The view from the bottom of the bottom

The way they used to pack slaves in the ship, that is how we sleep. – Kenneth, 37, Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison, September 30, 2009 This week I have been trying to digest a remarkable report from Human Rights Watch on the state of Zambia’s prisons. During the last 18 months they managed to  interview … Continue reading

Dreaming of a brighter future

Leaving Zambia this week, it is a challenge to feel brightly optimistic about her future. In truth the country has been struggling to develop in a concerted and sustained manner since the oil shocks of the 1970’s. Her economy remains vastly over dependant upon mining in general and copper in particular. Despite a water table … Continue reading

100 things I will miss about Zambia

Excuse the indulgence folks (more a reminder to myself than anything else) but here are 100 of the things that I am going to miss most about Zambia Zambians – nobody could ask for a more welcoming, courteous, friendly and warm host nation. The fabulous staff at Alliance Zambia who have hosted me throughout my … Continue reading

Eyes a little wider; Head a little wiser?

A year ago almost to this very day, I was enjoying a few farewell drinks with colleagues in London when one stopped me dead in my tracks by asking “So… what is the probability you never return to this career?” Despite all the research and planning I had put into my sabbatical, it was not … Continue reading

HIV: Looking in the Ugly Mirror

HIV: If there is a more grimly fascinating epidemic, I would like to read about it. Close as I am to finishing my year living amongst this dark plague, I must admit that I still find more to puzzle over than to understand and more questions to ask than I can claim to have answers … Continue reading

Eric’s Story

In a field littered with three and more letter acronyms, PLwHIV (People Living with HIV) is my least favourite. It is a cold, cumbersome and clinical way to describe the body and soul of the epidemic. It is their pain and suffering that should command our greatest attention and their strength and determination our greatest … Continue reading

Visit Zambia!

Well dear reader, this week I have something of a confession to make. As many of you northern hemisphere residents were facing into the first weeks of cold Autumnal grey, I was swanning around in the sweltering heat, enjoying the many wondrous sights and sounds this host continent of mine has to offer, all under … Continue reading

A Truly African Adventure

Last weekend was meant to be unremarkable enough. One last trip to the bush for the boys from the house to mark the departure of our dear friend Janno back to Europe. By the end of the weekend we had bonded like never before, but in circumstances we would never have wished for. We had … Continue reading

Lemons have international recognition because of their usefulness

One of my many Zambian heroes is the guy who sells lemons on the street below my office. It might be the marketer in me but I am in awe of the effort he makes to distinguish his wares from the row of vendors on the street. He only has one product – lemons – … Continue reading

Know your epidemic…

Today is Youth Day and a national holiday in Zambia. To mark it, the President hosts a major ceremony in town where large numbers of children are conscripted to march past representing the various schools and youth movements in the country. Curious to get my first taste of Zambian pomp and pageantry I dropped by. … Continue reading