Geography: Lusaka is that quiet child inside the classroom with very consistent behavior. Gets good or average marks, is never on any naughty list and JUST EXISTS. Maybe its my experience with Zambian people. According to Wikipedia, Lusaka is the capital and largest city of Zambia. One of the fastest developing cities in southern Africa, Lusaka is in the southern part of the central plateau at an elevation of about 1,279 metres (4,196 ft). As of 2010, the city’s population was about 1.7 million, while the urban population is 2.4 million. Lusaka is the centre of both commerce and government in Zambia and connects to the country’s four main highways heading north, south, east and west. English is the official language of the city administration, while Chewa and Bemba are the commonly spoken street languages.
Famous for: There isn’t much going on in Lusaka that sets it apart from the other regional and African main cities. Some Cities are known for Fashion, tall skyscrapers, music, … others for car Manufacturing, a thriving night life, food, extremely high levels of Crime. Nothing distinctive comes to mind about Lusaka. If it was Livingstone, I would say it is famous for the Victoria Falls. Lusaka is like Mbabane, capital of Eswatini, nothing sets apart the place apart from being a capital city. There is MANDA HILL, the famous mall and COMESA street which is a hive of activity selling everything under the SUN. In summary, i would say this about LUSAKA: Lusaka city is famous for being the capital city of Zambia firstly. It’s not famous for its natural resources or wonders but it is famous for being home to the Lusaka National museum, the Supreme Court, state house, Findeco building the tallest in Zambia, the freedom statue and also for being the most modern and developed city in Zambia.
Safety: Zambia is one of only a few countries in Africa that can be termed, generally safe.Zambians are, for the most part quite friendly, bear in mind many of them are very poor. Be very careful walking at night, there are few street lights, and if you have had a few drinks, then you are an easy target. Zambians do consume generous amounts of alcohol daily. Followed by the Kenyans, Malawians, South Africans, Basothos, Swazis, Tswanas tucked somewhere in between. If something does happen, do not expect the police to be of any assistance if you need to lodge a report for insurance purposes. At that point, be prepared to pay. However as a rule of thumb: drinking is a national sport in Zambia and alcohol diminishes the capacity of the brain to think in a logical sequence hence the petty crimes….
Inter-city buses are driven very recklessly, and the rail system needs some serious maintenance, long distance bus the best option out of the two. The bus station in Lusaka can be a nightmare, with touts fighting over you at every turn to get you on their bus, or the bus that gives them commission. Keep your wits about you and a very close eye on your belongings. If you do take the train, then lock everything, chain your locked luggage to the seat. lock the door and window at night, and don’t open the door at night to anyone, tell anyone who may knock to “come back in the morning!” Don’t get paranoid, just be careful.
In my understanding of Africa, safe country or town means boring. The people would most likely have been under a heavy oppressive regime hence they lack that ability to go out of the norm. If you want adventure and FUN, Johannesburg, Cairo, Nairobi come to mind. FUN comes at a heavy price in Africa as it means safety is not a priority. Unfortunately Zambia like Eswatini seems “too safe” to have a life changing adventure. But there are some few awesome facts around Lusaka/Zambia like Dr. David Livingstone died in Zambia and his heart is buried there. He died in Chief Chitambo’s village at Ilala, southeast of Lake Bangweulu, on 4th May, 1873, from malaria and dysentery. His two loyal followers, Chuma and Susi who had loyally accompanied him through his explorations and battles against slavery, removed his heart from his body and buried it under a Mvula tree. Thats the thing with Lusaka or Zambia generally, you have to take health precautions when travelling there and make sure you get that yellow fever vaccination. Other disease to look out for include malaria and according to WHO, Hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. Just one thing to remember : there are mosquitoes in Lusaka, its always better to keep a mosquito net & mosquito repellent handy.
Social Life: Life in Zambia can get lonely if you haven’t got friends there so try to befriend at least one person there and work your way up to more contacts. Indians that speak the same language usually have a sort of community over there.
There’s some cool stuff to do in Zambia on weekends but the list runs out pretty fast. You can only visit beautiful places like Victoria falls, South Luangua national park, etc when you get at least 4 days of vacation because they’re far from Lusaka.
The cost of living I would have to say is medium (not too expensive ,but not cheap either).
Also, if you come from somewhere where it’s easy to get around, what will irritate you at first is the lack of public transport – you pretty much have to drive to get anywhere – occasionally walk. There are mini buses, but people really hate how the mini bus drivers drive (with reason), and foreigners are usually pretty rarely seen on the mini buses… you’d probably be looked at weird for riding them.
Zambians are friendly people, English is an official language and widely spoken. Normal common sense applies. I tend to find that isolated areas are in fact the safest. In the tourism hubs you get a lot of confidence tricksters, who usually prey on younger backpackers and volunteers. Other than that there is not a huge amount to worry about. Treat people as you would like to be treated and you will have a great trip. But also keep in mind that, Zambians tend to not get overly familiar with foreigners and you have to be willing to break that barrier…
Arts in Lusaka: The capital city of Zambia has had an art scene since the 1970s, with galleries in the central business district that led to more contemporary spaces to view art being created. I still get the impression that Art is not a big thing in Lusaka but i might be wrong. I have been to Lusaka a couple of timers but i never came across a conversation involving art. Maybe it was the spaces i was visiting. For truly breath taking art, visit the Henry Tayali Gallery which was named in his honor and opened in 1995 on Lion Lane in the Showgrounds. The gallery mostly displays painting and sculpture through temporal exhibitions, including the work of the artist. There is usually no entrance fee, unless otherwise stated on special exhibition launch days. All art displayed is available for sale. On Saturdays, there are weekend art classes in drawing, sculpture, painting and ceramics.
Major Faux Pas: If somebody is less than an hour late, don’t treat them as though they are late at all. Never be in a hurry at a checkout line (but stand as close as you like to the people in front of you, even next to them). Have a good reason for refusing a drink, and tell it to the person offering. Don’t bring up the 4–8 hour daily rolling black-outs. Just light your candles and fire up your gensets, but avoid thinking about it as much as possible. It’s all been said the first night it started, down at the pub. Nobody wants to hear about it since. Other than that, it’s hard to offend a Zambian (politics and religion aside, of course) and you’ll love the laid-back, upbeat attitude of the people who call this place home.
But all in all, personally i learnt that in Lusaka, the days of the week seem to pass by rather slowly and hence it seemed like time was slow. This could be mostly due to the mass inefficiencies inherent in most daily activities. Simple tasks such as withdrawing money from a Bank could potentially take days to complete. Zambians also dont like spicy foods. Their food like the (nshima,Chikanda,bwondwe) according to my standards lack a punch. But thats just me. I need spice, i need chilli, i need flavor all in one pot…
Lusaka is a quiet town just like the Zambian people…Keep the tab running and BOB is your uncle! And when i say keep the tab running, i mean it literal especially when it comes to Zambian folks….You know what i mean!