Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lunch Today:

They served rice but I ate N'shima, and likely surprised some people. N'shima is Zambian "bread" that's made from boiled cornmeal and is a staple for most meals. The texture is a little like Play Dough--though N'shima is really very tasty. N'shima or shima is served with meat and vegetables. The veggies, slaw, various greens, tomato...whatever...are usually referred to as relish. The best part of Shima is that you eat with your right hand. Lunch was delicious.

The conference I'm attending is a global ethics conference, though much of the discussion focuses on media ethics in Zambia in relation to the what's going on around the world and in neighboring African countries. Press freedom today is generally greater than 10 years ago--certainly there are more print publications and now about 35 non-government radio stations, compared with only five non-gov stations 10 years ago.

I've kept in touch with several people I knew from my Fulbright days. But, as I've tried to find out what has happened to others, I've been told they're dead. Victims of AIDS. Many companies now make available ARV (anti-retro viral drugs) for HIV-positive employees. It's been a slow process but it's beginning to happen. Part of the reality of AIDS in Africa is that many of the most highly-educated members of the workforce are infected. Without ARVs, they'd be dead--some may still die.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I sometimes have a feeling about a trip…that something will go wrong. This is one of those trips. Everything was generally fine as I left home, though my daughter was excessively dramatic about my leaving. That settled down as we talked about a present that I would bring home.

But things went in the wrong direction when I reached Atlanta. I fly Delta Airlines whenever I can. I’d rather fly through Atlanta than Chicago—typically fewer interruptions and an easier airport to navigate. This time, the southeast weather interfered with my travel. A thunderstorm cell delayed our departure for about 40 minutes. Then came the really bad news. The co-pilot was sick and would have to be replaced. Because it was an international flight and we’d already pushed back, we couldn’t go back to the gate. All we could do was wait for the arrival of a replacement crew member. The good news is that I was tired and slept during part of the wait. Then I read. The flight attendants served water. People were in a generally good mood. And, out pilot frequently gave us updates to keep us apprised of the situation. Finally we departed at 7:41PM Atlanta time—about three and one-half hours late.

Though the pilot said we’d make up some time going to Dakar and likely spend less time on the ground there than we were schedule for, I had my doubts about making my connection. I had called my friend Twange from the plane in Atlanta to have her alert her sister and to get her local phone number. Twange’s voicemail picked up. My other alternative was to grab the number from an email. I have a new computer, a Mac. Unfortunately, the email program I’m using has a habit of not fully downloading email messages and attachments. And, there was no signature with contact info on the emails I did find downloaded.

In our world of instant everything, some people would be especially bothered by all this. While I hate to miss a night in Lusaka and hate to cause disruption for the Kasoma family, this is just the way it goes sometime. What’s my alternative? If all goes well, I’ll spend the night in a J’burg hotel, rather than the airport, and the hotel room will be paid for by the airline.

Update: I did spend the night in Jo'burg, courtesy of Delta Airlines and had a wonderful hotel breakfast--great bacon, coffee--my first caffeine in more than 34 hours--and broiled tomatoes topped with cheese. There were other foods but these were my favorites.

I arrived in Lusaka at about 2 PM, local time...then stood for almost an hour in the Immigration line to get a visa (Note to Zambia Immigration and Tourism officials--You must speed this's a bad first impression for tired visitors, after a long flight.) After grabbing my bags, I headed out the door and was greeted by my friend Muwana. I met Muwana the first time I visited Zambia...he was part of a workshop I did back in 1995. We've been friends since then and I like and admire him so much.

Impressions: The city has made some significant infrastructure improvements--a major four-lane, divided highway into the city. I saw some new construction. I also saw familiar sights that are etched in my memory....people using bicycles as means of transport for four or five over-sized bags of charcoal they're taking to the market to sell. They're tied to the bike and I cannot imagine how difficult it would be for the rider if he had to come to a dead stop.

I'm staying at a private hotel/guest house called Mika Lodge The room is very comfortable and they have wireless Internet!!!! I've already called my bride--via Skype--to let her know I'm here.