Garden Township, Lusaka.
After breakfast I went up to the reception and asked what is the best activity that one can do in Lusaka in a day. He mentioned that a visit to the Garden Township is a must if we want to the feel the heartbeat and meet the real people of Lusaka and within seconds I jumped to his suggestion in visiting the Garden Township. He made a phone call to his friend Felix, who is going to be my guide for the day and in just a matter of twenty minutes Felix arrived at the hostel. It took us just a few minutes to click together and I felt very comfortable with him instantly. As a native of the Garden Township, Felix began explaining to me about the history of the Garden Township of Lusaka.
As it goes, Garden Township was once a farmland which belonged to a Portuguese farmer who bought the land from the British colonialist (they were everywhere). It was once famous for it’s vegetable and fruit orchard’s and also a short escape for many European expatriates that were living in Lusaka. As the result of the independence war, the locals took over the land and began transforming it into a residential area but with the uncontrolled migration of people from the rural areas it somehow spoiled the exclusivity of the area. They began building houses indiscriminately where there was no proper planning and as such, resulted in the present situation – a state of disrepair and also the felling of all the fruit trees and the closure of the farmlands.
Toying up with locals.
Streets at Garden Township, Lusaka.
Children watching movies at makeshift cinemas.
I was not surprised to witness the living conditions in the township. It is witnessing poverty at close proximity as I have been to similar places such as these before in India, Palestine, Indonesia, South Africa and certain parts of Europe. People in this township who would even pay for a bucket of water as running water is limited to a few and it is generally used for cooking and drinking, not for washing and sanitation. With a few ‘Kwachas’ more you can have your own latrine just beside your house /shack. The dirt roads are clogged up with uneven mud after it rains, potholes are aplenty and just as watery as the drains in the middle or by the side of the roads.
Zambian delicacy – dried mushrooms.‘
Market at Garden Township.
Stalls at Garden Township market.
The roadsides are filled with stalls selling fresh fruits and unhygienic looking meat hooked up on beams that are fit for a chicken coop. Food are cooked mainly over open air pits of charcoal where the fumes are inhaled by the children who wander around the township aimlessly hoping to get a few ‘Kwachas’ begging from the local people. There is only one government funded school in the township where I called the students the ‘lucky’ ones while others are forced to learn in private tuition centres where fees are steep for the parents. The township is full of local taverns where adults pass their time trying to get a brief relief or reality and for the children who has to pay a small fortune to watch a film in cinema ‘shacks’ powered by a car battery.
Tuition centre at Gardens Township.
Open air ‘hair salon’ at Garden Township.
Hair salon at Garden Township.
Variety of peanuts.
Orphans day care centre at Garden Township.
Felix with the orphans at Gardens Township.
Despite the hardship, generally, most of the local population look contented with life, smiled whenever I passed them and taking life day by day, full of optimism with hope for a better future. Some with entrepreneurial skills open up stalls where two main business are small garage workshops and local hair salons where braiding hair is popular among the women folk. I visited the orphanage and was serenaded with a couple of songs by the orphans and I really felt touched by the gesture. The local football field was nearby and according to Felix, it’s full every evening where kids play with a makeshift ball made out of rags covered with plastic. A few of these kids from Garden Township eventually made it to play in Europe for the lower ranking divisions as it is one of the few ways of getting out of the township.
A new found friend.
Garden Township football field.
The lucky few.
Optimistic & hopeful.
Walking tours such as this are activities that I look forward to. Not the usual tourist attractions, grand buildings nor monuments or posh side walk cafes. No tourist guides holding small flags with the tourists tagging along, road sides filled with tourist buses. I had enough of those .. A walk around the townships, watching the ‘real people’ of each location, their daily routine and hardship faced gives me a reality check. It may be at the main bus station, markets, townships where there are no rules to be followed where it’s a dog eat dog world. The survival of the fittest. Some sort of a human savannah.
Now I have to decide Plan A or either Plan B . Flip of the coin?