As soon as I began to tell people we were moving to Morocco, a country in North Africa, I was almost immediately asked about various wildlife; lions, elephants, tigers etc. Most people were surprised to discover Morocco has none of these. This wasn’t “Africa” to them. There is a very singular understanding in the US of what constitutes Africa, and that it somehow is a very large monolith. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Did you know the area of the continental United States would fit 3 times into the continent of Africa? Just imagine how diverse the US is culturally, politically, and geographically – now multiply that by 3 – at least. I thought it would be interesting to reach out to other expat bloggers that are living around Africa and have them share about their adopted country. Over the next few months I’m going to take you on a journey all over the continent I now call home.
First Stop: Zambia
Jody Tilbury is the author of Mud Hut Mama. She first came to Zambia in 1998 as a Peace Corps Volunteer and met her husband, who was born and raised in Zambia, at that time. Although we have lived in a variety of places since then, Zambia is where we feel most at home. The remainder of this post is an interview between she and I.
What are some of the major cities in your country? How much is urban vs rural?
Lusaka (the capital), Ndola, Chingola, Kitwe and Solwezi. Most of Zambia is rural, my guess is about 70%. You can take a look at a rural community here. (live after 10/29/13)
What are the primary industries people work in?
Mining (predominantly copper), agriculture, small business enterprise and tourism
What types of wildlife are predominant?
There are 19 national parks in Zambia with a good representation of African mammals, as well as over 600 species of bird and numerous species of reptiles and insects. Black rhino had been extinct from Zambia but was reintroduced in 2003.
What are some of the staple foods/meals that people eat?
Nshima (make it at home!) , a thick porridge made from maize meal, is the staple food and generally eaten with green leaf vegetables, okra, mushrooms, beans, fish, meat or chicken. Nshima from maize meal is eaten throughout the country but depending on the region it is also made from sorghum, millet or cassava.
What is the education system like?
It really varies. In the capital city there are some government schools that provide a good standard of education and others that do not. There are also a variety of private schools in the cities and missionary schools in some of the outlying areas. Government schools and community schools in rural areas are typically understaffed and under resourced. You can take a look at one rural community school here.
Tell us a little bit about the ethnic groups, religions, and languages represented in your country.
There are 72 tribes and almost as many languages or dialects. English is the official national language and is used by government and business. The five most widely spoken Bantu languages are Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga, Lozi & Chewa. Zambia is a Christian nation with many different denominations present. Islam and Hinduism are also represented in many areas particularly in Lusaka and in eastern Zambia.
What is one (or more) misconception people have about your country?
That there is an abundance of wildlife throughout Zambia. My husband works in conservation so we have lived mostly in national parks and protected areas where there is a lot of wildlife but that is not indicative of the rest of the country. While there are definitely instances of elephants raiding farmers fields in communities that border protected areas leading to human / wildlife conflict, there are also many Zambians who have never seen any of the large African mammals.
What is your favorite part of living in this country?
The large uninhabited spaces and the opportunity that we have to raise our children surrounded by nature and wildlife.
What would you like to share with readers about your country that they may not know?
That Zambia is a beautiful country with a rich culture and a welcoming population. It is a great place to live or to visit. Zambia’s tourism tag line is “The Real Africa” because there are still so many wild places you can visit that are relatively untouched.
Are you an expat or citizen of an African country currently living in an African country? Please drop me an email if you would like to participate in this series. I am hoping to have every country represented and there are several I am still in search of.
If you’d like to learn more about Zambia and connect with Jody you can find here;
Blog: Mud Hut Mama http://www.mudhutmama.com
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/116904954785553388059