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


  1. Well said frustrated brother. And at the expense of sounding like a broken record, I expressed similar sentiments a few weeks ago on my blog. I wondered and prayed for some mega congress to be hosted in my farm village of Kayuni. I am sure that is the only way our deep-tank is going to be worked on, our feeder roads graded or even tarred and so forth.

    Livingstone is a shameful example of our hypocrisy as Zambians. Very quick to create false impressions yet the majority of our cities and towns are reeking with putrid garbage, the urine drenched sidewalks, drainages full of opaque beer packs, bus stations swarming with unruly call-boys... the list is endless.This is what we have to endure on a daily basis.

    To think that the hosting of a congress can change all of this... what irony.

  2. I like everything that you have written. The truth is we didn't fool anyone. The people who came for UNWTO came for a purpose. They came to work. They are not tourists. The real tourists do not just end up in the streets of Livingstone but they venture in other areas too, even reaching Lusaka and some remote townships.