Soda Splash

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

For a number of years now I have found it difficult to find soda water in our local supermarkets.


Coming from the Second Republic, when we were used to shortages of flavourings, bottles, bottle lids, labels,  I could not understand why we were seeing shortages today; gone were the days of foreign exchange shortages and since this was soda water there are no flavourings involved in its manufacture. All that is needed is Carbon Dioxide. How difficult can that be?


A year or two ago, in desperation because soda water is the only carbonated drink that we use, I contacted the manufacturers inNdola. We were able to arrange to pay for and collect from their depot inLusaka. This worked well although because their depot is on theMumbwa Road, we found it much easier to buy 20 cases at time so that we did not have to traverse town and the traffic too often.


But still the problem existed – most often when we called to arrange a collection, they had none in stock and could not tell us when they would have stock. Clearly there was a distribution problem.


Then I came across Soda King soda water in Spar, and managed to track them down inLusaka.


I say track them down because it was not easy – there was no telephone number on the label and the number in the telephone directory went elsewhere.  But Soda King do have a web page and I managed to get a telephone number from there.


What a pleasure.  One phone call and within a couple of hours, twenty cases were delivered to my office.  The second order went just as well; again it was delivered to me promptly.


Soda King is a franchise with the principals inSouth Africaand they produce a variety of drinks – the usual mixers – Tonic, Ginger Ale, Lemonade and Dry Lemon. Their range of lightly carbonated drinks include Ginger beer, Red Grape,Orange, Strawberry, Sparking Lemon,  Sparkling Apple and Pineapple.  Bottled water and sparkling water, plain or flavoured is also available.


As I sit here in a sweltering November where the rain seems to be nowhere in sight, the bottles with their brightly coloured ingredients, have me licking my lips in anticipation. I shall certainly be looking out for and buying a selection of their flavoured drinks next time I am shopping.


For trade enquiries, contact Bessie on 0978 519-175


Gigantic Monstrous Organisms

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

In the August issue of The Lowdown we published an article about the fear that many Zambians, justifiably, have that the introduction of GMO plant varieties will contaminate our local maize varieties resulting in a negative impact on food production and food security in Zambia. This not impossible scenario would enslave our farmers, and thus our future, to the big multinational producers of GMO seeds, amongst others behemoth biotech firm, Monsanto.

Since then, in early September, it has come to the fore that farmers in the USA who have been planting Monsanto genetically modified seeds have now become the victim of insects and weeds which have developed resistance to these genetically engineered plant varieties.

Farmers in the USA have, since 2003, been planting a Monsanta supplied maize variety engineered to produce insecticidal toxins to fight the destructive corn rootworm. That was until now when a report by researchers at Iowa State University showed that some farmers’ crops were being attacked by a corn rootworm that had developed resistance to the insecticide produced by the plant. Should this spread, the havoc that could be wreaked on American farmers is too awful to contemplate. According to Monsanto, last year, more than 37 million acres of this maize variety was planted in the USA. The US Environmental Protection Agency is planning a comprehensive review and may ban sales of the seed if this is confirmed.

Monsanto products are also implicated in the appearance of what is being termed ‘superweeds’. First is their product, marketed under the tradename of Roundup or its scientific name of Glyphosate, a broad spectrum herbicide killing annual broadleaf weeds and grasses. Roundup became extremely popular after its introduction in the 70’s and was the most used herbicide in the USA and the second most used herbicide in the home and garden market sector. Then came Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed varieties which were known as Roundup Ready as it enabled farmers to apply the herbicide once their crops were already growing, enabling them to control weeds which appeared after emergence of the crop.

A recent study has found that some weed species have become resistant to Glyphosate – more than 11 million acres of food crops in the USA. Some are calling it “the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen.”

In addition to the appearance of superweeds, some scientists believe that Glyphosate is threatening the crop-yielding potential of the entire ecosystem. A recent report has revealed that this chemical may have an irreversible devastating effect on the micobiodiversity of the soil, compromising the health of the entire planet by altering and, in some cases, destroying the benefits of raw and fermented foods including beneficial strains of bacteria such as the culture used for raw yoghurt.

Thus, where farmers are using larger and larger concentrations of Glyphosate to control weeds, they are causing greater and greater damage to the fertility of their soil and its ability to produce crops well into the future. If these trends continue, crop yields will drop and food costs will climb as weeds grow more difficult to eradicate.

Thus, claims by international corporations that genetically modified crops with their increased yields are the solution to world hunger and world food security may well be complete poppycock.

Can The Lion Sleep Tonight

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

Keeping lions amused is a problem that few people have to worry about. But for the staff at Munda Wanga the importance of stimulation for animals held in captivity is an important part of the work they do. A lot of the animals are there because they were injured, sick, victims of the illegal pet trade, or were orphaned due to poaching and Munda Wanga try to create conditions that these animals would experience in the wild.


The latest addition to toys for the lions is not something that they would encounter in the wild – a soccer ball. But as we all know, balls are good fun and it is will keep them stimulated and entertained and may even help them hone their hunting skills.


This is not just any ordinary old ball though.  It is a specially crafted ball that can take the punishment that one would expect from being tossed around by lions and was designed and handmade by Alive and Kicking.


The ball was designed with cow hide panels to give it a look of the ‘wild’ and the reaction was very encouraging. When their new toy was presented to them, the lions were eager to fight over the ball, and definitely took an interest in the new addition to their enclosure.

Munda Wanga is  a Not For Profit organisation providing environmental and conservation education. They are assisted with this huge task by a large number of supporting companies, who donate a wide range of items, from fruit and vegetables, to carcases and shoes and internet time. Munga Wanga is in Chilanga along Kafue Road. By visiting the Park you are supporting environmental education and conservation in Zambia.


And now you can catch a glimpse of the lions playing with the ball or lazing under the tree.


Munda Wanga is open from 8 am to 6 pm every day of the week.  On Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, they offer a feeding tour which allows you to see the animals being fed and gives an opportunity to learn a bit more about each of the different animals.


Alive & Kicking are the producers of footballs, netballs and volleyballs, producing around 2,000 balls each month. The proceeds from the sale of the balls goes towards funding HIV/AIDS education programs. Alive & Kicking’s balls are available to buy at Munda Wanga including their new collection of animal print balls which include cheetah, lion and rhino.

If you are at a loose end over the weekend, trundle down to Munda Wanga and enjoy the peace and calm of the gardens there and then wander along to the lion enclosure where you will find the lions getting into shape, ready to take on Chipolopolo.

Chongololo Wars

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

Chongololo’s have always held a fascination for me. Whether this is as a result of my brother and sister (older) ‘traumatising’ me by putting them down the back of my shirt when I was a young child or whether it is the way their legs move so effortlessly and in such a co-ordinated way as they glide across the ground, I don’t know. Whatever the reason for this fascination I look forward to their arrival at the end of the year (yes, I am no longer scared of them).

As I have grown older, I have a growing interest in the wonders of nature. This coupled with the advent of the internet which gives me the answers to almost any question I may have on the myriad of creepy things which I come across daily and the need to always have a camera on hand so that I can build up a stock of photo’s for the use in the magazine, has meant that I am looking at humble creatures such as the chongololo a lot more closely.

Thus, when earlier this year we published an article about the Chongololo Club, we went in search of a nice fat chongololo to photograph. Given the time of year, we thought it would be easy but what we discovered was that as we were experiencing a dry spell even though we should have been having regular rain, the chongololo’s had disappeared! A long and thorough search of my garden only turned up with two tiny chongololo’s, neither of which were any good as models for my photographs.

The search continued in the garden at our offices where after sometime, we did manage to find a fairly respectable specimen. This then had us outside in the glare of the midday sun trying to figure out the best angle from which to photograph a relatively fast moving black tube with synchronized red-brown waving legs. Whilst we were doing our photo shoot, a second specimen of almost equal size was found.

Placing the coiled up body of Chongo Two into the same container as Chongo One who was footing it at a fairly fast pace was not in the least bit interesting.

But then the mischief began.

We decided that the still tightly coiled Chongo Two should be placed in the path of Chongo One and that was when the action started.

Chongo One immediately, and with great vigour, began to insert itself in between the coils of Chongo Two. This ‘insertion’ seemed incredibly violent as the Chongololo’s became intertwined. Even though this lasted less than a minute, it was long enough for us to contemplate trying to separate them so that the violence could stop.

But before we could figure out how to separate two writhing chongololo’s, the wrestling did stop and they came to rest, still intertwined, face to face, with their synchronized legs perfectly arranged on the other’s body. And there they remained unmoving, for a good five minutes by which time we had become bored and turfed them out of the box back onto a pile of leave mould, where one assumes they did eventually disentangle themselves and go their separate ways.

Or was this encounter the start of a long love affair between our two chongololo’s who lived happily ever after under the leaf mould.










Birds, Bugs and Bushes

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

Blood Lily (Scadoxus multiflorus)


As we move into December and January, the bloom of the Blood Lily or Common Fireball will be seen in the Zambian bush.


The Blood Lily is an evergreen rhizomatous perennial, producing up to nine leaves per season whose tubular leaf bases form a pseudostem, a false stem formed by the sheathing leaf bases which overlap closely and are pressed flat against each other. The pseudostem is sturdy and fleshy with a diameter of up to 25 mm, and is usually purple spotted but can be plain and almost white.


The leaves are large and thin-textured with a distinct midrib and an undulating margin. They encircle the pseudostem giving a single plant an overall symmetric shape. The leaves of a well-grown plant can stand up to 70 cm high with a spread of up to 110 cm.


The spectacular flowerhead is a huge spherical umbel consisting of up to 200 flowers, held clear of the foliage at the end of a solitary stem. Each plant will produce only one flowerhead in a season. A flowerhead can reach a diameter of 25 cm and a height of 110 cm. Each flower is pinkish-orange-red with protruding stamens carrying bright yellow anthers. The flowerheads last for 1 or 2 weeks and make superb cut flowers. Flowering is in late summer to early autumn (December-March).


The seed develops in the inferior ovary which is visible as a swelling of the flower stalk below the flower, at the tip of the pedicel. These will swell to form a green berry that will turn scarlet as it ripens during winter-spring (July – September). These decorative berries can remain on the plant for up to 2 months.


Scadoxus multiflorus has a wide distribution and varying habitat and is found predominantly in tropicalAfrica. It occurs in lowland to mountain forest, secondary forest, forest margins, savannah woodland, open grassland and is very common in the shade of trees at river banks.


The bulbs contain Lycorine and other alkaloids and are poisonous if eaten, causing only low toxicity. Symptoms include salivation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.



Tow 365

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

Tow 365 offers a variety of services which, as the name suggests, are available 365 days a year. But it is not only towing in cases of vehicles breakdowns or accidents which leave your car disabled. They also come to your assistance in changing flat tyres, if you run out of fuel by delivering five litres of fuel to you or if your battery is flat and needs a jump start.

Additionally, if you lock your keys in your car, they will send one of their experts to try to get the car open so that you can retrieve your keys from the ignition. Other services include relief drivers if you have to take a trip where you don’t feel you can undertake all the driving on your own and they will also stand in the queue at RTSA to license your vehicle.

To access Tow 365’s services, one needs to complete the membership application form and pay the membership fee. They have three levels of membership – Silver at K50,000 (KR50), Gold at K 60,000 (KR60) and Platinum at K 70,000 (KR70). The monthly subscriptions are payable quarterly in advance with a 15% discount if you pay for a year in advance. Subscriptions are: Silver K 15,000 (KR15) Gold K20,000 (KR20) Platinum K25,000 (KR 25) per month. Corporate packages are also available to cover company vehicles.

Tow 365’s services are currently only available in Lusaka and their aim is to be with you within twenty minutes if there is a call-out. This is a reasonable response time at night but it probably totally impractical during the day in certain areas of Lusaka.

We believe this service will be welcomed in Lusaka as more and more people take to the roads in their Corollas.

For further information contact: 0972 450–218/ 0963 518–147. Email:


In The Garden

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12


The most common fern is the sword fern (nephrolepis).  It spreads so easily that it can become a nuisance, but it is easily uprooted.  Sword ferns are well worth growing but make sure that old fronds are cut off at ground level from time to time.  The new fronds that replace them will be far more attractive.   It will happily grow in sun or shade and seems to have no diseases or pests.  A yellow  cultivar of the sword fern needs shade.  There is a similar giant fern that grows up to 2 metres tall and is very useful in front of a garden wall.  Another tall fern has blue-grey leaves, a striking contrast in a flower border.  Again the old leaves should be cut off at ground level when they …well … look old!


Of all ferns, perhaps my favourite is the maidenhair fern or adiantum raddianum.  It is often grown as a pot plant but in moist shade does well in the garden.  When caring for a pot plant, remember that maidenhair ferns are most often killed by overwatering.  They should never get completely dry but do not get carried away and water an already wet soil.  Simply touch the soil surface to check how moist it is before adding water.  If the maidenhair does get too dry, the fronds will curl up and die, but all is not lost.  Cut them all down to ground level and new fronds will start to grow.  Eventually the plant will fill the pot and become “potbound” i.e. there is no room for new roots to grow.  The fern must then be divided and re-planted.  This graceful and delicate fern is well worth growing.


The majestic staghorn fern (platycerium bifurcatum) can be a major feature especially hanging from the branch of a tree.  I have seen these ferns growing on trees on Fraser Island in their native Australia.  They grow perched high up where the main tree trunk forks.  If you decide to grow one in the fork of a tree choose the spot carefully. Although the overhead sun in Zambia is usually to the north it does move to the south in October – February.  Plants that are usually in shade can then be hit by sunlight from a new angle – and at the hottest time of the year. A staghorn in this situation will be burnt by the sun. There is also a danger that the tree will rot underneath the fern if it is kept too wet.   For these reasons, staghorns are often grown attached to a piece of wood or in a wire hanging- basket. Line the basket with shade cloth and fill with leaf mould, small pieces of charcoal and/or cork to retain moisture without getting soggy; a little coarse compost may also be used.  Tie the fern firmly onto its support and hang it beneath the branch of a large tree. Spray it with water on alternate days and add a little foliar fertiliser once a fortnight. In time, the fern will completely conceal the basket with its large brown base pads and its long fronds will look magnificent.


Eating Out

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

Eastern Fusion

Now trending in Rhodes Park is the sheltered garden venue of ‘Eastern Fusion’. This Indian restaurant is run by the former proprietors of ‘Utsav Indian Restaurant’ in Livingstone. With so many new restaurants opening up in Lusaka, Eastern Fusion needed to distance itself from the usual while centering round the all important core of the classic Tandoor food service. To help with this, a lot of work went on design of the restaurant‘s indoor and outdoor lighting. During our normally sunny days not so important, but early evening and night bring on a fantasy parade of colour and shade to accompany your dining experience.


We settled for the “best chicken samoosas in town” while we looked through the menu. Our chosen meal opened with the haryali panner tikka kebab, suggested by the Chef whose experience ranges over 16 years back in traditional Punjabi cooking. This tasty skewered starter consists of the Indian ‘cheese’ cube marinated in mint, coriander and spinach paste before it is grilled in the tandoor. Our main dish was a spicy chicken tikka masala, complemented with a vegetarian dish in a milder creamy sauce.  I love rice, but had to go with my guests on the winning vote for the naan and chapattis which were baked to perfection. Hot pickles and accompanying drinks arrived from our watchful waitress with little effort on our part.

There are up to five distinct sections on the premises. The indoor bar has restaurant seating but you can also sit on the verandah and at the poolside. The larger garden area is screened by hibiscus and palms. Round the side of the main building there is a gaming area with a pool table.


The ambiance certainly lends itself very well to the corporate executive function or private birthday party with the convenience of a permanent outside bar area. The capacity is comfortable for cocktails for about 150 people. Although the food selection is wide, with lots of vegetarian and sea food options on the main menu ‘Special Menus’ can be provided by arrangement. But going back to our quiet meal with friends; we’d arrived not really feeling very hungry, but left ‘Eastern Fusion’ a couple of hours later with our plates wiped clean!


Eastern Fusion is on Joseph Mwilwa Rd, five minutes drive from Northmead’s shopping centre and you can call ahead on 0977 692-515 or 0975 208-942. The restaurant is open from 11 am throughout the week.


What We Sampled!*

Chicken samoosas – K20,000

Hariyali paneer tikka – K25,000

Chicken tikka masala – K35,000

Kadai paneer – K32,000

Green salad – 12,000

*Prices Inclusive VAT and Service Charge

Fool on the Hill

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

When they throw down the last shovel of red dirt on my box, or preferably kick the remaining splinters of hyaena gnawed bone under a combretum bush, I would ideally, like someone with a large handlebar moustache in a voice not unlike that of Sam Elliot playing The Stranger in The Big Lobowski, to spit a long chaw of tobacco juice on the ground and drawl “Well, at least he could sit a hoss”. More likely my name and the rear end of a horse will be linked as an epitaph, but one must hold fast to dreams.


To this end I have tried in 2012 to achieve some meagre level of competence in the equestrian arts. Since riding rates as exercise and my views on the narcissistic and perverse nature of this shameful practice are clear, these attempts are largely covert. I do not and will never, take any form of physical display into the public arena, so fragile is my self esteem and so clumsy my attempts at grace in all athletic endeavour. However there is much to be gained in waging a private war against ones own failings and it is character building to try and overcome an adolescence spent wearing the nickname Captain Inepto and having ones peers rather field a short  team in any sport, than pick you, the last man in the line-up.


My polo playing has improved not at all, though I haven’t made an unscheduled dismount once this year. My string of ponies remains in the singlest of figures, at one, I am afraid, as every time I buy or borrow a second horse, some ancient curse seems to kick into play and the poor, willing beast meets a sticky end becoming destined to join the Munda Wanga lions for lunch. It’s just been bad luck, colic and in one case a spiteful kick from a stable mate, rather than poor husbandry that has sealed their fates, but fatal nonetheless. So I remain with one fine chestnut mare who despite her advanced years still has a heart as big as an orca and brakes that remain out of my reach most of the time. She has taught me all she can about this noblest of games, apart from, unfortunately, the rules … another reason I prefer to play casual games with kids than take on the real champions of the sport from Lilayi, Mazabuka and beyond.


I had hoped that if I made myself familiar with the game it would be something my sons and I could enjoy together and we could dispense with the unnecessary expense of a private education and instead turn them into international polo bums who would soon marry sickly and short-lived Argentine ranching heiresses, thus providing for me in my premature retirement. Unfortunately the boys have already assured me that horses and women are not safe to be around, in their experience, and that they want nothing to do with either. I hope their lack of interest in the latter may change as they approach their teens, but disdain for the former appears to be deep rooted and is probably based on sensible, self preservation having witnessed the many times I have ended up dismounted, bleeding and bruised (off the former, not the latter … which they have never witnessed).  There seem to be plenty of people who take up polo in their 30s and 40s and are soon sporting -1 or 0 handicaps and by their second season are 2’s and 3’s. I am not one of these people; partly because I never play a proper match where a fluke series of events might lead to a handicap, but mostly because I have become a near geriatric incumbent on the field best suited to practicing ride-offs against and using as a target in the goalmouth for number 4 penalties. The young bloods take up the game, hone their skills and move off to greener pastures and I, too guilt ridden to abandon the family every weekend for six months a year, remain and fester in ignominy.


I have a friend, a Frenchman of aristocratic blood. “Actually I’m a Comte.” he once admittedly shyly. “Don’t be so hard on yourself” we told him. In addition to half a dozen other full lives lived, he spent years from an early age, as a student of classical equestrian art. In the riding schools ofParis, under the wing of cavalry trained instructors, in the tradition ofVersailles, and in the monochrome and brittle, crystalline tableaux of snowboundNormandyoak forests, mounted on fleet French Trotters in pursuit of wild boar. He is a horseman to the bone, but better known these days as a talented photographer. He is also obsessive about most things he does and courts a challenge, which he has found in me and my somewhat recalcitrant appaloosa gelding.


Luckily the Frenchman and I have mile-wide streaks of masochism and the horse is surprisingly forgiving. Not widely considered to be ideal dressage material the appaloosa is often scoffed at for being pony-like of pace and lacking the right conformation of the warmblood breeds more suited to the gymnastic nature of Haute-Ecole and the “airs above the ground” that are required. But some do break the stereotype. I don’t know my piaffe from my elbow and am kept mostly in the dark as it appears that the horse understands French as well as the Frenchman, and I do not. However, following the maxim of Beudant, an Honorary French Cavalry Captain, each day under the merciless discouragement of my mentor I try to “Ask for much, be content with little and reward often” and whereas three months ago I was told that mounted, I looked “like a frog sitting on a matchbox” I now ride more like a sack full of eels, some of which may still have enough life in them to impel the horse to some action. My aids are becoming more discrete my hands more still and less like those of an officer of the Italian Polizia Municipale in the throes of palsy. My stirrups have dropped a good six inches, my posture is less like Quasimodo and at times I even appear to have a neck. The horse, bless him, puts up with it all knowing that the barrage of instructions and insults, all delivered in English accented with more than a touch of ‘Allo ‘Allo!,  are for me and not him. It is a war of attrition played two or three times a week in which the prize is to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and the costs to myself in sweat and blood and the Frenchman in his sanity, almost assure  that any victory will be Pyrrhic. I have a sneaking suspicion that the horse alone, in the early hours and for his own amusement, secretly circles the yard in perfectly collected travers, renvers and half passes, executing the occasional capriole without the handicap of a fool on his back. Still I will continue to evolve what is a battle of wills into a “dialogue of courtesy and finesse” and hope that one day I might feel I am riding in my horse instead of on him. It’s all been said many times ……


“There’s nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse” ~ The Duke of Beaufort

It is not enough for a man to know how to ride; he must know how to fall.  ~Mexican Proverb

No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.  ~Winston Churchill

If the world was truly a rational place, men would ride side-saddle.  ~Rita Mae Brown

God forbid that I should go to any Heaven in which there are no horses.  ~R.B. Cunninghame Graham, letter to Theodore Roosevelt, 1917

Wherever man has left his footprint in the long ascent from barbarism to civilization we will find the hoofprint of the horse beside it.  ~John Moore

I’d rather have a goddam horse.  A horse is at least human, for God’s sake.  ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

In my opinion, a horse is the animal to have.  Eleven-hundred pounds of raw muscle, power, grace, and sweat between your legs – it’s something you just can’t get from a pet hamster.  ~Author Unknown

I wish you all, riders or not, a very merry Christmas.


by Jake da Motta

Mole in the Hole

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

Christmas Shopping


I was up at 4 am, into a motor car before 5 and away from Kalulushi to get to Ndola airport by 6 just in time to check in for the Zambia Airways flight at 7 down to Lusaka. The 748 heaved off the ground with me in it (always a bit of uncertainty there, you might have a confirmed flight but you could still be unlucky, left behind, your seat taken by some Apamwamba) and droned down to the Big City to land there just after 8 o’clock. Then there was the long wait in the International Airport for the one flight per day to South Africa. It was only when the SAA 737 took off with you in it at 3 o’clock that you knew that you were going to make it to Jo’burg. I was met at the airport and taken to the Carlton Hotel in the middle of a very different city from the one that you know today. There was no Sandton City in those days and one could walk around the city centre without being mugged!


I had come down to visit the firm making drifter drilling machines, not least to point out the little problems we were experiencing, so that minor modifications could be made to them. This however, also allowed me to put into action a great little wheeze that I had thought up. Buy a second hand motor car, then, fill it with all the possible goodies required for a major thrash on Christmas Day and drive back with all the spoils. The motor car could be kept with SA plates on it and it could then be lent to people who wished to do a similar trip. For, folks, the world had turned. It was in 1978 and the borders to Rhodesia/Zimbabwe were once again open. The fleshpots of Jo’burg were only a day and a half away by road.


The business was soon sorted out and the drilling company allocated me a minder, young Doug Adam, to assist me in the search for a car. Krugersdorp was full of places that had lots of jalopies and it was without too much difficulty that a beautiful blue Toyota Corona was found for the modest sum of R1800. Doug undertook to get the car serviced and checked whilst I went off to Checkers to buy goodies. The place was a positive treasure house. There were cheeses, turkeys, tins of mussels, boxes of chocolates; I will not go on, suffice to remind all that the shops in Zambia were fairly threadbare and had been for some years. On to Benny Goldberg’s emporium where there were cases of tinned beer and wine in 5 Litre boxes, My Word, What a good idea! Sherry was also available in the same packaging, then there were the champagnes (well, the South African version of same), the fine brandies, Angostura bitters and, having already found sugar lumps, I was now fully equipped to produce champagne cocktails at the drop of a hat!


It was early on the Sunday morning that my fully laden Toyota came out of the underground car park of the Carlton and turned north for home. The plan was to stop with friends in Salisbury(soon to be renamed Harare) overnight and be home in time for tea on Monday night. All went well, the car performed magnificently until it decided that it had gone too far and started to misbehave so that it eventually ground to a halt in the middle of the fair metropolis of Potgietersrus. This occurred at about 10 in the morning, when all and their mothers were in church or contemplating their sins. I walked up the road to where I could see a filling station that had the Toyota service sign outside. After a bit of a chat and the passing of a few rand the attendant made a callout to the duty mechanic. Shortly thereafter two young lads sped up on motor bikes, managed to coax the Toyota into the workshop and commenced investigations. They had virtually no English, were fairly brusque with this “Rooinek” and his rubbish motor car but they decided it was something to do with the timing and worked away. It was pretty hot in this big workshop and I heard one say to the other that he could do with a drink. It was a matter of seconds to provide the lads with cold beer, a few more minutes to stack some wine and more beers in the office fridge, no time at all to get music blaring from the tape deck in the car and we were all set to have a party. The parents, Oupa and Ouma as well as a few select friends all pitched up and a very jolly and convivial time (had to have a dance with Ouma, scandalous behaviour on a Sunday)  was had whilst the car was repaired. I set forth from there with new lifelong friends (the sort that you will never see again) and somewhat worse for wear with drink! A change in plan, better you stop for the night in Pietersburg; a good idea as it turned out as half way there the Toyota boiled over. A Good Samaritan helped me with some water and I could then make it to the Holiday Inn where I could recover my composure and sleep off the effects of the afternoon. In my defence I have to say that I did go to the Toyota garage in the morning to see if I was in for more surprises but I was turned away, all were far too busy to look at my banger. It was, then, with some trepidation that I resumed my journey North. The Toyota performed like a dream and in no time at all I was in Harare, where my friends awaited my arrival with keen anticipation, for I had allowed for them in my foray to Checkers.


The next day I set off, full of optimism. The road was clear, the weather fine, the music on the tape deck splendid and all was well in the world. A fuel stop in Karoi was made and then it was on towards the border, only to have the engine go silent on me 30 km further on. It took another couple of hours before I was towed back into Karoi where checks revealed that the timing chain had snapped. It was explained to me that when that happens the coordination of the engine is disturbed so that pistons and valves collide within and all is “buggered.”  Spare parts would have to be ordered from Bulawayo. I got on the phone to my friends who undertook to acquire the said parts which would be sent up to Karoi on the parcels van run by Swift transport. In the mean time my friends had got hold of Round Tablers in the area and told them to look after me. I was on my way to the Karoi Hotel when a beautiful, young, lass intercepted me. It turned out she was the girl friend of the Chairman and assisted me in getting all my goodies over to the hotel. Later, the Chairman and others pitched up and several beers were consumed on the verandah of the hotel; an invitation to dinner issued, in return for which I delved into the stocks of my mobile party and brought out wine etc to go before and get cold. I was filthy, went up and took a bath, emerging from which I foolishly stubbed my toe on the lip and broke it! The only immediate remedy for this was to take to drink so the 5 litre cask of wine was well flattened by the time dinner was over. The conversation was interesting, to say the least. Barry Slater, the chairman, (later to distinguish himself at a Lusaka RT event by arriving, stark naked, on the back of a motor bike, driven by Paul Golson, at the Golson ménage; Di did not turn a hair) ran the telephone exchange in Karoi; maintaining communications at the latter stage of the “freedom struggle” was a difficult and dangerous job. Other guests had all been involved in the very unpleasant war which saw them out on extended tours of duty away from their farms and families, Karoi being very much in the front line of it all. Some were bitter, all did not know what the future held for them; most thought that they would have to leave their homes and start all over again in another country. Quite a number displayed the mental effects of what they had all experienced.


The pain in the toe diminished slowly as the days went past. The spare parts arrived, they were found to be incorrect, they were returned and it was over a week before the right ones pitched up. In the mean time I sampled life in Karoi. I met Rufus, the owner of the Twin River Motel. He had a large car; he would put his very large dogs in the back seat of the car; he would clamber into the boot with a crate of cold beer and tell his driver to put his peaked cap on and drive round town! I am not sure what the purpose of that was for but the dogs enjoyed the outing and Rufus liked getting drunk in the boot of a motor car.


Another vehicle broke down and the passengers came to lodge at the Karoi Hotel. It turned out that they were the Finnish ambassador to both Zambia and Zimbabwe and his son who was about to return to Finland to do his year of national service. The manageress of the hotel at that time was an attractive lady of Danish origin who was more than delighted to have a fellow Scandahooligan about the place and, within no time at all, amorous overtures were made. The ambassador, fearful for his virtue, appealed to me to ensure that I kept him safe. Dinner that night was the danger point but, with the application of more of my mobile party stocks I managed to get the pair of them past that dangerously amorous stage to a point where they were declaring undying love to each other but were totally incapable of demonstrating it. The ambassador’s son and I carried the insensible pair of them to their separate rooms and left them to sleep it off, virtue intact. Luckily their car was repaired the next day and they could escape from any further temptation.


It was another week before my tatty Toyota was repaired. I left Karoi at 4 in the morning, marveled at the stars at the top of the Zambezi escarpment, passed through the Chirundu border as it opened (there was a chicken nesting under the customs counter) and then reached home without incident. It was only a few days later that I noticed that the two left hand side wheels stuck out from the body more than those on the right hand side. A few more days later and one wheel fell off whilst the Madam was driving it, fortunately, she was only going slowly at the time. Then the Zambian customs turned round and said that the car must go back to South Africa and, rather than having another journey like the last one, I put it on a train and consigned it back to Doug who managed to flog it back to the garage for only R900. The jolly good idea turned out to be a jolly expensive one but, My Word, did we only have a magic Christmas Feast!

Happiness Revisited

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

Regularly I receive fan mail, mostly from female readers. I don’t know why that is; perhaps it is because I write about subjects close to their heart. For example, my most recent story was a gripping love story and the one before that was about the pursuit of happiness.  May be that explains it. Now, my many female fans requested me to write again about happiness. How can one resist such a request; so this piece is about happiness once again.


When I ask myself: ‘Are you happy?’, most of the times I say: ‘Sure, by and large I’m happy’. It is as simple as that! But it isn’t so simple. That is what I found out when I read a book about happiness.  After having finished reading it, I wasn’t so sure any longer whether I was so happy.


How come? Well, the book said that happiness can’t be measured! I thought: what nonsense; I know for one when I’m happy or not. No, the authors argued, if you say you are happy, you need ‘external validation’; in simple language: confirmation by somebody else. My advice in this case would be: don’t ask your partner to act as your external validator, because he or she will probably have as sunny an opinion about your happiness as you have!


The book furthermore concludes that international comparisons of happiness are unreliable. Consequently, the authors rightly advised that we shouldn’t attach too much importance about the alleged superior happiness of the Danes, nor lose sleep over the secret of their success. They also pointed out that happiness doesn’t mean the same thing in different languages. For example, happiness in Chinese is xingfu. Its meaning implies a favourable condition of life with an emphasis on strong family relations. However, I know quite a lot of people who are happy precisely because they were able to shed the yoke of strong family relations.


Despite all ifs and buts which the authors presented about happiness, I was still not convinced. I stuck to my opinion that I can pretty well tell whether I am happy or not! However, the authors (thorough characters, by the way) presented yet another dilemma: the distinction between happiness, pleasure and joy.  Well, that was a tough one. In my confusion I consulted theOxford concise dictionary. What did it say? Happiness is a feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. Fine, on to the meaning of pleasure: it is a feeling of happy satisfaction. As for joy, it means a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. So, there is only one conclusion possible: happiness, pleasure and joy all express the same pleasant sensation. My linguistic investigation confirmed what I suspected all along: The authors were creating a smoke screen, barring deciding for ourselves whether we are happy or not!


Yet, I was pondering about the real distinction in meaning between happiness, pleasure, and joy. I entered into a mental exercise based on a true story. The characters are: My rebellious son and me. The subject matter: A freshly ironed and perfectly folded white handkerchief.


Every morning I pick one fresh handkerchief from the special handkerchief shelve in my closet. This gives me immense pleasure. I feel very happy indeed to have such a nice handkerchief! I put it folded and all in my pocket. When I need it, I take the handkerchief out of my pocket, unfold it carefully as if I would have wrapped a very delicate object into it, smell the faint fragrance of the washing powder and of the ironing, and only then I blow my nose (By the way, a long time ago I had a roommate who, after having blown his nose, consistently checked the result in his handkerchief. Needless to say that I moved to another room).


Now, one fine morning, my son had a running nose and asked me whether I had any paper tissues on me. I said: ‘No, but I have here a spic and span handkerchief for you to blow your dripping nose in’. He refused taking it saying that it was unhygienic to blow one’s nose in a handkerchief. I must admit that I was a bit taken aback by his biting criticism. But I retook myself and retorted: ‘Did you know, my friend, that half the Amazon rainforest has been cut down for the production of paper tissues?’ For a moment he was speechless; the dripping of his nose took a turn for the worse, so he accepted my handkerchief. And this gave me a perfect sense of joy!


 by Peter de Haan

David To Dakar 2013

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

As we go to print David’s KTM 450RR is sitting either in Parc Ferme in Le Havre, France about to be loaded on the ship to head to Lima Peru, but I jump ahead in our excitement to get to Le Dakar. Since our Navigation Tour of Namibia in September David has been training with a vengeance and is now at the peak of his fitness for Dakar. The bike and kit was flown to Holland, final orders for the essential tracking equipment were made and paid for, final insurance cover taken out, both medical and equipment all at a high cost but it has to be covered.


Training Programme

David has taken to pulling, with straps attached to his shoulder, an old Land Cruiser tyre and a Bike tyre lashed together around the farm for up to 20 kms a week.  He does 2 to 3 “Enduro” type technical rides for 3 hours or more a week; he is lucky he has one of the best technical areas to ride in at his back door.  He then does anything from 150 to 300 kms on his KTM 690 Rally bike which has been fitted with Rally Raid tanks to give him the ability to travel 300 odd kms without refueling. A week ago there was a “panic” Blackberry message – “The 690 has died!!” – it was rushed to Zambian KTM Agent Ray Wilson who pulled out the Diagnostic tool and determined it was not the Injector, replaced the Spark Plug and the bike is running just so schweet again so no major break in the training. CB Racing’s Husaberg 390 – CB1 has also said “enough is enough David” and it has been taken to Ray for repairs. David’s new KTM 350 has arrived in Zambia and is being Customs cleared. David has collected CB3 and the Enduro training continues. All this bike riding chews up tyres, especially the Enduro training, but we feel the cost will be worth it. He has a regime to maintain this fitness till Dakar in between running the farm. Yes, he has to farm as well.


Shipping Of Bike

The bike eventually got a berth on Emirates Airlines toAmsterdamviaDubai. Unfortunately the promised sponsorship did not materialise and we had to dig deep into the coffers and use money earmarked for other costs to get the Bike and kit to Holland, 513 kgs in two crates, where we found another unexpected cost – Dangerous Goods inspection – the Inspector was very good and gave us a substantial discount for which we are grateful. The Bike arrived inHollandin time for Jan Hut, David’s Mechanic at theDakar, and his wife Jacqueline to show it at a Fund Raiser for a School inSenegalsponsored by Cyril Despres so the next we knew, it was on Dutch TV News. The bike and spares have been packed and delivered toLe Havre,Francefor scrutineering and approval. To pass this pre-registration one has to have all your GPS, Irritrack and Sentinal brackets fitted, these have to be purchased from Approved Suppliers, another cost, you also have to lodge huge deposits with these suppliers and they will then deliver the essential Irritrack, Sentinal, and GPS to you in Lima for fitting, if you return them in good condition at the end of race you get your deposit back, some in Santiago, the rest a few months later. The Irritrack and Sentinal sends, via Satellite, your position to the organizers. Any sudden stop or prolonged stop, the organisers know where you are and can if need be mobilise a helicopter to recover. This expensive piece of technology has the capability to speak to the rider to determine the extent of the problem. So this all paid for and waiting.


Riding Number Allocated

Read on Facebook that the riders Racing numbers has been allocated; mad search on the Dakar page, nothing, back to Facebook to find that a fellow rider at the Navigation training had phoned the organisers and was given his number. In desperation we phoned ASO’s Chloe who very efficiently gave me David’s Race no.  IT IS 102, this is good, it means he starts middle of the pack and not way back having to battle through 219 peoples dust to get to the front, he only has 101 riders to pass.  Our fellow African riders are slotted at 37 – Darryl Curtis, 40 – Riaan van Niekerk, 89 – Brett Cummings and 91 – Glen Grundy, David’s teammate Ingo Waldschmidt fromNamibiaattempting his thirdDakaris 101. 102 is meant to “Represent the unity of the self. Going it alone, but in balance!” that bodes well.


New Sponsors

A big thank you to Ginty Melvill who has chased sponsors and brought SEEDCO International on board who have sponsored David with a return Air Ticket to South America and also Zambezi Riders who have contributed some cash. This all goes a long way to making this trip possible and once again a big thank you to all our sponsors who have made this dream possible, we are still short of some funds and hope and pray as the year closes friends and new businesses will be able to look at their budgets and can contribute to putting Zambia on the sporting map in another discipline. Any amount, no matter how small helps towards the fulfillment of this dream.


Pledges/Contributions can be made to David on 0966 519-516, Charles 0966 860-459 or dropped with Helen Chipoma at Honda who will issue a receipt and deposit into ZMSA Account.


David can be followed on his Facebook Page David to Dakar   and Dakar news.


May we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – we will be having New Year in Peru.


I Need The Toilet

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

About three years ago, when my second child was nine months old, I went to New Zealand on holiday.  One of the first things that captured my attention was not, as one might imagine, the disproportionate number of sheep to humans, but the abundance of baby-changing facilities.  They have what are termed ‘family rooms’ where, to be quite honest, you can do just about anything short of ordering a four-course meal.  The rooms are large with comfy chairs in which to breast feed, ample space (with comfy mats) on which to change baby, and they have child size toilets for little kids and adult size toilets for adults.


For someone who once changed her baby’s nappy while balancing her on top of a suitcase on a trolley at Lusaka International Airport(not known for its baby changing facilities) this was like a dream come true.  In fact, I could have stayed in one of these rooms for a whole day, luxuriating, not only in the space and sense of privacy, but the feeling of dignity that I felt bestowed on me: someone, somewhere was acknowledging that being a parent is often a hard and thankless job and it is nice to be rewarded occasionally – even if it is in the form of a decent toilet!


Thankfully, we are now out of the nappy stage, but I am still always on the lookout for places with nice clean toilets and child-friendly facilities.  Unfortunately, I have yet to find any place in Zambia that offers baby-changing facilities.  The closest I ever came was at Kilimanjaro before they moved out of the Manda Hill centre, although I was never sure whether the little ledge which stuck out in the ladies’ loo was for changing babies or was just missing a pot plant or two.


On the subject of Manda Hill, I did get quite excited when they opened their new toilet facilities and I spied what might have been the equivalent to theNew Zealand‘family toilet’.  Still no baby-changing facilities, but at least one can enter the same toilet cubicle as one’s child and both make use of the facility without being crammed into a tiny space as is usually the case.  The very fact that there is a sink which is accessible to a child is a major step forward in human development.  It’s no use impressing on your child the importance of hygiene when they can’t reach the taps most of the time!


I often feel you can judge a place by its toilet.  There’s nothing worse than finding out that what you thought was a most respectable establishment – inferred, of course, by the wide menu replete with words such as ‘panini’, ‘drizzled’, ‘mocha’ and ‘latte’ – has a restroom where you are afraid to wash your hands!  Dripping taps, a stained basin, cracked soap (liquid soap is a must for any public convenience) and a towel with a runaway ecoli count.


On the other extreme, however, it can take you forever to get kids out of a toilet that provides three kinds of liquid soap, various hand creams and taps that switch on by themselves.  Whichever way you look at it, using public toilets can be an experience you’ll never forget!


 by Bryony

Book Review

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

logo Book Review

Lusaka City Guide


At last! A City Guide which gives you tips on everything from where to go for an evening drink to what to do if your pet gets sick. Want to buy some chitenge fabric or find some fancy dress gear?


Or do you just want to book a table for an evening dinner out and need some up-to-date contact numbers? The Magic of Zambia Lusaka City Guide puts vital information at your finger tips, and is about to hit a store near you.


Whether you are in the capital city for a few days, months or years, the guide will have something in it for you. It’s also intended to promote smaller businesses and put lesser known places around town in the spotlight – like where to go for a good dish of nshima and relish!


Magic of Zambia was founded as a company following the success of the first Magic of Zambia Traveller’s Guide to Zambia published in 2000. Our dynamic team is passionate about Zambia and everything that the country has to offer.


Through our publications – including the Best of Zambia coffee table book – we work with local partners and clients to showcase development throughout the country and bring business success to the fore. We highlight what is possible in Zambia.


The Lusaka City Guide will be updated annually, and while we’re sure you’ll find a lot in there to keep you going, we’re always looking for ideas and content for following editions. If you know of a great little restaurant tucked away that we should put on the map, or have a few tips for travellers and new-comers, then we would love to hear from you.


We have also partnered with VibrantAfrica – an online urban city guide – to bring you the best of what’s happening in and around town online. We will be at their official launch at Roma House on December 5th.


We are always looking for businesses to showcase and partners to put in the spotlight. Do you have a story to tell us? Visit our website, or come on board one of our exciting publications – and let us showcase Zambia together!  Watch out for the Lusaka City Guide and get your copy soon.


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6B Omelo Mumba Road

Contact: 0211223344

Mobile: 0978696577


Mince Pies Cancelled!

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

Being a lazy housewife, Christmas is always a bit of a nightmare requiring a number of hours of my time slogging in the kitchen, preparing the traditional Christmas fare – puddings, fruit cake and a favourite in my household … mince pies. Imagine then, my delight when towards the end of November last year I found mince pies at Pick and Pay, six in a pack and obviously baked on their premises.


Always cautious with such things, I bought two packs and took them home to try and confirm that they were up to scratch which, indeed, they were. Great! One less thing that I had to bake.


Thus, a few days before Christmas, I bought the required number of packs to have sufficient mince pies for the guests we were expecting and to leave some over for the family for a few days afterwards. What’s more I even managed to keep them hidden from the family until Christmas day.


Extremely proud of my achievement, I decided that I deserved a treat and would have one when I unpacked them and arranged them on the serving plates.


That was when the horror story began. From the top they looked great but one bite told you something was not right. An inspection of the half eaten mince pie revealed a bottom of a mince pie soaked with oil! Yukk! An inspection of the packs which had not yet been opened, revealed the same oily substance that had leaked out into the plastic trays. There was not a single mince pie out of the 42 that was edible.


On the first business day after Christmas, we trooped down to Pick and Pay with the offending items and to their credit, the money was refunded instantly and without question. One can only assume that we were not the first complainants.


But the question to be asked is what happened? How come the ones we had in November were excellent and the ones at Christmas inedible? Were the first batch baked whilst the bakery staff were being taught by the Master chef, but he had left by Christmas? Did the supervisor decide to use cheaper inferior ingredient? Did the Pick and Pay management decide they would use cheaper ingredients to cut costs and maximise profits? Were the bakery staff left without proper supervision to produce the mince pies?


And this is not the first time that I have noticed a deterioration of baked products at Pick and Pay. Shortly after they opened in 2010, we bought a chocolate cake. It was delicious and on a par with a home made product. But now, their cakes are of the mass-produced type with that awful artificial-tasting topping. Such a pity as this town is crying out for a bakery that produces “home-made” goods and Pick and Pay can obviously do it.


Let’s hope that for this coming Christmas, they can sort out their production problem, whatever it was, as none of the family asked about the mince pies. But I don’t think I will be able to get away with it two years running.