There is a great deal of pride in this country. They eat Zambeef for dinner, Zamloaf for breakfast and plant Zamseeds in their fields. This is probably because the majority of products in Zambia are imported from South Africa…thus, they need to emphasize the few that are produced here.
While in the bush, I have told the villagers that we should change the name of guineafowl to Zamfowl. I have also coined my morning runs through the towns and villages as Zamruns...
The roads and paths are busy as soon as the sun rises, so it is impossible to avoid traffic. During the Zamruns,I cut in and out groups of school children…occasionally joined by a pedestrian (both children and adults) who takes an interest and runs alongside me for a few blocks.
I have been running in Lusaka for nearly a month and subsequently people are beginning to remember me. The man who sells talk time on the corner of street calls out, “You – I see you…strong heart”. A lorry drives by honking and the group of men sitting in the open back move their arms in a running motion and give a thumbs up sign. The taxicab driver comments that he is surprised I am not running to my destination. Naturally, I start to feel like a celebrity….
Then…on recent run through a village, two twelve year old girls in chitenges and sandals started running behind me. I turned around and made some comment about running. As they followed, step for step, they laughed hysterically and called out “running…running” in a voice mimicking mine. I figured they wouldn’t last long...but they continued to run and laugh, as I continued to get more out of breath. I was nearing the area where I loop back and decided to challenge them to a sprinting finish. There I was – $120 running shoes, fancy lycra running top and a high-tech sport watch, clocking my every step – schooled by two girls in flip flops and skirts. Celebrity status deflated, I high-fived the girls and jogged back home.