Day 1 – Sunday

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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!

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4 Responses to “Day 1 – Sunday”

  1. CYNTHIA Says:

    Lovely to read.

    I did my high school at kabundi . I am now based in finland working as a Nurse in a medical ward. I will be very gratefull to be involved into my former school current projects..

    Cynthia Phiri Valasmo.

  2. Tione Phiri Says:

    Cynthia,

    So glad about your interest to be involved in the current project.Could you kindly email me on this address: phirits@yahoo.co.uk so that I can directly speak to you.I would like to know year you were at Kabundi and may names of teachers you still remember.

  3. Tione Phiri Says:

    Cynthia,

    So glad about your interest to be involved in the current project.Could you kindly email me on this address: phirits@yahoo.co.uk so that I can directly speak to you.I would like to know the year you were at Kabundi and may be names of teachers you still remember.

  4. b ostermann Says:

    Hey just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know
    a few of the pictures aren’t loading properly.

    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

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