Mmegi Staffers, PAULINE DIKUELO and TSAONE BASIMANEBOTLHE, recently went to Zambia as part of the Win-Ifra's Women In News (WIN) exchange programme where they were attached to the Mast and The Daily Mail newspapers. DIKUELO shares her experience exploring the busiest city outside the newsroom
Imagine roaming the streets in the wee hours of 3am and there is lot of activity like it is already daytime. Eateries still open, street vendors still making a living, women cooking nshima (pap) in big pots, men selling vegetables and second hand clothing by the robots, bars still open, life being normal and the lifestyle unchanged. That is Lusaka for you, the capital city of Zambia.
The first time I went to Lusaka was about two years ago when my country was celebrating its 50th anniversary. We were just honouring an invitation by one of our friends who was transferred to Zambia.
We got swamped into the city’s nightlife and the excitement was just like that of a teenager who just got admitted into boarding school. Imagine all the freedom of going to different places at night and dawn arriving while you are still exploring the city, now that is the kind of excitement one cannot contain.
Well, I was back again to this city, which made me miss my flight and I woke up confused due to the exhaustion and ended up coming back to Gaborone by bus which took 24 hours. The moment I realised that I was going back to Lusaka, I assured myself that I would finally continue where I left off, but this time I had to do it either on my own or with my colleague, Tsaone Basimanebotlhe because my former host was no longer in Lusaka.
We spent the last days before the trip planning how we were going to make the most of the four days in Lusaka. We did not want to bother our hosts and decided to survive on our own. Even when we got lost, it was still part of the adventure. We decided to explore the city the adult way and fortunate enough, the Zambian Union of Journalists Committee hosted the women from the diamond country.
They decided to take us to upmarket eateries at East Gate Mall, and to their surprise I had been there before. After the dinner at Keg’n Lion restaurant, we hopped to Chicago’s, more like Cigar Lounge where other Zambian journalists joined us.
My memories of this
The music was just the normal sound you could hear from Gaborone places like Main Deck. In this place, they hardly play Zambian music and their playlist is mostly R’n B, Hip Hop and Reggae music.
Two hours later after getting warmed up, we suggested that they take us to a different environment, as we wanted to explore the other sides of Lusaka.
We ended up at ‘The Lounge’ more like the former ‘United Café Club’ in Gaborone’s Extension 12, and to my surprise it was fully packed despite it being a weekday. After being escorted to the VIP area, the DJ sent shout-outs to us as per a request from one of the hosts. The next thing we were on our toes giving them what Botswana is made of, mind you, we had our stilettos on.
Here you get to dance to Vee and ATI’s songs as they play music from across Africa. The manager told us that the club closes at six in the morning and unfortunately we had to leave by midnight because we had to go to work the following morning.
As the mission continued the following day, we made our first stop at the classy Radisson Blue Hotel, where we suggested they get us local dishes because we were tired of eating hotel stuff. We continued to explore the city and ended up at Chilinje ‘The African braai place’ more like ‘Ed Las Chisa Nyama’ in Gaborone.
This environment accommodates almost everyone in this place. While waiting for food, some people play pool, watch football on the screen, while others dance. The meal variety was from chicken to beef and one could get either nshima, which is the Zambian’s staple food, or fresh chips with vishage (a mixture of butternut leaves and groundnuts).
Overall, I learned that in Lusaka the lifestyle continues into the night as there is plenty of activities.