The Zambian village is a self-contained unit. For example starting from storage, each village house has a silo where they store their grain supplies.
There is the traditional healer who takes care of ailments afflicting the people. On the other hand, the elders, in most cases grannies, are entrusted with educating the young ones on various social issues and finally village disputes are settled right in the village 'court', commonly referred to as 'Insaka'. Truly a self-contained unit!
The families tend to be large, and households often include many members of the extended family, with several generations gap, made up of the father (who is the head of the house), the mother (care taker of the household), the grannies, the children and their children, uncles, aunties, nephews, nieces and other close and distant relatives.
Traditionally, the role of grandparents is to impact cultural and social values into the upcoming younger generation so that there’s a carryover of traditional norms. The Zambia village places great importance on the family and the traditional values and responsibilities associated with it.
Literary everyone knows everyone in the village. The Zambia village varies in size from one or two households to several households. The houses are scattered around and they are not built in a planned fashion. And the population varies from one village to another.
Each house has got an ‘Insaka’, which serves as a meeting place and socializing area of the household. It is a reception for visitors. In the evening, the whole family gathers in the 'Insaka' and the elders take advantage of the situation to teach the young ones traditional values and responsibilities.
The leader of the Zambian village is usually the chief or the village headman. The headman ship is hereditary.
Some villages were been built near medical facilities or had the facilities built right within the village, but not all villages enjoy this facility.
Notwithstanding, belief in traditional healers is still rife, and in every village, there's at least a traditional healer where the locals get their herbs for various ailments. This is in view of the modern medical centres, which are insufficient or not easily accessible due to long distances.
Nshima, the staple diet, is the most common food in all Zambian villages. Nshima is popularly made from maize flour. But in some other parts of the country, some people prepare their nshima using cassava flour. Others use sorghum or millet flour.
The most readily available relish are fish, edible insects like Inswa (termites) or Ifishimu (caterpillars), vegetables and game meat. Sweet potatoes and groundnuts are also abundant when in season or during harvesting. In Zambian villages, the older men usually eat separately from the women and children.
The Zambian villagers are traditionally subsistence farmers. They grow and eat their own food. They sell the surplus if it’s there. In general, the majority of the Zambian villagers farm, herd livestock, engage in fishing or make handcrafted products.
Farming is by far the most important subsistence activity, and it dominates rural production. Each house has got a silo for grain storage. The grain usually lasts up to the next harvest. But this depends on the rains in that particular season, because the farmers rely on rainfall for watering the crops. The practice of irrigation is almost non-existent. Therefore, a good rainy season translates into a good harvest.
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It all started as a thought, about making my journey by TAZARA. You see, I have been planning on going to Nakonde by train, the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority – TAZARA.