Worlds Apart

Today we took a walk through a typical Zambian Village, I wondered if this would be a staged affair but no tribal dancing troops with feather dusters stuck in their caps here! Here people were getting on with their lives, children gutting fish and ladies baking bread in convection ovens contrived from termite cement and scavenged car parts, genuinely warm friendly people and children eager, laughing and pointing to see their photos on the camera LCD.

We walk around a village of huts made from the mud taken from termite mounds which thanks to an adhesive in the termite saliva sets like concrete, the roofs are thatched cones from the long grass surrounding the area – this is self build. There is no electricity (meat is hung to dry to preserve) but recently they have had a communal tap installed (thanks to the lodge), which filters the Zambezi. I declined the offer of a drink.

Many lodges are built on tribal land bought or rented from the village chief, where a symbiotic relationship develops between the villages and the lodges. Siankaba has bought the land from the local headman and employs most of the men in the village, as well as supplying drinking water it funds the local school, and many lodge visitors also make donations. In a country of 70% unemployment and $40 average monthly wage this is a win/win deal.

We canoe (in a dug out Makorro) back to the lodge past families washing clothes and themselves in the river. Here, 4 weeks ago a young girl was mauled by a croc, saved only by the rest of the family luckily winning the tug of war with the croc. The canoe feels very small and very unstable!
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