Sunday, May 29, 2011


I spent a good part of Saturday (May 29th) taking photos of different life images of Chipata. The images I selected are a constant in Chipata and give readers an idea of my daily life here.

Young tailor sewing bags
The first set of photographs is of downtown, or what locals call the "down shoppes". The tailor you see to the right is someone I met on Saturday (May 28th), who sews wonderful Zambian bags. They're great for shopping bags and other uses. This particular tailor has a unique style that is different from the other designs I have seen.


A busy Saturday in the down shoppes

The down shoppes is extremely busy on Saturdays right before closing down at 12:00 hours. Before then, the streets are teeming with cars and cars coming around corners block traffic. But it's not unbearable. I love the down shoppes during this time - people hurried, Saturday classes for the Muslim students in the Chingolo School. 

Then, once 12:00 hours strikes, the
Knock off time
streets go empty. The entire vernacular looks like a ghost town; not one person can be found among the shoppes except around the Jami Mosque, where the Muslims come and get ready for the evening prayer at 17:00 hours.

The Jami Mosque was built in 1963, paid for by the Muslim community. Many of the Muslims are Indians, who were brought to Zambia during the time of British Colonialism to work in the mines and in agriculture. Today, they make up a large percentage of the entrepreneurs in the down shoppes and in the center of town, owning restaurants, tailor shoppes, electronic stores, stationery shoppes, etc. Those who have succeeded live in the middle income to upper middle income community, called Little Bombay.
Jami Mosque

The Eastside Mall, diagonal to the building where I work, Old Chipata Municipal Council, is shopping central for Chipata. People come from all over to do their weekly shopping here, even as far away as Nyimba, Katete, and Mambwe. A bus comes once or twice a week and shuttles people from these more rural areas into Chipata center and back. SPAR is located in this mall and ShopRite is only another ten minute walk down Umozi Highway towards Malawi. Public transportation serving towns in the Eastern Province is truly lacking. At best, buses make return trips to far away places, Like Lusaka, Botswana, and some not so far away, like Malawi.

Eastside Mall
Other developments occurring around Chipata are roads paving projects and a new gas station in the process of being erected.
Newly paved Road
Tourism is also a growing industry in the area, although there doesn't appear to be a written plan about how and to what extent the Chipata Council wants to grow tourism. Most of the accomodations are small-scale motels. There is a youth hostel, named Deans, and a 5-Star hotel, Protea, is within walking distance of Chipata Motel and Chipembele Lodge. Expensive, though. A pot of coffee costs a whopping ZK20,000.

Maize is a staple crop and Chipata is home to many mills manufacturing factories in the vicinity. One, Rainbow Milling, sits on Lundazi Road, just across from the Chipata Motel, where I live.

Also on Lundazi are numerous street vendors, which pose a problem to some local residents, who grumble over vendors blocking the sidewalks. Understandable, but the population growth is happening much too quickly for the Council to respond adequately. Mainly, vendors are forced to sit on bamboo mats along major highways in order to make a living because they cannot afford to pay the rental prices for retail space. On Umozi Highway in Luwangwa, a basket village (I name I gave it) just explodes with baskets. It seems to be a pit stop for tourists on buses. Basket village is just one example of how difficult it is to accomodate street vendors with appropriate retail space. 

The uploading of these photos has taken me quite some time. The harddrive capacity on my netbook isn't really made for uploading large files. Thus, I've compiled some of them on the Kodak Slide Show, which can be accessed through this URL:

1 comment:

Momo said...

Nice photos, Camille! Want more!