LUSAKA IN ZAMBIA
Lusaka is a city whose bustling chaos has a certain charm that is just Zambia. The tourist passing through the capital may not see any reason to stay, but Lusaka is the product of a country battling to find its way in a new world, caught between colonial beginnings, years of socialist independence and now democracy. It typifies the problems many African countries face as they find their “independent” footing in world that’s surging ahead. The fascinating thing about Lusaka is its energy. Not perhaps of the same ilk as the Big Apple, but an African energy, propelled by that need to survive. Lusaka is as much a part of “the real Africa” as the rich national parks and stunning scenery. Well over 60% of its 2 million inhabitants are unemployed, but there are surprisingly few beggars. Although petty theft occurs, most people try to make an honest living, selling their wares or services and smiling to boot. The markets are a hive of activity, the thousands of stalls are filled and cleared every day. A myriad of motor spares dealers, restaurants, hairdressers, fishmongers, fruitsellers and rows and rows of “salaula” – discarded clothing from the West sold to Africa by the bale. Venture out to a nightclub and “get in the groove”, so to speak, of the local people. Dance the night away to the sounds of rhumba, kwela, techno or good old rock ‘n roll.
But Lusaka is also a city undergoing a facelift. A walk around the city will reveal new shops-including a new market and a multi-million dollar shopping mall under construction; smart fast food outlets; new dual carriageway roads, old buildings being refurbished and the transformation of the city’s parks. For many, this is the perfect example of what economic liberalization has done for the country. And viewed from the villages, Lusaka is the glittering capital which still persuades rural Zambians to take the bus there in search of jobs and dreams. The capital covers an area of over 70 km square and is one of the fastest-growing cities in central Africa. It’s population almost trebled in the immediate post-independence era and continues to grow daily. There has been no influx control and the city is bursting at the seams. Grossly inadequate municipal facilities are hard-pressed to cope with the ever-increasing demand. It is a sprawling, unplanned metropolis with many multi-story buildings, high-walled suburbs and busy shanty towns. Fast-growing industrial development has brought together people of many nationalities, making it a bustling center for economic, political and cultural activities. The city lies at the junction of the main highways to the north, east, south and west at an altitude of 1300 meter above sea level. There are air links to most of the major tourist destinations in Zambia from Lusaka International Airport. The shops are mainly grouped along the broad double carriageway of Cairo Road, but the government buildings are about 6 km away along Independence Avenue.
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