I recently spent some home leave back in Frittenden. And what a two weeks I chose. I was lucky that I hit the Indian summer during the last 2 weeks of September.
But these things pass all too quickly and it seemed that no sooner had I arrived then I was back at Heathrow for the overnight flight back to Lusaka. The flight was uneventful, reasonably comfortable although boring and we touched down 15 minutes late at 6.30am. Second in the queue for immigration and, with no bag to collect, first out of the airport and into the scrum of taxi drivers.”Muli bwanji, muli shani”said I to let them know I wasn’t a tourist “œndifuni Kabulonga” and then the haggling started. One said he would do it for 200,000 Kwacha but we eventually settled for 120,000 and so off to my house.
The sun had risen only 20 minutes before but already it was a beautiful morning with a cloudless blue sky and a pleasant temperature of around 25c. Driving up the Airport Road passing the charcoal burners weaving precariously along the road with 6 or 7 bags of charcoal strapped to their bicycles. Into Chelstone, the first suburb on this side of Lusaka, with the roadside now full of pedestrians making their way to work. Whilst I had been away the jacaranda trees had come into full bloom and these magnificent trees were looking splendid covered with their lilac coloured blossom. We turn left off the Great East Road into Kalingalinga where daily life is now in full swing. Kids on the way to school; mamas out buying their basics; the furniture and ironwork makers displaying their wares outside their roadside workshops; the crack, crack, crack of women and children breaking up rocks into smaller stones for construction purposes; those with nothing to do just standing looking and chatting. I am truly back in Africa.
After resting for a while I start up the car and drive down to Crossroads shopping mall to restock my fridge with milk, butter, eggs, juice and so on. After shopping I sit at an outside table at Buzz Cafe where they make a decent cappuccino. The 2 young waitresses, Caroline and Kabwe, run over crying “Uncle John, welcome back”. The slightly older and decidedly attractive Mwiza smiles seductively and murmurs “Welcome home Mr John”. Reuben, a fervently Pentecostal waiter, shouts his greeting and dreadlocked Fred working the coffee machine gives me a thumbs up. All of these greetings accompanied with handshakes, hugs and big smiles displaying perfect white teeth in shining black faces. This is so typical of this part of Africa with the welcomes being sincere and genuine and the warmth of the people shines out. I truly feel I am back among friends.
So am I back home as so many have said? Well, maybe not “home” but it’s good to be back in this poor but beautiful, peaceful and friendly country.
Regards, John Ramsey