Monday, 23 September 2013

Wow! Did We Just Lie to the World About Livingstone?

I had heard the rumours that Livingstone town had cleaned up good. I was told that it had transformed into a clean and neat town. I was sceptical of the reports, how many clean towns can you mention in this country? As this information continued to trickle then flood in, I did the logical thing and went to visit Livingstone to see and prove for myself. I had to have evidence that the town was truly transformed. However, after a four-day visit/vacation of the town, I left it feeling rather upset and disappointed. How was it possible that a once vendor and litter filled town could be that clean? 
Vendor Free

The last time I visited Livingstone was about five years ago. Then it was a town with potholed roads, vendors on every street forcing their merchandise at anyone who dared glace their way and the buildings that hadn’t seen a paint job in probably a decade. To put it simply it was not a pleasant sight for the glorious tourist town that we were always boasting of. Then by some magical wand called the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Congress the town gets a facelift. And for what, so we could lie to the rest of the world that Livingstone is this pristine town that it really isn’t?
If the only time you choose to clean your house is when visitors are passing through then there is seriously something wrong with you. Livingstone is a classic case of pretending to have a clean house when we all know the reality. This country has been talking about the diversification of the economy to tourism ever since the collapse of the mines in the 1990s. Therefore, you would expect that Livingstone should have been already nothing short of an amazing town but alas. I am still failing to understand why it had to take the UNWTO for us to realise that the roads in Livingstone have potholes, the buildings needed a new coat of paint, maybe it would be a good idea to take the vendors to the market, and what of putting proper signs.  

Livingstone Museum

No hawkers on the roads

I am fuming, what this simply showed me is that it is okay for me a Zambia born, bred and will probably die here to live in towns with potholes, rubbish, see ugly buildings and use a large tree to locate a place. It’s absolutely unacceptable. I mean let us take a step back here and look at this issue with objective eyes. Most of the things that were done with the exception of the roads are fairly reasonable and cheap to do. Things such as asking shop owners to paint their buildings, put better roofing, remove the vendors from the town centres, sweep the streets, and put road signs. C’mon how hard can that be? All it will require is political will.

Another View of Livingstone
Canopied Roof

Yes, I applaud the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Sylvia Masebo who worked tirelessly in putting a town together to present to the world. I would really like to commend her for the effort she put in. I thought she stood her ground and was firm enough to get the job done. But above all there is one thing that she showed, that we can have clean and neat towns if we want. If Lusaka could only be a fraction of what Livingstone has become, that will be a day indeed. I will not apologise by saying that this city is a mess, and town centre is short of a dumping site. If it takes the UNWTO to clean up a city, then may Lusaka host it next time.

Why should it take the coming of a congress before Livingstone could be cleaned up or in this case given a cosmetic façade put together for the rest of the world? Did it have to take the UNWTO to realise that Livingstone’s roads needed to be done up, the vendors deserved modern trading spaces or that it was about time the city had a total makeover. I am correct to imply that now every town in Zambia should pray to host an international conference in order for them to get some form of sanity? The next question is what are the people who are in-charge of all this doing? We deserve better and we can have better, Livingstone just showed me it is possible.

In Memory of blogger Flolics Kasumbalesa

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

My Dental Visit Horror Story

I have not usually been afraid of a dental visit. From the time my Dad would take me to pull out my milk teeth, a visit to the dentist was not something to cause any fear in me. I have no phobia of injections and once the anaesthetic is injected removing the tooth is almost painless. I had heard my friend’s dental horror stories countless times and always thought that they exaggerated and they were not true. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would have my own dental visit horror story to tell.

A decayed tooth had broken in half and I visited the Dental Training School in Thorn Park to have it removed. I had previously visited them and since they were experts in dentistry I expected that the minor extraction of a tooth would go well. In fact, I used to faithfully recommend them to people who needed to visit a dentist. So Last week Wednesday, I paid them another visit, I requested for high cost treatment which meant my tooth would be extracted by a consultant. Yes, a consultant. What I perceived would be a simple operation turned out to be the script of my first dental horror story.

I sat on the dental chair, removed my glasses, clasped the hands and I opened my mouth wide. I had been through this routine a number of times and I knew it well. The consultant who was of Asian descent, my best guess from Philippines or Malaysia wore his gloves and got the injection to get the anaesthesia ready. I thought he was taking his sweet time, didn’t he realise that some of us are busy people. The injecting of the anaesthesia around the tooth was barely a pinch and I waited for it to be numbed out.

The consultant then took what looked like a pliers, (excuse for my lack of knowledge of the medical term) and he held onto the tooth and began to pull. A bit of the tooth broke off, he then said something in frustration. He then reached for what looked like a screw driver and dug into my gum, immediately a sting of pain hit me and I told the consultant that I was feeling pain. He then asked me if I wanted more anaesthesia and nodded my head in affirmation. He injected more and he reached for the pliers once again and held on to the tooth. He pulled, he pushed, side to side. He gritted his teeth, asked me to open my mouth wider, pushed my head back and roughly moved me from side to side with the pliers. I screamed in pain. He deliberately ignored my screams and continued to assault my tooth in whatever form or fashion he knew how. The pain was so excruciating it felt like a torture sensation in a Saw movie and I almost saw myself drifting away, if it wasn’t for me trying to be all macho, tears would have started rolling.

This man wants to kill me I thought to myself. Finally, I could not stand the pain any longer and I held on to his hand and told him it hurts. His response was to get angry and shout at me that it’s my fault I let the tooth decay. From his implication it sounded like I deserved every bit of pain that was coming my way. What happened to patient care? Too traumatised to argue I let him attack my tooth with all the ferocity he could muster as I winced and endured the pain. I bet he was only seconds short of putting his foot on my neck just to remove the tooth. As I was on the brink of fainting, with the pliers and a tooth at the end he told me done. He inserted cotton wool into my mouth and told bite for 40 minutes. He then put what was left of my tooth in some cotton wool and handed it to me.

I left that Dental Training School with no medication for the pain whatsoever, and too traumatised to think straight. I could not believe the amount of anguish I had to endure just to remove a tooth. I do not know whether I am the only one to experience such but there is one thing I know for sure. I am never going back ever; someone will have to drag me by my feet and in chains before I step foot into that dental room again.

Share your dental horror story?

Monday, 9 September 2013

The Blackness of the #GhanaVsZambia Twitter War

In the aftermath of the loss to Ghana that all but resigned us to watch the World Cup from our television screens, I am in no mood to get into the blame game at this moment. The disappointing results the Chipolopolo have garnered so far have smeared any faith I had in them. So much was my unbelief in them that I honestly did not watch the game. I did not want a bunch of 11 chaps to wreck my weekend. I just feel sorry for my sisters. They have been denied the chance to get Brazilian hair straight from the source. However, even before Zambia was embroiled in the football match on Friday. Some Zambians already took the battle to twitter using the hash tag #GhanaVsZambia. You know it was serious when it makes BBC news.

The twitter war between Ghanaians and Zambians began just after it was reported that the Ghanaians refused Zambia to land their chartered plane in Kumasi. Kumasi was the town that was to host the decisive game. In no time, the Zambians took to twitter to air their frustrations. When I first read the tweets, I thought of them as humourous and I will admit some left me in stitches. I do not mind some harmless banter, and if that was the case, I doubt if I would have written about the twitter war. This fiasco developed into some form of racial stereotyping. It was not about white folks thinking that blacks were inferior. Oh no, this sadly was blacks on blacks.

Nearly all the disses that were thrown Ghana's way were about how black they were and for some absolutely idiotic belief, the notion that because of their darker blackness, they were inferior. At the moment, when I thought, we were burying such ideas they reared their ugly head again in the most public way. It appears that there is quite a lot of work that needs to be done. There are still some sections of our society that think that because they are lighter skinned are more superior than the darker skinned individuals. By superior, I mean lighter toned individuals are viewed as more handsome, beautiful, prettier, vava voom while the "inferior" darker toned are seen as uglier, unpretty, average and lower than the other blacks.


If you are an individual who habours such retrogressive and uncouth beliefs, my suggestion is that you need help. It is not like when we are created, we go into a boutique and choose what skin colour to be. There is definitely nothing inferior and degrading about being black and let alone dark toned black. And I dare you to challenge me on that. I am even ashamed to even think that it was just sheer banter. When you have hundreds of the same tweets about how black a certain group of people are, it is just plain wrong.   

This issue of blackness is perhaps further perpetuated by men who think that having a fairer skinned girlfriend that they have landed the jackpot. Darker skinned ladies are often frowned upon and not perceived as beautiful. It is no wonder that skin bleaching companies are still in business.  The media should also bear their portion of the blame. The unfair majority of advertisements that market lotions and makeup typically use fairer skinned women. Tell me how many darker toned women have you seen? It could be this bombardment of advertisements that subconsciously engrain into the minds the view that lighter skinned blacks are better.

No one has the right to feel that they are a better human being because of their skin colour. There are many different shades of black and whatever shade you are, it does not make you any worser or better than the next person. When fellow blacks perceive other darker toned blacks as lesser than they are then we are in serious trouble. It is time that societies get talking and breaking down some of these stereotypes. In the words of James Brown, “Say it Loud,  I'm BLACK, and I'm PROUD!"

Monday, 2 September 2013

5 High Risk Start-Up Businesses in Zed

 One of the advantages that having so many unemployed people in a country like Zambia is that many are forced to become entrepreneurial minded. It is now important more than ever to think of ways in which you can earn an income. Even for people who are employed, they are not ruling out entrepreneurship as a source of extra income. The trouble that many novices to the business world are faced with is what business to get involved in. I have rather become bored with the common question, “I want to start a business, what should I do?” Therefore, I have taken the liberty to mention five businesses that if you are thinking about them; you should reconsider.
1. Cross border Trading

I know that some may view this as a low-risk business simply because there are many people who are involved in it. However, there are a number of factors that certain people overlook when they choose to engage in cross boarder trading. These include the place where to source cheap merchandise, their goods will be sold hire purchase and chances of default are high; almost everyone is going after the same market (working class), and selling similar items. The other aspect that most people do seem to consider is that some cross border traders evade taxes. This is done by smuggling the goods across the boarders or finding ways not to declare their purchases. It does not matter whichever way you choose to look at it if you do not pay taxes it is evasion. Business needs to be done honestly.
2. Publishing a Magazine

Every time I visit a book shop, I notice a new publication on the shelves. I wonder why many people have not yet realised that publishing a magazine is very risky because the chances of success are very low. There are only a handful of magazines that are able to still stay afloat such as Bulletin and Records (in my opinion, the best publication in Zed), AfroBride, Lowdown and Zambian Traveler. The challenge with starting a magazine is that the readership is very low. Magazines thrive on customer loyalty, and that is hard to obtain in Zambia. The pricing is also critical, the only way a magazine can be cheap is if you have enough companies advertising. Printing costs in Zambia are still high and therefore, the only way to print cheaply is to do it in huge numbers, which can be costly.
3. Internet Café
A few years ago, the Internet café business was booming. There was an Internet café on almost every corner in Lusaka. However, with the peaking of the telecommunication industries in Zambia with it came the inevitable death to the Internet café business. The reduction on the price of the smart phones and portable Internet modems has become more convenient alternatives to the Internet cafes. I personally cannot remember the last time I went to an Internet café. Internet cafés have to rely on low per minute costs and rely on volume of customers to make their money. However, if there is a low inflow of customers it becomes really difficult to break even. Besides this, you have chaps who download movies and eat at your bandwidth hence reducing the speed. Nothing is more frustrating than a slow internet connection. I foresee a situation where internet cafés will be the reserve for tourists.
4. T-Shirt Printing

This is one of those businesses that is seasonal and does not always guarantee a flow of income. T-shirt printing is usually centred around events where companies need to wear T-shirts such as on Labour Day or Teachers Day. Other than these events, the next business will come from schools. The trouble is that this is already a saturated market and people have stopped asking for customised T-shirts that can see you through the periods when there is no business flowing in.
5. Owning a Mini-Bus

I deliberately left this for last. This one is rather controversial and people will definitely have divergent views. Regardless, I still classify running a mini-bus as risky business. The prevailing conditions are what make mini-buses risky business. There are way too many buses around and there are always battles for passengers. There is also the risk that the drivers may not take care of the mini-buses well; therefore, instead of the bus bringing money it spends a huge amount of time in the garage or pounded at some police station. The transport industry is perhaps one of the most heavily regulated not only from the Road Transport and Safety Agency but also from the police. The only way that I see a minibus being less risk is if the owner of bus is the driver. Aside from the operational costs, it is also one of the most stressful businesses.

The fact that something is a high risk does not necessarily mean that it cannot be profitable, or it will not succeed. The challenge is how to reduce the risk and finding a way in which it can succeed, after all this is the point of entrepreneurship. Before starting any new business it is important to do your research well, just because you see someone else succeeding at a business does not imply you will too. I am open to be challenged on my list.