Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Zambia and its People

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa died after being hospitalized 2 months ago for a stroke. The WSJ article went on to say that Mr. Mwanawasa won praise for his anti-corruption and economic modernization plan, but had "failed to lift the Zambian people out of crushing poverty."

My husband and I visited a typical Zambian village set on the Zabezi River about 30 miles from the historic colonial city of Livingstone, which is very close to the Zimbabawe border. The evidence of the anti-corruption campaign came in the form of a billboard that I happened to capture while driving in Livingstone. Although the people lived in small mud huts and structures, they did not live in the same poverty that we see in cities like Trenton and Newark. The main difference is that these people feel safe in their villages and there is little evidence of violence within these communities.

The children and the
adults looked very happy and were pleased to see us, even though in most cases we did not speak the same language.
The villagers who did speak English were complimentary about their country and the government. They seemed quite concerned
about Zimbabwe's President Mugabe and when we went briefly passed through Zimbabwe we could feel the tension in the people. From what the villagers told us, Zambia appears to be a stable country and one that is concerned with educating its young people. There were quite a few educational campus' in Livingstone. In some villages the children may have to walk a long way to go to school, but they do have schools. We were told if anything was lacking it was a place to homestead the teachers.
I loved Zambia and its people--they were warm, open and constantly smiling. I certainly hope that a change in leadership won't bring major negative changes to the country.

And perhaps it might be a good idea for New Jersey to put up a few of its own anti-corruption billboards.
Mwanawasa's message is right on target.