Wednesday, 18 July 2012


My boss here is amazing.

He works so hard and he's really in touch with people and open minded.

These last few days I've been making lots of courtesy calling visits to Commissioners, Counsellors, Ministers, Chiefs of Police etc, all the people in the town where I've been posted that have something to do with land rights. I'll be visiting the villages tomorrow to meet the Chiefs and the village heads who are those on the other side of the land rights argument.

So, just in case I haven't explained it - my job is to strengthen the capacity and impact of a branch of a Zambian national body called the Land Alliance. It's a policy maker at the top end of its function and on the bottom end an advocacy, lobbying and development agency that is affiliated to just about every public and third sector body in Zambia.

Boring bit over - my boss is amazing.

One of the best things about him is how he speaks. He chairs most of the meetings I've been to in the last few days and he speaks a lot about serious things. But almost every two sentences or so he says to the group 'are we together?' and the rest of the board will shout in unison 'ah ha!' or 'YES!'. It's another way of saying, 'do you understand?'

The other thing he does is say a sentence and then repeat it with the last word missing, which he replaces with 'whaty?' (meaning, 'what?), and everyone shouts in the blank.

So for example, (and bear in mind that this is an important meeting, with important people in suits and in a posh looking conference room with pots of coffee on the table......)

My boss: 'So we are here today to talk about the land rights of rural women in Zambia. We want to stop the corruption of land abuses in the districts and in the town, are we together?'

Important people in suits: (loud) 'YES!'

So how are we going to do this? We are going to fight, I say, fight! Are we together?


'So we fight corruption, we find the corruption and we fight it - we fight the whaty?'


'We ask the villagers to present the petitions, so that they can be heard. We ask for their views through signing the whaty?'


'Yes, the petitions, and we fight, are we together?'


'So we start by whaty?'


And so it goes.....

Every now and again there is a moment when no-one really knows what the missing word is and there's a few muffled whispered voices all saying different things. Either that or a complete tumbleweed moment where the only noise in the room is the muted hustle and bustle of the market outside.

The other thing that is amazing, (and I think most people here do this), is that a word with one syllable gets an 'ee' sound added to it. So 'cup' tends to sound like 'cuppee', but words with more than two syllables get a bit taken off. So 'wonderful' is 'wonderf'. 'Careful' is 'Caref'. It took me ages to get it - especially because everyone speaks so flippin' quickly.

The exception to that rule is my name. They've settled on Luce, or Roos, whichever they can more easily pronounce. But I don't get how if 'Cup' can get an 'ee', why can't 'Luc'? Not that I really care. Call me what you want, you're welcoming me into your country so warmly, you could call me Phillip and I'd still be happy. Just confused.

'Welc, Roos - its wanderf to havee youra pres in Zambia. You willee findee youra workee to be fruitf and reward. Dure youra stayee rememb to alway be inform to us of any prob'

Something like that, anyway.

So on to emotions - I'm really, really happy here. I'm just complete, and myself. I get this culture, I feel so at home, I feel productive and effective, I feel confident and energetic. It's taken me such a long time to find this place in my head, but now I'm here, I know it. I can feel it. I can feel myself being real and it's absolute wonderf.

I'm happy with my job, too - way much more responsibility than I thought and exciting/challenging/nerve-wracking to think that my actions could have far reaching consequences.

In general - aaaaaaall good.

There are a few things I don't like though. Like, today, I saw a turkey in the luggage hold of a coach. He looked really sad.

I'm not really sure animal cruelty is hot on the Zambian agenda. I've seen pigs squashed in the back of pick up trucks on their way into town and cows, too.

One amusing thing that I saw, and I really want my boyfriend to be reading this because he LOVES fixing stuff with tape, was a taped up bus. My boss told me that when I wanted to go back to Lusaka, I should get the luxury bus because it's the best and it's brilliant and it's fast and it's reliable and, blah blah.

Yes, that is parcel tape.

Now its time to wash the sand out of my hair and off my feet, to readjust my mosquito net, give my room the once over for threatening looking species of spider, do my workout routine and get into bed to read my book that my friend Leo bought for me to go away with.

I'll write again when I can, but meanwhile - I would love some more comments from people because there was a tiny little moment I had earlier where I felt a bit out of things and far away and if you know me, you know I frickin' hate to be out of the loop, :)

Zambian loving


  1. I love reading your blog! Keep writing ;) xx

  2. You are not far away from my thoughts as I wander round in the rain. I love reading this. I knew you'd love it and be making a massive difference. Keep it coming Roos. XX

  3. Love this blog Lucy. You're definitely in the flow and right where you should be

  4. Oh Roosee you are friggin great. Be caref. And take caree x

  5. just knew you would be good at it and bring humour to it but i miss you and love your blogs i can picture you there right at home well not quite but you know what i mean speak to you soon your loving mummy

  6. So pleased it's going well. Bringing back great Zambian memories for me too. Keep writing.


  7. Reading that was my best 5 mins of the day! More please!! Jodie xx