Showing posts from October, 2016

How Malawi is mopping up Zambia’s staple food


 A MAIZE storage shed for the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) lies empty at Vizenge in Chipata, Eastern Province – not a single bag of the grain in store. Outside, a large green tarpaulin lies disused. Usually, it should be covering stacks of maize bought from farmers in this highly-productive area.
The records in the clerk’s book show that since July when the crop marketing season started, the FRA here has only bought 77×50 kilogramme bags of maize. It is just enough to fill one four-tonne truck.
There are only two entries in the clerk’s big book; August 31, when he bought 25 bags, and on September 22 he bought 52 bags.
“People just say they will bring the maize, but they don’t bring,” says Whiteson Phiri, the clerk at the depot.
With the crop marketing season almost over, the depot clerk sounds less optimistic of making a third entry in his ledger. Elsewhere in this region, the sheds were closed a long time ago, for want of business.
Something is awfully wrong. Where has all t…

Nabwalya: Hell in paradise

THE South Luangwa National Park is a real paradise teeming with wildlife.
One of the most noticeable things driving around in this torrid land are heaps and heaps of elephant dung – some fresh, some dry and some semi-dry.
It makes one think a recent report about dwindling elephant populations across Africa was a hoax.
Drive down to the Luangwa River and you will see a rich biodiversity within a few hundred square kilometres.
A group of hippos enjoys a bath in the remaining pools before all the water is finally licked up by the scorching sun, leaving behind a dry river bed resembling a sandy desert. In the surrounding bushes, there is the impala in their countless numbers, baboons, kudu, puku, waterbuck and giraffe, while large herds of wildebeest and zebra roam the nearby plains. There are also large populations of the fearsome buffalo.
The night belongs to the ravenous beasts – packs of lions, and the elusive and solitary leopard – and its silence is broken by the occasional whooping …

Down the rugged road to Nabwalya


A PUFF of hot air hits my face as soon as I step out of the air-conditioned vehicle. It is a harsh welcome to Nabwalya, a vast chiefdom that lies 130 kilometres east of Mpika, in the Luangwa valley. At the small Catholic mission, the only place that has a few Spartan rooms for lodging, I’m warned to never leave the door to my chalet open, to avoid snakes slipping in. “There are many snakes around here. Yesterday I killed a spitting cobra right there,” says Father Weldemar Potrapeluk, pointing at the spot he killed the venomous serpent. He is the parish priest. One of his dogs is blind in one eye after an encounter with the spitting cobra. I needn’t any stronger warning. And yet, the first warning I got coming to Nabwalya was not about snakes, but the road that snakes over mountains and down the valley, connecting this remote area to Mpika town. So how do you get to Nabwalya? By four-wheel drive vehicle, only. That is so official that on the turn-off from the Great North Road to N…