When I posted about wacky stories in the Zambia Daily Mail last week, I knew the temptation would be strong to do it again. There’s so much fun stuff in these papers, most of it unintentionally so.

Take the front page of today’s Post, for instance. The Post, as the only daily not owned by the government, styles itself as the independent, investigative voice of Zambia. “The paper that digs deeper,” they call themselves. There may be some truth to that, but after three weeks of reading it, I can also say it’s the paper with the dirty mind.

It’s the one most likely to write about sex. It’s the only one (so far) to feature topless teenaged girls on its front page. It’s the one that plays up child sexual abuse stories more than the others.

(Aside: One of the Post’s most notable recent front-page headlines came on a story where Zambia’s First Lady, Maureen Mwanawasa, said child abusers should be dealt with much more harshly. “Castrate Child Defilers, Urges Maureen” was the banner headline. The only problem was that the defiler Maureen and the Post were, on that day, all worked up over was a 29-year-old mother who has molested her 7-year-old son because a witch doctor had told her doing so would save her marriage. I don’t think castrating her would have done much good.)

Anyway, today’s lead story in the Post carries this huge block-letter headline:

ENJOY YOUR WIVES NOW
…there’ll be no marriage after resurrection, advises Rev. Chileshe

The rev in this case is one Lawrence Chileshe of the Lusaka Pentecostal Assemblies of God. The headline fairly summarizes his message: Men, have as much sex with your wives as possible, because nobody gets play in heaven. Women, serve your men sexually as much as possible.

The relevant quotes: “After resurrection, a woman will be like a holy sister and you can’t even touch her breasts.”

And: “Women in Zambia must wake up from their sleep and learn to entertain their husbands at home for fear of losing them to other women who are not married.”

And let’s not even talk about the Post’s health advice column, written by “Dr. M.” Lots of letters from men worrying that their “manhood” is too “slim.” In today’s column, under the heading “I’ve an itching sensation inside my thighs,” R.B. of Lusaka writes that he’s having trouble getting his girlfriend interested in sex. “I am confused about this girl. I would want to ‘have’ her, you know? What is the best way to do it?”

But I’m not typing this entry just to titillate you with sex talk — no, dear reader. I’m here to share with you one of my very favorite pieces of recent writing, one that I am willing to violate all Zambian copyright laws to bring you. It’s from the “Kids Corner” page in today’s Mail, it’s by a gentleman named Alfred Mumba, and it’s genius. The headline:

HOW HUSKY THE HARE BEAT UWI THE HYENA TO MARRY PRETTY KARINA

The story, unedited (meaning grammar errors are Alfred’s, not mine) and in its entirety:

———-

One summer morning, Husky the hare and his old friend Uwi the hungry hyena took a long walk in the wild country. It was a very hot day that the hare couldn’t stand the heat on the ground. Instead he got a lift on Uwi’s back.

“Gosh! It is really hot today,” said the hare.

Uwi stared back at his friend. He yawned, stretched his legs and said: “How I wish it could rain today so that I can have a bath!”

“Me too…” said the hare, wearily.

After walking for many miles, the two creatures met a very beautiful girl. Her name, she told them, was Karina. She lived in the human kingdom where Uwi once lost one of his legs.

“But what are you doing all alone in the bush?,” asked Husky.

“I’m looking for firewood. But I can’t find any,” said the girl sadly.

“That’s no big deal,” said Husky. “My friend and I would help you find the firewood. But in return we would need some water.”

“Yes, we need water,” said Uwi the hyena. “We haven’t washed for almost a year now” — the girl promised the two creatures to wash their dirty bodies if they helped her ffind firewood. She invited them back to the human kingdom. At first Uwi refused. But after Karina promised that no one would hurt him, he changed his mind.

At the village, Karina’s family welcomed them. They thanked the two creatures for helping their daughter find enough firewood.

“If you don’t mind,” said Karina’s father, “you can move in this kingdom. I will be giving you enough food to eat and water to wash in every day.”

Husky and Uwi couldn’t believe it. Husky turned to his friend and said: “Humans are friendly. If we stay with them for a long time, we could grow fat.” Hearing this Uwi agreed. Together, they two promised the girl’s parents that they would behave well whilst living with humans.

“Good,” said Karina’s father. “Now, whoever behaves well and works hard in the fields will marry my daughter Karina!” — the creatures were more interested to hear this. That afternoon they started showing off their behaviour and prowess to Karina’s father if one of them was to be blessed with Karina, the most beautiful girl in the village.

The hare said he was good at ploughing and feeding chickens. Uwi said he was good at eating, telling Karina’s father that he could eat six big pots of nshima with mashed potatoes.

So when the time to be given the tasks came, Husky was directed to the fields and chicken houses. There he fed the chickens twice a day. In the field he ploughed and planted crops.

Uwi was directed to the kitchen. There he ate whatever the women cooked. In an hour, he ate pumpkins, watermelons, sweet potatoes, bananas and a lot of nshima. He ate in view of Karina’s father so that he could see that he was a great eater. But Husky was against his friend.

“Eating is not a good idea to have you marry Karina,” said the hare one day.

“You are jealous, eh?” said the hyena.

“No, I’m not jealous,” Husky said, “I’m just concerned because no woman can love a man for eating too much.”

The hyena looked at his friend and started singing: “Husky is jealous, Husky is jealous, Husky is jealous.

But Husky insisted that he was not jealous. What he was trying to put down on his friend was that too much eating could be unhealthy and sometimes embarrassing. But Uwi didn’t listen.

So the day to select who had behaved well and worked very hard finally came. It was also the day of the wedding. A lot of food was prepared. Since that time, Uwi had never gone far from the food. Now and again you would see him chewing and drinking something. He wanted to show Karina’s father that he was the man capable of marrying his daughter.

Before the selection, however, rumour had spread all over the village that the hare had won, and that he would marry Karina. Uwi was not happy. He approached Husky in the fields and hit him with a stick on the head. Husky fainted. Uwi dragged him in the bush and tied him so tight that it wasn’t easy for anyone to untie him.

At the selection and wedding ceremony the hare was nowhere to be seen, not even when Karina’s father called him to take his daughter as a wife.

“Where is he?” asked the man, looking at Uwi the hungry hyena.

“I don’t know, sir,” he said. “In fact one can never tell where the hare hides when he is unwilling to marry.”

Reading the time with the sun, Uwi said, “by now he should be back in the animal kingdom.”

Karina’s father had no option but to give his daughter to Uwi. But during the wedding ceremony, Uwi developed a stomachache. He moved very slowly to the altar where Karina’s father was to pronounce him husband to his daughter.

Just when he was to receive Karina’s hand, smelly excreta ran down his legs. People started to laugh. Uwi the hyena couldn’t take it any more. Looking this way and that, he scampered to the bush, and headed back to the animal world.

There word reached him that Husky the hare finally married Karina, and that the couple would soon visit the animal world. This was after a village farmer found the hare and untied from from the tree.

———-

Is that not the best story of all time? So much to work with! So many questions! Such as: Why was Karina’s dad so anxious to marry her off to an animal? Was bestiality a status thing in his culture? When “Karina’s father had no option but to give his daughter to Uwi,” were there no, I don’t know, humans around to serve as an alternative? Why don’t we ever find out how Uwi lost his leg to the evil humans? Who in their right mind thinks competitive eating is the path to a girl’s heart? If they hadn’t seen water in ages, why were Husky and Uwi so anxious to get washed up and evidently not at all concerned about dying from thirst? How close could Uwi and Husky been if Uwi was so quick to club his bunny buddy over the head? And the “smelly excreta” — we won’t go there.

The story’s even better in the print edition, because it’s accompanied by photos of a real-life bunny and a real-life hyena. The caption: “Uwi the hyena (right) could not help living in the human kingdom after failing to contain his excreta and emptied his bowels in public. Husky the hare eventually married Karina.”

02 November 2003



Comments

02 November | 19:45  |  Kennedy Sikombe

Try and understand the culture you are in first before rushing to criticize.Most of us grew up on stories like this,where humans interact with animals.The stories are not mearnt to make sense but to be funny.Kids are very amused by them.

Being honest would also help you alot.When you went to the AIDS meeting you should have been honest enough and given your true status,that you are not an Aids expert.But just like your fellow'experts' who go to Zambia,you acted like you know it all and can solve Zambia's problems by lying.

And by the way,Zambia hasn't always been going down like your two friends from the Aid agency told you.You see all those nations around Zambia today,we supported their freedom at a very great cost.The Namibian,South African,Zimbabwen Presidents all lived in Zambia at one time or another.Some of them are now dead.When the West refused to sell us arms to defend ourselves against Rebel Rhodesia and South Africa,the East obliged.We aligned ourselves to Russia and China and followed Socialism.Just like the old USSR,we know what happened with those economies,just like them we also went down.

If you just took time and found out about the history of Zambia like the investigative reporter that you want to portary yourself to be,you would learn alot.Instead of running your mouth about things you hardly know after only spending less than 2 months in Zambia.You guys really do make me ill.

03 November | 12:27  |  josh

Hey Kennedy,

Who's criticizing? I love that story. No joke. And yes, I'm familiar with the idea of children's stories using animals as characters -- we've got 'em in the States, too. (But I must say, our animal characters don't often marry hot human girls.)

I didn't think I needed to spell it out, but yes, I told the Post Test Club that I was a journalist and not an expert the moment I stood up. I assumed you would figure that out; I stand corrected.

Yes, Zambia helped freedom movements in neighboring countries. I think that's one of the most admirable parts of your history. I don't remember arguing differently. But if you want to blame that for your economic troubles, I'd point out that the 1990s (long after Rhodesia's fall and after apartheid's collapse) were your worst decade by far economically.

So sorry you think I'm attacking your country. I like your country. I think your current government is well intentioned. I just think Zambia's got some enormous, intractable problems, the economy and HIV/AIDS biggest among them.

03 November | 18:40  |  Kennedy Sikombe

Hi Josh,

My sincere apologises,I really didn't mean to react to you in that manner.I don't want to give excuses,but let me hasten to say that my reaction may in part be as a result of the so many people I come across,both on the net and in person,who have no idea about what's on the ground and the history surrounding Zambia,but are quick to judge.In short,I misunderstood you.

Talking about the '90s.Yes! indeed those were the worst years for Zambia,in everywhich way you choose to look at it.And the reasons are diverse.Starting from an incompetent President Chiluba,who just didn't care and abused our trust,helping himself to the National Treasury,to the IMF and World bank programs,which devastated the Zambian industry.You may be interested to know that Chiluba was at one time a hero,a union man who stood up to Kaunda,when everybody else was scared.

Anyway,my appeal to you is that when you write your final analysis about Zambia,be balanced and objective.When you post pictures,don't just use those of run down places show some of the good places as well.

You know,the thing about AIDS,it really boggles my mind,but at the risk of sounding prejudicial,let me say this.The African society is of a very conservative nature,in particular the Zambian one,I am sure you may have noticed that.That is also the reason why they don't mention the cause of death,especially if they know it to be AIDS.Because to them it's an embarassment to talk about a disease which may have been caused as a result of sexual activity.There was an uncle of mine who always wanted to turnoff the TV whenever a tampon advert came on while his kids were present.

But having lived in the West,I know how liberal it is and trust me,both white and black are just as bad at using and demanding protection when engaging in sex.I just don't understand why HIV is much more prevalent amomg the Africans as opposed to others.I am really serious,it completely puzzles me.



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Welcome to zambiastories.com, the online journal I kept during the six weeks I spent in Zambia in 2003 as part of a Pew Fellowship in International Journalism. The entries below are in reverse chronological order — most recent on top, oldest on bottom.

To learn more about my trip and this site, check the About page. If you have any comments or questions, email me.

Stories

11 Jul 2004: Where the only growth industry is death; AIDS destroys scarce resources as well as family members

12 Sep 2004: A lesson in dying; Once a refuge from AIDS, Zambia’s schools are now its latest victims

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10 Oct 2003: Leave for London
11 Oct 2003: Leave for Zambia
12 Oct 2003: Arrive in Lusaka
22 Nov 2003: Leave for London
22 Nov 2003: Back to Washington

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© 2003 Joshua Benton