The Rhino Gets Hard

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

Over the last few weeks, we have been keeping a close eye on Kachere Art Studio’s Rhino.


It has continued to attract the interest of Lusaka’s residents as well as visitors to Lusaka. The latest notable visitor has been Tomas Nilsson, Deputy Mayor from Härnösand, Sweden where he is the elected representative of the Green Party.  Tomas was very taken with the Rhino and is seen in the accompanying photograph together with Lusaka’s mayor, Daniel Chisenga.


Whilst it is nice to report that politicians and celebrities are taking an interest in the Rhino, we are more interested in the impact it is having on local people, the masses in the street, as this is where the message of protecting our wildlife heritage and keeping the environment clean really needs to sink in.


The rhino has now been completely stuffed with rubbish and heat has been applied to the outside, giving the rhino a hard outer shell. The area around the rhino has been cleaned up and it is now a pleasant place to visit.  If you haven’t stopped by to see this rhino, you really should take a few minutes to do so. The artists love having visitors and showing off their project.


In a city which is largely devoid of pieces of art for the general public to appreciate, this rhino is now a permanent feature on the Lusaka landscape and is the first in Kachere Art Studio’s Wacky Wildlife series which is going to be extended to other towns around Zambia.


Funding for this project has been provided, in part, by the Civil Society Environment Fund supported by the Governments of Denmark and Finland.



Dugouts Driving Deforestaton

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

The tree was sold for K 40,000.



The dugout disintegrated before it reached the water.



Sinazongwe District



“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi


The Cat O’Nine Tales (or My Nine Lives)

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

I pulled back hard on the control column, the two trees in front parted to show me the way, the scream of tortured aluminium, a solid thump as the propeller hit the ground and stopped the roaring engine, the scene ahead became a close-up of the ground I had left a few short seconds before.  As I braced myself against the instrument panel, my left hand found and cut the master switch. The world turned upside down, and I hung from my seat belt. Now deadly silence, broken only by the clicking of the cooling engine, and a voice behind me muttering “What the bloody hell?”   For the first time I had a bent airplane!


This accident in 1971 which so brutally raped my Icarian virginity, like all my other crashes, will be analysed in depth over the coming months in ‘The Lowdown’. This crash, though, appears that I was a victim of a microburst/wind shear. There were some distant thunderstorms in the air, as it was November in East Africa, though it is also possible I ‘got behind the power curve’ which can be done by letting the nose get too high so that it is difficult to regain normal flying speed.


I was flying Professor J B Bronowski on a BBC documentary ‘The Ascent of Man’ and we were working out of my Omo River camp in Southern Ethiopia and were filming from the air the vast dry plains and dry lakebeds that surround the Omo River camp. This crash proved expensive for me, as not only did I lose a valuable (if slightly underpowered) aircraft but I had to hire a replacement ‘plane and pilot to complete the filming.


I do not think I was really responsible for this particular ‘prang’ though in spite of the tricky weather, I could of course have gone into weight and balance a little more carefully. The BBC camera equipment was obviously far more heavy then my usual tourist load. That’s the trouble with over-confidence and of course inAfricayou can’t get easy access to sophisticated weighing equipment, and my clients offered me no weight  schedules. It had ‘felt alright’ on loading and departingAddis Ababa.


However, I ‘kept my head’, did not panic and brought her in with no damage to myself and passengers, this was to be the ‘norm’ for the remaining years of my flying.


This series is dedicated to my many pilot friends who have flown with me in Africa and elsewhere:    Clyde Adams; Johnny Adamson; ‘Dicky’ Bird; Gerardus Van Boxtel*; Allan Coulson; Jim ‘Aussie’ Conway*; Capt. Dave Dedman; John Eaton; Bobby Eudey (my American instrument instructor) Capt. John Fughle; David Lloyd*; Bill McKay*; Sebag Montefiore; Don Nash; Andrew Spence; Jim Stewart; Tony Stocken*; Tagd Wixted; Sir Henry Dalrymple-White.

*now Deceased


by Roger McKay

Culture Comes to Mazabuka

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

Agriculture rather than culture is normally associated with the Southern Province district of Mazabuka. Thus it is interesting to learn that the district will soon see the opening of an art gallery.


Situated on the outskirts of Magoye, Shazulu Cultural Forum is a venue for art, inter cultural education and creative tourism. It is also a place where the international art scene can meet and discuss, exchange ideas and inspire each other.


Their first event, on 9 December, is an art exhibition under the theme ‘Processes’.  The work of six different artists will be on display – Barbara Lechner-Chileshe (Austria), Esnart Mweemba (Zambia), Rosa T. Harter (Germany), Bert Witkamp (Netherlands), Patrick Mweemba (Zambia) and Peter Gustavus (Germany).


At this exhibition various artefacts concerning processes will be shown including an installation called “seeds of thoughts” which is supposed to be changed into a so called “social sculpture” through the involvement of the viewers who should discuss the thoughts which are stated on the seeds. The involvement of the visitors is part of the art concept.


The exhibition will open on Sunday 9 December at midday.


To get to Shazulu, head south out of Mazabuka. At the last crossroads before the Magoye River, turn left. This road is signposted Cotton Development Trust and Oasis Family Farms.  Follow this road. Shazulu is 2 km past Cotton Development Trust which is the former Magoye Research Station.



Upgrade & Update on its Way

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 07•12

Please bear with us.  We are currently upgrading and updating our website.

The new website, once done, will contain all our archives, as published in the printed copy of The Lowdown from mid-2000. It will also contain a photo gallery of a selection of the over 12,000 photographs we have taken in and around Zambia.

Please keep checking back for updates.

Thank you

November 2012

Written By: The Lowdown - Nov• 30•12

Definitely Less Money In Your Pocket

Written By: The Lowdown - Nov• 30•12

It is happening much later than originally expected, but it is finally happening and the official date has now been announced – 1 January 2013 – the date when our currency will be rebased. This is not a bad thing.  In fact, it is a good thing and it is long overdue; like ten or fifteen years overdue.


Normally rebasing is done during periods of low and stable inflation. In our case, inflation has generally been in single digits for the last five years. Thus, at the end of last year, it was believed that the time had come to rebase our currency. We would agree with that except that with some of the changes and developments over the last few months, one hopes that our rebased currency does not become a debased currency.


There are many advantages of a rebased currency which we don’t need to point out to our readers.  Having said that, we can say with certainty that there will a great of deal of confusion amongst some of the lesser educated members of our society although we also know that the Bank of Zambia are conducting education campaigns around the country. Let us hope that they get into the deepest rural areas as this is where the most confusion is going to be found and these are the people that really need to be educated as they are most at risk of being ripped off by the unscrupulous.


The highlights of the rebasing of the Kwacha are that, with effect from 1 January next,:

– the last three zeroes will be dropped. Thus your fifty pin note will now become a fifty Kwacha note;

– what now costs one hundred and eighty pin will now cost one hundred and eighty Kwacha

– the code for the Kwacha will change from ZMK to ZMW. The ‘W’ is derived from the second letter of the word KWACHA Let us hope that there is not any confusion with the MalaWi Kwacha with the change to ZMW.

– the new currency (as per the samples printed here) will comprise notes and coins and we will start using Ngwee’s again

– commercial banks will be the main conduit through which members of the public will obtain the new currency. But as time progresses, new currency will be handed out as change etc. Where there are no commercial banks, Post Offices and other agents appointed by BOZ will take on the responsibility for distribution of the new currency

– the limit for over- the-counter currency exchanges will be limited to ZMK 25,000,000 / ZMW 25,000

– the transition period will be from 1 January until 30 June 2013. From that date until 30 June 2014, currency exchanges will only conducted at BOZ, commercial banks and designated agents. From 30 June 2014 until 31 December 2015, currency exchanges will only be done by BOZ.

– during the transistion period, businesses will price their goods with the symbol ‘KR’ which will be the rebased Kwacha value. After the transition period is over, we will revert to the use of the symbol ‘K’

– Effective 1 to 31 December 2012, businesses may display prices in both the old currency (K) and the rebased currency (KR). However, from 1 January to 30 June 2013 i.e. the dual display of prices by all entities will be mandatory.

– during the six months transition phase cashiers shall give change for all transactions in rebased currency. Where there is insufficient rebased currency, cashiers shall give first preference to the rebased currency followed by the old currency.

– amounts shown on ATMs will be expressed in the rebased currency, as will any statutory returns such as VAT etc.

– all cheques issued before 1 January 2013 will be in the old currency. All cheques issued before this date but only presented for payment after 1 January 2013 will be paid with the amount divided by 1,000.  Cheques dated 1 January 2013 and later shall be assumed to have been issued in rebased currency and will be paid on face value.

– from 1 January 2013, we can go back to using normal wallets or purses instead of having to carry about wads of notes


There is obviously much more that will be going on in the background by businesses, such as adjusting accounting programmes, but the above are the most important points that consumers need to know. Information that is required for businesses is available on the BOZ website (


We look forward to 1 January, the date when we will all have less money in our pockets.


Lekker Lusaka

Written By: The Lowdown - Nov• 30•12

‘IT IS HEREBY NOTIFIED for public information that under and by virtue of the powers conferred upon him by His Excellency the High Commissioner’s Proclamation No. 6 of 1911 His Honour the Administrator has been pleased to make the subjoined Rules for the good government of Lusaka and land adjacent thereto.’ says Government Notice No. 48 dated 31 July 1913.


This was the official notice establishing a local authority, a management board, in Lusaka almost one hundred years ago.


This important fact has not gone unnoticed by a group ofLusakaresidents who have formed themselves into an organisation calledLusaka100.  Whilst most ofLusakahas been slumbering away, this group of volunteers have been quietly planning and plotting to bring to you an amazing selection of events and activities.


As with all such undertakings, there is still much that has to be done before the final programme will be available; such important things as sponsorships to be obtained, venues to be arranged and their availability confirmed, final organisers to be identified for each individual event and a myriad of other details including participants committing themselves to participation. But planning has started early as the organisers know that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. And they do not plan to fail.  They plan to present toLusakaan extravaganza the likes of which have NEVER been seen before in our humble city and which will bring tremendous enjoyment and pleasure to all ofLusaka’s residents, young and old, rich and poor.


Included in the events will be different sporting activities, a marathon through the streets ofLusaka, a float procession where it is hoped that all ofLusaka’s clubs, associations, institutions and businesses will make the effort to be part of the procession.


On the entertainment side, there will be bands playing, actors acting and singers singing.  Although still in the planning stage,Lusaka100 hope that there will be some big names in the visiting entertainers who will not only give concerts, but will also judge the planned ‘Battleof the Bands’. Also on the list are a fireworks display, an air show and a Military Tattoo.


Planning is underway for a number of different competitions – photographic and art competitions as well as a Malasha Bike Race which is sure to be good humour and entertainment as our Malasha burners battle it out on their bicycles loaded with three bags of charcoal.  Also on the list is a Heritage Hunt which will involve participants visiting a selection of Heritage sites in Lusaka where they will not only learn more about the history of Lusaka but will also be able to win prizes. For the artists there will be a chance for them to exhibit their art depictingLusakalife and to sell their paintings to a captive audience.  A display of old photographs showing the development ofLusakaover the last one hundred years is also planned.


Beautifying Lusaka is also an important aim of this committee and Lusaka 100 are appealing to business owners in Lusaka to start thinking about giving their buildings a coat of paint and a general clean up of the area surrounding their premises. The committee itself will be working with various Government or Council bodies to clean up and beautify certain selected places. But they can’t do everything and business owners inLusakaneed to come to the party and show their pride in being part ofZambia’s capital city in its one hundredth year.


Branding with theLusaka100 logo is also available to businesses manufacturing goods inLusaka, so if you are a manufacturer, now is the time to get in contact with the committee to arrange this so that you have time to have new labels printed or to have your product redesigned.


It goes without saying thatLusaka100 are still open to suggestions of other events to be included in the programme. So if you believe that you have something to offer that is interesting and that will enhance the overall programme, please do get in touch with them.  Some readers may also have questions that they wish to ask. The committee can be contacted by email on info AT lusaka100 DOT com so please do get in touch with any suggestions, ideas or questions. Additionally, if you have friends or relatives planning to visit next year, why not suggest that they visit over the week commencing 26 July 2013 whenLusakashould be at its best and where there will be a real buzz in the city.


Watch this space and also the daily newspapers for more information as it becomes available.





Get On Your Bike

Written By: The Lowdown - Nov• 30•12

With the flick of the starter motor, a bit of rev on the throttle, and you’re off. It might take a while to get used to turning corners, fighting the sensation that you’ll crash to the floor with the handlebars. I have to admit I wasn’t convinced. I almost joined the crowd who couldn’t ride a bicycle, observing from a safe, grounded distance.


But in a couple of hours you’ll be whizzing round a car park off Cairo Road, imagining yourself as the ultimate biker with the wind in your hair, despite the helmet, on the open road.


Welcome to the Best of Bikes Academy. The brainchild of Richard Sheppard, a keen biker himself since the age of eight, you could say he has biking in his genes. Back in the UK, his stepfather was a professional motorbike racer and his nephew is an under 21 biking champion. Sheppard is also responsible for introducing a motorbike shop in Zimbabwe and has biked across India, testing his abilities to the maximum.


With biking firmly under his belt, he’s turned his attention to bringing the phenomenon toZambia- in a big way. In partnership with Jo and Robin Pope, whose efforts in the tourism industry make them successful entrepreneurs in their own right, the Best of Bikes Academy is the first motorbike training school of its kind in the country.


It has a training centre, a service centre, and it offers intense training workshops. And they mean intense, so be prepared! You’ll start off wobbling around the course, trying to hit the right buttons and get the concept of the clutch without doing a wheelie and ending up on your rump. Hence the term “crash course”. But don’t worry, you’re in good hands and the instructors are very patient and friendly.


The concept of the Academy is demand-driven. With Lusaka’s road networks becoming more and more congested, riding a motorbike to skip the traffic on the way to work is definitely appealing. It’s also increasingly an option for couriers – Sheppard says the courier industry has “massively increased” in the last few years.


But is it affordable? The Best of Bikes Academy increasingly targets those who want to avoid the meaningless morning “rush hour” traffic, and stocks bikes starting at K 6,995,000, which it claims are the cheapest inZambia, including a warranty. The Jailing Enduro is ideal for the daily commute – and incredibly low cost to run.


The average saloon does about 12-15 kilometres to the litre. The Jailing, with a 125CC engine, does about 100 kilometres to the litre. If you’re worried about safety and the thought of jumping on a bike and winding amidstLusaka’s road mayhem turns your stomach, Sheppard has a good point. Speed is not really a problem “For the most part people are not moving at all. The trouble is that traffic is travelling pretty slowly,” he notes. The academy presents one solution to training off-road, until you feel confident and safe. Then, while the lines of traffic are stacked up on either side, you could glide effortlessly past the morning traffic – of course mindful not to hit your co-habiting middle-of-the-roaders – like newspaper and talk time sellers.


Best of Bikes will also help with advice on financing and can explore credit options. “It’s really the relationship between us and the financer: we work with them to get the finance,” says Sheppard. Overall, riding a motorbike should work out a much cheaper option for your commute.


The Academy trains other organisations and businesses in riding and competency, as well as providing fleets of stock, and plans to increase this business platform. It has also seen a rise in people coming to train so they can apply for jobs as couriers. The academy does a basic competency test and a road competency test, intended to ease bikers onto the open road with more confidence.


After a few rings round the course, you’ll be dodging in and out of the red and white cones, feeling like a pro. Whatever happens, you’ll be trained by some of the best, including Alan Zaloumis, former local motorbike champion, who heard about the Academy and is now on the team.


If you’ve ever thought about it but never quite made it into the driver’s seat, maybe now’s the chance to give riding a motorbike a try. It’s a good start to practice at the weekend academy with some pretty friendly staff who can give you all the advice you want to ride safely.  Who knows? You might even walk away with your own motorbike.


Contact Best of Bikes House, Tel: 0211 236-912, 0211 236-913;Mobile: 0964 584-778,  0973 584-778 Email:




Getting Behind The Balls

Written By: The Lowdown - Nov• 30•12

The most popular Frenchman in Zambia today and coach of our Chipolopolo boys, Herve Renard, has become an Ambassador for Alive & Kicking, a social enterprise which manufactures soccer balls in Lusaka.


Providing his services free of charge, Herve has recently fronted an advertising campaign promoting the balls, and is encouraging Zambians to go out and buy these ‘tough, hand-stitched soccer balls’ that have been designed ‘specifically for the kind of conditions we face here in Zambia.’


Keen to stress Alive and Kicking’s importance for the growth of soccer in the nation, ‘Every child should have the right to be able to emulate Chipolopolo’s current group of soccer heroes. That’s why I’ve partnered with Alive & Kicking, they are committed to helping grassroots development through the provision of affordable and durable balls.’ Herve also is encouraging the use of locally produced products as he points out ‘The fair employment of people inLusakawill add enormous value to the country’s continuing development.’


Alive & Kicking produces about 2,000 footballs, netballs and volleyballs each month and since its establishment in 2007 it has produced and distributed over 100,000 balls. The balls have won plaudits from African stars such as Emmanuel Eboue and even by President Barack Obama. Alive & Kicking were recently rated in BusinessWeek as one of the top three products that ‘might change the world’


All of Alive & Kicking’s profits go towards funding HIV/AIDS education programmes. The inaugural Alive & Kicking Zambia public health road show this year trained 85 local youth leaders, reached 5792 young people, with over 500 young people participating in local sports tournaments.


Needless to say, Alive and Kicking are very excited about Herve getting behind their [soccer] balls and their highly thrilled and always enthusiastic Sales Manager Scott Sloan said it had been a pleasure hosting Herve at their stitching centre at Zamleather where he had shown an incredible interest in the work they do.


Alive and Kicking soccer balls are available at Shoprite, Pick and Pay, Spar and Melissa Supermarket. Or if you would like to order a personalised ball for that little tyke for Christmas or a birthday, contact Alive & Kicking on Tel: 0975 570-828,  0979 694-394 or by email


As Herve tells us in the popular Boom advert ‘Ze battle is won or lost far away from witnesses; ze battle is won behind ze sins; in ze gym, on ze road, long before the game’. Today, battles on the soccer field are being won with balls produced by Alive & Kicking’s on compound roads, in villages and at schools throughout the country whilst the battle against HIV/AIDS is being won through the good work of organisations such as Alive & Kicking and people like Herve who is using his celebrity status in soccer-mad Zambia to promote this good cause.


Creamy Essentials

Written By: The Lowdown - Nov• 30•12

Always having had a passion for creams, especially face products, and always having spent a considerable amount of money on them, Paola of Essentials became curious about their ingredients and decided to find out more. First she purchased some books and started studying! Soon a hobby developed and she started making natural face and body products. Starting off with small batches of about 100 ml at a time, it was still too much for her own use so she started sharing the results of her experiments with a few friends, the ones who were brave enough! Some of them even passed the creams onto their own friends and soon she started receiving the first orders.


At this point Paola decided to make a business of it. This resulted in her landlords kindly building a room in the backyard which was painted, equipped with an aircon for preserving the precious ingredients and the products during the hot summer months, a small two plate stove, a couple of shelves, a work table, and soon it became a “cream room” where experiments and production are carried out.



Using only natural and, where possible, organic products, Paola uses a selection of base oils to which are added different ingredients dependent on the product.


Some of the base oils used are:


Sweet almond (Prunus Dulcis) oil, one of the most useful, practical, and commonly used oils. It is great for all skin types as an acting emollient and is best known for its ability to soften, soothe, and re-condition the skin.


Grapeseed (Vitis Vinifera) oil which, being a rich source of omega-6 and vitamin E helps damaged, tired and stressed skin. It is especially useful for skin types that do not absorb oils too well and it does not leave a greasy feeling. Wonderful for those with a sensitive skin because of its natural non-allergenic properties.


Avocado (Persea Americana) oil, rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, D and E and therefore healing and encourages skin cell regeneration. It also contains amino acids, sterols, pantothenic acid, lecithin, and other essential fatty acids. Highly prized to those with skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, it is highly recommended to those with sensitive skin, problem skin and other irritations that require vitamin rich oil.


Madacamia (Macadamia Integrifolia) nut oil is hydrating, soothing, healing and anti-irritant, it is high in mono-unsaturated fatty acids and closely resembles sebum (the oil naturally produced by one’s skin to help protect it). The oil is a fabulous protective oil with a high absorption rate and has been successfully used in healing scars, sunburns, minor wounds and other irritations.


Coconut (Cocos Nucifera) oil is a great oil for general moisturising and serves as a protective layer, helping to retain the moisture in your skin. It is rich in vitamin D, protects, softens and soothes.


Shea butter (Butyrospermum Parkii) is definitive a favourite; almost every one of Paola’s formulations has some in them, from as little as 2% to as much as 50%. It is protective, hydrating, soothing and skin softening, rich in vitamins A and E.


Cacao butter (Theobroma cacao) is also a good anti-oxidant and anti-wrinkle, as well as a great emollient and skin softener.


In addition to these base oils, precious oils are added to the formulations to boost the results:


Starflower oil, also known as borage oil (Borago Officinalis) which calms, has anti-inflammatory properties and is also a good anti-ageing ingredient.


Jojoba oil (Simmondsia chinensis) pronounced “Ho-Ho-Ba” is a very special oil (strictly speaking it is actually a liquid plant wax) as it very closely matches the natural oil (sebum) in human skin, it won’t clog pores therefore it’s great for anyone with oily skin or skin prone to acne. It’s also wonderful for people with dry skin.


Rosehip oil (Rosa Rubiginosa) also known as Rosa Mosqueta, rich in vitamins A and C, it is healing, hydrating, helps reduce scars and stretch marks, rejuvenating, regenerating and anti-wrinkle. It works wonders on scars and is predominantly used for treating wrinkles and premature ageing.


Rice bran (Oryza Sativa) oil is rich in vitamin E, nourishing, conditioning, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-wrinkle and skin softening.


Safflower ((Carthamus tinctorius) oil is a rich source of omega-3, soothing, highly moisturising, anti-inflammatory.


Baobab (Adansonia Digitata) oil contains Vitamin D, Palmitic acid, Oleic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Omega 3, Omega 6 & Omega 9 Fatty Acids and it softens and restructures skin, improves the elasticity of the skin, encourages regeneration of cells without clogging pores and it has superb moisturising benefits for skin.


Paola makes her own calendula and chamomile oils by infusing the dried flowers in cold pressed oils like sunflower or grapeseed. These plants are grown in her own garden.


The formulations are then enriched with different active ingredients according to what type of product for what type of skin condition is required. She loves to use African actives as much as possible and here she considers hersel very lucky because our Continent hosts some of the most amazing plants. At the moment she is focusing on two:


The Kigelia Africana (Sausage Tree), among the most promising and result-oriented plants for its various effective usages on skin. Reported effects include helping to heal skin problems, providing improved skin complexion free from blemishes, may help to treat skin cancer – certain reports have also suggested the presence of therapeutic properties of kigelia for the treatment of skin cancers caused by various skin-related problems. It helps recovery from wounds – extracts from the barks of the plant are widely used as a medication for faster recovery from wounds, especially by bodybuilders and weightlifters when they suffer from any physical injury during strenuous physical activities, bust firming and anti-ageing.


The Siphonochilus Aethiopicus (Wild African Ginger) which is one ofAfrica’s best natural anti-inflammatory remedies. It also stimulates blood circulation and wakes up skin cells and lymph fluid.


Other ingredients are (the first two luckily are both organic and proudly Zambian!)

– Beeswax (Cera Alba) which is nourishing, antibacterial, soothing and hydrating;

– Propolis, a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources and use as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive. It is a great anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial.

– Aloe vera (cooling, healing and refreshing), vitamin E (anti-oxidant, helps to minimize damage cause by the sun and environment like skin pigmentation marks, fine lines and wrinkles),

Olive squalane, a hydrating natural liquid derived from olives, silky, light, easy penetrating and excellent anti-ageing.


She then uses essential oils for both scenting and aromatherapy.


In short Essential products are paraben-free, they don’t contain artificial perfume, do not contain animal-derived ingredients, no mineral oil ingredients, no silicones and are not tested on animals … only on her baby for the baby line, her poor husband for the mens lines and on herself and a few friends for everything else! They are also hand crafted and made only in small batches to ensure freshness.


Paola has loads of fun making them and it still experimenting a lot, making small improvements as she goes along and also developing new products.


With Christmas coming up and that awful question of what gifts to buy, Essential products should be an essential part of your shopping list. For further information or to place your orders, contact Paola on email essentialzambia AT gmail DOT com






A Western Sunset

Written By: The Lowdown - Nov• 30•12

I had been lucky to have visited all the provincial headquarters in Zambia with the exception of Mongu, and so the advent of Zambia’s newest province Muchinga* was what really prompted my trip west. To remind each other I have listed the ‘BOMA’s of the now ten provinces of the country:

Western – Mongu
North-Western – Solwezi
Copperbelt – Ndola
Lusaka – Lusaka
Central – Kabwe
Southern – previously Livingstone but now Choma
Eastern – Chipata
*Muchinga – Chinsali
Northern – Kasama
Luapula – Mansa

Further, I have always been interested in the promotion of domestic tourism and thought that it was important to get my bearings in that area of the world having previously not been any further west than the Mumbwa district.

Juldan Motors will sell you their sixty-seater long-distance one-way coach ticket for a modest K115,000 which includes a complimentary soda on the outward bound route. At the moment the bus sets off at either 8.30 am or mid-day. I settled for the early bus.

The ride west takes you through the Kafue National Park, where we cheered with the sight of three enormous elephants at a shallow water pool close to the road thoughtfully constructed through the park with the assistance of the Japanese government. Mongu is approximately nine hours from Lusaka even counting the three or four very short stop-overs. The road is good except for a very wavy section between the park exit on the western side and Kaoma. A great deal of care needs to be exercised on this section.

In completely opposite tenor to our sighting of the elephants was a stop in Kaoma just over five hours into the journey where there is evidence of the sawdust piles from the timber merchants that you also see along the road between Kitwe and Ndola. Nothing wrong if you have a good reforestation policy, but a little worrying when climate change and the general lack of environmental protection services combine.

Getting to Mongu, means that you are now well placed to reach Senanga on the banks of the Zambezi. There is regular traffic to Senanga which is roughly another two-hour drive, and then if you head over on the pontoon, which provides the only crossing, the town on the other side is Sesheke once you have braved the sandy road. On that side of the river you also have the Sioma Ngwezi National Park although reports are that you would be lucky to see an animal, any animal, there.

In Mongu town there are outlets for food and accommodation that will provide a decent service to the traveller. I had dinner the first evening with old friends at one of the former Crossroads Lodges, known now as Nalumba 1 and 2. Hearty Zambian fare of grills served with green salad and the usual choice of ‘nshima, rice or chips’ were on offer and the bar didn’t seem to be lacking. For hotel accommodation the best place is Dolphin Hotel – clean, secure, reasonable food and lots of hot water. The only proviso is to make sure you get a room with a shower rather than one of the Jacuzzi-type baths.

Next morning there was time to walk around Mongu town. Their Shoprite was well stocked and warehouse styled which I came to learn was a great help for the fishing camps and other operators in the area who had previously had to get many of their supplies from Lusaka. Mongu’s economy is strong on rice and meat. The soils are poor for maize and most people get by on a staple of cassava. Taxis from the central bus station will take you down to Mongu Harbour for the day’s catch.

In a quiet corner of one of the many small pubs, usually framed with reeds for local décor and to provide a pleasant screen from the scorching day temperatures you will find a volunteer to up-date you on local land wrangles or delays in road-works but for the time being politics is a quick conversation stopper.

Of course, Kuomboka is the highlight of the tourist calendar, when, like their supreme traditional authority the Lozi King, the ‘Litunga’, the semi-nomadic peoples of the plains escaped the flooding waters of the Zambezi towards the end of the rainy season to move to higher ground.

This being the height of the dry season, the grey-white sands of Mongu town are beach deep, definitely a challenge for construction and walking around for that matter! However, building is going on all around the town by Mongu residents and other investors. So it seems silly to dwell on much else except that I was ill-prepared for how spread out the communities are. As a result I didn’t even make the very basic visit to the museum at Limulunga which is where I plan to begin my visit as a domestic tourist, the next time I have the good fortune to return.

by Chuundu

A Wild New Cereal

Written By: The Lowdown - Nov• 30•12

Most readers are already familiar with the It’s Wild brand of peanut butter, honey, rice and ground nuts. They will thus welcome the addition of a breakfast cereal to their already excellent range of products.

The It’s Wild Crunchy Multi-grain cereal will be on supermarket shelves mid-November. Made from maize, rice and soya, this product was developed with assistance from General Mills, the world’s second largest cereal producer and a Food Engineer from UNZA who worked together with It’s Wild’s own food Food Technologist. As with the development of any new product, different mixtures were used before the product was ready for marketing. The product was then subject to a survey where samples were offered to women aged between 22 and 50 who were already buyers of breakfast cereals as well as the families of staff of It’s Wild and their advertising agency.

There are many exciting aspects to the arrival on the market of this new products. The first is that is will be the only available locally produced breakfast cereal. It would be nice to say it is the first locally produced breakfast cereal but we should not forget the locally produced ‘cornflakes’ which were available in Zambia in the 80’s. The second exciting aspect is that this cereal is one hundred percent made from natural products; no preservatives or other synthetic ingredients have been used in their manufacture. The third feature is that the grains are produced by farmers who have been trained in conservation farming techniques and who use only organic fertilisers, employ proper crop rotation methods and use no chemical pesticides on their crops. The fourth factor is that the farmers who are producing the grains for It’s Wild are reformed poachers who have handed in their snares and guns and who are now producing and selling crops to support their families. For me, this last aspect alone is a good enough reason to buy this breakfast cereal.

In addition to the above, It’s Wild Multi-grain Breakfast Cereal is fortified with 14 essential vitamins and minerals, it is low in fat ad low in sodium. With soya as a component it is rich in protein with the maize and rice giving energy, fibre and vitamins.

It’s Wild products are produced by COMACO, a Zambian company dedicated to the conservation of our wildlife and habitat. COMACO is working with more than seventy thousand farmers in the Luangwa Valley, providing them with education, seeds and a market for their products in return for a commitment to a life without poaching. COMACO is truly a success story without parallel in Zambia and their products are marketed under the It’s Wild brand.

By purchasing this cereal or any of the other It’s Wild products, you are supporting COMACO’s farmers, helping to keep Zambia’s habitat pristine as well as protecting our wildlife heritage. What other reason could you possibly need to ensure that the next box of cereal you buy is It’s Wild Crunchy Multi-grain Cereal.

And with Christmas coming up, rather than giving your staff bonus’ in cash, why not put together a hamper of It’s Wild products for each of them, ensuring that they and their families can all enjoy It’s Wild’s range of products.


Birds, Bugs and Bushes

Written By: The Lowdown - Nov• 30•12

The Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone viridis)

At this time of the year, in the gardens and woodlands, is heard a pleasant ringing bird call – ‘twee-wee-wee, twee-wee,wee’. Time and again it echoes in the shady shrubs and canopies. On hearing this call, one need only look in the direction of the sound and one will see a pleasant looking bird, bright red on the back, wings and tail, a black crested head with a bluish bill and eye ring and a grey breast that merges into a white lower belly.

The male has two extremely long central tail feathers that can measure up to 40 cm (15 inches); the female is smaller at 20 cm (7 inches). Some East African specimens are entirely white on the back, wings and tail.

Paradise flycatchers belong to a group of flycatchers, renowned for their body colours, eye-wattles, crests or the tails that can either be very short or very long. While some lie in ambush for insects, some feed by gleaning on branches and in foliage; still others catch insects on the wing. Africa and its neighbouring islands host some 49 species of flycatchers out of a world wide variety of 163 species. The majority of flycatchers are found in Asia and Australasia.

This pretty bird is an Intra-African migrant, flying south of the Equator in September and staying till March. It then flies back north again. It is found throughout Zambia, during its stay here. It inhabits riverine forests, woodlands and shaded gardens.

It breeds in October to December, building a neat cup shaped nest that is lined with cobwebs or lichens. The female lays 2 eggs; incubation is shared between both sexes. They usually construct the nest high above the ground; sometimes close to a source of water. A trusting bird, they will at times construct their nests very close to houses. They take turns to incubate the eggs, while one is away foraging, catching insects on the wing. The other sits quietly on the eggs. Having had its fill of insects, it will return to take its shift, enabling its partner to go forth and hunt. The male is adorned with these long tail feathers only during the breeding season; he can be seen now and again trailing them about as he flies, sometimes fast or in a leisurely manner.

Regardless of the males long trailing tail feathers, it is sometimes difficult to see him. He is the more vocal of the two, prior to her laying eggs; the female will often be close by, following her mate around as he calls to her and other flycatchers. In the shadowy trees and shrubs, one may from time to time have to employ the combined sense of hearing and seeing to spot the Paradise flycatcher. Often what gives it away is its call.

Enemies include small raptors, snakes, cats and humans. The biggest human threat is habitat destruction. The clearing of woodlands and forests deprives them of needed shelter and food.

In The Garden

Written By: The Lowdown - Nov• 30•12

How often do you buy a plant and when you get home wonder ”Where on earth do I put it?” I do it all the time. I have a little row of plants waiting sorrowfully in their black plastic bags for me to decide where they should be planted. There is only one answer – a total re-make of some of your beds. You might decide that there is room for a completely new bed, maybe linking two adjacent trees. Imagine it full of glorious plants that love shade screening off a part of your garden so that a visitor can explore the hidden corners. Check that the tree roots are not shallow, occupying the space the new plants need. If there are too many shallow roots leave the trees as they are and find a new spot for the bed. If you extend the bed beyond the shade of the trees you can include sun-loving plants too.

Where do you begin? With the hosepipe! Take the hosepipe and lay it along the ground round the edge of the bed you want to create. To see an actual solid line on the ground makes it far easier to work out how big the bed should be and precisely what shape. Taller plants will go in the centre and shorter ones near the edge. Always check how much shade a plant will tolerate as this is the most important factor in choosing its position. Or you can make a bed in full sun where you can plant some shrubs or a bottle brush tree in the centre for height and surround them with colourful perennials. Remember to provide contrast with some plants like lavender, Dusty Miller (centauria cineraria) or the red fountain grass (pennisetum). Next remove the grass – or weeds! – and dig over the whole new bed. You can use the grass elsewhere if you cut sods about 10 cm deep and transplant them before they start to dry out. Now you will appreciate the compost pit in the corner of your garden … the source of the compost you are going to use to enrich the soil. Add other fertilisers if possible, like some dry kraal or stable manure, and river sand if the drainage is poor. Soil preparation is essential and the number one factor in a successful garden.

I paid a quick visit to Plantworld on Los Angeles Blvd just before the FedEx roundabout and bought 12 plants I really wanted for under K50,000. They specialise in herbs and basic useful plants. They are also selling large white pebbles although these come at a price. For once I did know where these were to be planted and they were in the ground the same day.

A word of warning now the rains are almost here: check big old trees! A friend had one come crashing down in the night scaring the pants off the guard, damaging the gate and narrowly missing the parked cars. Be prudent though as I still miss the large branches that used to overhang my drive. I decided they had to be lopped and now my drive is like an oven in the afternoons. I planted another tree.