Monday, 23 July 2012

A simpleton...

This is what Zambia, or at least the province that I am in, looks like.

It's beautiful and yesterday I went for a 10 mile hike in the bush.

It's dry, there are birds everywhere, it's flat, there are red, sandy dirt tracks leading the way and not a cloud in the sky.

There are few telephone wires, few vehicles, and no artificial noises.

There are mud hut villages dotted just behind the road sides and beyond, almost completely camouflage but for the flashes of the strong colour of the material that the villagers have hung out to dry.

There are fallen fruits from tall trees that litter the ground and the occassional procession of slow moving cattle, seemingly alone with no farmer, just the bells on their neck saying that they are owned.

Sometimes a sudden cackle of guinea fowl jumping from the bushes, random shouts of 'herro mamma' at me, but when I look the grasses are too high and I can't see who's calling.

Every now and then a beautiful, strong woman carrying a tall bucket of water on her head that splashes slightly as she walks.

There are cotton fields, maize fields, goats, chickens, pumpkins, tomatoes, fruits I've never seen before, trees I've never seen before, a dam with an abundance of fish, which I've never seen before....

And it all just feels so right. I don't think I can explain how 'complete' it feels to be walking in the vast countryside.

It's hard work to live here, I know. The water source is far away, there is tilling and toiling to be done in the fields, there are poverty issues and hardships, but I haven't met one person who isn't smiling. I haven't met one person who hasn't offered me something or welcomed me with open arms. I haven't met one person who doesn't appreciate family values, or one person who hasn't asked me if I'm enjoying Zambia.

But they ask me what the U.K. is like. And, to be honest I don't know what to tell them.

They hear that's it's wonderful. And, yes there are some amazing things about it. I'm especially enthusiastic when I tell them about Wales and the mountains, its coastline and the countryside. But then they ask me about the government, the lifestyle, jobs, food etc.

If I think about it, about our culture in Britain, I see it in stark contrast to life here in Africa. Our lifestyle and society is about growth. We want more, we want to develop more. We want the latest gadgets. We want the best education. We want cars, more money, bigger T.V.s, more channels, better iphone, ipads, cameras. We want to look amazing every time we go out. We want a full wardrobe, make-up, fancy shoes, a perfect relationship. The government wants us to be an economic powerhouse in the international community. We want success in our careers. We want to build more houses, more businesses, more opportunities to make money. We want more.

We always want more.

And while we strive to want bigger, better, more, faster - we forget to smile at each other. We don't greet strangers. We fear crime, we fear loss, we fear making eye contact with the person across the road who looks a little different. Kids swear. People throw litter. People waste. We leave our lights on, our taps running. We complain if we have to catch a bus because our car is in the garage. We moan at the weather. We moan at the news. We moan at the price of luxury.

My philosophy for a long time has been about simplifying things. Making sense of our lives isn't about gain. There is never going to be a point in a person's lifetime when they have the realisation that they've made it, or at least that feeling can't be sustained. The eureka moment will not come while we are striving for material growth. Our revelations get lost in competition.

I really believe that we'll understand more about ourselves and each other, about life, about it's meaning and its purpose when we strip things away. When we focus on less, not more.

That might be idealistic, but there is proof that it can be done. The proof is Zambia. There may not be many smart phones here, but there is contentment in abundance. And it feels so right....


  1. Your best post yet.

  2. Agree! Best post and from the heart. Agree agree and agree. There is no perfect anything and contentment is a state of mind. That's why it's easier to see it or find it when you travel far away from home. Bring it back Luce xxx love

  3. Wise words from lovely Lia....

  4. the trouble is when we smile at people here they think we either want something or we smile atthe wrong type of person. really its all about getting back to basics which will never happen in the western world. shame

  5. It is such a shame. I think the problem is that we can't see it from the inside - we slip into routines and stick to them so easily.

  6. Sis have you been telekinetically reading my mind? This is how I feel everyday, we as a society have put so much effort into "improving" ourselves we've forgotten who we are and where we come from, we are all animals, it doesn't matter how many pairs of shoes you own or if you have the most expensive car or you luncheon with the "highest" class of people, we're still just animals, if you stuck a bowler hat on a chimp and gave him a walking cane it'd be funny but it wouldn't make him less of an animal. Animals basic needs, food, warmth, shelter, air to breathe, water... And I would argue companionship.. And that's about it, no ps3, no 900 inch lcd tvs or gigantic houses. We're so preoccupied with our "wants" we forget our needs are all we really need. Amazing post Lucy, big hugs lovely xX

  7. Great post Lucy. I think you've put into words how a lot of us feel - we just forget it sometimes. Melissa x

  8. love it, you're damn right!! you summed up britain perfectly! (unfortunately!) :) xxxxxx Christie xxxxxxx