Bernard Hayes (Fintan in Zambia) met us at Lusaka Airport in the arrivals lounge. We shook hands with the retired Christian brother and then popped out across the car park to a small white Toyota jeep. The temperature was about 22 and a breeze blew but not enough to warrant a jacket. Justin, Claire and I were tired from the flights and the constant removal of laptops from bags, boots, change and belts at every opportunity for scanning and inspection by Airport security. Please be prepared for that during your journey to Africa, it might be an idea to put your laptops in the your main luggage and wear slip on shoes.
We sat in and headed out onto Cairo road which Fintan said “is no place to bring a tourist to” and made a right onto the
Great East Road with St. Edmunds seminary as our destination two hours away. Fintan gave us the lowdown on this country which he has spent the last forty years working in. Zambia is landlocked in the tropics of Southern Africa. It is at the northern edge of the region referred to as ‘southern Africa’. It is shaped like a giant butterfly and covers 752,610km sq, thats slightly smaller than the UK and France combined. We were in the capital Lusaka which has a population of about 1.5 million (roughly 8% of Zambia population). With 11 million in the country, it is quite shocking to hear that half of that number are children under 14, 40% of the country has AIDS and the life expectancy in 32. Lusaka and the copperbelt urban towns Kitwe, Ndola, Kabwe and Mulfulira account for 40% of Zambia’s population. The currency is the Kwacha. 1000 Kwacha is known locally as a pin because in the old days a pin was used to keep bundles of money together in thousands. So when a taxi driver says that a ride across town is ”five pin’, you say ‘no, three pin’ to show you know the local lingo and the going rate. There are seven main languages with English being the national language to avoid tribal feuds.
As we drove to Masabuka two hours south of the capital, we climbed over the Munal hills and crossed the Kafue river which is the biggest contributory to the Zambese River which David Livingstone travelled upon on his Christian conversion missions, presumably(sorry, couldn’t help it). We could see the vast plains in the distance from the top of the hills. It looked like a war zone but Fintan assured us that the black smoke trails across our horizon were the signs of farmers burning the sugar stalks before fallowing the land for next years harvest.
We arrived at the seminary hungry and tired and Fintan remedied both with a meal of chicken with rice and a comfortable bed. We could hear music playing and a dog barking in the distance. Looking forward to a good nights rest.