A couple of people have been asking about what it’s like here in Zambia, so I thought I’d post a few photographs. I’ve not taken many pictures since I got here, and I’ve only used my phone camera, as I feel like I stand out enough without holding an expensive SLR.
As I mentioned before, some of the roads are pretty close to not being roads at all. In fact, it’s rather better driving on a surface like this than on a road with occasional chunks of raised tarmac still around.
Our journey to work takes us through some of the high-density housing districts, which can be seen at the background of this picture. The contrast between the middle-class areas and the poorer parts is striking.
The majority of people in Lusaka get around by walking or by bus. The buses are all blue and white minibuses, which all seem to be crammed with twice the number of people that would be reasonable. As far as I can tell the driver owns their own bus and personalises it to their taste (notwithstanding the enforced colour scheme). Most drivers choose to decorate their bus with nicknames or slogans, often with a religious bent (though sometimes that religion is Manchester United). My favourite example declares, in big red capitals, “NO JESUS NO LIFF!”
The relatively small proportion of people who own cars doesn’t do much to counter the traffic congestion problems. Most intersections lack traffic lights, and can be a bit of a free-for-all. The picture above was taken at the point of turning right, merging into a queue of traffic.
Zambian driving style is remarkably relaxed in most respects. Certainly the rules of the road aren’t taken too seriously, and when merging with traffic assertiveness (i.e. shoving your way in regardless of anyone else) is seemingly expected. The ‘Lusaka shove’ works much like the ‘London shove’, except that the former is much less likely to provoke anger.
That’s not to say that the horn isn’t used in Lusaka, but it seems less to communicate anger with an idiot driver (as in London or Paris) than to communicate a general frustration with the world around you.
One of the drawbacks of having a banana tree in your back garden is that you have no bananas for 360 days of the year, and for 5 days you have more bananas than you can possibly imagine, until they go black and have to be turned into banana bread.