and join them.