Zambian Farming


A photograph of subsistence farmers, and my friends, in Mwinilunga district, Northwestern Province, Zambia. They hand cultivated the entire field you see behind them. It was a 25km bike ride to get there, it is impassible by vehicle. They will collect the corn and take it back 25km to sell it on the roadside.

End of Term and Malaria Season in the Village



Madam Malichi, grade 3 teacher, gives a literacy test to her 50+ students at the end of term. One of her students, pictured first, is sick with malaria. He slept on the sofa for the whole day waiting to be escorted home by an older brother. Many times children come to school when they are ill with malaria rather than stay at home alone. During term one, rainy season, malaria rates are incredibly high. We lost two school pupils, a grade one student and grade seven student.

I often received the statement, “but in American you are lucky, because you have no mosquitoes there.” This was made by Zambians, but even most Americans don’t know that malaria was once a serious problem in United States. The CDC was founded in 1936 specifically to deal with malaria and a campaign begun in the late 1940’s introduced DDT and by late 1949 the US was declared malaria free. If you have time you should check out the PRI coverage of malaria in America. They even include a Times magazine advertisement saying “DDT is good for me!”

Interesting history lesson for us, but is it realistic at all for  government in Zambia? The US campaign to eradicate malaria included draining swamps in the South and building sewers and storm drains in towns. People in mosquito prone areas of the South were very receptive to the idea of spraying inside homes and complied. I wonder if Zambia can manage these infrastructure changes and changing attitudes as currently people are not receptive to spraying inside of homes.

Around 2006 Zambia announced a massive program (with big funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners) to try to roll back malaria. Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa (MACEPA) has the ambitious goal of rolling back malaria infections by 75% in Zambia. It would be interesting to evaluate how successful this campaign has been.

Kuomboka Ceremony 2013


Kuomboka ceremony is most likely the best known traditional ceremony in Zambia. Kuomboka, meaning in Lozi language ‘to get out of water,’ happens whenever the Litunga, king of the Lozi people, shifts from his compound at Lealui on the Barotse flood plain for higher ground at Limulunga.

We had a chance to see the first ceremony in two years, the 2012 Kuomboka being canceled due to low rain and political motivations. Relations between Zambia’s ruling government and the Lozi people have always been tense and in 2011 then president Rupiah Banda refused to attend the ceremony.

Luckily for us the ceremony was on for 2013 and we used a slow but steady paddle boat, which took about three hours, to cover the 17km from Mongu (the provincial capital of Western province) to the Litunga’s palace at Lealui. The ride is beautiful, if only a bit hot, passing through the shallow channels and the beginnings of a Chinese built road that one day will connect Kalabo to the rest of Zambia.







As we passed through the flood plain we saw many Lozi villages, all temporary thatch/mud structures which are simply packed up and moved on dugout canoes as water levels rise. There were a variety of birds, pied kingfishers, cattle egrets and of course even village chickens.

We arrived at Lealui in time to see the procession of the Litunga to his boat, preceded by his guns, stool, instruments and finally himself accompanied by Zambian vice president Guy Scott. Once the Litunga was aboard a fire is lit and drums begin to play. Scouts head out on two boats navigating the channel for the far larger Litunga’s boat.  Members of the royal family work together to paddle/push the massive boat out, one can recognize it by the elephant atop the cabin (whose ears can be flapped up and down as well), his boat is followed by the queen’s which has what some say is a cattle egret atop it, though it looks nothing like a cattle egret.









As the boat travels, Lozis in dugout canoes paddle alongside and even dance and sing. When the boat finally reaches Limilunga the Litunga emerges in his ‘uniform’ and the party continues. We failed to reach Limilunga, the six hours on a paddle boat in the sun sapped our energy so we took a break to braii. Though we did get a chance to enjoy the Litunga as he passed by with his entire entourage.





Kasanka Bat Migration

Recently traveled to Kasanka Trust in Central province, Zambia. It is the site of the largest mammal congregation in the world with a culmination of nearly 10 million bats that feed on the local fruits that have grown ripe, like mfungu and mabula. We traveled with nearly twenty volunteers to visit the park and see the bats. It’s hard to explain how impressive the migration is when these photos are from so far away, but regardless it was one of those things that should be seen.

We even went on some early morning bushwalks with our guide Bastiaan to see sitatunga

At our final night we had a pretty nice braai, ate a full sheep , sausages and buns.

My House

Sunset at my house, Solomon is the son of one of my teachers and he is building a fence for my garden. It should be done by the time I get back. There is also a picture of my kitchen that is now sealed up and a chicken I transport in my backpack.

Mujila Farms – Pig Butchering

The first day of the training at Mujila Falls Farm we organized a tour of the training center and butchering a 150 kg pig. In Zambia some things are done differently, unlike the picture above where we inserted the knife into the heart of the pig so it bleeds out immediately, most here bludgeon the pig or slit its throat. They also don’t hang the pig and remove the fat, which can then be rendered down into salatie. This pig produced 20 liters of salatie, buckets of pork rinds and several kgs of meat.

Once the oil is rendered, we pour it into bottles and collect the fried pork skins into a bucket.

Mujila Farms Training – Composting demo

A few weeks ago we organized a livestock training at Mujila Falls Farm. It involved about 13 volunteers and 14 community members learning about livestock and the integration of those animals in small scale farms.

We did a lot of different activities like butchering a pig, skinning a rabbit, composting and much more. These photographs are of the composting demo were we had the community members and peace corps volunteers build a compost pile. The session was taught by Larry Maurin and ended with a tour of Paul’s garden which included strawberries, black berries, comfrey and swiss chard.

The compost is a mixture of greens, browns and manure over a base pile of sticks. The sticks, shown below, provide air flow in the pile and over time degrade into the manure. Over each layer we sprinkle water on the manure to keep the pile moist.


Boss, pictured above and below, is the Peace Corps house dog. He keeps us company and protects the house. He also makes lovely photographs. Kato is new to the house and keeps Boss company, or makes him jealous, just depends.

The next few are Peace Corps Volunteer village pets. Ridiculously pampered with kapenta, nshima and at times some salatie . . . The kitten in the box was being transported, so no need to worry about that kittens situation.


Every night I have dinner at the Malichi’s house. They are teachers and the husband is ingenious at rigging up a whole house by solar. We watch tv during hot season because there is enough sunshine to watch at least a one hour or two hours of a tv show each day through their satellite dish. They tend to be Mexican or Venezuelan soap operas dubbed into English. When the power runs out we use our solar lanterns to sit around and talk and last Friday I chose to take some pictures with the lanterns.

Mmmmmmmasenda and other tasty food in the village

This is the time of year, at the start of the rains, when children run into the bush to collect different foods. Below are masenda, like a big grasshopper, that children skip school to go dig up. In some villages, very few up here, they eat a large bat called chinguzu. A dried version that sold for US .40 cents is shown below. Lastly my garden produced two baby pineapples and my chicken Bryan Watkins now produces kidney bean looking eggs. She/he has huevos chuecos and I hope he reads this and asks about it.