From the Horse’s Mouth – Zambia


Contributions by Paul Masuwa

Facts you did not know about Zambia (The Republic of Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, neighbouring the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west. The capital city is Lusaka.)

1. How are birthdays celebrated?
Partying with friends at home or in a restaurant.

2. When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?
We shake hands. Bwanji (Hello/How are you) is a common greeting.

3. What languages are spoken in your country?
The official language of Zambia is English. It is used to conduct official business and is the medium of instruction in schools. The main local language, especially in Lusaka, is Nyanja, followed by Bemba, Lozi, Kaonde, Tonga, Lunda and Luvale.

4. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?
We use both – there are really no preferences.

5. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in Zambia?
Cars drive on the left hand side of the road in Zambia.
Foreigners wanting to drive in Zambia need to hold an international driving permit; the only foreign drivers licences that are recognised in Zambia are those from other SADC countries.

6. How important is punctuality?
It shows discipline, however, time is sometimes a vague concept in Zambia and Zambians often have a very relaxed attitude to punctuality. Meetings and social functions often start late.

7. What types of music are popular? Who are some of your most popular musicians?
Kalindula is a kind of bass guitar which gives its name to a style of popular music in southern-central Africa. It originated in the late 20th century and is popular in Zambia and is also found in Malawi and Zimbabwe.
An example – Watch
Some popular musicians:
Mampi – Watch
Macky 2 – Watch
JK – Watch

8. Are there any Traditional Dances?
Some examples of our many traditional dances:
Nyau – Watch
Ngoni – Watch
Kalela – Watch

9. What traditional Festivals are celebrated in your community?
The Nchwala Ceremony is held to celebrate the glorious deeds of the Ngoni tribe. The ceremony starts with the tasting of the first fruit of the year by the chief of the Ngoni tribe. This is followed by much singing and dancing. Speeches are given by the members of the community and a grand feast is laid out for the entire community.
Kuomboka – The name of this festival actually means “to get out of the water onto dry ground”. Each year towards the last part of the rainy season as the flood plain of the upper Zambezi valley increases, the Lozi people celebrate a traditional move to higher ground. When the Chief decides that it is time to leave, the signal of drums is given to all the people. They bundle their things into canoes and the entire ethnic group leaves all together. The chief leaves on his flatboat with his family and a crowd of conventionally dressed paddlers. The journey takes around six hours.

10. What are your seasons like?
There are two main seasons in Zambia, the rainy season (Nov to April) corresponding to summer, and the dry season (May to Oct/Nov), corresponding to winter. The dry season is subdivided into the cool dry season (May to August) and the hot dry season (Sept to Oct/Nov) The country enjoys pleasant subtropical weather for most of the year.

11. Tell us an interesting fact about your President?
Edgar Chagwa Lungu (born 11 November 1956) has been the President of Zambia since January 2015. Under President Michael Sata, who died in October 2014, Lungu served as Minister of Justice and Minister of Defense.
He was fired as Secretary General of the Patriotic Front by Guy Scott, the PF president and acting president of the country, in the jostling for power after Mr Sata died, only to be reinstated the next day.
Edgar Lungu is married and has six children.

12. What are Zambia’s major industries?
Mining. Zambia’s economy has grown annually by over 6% in the last few years. This sustained period of growth is due to the mining sector and the demand for copper, which is fuelled by the electronics industry. Other minerals are also found in the country, including cobalt, gold, silver and iron ore.

13. How do people spend their free time?
Partying and/or busy with church activities

14. What do people drink?
Mosi, Zambia’s best-known locally brewed beer and Coke products as they are accessible and cheap.
There is also a traditional local drink worth trying called maheu, a somewhat gritty and vaguely yoghurt-like but refreshing beverage made from maize meal.

15. What is a popular local dish?
Nshima is basically a type of thick maize porridge, rolled into balls with your right hand and dipped into a variety of stews known as relishes (ndiwo, umunani). Those who can afford them eat relishes of beef, chicken or fish, but the many who can’t make do with beans, tiny dried fish (kapenta), peanuts, pumpkin leaves (chibwabwa) and other vegetables such as okra (ndelele), cabbage and rape.
Ifisashi is usually a vegetarian greens and peanuts dish and is traditionally served with Nshima.

16. What do you pay for? $1 (USD – Dollar) = Kw 7.13 (ZMW – Kwacha)
In a restaurant… A cup of coffee – Kw10.00, a Coca Cola – Kw5.00-10.00
A 2-Course meal for 2 people – nothing extravagant – Kw60.00
At a shop… A loaf of bread Kw5.00, a local newspaper – Kw5.00, Milk – Kw7.00

17. Security – in general?

** Meaning: From the highest authority. From the source.
Origin: In horse racing circles tips on which horse is a likely winner circulate amongst punters. The most trusted authorities are considered to be those in closest touch with the recent form of the horse, that is, stable lads, trainers etc. The notional ‘from the horse’s mouth’ is supposed to indicate one step better than even that inner circle, that is, the horse itself