One of the fastest-growing cities in central Africa, Lusaka’s population almost trebled in the immediate post-independence era. The city lies at the junction of the main highways to the north, east, south and west at an altitude of 1 300m above sea level. There are air links to most of the major tourist destinations in Zambia from Lusaka International Airport.
Lusaka started life as a dusty railway siding for the line that empire builder Cecil Rhodes was constructing from Cape Town to Cairo. When copper was discovered in the highlands north of the town in the 1920s it became important and the capital was moved here in 1935. Today it is a sprawling city whose bustling chaos is very reflective of Zambia, a country battling to find its way in a new world.
Over 60% of its 2 million inhabitants are unemployed, but there are few beggars. It’s also undergoing a facelift: new shops-including a new market and a multi-million dollar shopping mall (Manda Hill); smart fast food outlets and new double carriageway roads are emerging.
The shops are mainly grouped along the broad double carriageway of Cairo Rd.
The markets are a hive of activity the thousands of stalls are filled and cleared every day. A myriad of motor spares dealers, restaurants, hairdressers, fishmongers, fruitvendors and rows and rows of “salaula” – discarded clothing from the West sold to Africa by the bale.
The selling of salaula is having a detrimental effect on the country’s clothing industry.
The absence of street food vendors (due to a law passed in 2000 that bans them)
There are a number of activities for the adventurous traveller in Lusaka .
Venture out to a nightclub or roadside shebeen (beer hall) and dance the night away to the sounds of rhumba, kwela, techno or rock ‘n roll.
You can Hire a taxi with a driver ay a cost of about $2 per hour.
You can Buy a chitenje at the traditional Kamwala market and have something run up by the tailors.
A word of warning : don’t drink the home-brewed beer Kachusu (meaning moonshine). It’s illegal and might give you liver an kidney damage.
It’s worthwhile to vusit the National Museum with its exhibits of traditional drums, spears, fabrics and witchcraft items. Lusaka’s main arts centre, the Tayali Art Gallery,is named after the most famous and respected contemporary artist.
Zambia has a thriving contemporary art scene, though few artists have found international recognition. Henry Tayali paints pictures filled with social realism.