“A friend went to Beijing recently and was given this brochure by the hotel. It is precious. She is keeping it and reading it whenever she feels depressed. Obviously, it has been transliterated directly, word for word from Mandarin to English” Getting There: Our representative will make you wait at the airport. The bus to the hotel runs along the lake shore. Soon you will feel pleasure in passing water. You will know that you are getting near the hotel, because you will go round the bend. The manager will await you in the entrance hall. He always tries to have intercourse with all new guests. The hotel: This is a family hotel, so children are very welcome. We of course are always pleased to accept adultery. Highly skilled nurses are available in the evenings to put down your children. Guests are invited to conjugate in the bar and expose themselves to others. But please note that ladies are not allowed to have babies in the bar. We organize social games, so no guest is ever left alone to play with them self. The Restaurant: Our menus have been carefully chosen to be ordinary and unexciting. At dinner, our quartet will circulate from table to table, and fiddle with you. Your Room: Every room has excellent facilities for your private parts. In winter, every room is on heat. Each room has a balcony offering views of outstanding obscenity! . You will not be disturbed by traffic noise, since the road between the hotel and the lake is used only by pederasts. Bed: Your bed has been made in accordance with local tradition. If you have any other ideas please ring for the chambermaid. Please take advantage of her. She will be very pleased to squash your shirts, blouses and underwear. If asked, she will also squeeze your trousers.
Above all: When you leave us at the end of your holiday, you will have no hope. You will struggle to forget it.”
That’s it. A final 5 a.m. taxi to the Lusaka airport. As usual, more quality taxi driver banter.
Me: “My, it sure seems like every significant road in Lusaka (capitol) is under construction. All being doubled in size, or more.”
Taxi man: “Yes. All being done by the Indians. Indian President Modi visited here a year ago and saw Indians and Zambians living peacefully together and pledged to build all the roads and bridges infrastructure for free!* No money goes through the Zambian government. All the companies doing the work are Indian contractors but unlike the Chinese, they employ Zambian workers. And one other thing. Look how good the road quality is. The Indian companies put a solid concrete layer under the asphalt much different than when the Chinese came and built roads. They used their own people as workers and just put asphalt on the gravel roads. Poor quality.”
A lot of quality information is layered in that vignette. * nothing is ever free
“Brighton, how many people, friends and family, would you say you support in some way through your job?”
“Oh…maybe a dozen at minimum. Just today before I picked you up there were six requests. People needed money for food, hospital stay unexpected. If someone needs to stay at hospital for 3 days and it’s 50 Kwacha a day ($3,85), how can you not?”
And right there was the answer.
“How can you not?”
Each employed person with a solid wage in Zambia (unemployment is 85%) supports on average 20 family and friends. That is not a typo. At our hotels so far, that’s 450 employees or 9000 ripples in the pond.
“Why don’t you save money?”, I asked Brighton.
“Because they need food or medicine. How could I not?”
In Ndebele there is a saying, “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.” It is part of the concept of Ubuntu. It means ‘a person Is because of other people.’ Simply, the purpose of something or someone is not for ourselves but to serve others and change the world around us. Ubuntu is an idea present in African spirituality that says “I am because we are”, we are all connected, we cannot be ourselves without community, health and faith always lived out among others, and an individual’s well being is caught up in the well being of others.
Don’t waste good, because someone is without. Be kind to others, because they hurt. Give because others need. I used to think Zambians were generous to a fault. But in fact they live as if everyone is family.
I am because we are. It is being reminded to do whatever one can do for those less fortunate. Teaching so that the ripples in the pond cast from the single tiny pebble and continue onward and outward.