Why is Zambia so poor?
"I’m not going to tell Zambia how to run itself, what it needs to fix and in what order. The explanations I heard, they aren’t the whole puzzle, they aren’t even the biggest pieces. The only thing I’m able to conclude after my trip here is that it’s incredibly difficult for a poor country to go about getting un-poor. Just when you think you’ve got the right narrative, another one comes bursting out of the footnotes. It’s the informality. No, it’s the taxes. No, it’s the mining companies. No, it’s the regulators.
And that’s what makes fixing it so difficult."
This landlocked country in Sub-Saharan Africa isn’t a failed state in the traditional sense: There’s no dictator, no child soldiers. But most of its 14 million people live on less than $1 per day. How did things get this way, and can they ever get better?
Many of you are perhaps familiar with the berimbau
, a musical bow with a calabash resonator, best known as an instrument for accompanying the Brazilian dance/martial art known as capoeira
. But the roots of the instrument lie, as you might guess, in Africa. Still, it's not often we get a chance to hear the original African version of the instrument being played. This video, though, in which one Chris Haambwiila of Zambia conjures up an intricate, bewitching groove
, is one that will be of interest to those who enjoy elemental and unadulterated human rhythmic expression. And the two little boys getting down to the sound will win your heart, for sure.
In 1964, Zambia joined the Space Race with help from Edward Makuka Nkoloso, an enthusiastic
, if overly optimistic
, primary school teacher (partial transcript, video very much of its time
). Though the rocket never left Lusaka, and there was never any real support from either the Zambian government or UNESCO
, Nkoloso's project
caught the imagination of Spanish artist Cristina de Middel
in her short film, The Afronauts
. Middel explains
, "The images
are beautiful and the story is pleasant at a first level, but it is built on the fact that nobody believes that Africa will ever reach the moon. It hides a very subtle critique to our position towards the whole continent and our prejudices. It's just like saying strong words with a beautiful smile." via.
Zamrock is a largely forgotten musical movement, born from a newly independence still trying to find stability. The sound is a mix of local sounds with heavy, bluesy and psychedelic rock, usually sung in English, the constitutional language for Zambia. Unfortunately, little of the history is written, and those who were there are fewer each year. Last year, Emmanuel Kangwa “Jagari” Chanda, the co-founder and lead singer for WITCH (We Intend To Cause Havoc), was interviewed for two hours
) and recorded a radio show with 14 Zamrock tracks
. The South African newspaper Mail & Guardian have an article with more history
and interview snippets with Jagari, whose stage name is an Africanisation of Mick Jagger's name. (via
) [more inside]
A Glimpse of the World
All across Africa, new tracks are being laid, highways built, ports deepened, commercial contracts signed
-- all on an unprecedented scale, and led by China, whose appetite for commodities
. Do China's grand designs promise the transformation, at last, of a star-crossed continent? Or merely its exploitation? The author
travels deep into the heart of Africa, searching for answers. [more inside]
A fascinating piece
by Jeffrey Goldberg in the New Yorker investigates the anti-poaching activities of Mark and Delia Owens
in Zambia's North Luangwa National Park
. Goldberg's essay focuses on the uncertain circumstances surrounding the killing
of an alleged poacher by an unidentified member of Mark Owens' team of park scouts that was broadcast
on national television in 1996. [more inside]
Out of Africa.
As award-winning Globe and Mail Africa correspondent Stephanie Nolen
bids farewell to a place she's come to love, she reflects on how it has changed, and how it changed her. [more inside]
Austin Gutwein first became aware of the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS from a pen pal in Africa
.“‘My pen pal [2006 video - 2:48]*
...was the first one to open my eyes to the world outside of my own backyard,’ Austin says. One of the harsh realities that struck a chord with Austin was the fact that many kids become orphaned as a result of a parent contracting HIV. ‘I started to think about what it would be like if I lost my parents,’ says Austin. ‘I just felt called to help.’...On World AIDS Day
] 2004, at age 10, Austin shot 2,057 free throws to represent the number of children who would be orphaned because of AIDS during that school day....Austin approached individuals in his community to sponsor his endeavor. That year [he] raised $3,000, which he gave to World Vision
to be used to help eight orphans in Africa.” Three years later his non-profit, Hoops of Hope
, raised $100,000 [2007 video - 2:32]
which was used to build a residential school in Zambia for those orphaned -- and many infected -- by HIV/AIDS. Next year's goal -- to build a hospital. [more inside]
Zambia's presidential election
took place in an atmosphere of enthusiasm. New rules ensured that it would be free and fair, making this the most successful election yet in the country's fifteen years of multiparty rule. Still, the challenger's support
for Robert Mugabe's dictatorial regime
raises some questions about his commitment to democracy. Meanwhile, Mugabe denied rumors
that he was postponing his own presidential election, due in 2008. Are Westerners ignoring hopeful news from Africa?
, a singer-songwriter, writes about living with AIDS in his online journal. Students at Marshall High School put themselves in the shoes of an HIV-positive girl, in the project My name is Kerry and I have AIDS (Now I'm dead!)
. Journalist Eric Foss keeps a diary about his visits to AIDS victims in Zambia
, with pictures, video and interview transcripts. Adam Solomon writes at length about training for and participating in several AIDS rides
for vaccine and cure charities. Five years old, but still affecting, there's AIDS worker Paul Gallotta's AIDS diary
. Supporting group efforts of AIDS victims and other interested parties is the journal Being Alive
. There's a vast catalog of compelling first-person perspective at HIV/AIDS Positive Stories
, at Avert.org
, and at Breaking the Silence... Rompiendo El Silencio
from the AIDS Project Los Angeles.
Tourist Jailed for Oral Sex A German tourist who pleaded guilty to having oral sex in Zambia was sentenced on Thursday to six years in jail with hard labor, court officials said.
Note to self: cancel Zambia honeymoon plans.