Swimming for Nsumbu

Written By: The Lowdown - Jun• 29•13

It is a year, although it seems like just last week, that we wrote about the Nsumbu Swim, an event aimed at raising funds for Conservation Lake Tanganyika.


This event did indeed take place and it was judged highly successful with ten swimmers participating in twenty minute stints in the water as they swam from Nsumbu town on the western side of Lake Tanganyika to the eastern boundary of the national park at the LufubuRiver mouth, a distance of approximately 35 kilometres. Not only did the swimmers swim, but they also took care of the additional duties of safety kayaker, boat crew and general watch duties especially for crocs straying into open water.


Lake Tanganyika, the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, the second deepest and the world’s longest freshwater lake, is judged to be thirteen million years old.  The lake itself and its Basin are endowed with a large and highly diverse number of different species of flora and fauna. It is known as a global hotspot of biodiversity and is a highly valuable aquatic ecosystem. It is estimated that the lake is home to at least 1,500 fish species, of which 600 are endemic to the lake. But it is not only its aquatic biodiversity. It is also renowned for its terrestrial biodiversity and of course, for its beauty – the ever changing blue and green of the clear waters, surrounded by a steep but evergreen escarpment.


But this is all under threat, and serious threat, mainly as a result of human induced activities. The most immediate of these include unsustainable agricultural practices and deforestation of the escarpment, urban and industrial pollution, unsustainable exploitation of the fish to the extent that it is now regularly declared that the fish in the lake are ‘gone’. Invasive species and global climate change are also affecting the lake. All these have the potential to adversely affect the livelihoods of millions of people who live around the lake, quite apart from destroying an area of such great beauty.


ConservationLakeTanganyika is a voluntary organisation which was formed for the purpose of promoting and preserving the biodiversity of the lake for the sustainable benefit of the communities living along the lake shore. But like all voluntary organisations, funding is needed for the different educational, resource protection, community capacity building and other projects which they undertake.


Following last year’s very successful Swim for Nsumbu, it was agreed that this event should be held again this year, as not only does it help to raise much needed funds, but it also brings attention to the plight of the lake.


This year’s Swim was originally planned for June but has been postponed because of the possibility of a film crew from a well known TV production company filming the swim. This is not yet finally confirmed but at this stage it looks highly likely that it will happen so it was deemed well worth postponing the event to accommodate this. Plus, of course, CLT would get some excellent exposure for their various projects, not to mention the exposure that their sponsors would get.



Sponsors for this thrilling event are still being sought. If you care about the lake, support the efforts of Conservation Lake Tanganyika and wish to make a donation either in cash or kind, please contact them on email admin@conservationtanganyika.org


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In The Garden

Written By: The Lowdown - Jun• 29•13

logo In The Garden 1Grass grows slowly in the winter months. This does not mean that you can neglect it. On the contrary, it needs extra attention to keep it looking green and to provide the perfect background for your garden. But first, take a look at your grass-cutting machine. The lawn mower should be maintained well in order to persuade it to last for many years. I had not been checking my mower regularly and when I finally took a good look at it, it was clear that the gardener had not been checking it either! There was a thick layer of hardened mud lining the inside of the metal cover and interfering with the spinning of the blade. The blade itself had a hole in it. The wheels were badly worn and wobbling frantically.


I recalled that someone had recommended a company called Dynatec and set off to find it. They are situated on Luanshya Road directly opposite the end of Washama Road with a large green gate. Amon Banda was both helpful and knowledgeable, and assured me that they could replace the blade but advised that the mower also needed bushes for the wheels and a few other replacement parts. I was sent a quotation by SMS that evening. Two days later the mower was ready for collection and set for at least a few more years cutting my grass. Since it is an electric lawn mower it does not need regular oiling, filter changes and servicing like petrol machines. However, Amon recommended that the mower be stopped and allowed to cool down after 30 minutes and cleaned thoroughly every time it is used. Great care should be taken to remove stones from the grass. The blade should be checked monthly for signs of wear and tear. If the blade becomes uneven it will cause vibration which is very damaging. A new blade costs K80 so it is well worth replacing it whenever necessary.


Dynatec has Tandem mowers for sale. A petrol mower costs KR 3,450; an electric mower costs KR 2,250 and a manual mower KR 900. If you have a small area of very fine, level lawn, the rotating blades of a manual mower will give the best cut. Dynatec can be contacted on 0955 990-188.


The various types of grass that will grow successfully have different qualities but my favourite by far is Richmond. Its short, green, slightly twisted blade is fine and soft to walk on. It grows well in shade. It needs watering of course but can survive well without too much fertiliser. Use LAN or Compound D once a month in winter and then in the warm weather give a more generous amount of these fertilisers once a fortnight and cover the lawn with a fine layer of compost and well-dried manure early in the rains.


There is a debate over whether to remove all the grass cuttings from the surface of the lawn. Cuttings can act as a mulch, protecting the soil, and can break down to give some extra nutrients. But they eventually make a thick mat of dead material that can allow diseases to attack the lawn. I prefer to add them to the compost heap, mixing them in well with other organic material to avoid creating a solid layer that blocks aeration. They can also be used as mulch on flower and vegetable beds.



Fool on the Hill

Written By: The Lowdown - Jun• 29•13

FOTHMy Jack Russell Milo looked up at me with his “Here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into” face on as I scanned the scene to reappraise it. We were both sitting on top of a dead elephant; a leathery grey kopje of cold flesh starting to stink and bloat and effervesce a pink froth from numerous bullet holes. She lay in a trampled clearing of kasense grass in the middle of my titled plot, a few hundred metres from the entrance gate to the National Park. The elephant’s calf lay nearby, similarly deceased and riddled with bullet holes. One of the Park Rangers stood a few feet away with his arms folded and a loud “Tsk!” hanging like a cartoon text  bubble above his head, which he was moving from side to side in cold resignation as he looked at me. Surrounding us were about three hundred members of the local community, men and women and a few kids and pretty much all of them carrying an axe, panga or knife. I gripped the handle of an open 20 litre jerry-can of diesel with one hand and a scrappy piece of A4 paper with the other. Nobody looked very chuffed to see me and the atmosphere was far from cordial.


It seemed that in our small community, and in addition to the ever present Roger the Hunchback, there was always at least one “Rocal Mad Man” as our staff described those rare individuals who existed, because of genetics or personal trauma, as human flotsam in our midst. Somehow surviving on scraps from the village and gatherings from the bush, there would always be one unfortunate soul who would be seen wandering, often far from habitation in the game management area, barely clad in rags and usually starkly raving. Break down near any rural African settlement and pretty soon the local lunatic will find you. In our area the State did not care for them, the community did not take them in and to my shame, neither did I. How they survived as long as they did was always a mystery to me in a place that abounds with dangerous creatures at every turn. But survive they did and often for years, despite bathing in waters infested with crocodiles, wandering at night the same tracks as lion, leopard and hyaena and sleeping under bushes protected only by the oblivion of their madness. And when, after what seemed an implausibly long time in such a perilous environment, the odds caught up with them and they joined the food chain, as if by magic and within a week, a new “Rocal Mad Man” would appear with his own unique outfit, accessories and foibles as if The Village Idiot Gazette had a widely scrutinised Situations Vacant column.


For two seasons unusually, a woman who everyone called Jane, had held this resident position on the fringes of the community. Disturbingly I had heard that in addition to being neglected by all of us, she was actively abused by some at Friday night beer drinking sessions and encouraged for the amusement of the crowd, to submit to the attentions of Roger the Hunchback and learn how he earned his first name. Thus when Jane wandered one dawn into the midst of a breeding herd of elephant with a new born calf and met her end in a red-misted, trampling and goring and trumpeting of maternal fury that woke me in my bed a kilometre away, I was surprised at how vehemently the community complained to ZAWA for compensation for the life of their dearly beloved sister, plucked untimely from their nurturing embrace. ZAWA capitulated eagerly and by the time I returned at midday from an airport run with guests, they had found on my property the nearest group of elephants. They identifying as the culprit a female with calf, sporting a “bloodied” (actually bark stained) tusk, and shot her several times and poorly with an AK47, the unsuitable but most widely used elephant killing tool in Africa. They ran out of bullets before she was properly dead and left her maimed, returning to the office for a spot of lunch and more ammunition. The calf suffered terrible anxiety and raged and screamed and mourned at her side as she took her time to bleed out, but before too many hours the scouts returned and … hey-ho … put an end to that as well. News like the gunshots, spread at the speed of sound and I arrived on the scene as the first carnival crowds of meat seekers were drawn unerringly as the vultures circling above, to the blood spattered, rusty ferrous smelling circle in the grassland.


Milo and I had taken our stand on the carcass and I had promised to upend the diesel and spoil the meat if any butchery took place on my property. As an Honorary Wildlife Police Officer I knew that while morally questionable ZAWA’s actions were legal. However, the letter from the Warden I held in my hand had arrived that morning and clearly stated that in an attempt to curb the rampant bushmeat trade in the villages, any person found in possession of game meat without an accompanying permit would be guilty of an offence and liable to 5 years imprisonment.


“How?” I asked the Ranger “Are you going to enforce this if you allow all these people to walk out of here with baskets full of elephant meat on the very day the warning has been issued?” I further objected to the armed trespass on private property of the amassed throng and the negative impact on the tourist trade of a line of gore spattered, offal carrying folks traipsing down the road in full view of the cavalcade of safari vehicles heading towards the gate for their afternoon drive. The crowd’s mood was growing uglier by the minute, but surprisingly the Ranger agreed to my suggestion that a dozen of the mourners remain to chop up the elephants and the rest of the crowd disburse to an agreed point in the village to which ZAWA would transport the meat for distribution. As soon as this was announced all but the chosen few hightailed it back to the suburbs and a Land Cruiser pick-up was dispatched from ZAWA HQ whilst the dismantling of the three tonne corpse and her hundred and fifty kilo offspring began. I returned to camp to make sure all was in order for the afternoon activities and two hours later cut back off the road and through the tall grass to the bloodied arena. I walked the last 20 metres and broke through into the clearing. A lone hooded vulture walked around the trampled grass in a disconsolate and unsuccessful search for any scrap of meat, but all that remained was a stain and an area of soil the colour and consistency of black pudding. In only two loads with the Cruiser all sign of the largest land mammal on Earth had disappeared. I was mightily impressed. The vulture was not.


I garnered further ire from the community on several other occasions. Once when at the request of ZAWA a very lucky shot with my 30.06 freed an elephant from the leadwood log she was dragging by a cable snare. That earned me a broken rear window and some fender dents from sticks and flying bricks hurled by the meat-hungry mob assembled. When a hippo trashed our frame and liner swimming pool at camp it had to be destroyed and the crowd who had materialised with the sunrise reduced it to hamburger in under an hour. Another time, after some hours with a front end loader, we managed to get an elephant calf out of a clay pit near a village and disappoint several hundred hungry people, who baying like hounds, failed to cut it down in its flight, exhausted though it was. A bushbuck I watched wander naively into a village one day was converted by a group of women and children from incautious to ingredients in under seven minutes


I guess that having seen the effect that bushmeat has on hungry (and even relatively affluent and well fed) people, how it seems to overtake and possess them, I wonder if in the ten years or so since these incidents took place, whether enough education has been wrought, enough non-consumptive tourism dollars have improved the standard of living in the communities around the game parks, enough conservation rhetoric absorbed, and enough bellies filled through alternative eco-friendly farming practices to diminish the consuming lust for nyama.  Because if not then the devolution of natural resource control held by some to be on the new ZAWA Board’s heartfelt agenda may be a decade or two premature.


Mole in the Hole

Written By: The Lowdown - Jun• 29•13

logo MITHThe Erection

The halcyon days of Chibuluma Golf Club were enlivened by the usual regular events. Monthly medal competitions were serious, though a ‘hacker’s four ball ‘was allowed to follow the field, much to the disgust of Maurice Keegan who claimed that great oafs such as I should not be allowed on any course, anywhere, ever. To reinforce his disgust he used to drive his golf ball into us, a dangerous practice which he only stopped after I attempted to return his ball and so shanked the shot that his ball landed over the fence into the road and out of bounds. His reaction was akin to a fit of apoplexy. Medical opinion playing with him at the time promptly advised him not to repeat such an action that brought on the attack.

There were, however, four special events in the year, namely the Ladies Open and Closed Championships and the Gentlemen’s Open and Closed Championships. A lot of detailed preparation was required for all of this, not least the provision of accommodation for visiting golfers, ensuring that adequate bar stocks were to hand (no easy matter at times), caterers forewarned and well stocked, the course perfectly prepared and the assembly of auxiliary support such as starters and scorers. Being a person who, though enthusiastic, was incapable of attaining a handicap, I found myself co opted onto the ‘scorers’ team. Supervised by that martinet, John Ellison, the Handicaps and Competitions Manager, we would occupy tables on the club house verandah and attempt to ensure that all cards were signed, checked correct and the scores entered. This used to be a bit difficult as many players wanted to know how all was progressing and kept badgering us as we attempted to get things right. Soured by the experience we managed to get a score board erected for the following year but we were still pestered so moved our scoring tables away to sit in a more secluded place. By now I found myself promoted to the position of chief scorer. The problem persisted and complications arose and one mistake was made that deprived Martin Broome of a hard earned and well deserved prize, a mistake deeply regretted by me, not least because he reminds me of it from time to time!

The problem became the subject of a long and somewhat fluid conversation at the bar one evening with Mike Scott, the MD of Frankipile. I told him of the problem, he sympathised, ‘I need to be above it all’ said I, to which the smart reply came back ‘You need an erection!’ One sad old member at the bar muttered ‘Don’t we all’; people forget that Viagra is but a recent innovation. The conversation degenerated and became quite ribald but the idea blossomed and, with the use of a spot of scrap material from Mike’s yard and bits from the timber yard, a magnificent erection was achieved. It was fantastic. A commanding view of virtually the entire course was obtained, the steep stairs could have been a threat to children so a locked gate was put at the bottom that protected children and prevented golfers from interrupting the process of scoring. Refinements were made, a string with a paper clip was lowered for score cards to be attached; a chap was stationed at the bottom to collect the cards to ensure they were properly signed etc. After they had been hoisted up, noted and returned to him, he then marked up the score board before returning the cards to the players. Walkie talkie radios were borrowed for the events and, on Sunday mornings, competitors could order their breakfast after coming off the 8th green. At first young lads were used as the communicators on the course but when one told young Thomas Fagan to go forth and multiply over the air waves, more responsible persons were used. Mike and I spent many happy hours up in the erection doing our scoring duties, often joined by the club captain, the redoubtable Alec Scott, whose preferred tipple early in the morning was a large brandy to keep the frost at bay. The consumption of alcoholic beverages did entail a few problems; the waiters were too slow, a pee tube had to be considered and lastly, at the end of a very heavy, hot day of scoring, the negotiation of the stairs back down to terra firma was tricky to say the least.

The Ladies Open championship was always a splendid affair with visiting golfers from all over. I can remember Nora Jordan, nicknamed ‘The iron Maiden’, Pam Barker, Tina Ship, Mary Bourne, Trish Housten and Sue McManus amongst others, all gracing the course showing us how golf should be played. At times we were joined by John Hammond up in the erection who would, with the aid of a pair of binoculars, give us a running commentary on how the ladies were doing. One memorable quote was ‘And here comes Pauline (Hits the Ball like an Animal) White down the 9th Fairway!!’ One good thing about the Ladies championships was that there would be a bit of a gap in the field after 9 holes of golf had been played. This allowed the scoring team to abandon the club and head for The Blue Room at the Mine Club where Lou Anderson and Helen would serve up a breakfast so laden with cholesterol as to be wonderful. Eggs, bacon, steak, liver, kidneys, mushrooms, sausage, bubble and squeak and, on one memorable occasion, black pudding from Geordie Land. All was consumed with gusto and beer. So revictualled , we could return to the fray to provide the service needed by the ladies from the top of our erection! Some years passed and the use of the erection became unpopular but I was glad to see, on a recent visit to the club, that it had been renovated and should be able to serve the club for many more years to come.

Of other events at the club, the Wednesday ladies golf day was wonderful. The first chap to arrive to pick up his wife bought himself a beer, the next chap bought two, for himself and his fellow collector, the 20th, a full round, by which time the early arrivals were legless. More careful people, such as old Ted Martin, would sit quietly, away from the bar, admiring the sundry gorgeous female forms floating past. One such caught my eye and I sighed and said to him ‘Well, I’m not allowed that, but every dog has had his day.’ His reply was succinct ‘I do not know about you but I am still chasing motor cars!’

Of course, there were indeed lots of lovely young ladies about the place and, as per usual, there were certain gentlemen who were quite prepared to forget their marriage vows and chance their arm. Engineers seemed to be particularly keen on this sort of thing; but not, of course, Commander Graham, ex Royal Navy, a splendid Engineering Superintendent who was keener on other things, namely ‘The Himaaaaliyas’ as he pronounced the name of those awesome mountains. It was not unusual to find him steaming up and down ladderways on his underground inspections with a huge rucksack full of bricks on his back, getting ready for his ‘hols’ which involved long treks round said mountains ‘pinching Sherpini’s bottoms on the way’. There was Tom, a positive Adonis, who did not need to chase ladies, they came to him. Was it the aftershave he wore that provided the fatal attraction? Bless him, he did not age well, ran to seed and is now dead and gone but if he had bottled that charm he could have sold it to lesser mortals such as less fortunate males and made a fortune. Then there was Rod, another Boss Man Engineer, who demonstrated his prowess in front of us all. It was a Sunday afternoon, the competition was over, Rod’s wife, an earnest mother with little time to maintain her attractions, had taken the kids home. A young lady sat there, abandoned by her husband who had played a hard game of golf, drank a trifle too much to forget those bad holes and gone home to sleep it off. The young lady was beautiful with long hair and long legs, tastefully enclosed by thigh length boots, topped off by hot pants. The yellow silk blouse she wore shimmered and accentuated rather than concealed the attractions beneath. Altogether she was quite breathtaking. Chaps stood taller and sucked in their paunches as they went past and every time she moved about there was a collective sigh of lust from us men.

I was reminded, rather sharply, by the Madam, that I had work to do and was sent off underground to calm down. I had a team on the 620 level at 7 Shaft connecting up the pipes to the Ducks Foot at the bottom of a huge erection; the Rising Main. The ducks foot was the vast piece of steel that anchored the bottom of the thick walled pipe that rose vertically to surface through which all the water from the mine was pumped. The ducks foot incorporated a right angled bend with a large flange to which the pipes from the pumps could be connected. Alackaday, the team had a problem, the pipes could not be connected because some of Mother Africa was in the way. When the Cementation Company sank the shaft down they also mined off short crosscuts at the various required levels to give us miners the room to start mining away from the shaft without blasting all the shaft steel work to bits. Unlucky, they had missed a bit and a foot or two of rock had to be cleared off around and in front of the flange so that the connecting pipe could be fitted. This would have to be blasted off but, as the very expensive and not easily replaceable ducks foot was hard up against the rock there was an understandable reluctance to use explosives. The chaps had tried to bar down the rock in the hope that the obstruction could be broken off in that way, but without success. But now that the Bwana had arrived there, he could be blamed if damage occurred. The easy bit was to drill a series of holes, 7 in all, very close to each other. Then, breaking all the rules in the book I took one stick of dynamite, cut into three pieces (with a bit of wood) and then attached 3 fuses to the bits and pushed then gently into every other hole. Lots of mud was then put into the charged holes to ensure that the force of the explosive would act to the sides to where the adjacent empty holes would provide a breaking face. All eyes were upon me as I lit the slow burning igniter cord that would take the vital spark to the three fuses. As they say in the classics and on fireworks ‘Light the blue touch paper and retire immediately’ This we did, walking (never ever Run, you could trip up, fall over, break a leg and then what do you do!) off round a corner and sat waiting for the 5 minutes to expire before the first of the three muffled bangs went off. The fumes went away, the dust settled and we emerged, my heart in my mouth, to find that all was well; the offending lump of rock had gone away and the flange was intact. Away to surface I went, relieved and rejoicing in my luck, back over to Chibuluma East to the change house, just in time to see Rod’s car and another one, containing the lovely young lady aforementioned, leaving. I thought little of it until I went in to change and there discovered the flimsiest pair of panties I have ever come across, obviously forgotten in hasty post coital departure. I had not been the only lucky person that day. I put them in an envelope and stuck the envelope in Rod’s In Tray for him to deal with!

Down In The Drink! (Part 3)

Written By: The Lowdown - Jun• 29•13

logo The Cat O' Nine TalesThe next day I looked for an aircraft mechanic, but was told that no such animal existed on Crete, the owners of the few aircraft based there had even to bring in their own fuel from the mainland. Fortunately, my careful attention to NOTAMS had elicited this fact before I left Cairo, and I had taken the precaution of bringing forty gallons of fuel with me.


With no mechanic available I went down to the Cessna and made a very thorough inspection. Nothing hanging or dripping, no sign of any leaks or overheating in the engine, no water or sediment in the fuel strainer, everything looked perfect.


Then I started the engine, letting it run up to operating temperature. After a couple of minutes I ran the engine at full power. It was perfect, no sign of roughness or uneven running. I ran up the engine for nearly half an hour, with no problems indicated. I thought back over the previous night. It was obviously a clear case of ‘nerves’, with two Atlantic solo crossings behind me, I should have remembered that every time you cross a lot of water, your engine appears to go into ‘auto-rough’.  ‘A coward dies ten thousand deaths.’ said a disremembered poet – or as Shakespeare put it in Julius Caesar: ‘Cowards die many times before their deaths, the Valiant never taste of Death but once.’ I am a card-carrying, devoted and dedicated coward so I can attest to the veracity of both these bards.


I closed down the engine and got out the cans of fuel to top-off the tanks, giving them a total of six hours endurance. Then I filed my flight plan, and set off on the two and a half hours flight to Corfu in the Ionian Sea. Perhaps I was growing old, letting my imagination play such tricks. It was the 12th of May 1987 – well past the Ides of March.


The engine ran perfectly, and I turned above Milos towards the mainland where I made a landfall near Navplion. However, during the last hour cloud had built up, and as I started towards the 8,000 foot mountains in the west, I saw that most of them were shrouded in the cloud. I circled within sight of Argos airport whilst I called Athens for permission to land at Argos.


Athens, wanted to know why, so I explained that I could only continue IFR, and although I myself, was qualified, the aircraft having no transponder, was not strictly legal for IFR in Europe. Athens control digested this point whilst I circled for another ten minutes, and then they cleared me IFR to report overhead Araxos on the west coast of Greece. The silky clouds slipped beneath me, and soon I saw the west coast, clear of cloud, and could report to Athens that I was now VFR again, ‘clear of cloud’ and overhead Araxos.


The engine ran smoothly as I turned again to the north-west passing Levkas and Preveza, – no sign of the previous night’s perplexing problem, – I was literally home and dry! I called Kerkira airport on Corfu, informing them I would be landing in fifteen minutes. My tanks still indicated over half full. I flew on over the channel between Albania and Corfu.


Suddenly the engine stopped, this time there was no warning cough, no roughness, it just stopped! Hurriedly I changed tanks, switched on the fuel boost pump, slapped the mixture full rich and waited. The engine refused to re-start. I checked the magnetos, changed tanks again, toggled the boost pump. Nothing, no fuel pressure, no engine. By now I had turned towards the south of the island of Corfu, and was frantically looking for a place to land. I called Corfu:


“MAYDAY, Mayday, Nine Juliet Mike Charlie Kilo, engine failure, passing through eight thousand feet on westerly course towards the south of Corfu”


I was still trying to find a place to land, but the southern end of the island is composed of mountains rising straight out of the sea to a height of two thousand feet. I passed above the island, but could see nowhere to land. Kerkira air traffic came on to me now with that classic time-wasting cliché so beloved by controllers all over the World,


“Nine Juliet Mike Charlie Kilo, what are your intentions?”


I could hardly say:

“To save my bloody neck at all costs,”


Which was exactly what I was so urgently trying to do, but I was freed from answering when a very British voice broke in:


“This is ASCOT 335, I suggest you leave that pilot alone, he has more than enough problems at the moment!”


ASCOT is the callsign for the Royal Air Force and I felt grateful to the light-blue job for keeping Kerkira off my tail.


Nothing had worked towards a re-start, so I was now resigned to a forced landing, and I had come to the conclusion that because of the mountains, I would have to ditch as near to the shore as possible. I called Kerkira and told them I would land about fifteen miles due south of them, near the shore, and switched off the fuel tanks and pumps. Then I cranked in full flap, switched off the electrical master switch, and wedged the pilot door open with a spare shoe; all I could do now is try and pull off a good ditching.


I turned slightly to line up with a sand bar, the turn was sluggish, and I knew I was close to the stall, I eased the nose down, then as the sand bar flashed underneath I pulled hard back, the 185 stalled and landed tail-down, heavily in the water, it never got airborne again, just ran nose high into the water, and I braced myself expecting to flip upside-down. I heard a crack as one undercarriage leg collapsed against something hard, then I was thrown forward as the nose dipped into the water and stayed upright. I had wedged the door open before landing in order not to be trapped inside a sinking aircraft, so I now climbed out preparing to swim, but found I could almost wade, half swimming in only a few feet of sea water. I waded towards the shore a hundred yards away, to be met by an excited Greek, carrying a blanket and a bottle of ouzu.


I had a gulp of the ouzu before remembering there would be an investigation, I must not appear to have taken alcohol, so I waved away both blanket and bottle. The Greek was crestfallen, “You are in shock, and must keep warm” he said,


I was feeling fine, with no dents or blemishes on my person, just depressed about being caught out again within a few minutes of landing at Kerkira. I found a telephone and called the airport to report, and within an hour a car drove up with half a dozen excitable Greek air traffic officers” You have landed in the sea off Petrit Point.” they exclaimed;


I was determined to remain in command and told them,


“The immediate thing you must do is check the amount of fuel remaining in my tanks, because the first thing that will be said in the Lusaka Flying Club, and the East African Aero Club is that I ran out of petrol.”


This prediction later proved correct – it was exactly what was maintained in both institutions! Usually by so-called ‘friends’. However, the Greek officials organised a mobile crane to lift the aircraft from the sea, brought a hose and siphoned forty-five gallons from the two tanks, enough for over three more hours flying. Plainly the fault did not arise in the fuel quantity.


It turned out that the Greeks were not very interested in finding the cause of the accident, and although I pointed out the fuel collector and the injection lines, they refused to even check them. They gave me permission to remove the wreck, and offered to inform the Zambia authorities themselves, as there was no telex or fax on that part of the island that I could use. It was a month or so later, after I had returned the wrecked aircraft to Britain, that aircraft engineer Mike Stanton of DenhamAirport wrote me:


“I have carried out fuel check on the engine/aircraft fuel system and have retained various samples of fuel/salt water/debris from various parts of the system. The most significant find was a piece of rubber seal in the fuel distributor which might easily have interrupted the fuel flow to the cylinders.”


So much for the ‘CERTIFICATE OF AIRWORTHINESS’ I had obtained from the Zambia Department of Civil Aviation less than fifteen flying hours before. Immediately, however I was faced with a recovery problem, so I hired an Olympic Airlines mechanic on a weekend leave, and with his help I took off the two wings, propeller and tail and remaining undercarriage leg, and we packed the aircraft into a truck and sent it to Britain. I was to arrive a week or so before it, the investigation complete, I flew Olympic Airlines to London.


Later, I was to be invited to join ‘The Goldfish Club’ a most exclusive body of pilots, which only grants membership to aircrew who have been forced to make a ditching on water. There happens to be another member of the club in Lusaka, my friend Lieutenant-Commander Hugh McEnery, who dropped into the sea from his aircraft carrier during the Korean war!



Beauty … Naturally

Written By: The Lowdown - Jun• 29•13



Our face is usually the first thing people notice about us which makes cleansing our faces the most important step of our daily beauty routine. If you don’t clean your face thoroughly, the next steps of toning, exfoliating and moisturising won’t have much effect.


In my opinion it is preferable to cleanse your face with the mechanical action of a gentle massage and scrubbing with a natural exfoliant than to use the chemical action of detergents or soaps that would destroy the skin’s natural oils.


So herewith some easy, effective and fun home made facial cleanser recipes for different skin types. For all of them, massage gently into face and neck and then remove with a muslin cloth and warm water followed by a cold splash. Pat dry. For the thicker cleansers let them sit on your face and neck for 10 minutes before rinsing. They will all have to be used fresh or kept in the fridge for a maximum of 2 days.


Sensitive Skin

Aloe and Chamomile

  • 30 ml aloe vera gel (you can use the gel from a fresh leaf if you have the plant in your garden, otherwise buy the ready made gel from a health shop)
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 30 ml spring/purified water
  • 4 drops chamomile essential oil

Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor or whisk them very well by hand. Decant in small bottles and keep in the fridge. Remember to shake well before use. This cleanser is also good for problem skin.


Dry Skin

Milk and Honey

The classic milk and honey cleanser is a very basic natural cleanser that has been in use for thousands of years. The milk cleans and soothes while the honey cleans but also acts as a natural humectant, meaning it attracts moisture and keeps it where it belongs: under your skin.

1 teaspoon dark organic honey (we have plenty in Zambia!)

1 tablespoon whole milk (or cream)

Warm up the honey until it becomes runny (not too hot!) by putting it in a small glass or metal bowl which is immersed in hot water. Mix the honey and milk or cream well. Prepare fresh each time you use it.


Oily Skin

Cucumber and Mint

10 cm piece of a fresh cucumber

5 mint leaves

50 ml milk

Place chopped cucumber, torn mint leaves and milk into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Pour the mixture into a pan over a medium heat, gently simmer for 2 minutes and allow to cool. Pour it into a sterilised bottle.


Buttermilk and Fennel

1/2 cup Buttermilk

2 tablespoons crushed Fennel seeds (you can grind them in a coffee grinder)

Put the ingredients in a double boiler and let them simmer for 30 minutes. Remove it from the heat and let it steep and cool down for 3 hours, then strain it.


Normal and All Skin Types

Almond and Lime Scrub

2 tablespoons finely ground Almonds

1 tablespoon Cream

1 teaspoon Lime juice

Thoroughly mix all the ingredients until you have a smooth substance.


Aloe and Paw Paw

2 tablespoons aloe vera gel

1 slice peeled fresh papaya

1/2 tablespoon dark organic honey

1 teaspoon plain yoghurt

Put all ingredients in a food processor and whizz until you have a smooth mixture.


Oats and Yoghurt

1/2 cup oatmeal or cornmeal (you can grind oats in a coffee grinder)

2 tbs of plain yoghurt (or enough yoghurt  to form a paste)

Mix ingredients well.





This monthly column is written by Paola from Essential Skincare (essentialzambia@gmail.com)


Lusaka Music Society

Written By: The Lowdown - Jun• 29•13

front cover smallHave you heard of the Lusaka Music Society?


The Lusaka Music Society has been running and producing concerts for over sixty years. It was started way back in the 1950s , and has managed to keep going since then.


A lot of people who see the name, Lusaka Music Society, may think it sounds too formal to join. Well I am going to tell you that it is great fun and challenging, and if you are thinking about joining-you should! I joined in January 2012 after going to listen to many of their concerts. And I had never sung in a choir. I come from a family who have always loved music, had sung in school productions, but could not read music, but I thought I would give it a go.


At our first rehearsal (we were starting Mozart’s Requiem), I was handed sheets of papers with music on them and really didn’t have a clue  where to start. I think I uttered two mumbling notes throughout the whole rehearsal; I was right in front of our very patient, encouraging conductor, who luckily took no notice of my non participation! I nearly gave up and packed it in after my second rehearsal, but as I left the music room, the choir started a new piece and it was so beautiful, that I strengthened my resolve and went back the following week. I was determined, and slowly learnt.


I have now sung in four concerts (Mozart’s Easter, Fun Summer, Christmas and Mendelssohns), can  identify what crochets, quavers and minims are, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Our last concert (Mendelssohn’s Hymns of Praise – did any of you come to listen?), was a tremendous success, certainly aided by our 20 strong orchestra, trained by the very professional German cellist Theo Bross, and conducted by Moses Kalommo.


Singing in a concert with an orchestra is very thrilling and worth all the work that goes into rehearsals. Singing is great for the brain too – you use parts of the brain that may have been dormant for a while, and of course physically, singing is good for you. Singing gets you to practice breathing properly, which helps fill your lungs and keeps them working at their best. We all know that exercise gets oxygen moving to all parts of the body. Well, so does singing. It exercises major muscles in the upper body, and has the psychological benefit of putting people off lung harming habits like smoking.


Please come and join us, we are friendly, work hard and produce lovely pieces, and we need more members, both men and women. Rehearsals are once a week on a Monday evening, starting at 5.30 pm. If  you are interested please contact Moses on 0977 780-883.


P.S. We are also looking for musicians.



by Jackie Connor

Rhythm and Views!

Written By: The Lowdown - Jun• 29•13

Dance, music, arts and drums are coming to Livingstone to mark the Bicentenary of the birth of Dr David Livingstone, born 200 years ago.  Throughout this year Livingstone is celebrating Dr David Livingstone’s commitment to exploration, medicine, education and the eradication of slavery, still an active campaign 200 years later.


As part of these celebrations, The David Livingstone Bicentenary and Livingstone 2013 Initiative see the bicentenary as a great opportunity for Livingstone and Zambia to bring together our own Zambian culture with those of our neighbouring countries, nations where David Livingstone also lived, worked, travelled and explored, through a Cultural Arts Festival and Street Carnival of African culture, music, dance and art. The first ever Livingstone International Cultural Arts Festival will be held on 21 and 22 June and will become an annual event on the international calendar in Livingstone. With the backdrop of the Victoria Falls spray seen from the town centre, rhythm and stunning views can be experienced by all who come to this great new party.


The Festival is timed to coincide with the arrival of direct flights from Nairobi to Livingstone, by Kenyan Airways, a major sponsor of this event. The airline will be flying in a cultural group of Masai warriors to mark the occasion.


Many countries have shown great interest in the event, including the Seychelles, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, India and Cuba. Invitations have gone out to fifteen nations in total, including the USA, China, Turkey, UK, South Korea and Egypt, to come and participate and bring a cultural dance or music group to the Festival.


Through the very generous sponsorship of Safari Par Excellence, the renowned UK Caribbean Steel Orchestra, The Melodians, will be extending their visit to Zambia and will come to Livingstone to take part in the Festival. This will add a very different lively rhythm and beat to the Festival, yet one which also has its roots in Africa. Over this fun and spectacular two day period, we will be celebrating the vibrant and colourful diversity of culture not only from Africa but also elsewhere in the world.


The Seychelles and Zimbabwe have already confirmed they will attend and Zimbabwe will bring with them a live band in addition to a cultural dance group.


The Regional Tourism Association of Southern Africa (RETOSA) will be hosting a regional meeting of Ministers and Chief Executives from its member Tourism Boards and those attending will also bring a cultural group with them to participate in the Festival.


The festivities will kick-off on Friday 21 June at the Victoria Falls where there will be a photo shoot of the Zambian Maramba Cultural team, the Masai and other dancers and drummers on the Victoria Falls Bridge, on the banks of the Zambezi River and on Livingstone Island, if the river water level is low enough to give safe access to the island.


There will be a wonderful cacophony of music, drums and dancing as the Street Carnival winds its way slowly up through the centre of Livingstone on Friday afternoon, with participating countries proceeding along Livingstone’s main street, Mosi-oa-Tunya Road. This will be an eye-catching extravaganza for all to enjoy and the route will be from Falls Park Mall through town to the Livingstone Royal Golf & Country Club. Some groups will be on foot, some on flatbed trucks, which local artists will be invited to decorate. This will be followed by live bands performing on stage at the Golf Club in the evening. Elsewhere in Livingstone, foreign dignitaries will be invited to attend a Gala Dinner.


On Saturday 22 June, there will be fun for everyone with performances at the Golf Club, pavilions promoting participating nations through culture, art and tourism. There will be Zambian masked dancers moving around amongst the spectators, African drumming, cultural dancing, arts, crafts, food and music.


“We wanted this to be a community festival, so we will be encouraging the people to come along, bring a drum or buy a drum at the festival, and join in The African Beat later in the afternoon, when school children and students will join in concentric rainbow circles around the central stage prior to the Prize Giving and Finale”, said Felix Chaila, MD of the Zambia Tourism Board.


This Festival is a collaboration between The Livingstone Arts, Cultural & Sporting Events Development Organisation (LACSEDO)  and The David Livingstone Bicentenary & Livingstone 2013 Initiative, The Zambia Tourism Board, The Ministry of Tourism, The Department of Culture and other organisations, all working in partnership.


LACSEDO which is behind the bicentenary initiative is a non-profit-making Trust with the aim of being a private-public partnership, working with the community, business, and government.


“We are forging links between the UK and Livingstone, to mark the bicentenary of David Livingstone this year”, says Fred Mwendapole, Government and Community Liaison Officer for the organisation. “We are hosting international arts, cultural and sporting events to celebrate this which kick-started on 19 March and will run through to 16 November. We aim to ensure there is a lasting legacy moving forward from this bicentennial year. This is something for everyone in the community.”


For further information, please visit www.livingstone2013.com or email events@livingstone2013.com

 By Belinda Hodge

The Rowing Regatta-5


The Melodians Steel Band

The Melodians Steel Band


Zambia Festivals-10


Microlight 2



Shedding Some Light On Load Shedding

Written By: The Lowdown - Jun• 29•13

front cover smallBecoming tired of candle-lit television every second night, we decided to conduct a brief and, mind you, not very scientific survey, to find out whether load shedding is carried out in a fair and equitable manner. In other words, does everybody have their turn to enjoy two, three and sometimes four hours of darkness every second night? Or is it only some areas that have the switch flicked on them?

We probably shouldn’t be surprised at the results, but here are a selection all the same:

– Dave and I now live in Solwezi. Here in town it goes off at least every third day for at least four hours and often this is in the early evening. We spend many evenings going to bed without a cooked meal.
– Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday between 1800 and 2100 in Garden Township Lusaka. (We sometimes get shed in the mornings on those days as well, from about 0600 till later)
– No problem with power Nkana East, Kitwe
– We’re supposed to have load shedding Tuesdays 18:00 – 21:00 in Kamenza, Chililabombwe. It rarely happens
– Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday from 18:00 hrs to 21:00 hrs Lusaka – Kalingalinga
– I must say that in Mfuwe the situation is a million times better than it used to be. We do have outages for maintenance etc. But we very seldom have that 2 hour shed scenario we used to get. Two years ago it was virtually every night
– By Unza and we never have load shedding
– Load Shedding … Crossroads … It is never regular … sometimes it is once a week sometimes it is 3 – 4 times a week. 1800hrs – 2000hrs (last time it was 2100hrs) and at least once a week during the day. We never know when to expect it – that is what makes it so frustrating!
– I live in Luanshya, we have load shedding 3 to 4 times a week anything from 2 to 4 hours
– Although I stand to be corrected; North-West Chibombo seems to be switched-off on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights (at peak domestic demand time)
So the answer is no, not everyone is paying the price of Zesco’s failure to plan for the growth in Zambia’s power requirements and the growth in our economy. Instead they chose to spend money, which should have been spent on maintenance and rehabilitation of existing power stations and on new investment, on other and possibly frivolous things. One can only imagine what.

Book Review

Written By: The Lowdown - Jun• 29•13

logo Book ReviewRoses Under the Miombo Trees
By Amanda Parkyn

This memoir focuses on Amanda’s life in the 1960s in Southern and Northern Rhodesia. Based on letters she wrote to her parents in England, the book covers noteworthy events in Rhodesia’s history as witnessed through the eyes of Amanda as a young naive housewife who found herself in colonial Africa.

As the wife of a sales representative it meant frequent changes, as they moved to progressively smaller communities, first in Southern Rhodesia pre-Ian Smith, then north to Abercorn on the tip of Lake Tanganyika.

Amanda wrote home regularly as she learnt to keep house, to become a madam to a string of servants, and as she tried to fit into a white society very dissimilar to that of her childhood and adolescence.

Starting a family brought new challenges as she learnt to make do in inventive ways to extend their tiny budget. Back in England her mother frequently sent parcels of everything including shoes, clothing and Christmas cakes, all the time keeping her daughter’s airmail letters in an old leather document case.

Forty years later Amanda revisited these letters, and weaves a tale around the voice of her young self and her memories of the time, setting the story within its historical and political context.

Amanda illustrates the easy-going enjoyment of a privileged white daily life in the pleasant climate of Southern Africa, the fun and ingenuity of communities making their own amusement, the support and camaraderie young wives give each other so far from home. But she also reveals a young woman’s concealed disquiet at the strangeness of it all.

Roses Under the Miombo Trees is available online from www.troubador.co.uk or you can contact Amanda directly through www.rosesunderthemiombotrees.wordpress.com.

roses under the miombo tree

Chipata Cujo

Written By: The Lowdown - Jun• 29•13

front cover small“Oh…unfortunately, we don’t have the rabies immunoglobulin at our chemist.” These were words I didn’t want to hear after being bitten by a rabid dog and twelve hours of frantic travel by road and air to get to a clinic that had told me it WAS available.

On January 19, the sun had just risen over Chipata, it was 6.30 am and I was just about to finish my early morning power walk. The light was gorgeous on the maize fields, birds were chirping, the previous night’s rain was still dripping from the leaves. My husband Dale had just finished his morning jog and had passed through the yard gate … I was plodding along about 30 feet away, thinking about a nice cup of fresh brewed coffee when …

Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain on my upper left thigh. I looked down and saw a village dog savagely biting down on my thigh in a death grip. I shouted at it and reached down to pry its jaws open to release me. The dog, a skinny brindled mongrel was growling while I opened its jaws and when it released me, I kicked it away, tearing open a big hole in my shorts. It snarled and barked at me and then launched another attack, biting me a few inches lower on my thigh. I kicked it off and luckily, it trotted away as I walked to the safety of our gate. I looked down at my shorts and saw the bleeding wound … OH MY GOD! RABIES! I’ve been bitten by CUJO.

Mr Ngoma, our night watchman, was preparing to leave his night shift when he heard me shouting. When I reached the gate, Mr Ngoma decided to confront the dog and before I could stop him, he started chucking stones at it. Cujo then turned his fury upon Mr Ngoma and in horror, Dale and I watched the two battle each other with the man trying to throttle the dog and receiving a nasty bite on his hand. Mr Ngoma finally got a firm grip on the dog’s neck, carried it over to the brick wall and bashed its head against the bricks until it went limp. Dale ran to get a shovel to break its neck but just like in a horror flick, Cujo suddenly leaped to his feet and took off down the road.

Rabies! Rabies! Rabies! These were the only thoughts flashing in my mind as I cleaned my wounds and disinfected them with Savlon. I tried to squeeze more blood from the wounds but I knew that I was in serious trouble. About three years ago, I had another rabies scare from a bite by a baby squirrel. That experience had taught me that what I needed more than anything else was 5 ml of rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) and that none would be available in Zambia and to make things worse, I needed to be injected with RIG within 24 hours of being bitten.

I called a veterinarian friend of mine and asked about RIG … she told me there was nothing in Zambia or Malawi and I could only get it in South Africa. I then quickly checked airline tickets to Joburg … next available flight was out of Lusaka at 1.20 pm. (A red digital clock started counting down in the back of my mind.) Mr Ngoma had no passport and would not be able to travel to S.A. so we made sure his bite wounds were cleaned and gave him money for a taxi and meds then instructed him to get to Chipata General Hospital to start a rabies vaccine series. Rabies vaccine is readily available in Zambia and is a good preventative but after being exposed, it is not a 100% guarantee to stop the virus from taking hold. RIG was what was needed. To catch the 1.20 pm flight, we could not waste a single minute. We frantically raced around the house, handing over to our housekeeper, got passports and cash and by 7.15 am, Dale and I were speeding down the road to Lusaka. Dale normally drives fast but on this morning he became a Formula One driver. Our average travel time from Chipata to Lusaka was about six and a half hours but Dale’s goal was to do it in five hours and get us to the airport by 12.30 pm. So after a quick fuel stop … we were OFF, averaging about 140 kph! Lusaka International Airport was a long 567 kilometres away.

During that five hour frantic drive, we were on the phone to various people who could help us get to South Africa. Tickets were organised and a diplomat friend offered to meet us at Lusaka airport to expedite immigration and check in. A veterinarian friend recommended that I start the rabies vaccine series as well as getting the RIG and offered to meet me on the road to the airport and administer the first injection of rabies vaccine. Another person found a clinic in Johannesburg that had the RIG and arranged for someone to meet us and take us there. Now, all we had to do was get to the airport before the plane departed.

There was not much traffic on the road that Saturday morning … we didn’t hit any goats or pigs but we did pass a few lorries on blind corners … YIKES! We stopped for all road traffic roadblocks but the tsetse control gate … SCREW THAT! and went completely around it. No time to stop to go pee with every minute needed to get us closer to Lusaka. But I remembered a trick I learned on a boat. I found a plastic water bottle, cut the top off and helped Dale fill up the bottle, his hands being preoccupied with speeding down the road. My situation was a wee bit more complicated but I managed to make a deposit and all was tossed out the window. No time for pit stops! We flew over the speed bumps and pot holes but for the most part, the five hour drive was uneventful except for the long periods of silences … the two of us deep in thought … the red digital clock in my head ticking away the minutes.

As we approached Lusaka, I estimated that we would probably arrive forty minutes before departure. Parking the vehicle at the long term parking area would waste valuable time so we arranged for someone to meet us at the parking area and we would just jump out and hand over the keys. My vet friend agreed to meet us on the road before the first security road block to the airport and our timing was perfect. We met, hugged each other, got my injection, jumped back into the vehicle and raced to the airport. Tick, tick, tick … we were five minutes behind schedule. There was a bit of panic when the automated parking meter stall had a sign posted on it …OUT OF ORDER. Couldn’t they display the sign BEFORE you entered the stall!? We had to back up to get into the aisle of the one that that did work. Where’s Lance? Where’s Lance? OH … there he is! Lance handed us the air tickets and we handed over our car keys … tick tick tick. We raced to the security stall and the man at the Airport security looked at our tickets and said, “Sorry, its 20 minutes to departure …you are too late”. AHHHHHH!!!!! But before we could perform a public freak out, our diplomat friend met us, flashed his security badge and INSISTED on getting us thru. A few words spoken loudly and we were allowed to enter … check in … no checked luggage … immigration … and we were escorted to the plane where the other passengers were just being loaded aboard. Whew, we made it!

A two hour flight allowed us some badly needed downtime. It was a miserable wet rainy day in Joburg but we got thru immigration and customs without a glitch and were pleased to find a person waiting for us at Arrivals. Before we knew it, we were on our way to the clinic. Things were looking up.

The ARWYP clinic was very impressive … clean, computerised administration, helpful staff. I checked in and waited some minutes to be seen by a physician … tick, tick, tick. I finally got to see a nurse who asked lots of questions and gave me a tetanus shot … but Dale and I were starting to get a nervous feeling about the place … no one was mentioning that they had RIG. Eventually, I got to see a doctor, nice confident young man who looked at my wounds and asked a few questions. I couldn’t wait and had to ask THE question that had been bouncing around my mind ever since I arrived …”You do have rabies immunoglobulin in stock.” The doctor stopped, thought carefully for a second and said, “Hmm … let me go check the chemist.” CHECK THE CHEMIST?!!! We had specifically asked the clinic if they had RIG and they confirmed and said they would be expecting me. I felt my stomach ball up … Oh no … they don’t have it! Dale went with the doctor and a few minutes later it was confirmed … they DID NOT have RIG after all! OH MY GOD! I was doomed!

As Dale left to go pester the chemist, the doctor told me that they could look for another source for the RIG … or I could just have a “leap of faith” and hope for the best. F*** the leap of faith! I NEED RIG!! Of course, I did not say that exactly, but I did express my intense desire to find another source of RIG. Happily, Dale returned and announced that the chemist found another source about 25 kms away and he and the driver set off to collect it.

The problem with RIG availability is that Joburg hospitals have little need to keep it in stock because the city has very strict rabies vaccination rules and rabies cases are rare. Most of the RIG supplies are sent out to rural areas where rabies is more prevalent. In Zambia I heard that RIG was not available because it’s too expensive and had a short shelf life but that meant that an unknown number of people must die of rabies each year. It’s criminal that hospitals and even high end clinics do not keep RIG in their stores.

After a LONG one and half hour wait, Dale returned with the RIG on ice and I FINALLY got the injections I needed … well within the 24 hours after the attack … the red digital clock in my head gratefully shut off.

When things finally calmed down and I did some more research … I learned that I actually could have received RIG up to 10 days after being bitten but the sooner it is administered the better. Also in my favour was my previous vaccination against rabies was only three years previously which was still effective. I completed the four rabies vaccine shots which are no longer injected into the abdomen, just the arm. I talked to a doctor in Lusaka about my ordeal and questioned him about rabies. He says that there were cases of rabies breaking thru even if the patient had previous vaccinations and had received the RIG, but he says that those were very rare incidents … I sure hope so.

As for Mr Ngoma, he seems to be fine and I am praying that the rabies vaccines work and he dodges the virus. And Cujo? After he bit me and Mr Ngoma, Cujo ran down the road and bit a neighbor’s dog and a donkey and was never seen again, probably dying within a few days but who knows how many more people or dogs he bit. My neighbor’s dog was vaccinated and survived but the donkey died two months later of rabies. The virus marches on.

My final advice, if you want to be safe from rabies … get the rabies vaccine shots which are available in most clinics and chemists, are not expensive and don’t hurt. If you do get bitten by a rabid dog start the rabies vaccine series and call AWRYP in Johannesburg(+27 (0)11 922-1000) and tell them you need Rabies Immunoglobulin shots and ask them to please check their chemist to make sure it is available before making the trip down. They are reluctant to give out RIG unless you can convince them it is a bonafide rabies case, getting nipped by your Jack Russell just won’t do. Then get your body to SA as fast as possible and … GOOD LUCK!

Keeping Your Box Cleaned Up

Written By: The Lowdown - Jun• 29•13

front cover small This article may not be pertinent to users of personal web based email accounts like gmail, yahoo, and hotmail but if you have your own private ‘proper’ email address, this information might just be relevant to your sanity.

Running a business can be difficult at the best of times, but what happens when your email programme crashes? That niggling memory of thinking about backing it all up but having too much else on your plate and putting it off!

Many people use Outlook for their emails, and while I am not experienced in dealing with full mailboxes with the other email programs, I do know a little about the problems with Outlook. Outlook stores all your emails in a .pst file. Your .pst file limit varies between the different versions of Outlook, however more modern versions of Outlook have a size limit of 20 GB to 50 GB. When you reach that limit … well, let’s just hope you don’t.

So, you may have noticed the your Outlook lags, takes a long time to load the email you just clicked on or takes a long time to load when you start it up in the mornings.

Time for a cleanup.

The first step in cleaning up your mailbox, is checking the size of your mailbox. There are a couple of ways to check the size of your mailbox, but the easiest is to go: Tools > Mailbox Cleanup > View Mailbox Size. This helps because it gives you a better idea of where the larger parts are. So, now you know what’s stored where, what do you do now?

The Mailbox Cleanup tool can be useful. It gives you the option to ‘View Deleted Items Size’, empty the trash, always a good place to start. Mailbox Cleanup has a button for that, ‘Empty’.

Unless you are obsessive when it comes to getting rid of emails after they are no longer of any use, this won’t do too much for your .pst file size, after all, what do most people delete? Invitations to LinkedIn, Spam, those chain mails that promise something good will happen if you forward this email within 10 minutes, Facebook alerts, and bounce messages. Surely you have more emails you could hide away or get rid of.

Don’t forget the Junk mailbox, though this one needs checking, sometimes Outlook puts emails in there that it shouldn’t. Have a brief scan through, who knows, you may find that invoice you said you never received. Delete the rest.

What about the long emails, the one you received, responded to, then got a response from, then responded to, then got a response, then responded to. You get the point, instead of keeping the first five responses, why not just keep the sixth, as long as all the other messages are quoted in there. This is time consuming though, so it’s best to do it while you’re in the midst of responses and responding.

Archiving – Who knew that Outlook can be quite clever when it comes to this! Outlook has an AutoArchive feature which will help to keep your mailbox nicely clean if you learn how to use it correctly. But you really must understand it properly otherwise without intervention it may end up archiving emails you’re still trying to deal with.

So let’s assume you have folders in your Outlook. Outlook always automatically has your Inbox, Deleted Items, Drafts, Junk E-mail, Outbox, RSS Feeds, and Sent Items, but these aren’t the ones I’m talking about. I’m talking about the folders you created, an Accounts folder maybe, or To Do, Newsletters, Follow Up, Mum (yes I have one of these), or maybe you have folders for clients or suppliers you deal with regularly. What do you want Outlook to do with the emails in these? Well Follow Up and To Do you don’t really want Archived, but emails from your Mum and Newsletters folder you really don’t need to access all the time.

Setting up AutoArchive; Tools > Options > Other > AutoArchive. It’s fairly self explanatory from there, ‘Run AutoArchive every’ Choose how often you want AutoArchive to run, this really depends on your volume of emails, the more emails you receive daily, the more often it should run. ‘Prompt before AutoArchive runs’ – no thanks, I don’t have time to click the silly button, but maybe you do – don’t put it off though. ‘During AutoArchive:’ Make sure ‘Delete expired items’ is not ticked unless you actually want to delete all emails when they reach a certain age. ‘Archive or delete old items’ – yes, we want to archive our emails. ‘Show archive folder in folder list’ – for simplicity and being able to find emails later, tick it, it will show up in the left hand ‘Mail Folders’ bar. ‘Default folder setting for archiving’; ‘Clean out items older than …’ Again, this is your choice, dependant on how many emails you receive each day, the more you receive, the more often the better, you don’t really want your Inbox to have to load the 15,000 emails you received in the last 6 months every time you open it. ‘Move old items to:’ this is the option you will want to use unless you want to delete all your old emails. Outlook should automatically create its own path and Archive.pst file, it will put it in the same place as your Outlook.pst file (that’s the one we’re trying to clean up). It is possible for your Archive.pst file to get too big as well, so maybe, when you find you are struggling to search your archives, it’s time to set up a new Archive.pst file. To do this, click ‘Browse’ type in a new name like Archive 2013 and click ok. We’re done with setting up the AutoArchive.

Now, we did discuss not letting Outlook move those sacred emails in the Follow Up and To Do folders. Right click on each folder in turn and click ‘Properties > AutoArchive’ Select your settings. ‘Do not archive items in this folder’ for your Follow Up and To Do folders. ‘Archive items in this folder using the default settings’ this uses your AutoArchive settings. ‘Archive this folder using these settings:’ set custom settings for a certain folder. You can also use this option to create separate archive.pst files for each folder, sometimes it’s easier not to mix up mum’s emails with the Accounts emails.

Now you have deleted emails and archived others, you may notice that it still says your .pst file is the same size, don’t worry, all you have to do is Tools > Account Settings > Data Files > Personal Folders > Settings > Compact Now. This removes all of the spaces from your Outlook.pst file that were left when the emails were moved.

One last thing. And this one is a big one. If you use IMAP, this is not relevant. Tools > Account Settings > select your account > Change > More Settings > Advanced. It is possible for your mailbox to fill up on the server side. Emails are stored on a server, for example, if your email address is abc@zamnet.zm, the email account is hosted on a Zamnet server. When someone sends you an email, it gets delivered onto the Zamnet server. Then when you do a ‘Send and Receive’, the emails waiting on the server are downloaded into your Outlook. Depending on your settings, Outlook either leaves the email on the server, deletes the email off the server, leaves the email on the server for however many days then deletes it, or deletes the email from the server when you finally get round to deleting the email from your deleted items folder. By default, leave the email on the server is ticked. This means, if you only have a limited size mailbox on the server. When that mailbox fills up, emails start bouncing and the sender will receive a message saying something along the lines of ‘Message would exceed quota for ’. Now, which option to select? If you have multiple computers or devices (iPads, phones, etc) and want all emails on all devices, ‘Remove from server after # days’. This gives you time to make sure you download your emails a couple of times and everything is everywhere (on each device). My suggestion is to avoid ‘Remove from server when deleted from ‘Deleted Items’. If you only have one computer, deselect ‘Leave a copy of messages on the server’.

Keeping your box cleaned up will not only reduce your frustrations but also the panic which seems to set in when emails are not flowing. It will also save you downtime and multiple calls to either the company IT person or your service provider and the aggravation that that can also bring.

So keep your box cleaned up – you will be glad you did


Written By: The Lowdown - May• 31•13

Our Gorgeous Gorge

Written By: The Lowdown - May• 31•13

Northern 2011 09 10 DSC_5138It has been there for years, waiting quietly downstream as we drifted along, waiting patiently until we reached there. And now we have reached there; reached that stage in our development.  The Batoka Gorge Dam.


The first geological studies of the Batoka Gorge were undertaken in 1904 when the Victoria FallsBridge was being constructed and when the Victoria Falls Hydro Electric Scheme was being planned (the Victoria Falls Hydro Electric Scheme was not realised until 1938). In 1972 a report, by Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners (who also worked on Kariba Dam) prepared on behalf of the Central African Power Corporation (CAPCO) , identified a number of suitable sites on the Zambezi for development as hydro schemes. These included Batoka Gorge and Devil’s Gorge, upstream of Kariba and Mupata Gorge, downstream of Kariba. A further report by Gibb in 1981 relocated the dam site some 12 kilometres upstream, due to a mapping error.  The current technical, legal and environmental feasibility studies were carried out in 1993.


When plans to build this dam were resurrected in 1993, a major obstacle was the settlement of outstanding debts owed to us by Zimbabwe, dating back to the division of jointly owned assets from CAPCO. According to the announcement made earlier this year, Zimbabwe have now agreed to pay back the US$ 70 million, finally settling this issue and thereby opening the way to the building of the Batoka Dam.


The proposed Batoka Power project site is located approximately 50 km below the Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River and once completed will supply a total of 1600 MW of power to Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is also believed that the project could enhance generating capacity at Kariba power station, downstream of the Batoka Gorge site, by 300 MW. The proposed dam has a wall 181 metres high and two underground power stations. Depending on what you are reading, the surface area of the dam is around 26 square kilometres and the reservoir would back up for nearly fifty kilometres, completely flooding the Batoka Gorge below the Victoria Falls. Bids for the construction of the dam on a Build, Operate, Transfer basis were invited in December last year and the tender closed in February 2013.  The estimated construction cost is US$ 2.5 billion and it was announced on 4 April that the Zambezi River Authority has shortlisted six international investors. The World Bank has also shown an interest in the project.


The reasons being advanced for the construction of this dam is that both Zambia and Zimbabwe are suffering from national power deficits and need to increase their power generating capacity.  As the economies of both countries grow, these deficits are going to become more acute.  Solving Zimbabwe’s power deficit is seen as a crucial factor in their recovery.


Trying to establish precisely what Zimbabwe’s generating capacity is and what their peak demand is, is difficult. However, it seems that the generating capacity is around 1,400 MW and their peak demand is 2,200 MW. It is reported that there have been no significant investments in power generation in Zimbabwe since 1980. The importation of power is not a realistic and sustainable option especially since the entire region is facing a deficit. In addition, Zimbabwe’s track record on paying for power imported by them from neighbouring states is not good.  Zambia and DRC are specifically mentioned in the report and, as an aside, it would be interesting to know how much, if any, is still owed to ZESCO/Zambia for exports to Zimbabwe.


Back home in Zambia, according to the ZESCO website, we have a generating capacity of 1,800 MW, with a 70 MW power deficit during peak periods. Also according to the ZESCO website, by 2015 our generating capacity will be 3,000 MW, excluding any new dams being built on the ZambeziRiver. If this information is indeed correct and realistic, then it would seem that our domestic power requirements are pretty much taken care of, at least for the next few years, without the Batoka Dam and we will still have enough to export to the region. In addition to this Zambia has further hydro capacity to increase our generating capacity to 6,000 MW although, I believe this includes the Batoka Dam and two other dams on the Zambezi at Devils Gorge and Mupata Gorge.


Given the above, the question in my mind is whether we, Zambia, really need this dam or is it only being built at the behest of our southerly neighbour?


Looking further, what will be the impact of this dam?  Remember that the environmental feasibility studies were carried out in 1993. They are however to be reviewed this year.  Without a doubt, there will be an impact on the environment.


After tumbling over the magnificent Victoria Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world and a World Heritage site, the ZambeziRiver transforms from a docile river to a fierce torrent cutting through the dramatic gorges until reaching the once again placid and mostly peaceful waters of LakeKariba. From the Victoria Falls, the Batoka Gorge system is about 120 km long. The river has carved its way through the basalt rock to make a gorge which is about 140 metres deep. The dramatic landscape comprises cliffs and screes. The flat plain on top of the gorge supports mopane woodland. Riparian forest occurs in parts along the Zambezi and some of the gorges formed by tributaries. The screes are covered in thick mixed woodland interspersed with grassland.


The steep walls of the gorges, where not too sheer, support mixed deciduous woodland typified by small to medium sized paper bark trees, which form mostly on the moister sheltered sides of the river gorge. On the harsher slopes of the gorge are found two rare and localised tree species, Entandrophragma caudatum and the Propeller Tree (Gryocarpus americanus) which is of note for its wind-borne seed with two lobed wings which propel the seed to the ground.


Of note on the shrub species found in the gorge, is the Everlasting Plant noted for its adaptation to the seasonal variations in moisture which allow the plant to almost completely dry out, only to revive from the dead when water returns.


On drier, more exposed, rock faces, tree species are replaced by Aloes, with their red flowers. Aloe cryptopoda has the distinction of being discovered by David Livingstone’s 1859 expedition


The Batoka Gorge is listed as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International on the basis of its conservation importance. The Taita falcon, a small, agile and endangered species breeds there, as do many other rare birds of prey, such as Verraux’s eagle, lanner and Peregrine falcon. Thirty four species of raptor occur or have been seen in the gorge, including owls.


The Taita falcon is patchily distributed from eastern to southern Africa. It breeds in highlands and mountain regions with high cliffs and river gorges, mainly in areas with low rainfall. It is a scarce species, with probably around 1,000 adults. The flooding caused by the proposed dam will threaten the breeding pairs which are normally found in this gorge.


The site of the dam is below the MoembaFalls and the 50 kilometre length of the reservoir will be entirely within the Batoka Gorge. This will be a deep, lifeless and ecologically bankrupt lake and will therefore not sustain a commercial fishing industry as LakeKariba has done.


Today there is very little usage of the gorge itself except for white-water rafting and kayaking, with the Batoka Gorge being world renowned as the most challenging, tempestuous and the best commercially operated white water rapids in the world; a major attraction for Livingstone. The development of the Batoka Gorge Dam threatens to destroy this tourist business as it will also completely destroy the natural river in the middle Zambezi.


But it is not only about seemingly sentimental tree-hugging stuff.  A hydrologist from the US State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services recently stated “that many existing and proposed hydropower dams are not properly evaluated for the risks of natural hydrological variability, which is extremely high in the Zambezi river, not to mention the risks posed by climate change.” As a result of climate change, the Zambezi will experience worse droughts and more extreme floods; the worst potential effects of climate change among eleven major sub-Saharan African river basins. Multiple studies estimate that rainfall across the basin will decrease by 10% to 15% resulting in significant warming and therefore higher evaporation rates.  Large dams evaporate more water than natural rivers and these very dams could worsen local water shortages resulting in less water for hydropower. More than 11% of the Zambezi’s mean annual flow is lost to evaporation from dams, which increases the risk of shortfalls in power generation and extensively impacts on downstream ecosystem functions. The design of the Batoka Gorge dam is based on historical hydrological records and have not been evaluated for the risks associated with reduced mean annual flows and more extreme flood and drought cycles. Thus the dam is unlikely to deliver the expected power output. The occurrence of more frequent extreme floods threatens the stability and safe operation of large dams. Extreme flooding events, a natural feature of the Zambezi river system, have become more costly downstream since the construction of large dams. If dams are ‘underdesigned’ for larger floods, the result could be serious safety risks to millions of people living in the basin. (Source: www.nepadwatercoe.org)


And let us not forget greenhouse gas emissions. Dams in the tropics have two principle greenhouse gas emission sources: carbon released from soil carbon stocks and dying vegetation when the reservoir is flooded and methane formed where organic matter decays under low oxygen conditions at the bottom of the reservoir. Methane emissions are helped along by a dam’s turbines, which draw from the bottom of the reservoir and spray methane-dense water into the air upon release. Emissions from rotting vegetation occur on an ongoing basis when the levels of the reservoir fluctuate: during the dry season weeds emerge from the muddy drop-down zone, only to rot again when waters return. The effect turns a dam into a “methane factory”. Dams can also be enablers of deforestation, spawning roads that facilitate new clearing for farms etc. A recent study found that greenhouse gas emissions are still occurring ten years after dams are constructed.

Dams further compound pollution problems in rivers.  Free-flowing rivers with sufficient oxygen and balanced natural nutrients reduce or remove the toxicity of any contaminants that have seeped into the river. By reducing the rivers’ ability to flush out pollutants, contaminants accumulate in the reservoir and submerge any vegetation.  This in turn rots. Apart from the greenhouse gases emitted from this rotting vegetation, the water can also become highly toxic with significant ecological effects downstream, not to mention the effect on human health (Source: www.mongabay.com)


Experts have also expressed concern regarding the impact on the biologically rich and productive Zambezi Delta, the largest estuary wetland complex on the eastern coast of Africa as a result of the construction of the proposed Batoka Gorge dam, the Mphanda Nkuwa Dam to be built in Mozambique as well as the existing dams, Kariba and Cahora Bassa. They have predicted that the estuary would be completely dessicated.


We mentioned earlier that the environmental feasibility studies were carried out in 1993. So too were the legal feasibility studies. Legal issues will not only involve Zambia and Zimbabwe, but also quite conceivably Mozambique, downstream of us.  Certainly the operations of Kariba such as opening and closing the flood gates has to take into account the people downstream in Mozambique’s Zambezia Province who are deeply affected with flooding, crops and homes washed away, schools, bridges and roads damaged. Also to be considered is the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia on the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area as the proposed dam site is well within the KAZA TFCA area.


Also to be considered is the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, work on which has already started.  This project aims to pump large quantities of water from the Zambezi to the Zimbabwean town of Bulawayo, by way of various dams and a 450 kilometre pipeline. We also understand that Botswana wishes to tap water out of the Zambezi which is eventually going to make its way to South Africa.  Zambia, and quite rightly so, refused to sign the Zambezi River Protocol and argued that 75 percent of the Zambezi River basin is in Zambia and Zambia contributes 42 percent of Zambezi River water. Therefore, Zambia wants this natural advantage to be factored in when it comes to water abstraction from the ZambeziRiver.  An agreement was finally reached but more about this in the future.


The legal side of this dam will also be interesting given that it is to be constructed on a Build, Operate, Transfer basis.  A private investor will build and operate it for some years and then transfer ownership once said investor has recouped its investment. One assumes that in the interim Zambia and Zimbabwe will buy power from the private investor. It will be interesting to see how this is negotiated and how it pans out in practise.


It is abundantly clear that there is much more to the construction of the Batoka Gorge Dam than first meets the eye. The impact is going to be enormous, with both positive and negative impacts. Yet this project has already gone to tender and the public, in general, seem to know very little about it. One has to assume that a full Environmental Impact Assessment will be conducted and that the public will be entitled to have an input in the process and that their input will be taken into account when arriving at the final decision.


As a sovereign country, but also as a member of the SADC regional community, we need to find solutions that ensure sufficient power generation, both at home and regionally, to ensure economic growth so that our citizens may prosper and so that we may raise the standard of life and of living for ALL of our citizens. In planning infrastructure and other developments, we need to make sure that whilst improving something in one area we are not creating a problem in another area. In this particular case, perhaps now is the time for Zambia to consider and adopt a policy on whether multiple smaller hydropower stations should be built in preference to one or two large dams with their hydropower schemes. But whatever decisions are made, the course of action must be for the benefit of Zambian citizens first, and the region second. In arriving at these decisions, citizens should be consulted and their input taken into account.  It is only through consultation and discussion that problems are solved to the satisfaction of all players; the not-so-elusive Win-Win situation.

Livingstone 010



Twit or Twitter

Written By: The Lowdown - May• 31•13

Northern 2011 09 10 DSC_5138Whether we are computer savvy or not, we have all heard about the explosion of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and how they are changing the way people communicate. Many see it as akin to the invention of the wheel, allowing them to stay in touch with friends and family anywhere in the world. For others it is an infuriating waste of time, with people posting banal and dreary details of their lives. For others, they believe these sites are full of baddies like the person who told me recently that Facebook was full of paedophiles!


Zambians have taken to Facebook and Twitter with great enthusiasm and there are a myriad of Facebook pages where Zambians are discussing politics, the economy and even road safety in an open and friendly manner.  Reading through these sites gives one a great insight into what people are thinking, what the opposing arguments are and what people are concerned about. They can also be very amusing sometimes although I have to admit to getting irritated sometimes at the posters who use what has become internet slang – these pipo drv me mad. Pliz use prpr grammar!


Twitter is another story. Each post allows for a maximum of 140 characters and often the posts are a largely useless stream of words without any context, almost reinforcing and proving Sturgeon’s Law that ‘ninety percent of everything is c**p’.


But some Twitter posters are amusing as are the responses to their posts.  For example ZESCO EXPLAINS IT which has the slogan ZESCO – Souring The Nation (a parody). Except that I believe many of the responders have not realised that the tweets (what postings are called for the uninformed) are satirical and believe that they come from ZESCO themselves.


But amusing and interesting as I find some of the posts on Facebook and Twitter, what I have realised is that many posters and tweeters do not seem to understand that by posting anything on the internet, they have effectively become publishers. And with publishing comes certain responsibilities in terms of what can or cannot be published without laying oneself open to possible legal action. Any person who posts content online is responsible for that content. And if you re-publish something which you yourself have read online, you are as responsible as the original poster. But it doesn’t end there either. If you publish something which is libellous and others repost it, you may also be held responsible for their re-posts. The message thus is very loud and clear – that the public cannot treat Twitter and Facebook as they would a casual chat in the pub.