TRAVEL: This story is about how I met my Zambian family for the first time when I made a five days road journey all the way from Uganda to Zambia. I hope you enjoy the reading 🙂
If one day you ever get to experience Zambian hospitality like I did, I am sure you will always want to come back over and over again!
Towards the end of November after my University studies, I traveled to Eastern Zambia to meet my newly found family living on the outskirts of Chipata, a town located 570kms from Lusaka the capital city of Zambia. It is also just 12kms away from the Malawian border.This was my first time in Southern Africa and I had to travel by bus for a distance of more than 3600kms all the way from Kampala, Uganda to Chipata, Eastern Zambia and this journey took me five full days to complete.
This was a no joking feat to make it all the way from Uganda by bus to Zambia to meet new people!
It takes more than ordinary efforts to do this as you have to incur some costs, give your time and bear all challenges that come with long distance road travels in Africa!
Well, throughout the journey I kept updating my Zambian hosts about where I have reached and how far the distance I am left to arrive, all thanks to the new digital media!
Google Maps was an essential companion in this journey, I could know where I am and the distance to my final destination 🙂
Plus, I always made sure I had enough talk time to call and SMS my hosts to let them know where I am.
Finally on Sunday, 22nd I arrived in Chipata by a “Johabe” bus from Lusaka. It was a sizzling hot day with direct scorching sunshine.
Luckily the welcome I received from my Zambian family was so overwhelming, I felt very good and relaxed despite the tiredness and being exhausted after such a very long journey!
Immediately food and drinks were served, and lots of people came to pay their visits to me because my Zambian family had spread the word that I am on the way coming.
I can be sure that in the first three days I received more than thirty visitors (family neighbours and friends) who were all enthusiastic to see this guy who travelled all the way from Uganda up to Zambia. Pleasantries and greetings were exchanged, and we had long conversations about the differences and similarities between Zambia and Uganda. The weather (being slightly different), the way of life, the economy, politics, etc.
Many of my visitors were so eager to know the kind of life we live in Uganda and some other facts about my country and I always told them everything they needed to know. This also helped me get a firsthand understanding of Zambian way of life and what they go through to make ends meet through the conversations we had.
I could see from their facial expressions that they were indeed happy to meet me and most of them assured me that I will enjoy my stay and that I should feel at home 🙂 And of course this further boosted my confidence that truly it was worthy of making this visit!
On top of all that, their food is really nice, I liked the “nshima” which is the Zambian version of Ugali or posho and the way it tasted together with the different delicacies served alongside the main nshima dish.
My hosts always taught me a few basic phrases mostly about greetings in their local language called “Chichewa” and with them I was able to make greetings to every family friend that came to visit me though my poor and hilarious pronunciation would make them laugh at times like “Muli bwanji” meaning How are you? and whose response is “Bwino muli bwanji, “Mwaoka bwanji” for Good afternoon/evening.
On some days, my hosts would take me to Chipata town to buy items and they would keep showing me some important places like the Post Office, the Municipal offices, the Police, some of the big shopping malls like Shoprite and Spar, etc. So now you know Chipata isn’t just a mere small town, soon it will be upgraded to a City status because right now it’s booming with lots of business coming up and more people becoming residents.
Making such a long road journey isn’t an easy task, it takes lots of personal sacrifices like time, money and bearing the challenges of which like in my case included two bus breakdowns one of them being at night. The others being that these buses are always overloaded with people and luggage, sometimes it’s just you feel so uncomfortable and you only have to keep praying for a safe arrival!
But all in all travelling this way gives you a firsthand insight and experience of travelling the African way and also getting closer to understand the exact African way of life.
That’s why each of us needs to spare some time and money to travel beyond their own country’s borders to experience firsthand how life goes by.
It can be a magical experience but also a challenging one, after all, we need to be courageous risk takers and do something that we can be so proud of, and that can make others envy or be surprised about.