This blog started as a way of keeping friends up-to-date with Zambian life but it now also helps generate money for the poor here in Chikuni. If you like what you read please click on an ad to help the people of Chikuni.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


The Stones mark the spot of a new borehole for drinking water in Cheelo with the church in the background sawing of metal through chicken skeleton floats through the open kitchen door as the cook cuts through the freshly thawed chicken which is being prepared for the priests dinner. I shouldn’t even be here but for two days straight there has been no power and so I’ve had to use the priests house which always has electricity thanks to the radios diesel powered generator. This is just one of the many foreign sounds I’ve been experiencing here.

When I thought of what Chikuni might be like as a place all those months ago, I thought of “the back of beyonds”. No street-lighting, no cars, no sirens or constant traffic and very sparsely populated. To be honest I thought it would be deathly silent. Ha, was I wrong! I remember one of the first evenings it rained here, maybe a month ago. I was in mass when the rain broke, the heavens opened and the lightning shrieked from above. I got nicely soaked by the time the rain stopped. On the walk home, the noise was incredible. Toads, frogs, crickets and who knows what made it perfectly clear that they were very happy to see rain. Indeed, the noise was so loud, I had to put my hands over my ears!

The most memorable sounds tend to be at night though. The rustle of something large in your bedroom after turning off the lights; the boom of thunder and followed by the pitter-patter (and even pounding sometimes) of rain on our roof; walking home in the pitch black along the top of the reservoir amidst a plethora of calls made by creatures I have never seen before nor can now identify. Even the surprisingly loud buzz of a mosquito, only inches away from your head with nothing but a mosquito net between you and it.

In the morning it’s the birds that make the most noise. By 7 am have already had two and a half hours of practise done. The birdsong is also punctuated by the annoyingly loud cry of cockerels announcing themselves long after dawn has been and gone. The bastards!

During the day, there is usually the pleasant sound of laughter. People here are remarkably happy and laugh regularly. Mabel lost in thought during World Aids DayFor example, on Friday we were supposed to go with a drilling crew to drill a borehole for fresh drinking water in a distant village called Cheelo that lies on the outskirts of the parish. The rig broke down no more than 100 meters from where the crew had stayed overnight; the rear suspension cracked, thank you crap Zambian roads. The boss was clearly annoyed by this and his crew were trying to fix it without much success but yet they were still able to tease and laugh with each other. These guys sleep rough every night in tents wherever they are drilling or find themselves. Life is a long way from easy and yet they are not downtrodden or heartened, which I really admire. There is also another reason for the laughter, or perhaps giggling would be a better description. As a white guy wherever I go, after meeting a group of people (but especially girls) there is usually an uproar of laughter. I take this in good spirits and can only hope they are not being too mean about me. Then there is Tonga, the local language. It’s quite lyrical but not like any other language I have heard before. Besides those, there is the mechanical sound of Radio Chikuni, generators/UPS’s (because we lose power at least once a week) and badly maintained cars bouncing over dirt road.
I think the noise I notice the most though is the steady sound of crickets. They go on and on, at the same pace and pitch until they blend into the background and you don’t notice them for hours. Then you stop thinking or dreaming or talking and there they are. Even now as I write this at 17:30 they are in full swing and in stiff competition with the evening news on in the kitchen.

I hope all that makes sense. I’ve discovered it’s a rather difficult thing to describe sounds, especially when I don’t have that many reference points for you. But needless to say, just like most other things here, it’s all quite different and sometimes scary.

Sleep tight in your boring creature free homes,

No comments:

Post a Comment