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Praf, sudoare si rugaciuni in Zambia / Dust, Sweat And Prayers in Zambia

Su Shi

181 vizualizări


In Livingstone taxiurile turcoaz somau.

In Livingstone the turquoise cabs were desperate for customers.


Dar pe drumul de pamant catre Nsogwe, mirosea a cascada Victoria si la un moment dat i-am zarit si jetul de aburi, o treime fata de februarie. Aveam emotii. Pentru prima data in aceasta calatorie, ne intorceam intr-un loc cunoscut, unde stiam numele oamenilor si fiecare coltisor. Aici aveam un trecut, si ne intorceam ca sa revedem prieteni si sa punem bazele unui viitor. Pentru ca internetul e o gluma in Joburg, sosirea noastra a fost o surpriza de mare efect. Bucurosi sa le fim din nou oaspeti, prietenii nostri ne-au intampinat cu vesti bune. Parintii Laurei isi incheiau primul lor sejur in Zambia planuind cum sa  revina mai repede. Cate ceva se schimbase insa:

Riding the steep track to Nsogwe, we could smell the falls, see the wave of mist now a shadow of its February might. We had butterflies in our stomachs. It felt like coming home: returning somewhere for the first time in over 10 months. There we knew people’s names and every single corner. There we had a past, and we had come back to recover that link. Surprisingly, wifi is hard to find in Joburg and even more a precious commodity in Botswana, so we hadn’t warned of our imminent arrival. But we found everybody in good health and received some very happy news for the end of the year. Laura’s parents were ending their visit with a vow to return in a couple of years. Some things were different though: 


Culorile erau tomnatice, mult ruginiu si auriu. Timpul lasase urme aici, ca si peste noi, totul parea mai limpede, cum speram sa fie si cautarile noastre. Insa Zambezi era mai involburat si mai nestavilit, plajele de asta vara inundate. Apusurile erau asa cum ni le aminteam, cele mai frumoase din lume. Eram ‘acasa’. Dar numai pentru trei nopti, cat sa stam cu prietenii, sa ne spalam si organizam bagajele.

The colors had faded away into shades of rust and gold, after simmering all summer. The camp looked older, as we were as well, wiser, as we hoped to had grown. More drama was filling up the gorge, the Zambezi wider and now flooding the rocky beaches under its swarming rapids. But the roar of the river and those awesome sunsets that only happen at Rapid 14 were just as we remembered them. Unfortunately this time we would stay for three nights only, to spend time with the gang, clean and organize our stuff. 






La baza ne aflam in plin sezon. Seara in care am ajuns noi a coincis cu sosirea fondatorului Overland. Phil ne-a povestit cum dupa ce a servit in aramata sud-africana, a calatorit independent timp de 6 ani in peste 40 de tari, apoi a fost intructor pentru expeditiile Camel Trophy. In 1999 a ous bazele Overland impreuna cu sotia sa Sharon, dedicandu-se misionariatului, pionieratului umanitar si proiectelor de dezvoltare economica in comunitati izolate din punct de vedere geografic. Cuplul celor doi fuseses desemnat unua dintre cele 30 de voci emergente in SUA pentru munca desfasurata in tarile lumii a treia. 

Acum cativa ani, Pete a participat la o expeditie Overaland in Amazon, apoi a venit pentru scurt timp la baza din Zambia. Anul urmator a stat la baza 3 luni, iar anul urmator 7. Din 2012 s-a hotarat sa se mute in Zambia. Pete este tartorul garajului si fan moto. ‘Daca ai ceva de facut, te pot ajuta’ mi-a oferit. Orin urmare am fabricat un nou sistem de prindere pentru scutul care se rupsese deja de doua ori (Lumbumbashi si Namibia), si am sudat la esapament ca sa mai reduc din zgomot. 

The base was now fully operational: teams being shipped into the field, dozen of staff working around a very busy schedule. That would go on for months. The night of our arrival also the founder of Overland arrived. Phil told us that after serving in the South African military, he had traveled independently for six years throughout more than 40 countries, then worked as international instructor for Camel Trophy. In 1999 he founded Overland with his wife Sharon, committing to bring the Gospel, humanitarian care and economic opportunities to communities that remain isolated by geography. The couple had been  rated one of the top 30 emerging voices in the USA for their work in developing nations.

A few years ago, Pete had taken part in an Overland expedition in the Amazon. Then we went briefly to Zambia. Next year he stayed at the base for 3 months, next year for 7. In 2012 he decided to live permanently at rapid 14. ‘If you need something done, I am happy to help’, he offered. We could squeeze some bike work, I thought. Together we fabricated the bash plate bracket, a 2.0 version, sturdier than the original already broken twice (Lumbumbashi & Namibia). We also welded some holes in the exhaust to temper a tad its scream. 




Vremea sa plecam a venit pe nesimtite. Laura a avut dreptate; e aiurea sa ne tot luam ramas bun, data viitoare trebuie sa facem cumva si sa ramanem mai mult, sau de tot. Cum ne pregateam sa o luam insore Lusaka, Pete a fost convocat in teritoriu. Un camion aflat in misiune era blocat undeva in Nyhawa, de cateva zile bune monstrul trebuie impins ca sa porneasca. Era o treaba de o zi, dus-intors. ‘Veniti si voi’, ne-a propus Pete, ‘campam in sat cu echipa, asa vedeti si ce se intampla intr-o misiune, iar a doua zi puteti urca catre nord’. Zis si facut.

Way too soon, it was time to leave. Laura could not have put it any better: saying good bye twice was not going to cut it. Next time we needed to make a plan and stay. Verba volant, scripta manent: there will be this next time. As we were preparing to go, Pete was summoned in the field. It was one of the expeditions’ trucks. Stuck somewhere deep in the bush in the Nyhawa chiefdom, the field team having to push-start it for days. ‘It’s a one day job’, Pete said: ‘go in, replace the part, go out’. ‘You should come along’, he suggested, ‘spend the night in the village with the expedition, then continue to Lusaka the next day’. Brilliant, let’s do it.



In Zima, 90 km dupa Livingstone, am iesit de pe asfalt pe pietris pana in Nyhawa central. Am intrebat in stanga si in drepta, noroc cu sotia pastorului, care a banuit correct ca echipa era Siamundele.

90 kays north of Livingstone, in Zima, we went off the tarred road down to Nyhawa central. Lucky that the pastor’s wife correctly suspected that we should track down our people in the Siamundele village.



Misionarii erau de o saptamana parte din comunitate: mergeau pe jos cu orele prin arsita, ajutau satenii la treburi prin gospodarie, organizau activitati extra scolare si jocuri, chiar si un meci de fotbal. 

We got to see some field action. The young US missionaries have been living in the chiefdom for a week: walking for hours to visit the huts, helping the villagers with house chores, offering counseling and spiritual guidance, organizing school activities and even a football match. 



Biserica e importanta in Africa. Oamenii pastreaza credinte animiste, dar se intalnesc si se manifesta plenar in cadrul religios, incorporand in ritualurile de divinatie muzica, dans, ba chiar dramaturgie, cum am vazut prin RDC (in Mission Kalonda). Fiecare sat mai mare are insa si vraciul sau, care se ocupa cu ‘desfacutul’ vrajilor, in fapt cu spolierea si manipularea naivilor de ocazie. 

As we have seen across Africa, the church offers a common ground for artistic expression, personal and spiritual engagement and much more. African would always incorporate dancing, choral music and even theatrical performances (as we had seen in DRC in Mission Kalonda) in the worship. And of course there are a lot of animist beliefs still shaping every day life. In this particular cluster of villages, like in many other in the unseen and little known Zambia, there is a quite influential ‘witch doctor’. People would employ this dude for protection, only to become dependent on his expensive manipulations. 





Copiii din zambia profunda, pe care abia de data asta o intalneam, erau cam la fel ca cei din Congo. Mai linistiti si mai timizi, desigur, insa tot atat de sinceri si avizi de contact. Cel mai important lucru care le lipseste e informatia: multi oameni nu stiu ca ii doare caoul pentru ca abia au baut un pahar de apa pe zi in plina vara, sau ca trebuie sa manance si altceva decat porumb crud sau nshima (proteine ieftine ca fasolea ajuta). Sunt multe de facut.

Watching the kids taking part in the activities made us think of the DRC. Zambia looked so different now than back in February. On the main road and in the towns the globalization was striking, but here, deep in the rural Zambia, not so much. Sure, Zambians are tamer and shyer than the Congolese, but they share a helluva lot of common features. It was exciting to experience simple life, even if mass consumerism is slowly taking over the country. But people suffer from lack of proper education: severe migraines caused by dehydration, diet poor in nutrients, sketchy agriculture, the same story. Overland projects focus on education and teaching: how to feed better (introduce cheap proteins like beans in children’s diet), how to grow food better.




In aceasta regiunea a Zambiei etnia dominanta e Tonga, care incheie ziua cu un ritual: un dans in jurul focului gen ‘perinita’ folosind fusta africana ‘shetenge’. Am participat la ceva similar in Gabon. 

Tonga, the dominant ethnic group in south Zambia, have an end of day ritual: dancing by the fire with the ‘shetenge’ (African skirt). We had seen something similar in a Gabonese orphanage. 


Dupa o zi plina (off road, dans) am topit marshmallow in foc, l-am indesat intre doi biscuiti si o bucata de ciocolata, si gata ‘smore’-ul (de la ‘give me some more’). Un desert american de tabara, dupa care am cazut franti. De cand plecasem din Cape Town vremea continua sa se incalzeasca, dar zilele erau din ce in ce mai scurte. Se intuneca deja pe la 6.30 seara, iar diminetile erau inca prea reci. De data asta insa ne-am trezit mai vioi ca de obicei, pentru ca Pete nascocise o noua aventura. 

After a full day of riding, dancing and story telling by the camp fire and after having our first ever SMORE ( an American ‘give me some more’ camping desert: roasted marshmallow sandwiched with a piece of chocolate between two rye cookies) we were knackered. Since leaving Cape Town weather has been warming up, but days have also become shorter and shorter. It was now getting dark around 6.30 p.m. and the mornings were at times very chilly indeed. This time we woke up more frisky than usual, as Pete had come up with a new plan.


Jako si Amber si-au lasat in urma cu peste 10 ani patriile: el Africa de Sud, ea America. De 6 ani traiesc impreuna cu copiii lor, Jakob si Jeremiah, intr-un colt de lume departe de orice. Au fondat un orfelinat si un institul prescolar, isi vad de treaba. Catinel, dar asezat, si sigur. Aflati mai mult aici: Amici cu Pete, urma sa-i vizitam.  Aveam doar o harta schitata de pastor si stiam ca pe Jako il cheama pe Jako. Ne bazam pe localnici sa ne ghideze. 70 de kilometri am muncit la drum, 3 ore de praf si nisip. Tipul asta de teren e denumit ‘bumbac’ in jargonul sud-african. Cand e ud te scufunzi ca intr-o mlastina, dar noroiul nu se inchide la loc, iar odata uscat e tare ca betonul, tre’ sa-l spargi ca sa treci peste. Ironia a fost de-a lungul drumului: numai plantatii de bumbac.

10 years ago Jako left his home in South Africa behind, and Amber left the States, for a lost corner of Zambia. 6 years ago these pals of Pete founded an orphanage and a preschool, out of the government radar. To learn more about Jako’s project visit

The plan was to ride across the bushveld to visit Jako, Amber and their sons, Jacob and Jeremiah. To reach Jako all we had was a hand drawn sketch by the Nihawa pastor and our navigation skills. We knew the locals would guide us thru. It was a 70 kays task. A maze of trails. In Southern Africa we learnt that this kind of terrain is called cotton soil. A deep layer of a powdery unstable mix of dirt and sand, tricky in dry season (and we were lucky to be in that benevolent time of the year), but deadly in the wet. When it is drenched, its sticky, swampy, but solidifies like concrete between downpours. Ironically, cotton plantations doubled the cotton road. 



Asa trebuie sa fie Kinshasa - Lubumbashi pe uscat. M-as baga sa-l fac din nou, si cu pasager. Traversarea in sezon umed a fost nebunie curata. In Zambia aceleasi deviatii, poteci ca sa ocolesti poteca, fara eroii anonimi din Congo, care trudesc la drum.

That must be how the Kinshasa - Lubumbashi road would unfold in the dry. I’d do it again, 2up even. Crossing in the rainy season was slightly insane. In Zambia we found that confusing pattern of deviations and footpaths, but no anonymous heroes to work the road. 



Cel mai importat aspect insa care separa Zambia de Zair este ca satenii tonga pot ajunge, dupa ceva kilometri, la drumul principal, care e asfaltat. Adica pot primi provizii si medicamente. In plus, in multe sate sunt pompe de apa, ceea ce face oamenii mai putini vulnerabili la seceta. Sezonul umed nu e atat de lung si neindurator ca in RDC, iar guvernul nu atat de corupt, incat banii mai ajung si in constructii, iar proiectele umanitare se pot desfasura cat de cat. Revenind la drum… Pete avea niste probleme cu presiunea in cauciucuri. 

The most crucial aspects separating Zambia from the DRC are that the tonga villagers will eventual hit tar, thus a vital network of motorized food and medical supplies; many Zambian villages have beet fitted with water pumps, rendering people less vulnerable to drought. The rainy season is also more forgiving in this part of Africa, the government less corrupt, allowing some cash to flow into the infrastructure and some humanitarian projects to develop. End of rant, back to the road. Pete has some problems with the tyre pressure.


La Jako am dat o raita si am imbucat ceva. Inca 40 de km de ‘bumbac’, iar in Kalomo ne-am despartit de Pete. A trebuit sa dormim intr-un land de buruiei inalte, inca ceva ce ne-a amintit de Zair. Dimineata cortul era leoarca de roua.

At Jacko’s we had had some time to see the project and had lunch. 40 km of ‘cotton’ later, in Kalomo, we parted ways with Pete. We scrambled for a bush camp in the tall grasses, another reminder of the DRC. In the morning the tent was drenched in dew. 


Eram afara din Lusaka a doua zi inainte de pranz. Cumparaturi facute (pui, ovaz, ulei Motul de la Ali Boats Yamaha). Estul tarii e aproape tropical, mai verde si pitoresc. Traversand raul Luangwa ne-am gandit in treacat la cele doua parcuri nationale in care nu avem voie sa intram - trebuie sa fie faine. Decat sa bantuim la periferia parcurilor, ne grabeam sa trecem frontiera cu Mozambique. 

Before noon we were out of Lusaka: Bomoko oats and roasted chicken from Pick&pay - check, Motul oil from Ali Boats Yamaha - check. East Zambia had a more tropical feel and as the nights continued to become longer, they also became warmer. Crossing the rolling valley of Luangwa we could imagine that the northern and southern national parks must be beautiful. Here the parks were unfenced, bordered by GMAs (Game Management Areas), populated by both game and humans. But we were determined not to cross borders on sundays, so we a bit in a hurry to be in Mozambique the next day. 




Rasaritul fusese la 5.10 seara, rasaritul era dat de GPS la 5.56 dimineata. La 5 si un sfert orizontul se imbujora deja. Cortul ud. Si frig, de scoteam aburi oe gura. 

Sunset had been at 5.10 p.m., sunrise was scheduled for 5.56 a.m. At 5.15 a.m. the horizon was already blushing. Tent wet again, little puddles have formed where the poles reach the ground. 



Aveam un sistem ca sa speriem creaturile de prin tufe, cu un bat lung, mai ales ca stiam de la localnici ca sunt serpi si seara ne vizitase campingul un rozator. ‘Dopuri” pentru esapament confectionasem din berile de la cina. 

We had devised a system to warn critters we were there: poke the grass with a long stick, as there are snakes around here and last night we had some rodent foraging about. We had also capped the exhausts with the beer bottles we had for dinner. 



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