Archive for January, 2007

Interactive map of Chingola

30 January 2007

Explore some images from around Chingola here. I intend to use it to examine the land use patterns in developing country urban areas.

interactive map link

interactive-map.JPG

Brief update

29 January 2007

The immigration authorities apparently located the form I filled in… after the plane had taken off. Guess what… I actually did request 8 days stay! Tione and I will have to accept the explanation that it was just a mistake, but a formal complaint has been lodged. Thank you again Tione and everyone at Kabundi High School.

Day 8 – Sunday

28 January 2007

This is an unexpected final posting, but is good therapy.

 
After a lovely but emotional farewell to my colleagues from Kabundi I passed through check-in at Ndola airport. An unexpected ‘departure payment’ was introduced, which I managed to scrape together with the help of my Zambian colleagues, then on to immigration…

 

‘Friendly’ immigration officer – “You only requested to stay three days, you have overstayed by four days”

 

Me (slightly concerned) – “Surely there is some mistake. Why would I request 3 days when my return flight was after 8 days?”

 

Less friendly immigration officer – “You have overstayed by 4 days, you will not be able to fly”

 

Me (more concerned) – “Is this a joke, I’ve got to catch a connecting flight in Johannesburg this evening”

 

Not at all friendly immigration officer – “You will not fly”

 

All passengers are heading on the airport bus to the plane, engines running, departure time in 5 minutes, my suitcase off loaded and sitting on the runway, no other flights to Jo’burg until Tuesday, no money to buy another ticket, night in Ndola prison beckoning etc…

 

Me (blind panic, pleading) – “Please, I’ve got to catch that plane”

 

Frankly, rather unpleasant immigration officer – “If you admit your guilt and pay the ‘fine’ of 1.5 million Kwacha you can fly”

 

Me (in a bit of a state, if the truth be told) – “This is a scam. You know I have to catch this flight…”

 

On reflection, that was probably not the most diplomatic response I could have come up with. Eventually I called for the help of my colleague and great friend, Tione Phiri. He gave them his own passport and would take the consequences for me. I sit writing this in Johannesburg airport, completely unaware if his fate. I thank Tione for his typically selfless act and await news…

 

My initial reaction is one of anger, as I felt that I was a victim of a crude but effective scam. I most certainly requested 8 days stay on my immigration card filled in after nearly 24hours travelling. It is possible that my hand writing is that bad that one can confuse an 8 for a 3, but I seriously doubt this. A lone passenger in a new country, with no understanding of procedures, after 24hrs with little sleep is an easy prey for an unscrupulous person. Of course I cannot prove my innocence as my immigration card was taken in on arrival. I now realise I should have checked the details on my passport stamp at the time, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

 

I have learnt a great deal about life in Zambia after the last EIGHT (!) days but clearly I still have much to learn. Even after such a truly wonderful experience at Kabundi High School, I will need to think long and hard about future visits.

 

Even this episode has important geographical significance. Tourism is an important source of income around the world. Millions of jobs depend on its success or failure. I have learnt that greater diversity in Zambia’s economy could be key to a successful future. Over-reliance on one industry, namely copper production, leaves Zambia at the mercy of fluctuating world markets and the whims of foreign owned TNCs. Tourism is one industry that Zambia should nurture. My own 10 minutes of shear panic are already a distant memory and other passengers on the plane also made telling remarks.

 

Negative perceptions of tourist destinations have serious impacts on demand. It takes a long time to build a positive reputation, but this can be destroyed in an instant.

 

I refuse to allow this small, but very costly incident to damage my newly found love of Zambia. The warm, friendly people and their strength in adversity will remain will me for a lifetime.     

 

   

Day 7

27 January 2007

After a later start of the day due to my overindulgence of Mosi (I’m sure they said we were only going out for an hour…!) we visited ‘Soweto’ a shanty compound on the edge of Chingola. Soweto was named after the South African township (SOuth WEst TOwnship) near Johannesburg. Soweto was established in 1977 by people migrating from rural areas to Chingola and rapid population growth. In New Soweto (one part of the shanty compound) there are 500 residents alone. Some of the residents are retired or unemployed miners but most are poor subsistence farmers or work as servants to the more affluent areas of Chingola, like Riverside. New residents acquire land from the chairman and build their own homes. Residents walk (there are no buses) to their places of work or to sell their produce at markets in Chingola. The roads are generally poorly maintained and are eroded badly in the rainy season. A ‘food for work’ scheme allows residents to work on the roads and receive some food.

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There is no piped water, so residents collect water from wells they have dug. This water is not treated so can result in diseases such as typhoid and dysentery. In the sites and services compound at Kapisha residents buy water from kiosks (see previous posting).

There are a few buildings that have electricity, such as this bar. The area does suffer from alcohol abuse from some young men, drinking a strong distilled beer called Lutuku. Children often marry as young as 13years and again have many children.

There are no government schools in the compound but a donor funded Basic School (primary school) called King’s School provided education for some. The local education district second teachers to work in this school.  We were invited inside Priska Nanyiza’s house and interviewed her and another family about life in Soweto. Again it was a fascinating interview which will stay with me for a lifetime. Priska is an orphan who heads a household of six brothers and sisters. This is a major concern in Chingola, and Zambia at large. Education authorities try to identify what are referred to as orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) and some are offered help with education. I aim to encourage our school in Pencoed to sponsor such children so we play an active part in this partnership. I know this is just a token gesture, but it is at least something positive. Maybe other schools might think about doing this too.

This evening I was treated to another amazing ceremony. This time it was a farewell event. I received many fantastic presents for my school and personally. The site of me in traditional Zambian clothing dancing to Zambian music will provide much amusement for my pupils, but is one of the proudest moments in my life (If only I could dance!)

It is difficult to summarise my experiences in Chingola using just a few words. It has been a life changing experience. I was determined to leave Wales with an open mind and to take things as they happened. Everyone I have met has been so warm and friendly that I have felt at home from the moment I landed in Ndola. I have indeed learned much about life in Zambia, but particularly life in Chingola. I am eternally grateful to my hosts, Kabundi High School. I thank every teacher and pupil that I have met, especially Mr. Simbeye (headteacher). Special thanks go to my colleague and great friend Tione Phiri, a more hard working, honest and welcoming person you could ever meet. Thank you so much everyone.

Day 6 – Friday

26 January 2007

This morning we focused on the issue of HIV/AIDS in Chingola. In the morning we visited Kabundi East clinic which holds an HIV surgery on Friday mornings. After discussions with the doctor we met and filmed an interview with two HIV patients. I asked what impact it had on them, how he was treated in the community, about the availability of medication and what messages he had for our students. His responses were very positive and enlightening, but had a stark message for complacent nations.

The HIV programs stretch into the compounds where home based care is introduces. Medical practitioners go out into the compounds to teach about prevention, but also to ensure HIV/AIDS patients are taking the correct medication and eating correctly. Apparently taking the anti-retroviral (ARVs) on an empty stomach can increase organ damage and increase the chances of contracting opportunist infections that can lead to death. The ARVs are now freely available to all but before 1998 they had to be paid for, so could not be afforded by many. The impact on death rates and life expectancy are clear to see, but as mentioned before the sensitisation message is now getting through to most people.

Next we discussed with pupils the same issue. They had a clear level of understanding, but some were initially reluctant to come forward in front of a large group. They suggested that discrimination towards people with HIV remains in some parts of the community, but is decreasing. We filmed interviews with individual students which we will share with students in Pencoed.

To be honest I was not looking forward to this part of the visit because I thought it would leave me with feelings of despair, as if nothing can be done. What I found from the people we spoke to in the clinic and the pupils in school was that there is hope that this disease can be brought under control. As geographers we look for spatial patterns, and the spread of HIV has an obvious spatial dimension. In the more affluent areas of Chingola the message is getting through, but attitudes are harder to overcome in other areas including rural communities. Our skills as geographers have never been more in demand to recognise and deal with these spatial inequalities.

Next up we visited Kapisha compound. It established itself in the 1960s as a shanty compound around an abattoir. Continued rural-urban migration led to the growth of the compound. In 1971 the council upgraded Kapisha to a ‘sites and services’ compound. This involved the construction of pipes to bring water, and the building of pit latrines to improve sanitation. No electricity was included. In 2007 Kapisha no longer has piped water as the pipes were damaged, residents now purchase water from vendors, or dig their own wells. I will visit Soweto compound (named after the SA township) in the morning by way of comparison.

Beyond Kapisha compound we passed a cemetery where a funeral was taking place. The cemetery was dedicated in 1995. It now covers a vast area. Take a look at the image that follows. What might this tell us about life expectancy?

day-6-022.jpg

Finally we visited Kapisha hot springs – within a deforested eroded landscape we found a boiling hot source of water. This is also an area of tectonic activity, just below the Great African Rift. The hot spring was much like those found in Iceland, but rather than being a major tourist attraction or harnessed for its potential geothermal energy, it was hidden away amongst long grasses.

day-6-018.jpg

In summary, today was most surprising. I had expected to feel a sense of despair with researching these issues. Instead I was left with a sense of optimism. The positive messages of HIV prevention and treatment are making an impact, but also the area has great potential to diversify beyond its reliance on just the one industry. Teachers and pupils could visualise a future when the hot springs brought in tourists and the town was supplied with free and non polluting energy.

These children are the future of Chingola and Zambia.

Day 5 – Thursday

26 January 2007

The journey to school this morning was accompanied by a fascinating radio show on Radio Chengelo all about Malaria. This disease is the biggest killer in Africa and is spread mostly through mosquito bites. It can also be transmitted via shared needles and in rare cases during child birth. The program suggested a preventative measure of using insecticide treated mosquito nets at night. It also warned people to seek medical attention immediately where it can be treated with free drugs at the local clinic. I discussed this with my colleague Tione. He informed me that he usually contracted Malaria at least once a year. He suffers nausea, fever, stomach pains, general weakness, headache and loss of appetite. With him it lasts for a few days, whilst with others it lasts weeks. It is treated with quinine, fansida or chloroquine. Side effects of treatments can include severe dehydration.

As I arrived at school a pupil collapsed and was taken to the clinic with suspected Malaria. Staff informed me that recently there have been a few cases of this.

As we drove through Chingola I spotted some men cutting the grass on the verges. Nothing strange in this I thought, but why are the authorities spending money on this when there were clearly (in my mind) other more important needs. My ignorance was cleared up as Tione explained that this is one measure that can reduce the occurrence of mosquitoes (the main vector of Malaria), along with clearing drains so there were less standing water. Before 1991 this grass was cut regularly, now it is rare.

Next we toured Kongola Copper Mines (KCM). This company is a subsidiary of Vedanta (an Indian owned Transnational Company (TNC). It is the 5th largest copper producer in the world. Copper production has increased enormously recently, in response to the demand for copper in China and India. To give you an idea of the scale of this operation 25% of Zambia’s entire diesel consumption comes from KCM (provided by BP – a British TNC). It produces 20, 000 tonnes of copper ore per day and employs 14, 000 people.

As we viewed the largest open cast mine in the world (Nchanga) one of the teachers pointed out a settlement which was less than 100 metres away. In 2000 a landslide here killed 10 workers. The spokesman stated that the company offered to buy these homes, but many residents refused to leave. The company now drain the slopes more and have sited slope monitoring equipment. A fascinating exchange followed with the teachers arguing that the noise was unacceptable (blasting) and the danger of another slope failure was imminent.

Illegal miners enter the site to collect copper ore. Each 25kg bag fetches around 70 000 Kwacha. In a day an illegal miner will collect 10 bags (700 000Kwacha). If one compares this to the average wage of a legal miner (1.5million Kwacha per month) it is obvious why this is so attractive. Most illegal miners are children from the compounds who enter the site at night and are picked up in the morning by a gang leader. This copper ore will then be sold back to KCM via a legal mine operator. With that, a line of children were spotted carrying bags of copper ore. The officials laughed and commented that there is nothing they can do about it as the site is so big. Officially nine illegal miners have been killed, whilst unofficially many are never even reported. In a recent meeting between KCM and a group of illegal miners KCM were told that if they could provide such an income for them they would stop, but if security were increased they would have no choice but to go into robbery. As a consequence the illegal miners steal KCM’s copper ore, then sell it back to them.

There are enough copper deposits to last to between 2015 and 2022. When ore is extracted we were told that there is no law that ensures the open cast is filled in or to deal with the dumped waste.

KCM provides the main employment in Chingola and is expanding by constructing a new smelter. This will provide 1000 new jobs. Without KCM many more people would be in desperate poverty. TNCs clearly bring obvious economic benefits to developing nations like Zambia, but at what cost?

Next we toured the copper processing plant from raw materials to output, learning much about the complex chemistry involved (if only I had worked harder in my chemistry A level I might have understood more!). The fumes were nauseating, even through a mask. Apparently they come from leakages at the sulphuric acid manufacturing plant on the site (official comment – “Some are damaged”).

A metallurgist explained that the accidental spillage of tailings happened in the pump station. One of the four pipes that take waste chemicals from the site ruptured and released waste into the Chingola River. This enters the Kafue River where Chingola collects its water (see previous posting). We were told that what should have happened following the leak was that there is a pollution control dam (PCD) at which point lime is added to neutralise the acid, but “we did not have enough lime”. When asked what his feelings were on this he replied “it never happened in the past, we took it for granted”. Now there is always lime there. He suggested that there was much more made of the incident than was necessary – “80% was under control in a day”.

More questions were asked about the impact of waste dumps on the ecology, but we were requested to contact the environmental manager (email to follow!). 

Finally we visited the end of the process where the finished copper would be loaded onto a train, sent to South Africa where it would be shipped to India and China.

From KCM we travelled to ‘hippo pools’ which is home to a rural community that were directly affected by the event. On entering the village Zambian protocol followed. Tione and senior staff from our school spoke with the village head man and chairman who agreed to me filming an interview with the villagers. Benches were then brought out and the staff were invited to sit whilst we interviewed. As the villagers spoke Bemba, I relied on a translator. I am still trying to work out in my own mind the events that followed. The head man told me all about what had happened – rashes, sickness, dead fish. We asked for evidence and a woman and child came forward with the rashes. Then I interviewed a family whose child had died following the pollution event. They explained that they received no warning for 14 days after which a tanker came with water. KCM promised to sink a bore hole for water, but nothing has taken place yet.

Next we visited the Kafue River where the infected water was drawn from. It is crocodile infested and the village elder informed us that a child had been recently killed, someone else had lost an arm and another lost a leg. We took a sample and will attempt to have it analysed on return to the UK. We acquired a very drunk companion on the bus whom Tione informed me had been drinking a strong local distilled beer. Apparently this is also a common sight in the compounds with many men passing the day in a drunken state.

Back at school we dined on an amazing traditional Zambian meal made by one of the teachers. It consisted of Nshima (a kind of hard porridge), beef, pumpkin leaves mixed with ground nuts (chibwabwa), okra (relish), impwa (egg plant), kalembula (sweet potato leaves) and fishimu (caterpillar…er yes that’s what I said!). Caterpillar is a Zambian delicacy and tastes actually very good.

I have not yet really taken in everything that I have experienced today, to be honest. I set out to ensure I gave a balanced view of industry in Chingola. It clearly brings massive economic benefits to the town in terms of employment. On the other hand the environmental and social impacts are difficult to ignore. I defy anyone who has interviewed a family who’s child has just died allegedly as a result of the actions of a TNC to argue that the economic benefits outweigh the environmental and social impacts.

I will end with a quote that will remain with me for a long time, and it comes from the father of the dead child. I asked him what KCM should do to compensate for their actions:

                        “There is no compensation that can bring back my child”

 What can I say to that?

Day 4 – Wednesday

24 January 2007

The day began with a lesson on pollution with a year 12 class. Students described the different sources of pollution in their town and discussed some of the impacts. Pupils described how the industrial pollution of the Kafue river by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) led to drinking water from their taps being seriously effected. A number told stories of skin rashes, severe diarrhoea, polluted fish amongst other impacts. They expressed their feelings powerfully and I was left with no doubt about their views.

After the lesson we visited the site of the source of pollution – KCM. Outside the heavily guarded entrance were many itinerant workers waiting to find work. Tione pointed that the new owners rely increasingly on casual workers and subcontractors which clearly has a negative social impact. These impacts are intertwined with increased poverty, poor housing and living conditions.

Water is pumped from the Kafue river into a treatment plant inside the vast copper processing factory site. The site was truly enormous and an acrid smell and taste of untold chemicals hung in the air. We toured the treatment plant and learned how the water goes through a range of process to ensure it is clean, including adding aluminium sulphide to collect particles, filtration and chlorination (although the chlorine gas was not working at present). In October this plant was polluted by a leak from KCM with dangerous chemicals including arsenic. The manager when interviewed off camera (filming was forbidden in the copper processing plant) stated that there were no impacts on the people of Chingola. Later, when on camera he stated that bad effects were only those who drank water from the river, the tap water was perfectly safe. We will be interviewing these people (from shanty compounds) on Saturday.

The manger explained that there is leakage from the water towns pipes of around 35% due to pipe breakages (I am pretty sure that is similar in Wales, but will check on return). He also pointed to the challenges of providing water for the rapidly expanding shanty compounds. Finally he explained how KCM offer much less assistance than the former owners (Anglo-American).

Whilst waiting in town with Tione we discussed the impact of HIV/AIDS. The amount of deaths are quite shocking and the impact on life expectancy is considerable. 55 years in 1990, 39 years in 2000 but now up to 42 in 2004. It is not hard to see why the life expectancy has risen recently. In school every lesson is required to start with some mention of HIV, some teachers where HIV awareness shirts, posters cover walls, murals adorn walls and giant billboards take centre stage in the town centre. People are still, however, dying in huge numbers. When we visit the HIV clinic I hope to find answers to why this is. Tione suggested increased poverty has led to greater numbers of prostitutes, but also attitudes are hard to change. It is clear that Zambians are streets ahead of our STI sensitisation programmes and we have much to learn.

Aside – went to buy a recordable CD which cost 6500 Kwacha (at least double what we would pay in the UK!).

Next we headed out to Chimfunshi chimpanzee orphanage. Along the way we passed many rural settlements. They are organised around family groups. The main building is a meeting house called ‘Insaka’. When we discuss rural-urban migration this is where it starts. Rural residents will take their produce to sell in markets like this one

Others will carry their produce into Chingola. This can entail a 100km cycle every day. We saw many cyclists returning from their epic journeys.

At the Chimp orphanage, we learned about the conservation work they do with very little investment. They take in orphan chimps from around the world. When ready the chimps are returned to the wild. The orphanage also cares for many other orphaned animals. The manager explained that the animals are usually orphaned as their mothers are illegally taken for bush meat. She also explained how commercial deforestation has destroyed animal habitats and talked of previous days when elephants lived in this area. Now elephants can only be found in small numbers in the south of Zambia.

To sum up today I felt that I was in a microcosm of the global economy. We talk of the growth of China and India as the next economic superpowers. This shifting economic geography has had massive impacts on Zambia. In the words of my hosts they feel that these foreign owned (Chinese and Indian) multinationals care very little about the impact they have on Zambia. As long as they made a profit, who cares about the economic, social and environmental impacts on the people. The pollution of the Kafue river and the impact on the people is just a symptom of a wider issue. This, however, is nothing new – ask yourself how the UK became so rich…

Day 3 – Tuesday

24 January 2007

I was treated to a whole school assembly. Pupils sang the national anthem and a hymn, which again took my breath away. IT technical issues (!) meant that I could only play the sound of my presentation but I hope students had a glimpse of Welsh culture. I met the governors and PTA and explained our commitment to the project and outlined our plans for the joint project on pollution and HIV/AIDS. Everyone expressed a keen interest in developing the project and including other departments.

Next we went to meet the mayor in the council chambers. This was again an important ceremony which we made me feel most humble but very proud that we have started this project.

We walked from the council offices to the town centre of Chingola. This took us past an area of high class housing which would have housed the white colonial British prior to independence. It now houses the more affluent Zambians. The picture shows a house which belongs to a local magistrate. I asked my hosts how Zambians feel about the colonial past. For many it is not an issue as people are more concerned with the here and now. For older Zambians there is still great resentment for the way Zambia was used purely for its resources with little care for the impacts. I can’t help but notice the parallels with the impacts of modern foreign owned multinational companies and their impact on modern Zambia. Geographers refer to this as neo-colonialism.

We visited a colonial era hotel which in its day would have been at least a 4star beauty. Now it has suffered a similar fate to the pot hole filled roads. Years of financial neglect has paid a heavy toll.

Tione checked the Zambian Times for our report, but nothing yet! This paper is the most popular in Zambia and they interviewed Tione and myself about our project.


Today my abiding memory is of the importance placed on protocol and a clear stratification of society. In ceremonial events one has to be very careful to adhere to correct ways of addressing positions of office so as not to cause offence.   


In the morning I will be teaching a year 12 class (18 year olds) about pollution in Zambia and Wales. We shall see how it goes!

Day 2 – Monday

24 January 2007

First day in Kabundi High School.

The school welcomed me with a truly amazing signing ceremony where dignitaries from around the Copperbelt region came to Kabundi High School so that we could officially sign our partnership agreement. Students sang beautiful songs and treated us all to traditional poems and dances. There were clear similarities to our own eisteddfod in Wales. Cultural similarities are clearly evident.

photo to follow

 

Speeches were made highlighting the positive impacts that our partnership will bring to teachers and pupils in both schools and I was invited to sign our partnership agreement with the headmaster of Kabundi High School.

Next up I toured the school and learned about the work of all different departments, many of whom wish to develop links with departments in Pencoed. I was immediately struck by the obvious state of disrepair on the one hand, but also the levels of motivation and positive views towards education of the pupils. I met a class of around 70 students learning geography. They have few resources (open windows, as the glass had gone and no textbooks) yet even when the teachers left the room students hardly looked up from their work.

 school image

Class sizes are large for a number of reasons. Firstly the population of Zambia is increasing rapidly and there is a very high birth rate, secondly there is little money to expand schools, thirdly urban areas like Chingola are growing rapidly due to migration and finally there are not enough teachers. A district education officer informed me that Zambian schools are also losing teachers (as is the country as a whole) through the impact of HIV/AIDS and other preventable diseases.

 class photo

Pupils in High Schools pay for their education, which clearly has an impact on motivation levels, but every child I have spoken to recognise and appreciate the importance of education to their futures. Some of our students in Pencoed could learn a great deal from this. The school has a mixed catchment which includes pupils from the compounds (shanty towns) and other residential areas, but the willingness to further their education is universal.

The school has a large fruit and vegetable garden where pupils plant, tend and harvest crops such as bananas, maize and okra (beans). Students are timetabled lessons where they learn agricultural skills. The produce is the sold which brings in some revenue.

 photo of garden

 

The range of departments also included the art and design classes where students have created incredible work, including sculptures made from river silt, toys made from wire and intricate drawings. Some of those images are below.

 photo of pupil model

 

My final visit of the day was to dine at the Protea hotel whilst planning our joint project. Tourist and businessmen usually stay at this hotel and there were a number of South Africans and Americans.

Day 1 – Sunday

24 January 2007

Well I have finally arrived in Chingola, and what an amazing journey and an amazing place.

1st Plane!

It was a fairly straight forward flight from Heathrow to Johannesburg, but I was immediately struck by the similarities between the two airports. We talk about ‘clone towns’ where all the town centre shops are the same whether you are in Bridgend or Burnley, but what about ‘clone airports’? The only differences that I noticed were that instead of a shop selling British memorabilia there was a shop selling African memorabilia, the rest were classic homogenous globalised franchises – Costa Coffee etc.

2nd Plane

After changing planes in Jo’burg, I set off for Ndola, in the northern Zambian Copperbelt province. As we descended through the clouds a green expanse came into view. Even though we are in the rainy season I did not expect this.

On touching down I was met by a welcome party of teachers and pupils. I felt like a proper celebrity and I thank the school for such a warm welcome.

Welcome party image

The journey from Ndola to Chingola took me on an amazing geographical journey. In many ways I was struck by the similarities with Wales – luscious green vegetation, with the occasional towering mine waste tips. These similarities reflect our shared industrial heritage and propensity to rain! The differences were equally obvious. As we journeyed along a long straight road in the distance the towering cumulonimbus clouds of an impending tropical downpour bubbled up. With seemingly clockwork timing the heavens opened and an intense thunder storms followed.

Thunder clouds image

The differences in the human geography were stark, including scenes of real poverty. On the outskirts of Kitwe we passed a sprawling shanty compound that has grown in response to rapid urban growth. The poorly constructed slums are a feature of many developing country urban areas. Further into Kitwe we passed improvement schemes where sites and services were planned for some residents (sewerage, clean water and electricity). Tione noted that although well intentioned, the new developments will result in increased rents which take the housing beyond the means of many.

Kitwe sites & services compound photo

Travelling through the towns brought some familiar names into view. Barclays bank, BP garages, Toyota car dealerships – again, classic images of globalisation.

The area suffers greatly from illegal deforestation by charcoal producers. We passed countless fields of lifeless soils where once great forests thrived. In those fields where the soil has not been made sterile, huge plantations of bananas and maize can be found, some owned by foreign multinationals and destined for export to South Africa and further afield.

I passed signs promoting AIDS awareness and was reminded of the pandemic sweeping many African nations. Tione explained the situation in Zambia. Spatial patterns of HIV/Aids in Zambia are uneven, with most problems in the South and he pointed to a lack of awareness and education in some cases, but also to social breakdown in others (especially around the tourist centres of Livingstone).

The geographical issues on display in just over an hour of travelling along a main road demonstrate the relevance and importance of geography. This is not some tired textbook case study or fancy all action role play. This is real life. Many of these issues are extremely complex, bound up in legacies of colonialism, government decisions, world financial industry influence and contemporary globalisation.

Though probably an impossible task, I hope to learn more about everyday lives of ordinary Zambians.

A bizarre evening has just ended with a bar full of Zambians going crazy over Man U and Arsenal. Clearly Zambians love their football!