I recently moved to Lusaka, Zambia. This was my first time moving to the African continent. Everyone informed me that Zambia is a very safe, straightforward country to move to. Africa lite, if you will. English is widely spoken and the people are friendly.
Lusaka, like many other cosmopolitan cities in Africa, is linguistically diverse due to historical, cultural, and geographical factors. Zambia, as a whole, is home to over 70 ethnic groups, each with its distinct language or dialect. As the capital, Lusaka is a central hub and attracts people from various regions and ethnic backgrounds for economic, educational, and administrative opportunities. Thus English tends to be widely spoken as the language of trade and business and is the official language. However, Nyanja and Bemba are the two most widely spoken indigenous languages in Lusaka, but not necessarily outside of the capital.
Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa with a diverse geography, however, the majority of Zambia is characterized by high plateaus and elevated areas. The Central African Plateau covers much of the country, with altitudes ranging from 1,000 to 1,400 meters (3,280 to 4,593 feet) above sea level. This influences the climate with slightly higher temperatures and lower humidity than coastal areas in Africa.
Technically Zambia has a wet and dry season. Wet Season is usually November to April and is characterized by higher temperatures and increased rainfall. It’s the time when the landscape becomes lush and green.
The Dry Season is usually from May to October. This season has lower rainfall, and temperatures can vary, with warm to hot days and cooler nights, especially in the winter months of June and July. My arrival in August was cold and I had to rush to buy a coat. However, by October we were experiencing temperatures upwards of 40° and I was thankful for the AC.
Adapt to the Pace
Life in Lusaka has a different pace compared to other countries. We had to learn to embrace the relaxed lifestyle and be patient with administrative processes. People often turn up to events or meetings at a time that suits them rather than a set time. Maintenance workers might turn up a day late and without the right tools needed. The job will get done eventually, and possibly need redoing a week later. But there’s no need to get upset about it. The cashier might be chatting with another customer for a few minutes before s/he has time to serve you but don’t forget the pleasantries of saying hello and asking how s/he is before getting the sale.
You’ll come across as rude if you do.
Zambia tends to be safer than many of her neighbours. Petty theft and bag snatching are the biggest issues. Don’t walk around the streets at night, avoid certain areas and be aware of your surroundings.
Don’t leave laptops or other valuables in your car as thieves will break your window and steal them.
Safaris and Wildlife
Enjoy a safari in Zambia for a unique opportunity to witness diverse wildlife. The country is characterized by extensive savannas, supporting diverse wildlife. National parks, such as South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi, and Kafue, showcase Zambia’s rich biodiversity and safaris and lodges are popular but expensive.
Be prepared to encounter giraffes, zebra, elephants, lions, hippos, and an array of bird species in their natural habitats and enjoy amazing sunsets at the end of the day.
Zambia is renowned for its walking safaris, offering an intimate and immersive experience with nature. Accompanied by knowledgeable guides, you can appreciate the smaller details of the ecosystem and surroundings.
6. Weekend Markets
Car shows, weekend markets and Christmas markets are a fun way to enjoy a weekend and are on almost every other weekend. Browse stalls of traditional crafts, clothes, paintings, furniture, plants, fruit, and vegetables, enjoy a gin or craft beer, listen to live music and order some braai ( an African term for barbecue or grill) but a braai is more than just a barbecue it’s also a social occasion and a sense of community.