Woman Made me Love Zambia PART ELEVEN

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Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

Whether you were in Sinjembela in the Western Province, Garnerton on the Copperbelt, Munyumbwe and Chipepo Harbour in the remote Gwembe Valley in the Southern Province, Lake Mweru in Nchelenge in the Luapula Province, Nyika Plateau in the remote corner of the country that is Chama in the Eastern Province, and from NegaNega Hills across from the Kafue River, in 1976 you wanted to see Cairo Road in Lusaka. Whether you were in Shiwa Ng’andu in the Northern Province, Kapoche in the Lusaka Province, Mkushi and Serenje in the Central Province, Mwinilunga in the Northwestern Province, Kafulafuta, Bwana Mkumbwa, Chijemu Village in Lundazi, and even in Bauleni Compound, Kabanana and Matero in Lusaka in the Capital City itself, you wanted to not only see but to experience the spectacle and intrigue that was Cairo Road in 1976.

This is probably one of the many mysterious but powerful human forces why my love Linda Jitanda from Chintele Village in the Northwestern Province may have been attracted to me when I first met her at Sinjonjo Bar in Mongu those two most memorable nights of my life; I was a dashing young man from Lusaka. Linda may have expected, imagined, dreamed  of my helping her escape from the powerful clutches of her dull small village life to possibly  travel hundreds of kilometers or miles to be with me, to see for herself but especially to experience the spectacle of the Capital City of Lusaka and especially  Cairo Road. I expected the possibilities of being with her attractive luscious womanhood to satiate some of my most wild physical and emotional fantasies from that time up to eternity. That’s what mutual deep love does between men and women; the two lovers provide the other with a dream of the possibly of being rescued from whatever the current painful troubles of the heart, the soul and for the existing desolate life to be transformed into unimaginable possibilities of the heart’s exciting adventure far into the unknown future in the tender arms of the lover.

Zambia Airways flight from Lusaka to Mongu.

Lusaka’s Cairo Road was at its most spectacular on Saturday mornings at ten hours.  When I was a student at the University of Zambia, my best friend James Lituli, a Bemba boy, and I were always broke. We used to each have 50 ngwee leftover from the K25 student allowance, the Jackpot as we used to call it, which we received each term. On Saturday morning, we would catch the big yellow and black-striped Dubrava United Bus Company (UBZ) local bus from the UNZA bus stop to the City Center for 8 ngwee. Our aim was to go to Cairo Road and search in several popular drinking places where we would likely meet bar beer sponsors. These were some of our friends who could buy a beer for us as they had money because they were working in companies and offices in town as accountants, assistant mangers, Bank tellers, sales clerks, Newspaper reporters, and company supervisors.

The thickest traffic of people was at 10 hours from Mwaiseni Stores on  the corner of Independence Avenue on the South end of Cairo Road. Humanity was walking from Kamwala, which was called the second class trading area, passed Mwaiseni Stores, across the pedestrian crossing to Zambia Consumer Business Corporation (ZCBC) supermarket. Then people walked along Cairo Road in some of their best attire towards ChaChaCha Road and Freedom Way. Since we were young men, Mwana James Lituli and I would notice the beauties that were the young stunning women; we called them mommas as we used our University of Zambia colloquial terms; mojos for men and mommas for women.

There were tall and short women. Women wearing the latest fashions. There were light brown women and women who were dark ebony. Their voices, smiles and their figures were tantalizingly delicious. Some had plaited hair like a bird’s nest. Some women walked with the casual elegance of the kakoba white tall slender bird as they delicately carried their groceries in plastic bags, wearing high heels, laughing and talking to their girlfriends in English mixed with Lusaka Nyanja. They were heading to the Central Arcade or Lusaka hotel for cocktails sipping Chinzano light sherry after shopping for groceries for that week. These were attractive single women who shared flats and were nurses, typists, secretaries, and stenographers. You could over hear Bemba,  Lozi or Tonga or a language we didn’t understand. The young men wore the latest fashion of high healed platform shoes with bell bottoms and flowery shirts which had the last button open at the top near the neck exposing what they assumed to be their sexy chests to young women.

You would also see older women wearing colorful latest chitenje clothes while carrying babies and may be balancing a small bundle on their heads. There were a few young men roaming around selling mishanga cigarettes by the singles instead of the whole packet. The Cairo Road divider was empty except for curio sellers who were sitting down on stools carving artistic creations from ebony wood for tourists. We also could see the hungry, the poor, and the desolate people who looked busy walking briskly and their clothes did not look good. Cairo Road was such a vibrant exciting Zambian city main street that Rikki Ililonga even composed a song describing the fate of some of the Zambian characters one saw along Cairo Road.

Musamseke, Avala trauzi yong’ambika

(Don’t laugh at him, He is wearing a torn trouser)

Nsapato yobeyama(A shoe with a tilted sole)


Avala trauzi ya vigamba(He is wearing trouser with patches)

Avala buluku ya vigamba(He is wearing trouser with patches)

Msamuseke alibe ndalama(Don’t laugh at him he has no money)

Msamuseke lelo alibe nchito(Don’t laugh at him has no job)

Abale alibe na nyumba(People, he has no home)


Msamuseke alibe ndalama(Don’t laugh at him he has no money)

Msamuseke alibe na pogona(Don’t laugh at him has nowhere to sleep)

Msamuseke alibe anzake (Don’t laugh at him has no friends)

Msamuseke alibe zakudya(Don’t laugh at him has no food)


Avala shati yong’ambika(He is wearing a torn shirt)

Avala shati mama yong’ambika(He is wearing a torn shirt)

Msamuseke alibe ndalama(Don’t laugh at him he has no money) (4 times)

Nsapato nayo yayamba kusila (The shoe is wearing out)


Ulova nabo wamupaya(Having no job is killing him)

Ango yenda chabe Mkairo Rodi(He just walks up and down Cairo Road)

Msamuseke alibe ndalama(Don’t laugh at him he has no money)

Njala yingoboneka mbwee pa menso(Hunger is all over his face)

This was the Cairo Road and the City I was walking on that week day during my lunch hour mission from NAMBOARD. I passed the Drinka Pinta Zambia Dairy Produce Board kiosk where they were selling milk in a triangular blue striped container with a cartoon-like drawing of a cow on it. I walked passed Times of Zambia offices. I crossed Church Road. At the Central Post Office, I bought many colorful stamps for posting my domestic mail to Linda Jitanda. I was going to write her. International mail stamps were for posting letters to my best friend and Mwana, James Lituli who I terribly missed. I sure missed him so much since he had flown out of the country on a Zambia Airways Boeing 707 Jumbo jet to London a few months before to study for his Masters degree in UK.

I walked by the Rendez-vous Supermarket with its thousands of bottles of wines from all over the world. As a poor student I had travelled all the way from UNZA to buy a bottle of wine for K2.50 which was the cheapest. I was curious about what wine tasted like. I drank it in my room using a tea cup and not a wine glass. I didn’t like the wine. It was too bitter. My friend James tasted it too and said it did not make him feel drunk like Mosi or Muchinga beer; which was true.

I walked into the huge Kingstons Bookstore next to OK Zambia later NIEC Stores. I bought a writing pad and a box of white envelopes. I was going to do some serious letter writing the next few weeks; to Linda Jitnada and to my friend and Mwana, James Lituli to update him how my life was turning upside down.