November 6, 2006



We’re living in Chipata, the capital of the Eastern Province of Zambia. So far I really like it. Its big enough to have everything you need, and not so big as to have all the problems of an urban centre.

Depending on where you draw the boundaries, Chipata has around 350,000 people living here. Most of the people are Zambians with a few thousand Muslim Indians, and a handful of us Muzungus.



There are busy markets, a Shoprite (South African supermarket chain) and a collection of shops in ‘The Downs’, a few streets which look like something out of the Wild West. These sell anything and everything and the Indian owners have been here for around four generations. Tradesmen can also be seen moulding bricks and making furniture on the roadside. However unemployment levels are high, and there are lots of people whose days seem to lack any structure.

One of the noticeable things about Chipata is the amount of space. There aren’t the same high-density slums you would get in Lusaka or other capital cities. It even has a golf course of sorts! Cross the border to Malawi 20km away and you notice much greater land pressure.

Chipata is in a valley surrounded by hills. About an hour away is South Luangwa National Park, by all accounts one of Africa’s best safari parks. It’s currently the height of summer here and temperatures hit 35 degrees everyday. In a couple of weeks the rainy season will come. For four months or so, there will be torrential rain every afternoon and travelling will become much harder.

Most people travel on foot. If they’re bringing goods into town to sell they stack them high on the back of a bicycle and walk, sometimes for a couple of days. It’s common to see a live chicken, goat or pig on the back of a bicycle, or 2-3 human passengers. Cars are owned by a small number of businessmen, tourists and development workers and travel through at about 70 miles an hour.

Formerly Fort Jameson, Chipata was the regional post for British colonialists. It’s border location has led to the growth of a sizeable town since independence. It’s going for city status by 2010.

As I said I really like it so far. While the poverty and other problems are evident, as a privileged Westerner it’s pretty nice living here.


3 Responses to “Chipata”

  1. Diarmaid Says:

    Hey Folks,

    Looks like an amazing place! This is just a quick hello to say i just found your blog, and wanted to send you some intern 2006 love.

    Hope you’re having fun.

    How is the ultimate frisbee league going?

    I’m missing you both. Take care…longer communication to follow.


  2. I like the way you described our small town of Chipata, taking into consideration that you are a Muzungu! i hope you revise it as there have been great changes of late.

  3. site Says:

    Whenever I at first left a comment I clicked on the Notify me when new comments are added checkbox and now each time a remark is added I get 4 emails with the same comment.

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